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Ray vs. 'the intellectuals'

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16 June 2019, 12:44 AM
mikewestphal
Ray vs. 'the intellectuals'
Well, as commentary seems to have ground to a halt in the last few says, here is a question I have often wondered about. At some point in mid-career, RB seems to have entered into an adversary relationship with people he called 'the intellectuals'. As far as I can tell, it was a one-sided antipathy, since it was 'the intellectuals' who welcomed him into the pantheon of masters --- C. Isherwood and B. Russell --- and 'intellectuals' who continued to reward him with praise and honors through his life. So I've wondered: how did this come about? At some point it seems he retracted from something he saw or sensed in the zeitgeist of the time. Was it the turn that short-story writing took around the time of J. D. Salinger and a few other names I can't quite remember? Was it the 'New Yorker' style of story under Silvers (?) that he is on record as disliking? Certainly he means 'cultural intellectuals', since 'scientific intellectuals' were, well, outside his ken. He developed a critical abhorrence for something he saw, and pulled away. Has it something to do with his dictum of 'writing without thinking'? He was quite the fan of popular entertainment, while disparaging it in '451'. He seems to have been divided between snarky disdain and fanboy enthusiasm. Did he finally go with the fanboy and let the snark lapse?

This website seems to be divided between what I think of as the 'Old Guard', who had extensive personal contact with The Man Himself, and the fans and readers, who hadn't. I think the Old Guard could probably answer this question, given their many personal conversations with The Guy. Despite the many honors he received, how did he come to withdraw from 'the intellectuals', and, really, who or what did he mean?
16 June 2019, 08:32 PM
dandelion
Ray and Woody Guthrie were both suspicious of college education, yet Ray spoke at many institutions of higher learning for which he was well compensated and it was students on college campuses all over who embraced Woody's music so go figure.

It's actually good to remember this on Father's Day. I really wanted to go to college but was reluctantly going to opt out because Ray was against it and it was my dad who talked me into going which was the best decision I ever made. Also once there I wondered if Ray was talking out of both sides of his mouth as I met a man at the campus bookstore who said Ray corresponded with a brilliant friend of his and Ray told the guy he was wasting his time in high school and advised him to leave. "And do what?" I asked, alarmed that now maybe Ray was encouraging high school dropouts. "Go to college, of course," the guy said. I wondered why Ray was all right with this guy going to college but didn't think I should but never did ask.

It was also Father's Day weekend the first time I met Ray--the only time I was at his house--which I never tire of mentioning took nineteen years of trying to accomplish--and I called Dad on a cell phone on my way to Forrest Ackerman's house (someone else was driving, obviously).