Long article on P.T. Barnum, which is ostensibly a review of the new Barnum book but talks mostly about Barnum as a springboard for postmodernism, a connection the book didn't make.
By promoting the idea of trickery as an art form, Barnum implicitly incited speculation about the authenticity of his exhibits and encouraged the acceptance of uncertainty as a condition of everyday life. Yet there was nothing solemn about this game: it was all for fun--and for Barnum's profit. Epistemological doubt could be good business. "The public," Barnum shrewdly observed, "appears disposed to be amused even when they are conscious of being deceived."
This link is via Owl Farm because yes, we have rearranged things so that Owl Farm now gets links before I do. And they are varied and copious, and you will enjoy them; and you will also enjoy recent content like Dan Pope's The Bard Crichton, and other content to appear at the top of the page soon, probably this evening. Coming up: poetry by Joe Millar; fiction by José Skinner, acclaimed author of Flight; and Justin Feinstein's essay from Talk/Art.