Curtis Whites The Middle Mind: Why Americans Dont Think for Themselves--which grew from a 2002 Harper's articleexamines as its titular object the dominant American liberal, pseudo-intellectual consciousness. "The Middle Mind" disdains hard thinking and true examination of corporate and political forces that act upon it. In the book, White dilates on his notion of an American Middle Mind to imagine a world beyond it, but he frequently gets lost on his journey. He finds three sources for this American malaise: the entertainment industry, academic orthodoxy, and political ideology. But, as in the original magazine piece, the figures he picks to condemn within this triumvirate are a bit surprising, even while his attacks are unremitting. NPR's Terry Gross, for example, is characterized as one whose work is "useless for the purposes of intelligence," and her show is dismissed as a "pornographic farce." In his critiques, White claims to be resisting the classic high-brow/low-brow cultural distinctions; or, rather, he sees the Middle Mind as having absorbed them. But his frequent allusions to Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, and high Modernism long for a world that never was, a world of art and political resistance that was somehow accessible in its full complexity to all of America. While White wants a creative, intelligent, politically engaged American mass culture, his exemplars look remarkably like high culture icons and few modern intellectuals are left standing (notably Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Bill Moyers). By the end, his call for a "pragmatic sublime" diffuses into vague, postmodern-theory-laden discussion of artistic formalism and a celebration of David Lynch's film Blue Velvet as a model for resistance. In this context of exclusivity, Terry Gross's inclusive "Middle Mind" seems the more open space for true discourse. --Patrick OKelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In March 2002 Harper's ran White's controversial essay attacking Fresh Air radio host Terry Gross (a "schlock jock"). The article sparked outrage at the author's choice of sacred cow to savage. White (Memories of My Father Watching TV) fleshes out that piece into a book-length attack on the pseudo-intellectual tendencies of mainstream America. "The middle mind" describes the large segment of folks who claim to be interested in art and ideas, but who would never permit those influences to budge their complacent assumptions about postindustrial life. White investigates the role of the middle mind in the arenas of "entertainment, intellectual orthodoxy, and political ideology." The middle mind "offers us an art and a cultural commentary that is really just more commercial product." White's writing is undisciplined, frightfully (and unabashedly) elitist, self-satisfied, jokey yet rather entertaining. He is given to outlandish, often unsubstantiated claims about the terrors of modern life; he fares far better when concentrating on a specific text, whether it be Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan or Radiohead's album Kid A. White finds the rise in aesthetic and cultural interest on the part of ordinary people over the last few decades disagreeable, which will disturb some readers. One thing can be said for White, however: there's no arguing with his sincerity.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The book first delineates in excruciating detail the problems, etc. with the New Criticism and Cultural Studies. Of some interest to the university professor of Literature? Read morePublished 24 months ago by Bill Deef
I thought White's book was in general mean-spirited, especially his ad hominem remarks about Terry Gross. Read morePublished on June 18, 2013 by THERESA BEACH
I've devoured this and his later book. For people who give them a chance, they may awaken from whatever dogmatic slumbers they find themselves in. Read morePublished on June 7, 2013 by Music Omnivore
I made it to page 80 or so before I grew sick of searching through the sea of names and book references for coherent points. Read morePublished on August 8, 2012 by Wal-Mart'Queisha Jenkins
I can't profess to understand everything in The Middle Mind, but I admire the author for his courage in taking on the subject of why Americans (humans?) don't think for themselves. Read morePublished on December 1, 2011 by Peter A. Farrell
The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don't Think for Themselves is brilliant. A Great vendor described the copy precisely, shipped it quickly and charged reasonably. Read morePublished on May 14, 2011 by M. Y. Mim
Needless to say, this is controvercial. My take is that if you can not bear to have your sacred cows slaughtered and if, yes, you would prefer not to think, don't bother. Read morePublished on July 8, 2010 by Daniel S. Smith
hardly relevant at this point - I am reading the book eight years after it's been published. Yes the book is rambling, yes it attacks lite intellectuals/entertainers for not being... Read morePublished on March 23, 2010 by nativewater
We have been slowly programed to ignore things we shouldn't and this book points out many things I have noticed.Published on September 24, 2009 by P. Kelley