The Middle Mind in Action
June 11, 2004
I was amused at Curtis White’s criticism of Terry Gross, Ken Burns and other PBS/NPR intellectual posers. I am also sympathetic to his critique of American materialist culture that he outlines in The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don’t Think for Themselves. His notion of the Middle Mind and its effects on how Americans think about and understand themselves could be a powerful and useful idea. However this book is so poorly written that it hardly makes any sense. What starts out as an argument soon turns into wild ranting and raving on anything that happens to pop into his mind, which sadly is too much TV, pop music and trendy literary theory and “cultural studies.”
Curtis White does in the end finally offer us an answer to the question “Why Americans Don’t Think for Themselves.” The answer is that English professors at Illinois State University cannot formulate a clear and thoughtful argument or sustain and develop an idea for more than a few paragraphs and yet they continue to train dozens of students each semester and publish nonsense for an even larger market. Editor Gideon Weil deserves at least some of the blame for this, although perhaps what the book really needed was a writer and not an editor.