Vargas Llosa 8 June 2013 Nexus lecture
Volkskrant 10 June 2013, Carel Peeters: The Nexus Lecture that the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa held on Saturday, June 8 was originally announced as 'The Future of Humanism'. It was' The Culture That Was. " Both no small subjects.

What is on the mind of Llosa is the increasing specialization that technology requires, making the gap between the specialist and the layman is increasing. The impression arise that digitization brought the two cultures, that of alpha and beta, more closely together. But the question is whether this is really true. In any case, Vargas Llosa wants the science and culture (arts and humanities) distinguished again from each other to accentuate the importance of culture.

In the title of his lecture Llosa understands among the lost culture the culture that is in principle accessible and open to all: the paintings of Velázquez and Picasso,
Mozart's music, the plays of Shakespeare and Molière, the books of Cervantes, Faulkner and Borges. Culture which he calls "the shared space'. That is permanent culture, different from the world of science which always progress is made so that the previous invention disappears. That 'shared space' of culture would ensure connectedness between people. They can communicate with each other, not hindered by language, traditions, beliefs and times.
According to Llosa, the problem is that culture is disappeared. "The Culture That Was" is a nostalgic reading, in which Llosa engrossed in the good old days where the beautiful, the good and true concepts were still untouchable. Then, culture knew still an elite who showed us the way, when beauty was still an undisputed concept, when authority was still recognized when good and evil were distinguishable. When art was art.

According Llosa, culture is no longer special artistic achievements of artists, but it became something common: everything has become culture, such as the cultural relativist anthropologists say. Anthropologists do not make differences between cultures, whether primitive or developed. One is not superior to the other. Also disappearance of walks of life creates an egalitarian culture. Culture should be available to everyone, so culture has to popularize. High and low culture are no longer valid. A tearjerker is worth as much as a sonata by Chopin.

The new contra culture

Of course Llosa is right by this finding of a regrettable development. It is undeniable that popular culture determines the landscape of magazines, books, movies, television and music more and more. Popular culture has even become dominant. The entertainment prevails. The non-commercial magazines, books, films and broadcasters are struggling and fear marginalization. But there is sometimes given interaction. Art academies, experts and critics still know when something may go for art and when not (even if it is slightly less in the visual arts). Llosa would not see how persistent the arts try to maintain. Llosa pretends those who love culture are to blame for the impending marginalization. But it's the commercialism that is really guilty. The commerce is seizing everything. Commerce is the new imperialism. Commerce tailors everything to massiveness. The literary critic of The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier, called this culture recently the new Contra Culture: against commercialism and against the dominance of technology.

Among the names that he calls when he wants to give an idea of the artists who stand for the pure culture (Shakespeare, Mozart), only great minds and masters are sorted and no artists of the last fifty years. Llosa does not make the impression that he knows something of the writers or artists who represent the best of our time. For Llosa, there is no contemporary culture.

The by Llosa desteted philosophy of literary 'deconstruction', in which a work of art does not refer in any way to reality, but only to himself, has created a furore time only in America. It is a little late to come with criticism now the flow is long gone. As it is outdated now to come with Michel Foucault brine sins. When Llosa opposes deconstructivists against classic American critics Lionel Trilling and Edmund Wilson, then there is nothing wrong with that, except that it is no art to get right with such big names. Why did he not look for a few contemporary examples (James Wood, Daniel Mendelsohn) who already have some of the luster of Trilling and Wilson? Also Llosa do not want to see what very startling takes place in contemporary literature, such as the new generation of writers who Granta recently presented or the bloom of a young publisher as McSweeney's. Where culture is resent, Llosa does not see it.
Problems with authority

In general, Llosa is talking about the disappearance of the 'elite'. He grants the old elite a noble role to play. "The social communication, that common denominator that is the glue of the social fabric, was maintained by the elite, the civilized minority." This is really a very idealistic presentation. Elites usually went along with elite pretensions and in accordance with pointedly behavior. You only rarely got the knowledge and the noblesse of the elite. At the elite of the business world you always get free self-congratulation, the ostentation and fuss.

Llosa is so busy working with the big brush, that he also talks about the disappearance of 'authority'. Of course there are problems with authority, particularly in schools, but in the past there was so much abuse of power, authority and hierarchy that you can not restore the capacities to their former glory. Distrust is always in position in people who want to have authority.