By Christopher Brookeman
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Extra info for American Culture and Society since the 1930s
31) which maintained a balance between work and play, and modern industrial societies governed by utility and efficiency in which work either exeludes leis ure or leaves workers too exhausted to enjoy their leisure. In modern industrial society leisure and culture are increasingly geared to the built-in instant consumer gratifications of mass commercial culture. By contrast the arts and culture of agrarian societies depend on deferred, suspended gratification: 'an art is usually, and probably of necessity, a kind of obliquity; that its fixed form proposes to guarantee the round-about of the artistic process, and the "aesthetic distance" , (WB, p.
Odysseus outwits the temptations ofthe singing sirens not by taking another route that will pass beyond their vocal range but by stopping the ears of his rowers with beeswax and then binding hirnself to the mast. By these manoeuvres Odysseus has controlled access to pleasure himselfwhile his proletarian oarsmen row on mindlessly like the consumers of mass culture. 5 This early model of the process of mechanical rationalisation suggests that Adorno and Horkheimer view industrialisation as only the latest phase of a process that began much earlier.
The ten poems from different historical periods that Brooks selects for elose critical analysis in this book do not represent a particular 'criticism oflife' in the Arnold-Leavis tradition. They are linked by the degree to which they employ three connected literary devices: paradox, irony and ambiguity. Out of these three formal devices, the poets create a rich world of linguistic 'fulness'. 25 Brooks, in a spirit much closer to I. A. 26 In Brooks the tendency of the new criticism to relegate disruptive conflict to a lower order of consciousness in favour of a model of the social role of art in which the vagaries of consciousness are synthesised and integrated, reaches a grand climax: 40 AMERICAN Cl'LTl'RE AND SOCIETY SI:-iCE THE 1930s the essential structure of a poem (as distinguished from the rational or logical structure of the 'statement' which we abstract from it ) resembles that of architecture or painting: it is a pattern ofresolved stresses.