Saturday, November 17, 2012


This word did not come along the night before last at Legal Momentum's Equal Opportunity Awards dinner. André Leon Talley, one of the recipients, did use the word malarky (and the dinner partner on my right did comment that Joe Biden has put that word back into new circulation), but malarky is not today's word.

Today's word was spotted a few days ago on Facebook in an announcement for an NYU Medieval Studies Society event: Ballads and Balladry: Medieval, Romantic, and Modern.

Ah, balladry. When Audrey runs smack into ballet.

A scrap I keep around, photocopied from a book (probably from the '50s) returned to the library (and whose author I cannot recall), reads:

The Ballad culture is not like a mass-culture, for that term seems to me an abstraction connoting a mass of humanity which is merely recipient and submits to purposive manipulation by various agencies. Like other abstractions, mass-culture is 'in the air', but the air has always been full of chimeras, some of which are inspiring and some preposterous. Mass-culture, unless its meaning changes radically, remains a preposterous statistical abstraction produced by the categorizing intellect. The kind of culture presented by the cinema or by television, the latter of which especially is closely related to clock-time and the focused eye of consciousness, is also unlike the Ballad culture. Whether mankind will again shape a popular culture that provides as much deep satisfaction as Ballads have done I cannot tell; I can only hope so.

          Hiraki Sawa, Sleeping Machine [II]2011

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