SUPERGROW: Essays and Reports on Imagination in America by Benjamin DeMott

SUPERGROW: Essays and Reports on Imagination in America

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The wishful preface aside, only a few of the pieces in this collection relate to the subtitle since all of them were written at different times for different periodicals. Those that are relevant include ""Supergrow"" (protest against standardization); ""America the Unimagining"" (or the unrealized man who is not much different from Babbitt or Mr. Bridge) and a nice testimonial to another, earlier teacher, Charles Horton Cooley. Eventually it will be apparent that Professor DeMott equates imagination with Hannah Arendt's meaning of the word-understanding. Most of the pieces, however, as was true of his earlier collections (Hells & Benefits; You Don't Say), reflect on and rebuke what he would call ""scenely"" manifestations and all the falsely manipulative and exploitative adjuncts: whether it's ""Against"" the new ""King of Popthink,"" McLuhan, with his comforting persona and canny ploys; or rock and its ""disquieting life styles""--long hair and hairy sexuality and its affiliation with other highs (""it stoneth me out of my mind""); ""Tickle-Touch Theatre""; the baiting of the homosexual in the arts (a very good piece from the New American Review); overkill; and that all-purpose word existential. These and others present Mr. DeMott in his familiar stance putting down those who have been making it while trying to reconcile the best of both possible and impossible worlds. Sometimes he's little too benign--""bless you bless you bless you. You interrupted"" to the student militants while still asserting the inefficacy of sudden reforms. But on the whole this is representative cultural criticism, entertaining and catalytic.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1969
Publisher: Dutton