Hilton Kramer and his magazine the New Criterion’s sniffy attitude towards popular culture is well known.
Here’s what is not well known.
Conservatives have been betrayed by Hilton Kramer.
What Hilton Kramer has been ultimately doing is giving a conservative legitimacy to Modernism. This was always the whole sneaky agenda from the beginning, when Kramer left his full-time position at the NY Times and started the New Criterion with Samuel Lipman in 1982.
Hilton Kramer’s whole raison d’etre was to forge an insidious alliance between the cretins of Modernism and decent folk who found themselves aligned with conservative beliefs.
The New Criterion professes ignorance of how the real high-brow culture of 19th century Romanticism, its Greek & Roman revival, its great musical composers like Brahms & Dvorak, Beethoven, its great poets like Heine and Keats and Shelley, the greatness of Poe in that tradition, how all that beauty and ecumenical greatness was hijacked by hateful, crackpot, narrow Modernist con-men like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, John Dewey and William James.
It’s fine to appreciate the sort of abstract art found in the little New York art galleries advertised in the New Criterion; one can certainly adore Modernism and Abstract Art if one wants, but to pretend that High Modernism somehow represents the sole legitimate fine arts culture of our time is a lie—one that needs to be confronted and rejected, whether one is a liberal or a conservative.
The New Criterion, despite its free market rhetoric, is heavily subsidized; I doubt there’s much editorial freedom for change possible; its template is well-established, but nonetheless we make sincere a plea to Mr. Roger Kimball and anyone else involved in the production of that magazine to take a fresh look at so-called High Modernism and then join the rest of us in the real world who love fine arts and popular culture. We still hold out hope, that in the long run, this betrayal can be overturned.