The Reading Room

Happy Birthday Joseph Schumpeter!

I have been a fan of Joseph Schumpeter ever since someone told me of his famous comment, "Early in life I had three ambitions. I wanted to be the greatest economist in the world, the greatest horseman in Austria, and the best lover in Vienna. Well, I never became the greatest horseman in Austria."
I've also long thought that Schumpeter's concept of creative destruction is an enormously useful one for thinking about the arts. Much as the horse is replaced by the automobile, and no one weeps for the buggy whip makers, schools of art, sculpture, literature, film, and so on, rise, fall, and are replaced.  Long before Ezra Pound insisted that modernism must "Make it new!" Impressionism replaced the beaux arts style of the Academies, American Realism replaced the Victorian novel, and Shakespeare replaced the morality plays of the Middle Ages.The joy of the 21st century is that all these creations--despite having been replaced--remain available to us online. We don't have to commit to a single literary style or artistic movement. The 21st century is a grand pastiche.Schumpeter's zest for life makes me think he might have approved.