A fine and articulated position. Much to say on this, but I too am in the Party of Original Sin. More later. Thanks Mark

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Well said. I have always been disappointed with the available anthropological definitions of “culture,” which I’ve somewhat arrogantly and simplistically defined as “a society’s survival strategy.” This, I think, includes not just the logistics of its housing and feeding, governance, technology, the rules dictating social behavior, but also the way a society relates to, understands, and perpetuates itself with a common language, shared history and mythology, and of course art.

Successful societies are those with effective survival strategies, I.e., they are those with a culture that has adapted a compelling internal logic and order suitable to the unique challenges of its environment, but which, as you say, also embrace a degree of liberty in which the culture’s essential elements can flourish and evolve. A society with an ineffective survival strategy characterized by disorder or ossification in one or all of its core elements will, with enough pressure, eventually fail.

Some weird function of the modern arts has mistakenly conflated chaos with ultimate liberty, and this chaotic “liberty” (libertinism?) with creativity. In doing so, it has undermined art’s culture-perpetuating place in society. Art was never meant to be the _creator_ of culture but its chorus. Somewhere along the way, art—and the novel in particular—became about trying to fabricate (and in some cases destroy, or “deconstruct”) culture, reveling in its own chaos. That’s a terrible strategy for a society to adopt.

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