“It is a fantastically stupid rule that when followed often has the effect of mangling a sentence. And yet for hundreds of years, schoolchildren have been taught to create disastrously awkward sentences like ‘With whom did you go?’ The origins of this rule date back to one guy you may have heard of. Of whom you may have heard. Whatever. His name was John Dryden.”
You might be forgiven, then, for thinking that Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 is about fighting the evils of censorship. After all, the back cover copy declares it to be a “classic novel of censorship and defiance” and it’s generally taught this way in high schools. But Bradbury himself never took this line. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the author declared that “Fahrenheit’s not about censorship. It’s about the moronic influence of popular culture through local TV news, the proliferation of giant screens and the bombardment of factoids. We’ve moved in to this period of history that I described in Fahrenheit 50 years ago.”
“Tolerance is deeply rooted in the canon of apparent modern ideals: as an inherent good, a necessary individual ethic, a pillar of Western civilisation and proof of its superiority. … Yet tolerance, as an idea and an ethic, obscures the interaction between individuals and groups on both a daily basis and over the longue durée; the mutually reinforcing exchange of culture and ideas between groups in a society is missing in the idea of tolerance. … The purpose of religious tolerance has always been, and remains, to maintain the power and purity of the dominant religion in a given state.” Simon Rabinovitch makes the case for using reciprocity instead.
From major encyclopedic museums to university-run institutions, curators who are schooled in the art of ancient Mesopotamia, South Asia, Renaissance Italy, and many other eras and cultures across the globe are expanding and enriching how audiences experience art history. They’re also innovating the way that art is seen, understood, and disseminated.
It seems to be a more relevant question now than ever, partly due to the changing landscape of filmgoing, partly because of everybody’s ability to be a critic if they so choose. The reviewer is no longer always first to the film, and there have been a number of notable discrepancies between critical consensus and public opinion, from La La Land to Three Billboards, the latter of which prompted Ashley Clark to tweet: “The majority of the consensus-building bloc in film criticism is white and male, and it’s not massively surprising that some of what makes this film objectionable to many didn’t resonate.”
“The song has been passed down through the generations within families both in Mexico and in the United States — at birthday parties, weddings, Mexican Independence Day parties and soccer matches. … It is also a song that lifts the spirits in times of immense tragedy. In September of last year, for example, when a catastrophic earthquake in Mexico left hundreds dead, volunteers collected food and medical equipment while singing a moving rendition of ‘Cielito Lindo.'”
Culture Track: Canada imports a long-standing U.S. survey of cultural consumption to this country and reveals some surprising results. Allophones – that is Canadians for whom neither English nor French is a first language – are more culturally engaged than anglophones or francophones. Millennials, defined as Canadians age 20 to 35, are more eager participants than other age groups but, like older people, can be skeptical about using digital technology to get their fix.
“Professor Cavell was for decades on the faculty of Harvard University, where he often expounded on the ideas of what is called ordinary language philosophy, which argued that philosophers had become so preoccupied with convoluted statements of philosophical problems that they had lost touch with everyday words and their meanings. … He also showed his more cautious peers that writing on Shakespeare and even Hollywood films could make a philosophical contribution, illuminating issues of love, shame and community.”
Dr. Tedi Asher of the Peabody Essex Museum of Salem, Mass.: “When I first got to PEM,” says Asher, “we knew what the objective was, which was to create more compelling exhibitions for our visitors, by drawing on findings from the neuroscience literature, but we didn’t know exactly how to do that. … I see myself as very much like the mechanic. Like, how do we take all of these parts and work with them in a way that we’re facilitating engagement?”
“A new study offers a better sense of how much funding has been flowing to this media niche in recent years. … The results only offer a partial look at philanthropic support for these publications, since the study just tracks foundation funding. But the numbers are still illuminating for anyone who’s ever wondered how outfits like Harper’s and Mother Jones stay in business, much less the New Criterion.”
“A group of theater artists visiting St. Louis for [the Theatre Communications Group] conference … booed in unison during an excerpt from the musical The King and I. … Demonstrators objected to the portrayal of a character from Burma (now called Myanmar) by a white actress. They also decried other parts of the show as displaying inappropriate cultural appropriation.”
Guthrie Theatre artistic director Joseph Haj: “I really wanted to make a production where we could believe the difficulty of these young people’s lives a bit more than we’re typically given to when we see this musical. … It’s really the choreography where we thought, this is where we can shorten the distance between then and now, and this is where we can create a movement world that is rawer, harder in some places, tougher than what the Robbins choreography was.”
“With more funders looking for metrics — and effective altruists asking ‘how many lives does the opera save?’ — how can arts nonprofits best make their case, especially right now, with so many urgent causes vying for donors’ attention?” Mike Scutari looks at a couple of organizations who have answers to that question.
“Disney has boosted its offer for 21st Century Fox … to $71.3bn – from $52.4bn – trumping Comcast’s $65bn all-cash hostile offer tabled last week. Disney has also moved from its original tactic of an all-stock deal for Fox, … and a 39% stake in Sky, to a 50/50 mix of cash and shares.”
“This choreographic competition gives emerging ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American) choreographers the opportunity to hone their skills creating on the Joffrey Studio Company and Academy Trainees. … The program was originally funded for just one year by the Sara Lee Corporation in 2011. Yet the artistic staff at Joffrey was committed to the cause, and not only decided to continue the program but expanded it.”
“A panel of the 15th century painting Adoration of the Mystic Lamb disappeared from Ghent in 1934, and only a few clues were left behind. But on Friday, an engineer claimed that he had solved the riddle left behind after the disappearance. Gino Marchal, co-author of The Fourteenth Letter, claimed that the panel is hidden under a square in the Kalandeberg area of the city centre — where the mayor is now urging treasure hunters not to dig.”
“Maverick director Milo Rau has relaunched NTGent as no less than the ‘City Theatre of the Future’, sealed with the Ghent Manifesto, 10 commandments for making new theatre, Dogme 95-style, covering everything from authorship and language to casting and touring. Given Rau’s track record, this is no glitzy euro-branding hashtag exercise. He means business in changing the way we think about theatre. But there’s already a lot of flak coming his way.”
Michael Krajewski, who replaced founding music director Peter Nero in 2013, will depart at the end of next season, a decision described by a Pops spokesperson as “totally mutual.” (Krajewski declined to comment.) Taking over the podium will be Broadway and Radio City Music Hall conductor Todd Ellison.
Those filters could mark the death knell—at least in Europe—for social media use of popular memes like “Distracted Boyfriend” or the entire universe of SpongeBob memes. That’s because the filters created to prevent users from posting copyrighted content would be expected to catch the same copyrighted images from photographs or movies that are the basis for many popular memes.
The bottom-up method is much less ambitious than the top-down kind, but it has two advantages: it makes fewer assumptions about theory, and it’s tightly tethered to data. This doesn’t mean we need to give up on the old unification paradigm, it just suggests that we shouldn’t be so arrogant as to think we can unify physics right now, in a single step. It means incrementalism is to be preferred to absolutism – and that we should use empirical data to check and steer us at each instance, rather than making grand claims that come crashing down when they’re finally confronted with experiment.
The field of scientific art conservation is not a crowded one; James Martin, who set up the first for-profit art lab in the US, has been consulted in nearly every major fraud case in the past 25 years, often working alongside the FBI or other investigators. When he is described as the premier forensic detective working in art today, the accolade comes not only from people such as John Cahill, a New York lawyer who has managed dozens of art transactions, and who called Martin “hands-down the best in the business,” but also from those on the other side of the fence, so to speak.
Into this void march the techies, who come bearing money, jobs and promises of out-of-this-world innovation. But there’s a catch. Corporations are getting wide latitude in determining the future of cities. They are controlling more key services and winning important battles with once-indomitable city governments. Local officials find themselves at the mercy of tech: They can’t live without tech money, even if tech interests have a way of eclipsing every other civic priority.
Among the American Philosophical Association’s estimated 10,000 Ph.D-trained philosophers in the United States today, an estimated 125 are black, 38 are black women. Twenty-five years ago, Adrian Piper and I attempted to invite the Ph.D-trained black women in philosophy to join a professional association. We identified about eight eligible philosophers.
“Beyond the simple knock-offs and the provocations exists an entire class of nonsensical, algorithm-generated content; millions and millions of videos that serve merely to attract views and produce income, cobbled together from nursery rhymes, toy reviews, and cultural misunderstandings. Some seem to be the product of random title generators, others – so many others – involve real humans, including young children, distributed across the globe, acting out endlessly the insane demands of YouTube’s recommendation algorithms, even if it makes no sense, even if you have to debase yourself utterly to do it.”
Says the 25-year-old author of the autobiographical novels The End of Eddy (about his violent upbringing as a gay kid in an impoverished French town) and History of Violence (about his rape and near-murder shortly after he arrived in Paris as a student), “I think that the more you talk and write about violence the more goodness you can create in the world.”
Sudip Bose: “For the sake of a nice, neat number, I am identifying 25 great works — hardly a comprehensive tally, and somewhat arbitrary. Looking over the finalists, I began second-guessing at once: Why no Virgil Thomson or David Diamond? Why Bernstein’s First and not his Second? Why not Ives’s Third? I have not, moreover, included symphonic works that do not bear the title Symphony; therefore, I have left out Samuel Barber’s Essays and Joan Tower’s Concerto for Orchestra. What do you think I ought to have included?”