The Church of High and Low

High and low culture run amok

Paper‘s David Hershkovits recently attended a panel with Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Surowiecki and Virginia Heffernan that was originally supposed to be about the “Science of Trends,” but, according to Hershkovits, devolved into a discussion of whether mass culture really existed. And if it did, was it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
The strange thing is that despite the broad terminology, they seem to define mass culture as mass pop culture and spend their time debating whether shared TiVo choices are shared experiences. Given that the discussion took place in a library, it would have been both opportune and appropriate to throw copies of De Tocqueville at them, but I guess no one thought of it.
I assume this is just symptomatic of a tendency these days (a trend, even) for people like Gladwell, Surowiecki and Heffernan to feel they have to be preternaturally conversant in both high and low culture. I blame Tina Brown and Susan Sontag. I’d discuss further, but Buffy is on and I’m still working out the obscure Judeo-Christian allegories in episode 124.