Thursday, August 9, 2012

Things I Think I Think

Yesterday, I read a brief remembrance of critic Robert Hughes, long-time art critic for Time, who died this week at age 74.  I'd never heard of Hughes, but he sounds just like the sort of outsized character who used to roam newsrooms across the country.  The Daily Beast has a nice roundup of quotes from Hughes, but there's one I like most.  A former associate of his says this one "pretty much sums him up in his own words":
I am completely an elitist in the cultural but emphatically not the social sense. I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness. I love the spectacle of skill, whether it’s an expert gardener at work or a good carpenter chopping dovetails. I don’t think stupid or ill-read people are as good to be with as wise and fully literate ones. I would rather watch a great tennis player than a mediocre one, unless the latter is a friend or a relative. Consequently, most of the human race doesn’t matter much to me, outside the normal and necessary frame of courtesy and the obligation to respect human rights. I see no reason to squirm around apologizing for this. I am, after all, a cultural critic, and my main job is to distinguish the good from the second-rate, pretentious, sentimental, and boring stuff that saturates culture today, more (perhaps) than it ever has. I hate populist s***, no matter how much the demos love it.
Sounds about right to me.

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