Monday, October 15, 2007

Postmodernist Tastes

From Stephen Asma, a philosophy professor:

My relativist undergraduates feel empowered by a leveling theory that puts their favorite rock band on equal footing with Bach and Mozart; but watch how quickly a qualitative hierarchy races back when, in the interests of consistency, you suggest that their favorite band must be no better than the Backstreet Boys (or that their favorite bohemian film is no better than, only different from, Police Academy 5). The old dichotomies between elite and popular, and high and low, may indeed be vexed by unjustifiable privileges, but without a new language of merit for the arts, the postmodernists are forced to live in a flattened landscape where Barry Manilow and Beetho-ven are equals. In principle, the postmodernists are happy to do so, because anything else would be hegemonic propaganda. In practice, however, their hearts are as autocratic as yours and mine (and they frequently elevate their own favorites with praise of "keepin' it real").

Hat tip: Joe Carter

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