QotD for 6/10/24: Cultured

 

So, here’s the Quote of the Day:

A man should be just cultured enough to be able to look with suspicion upon culture at first, not second hand.” – Samuel Butler

I believe Butler is saying that in order to critically evaluate contemporary culture, one needs to have a proper understanding of culture up to this point in history. One must be a “cultured” person to express an opinion on culture. 

I certainly have some degree of culture. I have a good working knowledge of comic books, Warner Brothers cartoons, horror films, and Christian films (or, one could say, “horror films and horrible films”). I’m perhaps not as knowledgeable about High Culture – you know, THE ARTS. I’m not sure I’m what Butler would have considered sufficiently cultured.

Over the next two weeks, I will strive to become more cultured. A friend has recently become passionate about opera. I have never been much of a fan—I’ve considered the sopranos particularly painful to the ear. But my friend is more cultured than I am. He’s a New York Times best-selling author, for Pete’s sake. So, next week, we’re going to a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

Obviously, it will take more than an opera to make me a Cultured Man. Which is why, over the next two weeks, I’m endeavoring to become a fully cultured guy. Tomorrow I’m going to the cinema to see a French-language film. Thursday I’m going to the Seattle Symphony for some John Adams and Beethoven. 

Next week, my wife and I plan to catch a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the performances during the Healdsburg Jazz Festival; and then, of course, the San Francisco Opera. We will be listening to Dostoevsky on the drive South and looking for museums to visit.

But I have a confession to make. (We’re all friends here.)

I Googled that quote. I’ve never read anything by Samuel Butler.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Fake it till you make it.

    — Anonymous

    • #1
  2. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Eustace C. Scrubb: I Googled that quote. I’ve never read anything by Samuel Butler

    I wouldn’t know if I’ve read anything by him.  If I did, the name didn’t stay with me. 

    • #2
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Go for it, man. But don’t underestimate the amount of high art recommendations you could get from conservative sources as well, not cultish ones, but as reliable as mainstream ones like The New York Times, or in fact vastly more reliable than them. 

    @titustechera

    • #3
  4. MikeMcCarthy Coolidge
    MikeMcCarthy
    @MikeMcCarthy

    The Magic Flute is gorgeous, no problem with the Sopranos, it’s not a bad series, but I find counter tenors a little hard to Handel.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    My goodness, you’re going to be just brimming with culture! It sounds like fun. I hope you will report back to us.

    • #5
  6. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    My interest in opera and classical music increased tremendously after listening to the glorious lecture serieses (serieses?) by Robert Greenberg, How to Listen To and Understand Great Music, and How to Listen to and Understand Opera. Both available at Audible.

    I used to agree about sopranos. But after listening to enough, the sound becomes tolerable, then enjoyable, then wondrous. 

    The Met in NYC used to have a contest where they would award cheap opera tickets to the first hundred entries they drew. We entered every week just in case. Won about five times! So we’d make a weekend of it in the city, and hang with the swells on opera night. We’d sometimes drive down (a few hours), park, change our clothes in the car, the swan in and enjoy the show.

    Never knew what we were going to see, but it was only twenty bucks to sit in one of the great opera houses of the world. Always interesting. Although once we were there on what turned out to be St.Patrick’s Day, and we’re in New York with a very famous parade and all, and we instead spent that glorious sunny Saturday watching a turgid five hour Russian opera – not a green beer in sight.

    And you mention Dostoyevsky. After hearing Andrew Klavan rhapsodize about Crime and Punishment for the hundredth time (the greatest novel ever written, he claims), I decided I should take a deep breath and give it a go.

    So far it’s amazing. I keep stopping and going back an hour or two and listening again, just to let all that roll over me again and to make sure I am totally up to speed and didn’t miss anything before we proceed to the next part.  So I give a huge recommendation to that. 

    So, The Magic Flute and Crime and Punishment. Your culture journey will be starting out right at the top.

    • #6
  7. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    My interest in opera and classical music increased tremendously after listening to the glorious lecture serieses (serieses?) by Robert Greenberg, How to Listen To and Understand Great Music, and How to Listen to and Understand Opera. Both available at Audible.

    I used to agree about sopranos. But after listening to enough, the sound becomes tolerable, then enjoyable, then wondrous.

    The Met in NYC used to have a contest where they would award cheap opera tickets to the first hundred entries they drew. We entered every week just in case. Won about five times! So we’d make a weekend of it in the city, and hang with the swells on opera night. We’d sometimes drive down (a few hours), park, change our clothes in the car, the swan in and enjoy the show.

    Never knew what we were going to see, but it was only twenty bucks to sit in one of the great opera houses of the world. Always interesting. Although once we were there on what turned out to be St.Patrick’s Day, and we’re in New York with a very famous parade and all, and we instead spent that glorious sunny Saturday watching a turgid five hour Russian opera – not a green beer in sight.

    And you mention Dostoyevsky. After hearing Andrew Klavan rhapsodize about Crime and Punishment for the hundredth time (the greatest novel ever written, he claims), I decided I should take a deep breath and give it a go.

    So far it’s amazing. I keep stopping and going back an hour or two and listening again, just to let all that roll over me again and to make sure I am totally up to speed and didn’t miss anything before we proceed to the next part. So I give a huge recommendation to that.

    So, The Magic Flute and Crime and Punishment. Your culture journey will be starting out right at the top.

    I have read Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.  Love them both. Will probably be listening to Notes from the Underground on the drive.

    • #7
  8. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    My interest in opera and classical music increased tremendously after listening to the glorious lecture serieses (serieses?) by Robert Greenberg, How to Listen To and Understand Great Music, and How to Listen to and Understand Opera. Both available at Audible.

    I used to agree about sopranos. But after listening to enough, the sound becomes tolerable, then enjoyable, then wondrous.

    The Met in NYC used to have a contest where they would award cheap opera tickets to the first hundred entries they drew. We entered every week just in case. Won about five times! So we’d make a weekend of it in the city, and hang with the swells on opera night. We’d sometimes drive down (a few hours), park, change our clothes in the car, the swan in and enjoy the show.

    Never knew what we were going to see, but it was only twenty bucks to sit in one of the great opera houses of the world. Always interesting. Although once we were there on what turned out to be St.Patrick’s Day, and we’re in New York with a very famous parade and all, and we instead spent that glorious sunny Saturday watching a turgid five hour Russian opera – not a green beer in sight.

    And you mention Dostoyevsky. After hearing Andrew Klavan rhapsodize about Crime and Punishment for the hundredth time (the greatest novel ever written, he claims), I decided I should take a deep breath and give it a go.

    So far it’s amazing. I keep stopping and going back an hour or two and listening again, just to let all that roll over me again and to make sure I am totally up to speed and didn’t miss anything before we proceed to the next part. So I give a huge recommendation to that.

    So, The Magic Flute and Crime and Punishment. Your culture journey will be starting out right at the top.

    I have read Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Love them both. Will probably listening to Notes from the Underground on the drive.

    After C&P, I will definitely be catching up with you! As they are touted as the other greatest novels ever written. Dostoyevsky must have been a fun hang.

    • #8
  9. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    I remember the first time I heard the second movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as part of the entire symphony and realized it was the theme for Huntley Brinkley.  There is also a ready source of classical music exposure in many movies.  Die Hard 2 [It’s a Christmas Movie] features Sibelius, Trading Places uses Mozart and Elgar, Animal House draws from Prokofiev and Rossini, and Carl Stalling did a magnificent job of weaving Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse through Warner Brothers classic cartoons.  Culture is everywhere.

     

     

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    I remember the first time I heard the second movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as part of the entire symphony and realized it was the theme for Huntley Brinkley. There is also a ready source of classical music exposure in many movies. Die Hard 2 [It’s a Christmas Movie] features Sibelius, Trading Places uses Mozart and Elgar, Animal House draws from Prokofiev and Rossini, and Carl Stalling did a magnificent job of weaving Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse through Warner Brothers classic cartoons. Culture is everywhere.

     

     

    My brother and I were driving Dad back from the Memorial Day/family reunion listening to the SiriusXM classic channel. They were doing a countdown (countup?) of the most highly voted classical pieces. Four of the top five were Beethoven, and the 9th was #1.

    • #10
  11. Lunchbox Gerald Coolidge
    Lunchbox Gerald
    @Jose

    I can hear Steve Martin’s character from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: “I’ve got culture coming out of my a##!”

    • #11
  12. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Eustace C. Scrubb: So, next week, we’re going to a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

    Unfortunately, much of high culture has been vandalized by the wokesters who run arts organizations. The Magic Flute that the San Francisco Opera puts on may not have a very close resemblance to the work Mozart composed and Schikaneder wrote. Some of the themes are likely to offend the sensibilities of the current crop of San Francisco inhabitants. After all, the opera celebrates traditional values such as marriage, the heterosexual kind, (the duet Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen) and truth. Monostatos, a blackamoor, and his slaves are traditionally in blackface because they’re Africans. The heroes are white men and the chief villain is a woman.

    My wife and I saw a recent performance by the Metropolitan Opera (NY). After we got home, I had to find a real performance on YouTube as a palate cleanser. This one is pretty good and it has subtitles so you can understand the lyrics that crazy German wrote.

     

    • #12
  13. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Eustace C. Scrubb: So, next week, we’re going to a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

    Unfortunately, much of high culture has been vandalized by the wokesters who run arts organizations. The Magic Flute that the San Francisco Opera puts on may not have a very close resemblance to the work Mozart composed and Schikaneder wrote. Some of the themes are likely to offend the sensibilities of the current crop of San Francisco inhabitants. After all, the opera celebrates traditional values such as marriage, the heterosexual kind, (the duet Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen) and truth. Monostatos, a blackamoor, and his slaves are traditionally in blackface because they’re Africans. The heroes are white men and the chief villain is a woman.

    My wife and I saw a recent performance by the Metropolitan Opera (NY). After we got home, I had to find a real performance on YouTube as a palate cleanser. This one is pretty good and it has subtitles so you can understand the lyrics that crazy German wrote.

     

    If it’s been wokified (likely), it will at least make for post fodder.

    • #13
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