Controversial Director Axed From Bayreuth Production

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“A storm in a Wagnerian tea-cup (or more properly, a Sturm in a Gral)? Maybe it really is the case that Jonathan Meese – an installationist and performance artist who became notorious in Germany last year for his prosecution and subsequent acquittal for an act of public provocation by making the Nazi salute on stage – was just too ambitious in his set design, and that the costs would have taxed even Bayreuth’s largesse.”

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Billboard Music Charts Will Now Count Streams

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“Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, the agency that supplies its data, will start adding streams and downloads of tracks to the formula behind the Billboard 200, which, since 1956 has functioned as the music world’s weekly scorecard. It is the biggest change since 1991, when the magazine began using hard sales data from SoundScan, a revolutionary change in a music industry that had long based its charts on highly fudgeable surveys of record stores.”

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Why Is Reason Frightening?

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The ideal of “clear and intelligent thought,” stripped of its condescension and its indifference to the non-rational dimensions of human life, deserves to be defended. We need not be a nation of intellectuals, but we must not be a nation of idiots.

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Phil Klay, Evan Osnos, Louise Gluck Win National Book Awards

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“Former Marine Phil Klay took home the [award] for fiction, winning the prize for his debut short story collection Redeployment. … Journalist Evan Osnos won the National [award] in nonfiction for his impressively subtitled book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.” Louise Gluck’s Faithful and Virtuous Night took the prize for poetry.

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Miami’s Getting Another Arts Center, Complete With Starchitect Design

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“A new Miami Beach arts center designed by Rem Koolhaas is to open in December 2015 … Called Faena Forum, the 50,000-square-foot institution … will serve as a public forum for the exploration of topics in the arts, sciences, technology, politics and urbanism. It will also encourage dialogue about Latin American cultural practices.”

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How Dance Came To Be Used To Treat Parkinson’s Disease

English National Ballet: Dance for Parkinson's

“Westheimer knew how valuable the dancers’ expertise in balance, rhythm, control and sequencing might be to sufferers of Parkinson’s. … Two members of the Mark Morris Dance Group, with a composer and pianist, began giving free monthly classes for the [Brooklyn Parkinson Group]. The sessions have since developed into an extensive programme.”

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Can Theatre Make Audiences Better Citizens?

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A report from early this year argues that performing arts “are inherently social arts and provide a necessary opportunity to develop the skills of socialisation and communication required by a healthy democracy.” Maddy Costa writes about how she’s exploring that idea in her London theatre festival, Dialogue.

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John Cleese Says Comedy Ain’t What It Used To Be Because Audiences Today Don’t Know Anything

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“In my day, anyone who is vaguely educated – in other words, they know where Pakistan was … or that they had a vague idea which century Henry VIII [lived in] – would give you the opportunity for all sorts of humor. … The general feeling is that anything that doesn’t affect you personally is not worth knowing about. … It’s kind of like, ‘Geography? Well, I don’t need to know about that.'”

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How One Orchestra Protects Its Players From Hearing Loss

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“Nine years ago, [the Queensland Symphony] started ongoing noise exposure monitoring, data reviews and plotting noise maps for concert halls and orchestra pits where the musicians played.” The results: changed layout, risers for some musicians, acoustical screens, high-tech earplugs – and much less damage to the ears, especially of brass and percussion players.

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Ursula K. LeGuin On Choosing, And Straddling, Genres

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“Ah, genre. A word only a Frenchman could love. Well, you ask how I decide which genre to write in, and I have to answer, mostly I don’t. My mind doesn’t work that way. … I didn’t follow the sf rules and conventions unless I felt like it; essentially I went on writing what I wanted to write, and they could call it what they liked.”

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Wait, So Now Physical And Emotional Pain Aren’t The Same Thing Neurologically?

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“In recent years, researchers and the public have, to a certain extent, latched onto the idea that there are important similarities between physical and emotional pain … At the very least,” according to new research, “pain and rejection appear to show up as distinct ‘representations’ in fMRI (brain scan) readings of study participants.”

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James Patterson Is On A Crusade To Save Reading (And He Says Amazon Should Help)

Writer James Patterson promotes the new movie "Alex Cross" based on his novel "Cross" at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles

The world’s best-selling author, who gave out $1 million in grants to independent bookstores this year, strongly believes that the practice of reading for enjoyment is in danger in the U.S., especially among the young. In a Q&A, he talks about how he’s trying to help turn that tide, and what Jeff Bezos could do for the cause.

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23 Cool Maps And Charts About Language

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Linguistic family trees; languages maps of China, India, and Ukraine; how well various EU nationals can converse in English; the most common second language in each U.S. state; a graphic timeline of the history of the English language; a graph charting the rise and fall of the semicolon … a treasure trove for language and graphics geeks.

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Top Posts From AJBlogs 11.19.14

Community Engagement: A Habit of Mind
AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2014-11-19

Flight from Bentonville: Ex-Crystal Bridges Curator Kevin Murphy on Why He Left
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2014-11-19

What Happened in Detroit Stays in Detroit? My Wall Street Journal Takeaway on Detroit Institute’s Ordeal
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2014-11-19

Feminists have trouble keeping up with the Joneses
AJBlog: Plain English Published 2014-11-19

Are Readers Really Open To Changing Their Taste?

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“A new kind of book might offer pleasures we haven’t yet learned to enjoy and deny us pleasures we were expecting. Rather than fitting in with something we are long familiar with, it is asking us to change. And how many people are genuinely open to changing their taste?”

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Here’s Why Chopin’s Heart Has Just Been Exhumed

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“Chopin’s heart inspires a deep fascination in Poland normally reserved for the relics of saints. For Poles, Chopin’s nostalgic compositions capture the national spirit — and the heart’s fate is seen as intertwined with Poland’s greatest agonies and triumphs over nearly two centuries of foreign occupation, warfare and liberation.”

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What Science Can Tell Us About Great Works Of Art

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“In Baltimore last week, scientist-conservators told how analyzing great works with devices only physicists and chemists could love — synchrotron radiation sources, ultraviolet-induced fluorescence, high resolution, and XRF multispectrography — lifts the mysteries off some paintings and can produce stories worthy of novels.”

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How Light Restored The Color In Rothko Paintings

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“A team from Harvard and the MIT Media Lab realised that light could be used to restore the appearance of the lost colours without touching the canvas. The idea was to illuminate each mural with a pattern of light that would project the missing aspects of the lost colours onto the original canvases, returning them to their original hues without disturbing the paintings’ textures.”

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US Congress Asked To Create A Protector Of Cultural Property

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The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act asks Congress to appoint a cultural property protection czar and establish emergency import restrictions to protect endangered cultural patrimony. The bill aims to “deny terrorists and criminals the ability to profit from instability by looting the world of its greatest treasures.”

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