11/1: Raymond Williams Has Not Aged Well

I love the way the selection of Raymond Williams's "'Mass Communication' and 'Minority Culture'" begins, noting things like "society is a form of communication" and that communication is as important as "power, property, and production" (44-45). In fact, one line jumped out at me as pure poetry: "We degrade art and learning by supposing they are always second-hand activities: that there is life, and then afterwards there are these accounts of it" (45). At that level, the entirety of this selection is poetical and beautiful, the work of an artist. That being said, the essay hits a serious shift as soon as the subsection "HIGH AND LOW" begins (46). 

While I've written about artists whose work is not necessarily mainstream, I've yet to hear any of them refer to themselves as part of "minority culture," so the term confused me. "'Minority culture' can mean two things," writes Williams, noting that it is either "the work of the great artists and thinks" or "the work of [the great] as received and used by a particular social minority, which will indeed, often add to it certain works and habits of its own" (46). Now, this is a bit tricky to think about. How can what is essentially the Canon be referred to as "minority culture" unless Williams is considering elite academics a minority? That's technically true because not everyone can tell you who the prominent scholars are, but it's also a reckless and dangerous misuse of the word that would not fly if it were published today. And even if he means the more modern definition, what does it mean to say that minorities "often add" to culture, as if incapable of producing a unique culture? 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I am tired of reading about men who are worried the high culture they so treasure will be overtaken and integrated with mass culture, or who feel their ivory tower is being besieged by MTV. I have nothing against "high art," just not a fan of being so culturally insensitive.