We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Moreover, American Idol is a rebuke to those silly “crunchy conservatives” who insist that modern technology and mass production denigrates community, and so forth – in T.S. Eliot’s idiotic words, “The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.” But that’s not true! The community has all joined in on this wholesome, fun, harmless moment to celebrate opportunity, singing, and lightheartedness. What could be more American than that? Lightheartedness is, I think, a profound and incredibly rare value, and one which our country has figured out how to mass produce. That may be among its greatest accomplishments ever.

Timothy Sandefur, US blogger.

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Nick M

    I am constantly amazed that people take stuff like Pop Idol (the UK original) seriously. These are not fundamental weather-vanes of society, they’re just nonsense on the telly. It would probably shock Mr Eliot to his core to hear that I watched quite a bit of Pop Idol and was amused by it* even though I’d previously read his poetry and rather liked some of that.

    But then Dr Eliot was an utter snob. He called himself that even though he never quite got round to submitting his PhD thesis to Harvard.

    *Say what you like about Ant & Dec but they’re very good at what they do. The World’s most famous Geordies after Alan Shearer and me!!!

  • RAB

    Well the people appearing on Pop Idol take it very seriously indeed !
    Me, I only watch the first couple of a series, where those who are seriously delusional about being able to sing are weeded out. That has me in hog wimpering laughter every time.
    Lonely laughter perhaps, Mr Eliot, but a good laugh is a good laugh!

  • Nick M

    Yeah, it is better at the beginning – especially when nutcases cut-up rough. And I almost included saying it matters to the participants (record contracts and all that).

  • Scott Ganz

    Eliot is wrong because he leaves out a crucial step. We all laugh at the same joke alone, but then we talk to each other about it later. I think we’ve all seen how people can break the ice by speaking the language of Simpsons episodes.

    TV is a shared experience, which enables us to then share it with each other.

    Besides, what’s the difference between millions of people enjoying the same TV show alone and enjoying the same book alone?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Besides, what’s the difference between millions of people enjoying the same TV show alone and enjoying the same book alone?

    None. Eliot was, alas, in that long and dishonerable tradition of the miserable literay snob. I can just imagine him cracking such a pearl of wisdom surrounded by the likes of Virginia Woolf, etc. I remember reading John Carey’s book The Intellectuals and the Masses several years ago in which he pointed out how much the literary snobs of the time loathed the ordinary UK public and their ghastly downmarket tastes. I am sure they would have hated Pop Idol and other lighthearted entertainment. Personally, I think we would have been better off had the whole group of these people had been drowned.

  • Nick M

    I seem to recall that DH Lawrence went even further about the masses. I think he mentioned something like setting up a bloody big circus tent and cajoling them in with the promise of cheap thrills and then gassing them while a band played popular songs. It was something like that and if anybody has an exact reference I would be delighted.

    Lawrence of course was a commie. Or something.

    I only know about this vile bastard because he is officially my alma mater’s most famous graduate even though he never actually got a degree. Nottingham wasn’t a full university at the time and he was only in for the teaching certificate because he didn’t have the Latin for a degree (for degree students they were awarding, I think, Cambridge External degrees) which gave him an extra chip for his already burdened shoulder. As far as I can tell all he achieved at Nottingham was to have a torrid affair with the wife of a professor of German and whilst she wasn’t exactly hot she did, apparently, take it up the Gary.

    Apparently he was into the concept of “sex without friction”. Whatever.

    I have flicked through Lady Chatterley and it is about as erotic as a visit to the dentist. Call the male organ of generation what you will. I personally prefer the somewhat prosaic term “penis” but never call it a “John Thomas”. Making a girl laugh is a very handy pulling technique but there’s laughs and indeed laughs and a laugh of slightly disgusted embarrassment is not the way forward.

    DH Lawrence – tosser of the first water. TB was too good for him.

  • Umm;talking of American Idol, did anybody see ‘America Has Talent’, when that Mouth Organ-playing kid was on?
    He was just absolutely terrific!

  • Henry

    American Idol is an abomination. I don’t say this out of distaste for all things common, but because it takes everything that’s wrong with the music business and then glorifies it.