ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas

Today's Stories

How Different Cultures Process Grief

Studies of grieving brains – be it scans of the brain regions which process grief, or measures of the stress hormone cortisol that is released in grief – show no differences in relation to race, age or religion. - The Conversation

How Thelonius Monk Changed Music

Like his hero Duke Ellington, he had a gift for reconciling musical experiment with the immediacy of pop, finding freedom in the constraints of a verse-chorus-bridge grammar that might otherwise default to clichés. - The Baffler

What Literary Criticism Is (And Isn’t) For

What is literary criticism — specifically, the kind of highly specialized, theoretically sophisticated textual readings generated by academic critics — really for? - The New York Times

Our Need For Constant Entertainment Has Ruined Everything

We have surrendered ourselves to our entertainment. We will become so distracted and dazed by our fictions that we’ll lose our sense of what is real. We will make our escapes so comprehensive that we cannot free ourselves from them. The result will be a populace that forgets how to think... - The Atlantic

Ukraine Ballet Comes To US

Some 60 dancers who fled the war make up The United Ukrainian Ballet. With help from local dance professionals and city officials, the company is based in The Hague. - NPR

Was This Antarctica’s First-Ever Professional Outdoor Dance Performance?

Probably. Earlier this week, members of the Ballet Folklórico Nacional Argentino and Compañía Nacional de Danza Contemporánea traveled from Buenos Aires down to Argentina's Base Marambio and performed in snowsuits as the temperature hit 19°F. (It's summer there.) - Buenos Aires Herald

UK Playwrights Protest Low Pay, Working Conditions

“Theatre is in danger of just being a museum piece – not current and not tackling the things that are going on right now around the world, and that’s really important in order to not become obsolete.” - The Guardian

Remember The Guy Who Streaked At The Oscars?  He Did A Hell Of A Lot More Than Run Around Naked.

"Who was Robert Opel, and why did he do what he did?  ... Even as Opel's fifteen minutes ticked down, his quest for exposure was just getting started. The Oscars were not his first or his last brush with history, and five years later he'd be dead." - The New Yorker

Monterey Jazz Festival Head Steps Down After 30 Years

Tim Jackson co-presented the ’92 season with Jimmy Lyons, who launched the festival with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ralph J. Gleason in 1958. By 1993, Jackson took over and quickly re-established the reputation of the longest continuously running jazz festival as one of the genre’s pre-eminent events. - San Francisco Chronicle

Meet The Most Media-Friendly Of Maria Von Trapp’s Great-Grandchildren

"(He's) not one of the von Trapps you'd occasionally see performing 'Edelweiss' on Oprah or The View in years past. But ... when journalists wondered what the real von Trapps thought of Carrie Underwood playing Maria ..., Myles was the one who gave them a disapproving quote. This occasionally causes issues." - New York...

Why Are People Bullying Librarians?

In a comically transparent escalation of this anti-intellectual crusade, they are targeting libraries. Worse, they’ve embraced a characteristically cruel approach to doing so: bullying librarians. - The Nation

Her Uncle Writes Plays, And She Turns Them Into Operas

Composer Emma O'Halloran had had her Uncle Mark adapt two of his scripts, Mary Motorhead and Trade, into librettos to which she's written one-act operas --- and she plans to make it a trilogy. She talks to David Patrick Stearns about the collaboration and about the ways she works. - Musical America

How Americans Lost Confidence In Journalism

When ratings drop, and with them advertising revenues, correspondents change, anchors change, coverage changes. News, especially but not only cable news, is curated for an audience. So, obviously, is the information published on social media. - The New Yorker

As A Black Man Running The Pasadena Playhouse For 20 Years, George Epps Has Seen Real Progress — Fragile, But Real

"There were years when it was me shouting into the wind and nobody was really listening. There are more voices now. They've been voices of great renown, and they've definitely been more honest. ... We haven't solved the problem. But at least it's not a secret anymore." - Yahoo! (Los Angeles Times)

Translating Franz Kafka’s Diaries Was A Total Head Trip

"(I was) groping and straining to make sense of Kafka's groping and straining to make sense. Not only could I not always — or even often — be certain that I knew what Kafka meant, I didn't know whether at any given moment he himself knew what he meant." - The New York Times

“Enshittification” — How TikTok Is, Inevitably, Ruining Itself (And Us)

Cory Doctorow: "Here is how platforms die: First, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die. I call this enshittification." - Pluralistic

It Would Have Been America’s Biggest Solar Farm.  It Was Killed For The Sake Of Land Art

The 14-square mile project was to be on Federal land in eastern Nevada — on the way to Michael Heizer's 1970 work Double Negative, a pair of man-made gashes in the mesa. Fans of the work hated the idea of people driving through an enormous field of solar panels to reach it. - Los...

A Statue Of A Roman Emperor Pretending To Be Hercules Is Discovered In A Sewer (How’s That For A Metaphor?)

"The marble sculpture, showing a Hercules-like figure with the hero's trademark lion skin and club, was unearthed on Jan. 25 (in) the Appian Way green area. ... (It) bears a 'fair resemblance' to Emperor Decius, who ruled Rome from 249 to 251 AD." - Reuters

Brexit Has Cost The Arts In Britain $200 Million In Funding

"Work by the UK Trade and Business Commission found that ... had Brexit never happened, the UK's creative industries would have received an additional €184 million (£164 million, $201 million), based on the total funds they received last cycle." - The National (Scotland)

Chicago Budgets $11 Million In New Arts Funding

"Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on Thursday announced $11 million in grants for nonprofit arts organizations, including via a new Chicago Arts Recovery Program." - MSN (Chicago Tribune)

By Topic

How Different Cultures Process Grief

Studies of grieving brains – be it scans of the brain regions which process grief, or measures of the stress hormone cortisol that is released in grief – show no differences in relation to race, age or religion. - The Conversation

Our Need For Constant Entertainment Has Ruined Everything

We have surrendered ourselves to our entertainment. We will become so distracted and dazed by our fictions that we’ll lose our sense of what is real. We will make our escapes so comprehensive that we cannot free ourselves from them. The result will be a populace that forgets how to think... - The Atlantic

How People Romanticize Their Childhoods

Considering the aspirations of so many people to return to it, you’d think the answer was a place, a spot in the world, with an address, much easier to locate than a time, though times have dates to identify them as precisely as street names and numbers identify places. - American Scholar

We Think Of Skeptics As Unhappy People. The Ancients Believed Skepticism Was The Way To Happiness

Sceptics were pretty happy about it. They thought of their scepticism as a way of life – as a way of reaching ataraxia or tranquillity. In their view, having beliefs is the ultimate cause of anxiety, and therefore the best way to avoid anxiety is to get rid of beliefs altogether. - Aeon

The Baby Boomers Changed Everything. What Happens When They’re Gone?

They were a cohort of historically unprecedented size, whose basic need to be clothed, fed, housed and educated was a decades-long jobs creator and economy stimulator. And they were a cohort whose massive size and timing meant cultural and economic dominance for much of their lives.  - Washington Post

Why We’re Missing Memories From The Pandemic

We might assume that our pandemic memories are missing because information entered our brains, then slipped from it—like a toy tumbling out of a clumsy toddler’s hands. However, it’s more likely that our brains weren’t storing that information in the first place. - The Walrus

Brexit Has Cost The Arts In Britain $200 Million In Funding

"Work by the UK Trade and Business Commission found that ... had Brexit never happened, the UK's creative industries would have received an additional €184 million (£164 million, $201 million), based on the total funds they received last cycle." - The National (Scotland)

Chicago Budgets $11 Million In New Arts Funding

"Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on Thursday announced $11 million in grants for nonprofit arts organizations, including via a new Chicago Arts Recovery Program." - MSN (Chicago Tribune)

Facial Recognition Is Here To Stay At Entertainment Venues

Whereas Madison Square Garden is using face recognition to deny entry to people previously expelled from the venue—and certain lawyers—many stadium and entertainment center operators are testing the technology to let people inside. - Wired

ChatGPT Reaches 100 Million Users – Fastest-Growing Digital Service In History

The report, citing data from analytics firm Similarweb, said an average of about 13 million unique visitors had used ChatGPT per day in January, more than double the levels of December. - Reuters

California’s Next Proposed Budget Cuts $1.2 Billion From Arts Education. That’s Not Quite As Dire As It Sounds.

$22.5 billion budget shortfall. However, the loss of that $1.2 billion) block grant money can be largely offset with the nearly $1 billion earmarked for arts education through Proposition 28." - EdSource

How The Humble Tote Bag Became A Status Symbol

In the decades that followed, totes have grown from a journeyman staple to a ubiquitous literary trophy on the streets of many major cities as well as on Instagram and TikTok. - The Walrus

How Thelonius Monk Changed Music

Like his hero Duke Ellington, he had a gift for reconciling musical experiment with the immediacy of pop, finding freedom in the constraints of a verse-chorus-bridge grammar that might otherwise default to clichés. - The Baffler

Monterey Jazz Festival Head Steps Down After 30 Years

Tim Jackson co-presented the ’92 season with Jimmy Lyons, who launched the festival with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ralph J. Gleason in 1958. By 1993, Jackson took over and quickly re-established the reputation of the longest continuously running jazz festival as one of the genre’s pre-eminent events. - San Francisco Chronicle

Her Uncle Writes Plays, And She Turns Them Into Operas

Composer Emma O'Halloran had had her Uncle Mark adapt two of his scripts, Mary Motorhead and Trade, into librettos to which she's written one-act operas --- and she plans to make it a trilogy. She talks to David Patrick Stearns about the collaboration and about the ways she works. - Musical America

Tracking Study: Women Still Remain Under-represented In The Music Industry

The Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative report reveals that while the amount of women represented in Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart jumped 28.7% last year, to a total of 30%, only 14% of songwriters represented on the chart were women, a slight decrease from the 2021 statistic of 14.3%. - The Guardian

Evicted From The Kimmel Center. The Philly Pops Find A New Concert Hall

For the orchestra's February program, at least, the venue will be the Met Philadelphia, a former opera house on Broad Street north of Center City and a familiar hall for the Pops. There's no word yet on whether they'll return there for the season's four remaining programs. - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Why Pop Stars Are Selling Their Back Catalogs

For artists who are thinking about retirement, it’s a way to enjoy the fruits of their labour and create a pension for themselves. It could be that, because of the pandemic, artists have sold their catalogue to compensate for loss of revenue while venues and other income streams were lost. - The Conversation

It Would Have Been America’s Biggest Solar Farm.  It Was Killed For The Sake Of Land Art

The 14-square mile project was to be on Federal land in eastern Nevada — on the way to Michael Heizer's 1970 work Double Negative, a pair of man-made gashes in the mesa. Fans of the work hated the idea of people driving through an enormous field of solar panels to reach it. - Los...

A Statue Of A Roman Emperor Pretending To Be Hercules Is Discovered In A Sewer (How’s That For A Metaphor?)

"The marble sculpture, showing a Hercules-like figure with the hero's trademark lion skin and club, was unearthed on Jan. 25 (in) the Appian Way green area. ... (It) bears a 'fair resemblance' to Emperor Decius, who ruled Rome from 249 to 251 AD." - Reuters

Museums Begin To Rethink Their Expensive Climate Control Practices

A growing awareness of the impact of those systems on the climate has led a number of major institutions to rethink their most fundamental conservation orthodoxies. - The New York Times

You Know What Led To Impressionism?  Smog, That’s What.

"While this monumental shift has long been attributed to shifting stylistic preferences, a new study ... argues that it was also due to a change in the environment's appearance: As the Industrial Revolution engulfed London and Paris in smog, the world literally became blurrier." - Hyperallergic

Why We’re Fascinated By Unbuilt Buildings

Sometimes buildings are designed as a way to create prototypes and visionary schemes for the future – architects allowing their creativity to be unbounded by the concerns and confines of the real world, such as space or cost or limited technology. - The Conversation

Russian Culture Ministry Orders Tretyakov Gallery To Conform To “Spiritual And Moral Values”

"The Russian Ministry of Culture reportedly sent a letter to Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery demanding that it change its exhibits to be in line with 'spiritual and moral values' after a man complained about several works on display. The complaint accused the museum of displaying artworks with 'a destructive ideology.'" - ARTnews

What Literary Criticism Is (And Isn’t) For

What is literary criticism — specifically, the kind of highly specialized, theoretically sophisticated textual readings generated by academic critics — really for? - The New York Times

Why Are People Bullying Librarians?

In a comically transparent escalation of this anti-intellectual crusade, they are targeting libraries. Worse, they’ve embraced a characteristically cruel approach to doing so: bullying librarians. - The Nation

Translating Franz Kafka’s Diaries Was A Total Head Trip

"(I was) groping and straining to make sense of Kafka's groping and straining to make sense. Not only could I not always — or even often — be certain that I knew what Kafka meant, I didn't know whether at any given moment he himself knew what he meant." - The New York Times

Colleen Hoover Sold Tons Of Books. Then She Published A Coloring Book And It Unraveled

It Ends With Us is a book about domestic violence. Hoover detractors who say she romanticizes abuse had a new weapon in their arsenal: How can Hoover pretend she takes the subject matter seriously while creating cutesy, juvenile merchandise? - Slate

How Wikipedia Distorts Indigenous History

Generally, U.S. history pages follow one strict interpretation of history written in the 1960s and ’70s, and most editors treat these matters as settled. When information that contradicts these histories is added, some editors claim that new additions constitute “presentism,” or “cancel culture.” - Slate

The People Who Have Been Marking Dickens’ Birthday Every Year Since 1905

The Toronto branch of the Dickens Fellowship, a group of dedicated Charles Dickens fans who have celebrated the birthday of the Immortal Boz annually since 1905. - Toronto Star

How Americans Lost Confidence In Journalism

When ratings drop, and with them advertising revenues, correspondents change, anchors change, coverage changes. News, especially but not only cable news, is curated for an audience. So, obviously, is the information published on social media. - The New Yorker

“Enshittification” — How TikTok Is, Inevitably, Ruining Itself (And Us)

Cory Doctorow: "Here is how platforms die: First, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die. I call this enshittification." - Pluralistic

Hollywood Glommed Onto Documentaries. That’s A Problem — Several Problems, Actually.

"All this has left the documentary world suffering an identity crisis. What even is a documentary anymore? There is more money than ever, but it has come with expectations that didn't exist when the industry was closer in ethics and taste to public broadcasting than to Hollywood." - New York Magazine

Germany’s “All Quiet On The Western Front” Has Nine Oscar Nominations.  The Germans Hate It.

"They're right. They're right to take issue with the mangling of Remarque's timeless narrative into what is essentially a grisly picaresque, a high-budget Black Forest Chainsaw Massacre without any of the horror genre's usual pleasures." - Slate

Study: Public Radio’s Important Role In Local News

“Strengthening local public radio stations is a democratic imperative. With additional funding, public radio has the capacity to fill much of the gap in local news created by the decline of the newspaper." - Inside Radio

LA’s Public Radio Station KPPC Rebrands After A Website It Acquired

The goal is to connect KPCC to the LAist’s presence online and in social media and in-person events. The rebrand for KPCC will be rolled out over the coming weeks. - Variety

Ukraine Ballet Comes To US

Some 60 dancers who fled the war make up The United Ukrainian Ballet. With help from local dance professionals and city officials, the company is based in The Hague. - NPR

Was This Antarctica’s First-Ever Professional Outdoor Dance Performance?

Probably. Earlier this week, members of the Ballet Folklórico Nacional Argentino and Compañía Nacional de Danza Contemporánea traveled from Buenos Aires down to Argentina's Base Marambio and performed in snowsuits as the temperature hit 19°F. (It's summer there.) - Buenos Aires Herald

Meet The Hottest Talents In Dance Who Don’t Go Onstage

"A lot of people work behind the scenes to put dance on stage. Here are some of the current talents, new and established, who are busy making bodies look glorious, transforming the atmosphere on stage and helping to tell stories in dance." - The Guardian

Dance As Political Tool

Although few of us recognize dance performance as overtly political, using dance for political messaging is nothing new. - Washington Post

Ukraine’s Ballet-In-Exile Gets Settled In The Hague

No, it's got nothing to do with the International Criminal Court.  The Netherlands' administrative capital is where the United Ukrainian Ballet, a company assembled from professional dancers who have fled the war and work to promote Ukraine and its arts abroad, has been given a home. - The New York Times

Even Now, Dance Company Auditions Aren’t Like They Were Before COVID

"Even as in-person auditions make a comeback, they don't quite look the same as they once did." Auditioning by video has become normalized, and the practice of multiple companies auditioning dancers together over several days is spreading. - Dance Magazine

UK Playwrights Protest Low Pay, Working Conditions

“Theatre is in danger of just being a museum piece – not current and not tackling the things that are going on right now around the world, and that’s really important in order to not become obsolete.” - The Guardian

As A Black Man Running The Pasadena Playhouse For 20 Years, George Epps Has Seen Real Progress — Fragile, But Real

"There were years when it was me shouting into the wind and nobody was really listening. There are more voices now. They've been voices of great renown, and they've definitely been more honest. ... We haven't solved the problem. But at least it's not a secret anymore." - Yahoo! (Los Angeles Times)

Lost Play By “The Spanish Shakespeare” Identified By AI

"Artificial intelligence technology used to transcribe anonymous historic works at Spain's National Library has uncovered a hidden gem — a previously unknown play by one of the nation's greatest authors, Felix Lope de Vega. ... Experts confirmed that the playwright wrote La francesa Laura a few years before his death in 1635." - CNN

Tony Award Voters Won’t Have To See Every Show In A Category To Cast A Ballot

"The rule change, put in place for the 2022-2023 season only, will allow a voter to still vote in a category if they have missed one nominated show, one performance by a nominated actor or actress and one creative element (i.e. lighting or scenic design) per category." - The Hollywood Reporter

Lorraine Hansberry’s Other Play Gets Its First New York Revival In 50 Years

Why has The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window been neglected? "It's not a play about Black people. She was seen as going out of her lane."  In a Q&A, stars Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan and director Anne Kauffman discuss the work's power. - The New York Times

A Fascinating Window Into The Public Theater

The Public may be the only remaining major American theatre that operates according to proudly articulated left-wing principles. On a wall in the offices hangs a sign proclaiming, “Artists are a force for change; culture belongs to everyone.” - American Theatre

Remember The Guy Who Streaked At The Oscars?  He Did A Hell Of A Lot More Than Run Around Naked.

"Who was Robert Opel, and why did he do what he did?  ... Even as Opel's fifteen minutes ticked down, his quest for exposure was just getting started. The Oscars were not his first or his last brush with history, and five years later he'd be dead." - The New Yorker

Meet The Most Media-Friendly Of Maria Von Trapp’s Great-Grandchildren

"(He's) not one of the von Trapps you'd occasionally see performing 'Edelweiss' on Oprah or The View in years past. But ... when journalists wondered what the real von Trapps thought of Carrie Underwood playing Maria ..., Myles was the one who gave them a disapproving quote. This occasionally causes issues." - New York...

Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Declares Hunger Strike To Protest His Unlawful Imprisonment In Tehran

"(The award-winning dissident filmmaker) has announced a hunger strike to protest his continued incarceration in Iran's Evin prison, even after the country's courts voided his sentence last week." - IndieWire

Donatello Was The First (More-Or-Less) Openly Gay Artist In Western History

That's not only because he made the first life-sized male nude statue in Europe since the Romans. It's not only because of his David's boyish physique or the muscles of his Holofernes.  There's a surviving piece of 15th-century gossip about Donatello, his recalcitrant boyfriend, and Cosimo de' Medici. - The Guardian

Singer Reflects On 12-Year Career Break And Body Shaming

In an interview, Limmie Pulliam reflected on his 12-year break from singing and the challenges facing larger artists, who once were common in the industry but have faced pressure in recent years to slim down. - The New York Times

Arthur Miller, Reconsidered

To anyone who grew up with the image of Miller as a lionized elder statesman of the American theatre, John Lahr’s account of Miller’s bumpy “origin story” is the most revelatory part of Arthur Miller: American Witness. - American Theatre

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Our Need For Constant Entertainment Has Ruined Everything

We have surrendered ourselves to our entertainment. We will become so distracted and dazed by our fictions that we’ll lose our sense of what is real. We will make our escapes so comprehensive that we cannot free ourselves from them. The result will be a populace that forgets how to think... - The Atlantic

It Would Have Been America’s Biggest Solar Farm.  It Was Killed For The Sake Of Land Art

The 14-square mile project was to be on Federal land in eastern Nevada — on the way to Michael Heizer's 1970 work Double Negative, a pair of man-made gashes in the mesa. Fans of the work hated the idea of people driving through an enormous field of solar panels to reach it. - Los...

You Know What Led To Impressionism?  Smog, That’s What.

"While this monumental shift has long been attributed to shifting stylistic preferences, a new study ... argues that it was also due to a change in the environment's appearance: As the Industrial Revolution engulfed London and Paris in smog, the world literally became blurrier." - Hyperallergic

Hollywood Glommed Onto Documentaries. That’s A Problem — Several Problems, Actually.

"All this has left the documentary world suffering an identity crisis. What even is a documentary anymore? There is more money than ever, but it has come with expectations that didn't exist when the industry was closer in ethics and taste to public broadcasting than to Hollywood." - New York Magazine

Book Twitter’s Crucial Role In Publishing  — And What Could Happen If Twitter Goes Bust

"In the words of author and writing coach Paulette Perhach, 'It feels like the castle we made is being swept off the table by a billionaire's tantrum.' To get to the heart of what’s at stake, let's look at the role Book Twitter plays in shaping the publishing process." - Esquire

California’s Three Major Orchestras And Their Conductors Are Starting A Statewide Festival Of New Music

"The November event — called the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music — is a collaborative project organized by three maestros: Gustavo Dudamel from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen from the San Francisco Symphony and Rafael Payare from the San Diego Symphony." - The New York Times

Creativity In The Age Of “Synthetic Media”

Synthetic Media is produced by human creators who use computers and purpose-built software (including AI) to realize their production goals. Generative Synthetic Media is media that is produced by AI based only on a description of the desired work product. - Shelly Palmer

France’s National Opera Of The Rhine Cancels Productions

The reasons stem from energy costs - and cuts in subsidies. "Strasbourg hosts the choir, the design workshops for sets and costumes and the administration of the establishment; Colmar, the opera studio, its training structure; while the ballet ... is based in Mulhouse." - Le Monde

Soprano Julia Bullock’s Opera Star Rises

Her path, forged at Bard College and the Ojai Festival, and a lot of work with Peter Sellars, hasn't been exactly conventional - but she's an essential voice in, and for, the 21st century. - Los Angeles Times

British Opera Singer Creates A Work Based On Music Of Enslaved Ancestors

Baritone Peter Braithwaite: "These folk traditions are really strong; they’re about resistance and they’re about remembrance of former freedoms, but they’re also about laying something down that can be passed on to future generations." - The Guardian (UK)

Can ChatGPT Replace Human Writers? No, But It Can Make Them Better

I decided to try a combination of tools to see if the AI-assisted work product would outperform my purely original work. Unsurprisingly, the work done in partnership with my AI-coworker outperformed work I did alone. - Shelly Palmer

AI Might Doom The College Essay, But Students Have Already Moved On

The current generation of students has moved on from writing. Literally. Most students fail to see the relevance of writing in a world—their world—that is largely post-literate. They are at home in media not yet born when I began teaching, media that privilege images and sounds over written text. This does not spell the...