Eric, Good article. I tried to wade through the blog comments following, but couldn't get past By <http://apragmaticpolicy.wordpress.com/> Tony Christini's "Dude! Wasn't Mozart like, totally Australian?" I don't think much of the Darwinian approach to "Golden Age Clumping," but without doubt the Clumping has existed. I had to resist criticizing the clumps Adam Roberts described. He would have been better served if instead of calling these clumps "the greatest" he had referred to Golden Ages encompassing these composers, poets, etc. I wouldn't include Pope on my list but I understand that he was considered very important to his age, but so was Dryden whom Roberts doesn't mention. He includes Milton but adds that no one reads Milton today. This at least tells us that Milton's Paradise Lost isn't as "eternal" as Homer's Iliad. So why is Milton still in our "Golden Age Clump"? Why Milton and not Spenser? I can see Spenser as having influenced Tennyson. But perhaps all this says is that Roberts' lists needs to be longer. Also, Roberts assumes a sort of Darwinian uniformitarianism; whereas the artistic developments of the various "Golden Age Clumpings" seem culturally oriented. Consider the difference between the symphonic music of the composers mentioned by Roberts and the Golden Age Clumping of the Italian Bel Canto composers Puccini, Bellini, Rossini, Verdi, and Donizetti. Can we see in this contrast a significant difference between the Italian and German cultures? And Roberts describes the "Golden Age Clumping" of British & U.S. 60s & 70s rock & roll. It isn't Roberts' intention to say anything about our culture, but if this does say something, I have to think it says we have become much more superficial. But then we knew we were heading in that direction from reading Sinclair Lewis, didn't we? Lawrence -----Original Message----- From: Eric Yost Sent: Friday, June 09, 2006 10:22 AM At The Valve, Adam Roberts asks, "Why are the greatest composers all German?" He ponders an evolutionary explanation which has provoked many comments. http://www.thevalve.org/go/valve/article/why_are_the_greatest_composers_all_ german/ the various branches of art enjoy long periods of mediocre achievement, punctuated by blazing, tightly-defined (geographically and chronologically) 'golden ages', which then go on to dominate the canon or received climate of the art for many subsequent generations. Why should this be? If artistic ability is distributed evenly amongst the population, as seems likely (so that, let us say, one in two hundred thousands humans has exceptional ability regardless of accident of place or time of birth), we would expect artistic achievement to be spread evenly, throughout time and throughout countries. But this is not what we find. Why not?