Friday, May 25, 2007

Bellow on critics and modern criticism

Critics often translate important books - write them again, as it were, in the fashionable intellectual jargon. And then the books are no longer themselves. they have been borrowed by Culture, with a capital C. There are two things here that we must clearly distinguish. One is the work of art with its direct effect on people. The other is a work of art as a cultural commodity, as a piece of society's property in Culture. In the second form, art becomes a fertilizer for the cultivation of languages, vocabularies, intellectual styles, ornaments, degrees, honors, prizes, and all the rest of that. That's Culture with a capital C. That's what I'm talking about. And this is what always happens. Our model for it is the Christian religion, which started with faith and ended with churches.

2 comments:

puthwuth said...

Good to stumble on your blog. I too have happy memories of that poet's lecture you described in a post from last October. See you at the reading in Zest, I hope! DW

Tom Conoboy said...

Ha! I think if you hadn't intervened to ask something else and change the subject we might still be there...