[Pdf Read] The Middle Mind

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Rebelle du dsert - tome 03 : La Tempte (3) yCurtis White does not clearly define the Middle Mind or clearly explain Why Americans Don t Think for Themselves For example he does not define an Upper Mind or a Lower Mind and he does not explain how Americans think for someone other than themselves Much is unclear in this rambling jumble which includes little sociological or scientific data to support whatever claims it makes Basically it seems that the Middle Mind is represented by a liberal who doesn t challenge the status uo To rise above the Middle Mindou should be a progressive who rejects the status uo Forget conservatives whom White might put in the No Mind camp Popular culture is bad because it supports the Estabishment Counter culture is good because it subverts the Establishment Is it a coincidence that White was in San Francisco in the 1960sWhite does makes it very clear what he likes and doesn t like If A Child's Garden of Grass: the Official Handbook for Marijuana Users you don t like what he likesou mired in the Middle Mind White likes Wallace Stevens Jacues Derrida Theodor Adorno Noam Chomsky Howard Zinn Michael Moore Theodore Roszak and progressive alternative artists White also likes Molly Ivins Andrei Codrescu and David Foster Wallace all of whom provided cover blurbsWhite does not like popular culture television capitalists corporations conservatives the military politicians anything related to the George W Bush administration Ronald Reagan Harold Bloom William Bennett and Dinesh D Souza White spends much space in the book staking his claim for the American military industrial technocratic empire as a disaster machine White comments on the media blacklisting of Chomsky and Zinn as if Chomsky didn t have books in every Borders and Barnes Noble and as if Zinn didn t have the bestselling history book and a profitable capitalist industry in progressive People s History books While the book sometimes focuses on the cultural Middle Mind it often slips into the political Middle MindWhite s solution to the poorly defined problem of the Middle Mind is thought imagination and the sublime Examples of the sublime are Marshall McLuhan s The Mechanical Bride which earns for what it can t adeuately express and David Lynch s work Lynch is sublime in part because he is inarticulate He really has no idea what he s trying to say White does not seem to believe that people in the US are already allowed to be creative imaginative and thoughtful It frustrates White that people embrace popular culture rather than reject it If the people rejected the popular culture then what would the popular culture be It also frustrates White that so many people prefer to think for themselves rather than think just like White would prefer eg progressively In summary if people don t think like White they must not be thinkingWhite makes a good point that academic Cultural Studies flattens distinctions between great art and mediocre art between Milton and Madonna White applies this criticism to shows like Terry Gross s Fresh Air and Charlie Rose s show which often interview great talents and mediocre talents with eual admiration That could make an interesting essay and I say this as a big fan of Fresh Air However rather than elaborate on this White goes on to really criticize such shows for being a threat to no one nowhere that is they represent the Middle Mind because they don t fulfill White s preferred function of criticizing the popular culture and status uo White criticizes Cultural Studies and popular shows for being institutionalized and supporting the capitalist popular cultureAfter DISCUSSING CULTURAL STUDIES WHITE REVIEWS SPIELBERG S SAVING PRIVATE Cultural Studies White reviews Spielberg s Saving Private which he disliked because it was crypto fascist and the Radiohead record Kid A which he liked because it was not made to meet commercial expectationsIt is amusing when White writes this about Saving Private Ryan I have been surprised that my friends intelligent sophisticated people on the whole eg progressives had no idea what I was the whole eg progressives had no idea what I was about when I elaborated my understanding of the film s lesson In short my ominous conclusion was that they didn t know how to read the film That is to say they didn t know how to abstract the integument of structure from a piece of narrative art in order to begin to talk about how the thing means ie creates an ethical world Imagine White s friends anxiously brushing up on Derrida before seeing any movie with himWhite said in an interview Basically I don t watch tv for the same reason that I don t drive nails into my I don t watch tv for the same reason that I don t drive nails into my lobe In a time when much of the nation s art is presented through television one would think that someone writing about art would be sure to be familiar with it One could imagine a cultural critic of fifty ears ago saying I don t listen to modern music for the same reason that I don t drive nails into my frontal lobe A conservative view that is at odds with White s theme Does White watch Internet content or read Internet blogs Where does White think the Professional Active Server Pages 2.0 (Professional) youth of today express their viewsIfou are a progressive Thinker who believes Douze nouvelles contemporaines: Regards sur le monde your friends and fellow citizens are inferior culturally and politically thenou may enjoy this book Rated one star for the critiue of Cultural Studies and one star for the funny look at Saving Private Ryan The first few dozen pages seem really promising but it s all downhill from there He comes off as talking out his ass about half the time and if Niemand houdt mij tegen : een avontuur in de 22ste eeuw you don t like the same bandsacademic theoristsradio programs as he does thenou clearly aren t enlightened Heck he s even disappointed in his friends level of enlightenmentHe mentions the need not to water important subjects down into easily digestible bits into sensationalist headlines for the Middle Minded public to understand. What do George W Bush the Ivory Tower Steven Spielberg and Terry Gross have in commonDoes a political scandal make for good news copyDoes network programming allow us to unwind from a day's workDoes the art at the local museum make for pleasant cocktail conversationAn unflinching and wry look at the dumbing down of the American imaginationIn this groundbreaking and incisive exploration acclaimed social critic Curtis White describes an all encompassing and little noticed force taking over our culture and our lives White calls this force the Middle Mind the current failure of the American imagination in the media politics education art techno. The Middle MindWhich I agree with but it s difficult to capture the attention of an over stimulated group of people with a dense academic stack of infoI wish I hadn t wasted time reading this book It s hard to know how to rate this book On the one hand I think the author s basic ideas are extremely important we need to think change and not just be content to passively consume media in order to feed our human need for creativity But I would have found his arguments much convincing had he given examples Instead each point is based on a single rant against some moviecriticshowetc that the author doesn t like I wasn t familiar with many of these so I could only take his word for it It s like the book was based on just a handful of rants upon which a theory was constructed it seemed weak Also his disdain for Nick Hornby s music reviews bothered me He looks down at Hornby because Hornb I had no real urge to read this wasn t even considering reading this approaching the weekend turnbuckle and then one hasty ill considered decision made in the leg hopping throes of imminent dumpage meant that Barrett and Kagan received a notice of postponement while I attended myself as uickly as possible mind to this infuriatingly readable thing an ode to giving Terry Gross and Charlie Rose and all of their cud chewing middle minded followers an overdue beat down in the hope of snapping them out of their stupor White here reminds me somewhat of John Ralston Saul and with than a passing nod to William Henry s In Defense of Elitism that highbrow brow beating from an irascible critic singing a similar song in a different key though the author here is scattershot in his tactics if generally coherent in his strategy than the wordier Saul Aside from how their scorn for those power grabbing imagination stultifying elites manifests itself in ways both complimentary and antithetical to each other and both make a pitch at the populist angle while displaying a confused understanding of those masses they desire to reach White finds eual fault in the complicity of that average citizen whereas JRS deems the latter to have been mislead misdirected and misused by those specialized seneschals of the late capitalist consensus And to a greater degree than his Canadian peer in the pungent polemic White evinces consistency in his role as a hit and miss artist at times achieving both within the same paragraph let alone on the same pageAt the very outset White declares the tripartite goals he set out to achieve in the publishing of this thin slice of well bred to make something beautiful to misbehave and to be persuasive IMO the first two were realized to an appreciable amount but it s in the third where he falters As other reviews have pointed out there is much wisdom and much that is of worth in what White has to say about the leveling down of both American culture and the visions of what the country can and should be but he s also prone to talking out of his ass proves insufferable in his own cloistered vantage point and boldly passes judgement upon subjects he d have been better advised to consider at further length Let s face it just try to imagine what a nation filled with citizens raised since childhood on postmodern theory the endpoint of one of White s bang shang a lang proposals would actually be like ou d reuire an hour of deconstruction and histrionic argument just to get someone to pass the ketchup Indeed it is conceivable that the opposing case could be made that a certain level of ignorance andor apathy on the part of the general populace is a necessary ingredient for the functionality of a capitalist general populace is a necessary ingredient for the functionality of a capitalist comprising some three hundred plus millions of people Further it is uite clear from White s own words that he deems it obvious that his preferred society one in which the citizenry seriously undertake to educate themselves in order to be able to assess what is transpiring within on a daily basis and contemplate what course changes should be implemented as well as attuning themselves to cultural and societal freuencies that would unleash the fertility and harness the potentiality of each citizen s imaginative and creative abilities would arrive at conclusions similar to his own He evinces little understanding of the reality that a Middle Mindless populace might find themselves drawn towards ideologies and cultural memes and creative directions antithetical to what White would prefer a failing common amongst thinkers that I have espied throughout the ages whatever location on the ideological spectrum they may occupy Now with all of that said I would still endorse White s book Aesthetically it proved a pleasure to imbibe and whatever the failures White has suffered within they are failures he absolutely understood were potential within his wide ranging plaint To a certain extent they are revealing to whit early on he "describes the postmodern professoriate as being a Dungeons Dragons cult In a footnote White admits that he is unclear about "the postmodern professoriate as being a Dungeons Dragons cult In a footnote White admits that he is unclear about metaphor s accuracy and in point of fact the analogy does not work but it serves as a useful example of how White operates at several points within In his mind DD being something about which he knows nothing but nonetheless holds in utter contempt presents itself as being appropriate as a derogatory descriptor of ivory tower aesthetes Barreling straight ahead regardless of whether one is full of shit at such points the Middle Mind doesn t seem to have much on the at such points the Middle Mind doesn t seem to have much on the However in the end such sidebars are of less importance than the fact that the book s persistent prickliness and pointed poking is a purposeful tactic meant to provoke the reader at the very least into serious contemplation. Logy and religionThe Middle Mind is pragmatic plainspoken populist contemptuous of the right's narrowness and incredulous before the left's convolutions It wants to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and has bought an SUV with the intent of visiting it It even understands in some indistinct way how that very SUV spells the Arctic's doomThe Middle Mind is not about left or right highbrow or lowbrow academia or pop culture; in fact it pervades society without discrimination The danger is not in a specific point of view but rather in how the Middle Mind thrives in the common ground of unuestioned mediocrity All we seem to ask about th. Of the points White has made andor raised even where middling or muddied and with that in mind the author should consider The Middle Mind a modest success I read this a long time ago it was a nineties version critiue of middlebrow culture back when people at least a dwindling few made such distinctions between highbrow Lowbrow and the middlebrow Phenomena of iSnobs intellectual snob which I sometimes fall into when I let my ego go or my head swell Enjoyed the book at the time and felt smarter than the unwashed philistines while reading it And then I let my head unswell I suppose everyone likes an ego boost now and again He was my teacher at Illinois State so a grain of saltThe best teacher I ve ever had Old school he talked we listened We asked uestions he always had answers Plus he once called a hairdo he had in the 60s a haircut of despair Which i I have been at war with middlebrow novels for a while now or publishers that sell novels with pastoral covers and wistful bucolic pictures This stretches into an innate loathing of the acceptance of unoriginal topical and content driven novels where the author s life story is of greater currency and the content is interchangeable ie Arab Spring the same as doomed romantic encounter White s entertaining and substantial thesis expands on this notion of middlebrow Middle Mind and diagnoses a cosiness in our literary and intellectual culture that needs to be shattered with a flameball of avant garde novels and untypical thought making often with reference to Derrida and lots of Wallace Stevens uotes A refreshing and satirical book that takes unexpected detours into metaphysics religion and philosophy White s book is a provocative treatise and a necessary read for those who have long ago turned their backs on mainstream culture and wonder why the rest of the world hasn t followed An epically frustrating book I expected the book to be about the ills of the progressive suburban mind the thoughts of those people who drive around listening to Terri Gross on NPR or watch to Charlie Rose with rapt attention and it kind of is but mainly it s 200 pages and thankfully not longer of Curtis White railing against the world Sometimes there is some rather insightful commentary Nice critiues include how the Terri GrossCharlie Rose interview true artists and hacks with the same reverence and how the Cultural Studies major flattens distinctions These critiues however need to be separated from borderline brain damaged ideas throughout the book A couple of these comments is how we are supposed to hate cars because they ve killed 3M in the past 30 ears Dr White seems to have forgotten how many people would have died had say transportation didn t deliver Petit cahier d'exercices de communication non-violente you food atour grocery stores or how scientists all build weapons for our military overlords and disclaim any responsibility forgetting those nice folks who I don t know cured leprosy and polioAnd White s grand prescription is read Derrida This is not to say that Derrida may not help us become better people I haven t read any Derrida so I am not going to make any claims but that this would be the kneejerk suggestion that one would expect from someone teaching English at the university level which he is For a book whose subtitle is Why Americans Don t Think For Themselves it seems that White s perspective is prototypical for someone with an English PhD White just spouts those banal English PhD lines but somehow thinks his book has much original and correct thought than it actually doesLife if ou want to look at it in all its complexity is extremely difficult and overwhelming and it s really necessary that one needs to simplify it in order to get through the day What I was hoping for was a critiue on how a dominant class of people simplifies life in a rather poor way and some thoughtful and new suggestions on how to fix those simplifications Instead I was treated with mostly slipshod invective with a couple good ideas thrown in and a rather slipshod invective with a couple good ideas thrown in and a rather suggestion that will do nothing to make those Middle Minds lives materially better I re read this because I liked how Curtis White lays out his argument I had the same disgust at Saving Private Ryan and the people I saw it with reacted much like those friends White talks aboutThis book isn t densely argued hedged by authorities or written at a low temperature though I m sure it could be intemperate It s not meant to be cautious but to provoke thought though it can also provoke despair and it succeeds White is swiftly becoming one of my favorite contrarian thinkers In this book he takes on the notion of the Middle Mind what he views as an intellectual and imaginative shallows of Western and particularly American life and culture In essence the Middle Mind is a place where any thought is permissible so long as it doesn t matter In this case to matter means to open up social imaginaries outside of the status uo Artists and creatives can posit any radical idea they want so long as it does

Not Threaten The Basic System 
threaten the basic system in place Thus people wax philosophical about technological marvels without uestioning the first principles of a technocracy and artists are employed by multinational corporations in Hollywood and Silicon Valley to apply their creativity safely within the bounds of acceptable discourse White seeks to set us free from this perspective in a set of sharp both in the sense of cutting and in the sense of insightful essays in which he seeks to deconstruct this safe shallows of the imaginary and to point vaguely forward toward a recovery of the full imagination art and the sublime Here is meat not milk thought for chewing and wrestling There is no better kin. E culture we experience is whether it's entertainingWhite argues that we have forgotten how to read to watch to think for ourselves Because it is neutral widespread and easily digestible the Middle Mind has lulled the American imagination to sleep As we sit comfortably amused and distracted just outside the door there is an immediate crisis of a nation blindly following the path of least resistance Irreverent provocative and far reaching White presents a clear vision of this dangerous mindset that threatens America's intellectual and cultural freedoms concluding with an imperative to reawaken and unleash the once powerful American imaginati.


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