The Middle Mind

The Middle Mind

Why Americans Don't Think for Themselves

Book - 2003
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What do George W. Bush, the Ivory Tower, Steven Spielberg, and Terri Gross have in common? Does a political scandal make for good news copy? Does network programming allow us to unwind from a day's work? Does the art at the local museum make for pleasant cocktail conversation?

An unflinching and wry look at the dumbing down of the American imagination.

In this groundbreaking and incisive exploration, acclaimed social critic Curtis White describes an all-encompassing and little-noticed force taking over our culture and our lives. White calls this force the Middle Mind -- the current failure of the American imagination in the media, politics, education, art, technology, and religion.

The Middle Mind is pragmatic, plainspoken, populist, contemptuous of the right's narrowness, and incredulous before the left's convolutions. It wants to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and has bought an SUV with the intent of visiting it. It even understands in some indistinct way how that very SUV spells the Arctic's doom.

The Middle Mind is not about left or right, highbrow or lowbrow, academia or pop culture; in fact, it pervades society without discrimination. The danger is not in a specific point of view, but rather in how the Middle Mind thrives in the common ground of unquestioned mediocrity. All we seem to ask about the culture we experience is whether it's entertaining.

White argues that we have forgotten how to read, to watch, to think for ourselves. Because it is neutral, widespread, and easily digestible, the Middle Mind has lulled the American imagination to sleep. As we sit comfortably amused and distracted, just outside the door there is an immediate crisis of a nation blindly following the path of least resistance. Irreverent, provocative, and far-reaching, White presents a clear vision of this dangerous mindset that threatens America's intellectual and cultural freedoms, concluding with an imperative to reawaken and unleash the once powerful American imagination.

Publisher: [San Francisco] : HarperCollins, c2003
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780060524364
Branch Call Number: 306.0973 Whi
Characteristics: 205 p


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Feb 06, 2015

I recall reading White's attack on Terry Gross and very much enjoyed it. While I agree with some stuff in this book, I feel White doesn't still grasp the manufactured consent portion: Charlie Rose was a member for many years of David Rockefeller's Trilateral Commission [only recently having his name removed]; Brian Williams' recent whopper on his helicopter experience in Iraq is what's to be expected of a professional teleprompter reader, as these types aren't really journalists. E.g., the idiot Dan Rather, easily flummoxed by a fabricated doucment about the truth: G.W. Bush's missed ANG meets, when in point of fact the real story, which Rather would never get in a million years, being nothing but a professional teleprompter reader, is that President Bush had never attended OTS [Officers Training School] nor flight school!

Apr 02, 2011

This book has a blurb by David Foster Wallace on it. I don't recall the quote and it's not actually important. What is important is that Curtis White, like David Foster Wallace are deeply humane intellectuals who take human expression and the potential of art very seriously. It's that fact that compelled the review from Publisher's Weekly to label this "elitist" when it's anything but. A wonderful book that may hopefully prove abrasive enough to some to rub apart the smoothly stirred, smug melange of art and commerce we've come to believe speaks to us.

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