By Russell Jacoby
"Russell Jacoby's impressive research of our reduced highbrow existence is, in itself, a hopeful signal: might he flourish." -Gore Vidal This provocative ebook chronicles the disappearance of the "public highbrow" in the US. For over thirty years, the cultural panorama has been ruled through the new release of Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, and John Kenneth Galbraith; no more youthful crew has arisen to prevail them. not like prior intellectuals who lived in city bohemias and wrote for the informed public, latest thinkers have flocked to the colleges, the place the politics of tenure loom better than the politics of tradition. In an incisive and passionate polemic, Russell Jacoby examines how gentrification, suburbanization, and educational careerism have sapped the power of yank highbrow existence.
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Additional info for The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe, 2nd edition
And how, and when, does it affect intgllectual and artistic activity? " For the young, Michels believed, bohernia was often a stage characterized by pverty, treedom, and hatred of the bourgeoisie. As a passageway, it might lead-and here Michels followed the classic portrayal by Henry Murgerl--to the Academy of Arts, as well as to the hospital or the morgue. fn addition to hnsient youth or stucfents, wme more-or-less , constituted b h e permanent residents, "surplus" intellec mia. '' Not all intellechtals become superffuous.
This is hardly a novel truth, but it is easily forgotten; the ideas of Edmund Wilson or GeoErey Hartman, a Yale English professor and a leading exponent of Derrida and deconstmctionism, evidence different lives, different periods. 1 mention this because my account will be salted with minibiographies; at least I will provide dates of birth, sometimes current activity. I do this not to litter the text but to provide an inkling of the generational process. It matters whether someone was born in 1910 or 1940, when they write for The New Yorbet or Bulfetin ofthe Midwest However, the lives and ideas of inteUectuals are not identical.
7 million in 1950, a historic high. Suburbia was growing almost ten times faster than central cities. "Because the federally suppor~edhome-building bmm was of such enormous proportions," writes Kenneth T. Jackson, a historian of suburbia, "the new houses of the suburbs were a major cause of the decline of centraI citieseP'" The vast federal investment in highways, signified by the Interstate Highway Act of 1956, intensified the dispersal. Highways absorbed 75 percent of p s N a r government transportation menies; I pertent went toward urban mass tmnsit.