Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When High Culture and Pop Culture Were Closer

L. Gordon Crovitz takes a look back at the "Great Books of the Western World," a 54 volume set published in the 1950's that ultimately sold more than 1 million copies and inspired countless Americans to attend lectures and join discussion groups. To those who compiled the series, western literature had value for all Americans and was not to be relegated to study by academic elites. University of Chicago President John Maynard Hutchins explained:

"The best education for the best is the best education for all. I am not saying that reading and discussing the Great Books will save humanity from itself, but I don't know anything else that will."

Two unfortunate changes in our culture have conspired to relegate such thinking to the distant past: the acceptance by much of our society of the leftist notion that dead white males don't deserve any special attention for what they might have written and the dissipation of attention spans to the point where many people no longer accept either the possibility or the value of sustained thought. We as a culture have been impoverished as a result.

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