main: September 2009 Archives

The CNN report on the death of former Manson Family member Susan Atkins goes into my file on the word "irony." In the United States we normally use this word to discuss things in which there is no irony whatsoever:

Atkins gave birth to a son while living at Spahn Ranch, an old movie set, with other members of the Manson family. While she was on death row, she wrote, he was legally taken from her because no one in her family was willing to raise him.

"His name and identity have been changed and sealed, so I have no idea where he is or how he is doing," she wrote. "I have since been told his name was changed to Paul, and whether or not that is true I like it. ... My continuing separation from my son, even after all these years, remains an incredibly poignant and enduring loss."

Ironically, Sharon Tate planned to name her unborn son Paul.
It was most far-sighted of Sharon Tate to have been ironic about this.
September 25, 2009 4:53 PM | | Comments (0)
The announcement of Jim Carroll's death at CatholicBoy includes one sentence that means everything to me: "He was at his desk working when he passed away."

A story from my friend Rich Byrne:

Idolized him and Basketball Diaries as adolescent. Finally got to meet him on junket for the film version with Leo DiCaprio. Table of dickhead critics -- who had just been asking DiCaprio if he was concerned about playing "gay" Arthur Rimbaud in his next film -- is completely silenced as Carroll and I talk Frank O'Hara and William Blake.
You can be sure some of them left wanting to meet Frank O'Hara's agent, though.

UPDATE: For more of Rich's recollection of the junket, go here.

I am shocked to read this:

As a novice at these things, I was frankly appalled at the slippery and toxic combination of cynicism and sycophancy in my alleged journalistic colleagues. They would knife these actors and directors with words behind their backs, while unctuously sucking up to their faces.

Why, surely this cannot be.

September 14, 2009 1:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Home again after a week on a largely deserted island -- a vacation that kept me from attending the NBCC board meeting and 35th anniversary festivities in New York -- I'm now facing so much work that the very thought of it has induced insomnia.

Which does not make it any easier to read incredibly dense books. Fortunately, however, I have company.


When I left before Labor Day weekend, the crew at Barnes & Noble Review were busy redesigning their website, which has just now launched. See also my interview with Jim Mustich, editor-in-chief of B&NR, from late spring.

I owe him a piece right now -- him, and many another -- and have about 3,000 pages to read by the end of the month. But consider this the resumption of major Quick Study blogging operations.

By the way, the handsome fellow in the picture is named Wiki.
September 14, 2009 12:06 PM | | Comments (0)
I am about to go on vacation,and will be offline for a good while. No comments will be posted until mid-month. But before vanishing, I wanted to put up links to a few -- if by no means all -- of my recent pieces. Other work is underway that should appear this fall in Dissent, The Nation, International Socialist Review, New Politics, Democracy, and Barnes and Noble Review. (Hence the need for a vacation.)

Published just this week are this review for Bookforum of David Harvey's book on cosmopolitanism and my column from IHE about Tzvetan Todorov's pamphlet on torture and the "war on terror."

My first piece for the cultural supplement of the Abu Dhabi paper The National looks at an anthropological description of life on Wall Street.

My essay on the cultural prehistory of last month's town-hall insanity was denounced by one person as so much "leftist redorick." (I am not making that up.) Witness said redorickal efforts here.

What do crime, business, and academia have in common? See this column, which seems to have generated a bit more traffic than usual, and may yet help make "kakistocracy" a household word. 

Finally, some video. Here I am talking about C.L.R. James at the Socialism '09 conference in Chicago, mid-June.

Also, in October I will be speaking during the Obermann Humanities Symposium (Iowa City) and the Northeast Socialist Conference (NYC). It would be good to see any of you who happen to be in either place.
September 4, 2009 9:57 AM | | Comments (1)
Towards the end of his contribution to a symposium on literary blogging, Mark Athitakis says:

Posts on the order of, "We Interrupt This Litblog For a Very Special Announcement of My Thoughts about Health-Care Reform" won't do much for me. But though I'm not much of a socialist, I like reading Scott McLemee's writings from that perspective on his (too rarely updated) blog, Quick Study.
Sigh. I guess it is pretty obvious that blog-keeping (of any sort: literary, political, personal, whatever) is way, way down on the list of my priorities these days. I don't even put up links to the articles influencing My Thoughts about Health-Care Reform -- let alone post said Thoughts themselves.

Mark's comment is a reminder that there are people out there who wouldn't mind too much if I did blog more. But it's not like I'm even bothering to use Quick Study to promote my work for magazines, newspapers, etc. these days. 

There are good reasons for this, involving a pretty thoroughgoing transformation of my sense of values. It began about 18 months ago and seems to be (if anything) building up momentum. Things that once seemed important now don't. What once counted as matters of ambition, frustration, etc. now just seem stupid, pointless, obtuse.

A talented poet or novelist or playwright might be able to give some form to this experience. My very much more modest powers in "the fourth genre" haven't been up to the task. The essay for Crooked Timber's seminar on George Scialabba was an effort to deal with some of it -- at a certain distance, without being overtly confessional or narrative. Short of producing something like Andre Gorz's The Traitor (not a good idea, nobody would publish it) the best course is probably just to keep folding the revision of values into my day-to-day writing, and leave it at that.

At this point, it is tempting to thank Mark, announce that I will return to regular blogging at some point in the not-too-distant future, then go off on vacation before facing the new work year. But who knows? It might happen and it might not.

I still don't have an answer to most of the questions that have been on my mind for a while now. One of them, if by no means is the urgent, is:  "What is blogging (for)?"

Once, some answer seemed at least potentially available, if not quite self-evident. That is much less definite now. I'll be interested to see how people address it in the symposium.   
September 3, 2009 12:24 PM | | Comments (4)

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About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
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