Terry Teachout writes:
Once again, it’s not my purpose to demean pop culture. I think that most of the best movies made in America in the 20th century were crime dramas, screwball comedies and westerns. But there’s more to life than getting your head blown off in a drug deal, and more to be said about love than can be crammed into a 32-bar ballad.
Novels like Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood,” plays like Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie,” ballets like Jerome Robbins’s “Dances at a Gathering,” paintings like Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series,” musical compositions like Aaron Copland’s Piano Sonata: These are large-scale works of art that aim higher than their popular counterparts. (In fact, that’s not a bad rough-and-ready definition of high art.) Mere ambition, mind you, is not in and of itself a good thing, any more than bigger is by definition better, but we’re cheating ourselves when we direct our attention solely to less ambitious art.