Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Liberal Orthodoxy

. . . a reporter from the New York Times was interviewing me once for a piece fleshing out my take on country music with some personal data. His started his questions by asking what films I liked, and my first thought was that I should not say anything very pretentious. (Even the word films seemed to lead the way to disaster.) So I replied that, actually, I liked Adam Sandler's work very much. The writer paused, pen midair, beheld me gently, and said: "I'm going to do you a favor and not use that." Okay, I thought. We'll go with that, and say nice things only. The New York Times plays to a kind of audience, and it wants what it wants -- don't argue. But I was interested to see, when the piece came out, that my answer to the question What book are you currently reading? was framed as He claims to be reading Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence. Now, that book, like everything else Jacques Barzun has written, is for a general reader, not a way-out intellectual. The claims, in other words, is uncalled for. Plenty of country musicians are interested in Erasmus and 17th-century politics in Venice and so on, but aren't steeped in it enough to slog through a work of primary scholarship. That's nothing that should choke the average reader on his morning coffee.
— Robbie Fulkes, Potpourri, March 25, 2009