September 12, 2012, 3:49 pm
There used to be a time when being a writer didn’t mean just being “creative.” It meant being learned. That ideal seems to me almost dead. To be learned now means to be a specialist: a scientist, a psychologist, a critic, an artist, but never more than one of those things, and never all of those things at once.
The dense, glittering web of reference that is the byproduct of a real conversation between deeply learned individuals is becoming harder and harder to achieve. It certainly doesn’t happen in conversations among my peers, members of Generation Y. You can maybe talk about Bergman with a film major, or Leonard Cohen or Radiohead with someone who likes music. But to reference D.H. Lawrence in relation to Cohen, or Stravinsky in relation to Radiohead, or Beckett in relation to Bergman, or Bergman in relation to Kierkegaard, and so on—that’s precluded by the structure of…