Quotation by Stanley Edgar Hyman

The dangers of mass culture are much easier to define than the ideals. The foremost one, which may negate all the ideals, is an overpowering narcotic effect, relaxing the tired mind and tranquilizing the anxious. Genuine art is demanding and difficult, often unpleasant, nagging at the mind and stretching the nerves taut. So much of mass culture envelops the audience in a warm bath, making no demands except that we all glow with pleasure and comfort. It is this that may negate the range of possibility (the bath is warmer at the shallow end), keep taste static or even deteriorate it a little, muffle the few critical and ironic sounds being made. That premature cultural critic Homer knew all about this effect, at various times calling it Lotus Eaters, Calypso, Circe, and the Sirens, and he just barely got our hero through intact.
Stanley Edgar Hyman (1919–1970), U.S. critic, educator. "Stances Toward Mass Culture," The Promised End, World (1963).
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