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T Ile attic& a0 gateltectuais The independence, vitality, and competence of the artists and intellectuals of a p lace and the ways the people regard them are not subjects limited to themselves; they go to the honesty and vigor of the place’s public discussions and political life. Dr. George Sanchez of Austin once, in passing conversation, called Texas “the state of intellectual depression.” This issue the Observer presents a few papers that bear, each in its own ways, on this subject. CULTURE IN TEXAS I gather I am here to provide you, hopefully, with a little relief from relief, and I only wish it were in my power to lighten your luncheon. But my academic specialty is Greek tragedy, and I am appearing in charactera messenger with a talk about things you might have preferred to forget. But you are all altruists and serious, and I am here to tell you that these are unhappy days for the humanities. My purpose is, in John Jay Chapman’s phrase, practical agitation. I want to see things happen in the humanities everywhere and I want to see a livelier and more exciting culture than now exists in Texas. That is what I came to Texas for, and I think some of the essential conditions for the humanities can be found here. I mean: money, interest, some public commitment, and students who, quite remarkably, somehow seem still to have faith in the possibility of human greatness. A high horizon. Hence, I have had high expectations, and if I sound somewhat disappointed, I hope you will see that it is because my expectations are high, not that my spirits are low. I am frankly impatient with Texas, but that is because I am already forty, and I can’t The paper here published was given to the Junior League convention in Corpus Christi earlier this year by Dr. William Arrowsmith, University Professor in arts and sciences and chairman of the classics department at the University of Texas. Arrowsmith has also taught at the University of California at Riverside and at Princeton and Wesleyan universities. A Princeton graduate, he held, consecutively, Woodrow Wilson, Rhodes, Bollingen, Prix de Rome, and Guggenheim scholarships and fellowships. He translates classics, is one of the editors of the University of Texas quarterly of classical culture, Anion, and is a member of the national advisory board for the Ford Foundation’s new translation center to be located at U.T. 20 The Texas Observer William Arrowsmith wait forever. That seems to me fair enough. Patience is for Texans, they live here. They can be patient. All I can do is to tell you frankly and critically how things seem to me from my isolated but ample outlook from the top of the tower in Austin. Education in the Humanities is, of course, an impossibly large topic, so I have widened it a little. It couldn’t be more impossible than it now is. What concerns me here is nothing less than the state and quality of culture and humanistic education in Texas. Texas is proud of what it has accomplished culturally in a generation or soat any rate since oil was discovered. Much of that pride is justified. But I may perhaps be forgiven if I doubt the sincerityI mean the absolute, disinterested sincerityof much of the Texas commitment to the humanities and the arts. Great galleries, museums, theaters, civic centers, auditoriums have been put up ; these have been generously endowed by both private and public munificence. Certainly many Texans are passionately and unselfishly committed to this work of cultural enhancement. And it is, for culture, undoubtedly important. But much of it has also been done in the name of civic zeal, a commitment to a place, a reputation, an image. What Dallas and Houston require, they will have; and large cities, with an unabashed hunger for cultural prestige, nowadays require rather sumptuous cultural apparatus. But much of it is precisely apparatus, and should not be confused with culture at all. It has, in fact, no more to do with real culture than most universities have to do with real education. I am sure you are all familiar with the Dallas millionaire who, at his wife’s urging, consented to support the opera “provided he didn’t have to listen to that damned squawking.” He knew what he wanted culture without the discomfort of having to take it seriously. He was more honest than many wealthy Texans and Americans of my acquaintance. I see students like him daily. And colleagues like him too. If culture chooses to come to Texas in this particular way, who could really object? Energy is close to vulgarity, and vulgar energy is not to be despised. All energy has its value. Besides, culture has always come in this way, from the Greek tyrants to the Renaissance princelings to the present. The difference, however, is the quality of interests and tastes. Medicean Florence triumphed both because the Medici possessed extraordinary taste and because Florence possessed an artisan culture on which the high arts could flourish. Texas possesses no such thing. She possesses an immense landscape, some good taste and vast bad taste, booming but often unbeautiful cities, and a vast aspiration to be taken seriously on the national level as an economic and cultural power. The arts and humanities in Texas flourish, I feel, not because the humanities have any real roots in Texas life, but because it is a part of public and civic policy to make them floUrish in order to prove something about Texas, or a particular Texas city. In short, the old Texan determination not to be outdone. This competitive elan is necessary, even good, but it is not enough. It is not serious enough for one thing, and it may often conceal something else, something very like civic delusion. We will have the humanities and the arts in Texas, not because they are valuable or good in themselves, but because they are culturally and socially de rigeur, a kind of chrome without which, it is believed, the automobile will not be a real automobile, but only a means of transportation. Culture comes high on the heap these days, and there is real danger in cultural snobbery and cultural ambition. And beneath much of the talk about education and the humanities in _Texas, I invariably detect the harsh ground-bass of self-interest and commerce