"It’s worth recalling that [Josef] Pieper’s book [Leisure: The Basis of Culture] was written in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. As he looked around him he could see two seemingly opposed forces—capitalism in the West and communism in the East—find a strange sort of convergence in the cult of efficiency, the lionization of work, and an almost religious belief in the power of humanity to control and manipulate its environment.
This is the world we inherit, and it is killing us.
I think about these things in part because when you edit a literary quarterly you often encounter people who advise you to give up on such an outmoded and burdensome enterprise: why publish long stories and essays and poems that no one will read in the age of Twitter and blockbuster movies? There are even those far less jaded and more gracious souls who applaud me for publishing such a ‘scholarly’ journal.
Whether cynical or sweet, the implication is that what you will find in these pages is difficult. In part, this stems from a populist strain in our cultural history that sees fine art and literature as elitist and exclusivist. In reply, you can point out innumerable examples of great artists who came from poverty and no education on the one hand, and on the other the ways that art can inspire and liberate the disadvantaged, but it’s an uphill fight.
But the problem isn’t just the stubborn persistence of a know-nothing populism. It’s that for many people the very leisure and contemplation that art requires (and invites us to) are alien if not incomprehensible things.”
— Gregory Wolfe, Slow Culture