Directions (1-10): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words/phrases in the passage are printed in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
In a private journal in 1945, Alfred Kazin said that, “More and more, it is clear to me that what I suffer from is the lack of a working philosophy, of a strong central belief, of something outside to which my ‘self’ can hold and, for once, forget its ‘self.’” In a letter to his editor, Norman Mailer said The Naked and the Dead would feature “troubling terrifying glimpses of order in disorder, of a horror which may or may not lurk beneath the surface of things,” forging into “primitive glimpses of a structure behind things [...] on the edge of a deeper knowledge.” And Frank O’Hara’s search for the essence of the human person in poetry could travel so far to the edge of deeper knowledge that it became a sickening moral crisis.
Kazin’s absent working philosophy influenced a private life animated by self-aggrandizing myths of erotic heroism and acts of domestic violence. Mailer only had to look in the mirror to catch glimpses of the terrifying disorder. He nearly killed his second wife by stabbing her with a penknife. In the case of O’Hara, the quintessential poet of the avant-garde was so artistically insecure that he could descend into states of depressive alcoholism leading to poetic impotence. These are just a few examples of the inner turmoil and private instability, which Mendelson carefully reveals as the backdrop of literary expression in the 20th century. At a time when the question of human nature was of grave public concern, it proved no less compelling behind closed doors.
Though Dwight Macdonald’s work as a commentator and critic was not celebrated like the novels and poems of his peers, he was instrumental in setting the stakes of the literary and humanistic debate. Raised in the cradle of America’s founding elite, Mendelson says that ‘’ his ancestors were to Yale what the Adams, Eliot, and Lowell families were to Harvard.” In each case, the “family produced one or more soberly respectable presidents of the college or the nation,” but they also “produced a volatile and often tormented moralist-aesthete.” Dwight was his family’s Henry (Adams), T. S. (Eliot), and Robert (Lowell), editing for the Partisan Review, Yorker to Esquire. Deeply moved by the horrors of the two World Wars, and America’s numerous moral failures (especially in relation to the descendants of slavery), Macdonald’s response to moral and political ambiguity was an unfailing attempt to establish supreme clarity. His defining statement remains the essay “Masscult and Midcult.”
In it, Macdonald outlined the traditional divide between High Art and Folk Art, which was not fraught with pejorative overtones as it would be today. Rather, it was merely the result of aristocratic hierarchies that made up most of recorded history. For him, the virtue of aesthetic hierarchy was that it emanated from the work of individuals who were expressing the concrete realities of their community. ”Folk Art grew mainly from below,” and was “shaped by the people to fit their own needs, even though it often took its cue from High Culture.” Obviously high art and culture were curated by the elite, but clear distinctions allowed for cross-germination that aspired to move in both directions (for example, Picasso’s immersion in African folklore, or the contemporary sign painting of Steve Powers).
With the advent of Mass Culture — “or better Masscult, since it really isn’t culture at all” — the communal context of artistic expression was overrun by industrial mechanisms to produce and deliver (almost anything) to a freshly minted entity known as the public. Where folk art and high culture were unique and respectable in their own right, masscult was a parody of high culture, conceived in executive boardrooms to sell to the masses (the precursor to the consumer and the taxpayer). The result was the semblance of art produced on the basis of behavioral patterns and capitalizing on distraction. In Macdonald’s appraisal, the moral implications of this aesthetic revolution were high, and the ramifications were deeply political. Anticipating a key feature of late 20th-century American fiction, “the mass man,” he argued, “is a solitary atom, uniform with the millions of other atoms that go to make up ‘the lonely crowd.’” Individuals, he argued, thrive in relationship to the community, where economic interests, traditions, humor, controversy, and values can be shared, and from which vibrant artistic and political expressions can emerge. On the flipside, A mass society, like a crowd, is inchoate and uncreative. Its atoms cohere not according to individual liking or traditions or even interests but in a purely mechanical way, as iron filings of different shapes and sizes are pulled toward a magnet working on the one quality they have in common. Its morality sinks to the level of the most primitive members — a crowd will commit atrocities that very few of its members would commit as individuals — and its taste to that of the least sensitive and the most ignorant. Where he thought the blurring of lines between the upper and lower classes was one of America’s great political achievements, it was culturally devastating. Instead of preserving the nation’s organic ethnic plurality, Macdonald saw a hasty assimilation by immigrants (the “huddled masses”) who were made to feel ashamed of their rich artistic and linguistic traditions, rendering many “at the lowest cultural (as well as economic) levels [...] ready-made consumers of Kitsch.” Hasty assimilation and consumption of kitsch led to the advent of Midcult, which “pretends to respect the standards of High Culture while in fact it waters them down and vulgarizes them.” According to Macdonald, Midcult could neither sustain cultural plurality nor challenge conventional wisdom. Arguably a precursor of contemporary phenomena such as trigger warnings, Midcult was predicated on being acceptable, uncontroversial, and inoffensive. It promoted a cultural world of aesthetic, political and intellectual homogenization, where “the fear that wakes publishers in the night is,” not that the quality of their acquisitions, but “that the presses may for a moment stop.” In turn, the fear that silences citizens and artists is that they might offend.
1Q. According to the given passage, which of the following options is/ are NOT TRUE about Dwight Macdonald?
(i) As a commentator and critic, he wasn’t as successful as his contemporaries.
(ii) According to him, the moral implications of the aesthetic revolution were high.
(iii) He was successful in establishing supreme clarity between moral and political ambiguity.
(A) Only (i)
(B) Only (ii)
(C) Only (ii)
(D) All (i), (ii), (iii)
(E) None of (i), (ii), (iii)
: Option (E)
: The statement ‘.....Dwight Macdonald’s work as a commentator and critic was not celebrated like the novels and poems of his peers....’ suggests that he was not an as successful commentator and critic as his contemporaries. Hence, (i) is true.
In the fourth paragraph, it is clearly given that ‘.......In Macdonald’s appraisal, the moral implications of this aesthetic revolution were high.......’ Hence, (ii) is also true.
The author has called McDonald’s response to moral and political ambiguity an unfailing attempt. Hence (iii) is also true. Hence, (E) is the correct answer.
2Q. According to the given passage, on what aspect(s) was the Midcult based?
(A) On being acceptable
(B) On not being controversial
(C) On being inoffensive.
(D) Both (a) and (c)
(E) All (a), (b) and (c).
: Option (E)
: In the last paragraph, it is given that ‘Midcult was predicated on being acceptable, uncontroversial, and inoffensive’. From which we can easily infer that ‘Midcult’ is based on all three aspects given in the options (A), (B) and (C).
3Q. Who has been referred to as a freshly minted entity in the passage?
(D) Tax Payers
: Option (B)
: It is clearly given in the passage that ‘...the communal context of artistic expression was overrun by industrial mechanisms to produce and deliver (almost anything) to a freshly minted entity known as the Public. Hence, (b) is the correct answer.
4Q. According to the given passage, In case of O’Hara, what was the main reason that led to poetic impotence?
(A) Depressive alcoholism
(B) Private instability
(C) Artistic insecurity
(D) Midcult Art
(E) Self-aggrandizing myths
: Option (C)
: It is given in the second paragraph that ‘.....In the case of O’Hara, the quintessential poet of the avant-garde was so artistically insecure that he could descend into states of depressive alcoholism leading to poetic impotence....‘ It is clear from this statement that (B), (D) and (E) can’t be the correct answer. Now, one may get confused between options (A) and (C) but, it is given in this statement that it was actually artistic insecurity that descended him into the depressive alcoholism. Hence, the main reason that led to poetic impotence is ‘Artistic Insecurity’. Hence (C) is the correct answer.
5Q. On the basis of the given passage, which of the following option(s) is/are TRUE about ‘Folk Art’?
(i) It was a flexible form of art.
(ii) It is a unique art form.
(ii) It was independent of High Culture.
(A) Only (i)
(B) Only (ii)
(C) Only (ii)
(D) Both (i) and (ii)
(E) Both (i) and (iii)
: Option (D)
: It is given in the third paragraph that ‘Folk Art grew mainly from below,” and was “shaped by the people to fit their own needs,’. Hence we can infer that Folk art was flexible enough to be shaped by the people. Hence, (i) is true.
In the same paragraph, it is given that ‘.....Where folk art and high culture were unique and respectable in their own right, masscult was a parody of high culture...........’. On the basis of which, we can conclude that option (ii) is also true.
Now, it is mentioned in the same paragraph that Folk art took its cue from High Culture. Hence we can’t conclude that it was independent of High Culture. Hence (ii) is not true. Hence, (D) is the correct option.
Directions (6-8): Choose the word/group of words which is MOST SIMILAR in meaning to the word/group of words printed in bold as used in the passage.
: Option (C)
: Aggrandizing means ‘increase the power or status of something’. Hence, ‘empower’ is the word which is most similar in meaning to it. Look at the meaning of the given options
: Describe or represent as admirable
: Bring shame or discredit on
: Make (someone) stronger and more confident
: Increase, spread, or develop rapidly.
: Dismiss (someone or something) as unimportant.
: Option (A)
: Ramifications mean ‘a complex or unwelcome consequence of an action or event’. Hence, ‘repercussions’ is the word which is most similar in meaning to it. Look at the meaning of the given options
: An unintended consequence of an event or action, especially an unwelcome one.
: The way a thing turns out
: A feature that renders something less acceptable
: A shortcoming, imperfection, or lack.
: A change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.
(B) Wearing out
(C) Hard work
: Option (A)
: Assimilation means ‘The process by which a person or persons acquire the social and psychological characteristics of a group’. Hence, ‘absorption’ is the word which is most similar in meaning to it. Look at the meaning of the given options.
: The state of being engrossed in something.
: To tire or exhaust
: A great deal of effort or endurance.
The process of becoming smaller.
: The action of becoming larger or more extensive.
Directions (9-10): Choose the word/group of words which is MOST OPPOSITE in meaning of the word/group of words printed in bold as used in the passage.
: Option (E)
: Inchoate means ‘just begun and so not fully formed or developed’. Hence, ‘matured’ is the word which is most opposite in meaning to it. Look at the meaning of the given options
: Lacking sophistication or good taste.
: Relating to or marking the beginning of something; initial.
: Strongly felt and unlikely to change.
: Acting with or showing care and thought for the future.
: Become fully grown or developed.
(E) Carte blanche
: Option (E)
: Slavery means ‘the state of being a slave’. Hence ‘Carte blanche’ is the word which is most opposite in meaning to it. Look at the meaning of the given options.
: The state of being under the control of another person
: Boastful or arrogant behavior
: The action of confining or state of being confined
: Complete freedom to act as one wishes.