Joshua Rothman, responding to William Deresiewicz’s broadside against the Ivy League and its students: “I tend to draw the opposite conclusion from Deresiewicz’s data: the fact that you can feel soulless in such an intellectual paradise suggests that the problem is bigger than college. … Deresiewicz makes a mistake in ascribing to his students, as personal failings, the problems of the age in which they live.”
Wim Pjibes complains in an open letter that the city is “dirty, filthy, and too full”, with too many badly behaved visitors, hashish coffee shops, and whores in shop windows, not to mention a “medieval way of dealing with rubbish”. Opponents are not only calling Pijbes a killjoy, but suggesting that he’s in league with the forces “artwashing” the red-light districts for the sake of real estate interests.
“In our data- and metrics-obsessed era the imaginative ground without which art cannot exist is losing ground. Instead of art-as-art we have art as a comrade-in-arms to some more supposedly stable or substantial or readily comprehensible aspect of our world. Now art is always hyphenated. We have art-and-society, art-and-money, art-and-education, art-and-tourism, art-and-politics, art-and-fun. Art itself, with its ardor, its emotionalism, and its unabashed assertion of the imagination, has become an outlier, its tendency to celebrate a purposeful purposelessness found to be intimidating, if not downright frightening.”
“The music that moved us in our youth stays with us for a lifetime. It imprints itself on our brains when our personalities are still forming. It mingles with our memory functions and defines our sense of pleasure. It restores a sense of wholeness to even the most fractured souls. But its effect may also account for something else – the fact that people tend to love throughout their lives the music (and movies and books and television) they loved as kids and teenagers. That’s another way of saying there might be a neurological reason baby boomers can be so boring when they insist their music was so much better than anything that came before or after. They can’t help it.”
“If left to our own devices we academics might become more and more out of touch with what the society really needs. That tradition of criticizing elitists, criticizing the kind of snobbery that often goes with elite education, that’s I think a very healthy American tradition for good, democratic reasons.”
“A lot of fans are basically fans of fandom itself. It’s all about them. They have mastered the ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Trek’ universes or whatever, but their objects of veneration are useful mainly as a backdrop to their own devotion. Anyone who would camp out in a tent on the sidewalk for weeks in order to be first in line for a movie is more into camping on the sidewalk than movies.”
“Expensive gambles, unforeseen losses, and investments whose soundness has yet to be decided have raised the price of a college education so high that today on average it costs eleven times as much as it did in 1978. Underlying the anxiety about the worth of a college degree is a suspicion that old methods and the old knowledge will soon be eclipsed by technology.”
“Dallas is trying to create more “vibrancy” downtown; trying to attract more people and keep them there for longer. One way it is doing that is through its arts district, a truly phenomenal collection of cultural institutions housed in equally impressive buildings, which is just now completing the commercial infrastructure it believes will activate the streetscape both day and night.”
“In the 1970s, the streets east of Little Tokyo and west of the L.A. River made up a dingy district of hollowed-out warehouses that landlords rented to artists who needed a lot of space for little money. … [Now, a] new coffee shop moves in every month or so, and it’s hard to walk two minutes in any direction in the 52-block neighborhood without finding a blue-and-white filming notice.”
“For the past year Luminato has been working with Queen’s Park to extend that support. And in making the case, Luminato had some impressive numbers to provide. The festival generates about $60 million each year for the Ontario economy, delivers $12 million in provincial taxes and provides the equivalent of 600 full-time jobs in labour income.”
“The UK’s cultural offering is the country’s most appealing feature for young people visiting from abroad, according to a new survey. More than a third of 18 to 34 year olds from Brazil, China, Germany India and the US that were surveyed said that culture ‘particularly contributed’ to making the UK attractive.”
Michael Jackson performed at this year’s Billboard Music Awards. Rick James has a new memoir. Tupac Shakur had a Broadway musical. James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and River Phoenix (!) are in new movies. “It’s not weird that we miss those artists who’ve died. But it is weird that, increasingly, we expect them to keep producing art. The afterlife has become just another career stage – one that’s as lucrative and, in some cases, as productive as the pre-death career ever was.”
“At night, all lit up and crowded with apartments and hotels, Mecca now looks like a Saudi interpretation of Gotham or even Las Vegas … and shopping malls and high-rise blocks are being built in a circle around the pilgrimage zone.” The Saudis are catching a lot of flak for these changes, but Nesrine Malik argues that they are both necessary and (certain excesses notwithstanding) well-considered.
“The number of performances rose and so did the number of visitors — Alexander Pereira insisted this was necessary to renew a festival that was becoming “increasingly inconspicuous”. Behind the scenes however, there was increased grumbling among artists and staff about the crowded programme, which looks to be reduced once Pereira is gone.”
“The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, which only recently completed its inaugural season, confirmed Thursday that Executive Director Lou Moore has left the fledgling arts organization. Moore, who spent more than a decade raising money to construct the new center and then led its 2013 opening and first season, left the organization on Tuesday.”