Cantwell continued

I’m continuing to read Robert Cantwell’s When We Were Good: The Folk Revival, and still experiencing, in about equal measure, dissonance of the loathed and the admired: too-frequent overblown PostModernist claptrap, but mixed with really astute observation. Here’s a nice bit of analysis, replete with apposite coinage and illuminating simile:

Culturally, the banjo was an enigma, having been thrust out of a series of social niches through associations that had themselves become indefinable: abandoned by black culture, which reconstructed it from an African progenitor, forsaken by the Gilded Age parlor society in which it had a brief vogue, repudiated by jazz as jazz moved uptown –it was the instrument that history left behind. To take it up, as [Pete] Seeger had, was a gesture at once disarmingly candid and hauntingly emblematic, a fundamentally comic piece of cultural scavengery that like a clown’s broken umbrella solicits ordinary good will in conventional terms as it also legislates some independence of norms and conventions. (pg. 245)