Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the by Clive James

By Clive James

"I cannot keep in mind while i have discovered as a lot from whatever i have read—or laughed as a lot whereas doing it."—Jacob Weisberg, SlateFinally in paperback after six hardcover printings, this foreign bestseller is an encyclopedic A-Z masterpiece—the ideal creation to the very middle of Western humanism. Clive James rescues, or sometimes destroys, the careers of the various maximum thinkers, humanists, musicians, artists, and philosophers of the 20th century. hovering to Montaigne-like heights, Cultural Amnesia is exactly the ebook to burnish those thoughts of a Western civilization that James fears is almost misplaced.

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Extra resources for Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts

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But the accumulated destruction yielded one constructive effect, salutary even if solitary. It made us think hard about the way we thought. For my own part, it made me think hard about all the fields of creativity that I seemed to love equally, whatever their place in a supposed hierarchy. I loved poetry, but such towering figures as Brecht and Neruda were only two of the gifted poets who had given aid and comfort to totalitarian power. I loved classical music, but so did Reinhard Heydrich and the ineffable Dr.

It is an impressive work, deserving of its prestige, but tends to encourage the misleading assumption that greatness is everything. In the long run it might seem so, but in the shorter run, which is the run of everyday life, a civilization is irrigated and sustained by its common interchange of ordinary intelligence. After the turn of the century, in Vienna’s case, this more ordinary intelligence began to make itself extraordinary through the essays and remembered wit that came out of the cafes.

We can cocoon ourselves, if we wish, in a new provincialism more powerful than any of the past empires. English is this new world’s lingua franca, not because it was once spoken in the British Empire but because it is spoken now in the American international cultural hegemony. Born to speak it, we can view the whole world as a dubbed movie, and not even have to bother with subtitles. Should we wish, we can even savour die tang of alien tongues: a translation will be provided on a separate page, to be dialled up at a touch.

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