We Just Assume That Reading Is Good For You. But Is It?


“Reading has the best PR team in the business. Or perhaps it’s just that devoted readers have better access to the language of advocacy and celebration than chain-smokers or, say, power-ballad enthusiasts. Either way, somewhere along the line, an orthodoxy hardened: cigarettes will kill you and Bon Jovi will give you a migraine, but reading – the ideal diet being Shakespeare and 19th-century novels, plus the odd modernist – will make you healthier, stronger, kinder.”

New “Smart” Cities Reimagine How We Interact


New “smart cities”, built from scratch, are sprouting across the planet and traditional actors like governments, urban planners and real estate developers, are, for the first time, working alongside large IT firms — the likes of IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft. The resulting cities are based on the idea of becoming “living labs” for new technologies at the urban scale, blurring the boundary between bits and atoms, habitation and telemetry.

New US Laws Banning Sale Of Ivory Snares Owners Of Pianos, Guitars, Art…


“To illustrate the confusion ahead, experts gave the example of what would happen under the new regulations if someone attempted the interstate sale of a 100-year-old Steinway piano with ivory keys. Such a sale has long been permissible, because the piano qualified as an antique that contained ivory imported long before the mid-1970s, when officials began proscribing the material. But the new regulations would prohibit such a sale unless the owner could prove the ivory in the keys had entered the country through one of 13 American ports authorized to sanction ivory goods.”

Why We Like Art That Doesn’t Take Much Time


“On a prosaic level, short art frees up precious time. The vexed problem of whether to eat before or after the show evaporates when the thing wraps up after an hour or so. Scheduling becomes easier, and the workweek less of a barrier, if you can make it home by 10.”

Twenty Years After The Culture Wars (What Went Wrong?)


“We in the art world were not very clear about our moral imperative around freedom of expression. When I think about it, nobody won that culture war. But we lost it… Last year, the NEA Four were in residence at the New Museum in New York… I’ve been thinking about why is it now—Are the body fluids dry enough? Is the blood purged enough?—that 20 years later, suddenly people are looking back at these artists?”

25 Years After Fukuyama’s “End Of History” Argument

People on phones

“In the post-historical period,” Fukuyama continues, “there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed.” Doesn’t this vision seem exactly right?

The Science Of Analyzing Literature (Or Is It?)


“Viewed from Franco Moretti’s statistical mountaintop, traditional literary criticism, with its idiosyncratic, personal focus on individual works, can seem self-indulgent, even frivolous. What’s the point, his graphs seem to ask, of continuing to interpret individual books—especially books that have already been interpreted over and over?”

Here’s Why to Fund UK Theatre: Plays Are a Major Export

Nick Payne's Constellations

And not just productions, but also scripts. “If you’re sitting anywhere else on planet earth, you know that this country is the country that produces. Wherever you are, you’ll see more British plays than anything else – apart from maybe Neil Simon. On the whole, British plays have a better build quality.”

High-School Theaters Turn to Product Placement

high school theater produc placement

“In one scene from a Cleveland-area high-school production of Grease, the character Kenickie … carried a pizza box from Guys Pizza, a local place, though the script calls for a bag lunch. Later the restaurant owner’s father briefly appeared as a burger restaurant worker who happens to be wearing a large button with a Guys Pizza logo.” (The fee: $500.)

Holding a Candle to It – 100 of Them, In Fact: Lighting at Shakespeare’s Globe’s New Indoor Theatre

Sam Wanamaker candles

A reporter shares the secrets of the lighting at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse: what types of candle provide the right light, how to keep them from going out while actors walk, how to prevent drips and pools of wax – and how the company’s management convinced their insurers and the London fire department to go along with the whole thing.

Khushwant Singh, One of India’s Most Beloved Writers, Dead at 99

Khushwant singh

Best known for a wicked sense of humor and a (manufactured) persona as a dirty old man, Khushwant edited three of India’s top English-language periodicals, penned countless columns, and wrote or compiled more than 80 books, from a multi-volume history of the Sikhs to a famously irreverent memoir to the great novel of partition, Train to Pakistan.

Meet the Muslim Woman Revolutionizing Superhero Comics

Meet the Muslim Woman Revolutionizing Superhero Comics

G. Willow Wilson “was a white kid with no religious upbringing, but converted to Islam during the height of the War on Terror. She’s lived in Egypt, done foreign correspondence for the New York Times, penned a memoir, written an acclaimed novel” – and created a female Muslim superhero who’s a commercial and popular success.

Top Posts From AJBlogs 03.20.14

Tax relief for British theatre
AJBlog: For What it’s Worth | Published 2014-03-21

A Curator For Black Artists?
AJBlog: Real Clear Arts | Published 2014-03-21

Falling in love
AJBlog: Sandow | Published 2014-03-20

“Nur,” About Islamic Art, Sheds Light On Broader Curatorial Goals
AJBlog: Real Clear Arts | Published 2014-03-20

It’s over in Hannover for enterprising music director
AJBlog: Slipped Disc | Published 2014-03-20




New Study: All-Nighters May Cause Permanent Brain Damage


Concern about brain changes from lack of sleep has mounted in recent months with the publication of several other key studies. In January, sleep researchers at the University of Surrey linked sleep loss with disruptions in gene function that could affect metabolism, inflammation, and longterm disease risk to body and brain.

Are Opera Education Programs A Waste Of Time?


Considerable amounts of money, effort, resources and curriculum time are expended on these projects but to what end? Certainly not the development of new audiences and a future stock of those all-important punters who are freely prepared to part with good money to see a show. Thirty years into the “opera in education” mission and I have never encountered anyone who said to me: “I was turned on to opera by a school education programme.”

Here’s The Biggest-Selling Author Every Year Since 2001


“To call James Patterson prolific would be an understatement. The ad man-turned-author has put his name to 130 novels, 15 of which have publish dates in 2014 alone. But even when you divide his estimated 300 million booksales by that number, it still results with a healthy 2.3 million copies sold per title.”

Major New Tax Breaks For UK Theatres


“The scheme will mean producers are able to claim up to a 25% tax rebate on 80% of a production’s up-front eligible budget costs ahead of its run.  Touring shows will receive a 25% relief, while other productions will be eligible for a 20% tax credit.”

When America Was Really Crazy for Shakespeare

when Americans were nuts for Shakespeare

“The 25-year period around the Civil War was the most extraordinary. You have John Quincy Adams on Desdemona having sex with Othello, Lincoln reading Macbeth, and another president, Grant, rehearsing the role of Desdemona at a military camp. You couldn’t make this stuff up. This is how central a preoccupation Shakespeare was at the time.”

The Next Big Thing in Crime Fiction? Poland

Polish crime fiction

“And in a field that has been dominated by British, American and, most recently, Scandinavian writers, [Poland] seems poised to grab the attention of crime fiction fans around the world.” The secret ingredient? Poland’s tangled 20th-century history.