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Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America (American Lectures)

Culture of Complaint The Fraying of America American Lectures The best selling author of The Shock of the New The Fatal Shore and Barcelona here delivers a withering polemic aimed at the heart of recent American politics and culture Culture of Complaint is a c

  • Title: Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America (American Lectures)
  • Author: Robert Hughes
  • ISBN: 9780195076769
  • Page: 148
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The best selling author of The Shock of the New, The Fatal Shore, and Barcelona here delivers a withering polemic aimed at the heart of recent American politics and culture.Culture of Complaint is a call for the re knitting of a fragmented and over tribalized America a deeply passionate book, filled with barbed wit and devastating takes on public life, both left and rightThe best selling author of The Shock of the New, The Fatal Shore, and Barcelona here delivers a withering polemic aimed at the heart of recent American politics and culture.Culture of Complaint is a call for the re knitting of a fragmented and over tribalized America a deeply passionate book, filled with barbed wit and devastating takes on public life, both left and right of center To the right, Hughes fires broadsides at the populist demagogy of Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Jesse Helms and especially Ronald Reagan with somnambulistic efficiency, Reagan educated America down to his level He left his country a little stupider in 1988 than it had been in 1980, and a lot tolerant of lies To the left, he skewers political correctness political etiquette, not politics itself , Afrocentrism, and academic obsessions with theory The world changes deeply, widely, thrillingly than at any moment since 1917, perhaps since 1848, and the American academic left keeps fretting about how phallocentricity is inscribed in Dickens portrayal of Little Nell PC censoriousness and family values rhetoric, he argues, are only two sides of the same character, extrusions of America s puritan heritage into the present and, at root, signs of America s difficulty in seeing past the end of the Us versus Them mentality implanted by four decades of the Cold War.In the long retreat from public responsibility beaten by America in the 80s, Hughes sees a hollowness at the cultural core a nation obsessed with therapies and filled with distrust of formal politics skeptical of authority and prey to superstition its language corroded by fake pity and euphemism It resembles late Rome the corruption and verbosity of its senators, in its reliance on sacred geese those feathered ancestors of our own pollsters and spin doctors and in its submission to senile, deified emperors controlled by astrologers and extravagant wives Culture of Complaint is fired by a deep concern for the way Hughes sees his adopted country heading But it is not a relentless diatribe If Hughes lambastes some aspects of American politics, he applauds Vaclav Havel s vision of politics not as the art of the useful, but politics as practical morality, as service to the truth And if he denounces PC, he offers a brilliant and heartfelt defence of non ideological multiculturalism as an antidote to Americans difficulty in imagining the rest of the world and other Americans.Here, then, is an extraordinary cri de coeur, an outspoken call for the reconstruction of America s ideas about its recent self It is a book that everyone interested in American culture will want to read.

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    1 thought on “Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America (American Lectures)

    1. Hughes takes aim at political correctness and at our modern culture of whining. Great book. Annoy your leftist friends by buying it for them.

    2. Hughes was one of those clever people whose work it's great to read but whom I would have hesitated to meet in person - you just know he'd immediately have spotted your weaknesses and delusions and commented accordingly. Some of this made me laugh out loud, some scared me. As a non-American I can see that where America led with the cult of self-esteem, and, ultimately, the race to dumb down (at least in some circles), we are already following. I like the fact that he doesn't save his vitriol for [...]

    3. An outstanding book about American culture by Australian art critic Robert Hughes. I like his gritty, in-your-face assessment of the American animal. He loves his Australian heritage, to be sure, but also has a deep love for the United States. For Hughes, Australia and the United States are kindred spirits, brothers in a silly world. Put another way, this book is about tough love - showing us how ridiculous we've become but how we still have what it takes to straighten up.

    4. This book was written in the early to mid 90s. It takes shots at liberals and the religious right and conservatives, and is actually kind of funny. The author talks about wars and crippling debt and the growing power of the religious right and the fight to defund public broadcasting, but it seems tinged with hope, like things will get better.I was nearly sick to my stomach the whole time I read it because it's 15 years later and things are WORSE. I have many thoughts about and excerpts from this [...]

    5. Although written during the Clinton Administration, this compilation of three very seminal essays is as relevant today as when they were first published. Hughes is a historian and art critic, but Culture of Complaint qualifies as a philosophical counterbalance to Allen Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind To be sure, there are some points where Bloom and Hughes might find agreement. Both would agree that our current culture has sold out to some inconsistent ideals of multicultural idealism [...]

    6. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. reviewed Robert Hughes' (author of Fatal Shore) new book, The Culture of Complaint in the April 19, 1993 issue of The New Yorker. Hughes takes aim at both the Right and the Left who are both involved with politicizing culture: "If someone agrees with us on the aims and uses of culture, we think him objective; if not, we accuse him of politicizing the debate. In fact, political agendas are everywhere and the American conservatives' ritual claim that their own cultural or sc [...]

    7. Robert Hughes The Culture of ComplaintThoughts 20 years after publicationHughes' assumption that because we worshipped readily in the past we are always seeking to worship something – supported by a quote from Auden - is a paradigm I do not accept. Even when worshipping gods the 'mystery' in religion was a strong force and just because people want to believe in mysteries now now does not mean they worship them. The conspiracy theories we see everywhere are the banal ravings of people who have [...]

    8. I would LOVE to get hold of this book again, given the reading I have done on America and art since then. At the time (late 90s) I loved it, but as an artist trained in a more modernist environment, I was suspicious of postmodernism in the art world, sometimes justifiably so, but I realise now, also often out of ignorance.

    9. When this book was released in the early 1990s, during the height of the "cultural wars" of that time, it made quite a splash. Now, nearly twenty-five years later, much of what Hughes wrote seems to the current reader to be prophecy. The "culture of complaint" now seems to be dominant; turbo-driven by the advent of social media.Hughes' book came out of a series of lectures he gave in New York, in which he discussed in turn politics, multiculturalism, and morality in art. One of the themes that w [...]

    10. I started reading the book sympathetic to Hughes's main points, and remain so. The book presents the state of affairs of art as therapeutic and calls for a return to quality. This comes to a climax in part six of lecture three. As other reviews say, the third lecture is really the best of the three, though the first two set the stage for it.At its best, Culture of Complaint presents a telling of history explaining why we were where we were in 1992. In 2017 we remain in a pretty similar situation [...]

    11. The 1990s are back. In music, fashion, and it would seem intellectually as well. Our politics once again involves anti-globalisation anger and demands for recognition and respect for culture. The daily contest is once more dominated by the ‘sterile confrontation between the two PCs – the politically and the patriotically correct’.While Robert Hughes’ Culture of Complaint was published in 1994, much of it feels very current and relevant. Some of the names (Jesse Helms) and controversies ( [...]

    12. Non sono nervoso: sono diversamente calmo!Questo non e’ un commento (anche perche’ il libro e’ ancora in lettura).Il linguaggio politically correct ha spesso dell’assurdo, comportando l’adozione di termini inutilmente ipocriti (“audioleso” al posto di “sordo”), ridicoli (“verticalmente svantaggiato” e tutti gli aggettivi preceduti da “diversamente”), contrari all’uso consolidato (“humankind” invece di “mankind”), cacofonici (“magistrata”), inutilmente ambi [...]

    13. Like mainlining 1992 - Afrocentrism, NEA controversies, Jesse Helms, complaints re: political correctness, Andres Serrano, Multiculturalism, ideological battles over canonical literature, etc. Hughes tries to position himself as the only voice of reason in the room, and, uh, I don't know. For instance, he couldn't have been more wrong about the ability of language to change actions and attitudes. He lost the fight he wages against multiculturalism and P.C. in this book. P.C. is part and parcel o [...]

    14. The late Robert Hughes was never a dull read and quite often an inspired critic. There are those that would say that Hughes was the conservative of the pack. For sure there was a lot more insight in the criticism coming from his pen as opposed to the pretty-pretty world of all the Graham-Dixon's. This book comes out of three lectures that Hughes gave in either 1988 or the early 90s.Hughes berates the populist Ruight of Amerika as well as the left/liberal side which can only come up with rampant [...]

    15. Robert Hughes takes aim at Americans' preoccupation with victimhood, the battleground of multiculturalism, and the mediocrity of modern art in this collection of three essays expanded from speeches that he had given. I basically agree with him, but the first two sections of this book read like the ramblings of a grouchy old man, albeit a very well-educated one. It comes alive in the final section, in which Hughes laments that Americans have come to see art as something therapeutic, that the inte [...]

    16. Imprescindibile aiuto contro i sensi di colpa Robert H. affronta la saga del (ugh!) politically correct in tre conferenze acute e ficcanti. Sarebbe stato pi� Bastard Contrario con qualche digressione in meno � un po' di ferocia in pi�. (ecco il perch� della stella in meno). Il Politically Correct � una peste non un raffreddore per cui caro - Mr Hughes - il DDT � mooolto meglio dello uno spray nasale Con qualche piccolissimo adattamento � un libro totalmente accostabile alla corrent [...]

    17. Robert Hughes takes aim at Americans' preoccupation with victimhood, the battleground of multiculturalism, and the mediocrity of modern art in this collection of three essays expanded from speeches that he had given. I basically agree with him, but the first two sections of this book read like the ramblings of a grouchy old man, albeit a very well-educated one. It comes alive in the final section, in which Hughes laments that Americans have come to see art as something therapeutic, that the inte [...]

    18. Okay, here it is, simple as can be: this is a book length complaint about complaining. Pure genius if it was meant to be a kind of mental mirror style joke, purely dumb if this guy is actually taking himself seriously. And also whiney and annoying (yes I am aware that I am complaining about complaining, I just happened to get it done in a sentence instead of 200 pages). I give it two stars because i am still reading it and determined to finish it now that I reviewed it, and I still believe it is [...]

    19. The first 50-odd pages are an explosion of ranting and raving at all cultural targets within view and without. Once you get past that literary wreckage he settles down to a pungently written critique of American cultural thought. His observations are not fantastically original, his attack on all extremists is a well-trodden path, but it is at least witty and well-written. His art essay weaves a convincing interpretations of art's relationship to American culture in light of recent controversies. [...]

    20. I've had this on my shelf for years. Its targets seem varied and no party line appears safe. I think I bought it because I somehow believed it espoused the conservative line (this was when I was more sympathetic to that brand of viewpoint). Luckily, it's not something Rush's crowd can trot out in its defense. I hope to give this book a read soon.

    21. Hughes's best habit is making ginormous points through the a complex synergism of simple words. This book raises (but doesn't answer) the question is it worth it to be a clear-thinking narrative genius if everyone's going to drive you crazy?

    22. A comprehensive examination of PC culture's first wave. Hughes is a fun critic to read and does an excellent job skewering those who seek comfort and safety by attempting to silence ideas or artistic expression they find offensive.

    23. Some cogent and prescient analysis with a sense of humor, especially in the first section, which analyzes race and television issues of 15 years ago but could be talking about today. There's also some dated art industry criticism towards the end, but it's fun to read too.

    24. The distressing effects on culture from the coupling of political grandstanding and public opinion of the common denominator.

    25. Takes aim at the distorted claims of certain multicultural groups. Things seem to have cooled off a little since this book came out 16 years ago, thank the fickle gods.

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