Most of you are idiots

Most of You are Idiots with Nothing to Say:

Present company excepted, of course. However, that is the conclusion of two separate articles treating the bounty of literature being published today.

Why read?

If we take the argument a step further, we face the possibility that the humanities are actually countereconomic; the notion of alterity and sympathy, taken seriously, would undo the profit motive and put a fair amount of grit into the workings of economic activity. It would undermine the individualism upon which exchange, in its current forms, is based.
Why write?
A loud, swarming noise of hundreds of thousands of books published each year, one almost indistinguishable from the next. Here are three new biographies of Coco Chanel, published almost simultaneously. A giant stack of memoirs about being sexually abused as a child. A dozen or so fantasy trilogies that begin with a poor girl who, upon the death of her mother, discovers she’s actually heir to the throne and must fight off usurpers.
Surely, though, the best ideas float to the top?
Does one dare to raise one’s voice above the commotion, try to draw some attention away from those taking up the spotlight? Who gets in that rarefied space is still determined by the writer’s gender, connections, beauty, nepotism, youth, or “platform.” Not even the most idealistic among the cultural critics bother to argue that the system is merit-based.
That's from a female author, by the way.

We've occasionally discussed the problem -- usually in the context of music -- of "Where are our Wagners?" Eric reminds us that we are in a time of extraordinary richness of sharing: we can hear forms of music that most of the greats never heard while they were composing; and those great composers; and many other forms as well.

This should be producing some magnificent synthesis, Beethoven with punk rock: but what we're getting instead is... well, it's garbage. Literature and academic thought is likewise drowning in sewage.

What is to be done about this? Also, what does it mean that more variety -- even more access to the greatest that history has ever produced -- does not reliably produce greats, but seems instead to drown them? I have heard that happiness is often imperiled by having too many choices; this seems like another problem of that type.

It is a problem not often considered in philosophy, which often follows Aristotle's formula that 'the good' is what things desire, and they desire those things because they lack them in some sense. Here is a case where we lack nothing -- not the best. Yet, lacking nothing, we are unable to make good things ourselves. It is as if the magic has broken, and the spell receded: all that is left are the old things, the works we cannot make alone.

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