THE ECLIPSE OF THE INTELLECTUAL by Elemire Zolla

THE ECLIPSE OF THE INTELLECTUAL

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The dehumanization of life since the Industrial Revolution, ""the horror of mass society and the sin of mass-man,"" the transformation of all values into standardized commodities, automatized sex, the hell of our cities--the creaky catalogue goes on and on. Once again we have another weighty lament from the anguished international literati--""The culture industry offers products suited to all tastes provided we give up taste, lavishes all forms of vitality provided we renounce life, all forms of activism provided we sacrifice activity""--and once again one is tempted to protest that socio-cultural surveys of alienation have themselves become heap big industries too. Lately, books like The Eclipse of the Intellectual, with their negative assessments of technology, tend to be used by the McLuhanites as examples of ostrich-headed humanistic prejudices. This is unfortunate. But while McLuhan errs on the side of media and space age ""instant communication,"" surely Elemire Zolla and other pious intellectuals are not helping matters by reciting the same old defensive litanies on the altar of High Seriousness. Art can be worshipped in more than one way. Is anything to be gained by looking down on films (""the hallucinatory movie habit"") or rock or Robbe-Grillet? And the author throws herself with such operatic frenzy into these discussions of decadence and regression (she is particularly savage on drugs--naughty Michaux! foolish Huxley!) and ""negative anthropology."" ""It is precisely beauty that is lacking and, what is more, persecuted in the mass world."" The earlier section, dealing with the problem historically, is quite fine; the rest merely arias without pause.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Funk & Wagnalls