Like many others, I read Prof. Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind" in hopes of being energized by a disciplined critique of contemporary intellectual culture. Our depersonalized mass society can surely use it.
While valuable in the scope of the undertaking, Bloom's closedness to some of the richness that has bubbled up through the intellectual and cultural cracks in the modern sidewalk is depressing. I was particularly incensed by his myopic harangue on contemporary music, which puts me in the uncomfortable position of agreeing completely with Hilburn.
Bloom's chapter on music did indeed include some of his liveliest writing and sloppiest thinking. The fact is, much of what he presents later as defenses of self, creativity and culture can be used to synthesize a position contrary to the one he takes on rock.
Hilburn reminds that some rock writers "use voices that speak with a purpose and dignity." Bloom derides rock music as having only one appeal, to barbarous sex, but says that culture "is the peak expression of man's creativity, his capacity to break out of nature's narrow bonds, and hence out of the degrading interpretation of man in modern natural and political science. Culture founds the dignity of man. Culture as a form of community is the fabric of relations in which the self finds its diverse and elaborate expression."