Daily Archives: March 7, 2018

Alienation reigns (415)

From an essay by Elizabeth Breunig, published in today’s WashingtonPost, which is directly relevant to the things we’ve been discussing in class.

In fact, both Sullivan’s and Mounk’s complaints — that Americans appear to be isolated, viciously competitive, suspicious of one another and spiritually shallow; and that we are anxiously looking for some kind of attachment to something real and profound in an age of decreasing trust and regard — seem to be emblematic of capitalism, which encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other, and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws…. Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.

Cultural Context (485)

Some of the people and things we mentioned in class: the Ashcan School, Bix Beiderbecke, Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith, Claude McKay, Django Reinhardt, Charles Sheeler, Paul Strand, Shuffle Along, and the Harlem Renaissance.


To those we might add Louis ArmstrongRamon Novarro, Clara Bow, and Stuart Davis (see above). We could do this all day