Arts and Culture?

Letter to the Editor

Published September 20, 2012, issue of September 28, 2012.
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I have pondered, long and hard, this locution, used by our paper since the beginning of time to identify the arts pages — at least “time” as reckoned by readers of our paper. (As one of the Forward’s first reviewers, I go back to those early years.)

Might I respectfully urge that our editors take a peek at the locution “Arts and Culture”? What does “Arts and Culture” mean? Can anyone explain this expression? I know what “arts” means — I think. But what does “culture” mean?

Answer: Following the word “arts,” it means nothing; it’s gratuitous.

The two words — “arts” and “culture” — bounce off each other in a dance of redundancy, rendering the entire expression fuzzy and indeed foolish.

Much better would be “Arts and Letters.” Now that means something. “Arts” is exactly what the word says it is — the world of creative arts: visual, performance, cinematic. “Letters”? Anything that flows out of the end of a pen.

Looks good to me. And better — it makes sense!

Jerome A. Chanes
New York, N.Y.


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