Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dylan knows: nothing's more old-fashioned than "the modern."

My friend John Logie weighs in on the Dylan-Timrod shenanigans, astutely saying, “I hope to hell Dylan sees fit to plagiarize my book once it's out.

(He also links to my band’s web page and refers to me as an “accomplished songwriter” -- hey, thanks!)

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Usage note: To rank cultural artifacts according to their correspondence with brow elevation -- "highbrow" v. "lowbrow" -- with few people admitting to being "middlebrow" -- is to show a sensibility out-of-date with intellectual fashion. The "brows" date back to the discredited (and racist) quackery of phrenology. Some scholars say that the people who popularized the adoption of "highbrow" and "lowbrow" into cultural contexts about 100 years ago originally meant it tongue-in-cheek. When I come across it now on blogs I like very much, I hope the authors intend to keep the tongue-in-cheek quality, but I'm not sure I see it.

I pondered a replacement for terms like "high art" and "serious art" and "fine art" and "highbrow." The only word that's making it for me is "esoteric". The etymology of "esoteric" points toward "inner," as in "inner circle" -- the chosen few. The implied exclusiveness does not bother me, because in our world the "few" can be self-selecting. The door's open; anyone is welcome, but few choose. Height, fineness, seriousness, and brows have nothing to do with it.
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