Hickey abandoned his book in 2015, a year that saw “cancel culture” pass from fandoms, via social media, into the mainstream of our civic life. What Oppenheimer calls the “blob,” the set of cultural institutions that Hickey denounced, appears ever more indifferent to beauty and ever more willing to submit art to demands for censorship, which often issue from just the sort of communities of shared enjoyment that Hickey imagined as the “pagan” basis of our democratic politics. It is regrettably no longer the case—if it ever was—that the democratic potential of our ordinary life of private and social enjoyments is primarily menaced from the outside by moralizing institutions and the persecutions of the state. Rather, the affordances of private life seem to be increasingly eroded from within, thinned out into intolerant, pleasureless resentments. It will be for a new generation of critics and creators to imagine, if it can still be imagined, how to restore a capacity for intense but tolerant pursuits of pleasure, and make America pagan again.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor