In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Another Technical Note
  2. La Ligne Maginot
  3. Actress Notes
  4. Technical Day
  5. Peripheral Explanation
  6. More Immigration Links
  7. Another Graphic Detournement
  8. Peripheral Artists (5): Mikhail Vrubel
  9. Illegal Update

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Contempo Figurative Art | Main | Art--An Extension of War By Other Means? »

August 13, 2003

Austrian LitCrit

Friedrich --

Hey, it isn't just Marxists (and Marxoids) who do economics-based arts criticism. Here's a fun q&a with -- believe it or not -- an Austrian-economics-sympathetic literary critic named Paul Cantor. (Beware: PDF file.)

Cantor says a lot of hearteningly sensible (and dare I say 2Blowhards-ish) things. I can't resist highlighting a few of them:

The problem with economic criticism of literature is not that it takes account of economics but that it uses bad economics ...

The real key to understanding why Castro is so popular with Latin American authors -- and why socialism attracts so many writers and artists -- is that these writers feel underappreciated by the market. They are looking for the Great Man, the dictator who will recognize their genius and exalt their talents above the petty bourgeoisie ...

We are now in a situation in which the only arguments remaning for socialism are aesthetic ... That is why artists are drawn to socialism. They hope that socialism will liberate them from their greatest fear: being judged by the common man ...

It is a Romantic myth that artists are not in it for the money. Many were and are, and that is perfectly okay ...

There is a certain tension between the aesthetic and economic realms. The need of markets to apply standards of utility and rationality often rubs artists the wrong way ... What it comes down to is this: There is something aristocratic about great art. And artists in many ways have felt more comfortable with aristocrats than with the middle class ...

I have a rule: Be politically conservative, but don't be intellectually conservative. The biggest problem on the Right vis-a-vis cultural criticism is this tendency toward fuddyduddyism. We need to recognize that new things come along in art that are very valuable and worthy of study. Why leave the exciting stuff to the Left?...

I would be willing to take the twenty best movies of the twentieth century and match them against the artistic products of any other century, with the exception of William Shakespeare. I don't think there is another century that produced twenty dramas as great as the past century's twenty best movies ...

Just think of all the capital that has gone into the motion picture industry. No royal court, no prince of the church, has presented the arts with as much capital as the free market has placed in the hands of the producers, directors, actors and composers who work to make movies today ...

And here's a q&a that Stephen Carson did with Cantor, during the course of which Cantor predicts that videogames "will be the major art form of the 21st century."



posted by Friedrich at August 13, 2003


Socialism is like Freudianism? Can't work in practice so it becomes a tool for those trying to write their own message into the work of others?

He does sound pretty sensible. And I like his take on the videogame. Thanks for the tip.

Posted by: dan on August 13, 2003 01:30 PM

"videogames 'will be the major art form of the 21st century."'

Does this mean that, for instance, whist was a major art form for some period?

Posted by: j.c. on August 13, 2003 05:47 PM

I should admit that I adored the art in Bauldur's Gate 2 (wonderful game)...the Turkish cities, the strange underdark..the etheral phantoms and imposing dragons...all mostly 2-D and hand-painted exteriors...not realistic in a sense, but more real then I've ever seen before (In the sense that it created a wonderfully detailed, consistant interal world...The City of Coin, Athlaka, with Eastern influences and roman baths...slums and temples and moasic streets...its as real to me as any creation of fiction)

Posted by: JLeavitt on August 14, 2003 12:02 AM

I had a grad-school course under Cantor some years back. The main thing I remember about it now, was that Cantor was often brutally dismissive, even contemptuous, of dissenting points of view. He also tended to impose free market theories on high-dudgeon contempo-literary works that were themselves aggressively anti-free market.

There was sound horse sense in his economics, to be sure, though his heavily Straussian political bent was more than a little disconcerting to an idealistic grad-school kid like me. Still, I didn't think the conservative social-science stuff always led to illuminating literary criticism.

Fortunately, pop culture has proven sufficiently malleable beneath Cantor's critical hammer.

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on August 14, 2003 01:38 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?