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Recommended for: People who think art is getting better; people who think art is getting worse; people with neither opinion who just enjoy art history.Tyler Cowen is in fine form here: "In Praise of Commercial Culture" reads like a great Marginal Revolution post stretched out to a few hundred pages. The book is packed with cultural history, and most of its arguments are built around historical events rather than abstract economic theory, which enlivens the discussion from start to finish.When I
First four chapters 3 stars, last chapter alone 5 stars. This is my first read of Cowen, and it cements my belief that he is one of today's great thinkers. I know of few books that have a higher density of annotations I need to follow up on. If you're strapped for time, Chapter 5 on cultural pessimism can be read alone as well.As an important note: the book seems like it is mostly about culture, but it is also about universal themes of optimism v. pessimism, left v. right, elite v. common, and t...
"You always said, Yeezy, I ain't your right girl, You'll probably find one of them "I like art"-type girls" - Kanye WestThis makes an excellent complement to Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment in that it fills in the gaps in humanity's growing variety and capacity for self expression through art - not only as creators but as consumers and distributors. Unlike Murray's book, which leaves out any evaluation of art and literature after 1950, Cowen thoroughly carries the baton into the present. H...
this guy may be a media darling, but his ratio of words/footnotes needs examining. He isn't a thinker, he's a thought consolidator like Huff Post or yahoo news.Said better here:You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a
Essential reading for arts-and-humanities types. The commercial/economic context in which art is created is every bit as important as the intellectual climate, race, gender, or any other factor you wish to name. Cowen also makes the case that markets liberate artists and culture and further argues that we should be optimistic when it comes to cultural progress. Fascinating stuff.
Consistently interesting and largely persuasive argument, full of fun historical tidbits (the varying ways in which the same patterns of cultural pessimism occur is really amazing). One of my favorite parts of the book was how much it made me appreciate the inherent elitism in so many forms of cultural pessimism. Culture and art forms move and expand in so many different ways that most attempts at imposing patterns on them are victims of too narrow a lens. Cowen's breadth of knowledge helps him
There are fascinating historical insights here, most notably the market vs. the state in regards to payola, but you have to dig for them under an onslaught of dry, encyclopedic anecdotes. Much of the book is taken up with sentences that go like this, this, this, this, that, that, and this. Some sections had me digging for the purpose they served and their relation to commercial culture, seemingly more in service of musical history than they were of this book’s thesis. The last section, on cultur...
Why did I read: I like Tyler Cowen's "Marginal Revolution" blog and was interested to hear more of his thoughts on markets for culture.Reaction: Got what I came for. Contains many interesting case studies of artists as entrepreneurs, and a good framework for thinking about artists as economic actors satisfying some mix of market desires and their own taste.
Interesting take on how capitalism supports or impedes the market for the arts and their development.
This book is an important reply to a common complaint that capitalist society is bad for culture. Cowen argues, instead, that capitalist societies tend to be more supportive of good culture. Good culture denotes the variety of cultural production a society can support, including access to those of the past. One of Cowen's primary strategies is to document how periods of great cultural flourishing in Western history (the Florentine and Dutch renaissances, for example) were also highly commercial
A little silly, but optimistic.
Good Book on how capitalism is the best system for art. Also a well put critique on cultural pessimism.3.5 Stars