William Deresiewicz — author of Excellent Sheep, The Death of the Artist, and The End of Solitude — has lived many lives. He’s been an orthodox Jewish boy who lost his faith; a journalism school student unimpressed by the pretensions of the profession; a literature professor who (blasphemously) loved books and teaching. Today, he’s an author, essayist, and nostalgic ex-New Yorker. No matter where he’s been in life, Deresiewicz has often been on the outside looking in, which is maybe why he’s able to see and analyze our culture so clearly. We start off this conversation diving into The Death of the Artist, and how the concept/role of the artist has evolved and changed throughout history; we then meander into a discussion on community, solitude, and cities; and conclude by diving into his two definitions of the word “culture,” while unpacking the techno-solutionism of America.
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On the agenda:
-Phantasms, Batman, and Bill [0:00-6:00]
-The first paradigm - artist as artisan [6:01-17:04]
-The second paradigm - artist as bohemian [17:05-27:55]
-The third paradigm - artist as professional [27:56-33:40]
-To the fourth paradigm [33:41-39:41]
-Artist as producer vs. truth teller [39:42-57:53]
-Art and community [57:54-1:01:59]
-Solitude and cities [1:02:00-1:19:25]
-Culture vs culture [1:19:26-1:40:06]
Mentioned in this conversation:
Uncertain Things is hosted and produced by Adaam James Levin-Areddy and Vanessa M. Quirk. For more doomsday rumination, subscribe to: uncertain.substack.com.