been known to blossom like Connecticut laurel after ansummer rain.nThe problem of culture, a problem of whose existencenAmerica was accidentally reminded by a Russian eccentric,nhas not a political, but a cultural solution. The movingnforces of culture, as I said, are fueled by love; and while anfree, commercial society is not moved by the love thatnmakes martyrs, books of verse need not cost a paltry $10,neither. After all, paintings do not, nor does a box at thenMetropolitan Opera. Perhaps we will live to see a slim,nsimply produced volume of a friend’s verse priced at $1,000na copy. And then, I believe, we will know that the freensociety’s approximation, or equivalent, of the undergroundnreader’s love has been found, and that America’s culturalnproblem has at last been solved.nThe assertion that the problem of culture has a culturalnsolution is not as reassuring, however, as a promise that thisnsolution will soon be found. Much depends on destiny, andndestiny often takes political forms. You remember thenspeech about Caesar that Cassius makes in Julius Caesar:nWhy, man, he doth bestride the narrow worldnLike a Colossus, and we petty mennWalk under his huge legs and peep aboutnWaiting for the Endn(continued from page S)nmeant a few brilliant (but degenerate) trifles—even rottingncorpses glow in the dark—and then virtually nothing, andarkness illuminated occasionally by Irishmen like Sheridan,nWilde, and Shaw. By the 20th century, the cosmopolitannprinciple had triumphed in all the arts. Writers thatnstick to their country and its traditions are the rare exception:nYeats in Ireland, Peguy in France, Faulkner in thenU.S. Most of the rest have done their best to escape.nAs writers and musicians and painters more and morensought out each other’s company in New York, London,nand above all, Paris, they found they had less and less to saynto ordinary readers, concert-goers, and Sunday painters.nThe amateur, insisted Ezra Pound, is the enemy of true art.nThe poet must be a professional. And so he is now. WhilenSophocles and Sir Philip Sidney were only gentiemenscribblers,nRobert Creeley and Denise Levertov are professionals,nwhich means no one buys their books or attendsntheir readings, apart from other professionals—poets, critics,nand teachers. There are still real poets, but it must benterribly discouraging for them to be lumped together withnthe poseurs who seem to be in charge.nArt, in the sense used by the culturati, is dead, becausenthey killed it. They had help, of course, principally fromnthe masters of a society infatuated with material progress.nBut rather than going through a “who killed cock robin” billnof indictments, we might just give the corpse a decent burialnand wait for a general resurrection. We can still listen to oldnmusic—even an occasional bit of Prokofiev or Stravinskyn—read old poets, dipping from time to time into a fewncontemporaries like Larkin, Conquest, Robert Penn Warren,nor Geoffrey Hill. We can still expect a gifted novelist toncome along once in a while, because the novel remains an20/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnnnTo find ourselves dishonorable graves.nMen at some hme are masters of their fates.nThe fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars.nBut in ourselves, that we are underlings.nCassius, of course, is the bad guy, and we know from whatnhappens in the play that he is wrong, and that the Lordnworks in mysterious ways. It is interesting that in the verynnext line Cassius incites Brutus by setting up one of thenearliest examples of moral equivalence in the history ofndemagoguery: “Brutus,” he says, “and Caesar.”nWhat should be in that Caesar?nWhy should that name be sounded more thannyours?nWrite them together, yours is as fair a name.nSound them, it doth become the mouth as well.nWeigh them, it is as heavy.nThe demagogue in Shakespeare stresses equivalence andnself-reliance. Not wishing to follow his example, I shallnconclude, without promises or predictions, by merelynexpressing my hope that this free society solves its culturalnproblem—and in so doing masters its cultural, and thereforenpolitical, fate. ccnpartly popular form. But in general, most of us will findnourselves sticking to the old stuff, the tried-and-true, thenclassics.nIt is a frightening thought. Less than 100 years ago, thenrecent compositions of Brahms and Wagner, Puccini andnDebussy could fill a concert hall. Alfred Tennyson wasnmobbed—politely of course—on the street by fans whonadmired his poetry as much as people today admire, say,nBruce Springsteen. They had their classics then, but untilnrecently people were most alive to the art of their generation,nwhich is as it should be. Art is much more than “thenbest that has been thought and known,” as Arnold used tonpreach; it is a way of getting a grip on our experience. Forngood or ill, it is rooted in the clay of everyday life. It maynsoar to the eternal, but it rides (like Aristophanes’ Trygaeus)non a dung beetle. To give up on the art of the present is tongive up on living in the present.nNostalgia is a thin and bitter diet that can starve thensensibilities. Rather than suffer the fate of Robinson’snMinniver Cheevy, “child of scorn,” who “cursed his fatenand kept on drinking,” we will have to keep an eye out fornsigns of hope—the splendid Australian novelist RandolphnStow, poets like Frederick Turner, who are rediscoveringnmeter. Even the “neo-Romantic” revival of chromaticismnholds out some promise—although not much. But with thenenemy still in possession of the citadel, most of us will benforced to turn to the only arts still capable of speaking to thenliving: movies, television, and popular music. They maynnever reach the heights of serious art, but they are what wenhave, and we must pay attention, because as one of ournpoets, Mr. Dylan, has warned us:nHe who is not busy being bornnis busy dying.n—Thomas Flemingn