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Being Cultured: 19 (Societas) by [Kennedy, Angus]
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Being Cultured: 19 (Societas) Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Being Cultured is a strongly argued and clear account of what culture is, why it matters and why it is now under threat. Angus Kennedy lays bare the connection between culture and discrimination, in ways that leave the cultural shibboleths of our time in ruins. This is a book that ought to be read by all students of the humanities as well as the politicians, bureaucrats and impresarios who are responsible for cultural policy and who seem to have lost all sense of why and how there could be such a thing or what would be achieved by it --Roger Scruton Jan 6, 2014

Review

"Arts administrators everywhere, and everyone at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, should have the courage to read this wise and monitory book and take on board seriously what Kennedy has to say..."

(Geoff Ward Allvoices 20140619)

"Throughout this book Angus Kennedy… carefully diagnoses the flaws of contemporary British culture."

(Donald Lee The Art Newspaper 20140701)

"There is much to be commended in Kennedy's Leavisite belief in the morality of art, and this book will certainly have its acolytes ­ not least for its uncompromising stance."

(Toby Lichtig Times Literary Supplement)

"Being Cultured is a strongly argued and clear account of what culture is, why it matters and why it is now under threat. Angus Kennedy lays bare the connection between culture and discrimination, in ways that leave the cultural shibboleths of our time in ruins. This is a book that ought to be read by all students of the humanities as well as the politicians, bureaucrats and impresarios who are responsible for cultural policy and who seem to have lost all sense of why and how there could be such a thing or what would be achieved by it."

(Roger Scruton 20140106)

"...Being Cultured is in large part necessary and heartening. Readers will find themselves in agreement with many of Kennedy's conclusions..."

(Alexander Adams The Jackdaw 20140520)

"Angus Kennedy has produced a gentle guide to many of the key issues in aesthetics..."

(Martin Cohen The Philosopher)

"This inspiring new book makes the case for discrimination as the basis of culture."

(Michael Savage Grumpy Art Historian 20140402)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2470 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint Academic; 1 edition (30 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K1B54MW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #572,955 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Today it seems as if it is nigh on impossible to criticise without inviting condemnation. The domination of relativism that accompanies the multicultural doctrine ensures that there is little tolerance of making distinctions between pop music and classical, doggerel and poetry, even childish paintings and masterpieces. We no longer see the finished work but are exhorted to consider the effort that went into creating a work. The demarcation between entertainment and art, between the amateur and the professional, that has served mankind well for centuries are, today, routinely ignored.

So Angus Kennedy's 'Being Cultured: In Defence of Discrimination' is not just timely but is also a very importantant book that questions the stultifying atmosphere that surrounds much of our understanding of culture today, and shows us the importance of discriminating:

"Without discrimination we would be plunged into a Protean chaos where no sooner something is the it was not: a world without boundaries; of fantastic and unlimited imagination, a world of unreason." [p.51]

In discriminating we create our morality and build an understanding of the world about us and how we live in that world.

By enforcing the view that one culture is no less inferior to any other - the insistence on referring to African culture, women's literature, gay poetry, etc. - is not liberating in any sense, but only re-enforces identity that further sets us apart from each other.

This relativistic approach also denies reality. So, for instance, by equating entertainment with art is to deny our relationship with those forms; entertainment allows for us to passively accept it; we see ourselves in it it affirms us.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is already an excellent review of this book. I am wholly in agreement with it both in spirit and detail and shall not try to compete with it or replicate its content.

“Being Cultured” seems to me an ambitious book, learned and thoroughly documented. Angus Kennedy takes on culture in all its panoplies of meaning and deftly draws them into a coherent account of the retreat from standards and what was once referred to as “high culture.” It is first and foremost an account of the “retreat from idealism to crude pragmatism”. Mr Kennedy identifies the key figures in this process, Susan Sontag, John Berger, Pierre Bourdieu et al, and might well have included other post-modernist European and American intellectuals, who collectively have deconstructed the old order and reduced art to “what you can get away with” in Warhol’s words.

I have to confess that my expectations from this book were both more limited and more specific. What I had anticipated was a narrower focus on the “defence of aesthetic standards” a more explicit statement of the criteria by which we judge that this is beautiful…. that is ugly” .In short an enquiry into the basis for not only aesthetic judgements but moral ones, ones that enshrine the heritage of the enlightenment, a respect for reason and freedoms that have been largely surrendered, sacrificed on the altar of cultural (multi-cultural, politically correct) egalitarianism. We are now in a society in which if we commit a crime, the identity of the victim is likely to be the determining factor in the sentence; and where to express views in opposition to currently received wisdom may well be treated as criminal in itself. Culture has indeed become the handmaiden of politics.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
3.0 out of 5 stars The Value of the Arts from a Reactionary Standpoint 26 Jan. 2016
By Dr. Laurence Raw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Occasionally a book comes along that is so gloriously wrong-headed in its arguments, it is a pleasure to read.

Writing from a conservative standpoint, Angus Kennedy argues that the arts in Britain have suffered from a general malaise known as egalitarianism; better defined as the desire to make "high" culture accessible to everyone. This has been achieved through various strategies including planning exhibitions where historical continuity has been sacrificed in favor of a more eclectic approach to display; of providing exhibitions in hitherto depressed areas as a means of bringing people together and forging a community spirit. Alternatively arts curators have sponsored schemes to take fine art, theater and other forms direct to the people, especially in depressed areas.

Such strategies, in Kennedy's view are wrong, as they are inspired by the notion that "art" per se has to be perceived as "good" or beneficial for everyone, and hence warrants state involvement. Often arts policies are deliberately imposed on people to little or no effect, other than to improve statistics and thereby justify continued government funding. In the end art itself becomes debased, as it simply becomes a vehicle by which apparatchiks can account for their existence at the heart of Britain's cultural policy.

Kennedy's arguments reveal an astonishing ignorance of British history. In the post-1945 era the Arts Council was created with the specific purpose of rendering fine arts accessible to others by taking them round the country on tours. While some experiments undoubtedly failed, this policy brought theater to communities which had never seen live shows before, and thereby stimulated a renewed interest in drama as an art form. The subsidized theater also provided an outlet for new and innovative writing; without it, there might never have been that flowering of British drama that characterized the "Angry Young Man" movement of the late Fifties and early Sixties. Subsidized theater also fulfilled a valuable morale-boosting function during World War Two, when luminaries such as Sybil Thorndike and Moira Hess toured some of the most bomb-damaged parts of the country, often at great personal risk to themselves.

Basically Kennedy has an intellectual bee in his bonnet and wants to voice his opinions against it. He resents the idea of pluralism; that each person might have their own judgement that differs from someone else's, thereby producing cultural relativism. This he dismisses as a strategy of "the Left" (whoever they might be) to deconstruct the value of the arts as arts and thereby permit the untalented to flourish in their chosen fields. Kennedy would prefer the restoration of "high" cultural values, where there is an accepted historical canon of work - theater, art, music, and the like - that everyone accepts as "great," and derives profit from it. He also argues for the idea of discrimination; that some educated people will always be able to understand a great work of "art" better than their less educated colleagues.

The fact that such values are inherently class-based seems to elude him. He would rather consider the arts as an élitist phenomenon that requires effort to be understood; the kind of effort obtained through a privileged education and access to the best exhibitions in the metropolis. The idea of taking art to the people is anathema to him, as it is an example of the "nanny state" trying to suppress individual self-determination.

The book is also exclusively Brit-focused. Kennedy reveals little if no knowledge of how the arts work in other countries - in Europe, the Middle East, or Asia, If he had expanded his research, perhaps he would not have come to such ludicrous conclusions.
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