Wishful Thinking

Someone declares the death of canons again.

The idea of a “canon” is in tatters. A canon needs an established cultural authority, and there is no guiding authority in culture anymore. There are no real gatekeepers. […] So, with the collapse of the canon we’re a little bit lost, drifting amidst a sea of cultural troubles. But we’re also freer. The entire cultural landscape gets freshened up. We get to look at things anew and decide if we really do like them, and why. We step out from under the thumb of an authority that, for all its usefulness, often seemed arbitrary and authoritative merely for authority’s sake. There was power — too much power maybe — lurking inside the canon, with its terrible weapon of exclusion. That power has faded away. We’re alone again, confronting the world like children, barbarian children with only a few tattered and mutually contradictory maps to assist us.

Someone apparently hopes that this was true, which it’s patently not, but the death of canons (yes there’s an ‘s’) has been declared for several decades as the end of art has been declared for two centuries (Geulen’s treatise is helpful reading on that). In this case it’s accompanied by a severe case of political naivete, which is not less political for being about ‘culture’. People who think they are in an ideology-free zone, with fully emancipated individuals are sometimes cute, but mostly annoying. It tends to given even the nice and smart ones free reign to condone atrociously racist behaviour. Tiresome. Annoying. I’m out.

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