As the philosopher Noam Chomsky has said, “we will always learn more about human life and personality from novels than from scientific psychology” – something the critic and author David Lodge has explored. In his 2004 book Consciousness and the Novel, Lodge argues that “literature is a record of human consciousness, the richest and most comprehensive we have… The novel is arguably man’s most successful effort to describe the experience of individual human beings moving through space and time.”
Archives for June 2018
[The gossip] is the human comedy, that’s what I like. I came into music because nobody was writing about it in a way that interested me. Musicologists were writing arcane and abstruse things which had no relation to who the composer was, where he or she was at that particular time in her life. They weren’t answering the questions of, “Why is this piece meaningful to me, why is this phrase meaningful to me?” In the way that you’d ask in every other human transaction from the restaurant to the bedroom. And so I started asking those questions.
The centre has doubled the number of gallery spaces dedicated to Inuit art to four, and contemporary indigenous art fills a large new gallery of its own. Labels in the McLean Centre are now written in indigenous languages (either the local Anishinaabemowin language or Inuktitut), as well as English and French.
“The draft strategy is an opportunity to raise ambitions around the potential and profile of culture and to recognise that culture can be at the centre of wider societal shifts,” the strategy reads. “It places culture as of equal importance alongside other areas such as the economy, education, environment, health and tackling inequality, and values culture for the unique perspectives it can bring.”
African literary magazines and journals don’t just shape literary culture, they offer the most rebellious responses to political and social movements. They not only respond to the cultures they’re in, these magazines also create distinct cultures of their own that reflect the personalities of their editors.
“A part of the difficulty of opening a bookstore in this day and age is the years of work we’ve put in up to this point and how little credit booksellers get. Friends, family, loved ones, strangers all want to give you advice, often because they care, and one can get weary of very gingerly saying No Thank You.”
“[Wigtown] is Scotland’s national book town, its Hay-on-Wye. With a dozen used bookstores tucked into its small downtown, it is a literary traveler’s Elysium. Best of all, Wigtown offers a literary experience unlike any other I’m aware of. In town there is a good used bookstore called the Open Book, with an apartment up above, that’s rentable by the week. Once you move in, the shop is yours to run as you see fit.” And, for one day, that’s what Dwight Garner did.
Every generation re-evaluates the art it has received and decides whether or not it is still worthy and relevant to their interests, but it feels like we’re in a moment of particularly intense scrutiny right now. Maybe it’s important to remind Shakespeare-lovers that much of Shakespeare’s work is deeply problematic. But if we’re going to force people to confront Shakespeare’s problems, then what is the point if we’re not allowed to then say, “Actually, you’re right, this is incredibly offensive, hopelessly out of date, and I want to walk out of this play/stop studying this subject/decide never to watch, read, or produce Shakespeare again.” I think that’s a legitimate response, but not the one, I suspect, that people who are most precious about censoring Shakespeare would support.
No, that doesn’t mean they tried to be savvy marketers: they marked their books with hot branding irons. And these marcas de fuego weren’t put on the cover, binding, or frontispiece; they were burned onto the sides of the pages as the books were held shut. Jessica Leigh Hester gives us the background.
The vogue for new art from the present was revving up, such that Chelsea’s rise as a commercial gallery district in the mid-’90s coincided with the arrival of “contemporary art” as a dominant category in the art world.
In 1969, Mary Jane Jones, a 27-year-old single mother in Petersburg, Virginia with a big, spectacular voice for gospel, was tricked – by a small-time James Brown impersonator – into traveling to Florida, where he threatened and bullied her into giving a series of performances that he sold to the black public in then-segregated cities as appearances by the Queen of Soul herself (who was the same age). Then Aretha, who was singing in Miami, found out – and so began a strange series of events that ended up with Jones performing (as herself) with Duke Ellington.
True crime has outgrown the news magazines in favor of in-depth episodic storytelling. In thinking about whether the stories themselves have changed, it’s important to note the goals haven’t. First and foremost, podcasts, like documentaries, strive to put us in the room, and to explore the context of a murder. True crime audiences need to go deeper than the motives and the method. We’ve seen that summary level story on Dateline for the past twenty-five years.
“David Mellor said that while he thought begging the prime minister to buy the Coliseum for the ENO had been ‘a major contribution to the cultural life of the country’, he now thought it was an ‘act of stupidity’. His intervention has been sparked in part by the decision of the ENO management to lease out the Coliseum in London for almost half the year [to producers of commercial musicals].”
“Although representatives of first-rank Israeli companies, such as the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, argue that their organizations do not shy away from controversial work, American artistic directors whose companies have become havens for marginalized Israeli playwrights say otherwise. Groups such as [Boston’s] Israeli Stage and, even more prominently, Mosaic Theater Company in Washington consider themselves outposts for Israeli dramatists who find it increasingly hard to get a hearing in Israel for their most political works.”
“Why don’t all public broadcasters coordinate on a national pledge drive? … Though it may sound promising, a systemwide pledge drive for public media would get bogged down in logistics and clash with the system’s localized business model.” April Simpson explains how/why.
“My central aim was to give the reading public an informed yardstick of opinion by which they could measure their own reactions to a given performance. … Contrary to what many assume of critics, I took no delight in panning performers. I always tried for balance in my reviews. I appreciated the power of the pen but was often reminded of the limitations of language when it comes to evoking arguably the most word-proof of the arts.”
“During a career that spanned more than half a century, Ellison wrote some 50 books and more than 1,400 articles, essays, TV scripts and screenplays. Although best-known for his science fiction, which garnered nearly a dozen Nebula and Hugo awards, Ellison’s work covered virtually every type of writing from mysteries to comic books to newspaper columns. He was known as much for his attitude as his writing — he described himself once as ‘bellicose.'”
“The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation wound down its Artist Awards in 2017, only to bring it back in a modified form as a core component of its mission moving forward. It just announced the seven winners of its 2018 class, and in doing so, addressed two of the big trends in arts philanthropy right now.” Mike Scutari explores how and why.
“Big Philanthropy is definitionally a plutocratic voice in our democracy, an exercise of power by the wealthy that is unaccountable, non-transparent, donor-directed, perpetual, and tax-subsidized.”
“Shane Jewell, announced today as the new executive director of Orlando Ballet, says he’ll be sticking around. But he’s keenly aware that after a revolving door of ballet executives in the past few years, there’s no reason for Central Floridians to believe him. … [There have been] years of financial crises and leadership changes at the ballet, which has had six executive directors since 2011. It nearly shut its doors for good in 2015.”
The Oscar- and Tony-winning actor, now 82, returned to the stage two years ago, after a 23-year career in the UK Parliament, playing Lear in a modern-dress production at the Old Vic. Rather than bringing that staging to Broadway, she’ll be performing next spring with an entirely new creative team and cast assembled by lead producer Scott Rudin.
Contrary to reports last week that the landmark building by Charles Rennie Mackintosh remained “structurally solid” following the fire that raged through it earlier this month, “Glasgow City Council officials said that their surveys … have shown that there has been substantial movement in the building, meaning a sudden collapse of certain parts of it was ‘likely’.”
Peter Tate and Anthony Biggs write about how they launched The Playground Theatre in a former depot near the recently-burned Grenfell Tower in London, how they decided to configure and equip the empty building, how they connected with audiences in what may be the most diverse area in the entire UK, and how they raised the money to pay for it all.
“The real estate developer Boris Mints opened the Museum of Russian Impressionism in the former Bolshevik confectionery plant [in Moscow] in 2016. At the end of May, news emerged that Mints and his family had fled to London, reportedly to avoid possible criminal investigation in Russia over bank dealings.”
“The German parliament has approved a 9% increase in federal spending on culture, bringing the total budget to €1.8bn. Additional funding has been earmarked for preserving and protecting heritage buildings, archive materials and memorial sites. Another priority of the budget is to increase arts offerings and education in rural regions, says the German culture minister Monika Grütters.”
What’d I Miss? News Flashes from the Berkshire Museum & Frick Collection
I leave town for a five-day vacation and news breaks out on several important art-museum stories that we’ve been following (not to mention on several much more important national news stories that … read more
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2018-06-28
A Gala and Denmark in the Berkshires
Members of the Royal Danish Ballet Come to Jacob’s Pillow, as it celebrates its 86th anniversary. … read more
AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2018-06-28
Weekend Extra: The New One By Scenes
Scenes, Destinations (Origin)
Drummer John Bishop, guitarist John Stowell and bassist Jeff Johnson will soon be celebrating two decades together as the trio they call Scenes. … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-06-28
“We have the 19th-century ideal of strength in unity — expressed in the “Ode to Joy” — scraping up uneasily against a 21st-century ideal of strength in diversity. The change in perspective makes some people afraid and angry. It makes others hopeful and optimistic. Until we see whether we can achieve a paradigm shift or whether we fall back into something like the genocidal chaos of the mid-20th century, I think we should press pause on Beethoven’s Ninth. I, personally, would be satisfied to never hear it again.”
The research conducted with 11 to 19 year olds found that young people have a flexible relationship with arts and culture, but one that remains most influenced by their family. It found consuming or creating art was a ‘passion’ for almost half of young people, but that definitions of arts and culture used by the funded cultural sector fail to resonate with young people who have “much wider perceptions”.
Hip hop culture illuminates a way forward within Canadian cultural institutions’ growth, evolution and vibrancy. It may seem that the spontaneity and improvisation of hip hop — cornerstones of the culture’s innovative core threaded seamlessly throughout dance, djing, rhyming and painting — are structurally and policy-wise an impossibility within cultural institutions. But…
The methods used to search for the subatomic components of the universe have nothing at all in common with the field geology methods in which I was trained in graduate school. Nor is something as apparently obvious as a commitment to empiricism a part of every scientific field. Many areas of theory development, in disciplines as disparate as physics and economics, have little contact with actual facts, while other fields now considered outside of science, such as history and textual analysis, are inherently empirical. Philosophers have pretty much given up on resolving what they call the “demarcation problem,” the search for definitive criteria to separate science from nonscience; maybe the best that can be hoped for is what John Dupré, invoking Wittgenstein, has called a “family resemblance” among fields we consider scientific. But scientists themselves haven’t given up on assuming that there is a single thing called “science” that the rest of the world should recognize as such.