The Herd of Independent Minds: Has the Avant-Garde Its Own Mass Culture?
Harold Rosenberg — September 1948
On the other hand, the producer of mass culture has no use for experience, his own or another’s, which cannot be immediately shared. What is endured by one human being alone seems to him unreal, or even an effect of madness. The “alienation” of the artist, his characteristic neurosis, which we hear so much about today, is an essential axiom of mass-culture thinking: every departure from the common experience appears to be an abnormality requiring some form of explanation—medical, sociological, etc. Actually, the concept that the artist is “alienated from reality” has little to support it either in the psychology of artists or in any metaphysics of art. As Thomas Mann said recently, it depends on who gets sick; the sickness of a Nietszche may bring him much closer to the truth of the situation, and in that sense be much more “normal,” than the health of a thousand editorial writers."