Posters on theater chat sites may proclaim it as the end of the world and the death of the American musical, but Western culture has always cherished a streak of theatrical inanity like this, running wider or narrower according to the times. We live in lousy times, that's all. The week I saw Xanadu, I'd been reading a collection of late 18th-century after—pieces, the silly diversions theaters put on following Hamlet or The School for Scandal in the pre-television era, when
people expected an evening at the playhouse to be a long one. A few of the writers had some wit, but mostly the scripts were far stupider than Xanadu, and not nearly as amusing. Of course, you got Hamlet for your money too, but the evils of capitalist distribution are not a drama critic's concern, though it's worth noting that Marxism, like other movements toward violent revolution, arose just when the theater was at its most trivial, concentrating its efforts almost
wholly on diversion.
Ross Douhat at the Atlantic says the following about Blogs:
The flip side of this is that blogging is the enemy of literary craft and intellectual depth. Arguments over tax policy and the proper interpretation of Knocked Up find a natural home in the blogosphere; attempts write a great novel or compose a paradigm-shifting philosophical treatise do not. If you want to be the next George Will or Paul Krugman, you'd be well-served to take up blogging now, because it'll make you a better pundit. If you want to be the next Ian McEwan or Philip Roth, or the next Alastair McIntyre or Richard Rorty, I'd advise you to rip your internet cable out of the wall now, before it's too late.
To which Andrew Sullivan agrees, but replies:
So why am I still here? Because the medium itself is worth pioneering, and in my eighth year of daily blogging, I've decided to give in to the impulse and take it where it wants to go. This kind of innovation only happens once in the lifetime of a writer, and to be there at the creation is too good an opportunity to miss. I keep telling myself that at some point, I'll retire from all this, drag my poetry and philosophy and history tomes back from the shelf and think some more, and write, you know, maybe a long, well-researched article a year or a book every five years. And let myself have an unpublished or unexpressed thought, or allow it to gestate for a while, or simply kick it around in my head before kicking it around in pixels.But the lure of tens of thousands of daily readers, many of whom know much more about any particular subject than I do, is irresistible.
I would like to make a more coherent, well-thought, article-length post about how this all ties together ....but...I just don't have the time.