Readers of the Claremont Review of Books are familiar by now with the closing feature of each issue, an essay that appears under the heading "Cum Dignitate Otium," or "leisure with dignity." After 40 pages or more of the very best writing on political thought and statesmanship, it's a bit of a departure into the leisurely realm of art, culture, comradely fellowship, and the finer things that elevate the good life above mere life. Above all, leisure makes possible philosophy, allowing us to analyze the popular culture that shapes Americans' attitudes and mores, for good and ill. In this respect, leisure serves an important political purpose, understanding and thereby preserving the conditions of free society.
In our first two years of publication, we've published essays by William F. Buckley, Jr., on wine; Bernard DeVoto on the ritual of the cocktail hour; Mark Gauvreau Judge on Ken Burns's atrocious "Jazz"; Martha Bayles on good and evil music; Elliott Banfield on a proper 9/11 memorial; as well as a survey of excellent gins, Oscar picks, a meditation on smoking, and, most recently, the first of a series by Nicholas Antongiavanni on the philosophy of clothing.
Because the Claremont Review of Books is a quarterly publication, it can be a challenge to keep on top of current films or other current cultural topics that may deserve comment, but would be stale by the time the next issue appears. With that in mind, and with no lack of subjects to cover, we're launching a new weekly feature on the Claremont Institute's website, a spin-off of "Leisure with Dignity" that we're calling (at least for now),
"Culture, High and Low."
Each Friday, you will get the "Claremont take" on the newest films, and new reviews of classic movies; reviews of noteworthy music, including a series on American musicians composers, performers you've probably never heard of, but should; short essays on religion and culture, including interviews with philosophers and theologians; articles on food and drink; book reviews, and perhaps even the occasional poem. No cultural topic will be off-limits.
Check in next week for our first feature.
Of course, we don't want you to forget all of the first-rate commentary in the Claremont Review of Books. The Winter 2002 issue is available now in bookstores and on newsstands across the land. If your local bookseller
doesn't carry the Claremont Review of Books for some reason, please ask for it. Demand it if need be. But demand nicely. It's the only dignified thing to do.