THE American Scholar magazine recently asked me to lay out some of the questions I was left with upon completing my book, Culture Crash. I was glad they asked me for questions rather than answers; the plight of the arts, humanism, the middle class, and art for art’s sake seem so complex and impacted that it’s a lot harder to solve in 800 words. In any case, here’s how they set it up, and my first question:
Freelance journalist Scott Timberg lives in Los Angeles and blogs about art, music, and literature. His new book, Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class, prompted us to urge him to pose questions, based on his research, about the future of American culture.
1. In the three decades after World War II, we saw a movement to elevate culture for the masses. The middlebrow consensus, we could say, tracked with the upheaval of the modern movement in art, architecture, literature, and music. It meant publication of paperbacks of classic novels, the Great Books push, Leonard Bernstein on television, Thelonious Monk on the cover of Time, an expanding English major in colleges and universities, and so on. These days, it all seems like ancient history. Do we have a new, fruitful way to think about culture that goes beyond midcentury middlebrow?
My questions are in the spring issue — see the piece here.