Notebook September 1994
Against the dehumanization of art
As a junior in college in 1968 (A.D.), I succumbed to a popular rage and bought a book by Ortega y Gasset. It was Ortega’s fate to have Bobby Kennedy think that his middle initial was Y, for which Kennedy was mocked by the same people who, though of the opinion that Robert McNamara was the chief engineer of a war of genocide in Southeast Asia, said at Cambridge dinner parties that, because he read Yeats, he was “really a good guy.”
Though The Dehumanization of Art was perfectly positioned to be the darling of the intellectuals—it was a university press paperback, it was by an author of a foreign name that Bobby Kennedy couldn’t pronounce, it was cheap, and it was short—I bought it because I assumed it would be a defense of art and an attack upon dehumanization. Why else would anyone have written a book called The Dehumanization of Art?
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