The mainstream and the mire

Very nice piece in Slate by Stephen Metcalfe summarizing the thinking of George W. S. Trow, the New Yorker writer who died last week, best known by some of us for his work with the National Lampoon and his long essay, "Within the Context of No Context," about how Mr. Trow's Eastern establishment elite and all its cultural accoutrements had ceased to matter during his lifetime:

"Operating alongside the cotillions and Henry Luce's Time were the petty hustlers, the little showbiz grifters, the gossip merchants; and what they existed for wasn't the mainstream, established and maintained according to the normative modes of adult behavior, but a limelight, there for the grasping. For Trow, the hustle was a vicious thing. Its seeds lay in the '20s; they effloresced in the '50s; and as Trow observed in the late '90s, had by the end of the century finally come into unchallenged cultural dominance .... In Trow's view, the hustler's ascendancy represented a sustained assault on normal, self-respecting adulthood. Conversely, any tradition of any strength, as a bearer of cultural memory, stood as a threat to the hustler's regency. The best friend of the hustler-elitist, then, was television."

December 8, 2006 8:05 AM |



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