The term ‘classic’ turned up in English around the start of the 17th century, when it meant ‘of the highest class’ - same meaning as the Latin ‘classicus’ from which it came. It swiftly became the label for ancient Greek and Latin literature, and by the mid-19th century, that sense had been extended to any works with that sort of quality - though when it comes to the classics of English literature, I’m vague about what that quality is. “Written by dead white men”, going by the selection of classic literature that I had to read at school and university. “Big books that make me feel guilty and stupid for not having read them?” “Source material for TV dramatisations involving bonnets?” Seriously, what does ‘classic’ mean now?Read More
“Talking about music is like dancing about architecture,” said Elvis Costello. Or Frank Zappa. Or Gore Vidal. Or Laurie Anderson. Or Steve Martin. Or the comedian Martin Mull.
I think this is a problematic statement, not just because nobody can agree on who came up with it. But because dancing about architecture doesn’t seem particularly far-fetched - they’re both visual, in fact each medium could probably elegantly reflect the other. Talking about dance, however, is really difficult.Read More