The Closing Mind Experience

allan-bloom-photo-300x187Nobody expected a bestseller, much less a canon of the American cultural revolution. Allan Bloom certainly never expected to be a conservative.

(Nov’18) Then he made a bold claim that the intellectual fruit of 70’s unchallenged liberal, open-minded postmodernism and multiculturalism was not to open the mind but to close it.

…every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” … [What students] “fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance.” … “The point is not to correct mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.” (end Nov’18)

Here is Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind” on pleasure, addiction and rock music:

Rock music provides premature ecstasy and, in this respect, is like the drugs with which it is allied. It artificially induces exaltation naturally attached to the completion of the greatest endeavors–victory in just war, consummated love, artistic creation, religion devotion and discovery of truth. Without effort, without talent, without virtue, without exercise of the faculties, anyone and everyone is accorded the equal right to the enjoyment of their fruits. In my experience, students who have had a serious fling with drugs–and gotten over it–find it difficult to have enthusiasms of great expectations. It is as though the color has been drained out of their lives and they see everything in black and white. The pleasure they experienced in the beginning was so intense that they no longer look for it at the end, or as the end. They may function perfectly well, but dryly, routinely. Their energy has been sapped, and they do not expect their life’s activity to produce anything but a living, whereas liberal education is supposed to encourage the belief that the good life is the pleasant life and that the best life is the most pleasant life. I suspect that the rock addiction, particularly in the absence of strong counterattractions, has an effect similar to that of drugs. The student will get over this music, or at least the exclusive passion for it. But they will do so in the same way Freud says that men accept the reality principle–as something harsh, grim and essentially unattractive, a mere necessity . . . As long as they have the Walkman on, they cannot hear what the great tradition has to say. And, after its prolonged use, when they take it off, they find they are deaf.

Selected quotes from Goodreads and Wikiquote along with praise and condemnation.

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