What Happened to Creative Critique?

A Commentary on Gifts of the Muse

Hugh Culik

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Gifts of the Muse offers practical advice to the beleaguered culture industry, but it is curiously uncritical advice that scrupulously avoids any recognition of the more substantial assumptions upon which the advice is based. Certainly the report makes good sense, and it begins with two useful descriptions: first, it describes how the evidence for the "instrumental" value of the arts is weak; and, second, it finds that the claims of "intrinsic" value are claims that don't matter much in contemporary America. The RAND report fleshes out these common-sense ideas with a myriad of detail and raises questions about American ideas of intrinsic vs. instrumental value and about the history of America's "culture war."