AN ANTIQUE DRUM: The World as Image by Thomas Howard

AN ANTIQUE DRUM: The World as Image

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The title is culled from a T. S. Eliot line ""We cannot restore old policies/ Or follow an antique drum,"" but the message is that while our scientific, technological age marches to the beat of a different drum, the old model was definitely superior. The myth sovereign in the old age was that everything means everything, that there is a vast significance even in commonplace things because all are exhibitions in their own way of the way things are. Things were seen as images because of the correspondences running in all directions among them. Although this image-making inclination of man has persisted in a tendency to ritualize everything from lunch to death, the official new myth proclaims that nothing means anything, and the twentieth-century chorus wails that ""the world is weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable"" while an alienated and bored populace rushes off to find Life in Haight-Ashbury, at the travel agent's desk, in the country club, or at the boutique counter. Howard's response to this misapprehension of what it means to be authentically human is ""Bravo the Humdrum""; we will only be able to restore our grip on the immediate, the everyday rhythms of experience, by once again perceiving the mundane as ""the agent and mediator of something substantial."" Although the theme is at heart a religious one, Howard examines it largely in a secular context, discoursing upon dishrags, borzois, poetry, Vermeer vs. Warhol, and sex. A lively defense of the traditional virtues and verities.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1969
Publisher: Lippincott