As I was reading the Prologue to H/L, I was reminded of a dream I once had while taking World Music as an undergrad. Everyone who ever takes this class is particularly struck by a certain "peasant wayno" recording, where the girl makes noises that could be described as screeching, horrific, and painful to the Western ear.
Now, in my dream, I came across this girl at no place other than Karaoke. Everyone was booing her and throwing things, but despite the fact that I hated the sound as well, I stepped in yelling "No, but this is really good in her culture!"
The purpose of this anecdote is to reveal the feelings on the issue of highbrow v. lowbrow I didn't even know I had, that everything should be given its own fair chance even though maybe its terrible.
The American culture scene of the first part of the 19th century sounds sort of fun, with all the mishmashing going on, but being a product of a later time, I also find it sort of appalling. I think this duality is where we are today. Also as an undergrad, I was part of a show of a sort of "Beethoven's 9th Medley" done by the marching band. It was fantastic to play in, but I also felt guilty because I thought, as a "serious" musician, I should side with the professor who ranted and raved that it was a sacrilege. Americans today often think of themselves as living in sin, simultaneously playing around with music and culture without intent of stopping but thinking of the practice as somehow wrong.