Thursday, July 08, 2004

By the way...

...My score on Terry Teachout's Cultural Concordance Index is about 45% (out of the questions I answered; my opinions on painting can be summed up as "I don't know much about art and I don't know what I like"). Of course these things change, and I dare say that everybody who took the Test would have different answers at different times. For example, I used to prefer To Have and Have Not to Casablanca, and probably will again some day, but right now I'm going through a phase where if I see one more of Howard Hawks' endlessly repeated gimmicks -- "I'm hard to get [fill in name of movie hero], all you have to do is ask me" -- I'll punch a hole in the screen, so Casablanca it is.

One of Teachout's readers commented that the list seems to go for the "light" (in the first column) and the "heavy" (in the second column). You could also give it a political slant: the good, solid '50s-loving modernists going to the ballet and listening to neoclassical Stravinsky while watching deliberately retro movies like Chinatown, instead of those atonalty-loving hippies with their Marlon Brando movies, incomprehensible long novels, and Rolling Stones records. Or not.

I remember a somewhat similar exercise being done when it came to classical composers. The writer noted that throught the history of music, it has often happened that two major composers will be working at the same time, one of whom is facile, a speedy worker, and immediately popular, the other of whom is a slower worker, less well-known in his own time and less easy to enjoy. These pairings included (the more facile, popular composer is listed first in each case):

Handel -- Bach
Richard Strauss -- Hans Pfitzner
Stravinsky -- Schoenberg
Britten -- Tippett

I think there were some others I'm leaving out. Anyway, I found I always preferred the facile, easily-accessible composer. What that says about me, besides "superficial city, man," I don't know, but then, you don't have to be superficial to prefer Britten to Tippett, just non-British...

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