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Is America Too Young to Maintain its Cultural Hegemony in the Long Run?

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Sarah Palin. Click for credits and to enlarge

This is the end of a series on Antonio Gramsci. I am beginning here where I left in my previous post.

The title and the post are meant to provoke a bit, and I know I risk being considered a snobbish, or a chauvinist, European.

The United States – I was saying – exert today a cultural hegemony over the planet at a high and a popular level of culture [for the high level, suffice it the sheer excellence of their universities in the scientific, technological and humanities fields, not to mention the number of Nobel prizes attained by Americans]

One can speak of a new American Renaissance, with fantastic contributions offered to the world – the Internet, a great revolution, being just one of them.

Which affects both the American culture and those cultures exposed to American influence – basically ALL of them, at diverse degrees.

[By culture I mean both:

1) the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of a group (the Unesco definition);

2) the general knowledge, values etc. an individual can attain through education (linked to the Ancient concepts of Humanitas & Paideia.)

Also culture quality has to be considered. If I enjoy Shakespeare better than soap operas, I am not a snob, I am simply better educated and my mind is more powerful]

Gramsci, reflecting on the US soon after the 1929 depression, considered America culturally hegemonic already at his time (the 1930s) although to him such world-wide hegemony presented a few cracks for being, the US, too virgin and too young as a nation, with a melting pot of too many ‘cultures’ (see above the meaning 1 of the term.)

Now, following Gramsci’s reasoning – and considering his notions of ‘intellectuals’, ‘cultural hegemony’ and ‘national-popular’ culture (see our posts on Gramsci 1, 2 and 3)– we can ask ourselves:

In our rapidly changing world, with powerful civilisations about to re-surface, is America seductive enough at a world-wide scale [ie 'culturally hegemonic' world-wide]?

I’ll say my opinion right away: the cracks Gramsci was mentioning seem today particularly evident (at least to many Europeans) at a pop culture level [update: whatever the reasons for this.] A civilization doesn’t export its high culture only. It exports the sentiments of its whole people with its books (quality works and blockbusters), films, TV serials etc. and when its tourists, business people, soldiers & the men of the street wander about the planet.

[A Gramscian national-popular notion of culture is where the intellectuals - artists, writers etc. - express at a higher level the elementary sentiments of the common people who thus emotionally and intellectually participate. The examples he indicates of 'national-popular' may clarify this Gramscian crucial concept: the Elisabethan theatre, the Greek tragedy or the Italian opera.]

I mean, when Rome conquered Gaul, Romanization occurred deeply without any organized effort by the Romans. That is, the Roman ‘culture’ was felt as superior and seduced the Gauls who became the French – not only the culture of the ‘intellectuals’ (big politicians, generals, writers etc.) was seducing, but that of the merchants, of the soldiers, of the simple citizens as well.

Do you also think that American world-wide hegemony’s weak point is a low-level and too pervading pop culture (due to consumerism, to making money being what only matters nowadays etc.) and also the “erasure of any high-pop culture distinction”? [see Lichanos' comment on this]

Trekkies at Baycon, 2003. Click for credits

Do you also think that, to quote Andreas Kluth, a ‘high culture’ perceived as snobbish only “is a tragedy” and that – I’d add – the tea parties, the Sarah Palins and US widespread anti-elitism will make America pay a price in the long run in terms, again, of world cultural hegemony?

Finally – be patient, I dislike Star Trek – what do the Indians, the Chinese, the Persians, the rest of the world population – often belonging to ancient civilizations – think of the thousands of Star Trek conventions and clubs that have spread all over the globe? Will it benefit America’s image?

Note. I had discussed ‘West and US Seduction’ with my commentators (among other themes) at the time of Culture, Kultur, Paideia and The Last Days of the Polymath. Those discussions were among the best in this blog in my opinion.

Here just a few ideas from those discussions.

As for culture (in the sense of individual general knowledge & refinement) Lichanos had lamented the erasure of a high-pop culture distinction in the USA. To him more than the ‘youth factor’ a role may be played by America being often “the first to represent trends that are going world-wide”, ie America is just ahead of Europe in mass-culture and consumerism, which explains why a superficial pop culture is so pervasive in the US.

To Andreas Kluth a ‘high culture’ perceived as ‘snobbish only’ is “a tragedy” and due to many factors among which a too widespread anti-elitism (“Sarah Palin and all the rest”).

ψ

Other posts on Gramsci:

American Engineer, German Philosopher & French Politician: Gramsci’s Ideal Blend for the Modern Leonardo da Vinci
Seven Aspects of Antonio Gramsci’s Thought
America, the Greatest Collective Effort Ever existed”. Antonio Gramsci

Related posts:

Democracy, Liberty & the Necessity of a Solid Education of the People
Culture, Kultur, Paideia
The Last Days of the Polymath


About Man of Roma

I am a man from Rome, Italy. I’m 60 and a Roman since many generations. In my blog, manofroma.wordpress.com, I’m writing down my meditations. The idea behind it all is that something 'ancient' is still alive in the true Romans of today, of which few are left.

51 responses »

  1. Can I have hot pins for my eyes after that picture of Sarah Palin?

    I honestly can’t explain American culture and I live here. Are you saying that from your perspective, Americans do not regard the consumers of “high” culture (opera, the golden age of the novel, Elizabethan drama for examples) as snobs? I hate to say it — but I grew up and went to school in the greater Washington DC area, which you would expect to be as cosmopolitan as anywhere in the nation — and I was mercilessly taunted for caring about these things.

    Here is the terrible thing that has happened to culture here in my opinion: people have discovered that entertainment and mental diversion can be marketed directly to the young in an end run around their parents, so a taste for crap (and a scoffing attitude toward things that are not crap) can be ingrained at an early age.

    And because America can be a meritocracy (good) where hard work and ingenuity do pay off (also good) but still has considerable sense of class layering (not good), people who have succeeded without a high-culture background often feel called on to spit on what the “snobs” enjoy. I think it is really about their own insecurity, but it has a cost in the way the young are educated and in the narrowness and provinciality of the Tea Partyers.

    Reply
    • Are you saying that from your perspective, Americans do not regard the consumers of “high” culture (opera, the golden age of the novel, Elizabethan drama for examples) as snobs?

      Quite the contrary, I thought I had been clear enough. My impression is that what is truly culturally valid (I include Wagner of course lol, since we discussed it at Paul’s) is considered by many Americans high-brow and snobbish.

      We have discussed this point ad nauseam *here*, and you were present too.

      entertainment and mental diversion can be marketed directly to the young in an end run around their parents, so a taste for crap (and a scoffing attitude toward things that are not crap) can be ingrained at an early age.

      Very well thought and said as usual. It is all excessive consumerism and the flaws of capitalism (which has merits too, do not misunderstand me: I am not for a socialist society, I only like ‘corrections’ that many US people though loathe, and Europeans too).

      What I add to this is a doubt: is this pervading crap – more than here in Europe, but things get worse day by day – due to the fact that America is just ahead of us – as Lichanos says -, or is it worse because people in America are younger? (plus melting pot, you talked about a salad etc.)

      From here it is hard to understand. But we can clearly ‘feel’ that you are ‘younger’ than us (even in the way old US people laugh: amazing, refreshing!).

      Which has pros and cons naturally.

      Reply
      • You did have me confused. It’s been a long day for my brain, I admit, but at first reading I thought at first I was in one of those Star Trek alternate universes.

        The crap avalanche seems to me to reflect the American infatuation with novelty, which probably has a lot to do with our lack of rootedness and short time on the territory we occupy, and is probably not as contagious as you fear. It may take us a thousand years or so as a culture to end this infatuation with the moment, if we make it that long. :)

        This is probably the time, by the way, to confess that I actually like Star Trek. The whole convention thing is a little ridiculous, but I loved science fiction as a kid and even the scrambled science of the program was exhilarating. The series actually excited the imaginations of many of today’s good scientists, and when it was new, the show offered the first depictions some people had seen of women or people of nonwhite races as competent leaders. To a woman of Amazon proclivities, even Roddenberry’s vacillation between cheesy eye candy and women in command roles was a positive step.

        Reply
        • This is probably the time …to confess that I actually like Star Trek. The whole convention thing is a little ridiculous, but I loved science fiction as a kid … The series actually excited the imaginations of many of today’s good scientists.

          Science fiction stimulates future scientists, it is clear. I remember the SciFi novel series Urania published in Italian by Mondadori when I was a teenager, with the splendid book covers by Kurt Caesar & Karel Thole. I totally got into 50s and 60s American SciFi classics like A. E. Van Vogt, Murray Leinster, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Clifford Simak, Arthur C. Clarke etc. I just LOVED them.

          It’s not Star Trek, it’s the conventions and especially the fact that people take them so darn seriously.

          And being an Amazon, nothing against it.
          :-)

          I remember a novel by Poul Anderson about a planet inhabited by Amazons only. Oh I loved it but forgot the title though.

          Reply
          • Joanna Russ did a story in one of Harlan Ellison’s “Dangerous Visions” anthologies about a planet of women who had been able to induce parthenogenesis after being marooned there and formed an all female civilization for generations. They were not thrilled with an Earth rescue team including men. A remake of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “Herland,” to some extent, but good.

          • Not too different from Poul Anderson’s novel plot. The women were all lesbians but a few became bisexual and loved the guy, and the guy fell in love with one of them. All sort of adventures. It was well written. Anderson was a good writer as far as I remember (very little).

  2. Plus there is culture quality. If I enjoy Shakespeare better than soap operas, I am not a snob, I am simply better educated and my mind is more powerful.

    I would suggest that snobbery is in the eye of the beholder.

    I think that people often resent those who they see as being in a superior position. I don’t think it is America’s high culture (whatever that may mean to you) but American “pop culture.” Rock and roll music, now Hip Hop and Rap, influenced youth all over the world and was derided everywhere by the “establishment” of almost every society.

    We have produced no great works that compare directly with Shakespeare or Mozart or Bach or whatever high culture icons one can name. Instead, we produced Jack Kerouac, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and others.

    The Soviets (ruling elite, not the people) thought Levis were symbols of decadence. Europeans manufactured “designer jeans” to combat them. Americans adopted those.

    We are an entrepreneur culture. But we may be in the twilight of our time in the sun. Many resent anything that suggests Americana and many of these seem to have been born and raised here.

    We are young, we do not have thousands of years of civilization behind us. We will always be the “upstarts”. It is our charm.

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t be so pessimistic. Upstarts? Not any more I think. And it is your charm and you’ve still got a lot of stamina.

      I was just expressing the typical European doubts about America. We have worse flaws. The great European culture of the past? Gone. And being a museum is not such fun after all.

      American literature is much more than Jack Kerouac: Melville, Allan Poe, Hawthorne, Whitman (very dear to me), Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, Henry James, Hemingway, J.D. Salinger etc. They are no peanuts.

      American philosophy is also very influential, not to mention science and technology.

      Yes, my opinion is that pop culture has become a bit decadent. I believe it was better when we were young. Take cinema, for example.

      Reply
      • To me, Europe is great (and beautiful) architecture. American architecture is utilitarian, for the most part, though there are some examples of beauty in form and function.

        Since I was raised on American cinema, I am not so enamored of Euro films. Still, there are great films that transcend these cultures. And, of course, Italian films were all the rage in the late 50’s and into the 60’s here with French cinema tossed in (mostly due to Brigitte Bardot, et al).

        I like British comedy. Always have. Dry and low key mostly but over the top at times (see “Morons From Outer Space”). My only viewing of our PBS (Public Broadcasting System) seems to be of re-cycled BBC comedy.

        I like some Japanese films though I tire of sub-titles and the only ones with dubbed in English are the Godzilla ones, it seems.

        I am bored by Russian film and “great” novels.

        I am not a fan of ballet or opera.

        A bit off topic but I was in Taiwan in 1967 and watched a French movie with dubbed in English and two sets of Chinese sub-titles. I was completely lost.

        I like classical music but do not go out of my way to learn about it or listen to it.

        So I tend to lean toward pop culture. And pop culture today is becoming more international in flavor though much of it does have roots in the US.

        America is resented, I think, by the children and grandchildren of the Euro generation that endured World War II. They (the children and grandchildren) did not experience the war, just the aftermath, so they have a different perspective of American power and influence.

        Excuse me for mostly babbling…

        Reply
        • I prefer Euro cinema but I couldn’t live without American Cinema. I think American cinema was great in the 50s 60s, less great now, but it could be the old man’s good ol’ times song lol.

          America is resented, I think, by the children and grandchildren of the Euro generation that endured World War II. They (the children and grandchildren) did not experience the war, just the aftermath, so they have a different perspective of American power and influence.

          In the sense that they have forgotten how much America had helped us and tend to see America as imperialist? I don’t know. ‘Having forgotten’ is more the grandchildren possibly rather than the children (ie us, the boomers). But the grandchildren are very much in love with America, like my daughters. My generation heard from our parents that without America big chances were the Fascist Nazi would have won, not to mention the Marshall plan. Our parents were grateful to America for that, so were we. Because of that my love for America and for this language started.

          Things changed a bit during the 70s student revolution. But what was disliked in those days was right-wing traditional American values – which were not bad after all and we had loved them as kids in films starring John Wayne and James Stuart: I respect these two actors also because they had faith in their ideals until the end, I love them & their movies and watch them as much as I can, especially John Wayne.

          Left-wing America was powerful at that time. Many American movies have moulded our generation (Easy Rider, Three Days of the Condor: I re-saw it twice a few days ago, wow, the Graduate, All the President’s Men etc.) Personally many days of that sotosay 68 revolution (before I met my mentor) I spent with eccentric America expatriates in Rome. I have narrated it *here* and *here* in my blog.

          I think – I am blabbering – that whatever we may say, New World people and Europeans have mutual mixed feelings, some suspicion & grudge (many Americans stem from people who fled Europe because of injustice, poverty etc., some European countries suffered from US intrusion etc.), it cannot but be like that. We often have different economical, geopolitical interests (the birth of the Euro currency was feared in America etc.)

          But I also think that, beyond any difference, the two Worlds really love each other quite a lot, there are too many ties etc., and the ‘cultures’ have common origins. And yes, British comedy is absolutely fantastic.

          Reply
          • I have found myself enamored of the 30’s and 40’s; the music, the films, the struggles. It was period of great change around the world.

            I may just be retreating into my childhood. I was raised on the movies (on TV) of that era, a child of the (what we now call) “The Greatest Generation”, I grew up on the music (my father had quite a collection), and I spend a lot of time reading about that era.

            I often wonder what I would have done if I had lived through that period.

            I think about modern political and diplomatic practices and contemplate what might have happened had they been applied in the 30’s and 40’s. And perhaps they were tried.

          • Yes of course. I have forgotten the 30s and forties. Oh don’t worry, I’m also retreating into my childhood. It is fun.

  3. I don’t think there is a USA culture but there certainly are USA CULTURES. People in Maine do not talk nor think like people of New York or New Jersey. Then again Virginia and North Carolina have a gentler and more gracious way of living.
    Tennesse and Kentucky are a totally different world, in some parts you don’t even feel you are in the USA.
    In Florida I met people who went home or closed shop when they felt they had made enough money for the day.
    New England people are woodsmen and fishermen. Then you have the industrial money makers of New York, New Jersey, Illinois and parts of Pennsylvania; but then again, in Pennsylvania, you have the Amish and you are in the 18th century.
    I have not been West or on the Pacific coast but I’m sure there are wildly different patterns there too.
    Melting pot you say, I guess this is a legend, I would rather talk of patchwork or quiltwork although to a lesser extent than in Canada where ethnic groups are more defined than south of the border.

    Reply
    • Oops, oops, oops, Paul, I live in Virginia and I that gentler way of living seems to be a phantom. It has really vanished from all but pseudo-British, obscenely wealthy horse-country enclaves, and has been replaced by howling wildernesses of strip malls and miles of rural road where you will regularly encounter pickup trucks with gun racks and flag bumper stickers reading THESE COLORS DON’T RUN.

      Actually Zeus is more of an expert than I in the ways of “downstate.” I live close to Washington DC, known for its “Southern efficiency and Northern charm.”

      Reply
      • I haven’t been down your way for quite a few years now. Over 20 I guess. Things do change. Perhaps I would be disappointed if I went back now.

        Reply
      • Southern efficiency and Northern charm! That’s it! When I visited D.C. last year the unmistakable southern sensibility was pervasive. Yet, I wasn’t sure it was a “southern” town.

        And now that you mention it, it did remind me, like Georgetown for instance, of a northern town. The geography of that whole area Maryland/Delaware/Virginia is interesting if not confusing.

        Reply
        • You got me confused. I would have thought Southern charm and Northern efficiency instead.

          Reply
          • Roma, Roma, Roma: Anglo-Saxon irony. ;)

          • Actually the Commentator is a Calabrian, like Pythagoras ;-)

          • If you ever come to DC you will understand the saying. It takes forever to get anything done and people are cranky about it.

          • Ok, and ‘cranky’, I love it, and ‘Holy crap’, is not bad either.

            I will come. Prepare the beers.

          • You can count on me for immersion in vivid Unitedstatish idioms. And fortuntately, after a long half century of awful swill, Americans re-learned how to make beer so you are covered there too.

          • Good point. You’ll have to ask sledpress about that. But I still know what he, she or it means!

            I enjoyed D.C. – although it was tough finding a well-priced real Italian restaurant. I’m sure they exist but in two days it’s tough to find them. A concierge suggested one but the prices were outrageous!

          • Commentator, if you’re ever back here — Ristorante Murali in the Pentagon Row center, close to two transit stops.

            First place I ever had limoncello, the kind of place where the headwaiter comes out and tells you which dishes the chef made specially because some wonderful ingredient came into his hands that day. (Last time it was pumpkin ravioli.) But you leave with your shirt still on your back.

  4. PS: I forgot to mention Boston, Massachussets, a hub of higher knowledge and prestigious institutions with many cultural activities such as symphony, ballet, theater that many European City can envy. It was also the home of the real Tea Party, not the Palin type that pale in comparison. (Bad pun, I know).

    Reply
    • Not so bad a pun Paul.

      Everybody recognises variety in America and the excellence of the American high culture. As I told Douglas, it is the pervading (and today very low-level imo) American pop culture that many Europeans tend to dislike, especially those of my generation.

      As an example, due to the American powerful economy, in Europe we get a majority of American films compared to European films. I still believe that European films are better, although many don’t agree with me – among the young especially.

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Bogfish In Space « Sixteen Tons

  6. I’m a bit confused. Did you have a conclusion to the question you pose in your title?

    I’m guessing that it’s “Yes”. Right?

    As I see it, America once had a cultural hegemony in the post-war years. In West Germany, for instance, anything American was automatically cool. America was the model. It created “norms”.

    In the past generation, that started changing. There is now a world culture with many poles. Latin Salsa and Tango, Indian spirituality, East Asian cuisine, American finance (for better or worse), Japanese teeny-bopper hairstyles, Korean soap operas, ….

    We pick and choose eclectically from the menu. Bladerunner-like.

    Reply
    • I’m a bit confused. Did you have a conclusion to the question you pose in your title?

      I lacked concentration and was perhaps not clear. I might re-write some sentences.

      Cracks in American hegemony …. it can be ‘youth’, that is, as Sledpress well says, the “lack of rootedness and short time on the territory”, but I never believe in one-factor explanations.

      So my other points / questions – America being much ahead of Europe in mass-culture and consumerism – were not rhetoric but corresponded to real doubts I have.

      And I am a great fan of BladeRunner :-)

      Reply
  7. I’m not going to wade into the boggy marsh of this debate – I have expressed my opinions elsewhere. I do want to comment on this remark of MoR:

    If I enjoy Shakespeare better than soap operas, I am not a snob, I am simply better educated and my mind is more powerful.

    Snobbism is an attitude of condescension and judgment. If one simply spends one’s time on what one considers to be quality material, certainly that is not snobbism. To be a snob is to be very insecure, and to need to demonstrate continually, to others and oneself, that one is superior.

    With that out of the way, I want to say that a preference for Shakespeare over soap is not necessairly an indication of a more ‘powerful’ mind. One might subsitute the word ‘intelligent’ for powerful…but what does it mean? How does one define a more powerful mind? We know it when we see it, but it can take so many forms, that a simple definition is absurd. A person may be a brilliant scholar of the humanities, and incapable of balancing a checkbook or making pleasant chit-chat at a party. Powerful minds are not universally so.

    So, a preference for ‘high’ over ‘pop’ or ‘low’ culture may be evidence of more power for literary engagement, but it may be, and I suspect it often is, a reflection of values. I consider myself highly literate, and quite ‘powerful’ in my mental skills with literary and cultural works, but much of that power is simply the result of practice.

    I have always read the classics, I am used to, and enjoy arcane, archaic language, I am comfortable with allegory and multiple threads of meaning. I am sensitive to style, largely because I have been consuming works that feature these things for many years. Why did I start, and why did I continue?

    It has to do with my personal values and preferences. Italo Calvino explained much of this well in his essay, “Why Read the Classics?”

    I have become comfortable with the fact that my tastes are minority tastes – I don’t care. I don’t recommend books often because most people don’t like the stuff I like to read. I don’t consider myself more intelligent or mentally ‘powerful’ simply because I entertain myself with Don Quixote rather that One Tree Hill (TV soap). I consider myself more literary.

    Being literary may correlate with mental power and intelligence. We all know that intelligent people tend to be interesting and interested in many things. But we all know plenty of really intelligent people who are really stupid in lots of ways. Intelligent, smart, clever, these words are so vague, and the human mind is so multi-faceted.

    Reply
    • I may be off the mark here but I guess that had Shakespeare had the technology we have today that he may well have gone into the tv business and, yes, even written soaps, after all he was forever in need of money.
      As much as I love opera, many libretti are not all that far from a soap scenario, just more concise and time encompassed, you can spend only so much time at La Scala after all.

      Reply
      • …you can spend only so much time at La Scala after all. Excellent point on opera.

        Regarding Shakespeare, however, he would not have been Shakespeare if he had had the technology we have today. Another counterfactual…Who knows what he would have been?

        Reply
      • Paul, opera, especially Italian opera, was a high level pop(ular) entertainment. That explains the elementary passions of the libretti, but the music was sublime in my view. Also Greek tragedy was pop(ular), if we want to follow Gramsci’s reasoning – his notion of ‘national-popular’ art-, and tragedy implied music and singing too (the texts were better than the libretti of course, altho the initial Italian opera was very serious in its content). In fact opera was invented in Italy to imitate Greek tragedy (but they created a totally different thing for lack of info on ancient music). The Italian-Greek Syracusans in the 5th century BCE threw the defeated Athenian youth into the Latomìe (stone quarries) and spared only the lives of those Athenians who were capable of singing popular tragedy tunes & verses.

        Reply
        • I suddenly have a flash of a t characteristic Western-movie scene where the bad guys rampage through the whorehouse and shoot a lot of the rival gang holed up there but spare the piano player, as long as he keeps playing.

          Reply
    • @Lichanos

      If I enjoy Shakespeare better than soap operas … my mind is more powerful.

      First of all I didn’t mean ‘I’ as myself but as ‘one person’. “If one enjoys …his /her mind gets more powerful”

      I cannot reply to all you imply (values, for example). I’ll focus on ‘quality’ and on intelligence.

      Yes, quality materials, that is the point, and the question arises about how can one define quality, although I won’t get into that and will assume some quality stuff is self-explanatory:

      Spending time with Victor Hugo, Marsilio Ficino or Willard Van Orman Quine one can sort of postulate is more mind expanding than spending years – as I did, and loved every minute of it – with Superman / Clark Kent. Btw, my best friend in those remote days (between 7 and 10) spent his time with literature instead and became a power student in the classroom as for math, science, Italian, history etc.

      Mind-expanding … Yes, a lot should be said about mental powers, intelligence. Even specialists do not agree on the concept of intelligence. If intelligence is related to solving problems in a given situation, literature might not help if the mob is after us and we need to save our ass. But exercising reason might help instead. Arguments, dialogues, discussions on complicated stuff can help in any field or situation I guess. I believe in the power of reason, although I am very irrational.

      I can at any rate testify that since I started blogging more than 30 months ago my reasoning skills (plus memory) have much bettered. Which helped me to solve a lot of problems in family life, business and so forth.

      Reply
      • First of all I didn’t mean ‘I’ as myself…
        Naturally, I assumed you did not.

        Even specialists do not agree on the concept of intelligence.
        Why should they. They are so stupid! Kidding aside, people have abilities. When they have more than others, we say they are more intelligent. There is no such “thing” as intelligence.

        Spending time with …Hugo, … Ficino or …Quine one can sort of postulate is more mind expanding than spending years – as I did, and loved every minute of it – with Superman

        For a seven year old, Quine would be stultifying. Maybe for a fifty year old too. Comics can be quite mind-expanding for young and old. Depends on how good they are and why you read them. To say one gets inpsired by listening to Dylan as much as Bach is fine. The important thing for a critical thinker is to recognize that they are not the same types of music. (Later, one can argue over which is better, and for what!)

        Reply
        • For a seven year old, Quine would be stultifying.

          How the hell do you know :-)

          Comics can be mind-expanding but to me they are flat. I don’t believe in them from an educational point of view. I saw the effect of them ON ME and on too many people. Same with cartoons. Don’t forget I was a professional teacher. I won’t get into that.

          Had I read good literature in my infancy like my friend did, I’m sure my life would have been much much easier.

          I am an old fart. Forget my words. And go on reading Asterix ;-)

          Joking. Go on reading good stuff. Seen from outside, your mind is ‘expanded’, whatever this may mean or whatever the used of it. In case of no use, it provides consolation in old age, and makes us better prepared – as Montaigne insists, maybe excessively – when the end will arrive.

          Reply
  8. America is just getting started my friends.

    Too dynamic to remain stale for too long.

    Reply
  9. Oh wow, it seems as though I have to catch up with the whole series.
    The topic is of real interest to me.
    By the way, Culture and Imperialism by E. Said is on my summer reading list. I started it few months ago but didn’t finish it.

    Reply
    • Hi Lola, welcome back!

      I had a look at this E. Said. He is a successful Palestinian writer and thinker who had great success in America. Sounds pretty interesting and much to the point as far as this discussion on ideas and their influence in society.

      Reply

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