Culture/Metaculture (The New Critical Idiom) by Francis Mulhern

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By Francis Mulhern

Culture/Metaculture is a stimulating creation to the meanings of 'culture' in modern Western society. This crucial survey examines:

* tradition as an antidote to 'mass' modernity, within the paintings of Thomas Mann, Julien Benda, José Ortega y Gasset, Karl Mannheim and F. R. Leavis
* altering perspectives of the time period within the paintings of Sigmund Freud, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, T. S. Eliot and Richard Hoggart
* post-war theories of 'popular' tradition and the increase of Cultural stories, paying specific awareness to the foremost figures of Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall
* theories of 'metaculture', or the ways that tradition, even though outlined, speaks of itself.

Francis Mulhern's interdisciplinary method permits him to attract out the interesting hyperlinks among key political matters and the altering definitions of tradition. the result's an unrivalled creation to an idea on the center of up to date serious thought.

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In 1938, the Church of England’s Christian Council on Faith and the Common Life created the Moot, something like a national version of Valéry’s ‘exchange’, involving intellectuals in seminars and publishing ventures designed to bring their corporate wisdom to bear on the modern crisis, to saturate politics with thought (Kojecký 1971: 163–97; Steele 1997: 98–117). For as long as the Moot existed, Mannheim was at the centre of its work, elaborating his vision of a planned society led by educated elites.

His intuitions of truth were probably not Benda’s, but who could confidently say? Deeper than politics, even deeper, it seemed, than ‘culture’ itself, after more than one hundred pages of acrid cultural diagnosis, the ‘great question’ concerning modern Europe had not yet been posed. R. R. Leavis. 6The stake was the survival of moral memory – or, for it was the same thing, the health of the English language. Leavis was an anti-systematic thinker, with a fixed distrust of programmatic statement; there is no convenient epitome to excerpt from his collected works.

Intensifying class consciousness was the hallmark of the present, Mannheim believed, and political culture was more and more fully organized according to the priorities of mutually antagonistic ‘party schools’. Against these partisan schemes of social value, he set the possibility of a ‘forum’ that would ‘safeguard ... the perspective of and the interest in the whole’ (p. 144). In Mannheim’s reasoning, this appeal to an overarching general interest – ‘the whole’ as a possible and desirable intellectual allegiance – did not presuppose a ‘static’ realm of objective truths beyond history (as it did for Benda) and did not imply only a preference for social compromise.

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