Monday, September 30, 2013

That good old shock of the new

Everybody knows who Virginia Woolf and James Joyce are; we just don't read them. We haven't read what they read, either, and context and continuity count for a lot. Maybe that's why to us Florence Lawrence doesn't look like a movie star, Whispering Jack Smith doesn't sound like a pop idol, and Bob Hope just ain't funny. Maybe you're only ready to hear Sonny Rollins, Elvin Jones, and Wilbur Ware riff for almost a quarter hour on "What Is This Thing Called Love" after you've plugged a whole pocketful of nickels into a jukebox to hear Billie Holiday sing it.

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