The Crumbling Phase

Michael Blowhard on the transformation of arts criticism and tastes by sites like Arts and Letters Daily.

How humbling it must be for the professional tastemakers to discover that 1) They aren’t the only people around with knowledge and taste, and the ability to express themselves, that 2) Much of what they value most highly is disliked by many perfectly intelligent people, and that 3) They’re losing the ability to force their preferences down anyone’s throat.

I wonder, for instance, how long the “This is Real Literature, and that isn’t” crowd will be able to sustain and market the illusion that the books and authors they prefer represent anything but the taste-set of a tiny minority of readers. It may or may not be an interesting and/or useful taste-set; perhaps it has something to offer. I think it does, a little: I lay out my own view of the contempo lit world here. But is there any reason to think that the lit world’s taste-set is a particularly important or vital one? I’d bet good money that the literary thang is already well into its “crumbling” phase, and I’m curious to see what kind of new relationship the literary world will re-forge with the rest of us.

In that same post Blowhard mentions quite a number of cultural blogs with a scientific approach. He also links to his list of recommended books.