Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Comments on the Art Post

I got a couple of comments on my previous Art post, and I think I need to reply.

My attitudes toward science fiction and the mainstream are very much shaped by growing up in a middle class household in the Midwest in the 1950s. My parents were not entirely typical, I think it would be fair to say. Their loyalty was to avant garde art and progressive politics. I grew up surrounded by Abstract Expressionist art and High Modernist books.

My hostility is not to High Modernism or the visual arts of the first half of the 20th century. I love the art. I am less interested in the literature, but I figure that is my fault, not the fault of the books.

However, like many middle class people in the Midwest, my parents subscribed to The New Yorker, the Sunday New York Times and the London Times Literary Supplement. This is the culture I did not like.

It was centered in New York and in the educated upper middle class; and it focused on the social and psychological problems of the East Coast educated upper middle class.

I had no trouble with the Beats or with the poetry that Robert Bly was publishing in his magazine variously named The Fifties, The Sixties and The Seventies. (Bly, with all his later quirks and failings, did wonderful work as an editor; and he loathed mid-20th century, academic, American poetry.) When I talk about literary fiction, I am talking about a narrow band within literature that was important in my youth.

Built into my attitudes is a lot of prejudice, which I can't justify and which I need to think about.

So I am not saying that I'm right. I am simply describing my opinions at the moment. I think they need to change. And it's by writing, and then having people comment on my posts that I begin to see what's wrong with my opinions.

As far as literature by immigrants about immigrant culture go, I suspect Foxessa is right, and this work is interesting. I also have no personal problem with the large amounts of fantastic literature that has come from Europe and Latin America and (no doubt) elsewhere. I am basically talking about literary culture of white, middle class New York in the second half of the 20th century.

The passage I wrote on Hollywood and SF is a tangent and not based on enough information. I would delete it, but I don't usually delete when what I have written has produced a comment.


Blogger Foxessa said...

It often seems to those of us who are outside the reference points within which you are referring -- I don't think I said that right! :) -- that your pen is stroking far too broadly. This broad stroke directly contradicts personal experience of some of us at least, who are outside that inside perspective of the sf/f genre.

Both, outside and inside, want to do what you are doing, which is, to learn more and re-think what we think we already now.

Or (referencing my current research for the Louisiana Purchase and what it meant for slave economy and thus the history of the U.S.) to quote Talleyrand: "Only fools never change their minds." :)

Love, C.

7:48 AM  

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