Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Culture, high and low

Interesting musings from Tony Kushner in the Nation on Arthur Miller, and Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal on PBS (during which she takes a swipe at Kushner).
Noonan makes a good, if snobbish, case for continuing to fund public television. "Sumner Redstone is never going to pay for an 11-hour miniseries called 'The Civil War,'" she writes, "he's not going to invest money and years of effort into a reverent exhumation of the rich loam of American history." I wonder if such pragmatic elitism will draw broadsides from her conservative peers. She's right, of course; and yet, when she contends that "Nobody needs their investigative unit pieces on how Iran-contra was very, very wicked," she's missing something ... the BBC is state-funded, and I would say, anti-Israeli bias notwithstanding, it's far superior to anything we have in the US.
Eulogizing Miller, Kushner praises him for his empathy toward humanity, even its evildoers. "Arthur Miller had the curse of empathy, even for the enemy," Kushner explains. "Humans justify themselves to themselves, even bad humans, and Arthur the playwright always wanted to know how and why." Incidentally, Noonan, in her article, writes, "It is true that if you tell PBS producers they are now doing a play series they will immediately decide to remount "Angels in America," and proposes a rule: "It takes at least 50 years for a currently esteemed work to prove itself a work of art, a true classic. It proves this by enduring." Sure -- this evokes Ernest Hemingway's inscription, "Il faut, d'abord, durer." ("It is necessary, first of all, to endure.") Perhaps much of the current widely-acclaimed art and literature will be forgotten a half-century later. However, that shouldn't stop us from trying to evaluate contemporary arts and letters. The creative arts do require continual rediscoveries and reevaluations.
Now for some unrelated items: Cheers to NBC for another enjoyable episode of "Hit Me Baby One More Time." All five performers sang well, including Oscar winner (and tonight's audience choice) Irene Cara. I am glad to see that there will be another new episode next week. Haven't been this excited about anything on TV since Paris and Nicole visited Altus, Arkansas.
I have a feature story up on my friend Bryan Person's website, Check it out ... and check out the website in general.


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