attacks. Like the Pharisee, he’d rather notnbe inconvenienced and would rathernpass by on the other side.nWeil, enough. But two final points: Indon’t have to use Bartlett’s (I don’t ownna copy, and I’ve taught Dryden, Burke,nand Waugh for 25 years), and I’ve justnretired aliter 35 years of enlisted andncommissioned service in the UnitednStates Navy and Naval Reserve, twonorganizations which don’t tolerate lapdogsnand eunuchs. DnWho Cares?nby Hany ZoylusnThe anonymous reviewers at Chroniclesnof Culture don’t seem to like anythingnexcept right-wing polemics. Thenproblem is the usual plague of the selfrighteous:nthey have no sense of humor.nFor them, Roy Blount Jr. is “a humorist ofnsorts.” What’s the worst thing that can benbrought up against him? He wearsnmakeup in the cover photo.nThere is a big world out there, wherenmen still engage in “sports, drinking,nchoppingwood… and sexual relations,”nalthough these subjects are obviouslyntoo earthy for the little puritans whonreview boolis. It’s not so much Roy whonis too much for them, as the reality ofneveryday life. Don’t conservatives chopnwood, drink bourbon, or make love?nDon’t they have any of what Roy callsn”the crovvn jewels”?nThe dismal prissiness of so manynAmerican conservatives is a modernnphenomenon. We don’t have to go backnto Aristophanes or Juvenal or even Swiftnto find great humorists vsiio were archreactionaries.nMost brilliant comedy—nand all great social satire—is intenselynconservative, because it is a disgruntlednresponse to the present’s failure to livenup to the standards of a mythical past. W.nS. Gilbert managed to be offended at:nMr. Zoylus u/rites from Whiskey Lake,nWisconsin.nfeminists, art for art’s sake writers,nbureaucratic generals, egalitarian republicans,nand fet women—^in fact, withnjust about everything that would becomenthe 20th century. Hillaire Bellocnand G. K Chesterton imagined a socialnsystem straight out of the 12th century,nand Belloc refused to drink anythingninvented after the Reformation. Morenrecently in Britain you could point tonEvelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell,nwhile in America a good case could benmade for the “nonliberal” vision of PeternDeVries.nRoy Blount is hardly a conservative,nand he is sometimes offensive (so werenAristophanes and Rabelais) but he is alsonoften funny. Your reviewers’ failure tonrespond to the fiinny side of contemporarynlife is part of a larger failure: theninability to grasp the zaniness of thenuniverse. I wonder if they can really benconservatives. DnIiii; MI;KI( N PK()S( INUMnCaveatEmptornIn Art, as in most areas of life, Californianis ahead of the rest of us. A new set ofnCalifornia laws, collectively known asn”An Artist’s BiU of Rights,” prohibit thenbuyer of a work of art from making anynalterations in that work without consentnof the artist. According to a recent issuenoi State of the Arts, the ofi&cial publicationnof the California Arts Council,nbuyers of art are beginning to feel thenforce of this new law. In one reportedncase, the owner of a painting is facingnlegal action for removing dollar bills thatnthe artist had originally sewn to hisncanvas. The law allows the artist to suenthe offending owner for “actual andnpunitive damages, attorneys’ fees, expertnwitness’ fees and injunctive relief”nIt is hard to calculate the effect of suchna law. For some time now, the seriousnarts have been divorced from the greaternpublic. The books of new poets gonunread, most new music goes unheardnand even unplayed, and nobody muchnlikes modem painting except the peoplenwhose lives depend upon it—^paintersnand critics. It is easy to blame thesendevelopments upon tiie public’s Philistinismnor (which comes closer) thenartists’ arrogance. Whatever the cause,nfew people regard paintings and versesnas somehow their own. Art is somethingnabstract, recherche, and recondite—naccessible only to the initiated few. InnnnCalifornia art is so etherealized, it is nonlonger even property.nff the California law catches on (remembernProposition 13?), no one willndare buy a work of art of any period.nLawyers being lawyers, we can expect tonsee briefe filed on behalf of Praxiteles andnMichelangelo over the matter of certainnfig leaves in the Vatican. DnCommedia dell’ArtenGeorge Balanchine died a year agonApril. Last July the Ballet Master of thenNew York City Ballet, John Taras, wasnfinally persuaded by Mikhail Baryshnikovnto join the American Ballet Theater. In anrecent interview with Dancewagaz/w^nTaras observed that with Balanchinengone “things will not be the same.” Hownright he was. The New York City Balletnwaited only a year and a half to dishonornthe memory oftheir master. They recendynsent to Italy a reduced company ofndancers, bravely flying the Balanchinenflag, in order to bolster the Europeannreputation of the company. By all accounts,nthey could just as well havenstayed home. The scaled-down productionsnput on in impossible locationsnwere more like vaudeville than ballet.nThe most unintentionally surreal performancenwas given in an abandoned velodrome.nSince the bleachers had beenngiven over to plantings of trees andnbushes, plastic chairs had to be broughtni37nJanuary 1985n