Narcissistic philistinism

CBC reporter Rosemary Barton mentioned, at the recent forum on the future of news here in Charlottetown, that she’s started to read Breitbart and similar sources:

After American election, Barton realized she wasn’t reading any of the media sites that people who liked Donald Trump were reading.

That’s a problem. That’s a problem for me, because then it means that my lens on what was happening was limited.”

So she started following the far-right American news, opinion and commentary website Breitbart, and other “further right” letters and papers.

I’ve found that it’s far more useful, and challenging, to read views that are less out of phase with my own, views that strike me not as crazy, but rather at, or just over, the edge of what my progressive social group would consider acceptable.

Quillette, from Australia, is a one such source. Its tag line is “a platform for free thought,” and the themes of its collected essays often run contrary to Canadian-style progressive canon law.

See You Are Not Important: Defund Identity Culture, for example:

Narcissistic philistinism is a condition of today’s identity culture. If one ceases to believe in the existence of profound truths, sublime terror, Art, gods, muses or geniuses (defined classically as inhuman spirits), then one’s self or identity acquires a hyperbolic sense of importance. Contrary to what is often said in Cultural Studies departments, art’s supreme function is not the expression of a middle-class self or the construction of a millennial identity; it is the forgetting of the self. In ancient Greece, Dionysus’s followers lost themselves through music; today, Selena Gomez’s followers find themselves. This does not count as progress.

Quillette makes me think, and forces me to examine my assumptions and my biases. Sometimes it strengthens them, sometimes it causes me to consider setting them aside. Isn’t that what good writing is supposed to do?