Seventy years later

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Harold Rosenberg wrote the essay "The Herd of Independent Minds: Has the Avant-Garde Its Own Mass Culture?" back in 1948, and it's still spot-on:

American intellectuals are, however, reluctant to face the mass-culture consequences of their historical self-definitions. They retain a nostalgia for the personal and unique, for esoteric art, for small-group attitudes, even while they deplore the inadequacy of these standpoints. As individuals they see themselves in terms of what they have in common with others; in the mass they sense themselves despondently as individuals. Thus they cannot act creatively either for the individual or for the mass.

There's more:

Poses are a matter of taste, sometimes of achieving spiritual efficiency. I should like only to make sure that nobody is bullied by the abstract concept of social responsibility into becoming useless to himself and to his fellow men, or even a menace.

Strike a pose.

We're always sorting through the junk drawer of our experience and pulling out what we think works. As fascinating as we believe 2018 to be, we're still grappling with the same notions we had at midcentury.