Wednesday, April 20, 2005

End of the 20th Century

A number of leading intellectual and/or cultural lights have gone dark recently. Saul Bellows, Susan Sontag, Hunter S. Thompson, George F. Kennan, Arthur Miller, Johnny Carson, Prince Rainier. John Powers at LA Weekly has written a thoughtful article on the cultural cost of all who've fallen.

If the new century began for most of us on September 11, 2001, the 20th century may well finally have ended with all these high-profile funerals. One by one, the individuals who defined the last sixty years of American culture have been vanishing from the landscape. And this sudden sense of an ending has been reinforced by the equally abrupt disappearance of the men who once read us the headlines about our national life: Brokaw is retired, Rather was chased from his chair, Jennings has lung cancer and Koppel is calling it quits at ABC. Small wonder that you now hear yearning for the supposedly good old days when the anchorman was a colossus. George Clooney is even directing a movie about Edward R. Murrow.
The entire article is worth reading. Who today is comparable to any of these individuals? Are we too cynical to ever have such greats again? Now there's an idea that will fester in my mind for a few days or more.