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A Cultural Drop-Out

October 19th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Victor Davis Hanson has written an interesting piece on being a cultural drop-out. He does not follow contemporary pop culture or journalism. Though in some respects I’m not as consistently opposed to the new, I could identify with his position, and I’ll bet many readers of this blog could, too.

Today’s culture is the result of the New Leftist cultural revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s. This revolution is an enormous success precisely because most people don’t understand that it happened. Young people take the culture they were born into as a metaphysical fact like the air we breath.

The cultural revolution is egalitarianism in every aspect of life: discourse, clothing, hairstyle, manners, art, romantic relations, and so much more. Egalitarianism has destroyed them all not by outright attacks, or through campaigns with specific manifestos, but merely by lowering standards. Once a culture-wide standard is lowered, the people born into the culture see the standard as the status quo; these days they never exceed the status quo, but they can lower the standard even farther if they wish. Look at the decline in pop music: it’s hard to argue that Britney Spears and Kanye West come anywhere near the Supremes and the Beatles, or, heaven forfend, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

If our culture ever changes for the better — that is, if a philosophy of reason spreads — then future young people will begin rethinking every aspect of our culture. They will compare old movies of Cary Grant and Greta Garbo to the mindless fare of the summer blockbuster era and wonder how the world ever let those higher standards go. They will compare the stylish cuts of the 1930’s to the hippies, and… well, it’s too obvious a point to belabor.

My optimistic prediction is that 100 years from now our current culture will be entirely forgotten, known only to scholars and overworked grad students who have to study the New Leftist Cultural Dark Age (one of the least popular college courses of the 22nd century). It’s impossible to say how our culture will change as reason spreads. Who knows, 100 years from now stylish young people might be wearing powdered periwigs and saying, “verily, thou art a fount of wisdom” to one another. It would beat “Dude, that sucks” any day.

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    Uh, not the periwigs… please!

    I often remind myself that Garbo, Grant, Fitzgerald and Sinatra*, though much better than today’s culture, were still part of the broader culture that led us to today’s. The new culture will be, well …new.

    *I preferred actors Gregory Peck & the Sydney Poitier.

    With respect to Gregory Peck, if you’ve not seen the much overlooked “The Big Country“, there are some wonderful aspects and speeches/scenes. Go to the IMDB link to see the stellar cast list.

    Here is an example that is typical of the whole movie. ..

    First, so you can appreciate the scenario: Ranch foreman Leech (Heston) resents McKay (Peck). McKay, an Easterner, who has just returned from a solo ride of several days. Everyone at the 1/2 million acre ranch thinks he was lost. He denies it, but Leech calls him a liar in front of all the ranch hands. This is an obvious call for a fight. McKay refuses. (I will not say how.)

    A few tumultuous days later, McKay has developed some long term plans. The clip opens at twilight, where we see he is making a very definite decision. Characteristic of the entire movie, the audience has to consider for themselves what that decision is! At the crack of dawn, McKay visits Leech’s quarters.

    The scene with Leech is a bit drawn out by today’s standards but, in the context of the whole movie, it has to be. The key is the very last line, spoken by McKay, so wait for it. The entire event is necessary, not only for characterization and overall plot, but even for the future.

    That future, which we must understand to appreciate the movie, occurs after the movie is over! Indeed, there are a number of plot events that will seem overblown, or even contradictory without that long range perspective. You may even have to watch it a couple of times, to sort out the full meaning of some events.

    Don’t look at other YouTube clips of the movie, get “The Big Country” and settle down for a treat. McKay, to me, is the Francisco d’Anconia of Westerns.