"Before industrial civilization, local and regional communities made their own music, their own entertainment. The esthetics were based on traditions that went far back in time—i.e. folklore. But part of the con of mass culture is to make you forget history, disconnect you from tradition and the past. Sometimes that can be a good thing. Sometimes it can even be revolutionary. But tradition can also keep culture on an authentic human level, the homespun as opposed to the mass produced. Industrial civilization figured out how to manufacture popular culture and sell it back to the people. You have to marvel at the ingenuity of it! The problem is that the longer this buying and selling goes on, the more hollow and bankrupt the culture becomes. It loses its fertility, like worn out, ravaged farmland. Eventually, the yokels who bought the hype, the pitch, they want in on the game. When there are no more naive hicks left, you have a culture where everybody is conning each other all the time. There are no more earnest 'squares' left—everybody's 'hip', everybody is cynical."
(Due to a brutally busy work week and my daughter's first week back at school, I'm forced to miss weekly links for the first time since I started the site. Sorry about that)
This book is meant to make fun of Leibniz. It's fairly funny and I enjoyed it as a teenager, before I was familiar with Voltaire's other works.
Leibniz has a spotty record as a philosopher, but his contributions to mathematics go far beyond the calculus you normally hear about. His fingerprints are all over pure math and formal logic and computer science and computer hardware and engineering in general. Next time you're in an airplane and it doesn't crash, thank Leibniz twenty times over.
Voltaire, on the other hand, was a rich, sarcastic dickhead whose rants against Jewish and Black people were extremely racist even by the standards of the 18th century. Screw this book.