Essay Page 5
the Nazis. And the Yahoos keep winning the battles and losing the wars~remarkable.

Well, the serious stuff has always been a minority interest, so the fact it is so currently doesn't bother me, except on occasions when my "democratic" conscience gets the better of me (a corruption that one can hardly avoid if one has grown up here).

A mistake American intellectuals often make, I think, is believing that serious art somehow ought to be popular. But my feeling, really, is that it should not be~in fact cannot be, just as most people will never understand the delights of the infinitesimal calculus. And they don't have to (I'm glad to say, since I certainly don't).

I've just been listening to Philip Glass's recent opera Waiting for the Barbarians, premiered, naturally, in

Europe, where they understand these things, and fund them, better than we do (they aren't afraid of that nasty word "elitist"). It is a work in many ways, and despite many imperfections, beautiful and profound~to say nothing of being spookily topical, even though it was originally conceived many years ago. It's an example of art that may be difficult for many audiences, however, not because of complex and demanding artistic procedures (it is certainly easy enough to listen to), but rather because of the moral complexities of the material: its "realism," in a word. American audiences, I know, reject too much reality in their art: they want the sugar coating thickly lathered on, and truths more wishful than verifiable (especially the postmodern canard that there is no truth~ this gets everyone off the hook). (Postmodernism= Disneyland for the intellectuals?) They'll even take opera if it's easy to swallow. Well, I recommend Glass's opera highly. And it may help assuage your gloom.