smarmy TV soap). Rolling Stone’s reviewernpointed out the myopia and sentimentalismnof Davidson’s view of thensixties, as well as her plain inaccuracynin a review more severe even than thatnof the Chronicles. In the same way, thenNew York Review of Books which seemsna regular whipping boy for the Chroniclesn(is it only something in me that bringsnmetaphors of corporal punishment tonmind?) was even more disapproving ofnMorris Dickstein’s The Gates of Edennthan the Chronicles ‘reviewer. (Of coursenNYRB gives its reviewers more spacenthan Chronicles does, and I wondernwhether—apart from special issues likenthe Nabokov number—expanded reviewsnmight not on occasion be useful, perhapsnto allow for fuller treatment of thosenbooks that seem neither unequivocallynexcellent nor entirely a “waste of money,”nbut the sort of problematic middle casenthat is so often richest in possibilities fornanalysis.) NYRB, I might point out, wasnalso intensely critical of Galbraith’s Agenof Uncertainty.nIn the Chronicles review of Galbraith,nhe was condemned for his hatred of thenrich—an attitude properly condemnable,nI imagine, in that it treats “the rich” as anrace (even more than a class) alloi whosenmembers are the same. But then the notenon the reviewer tells us that he “nownchooses to work for the Phillips PetroleumnCompany.” Does that imply thatnsome wholesale admiration for the richnis a more sensible attitude thannGalbraith’s alleged wholesale hatred.’nThat, of course, would be as absurd asnsuggesting that all Jews are—or are not—nusurious; that all Blacks have—or havennot—“rhythm”; that all WASP’s are—ornare not—emotionally restrained. Thisnsame thing occurs in the “FemininenNovel of the Seventies” number whennthe note on Mr. Tyrmand states that hen”believes that men write better aboutnwomen than vice versa.” Mr. Tyrmandnmay believe that statistically this has beennthe case in the history of fiction, or evennthat, given the dreadfulness of the worknunder review, this would almost seem anpossible conclusion. But Mr. Tyrmand, Inthink, is far too intelligent and sophis­n22inChronicles of Culturenticated to believe—as this note implies,nperhaps unintentionally—that there isnsomething inherent in women and mennthat guarantees such an inequality.nThese two notes on contributors leadsnto another point, the issue of what Inwould call misplaced pugnaciousness.nThis is hardly a suggestion thatnChronicles be wishy-washy “nice.” Thenubiquity of crap in our culture is enragingnand it is exhilarating to find anger expressednwhere anger is surely a rationalnand healthy response. But I don’t thinknarguing passionately about whether thenrich are admirable or hateful, aboutnwhether women write better about mennor men about women are the most fruitfulngrounds for emotion or analysis. In theseninstances, a kind of ad hominem and adnfeminam perspective would only deflectnfrom what is genuinely inadequate aboutnGalbraith’s work, what is genuinelynwrong with current “feminine novels.”nTo sound the call to battle as it is—napparently—done in those contributors’nnotes deflects anger from the areas mostnproperly in need of it.nOne further suggestion. Since it isnabundantly clear that the best work doesnnot always make its way to the publicnthrough established channels, it mightnbe valuable for the Chronicles to try tonbe aware of work brought forward innother ways. The New York State SmallnPress Association, for example, has an1977 catalog with some thirty-six pagesnof listings. Some of these—so far as Incan tell—are no more than extreme versionsnof the usual junk; but there arenthings that seem interesting. It’s not theneasiest matter to pick out small pressnbooks genuinely deserving of criticalnattention, but it might be worth the effort.nThe same is true of an increasing numbernof self-published books. If once it wasnreasonable to assume that all self-publicationnwas “vanity” publication (whethernthrough the Vanity Presses, or not), now,nin the age of commodity-books and thenabsorption of the major publishing housesninto corporate conglomerates, perhapsnit is no longer reasonable. (But self-publicationnwas always an important factornin American literature: Thoreau andnWhitman published their first booksnthemselves and so did Pound and WilliamnCarlos Williams and quite a surprisingnnumber of other “classic” writers.)nChronicles might do a real service tonculture by occasionally bringing some ofnthese books to wider attention than theynmight otherwise receive. (My own particularnrecommendation is RobertnNichols Red Shift available for $2.50nfrom Penny Each Press, Thetford,nVermont 05074.)nA review that is not merely a salesnagent for junk is vitally important, andnone with a clear-stated “point of view” isneminently useful—even for those whondo not necessarily share that “point ofnview.” I would urge only that the “pointnof view” of Chronicles of Culture—andnany point of view—be tested regularlynagainst the canons of rational “criticalninquiry”: this, I think, requires vigilantlynpainstaking attention to particular detailsnand individual cases, a withholding ofnpraise or blame until the facts are in.nThat’s not easy to do these days. But itnis worth trying. DnIhom time immemorial, politics and culture have overlapped one another;nit would he impossible to draw a line to separate them from each other in thenpanorama of history. Cultural factors have engendered political deeds andndetermined political circumstances. Although aesthetics—a cultural elementhasnbeen instrumental in many fraudulent and mendacious acts of the past, itnhas now become a manipulative element of the political function.nThe Rockford PapersnApril, 1978nnn