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  • Title:

    The Tyranny of Clichés
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    9781595230867
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Article Highlights

  • Nostalgia plagues us all, but conservatives are particularly susceptible to it, for obvious reasons.

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  • Most people tend to think that “Golden Age” means simply “the best.”

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  • Think of it this way: Adam and Eve clearly had a good thing going before the Fall, but that didn’t mean TV was better before they bit the apple.

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Nostalgia plagues us all, but conservatives are particularly susceptible to it, for obvious reasons. When it comes to popular culture in particular, we tend to romanticize the past. The clichés spring to mind easily: The music these kids listen to today! You can’t even understand the words! Clark Gable, now there was a movie star! And then, of course, there are myriad allusions to “the golden age of television.”

This last has always struck me as something of a misnomer. Most people tend to think that “Golden Age” means simply “the best.” But, according to the Greeks, from whom we get the term, the Golden Age didn’t mean, necessarily, “the best.” It was, rather, the first age of man, a past age of innocence in which man lived in peace and prosperity. As the ages of man passed — the silver, the bronze, the heroic, and finally the decadent iron — things in general were not as good as they once were; but that doesn’t mean the poetry got worse. Think of it this way: Adam and Eve clearly had a good thing going before the Fall, but that didn’t mean TV was better before they bit the apple.

This article appears in the August 19 edition of National Review.

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