A Philosopher's Blog

The Curators of Culture

Posted in Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on April 2, 2014
English: Oprah Winfrey at the White House for ...

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When a well-connected author comes out with a new book, she makes the rounds of the various shows—radio and television. Such others also get mentioned fairly often. For example, a few days ago I was listening to NPR and the author Karen Russell was apparently the author of the day. Her latest book, Sleep Donation, was reviewed and she also was interviewed. Her book was also mentioned regularly throughout the day. Authors who have their own shows, such as Bill O’Reilly, can (and do) plug their own books. The authors are also supported by those who might be regarded (or at least regard themselves) as the cultural elite. These are the people, such as Oprah, who tell the rest of us what is good.

There is, obviously enough, considerable advantage to being blessed by the curators of culture. First, there is the boon of exposure. One way to look at this is a bit inaccurate but still useful. A book can be thought of as having a certain percentage of people who will buy the book—if they hear about it. Alternatively, this can be thought of in terms of there being a certain percent chance that a person who hears of the book will buy it. So, for example, a book with a 5% purchase rating would be bought by 5% of those who hear about it (or each person who hears about it has a 5% chance of buying it). While this is obviously an abstract simplification, it does nicely show that the more people who hear about a book, the more the book will sell. This is true even of books that are not that good. This is the same principle that email spam and blog spam works on: if enough people hear about something, even if the response rate is low money can still be made. Obviously enough, when an author is able to get on a talk show to talk about her book, her sales will increase. Likewise for other forms of exposure for the author and the book. Equal obvious is that fact that access to the curators of culture is limited and carefully controlled—an author has to be suitably connected to make it into that circle of media light. This suitable connection might even be a matter of luck—the book just happens to catch the attention of the right person and the author is invited, perhaps briefly, into the circle.

Second, there is the gift of endorsement. If a book is endorsed or praised by the right people, this will typically grant a significant boost to sales—over and above the boon granted by exposure. While endorsement does provide exposure, exposure does not always entail endorsement. After all, the curators of culture do sometimes speak of books they dislike or regard as bad. While the condemnation of a work can impair its sales, the exposure can increase sales. There is also the fact that being condemned by the right sort of people can boost sales. In the case of ideological works, for example, being condemned by an ideological foe can often boost sales among ideological friends.

As discussed in an early essay, the quality of a work has little connection to its success. Luck, as noted in that essay, is a major factor. Exposure and endorsement add to this (although either or both might be acquired by luck). While the ideal would be that works receive exposure and endorsement proportion to their merit, there is little correlation. The best books need not be the most exposed or most highly endorsed. Mediocre (or worse) books might garner great attention and receive unwarranted praise from the curators of culture.

This is not to say that merit never achieves success, just that merit seems to be a rather small factor in successful sales. Sometimes, just sometimes, a meritorious work does achieve success against long odds—but this is notable in its rarity.


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  1. T. J. Babson said, on April 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Mike’s post reminds me of this wonderful piece from Dave Barry:

    So I read Fifty Shades of Grey. This is the book written by female British author “E. L. James” that became a huge bestseller, devoured by pretty much every woman on Earth except my wife (or so she claims).

    I think I might be the only man who read this book. I did it sneakily, hiding the cover, especially when I was on an airplane, which actually is a good place to read this book because you have access to a barf bag. I say this because of the writing style, which is . . . OK, here’s one tiny sample of the writing style:

    “Did you give him our address?”
    “No, but stalking is one of his specialties,” I muse matter-of-factly.
    Kate’s brow knits further.

    That’s right: This is the kind of a book where, instead of saying things, characters muse them, and they are somehow able to muse them matter-of-factly. And these matter-of-fact musings cause other characters’ brows—which of course were already knitted—to knit still further. The book is over five hundred pages long and the whole thing is written like that. If Jane Austen (another bestselling female British author) came back to life and read this book, she would kill herself.

    So why did I read it? I read it because, as a man with decades of experience in the field of not knowing what the hell women are thinking, I was hoping this book would give me some answers. Because a lot of women LOVED this book. And they didn’t just read it; they responded to it by developing erotic feelings—feelings so powerful that in some cases they wanted to have sex with their own husbands.


    • magus71 said, on April 2, 2014 at 10:08 am

      Perfect case for my misogyny.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      The lesson is clear: I need to become a worse writer. I know that WTP will say that is not possible, but I believe that I can do it.

      • WTP said, on April 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

        Oh I have faith in you. You’re spelling is nominally acceptable so you could start there. Also, throw in few more sentences that you end prepositions with. I know that’s one of my personal fav’s.

  2. apollonian said, on April 2, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Remember: There’s Culture, And Then There’s “Culture”

    Mike: u gotta realize there’s “culture” and then there’s a real something that’s actually CULTURE, right?

    And u’re integral part, for “culture” requires Pharisaism/moralism thought-control and “edjumacation” which is ur particular stock-in-trade–it keeps the suckers and goons in line, by golly.

    But getting back to “culture”–the “in-crowd”–u only have to know how it’s ordered, beginning w. the theme “whatever’s good for Jews” (or ZOG), this including, again, “good” (Pharisaism). And note, Jews being foremost criminals, according to their Talmud, the top organization is the US Federal Reserve Bank COUNTERFEIT scam–EVERYTHING else about the “culture,” society, and economy must follow for this Fed theme, requiring “good,” hence subjectivism, hence Plato, Kant, and Descartes, lately Foucault and Derrida.

    So for these folks on the “inside” it really is a matter of word-of-mouth which gets around–things like “global-warming,” now “climate-change.” Homosexuals are of topmost importance, of course, after Jews.

    And note the “in” “culture” is actually an anti-culture which hates Christianity (of the real sort–“Judeo-Christianity” which supports Israel is tolerated), Aristotle, determinism (as it opposes ur moralism/Pharisaism and perfectly “free” will), individual freedom, limited gov., the US Constitution, science, logic, etc.

    So the “in culture” is more science than art–u only have to have the right agent, know the right people, etc. True culture, which upholds humanity, reason, Christianity, etc., is the only real art–it succeeds despite the active and overt prejudice against it fm the “in-culture,” homos, criminals, and Jews.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on April 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      How about active culture?

      • apollonian said, on April 2, 2014 at 3:59 pm

        “Active” Culture And Its Nature, Implications

        Mike: that’s interesting. For note the CYCLIC “Decline of the West,” by Oswald Spengler, demonstrates the “activity” and prevalence of the anti-culture and degenerates, led by Jews, subjectivists, and homos–as we see, esp. for AGENDA-21 genocide, GMO poison foods, toxic vaccines, etc.–not to mention the overall radiation-poisoning on-going and un-controlled fm Fukushima.

        So the Christian/rationalist culture exists but remains LATENT, and will kick-in for its own activity when/as goons and suckers succumb to the GMOs and vaccines, etc. Jews and associated master-minds will begin to falling-out as they see their slaves being seriously de-populated, this upon principle of “NO HONOR among thieves.”

        For note we do indeed already see a kind of factionalism in the Israel-friendly “neo-con” “right” of FOX News and the “Judeo-Christians” (JCs–see Whtt.org and TruthTellers.org for expo) on one side, vs. the more “leftist”-types which include the slightly less numerous homosexuals who push “climate-change,” etc.

        “Leftists” more forthrightly push for AGENDA-21 genocide, whereas the Israel-friendly “rightists” want to keep the goons around to continue exploiting them, ho ho ho.

        THEN again, there are the Ron Paul -types, these also supported by SOME Jews, esp. of the lower-level variety, but who yet are amazingly rich–like our dear WTP, evidently, ho ho ho ho

        I think u really DO have something there, Prof., regarding this “active” culture concept of urs. Question is whether it gives us useful info, and I think it very well might–look at the “activity” of the homos, especially, for example, and of course constant mass-murder of Palestinians and Muzzies attests to activity of Jews/Israel. Everyone else just stands flat-footed, mouths agape–except maybe for Russkies and Chicoms.

        Critical immediate event will be definitive collapse of US Dollar, Jews’ main, most “active” weapon–then Jews, et al., will be “up” proverbial “creek”–may well then resort to nukes, and we have brand-new “ball-game,” depending upon survivors, if there are any.

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