Popular Culture and High Culture

On Sunday during our discussion, Chris referred to these distinctions between Pop Culture and Traditional or High Culture from the book All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers.  The point is not to say that Pop Culture is bad and we should all buy seasonal memberships to the Lyric Opera and take up the Violin.  Rather, the point is to demonstrate the trajectory on which Pop Culture is headed and the inertia it can exercise on us.

Any thoughts on how you’ve seen Pop culture or High culture influence you?



Focuses on the new

Discourages reflection

Pursued casually to “kill time”

Gives us what we want, tells us what we already know

Relies on instant accessibility; encourages impatience

Emphasizes information and trivia

Encourages quantitative concerns

Celebrates fame

Appeals to                                 sentimentality

Content and form governed by requirements of the market

Formulas are the substance

Relies on spectacle, tending to violence and prurience

Aesthetic power in reminding of something else


Leaves us where it found us

Incapable of deep or sustained    attention

Lacks ambiguity

No discontinuity between life               and art

Reflects the desires of the self

Tends toward relativism




Focuses on the timeless

Encourages reflection

Pursued with deliberation

Offers us what we could not have imagined

Requires training; encourages     patience

Emphasizes knowledge and wisdom

Encourages qualitative concerns

Celebrates ability

Appeals to appropriate proportioned emotions

Content and form governed by requirements of created order

Formulas are the tools

Relies on formal dynamics and the power of symbols (including language)

Aesthetic power in                                          intrinsic attributes


Transforms sensibilities

Capable of repeated, careful       attention

Allusive, suggests the transcendent

Relies on “Secondary World” conventions

Encourages understanding of others

Tends toward submission to standards


All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Kenneth A. Myers (p. 120)

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