If It Gives Pleasure It Must Be Good

by Zoe Pollock

Mark Edmundson sees the ultimate narcissism in our literary taste today:

[T]he media have another reason for not trying to shape taste: It pisses off the readers. They feel insulted, condescended to; they feel dumb. And no one will pay you for making him feel dumb. Public entertainment generally works in just the opposite wayby making the consumer feel like a genius.

Even the most august publications and broadcasts no longer attempt to shape taste. They merely seek to reflect it. They hold the cultural mirror up to the readerwhat the reader likes, the writer and the editor like. They hold the mirror up and the reader andwhat else can he do?the reader falls in love. The common reader today is someone who has fallen in love, with himself.