I have seen journals with good financial backing and editorial support die because they looked so bad nobody wanted to publish them.
It’s clear on the one hand that an education enriches and informs a response to beauty, even makes it possible in esoteric cases. On the other hand, there’s no question that someone with no musical education whatsoever might wander into a concert hall and be overwhelmed by the ‘Beethoven Pastoral Symphony’.
I try to figure out – intellectually, philosophically, psychologically – what the experience of beauty is.
Dumbing down takes many forms: art that is good for you, museums that flatter you, universities that increase your self-esteem. Culture, after all, is really about you.
It’s a grave mistake in publishing, whether you’re talking about Internet or print publication, to try to play to a limited repertoire of established reader interests.
I think the idea of the social construction of beauty – this idea that beauty is simply whatever culture or society says it is – is on the run. Of course, beauty does arise in a cultural context. No one ever denies that. But there’s also a natural response people have to it.
My parents were in the book business, my brothers still run the Dutton bookstores in Los Angeles, and I’ve been interested in editing books and journals all of my life.