High and Low Culture: Why Homer and Shakespeare are Crap

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Are you not sick of people quoting Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare, as if you should somehow be in awe of what they produced? The ridiculous attachment to antiquated art as though it were still the most intellectually rewarding; sort of superior, is one of the things that winds me up most in a day. You are aware of the attitude I’m trying to describe which certain people have; we’ve all met wan***s like this:

“Oh, you didn’t enjoy my rendition of Hungarian Rhapsody? Poor chap, if only your brain could comprehend the capabilities of mine. Woe, woe and thrice woe”.

This is the sort of crap. This sounds exaggerated but it is by no means a non-existent phenomenon. It is everywhere. The sort of twats who read Sophocles and think that they’re enjoying it. They can’t be. I’m not saying they’re wrong for reading it; I just fail to believe they like it, and I certainly will not be looked down on for my tastes; I don’t like Homer because I’m not from the Bronze Age.

Art is and always has been a declaration on the true nature of the society we exist in. It has forever been an attempt at exposing only what the artist sees as the most salient and often the most ridiculous aspects of modern life. The best art has always been that which has shown us ourselves, and we have recoiled in horror. We have stared into our own eyes and have seen a total stranger. This is why I feel the indulgence solely in works which have no relation to our present selves, absolutely no relatable humour, and no relation to our language is both detrimental to the intellect and to the progression of art as a whole.

It is not the case that people don’t write good books anymore, it is just that until they have been consigned to a black Penguin cover; there are many who will refuse to read them until they’re at least 100 years old and have critical appraisal. For the good of literature these people need to change. I am in no doubt that were the great playwrights alive today, they would write just as well, but in a drastically different style, and for a good long time they would be dismissed as low drivel, mere pandering to the masses. This was in fact the case for Shakespeare during his time; severely criticised by his peers. He could be seen then as a sort of Elizabethan X Factor. I don’t understand why, centuries later, when we no longer speak in riddles, it is suddenly constantly quoted as great writing.

I don’t like Shakespeare, and while certain language compositions and other such craft are appreciable, I much prefer the dialogue in the Godfather as a truly great piece of drama. I think deep down we all do, and we need to shake off this false deference to past masters just because it is a safe opinion to hold. It shows a very narrow appreciation of the true nature of art. It shows a very deceptive understanding of ourselves. Great art is only great for a while; its nature is rooted in progress. One would do well not to ignore that.

Recommended Reading: Pride and Prejudice, and Zombies

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