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June 30, 2008

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Amen. As a poet, I often feel like an alien in the American culture. Attention spans are shrinking to seconds. Cultural anthropologist Virginia Cornue has some great posts at Vaboomer about "unlearning" as a tactic. http://www.Vaboomer.com

~ Nancy

Nancy - are you Virginia Cornue or are you somebody else? You signed in as VC. Just curious. Thanks for dropping by...

I don't believe in the phenomenon of "dumbing down" any more than I believe that citizens of foreign nations fundamentally want different things from life than us Merkins. Ranting about "dumbing down" makes you sound like William Bennett. You've already commented favorably on the opinions of Patrick Buchanan a few times, so perhaps we have the makings of a trend!

But seriously, everyone knows that our modes of popular cultural expression are changing. Is rap really worse than rock? Are blogs really less valuable than doggerel poetry? Do email and text messaging express fewer heartfelt sentiments than letters? Are electronic versions of newspapers and magazines inferior somehow to their smudged paper versions? Clearly I think that the answers to all these questions is "no." Instead of decrying the death of epic poetry, consider the statement, "I just can't understand young people nowadays," you old fogey!

Hah! Alison, you made me laugh out loud. I will have to reread my post - am I the old fogey or is it Lang, or am I agreeing with or echoing Lang too much, rendering me an old fogey?

I thought my example of the poetry slam was intended as a valentine to current popular expression... And hey, I like hyphy and scraper bikes.

But I do think our oral tradition is not as healthy as it was when people actually sat around and talked to each other on the front porch. If you have evidence that my unscientific conclusion is based on inaccurate data I am happy to be corrected.

My point is that a culture needs popular poetry/song to create the conditions for really healthy poesy. I think we have some popular poetry and we do indeed have lots of popular songs (a recent Oxford college English exam asked its students to write about an Amy Winehouse song "Love is a losing game" as a lyric form.)

I offer no real evidence one way or the other but my unscientific opinion is: rap is the new popular poesy. Deal with it!
People no longer write epic poetry (except for Vikram Seth) and parchment, too, is out of favor.

I offer no real evidence one way or the other but my unscientific opinion is: rap is the new popular poesy. Deal with it!
People no longer write epic poetry (except for Vikram Seth) and parchment, too, is out of favor.

I agree re: rap & popular poesy. The spoken word/poetry slam movement has arisen out of and stays in touch with rap and its variations.

See my post last month about scraper bikes. The kids fix up bikes and "pimp" them to look cool, then made a hyphy-style rap video about their bicycles. It's adorable. There are several "learn to repair bikes" programs in Oakland's poor neighborhoods and I assume that these kids benefited from the knowledge getting passed around.

Popular poetry and innovative bike culture too! I love Oakland.

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