, an unpublished essay by Susan Sontag about the moral superiority of novels
in a time of junk culture:
In North America and in Europe, we are living now, I think it fair to say, in a period of reaction. In the arts, it takes the form of a bullying reaction against the high modernist achievement, which is thought to be too difficult, too demanding of audiences, not accessible (or "user-friendly") enough. And in politics, it takes the form of a dismissal of all attempts to measure public life by what are disparaged as mere ideals.
In the modern era, the call for a return to realism in the arts often goes hand in hand with the strengthening of cynical realism in political discourse.
The greatest offense now, in matters both of the arts and of culture generally, not to mention political life, is to seem to be upholding some better, more exigent standard, which is attacked, both from the left and the right, as either naive or (a new banner for the philistines) "elitist".