Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Quote of the Day (Irving Howe, on American Culture’s ‘Indifference to the Past’)

“American culture is notorious for its indifference to the past. It suffers from the provincialism of the contemporary, veering wildly from fashion to fashion, each touted by the media and then quickly dismissed. But the past is the substance out of which the present has been formed, and to let it slip away from us is to acquiesce in the thinness that characterizes so much of our culture. Serious education must assume, in part, an adversarial stance toward the very society that sustains it—a democratic society makes the wager that it’s worth supporting a culture of criticism. But if that criticism loses touch with the heritage of the past, it becomes weightless, a mere compendium of momentary complaints.”—American editor and social and literary critic Irving Howe (1920-1993),The Value of the Canon,” The New Republic, Feb. 18, 1991

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