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A human baby is born expecting culture just as a fish is born expecting water. Alice Roberts, The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being: Evolution and the Making of Us
They will not admit anything is wrong with their culture to an outsider. Bill Maher, Religulous
For the industrial masses their work has no human meaning in itself. And offers no satisfying interest. They save their living for their leisure but don’t know how to use it except in the bingo hall, filling pools forms, spending money, eating fish and chips in Spain. Nothing but emptiness that has to be filled with drink, sex, eating, background music, and what the papers and telly supply. F R Leavis, public lecture recorded BBC
Somehow I seem to have touched a nerve which I can’t explain. It’s rather odd to find oneself suddenly either passionately defended or passionately attacked. C P Snow
The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. C P Snow, The Rede Lecture 1959
On the whole the literary world since roughly the turn of the century has become increasingly anti-social in that just sense ... About the realities of this world, and they are very important realities, on the whole they were on the despairing side. C P Snow, BBC interview
What I mean by a cultural study of society is trying to understand better and to interpret therefore the whole way of life of that society as it shows itself, as the way it goes about its daily business. Richard Hoggart, interview BBC
Blacks were in trouble in Africa, then they made the middle passage and they were in more trouble, then they landed in America, they landed in the Caribbean, and they were constantly in trouble; and I got very tired of it. I said, I want to find some story where Blacks are doing things to people and not being done things by people. C L R James, interview Russell Hardy
Culture once seemed so easy to define: it was ballet, theatre and the finest paintings. The highest of artistic achievements to be enjoyed by a refined audience at their leisure. But with the advent of broadcasting this polite world was blown apart. And culture become a battlefield. Great Thinkers: In Their Own Words 3/3: Culture Wars, BBC 2011
Radical thinkers were to fight to seize culture from a narrow elite. ibid.
And finally thinkers took to the airways to expose how culture was used as a political weapon. ibid.
[John] Reith had been shaped by an austere Presbyterian upbringing and his high moral values had been instilled in him by his father. ibid.
Reith felt he had an almost religious obligation to improve the nation. And he used the BBC as his pulpit. ibid.
Reith’s control was total, as he dictated both what was said and how. ibid.
The literary critic F R Leavis thought that high culture was being diluted, dooming us to moral depravity. Leavis was proud to be an elitist ... His 1949 book The Great Tradition argued that great works of literature should be venerated because they could teach us to live better lives. ibid.
The face-off between Leavis and Snow wasn’t simply an academic spat, it was a sign that the bastion of elite values defended by the likes of Leavis was finally crumbling. ibid.
Until now the word culture described the high-minded ideas of an academic elite. But in the 1950s a new generation started looking at other areas of life. ibid.
Raymond Williams was a very unorthodox Cambridge don ... In Culture and Society 1780-1950 Raymond Williams delved into history interrogating how the word culture had been controlled by the ruling classes for the last two hundred years. Williams wanted to seize the word back from the elites. ibid.
Williams showed that there was culture beyond the academy. ibid.
Richard Hoggart, a lecturer not from Oxbridge but Hull, seriously studied the lives of the urban working classes. Coining a new term ‘cultural studies’ he investigated an ignored culture of pubs, of racing and music hall songs. ibid.
Hoggart’s battle for a broader definition of culture played out in the highest court in the land. In 1960 he was the star witness when the state tried to ban D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover ... The trial was a watershed moment. ibid.
People were now claiming culture for themselves. ibid.
Through her unscripted personal journeys [Susan] Sontag was taking a far more informal view of the arts. ibid.
British critics loved to wrangle over high versus low culture. ibid.
Marshall McLuhan said it didn’t matter what we watched on our screens. Because society and even our brains were being changed by the very technology of TV itself. ibid.
Through the sixties ideas of culture had become wilder and wilder. ibid.
A thirteen-hour television series celebrating the finest high culture was made by the art historian Kenneth Clark. It ushered in a new age of colour television. And he called it, rather audaciously, Civilisation. Clark was the epitome of the arts establishment. ibid.
He turned to television to save civilisation itself from popular culture. ibid.
Almost as soon as the series ended [Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation] it was challenged by Ways of Seeing, presented by the Marxist intellectual John Berger. ibid.
Immigration meant the nation became more diverse than ever. ibid.
[Edward] Said investigated the art of the world’s empires. And what he found was nothing less than cultural hijack. ibid.
Orientalism revealed the dark side of civilisation ... Imperial powers had used art to create poisonous myths about the people they colonised. ibid.
C L R James was born in the British West Indies in 1901. He showed how empire had used culture as a tool of control. ibid.
Our culture promotes individuality, while the Amish are deeply entrenched in community. To us, if someone stands out, it’s no big deal because diversity is respected and expected. To the Amish, there's no room for deviation from the norm. It’s important to fit in, because that similarity of identity is what defines the society. If you don’t fit in, the consequences are psychological tragic, you stand alone when all you’ve ever known is being part of the group. Jodi Picoult, Plain Truth
What culture is there in a clay jug I ask you? Adolf Hitler
If you want to understand a culture, see how its art tackles the subject of sex ... Its most compelling expression to be found where we least expect it in the art of the Victorians. Howard Jacobson, The Genius of British Art: Flesh, Channel 4 2010
He has become a cultural legend. Great Artists with Tim Marlow: Van Gogh, Channel 4 2001
Somerset: I’ll never understand it. All these books. A world of knowledge at their fingertips, and what do you do, you play poker all night.
Guide: We got culture coming out our ears. Se7en 1995 starring Brad Pitt & Morgan Freeman & Kevin Spacey & Gwyneth Paltrow & Richard Roundtree & Richard Schiff & R Lee Ermey & Mark Boone junior & John Cassini & Reg E Cathey et al, director David Fincher, playing poker
Whoever controls the media – the images – controls the culture. Allen Ginsberg
At this point I reveal myself in my true colours as a stick-in-the-mud. I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time. I believe that order is better than chaos. Creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence. Forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance. And I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than an ideology. I believe that in spite of recent triumphs of science men haven’t changed much in the last two thousand years. And in consequence we must still try to learn from history: history is ourselves ... I believe in courtesy ... And I think we should remember that we are part of a great whole, which for convenience we call nature. All living things are our brothers and sisters. Above all, I believe in the God-given genius of certain individuals. And I value a society that makes their existence possible. Kenneth Clark, Civilisation 13/13: Heroic Materialism, BBC 1969