Friday, March 11, 2005

Read This book!

I haven't blogged in a few days. It's not that the Martha blog is taking all my attention. It's more that the dissertation is taking all my attention. That and the fact that I accidentally paused on Scarborough country again the other night and, after throwing things at my television set for five minutes, decided I was tired of politics and better back off for awhile. Oh: and I've been reading. I just finished reading a book called NoBrow by John Seabrook. On its surface it was about Tina Brown’s tenure at The New Yorker, when Si Newhouse decided that the only thing that could save the temple of good taste was to put the woman who had run Vanity Fair in charge. But that’s not really what it was about.

NoBrow is the best book I’ve ever read about postmodern theory, and the interesting thing is that Seabrook doesn’t mention the word postmodern once. I just spent six month buried in postmodern theory, and this book is better then anything Frederick Jamison ever wrote. Subtitled “The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture,” Nobrow chronicles how the old master narratives of art and commerce—taste, culture, high-brow—were replaced by the nineties with a postmodern relativism that only left one measure of quality: sales. The old distinctions of high and low culture, popular and elite, good and bad converged through the process of marketing, until all that was left was spin and buzz and sales, and the Metropolitan Opera was really no better, no more prestigious, no more special CBGBs except in terms of its popularity and its sales. Anybody who wants to understand mass media, marketing, art and culture in a postmodern society needs to read Seabrook’s book. It is brilliant.


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