Vive les differences

“In Germany the most important creative social status is given to the musician. In Italy it’s the painter. Who’s the most important creator in France? It’s the writer.”

“Books are living things. They need to be respected, to be loved. We are giving them many lives.”

These quotes come from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/books/french-bookstores-are-still-prospering.html?_r=1, an article dealing with the state of bookstores in France versus electronic books’ portion of that market.

Who is/should be accorded “the most important creative social status” in the United States? Not that it need be only one, except for this little parlor game of perspective. Thirty years ago, Aaron Siskind commented in an aside somewhere that America no longer had a thriving high culture. I may have mentioned before that when American practicing artists were consulted on political matters for election-year articles, 1960 journalists went to the Robert Lowells, but by 1968 they were soliciting the opinions of the Jim Morrisons. This is a matter of public recognition factor.

Digression: Television talk shows originally operated with a more leisurely format (to the point, we’re told, of ending when the conversation was done, and that would even occasionally determine when it was time for the station to sign off), as opposed to the tight horse-race feeling parade of celebrity promotions we witness now. The spectrum of guests was wider as well: singers and authors who have no place in pop culture, such as Jan Peerce and Alexander King (look ’em up). Raconteurs, as well: the last time Buck Henry appeared with Letterman, he simply talked about his vacation, and he held the audience’s attention.

What holds your attention? We are all members of the populus, it’s true; what do you find is richer than pop culture?

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