I am writing a review of The Madness of Crowds and as is so often the case, I get sidetracked quite easily.
One way to deal with this sidetracking is my encyclopedia, which allows me to store every single trope, meme, lemma, phrase or idea quite easily. No thought is lost.
Now in Murray’s book, there is a chapter on women which mentions the “Women Mean Business” conference. Murray is present and he witnesses young, smart, attractive women.
This started a digression on my part into the power of women wich made me watch A Fool There Was (1915) yesterday evening. This made me research The Vampire painting by Jones and its accompanying poem by Kipling. Both of 1897.
I have to stop now.
In this phase I have reached the publicity shot for that film which shows Bara sitting behind a skeleton, now #99 in my series World Photography Classics. See above.
He is perhaps best known for his book The Western Canon, to its supporters a work defending art for art’s sake, the absoluteness of aesthetic value and literary genius; to its detractors a defense of elitism and dead white males. This makes Bloom is a cultural critic in the tradition of Matthew Arnold who stated that “[culture is] the best that has been said and thought in the world” (Culture and Anarchy, 1869).
I discovered Bloom in the early 2000s in a period I was researching the nobrow concept.
His death has been a good occasion to dig into the university library and bring home The Western Canon and The Anxiety of Influence.
The bulk of today’s research went to The Western Canon, it is arguably Bloom’s best-known work and it has had relevance outside of the lit crit world.
The notion of a canon has also recently shown itself the object of a political debate in Flanders, the region I live and where the right (NVA) has managed to include it into to the policy of the Jambon Government The opposition (the left) was against it. The culture war fought in our region is one akin to the clash of civilizations of Huntington, more specifically the west and how it tries to come to to terms with the renewed religiosity in the form of Islam.
That Bloom’s canonization of 26 authors was an apolitical process can be read on page 4:
“I am not concerned with . . . the current debate between the right-wing defenders of the Canon, who wish to preserve it for its supposed (and nonexistent) moral values, and the academic-journalistic network I have dubbed the School of Resentment, who wish to overthrow the Canon in order to advance their supposed (and nonexistent) programs for social change.”
If you’re not familiar with Bloom and what to catch up quickly, you may want to check the interviews Bloom gave to Charlie Rose.
Here [above] is one in which he makes a couple of amusing and astute observations on the western canon and its detractors: