*Our* Bad Habits

*Our Bad Habits*

Modernism was motivated to a great degree by a disgust with inauthenticity-- ideals, images, values that survived longer than they should have survived, becoming bad habits.

The cases of England and Austria have certain affinities, despite the fact that England went the other way, while Austria clung to the old order.  This is seen in the affinity between Richard Strauss and Oscar Wilde, for one example.  And I think Stephan George admired Ernest Dowson?

My aim here is to crowd source a mapping of Robert Musil's Kakania-- his dystopian fictionalization of pre-war Austria-Hungary-- onto present day USA.   Help me find the analogues to the bad habits that Musil identifies in his Austria.

Requisite-- read Musil's *The Man Without Qualities*.  Also, there are two valuable essays by Hermann Broch.  His  essay on Kitsch, and his essay, "Hugo von Hoffmansthal and His Time". 

Musil & Broch felt that the empire was doomed.  Mann was partisan, hoping for Prussia to succeed. He became a reluctant democrat during the Nazi era. Mann was hopeful that Prussia could overcome its bad habits. 

I am partisan.  I want to overcome my bad habits. I  feel hopeful that we can.  Some friends have moved to Canada. 

This exercise is to map out the walls that need to come down.

--Music-- All Things Considered regularly panders to young people by having them review music they like.  It all comes across to me like a really bad habit.  Some of us celebrate the Austrian composers who were hated by the pre-war Austrians.  Which musicians now are hated and will be upheld later as the resistance?  The Nazis launched folk music, but it took root here.  I have never figured out what to make of that. Mitlon Babbitt and others never forgave Pete Seeger for being an America-firster, but I don't know what to make of Babbitt's politics.

Rolv Yttrehus played jazz as a kid and likes to say that it is something to grow out of.  God Bless Marc Wolf for giving up indie rock!  Perhaps music with guitars and trapset is a bad habit.  (That takes in both rock and jazz.)

--The religious right--  In The Man Without Qualities there are proto-nazi, anti-semitic Christian bicycle riding groups.  Certianly reminds us of our mega-churches.

--State pomp-- Broch points out the Baroque mannerisms--empty, outmoded values that the Emperor clasped tightly to the bitter end.  What to make of President Clinton and his Fleetwood Mac and his jazz-as-America's-classical-music?  Bush and his country music?  I don't know what Obama likes.  I do know a singer who was invited by Stevie Wonder to sing some classical stuff at the Obama inauguration. ( I love Stevie Wonder.)

--Political institutions-- Summarizing Broch:  Baroque art, music and architecture were bad habits that accompanied the prolonged survival of political institutions that were also established in the Baroque era.   Can we relate bad habits in American political institutions with artistic bad habits?  The analogy is not necessarily so tidy.  Please help me with this.

--Architectrue Interior design--  I am guilty of an obsession with Arts & Crafts.  It's all over TV.  Detective shows like Psyche and Monk show nothing but pretty thoughtfully reconstructed Arts & Crafts architecture and interior details.  Is proto-modernism becoming our bad habit?  I actually find the Arts & Crafts revival hopeful. It is one of the few instances of authentic American architecture and design, even if it was inspired by William Morris and that bunch. Yet to dredge it up is not necessarily any healthier than neo-colonial architecture.

Don't have time to pursue this any further.  Please help flesh it out.