January 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
Benjamin writes on August 16th 1931: “It is poverty that compresses the creativity of our best talents today, with an enormous atmospheric pressure. In this way, talent finds a refuge in the belly of the cultural section of the newspaper – as if in the belly of a wooden horse, from which one day this creativity will emerge and set alight the Troy of the modern press.” Our situation today is so far reversed that I laughed out loud the first time I read this. The cultural section, its paths of approach guarded by the internship, the unrenumerated online writing, the nepotistic connection-making, is precisely the part of the newspaper most securely barred to talent unsupported by the safeguards of class privilege. Poverty is precisely what prevents writers from gaining positions where they can stretch their writing limbs; those who smuggle their way into the cultural section are compelled by penury to pitch & write only the most saleable work, a quality wh/, thanks to useless editors, becomes, as in the equation of the armchair Jeremiahs, commensurate w/ insipidity, simplification, condescension & contentless modishness; politics, or even a critique of the press that might take its coordinates from structural critiques of the economic system in wh/ the press is embedded, are scoured out or given over to the most hopelessly short-sighted individuals* as appeasements of the vengeful god of the press’s own conscience. What might have become, under the “pressure” of base imposed need, the sparks of an incipient inferno, has crushed the destined carriers of the flame to a pulp.
* Hence Johann Hari, Laurie Penny, Tanya Gold etc ad nauseum