Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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John Baker

I could really look forward to a world in which books were published for people whpo want to read them.
What a great article to read in the midst of this commercial festival, where contemporary texts are falling like rain.

Steven Augustine

In any case, hoard those hardbound classics... second-hand prices will be taking a steep hike not long after the bottom drops out on retail.


Isn't the real crux of the issue that the majority of Americans are no longer willing or capable of reading texts that challenge them? I don't see anything forcing people to read once they've graduated high school, so I think that thinking about the statistics in the "they won't know great art" sense is foolish, but Crain's article touched on the more pressing matter that reading literature works a muscle in the mind that is needed to read other texts(philosophy, history, science, ect) well. I think allowing such a skill atrophy in society would lead to even greater elitism amongst the "literary classes."


Wow - fantastic post, Dan. I agree wholeheartedly, and you express it with great lucidity.

Dan Green

"Crain's article touched on the more pressing matter that reading literature works a muscle in the mind that is needed to read other texts"

He may have touched on it, but he certainly did not make a compelling or extended case for it.


In the U.S., most people don’t explore the joys of fine literature because, in school, they were usually exposed to trashy, shallow reading only. In Europe, where people feel early on in life the force of a 'conte' by Voltaire, for example, good quality prose is still popular. That’s not to say that we don’t read here. We read newspapers, magazines and popular fiction.

Competition by television’s moving images that require virtually no thinking makes books less trendy. The entrepreneurs who feed the desires of the masses don’t profit by promoting reading. In truth, the most appropriate venue to reach into the hearts and minds of our citizens is the ball game—especially when alcohol is involved.

But there’s still life for new voices and diverse points of views in the realm of the unpopular. Some times we, writers, are too pushy.

Voltaire's Happy Pessimism

jack im now going to imagine you as that hot chick from the underworld movies. any chance you can translate chamfort? His wit is supposed to be the equal of La Rochefoucauld...

so as not to derail: hasnt reading always been an "arcane hobby"? I thought that one of the supposed great benefits of the Enlightenment was that now, even the urban urchins and rural peasants could have access to the challenging texts of those iconoclastic philosophers, poets, novelists etc, and that they would be able to use their (critical) reason to participate in their enlightened democracies so that they would never be hoodwinked out of their rights/freedoms again.

It seems that the "rough and hairy" have rejected such new freedoms and would be content with despots as long as they can earn some bling and then tune out with american idol in the evenings. Well, and maybe a napkin to wipe away the drool. And regarding the nobility: well, they always only saw literature as just another decoration you are back to the sacred few talking about what really matters while the rest of the world stumbles on...nothing much has changed?


Monsieur François-Marie Arouet:

Kate’s beautiful.

Chamfort a écrit ‘Pensées, Maximes et Anecdotes’ (1803) ; puis, il s’est tué. He had good taste, obviously. Still, I did not read the whole thing. I won’t translate him, but neither would I read Candide or Zadig now in other than the original language. What a nerd!

Look, there’s reading for thinking men and women and reading for practical folks. Enlightenment is subjective and critical reasoning may be an entelechy. Common wisdom says that, to live in the best of all possible worlds, people must be duped. Rights and freedom cause too many problems (Paris, 1968).

Alcohol promotes wit and ignorance is strength (Orwel). With thinkers such as G. W. Bush, who needs philosophers? American Idol is culture. Don’t the young have the right to their pantheon of gods? Please, do not involve yourself with the sacred few, for it’ll bring you great unhappiness.

Filostrato in place of Voltaire

I thought 68 was carried out in good taste (Sous les pavés, la plage!, Le patron a besoin de toi, tu n'as pas besoin de lui, etc etc), and I thought the sacred few brought me great happiness...Plato, Nietzsche, Leopardi, Seneca, Plutarch, and many others, even your amusing Derrida =P

American Idol is culture, Id only expect such mean spirited sarcasm from an apemantius. My turn: Sure the youth have a right, I'm hoping they pick Hegesias. You might review his teachings as well friend!


Think on, it won’t hurt. 1968 brought about the revolt of the intelligent… and they lost.

How can so many millions of American Idol fans be uncultured? They make the culture while you read Plato (reason wants good states to start with the education of the young).

We need to preserve our democracy too. Nietzsche’s eagle, lion and snake don’t fit in. He also accused the Virgin Mary of adultery with the Holy Spirit.

Don’t you want to live in peace, F?

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