Recent reading, randomly arranged:
– Here, at last, is the rest of the story about the German edition of Deidre Bair’s biography of Carl Jung:
Random House has ended a literary dispute over a biography of Carl Gustav Jung by publishing a new version this month in Germany without special annotations and material from the Swiss heirs who had complained about “factual errors” and “misleading” information about the psychiatrist.
The biography by Deirdre Bair, which was published earlier in the United States, has been the subject of a struggle between the author and some members of Jung’s family who disputed many facts in the book…
Fearing a potential lawsuit, Random House in Germany decided to insert two pages of the Jung family’s version of descriptions and facts in the book, which one of its imprints, Knaus Verlag, planned to publish this month. But last week the book appeared in German bookstores without the family’s material….
– Mr. Outer Life identifies an important cultural phenomenon:
So it was with some surprise a few weeks ago that I recognized a celebrity in my daughter’s classroom. We were there for back-to-school night and he walked in late, causing every head to turn. As the heads turned back and the room erupted in silent whispers of “Is that him?,” I knew it was, for he starred in a sitcom I’d watched when I was a kid and his well-preserved face had denied and defied the intervening decades.
As soon as the teacher stopped talking the celeb made a beeline for the door, leaving the rest of us to mill about and speak of his presence in awed, hushed tones. Apparently he’s not a washed-up has-been, fodder for “Where Are They Now?” features. No, he’s still a real celebrity, starring on a hit TV show and living with his beautiful wife and beautiful children in a beautiful house in the most beautiful part of town.
As they talked, I detected celebrity validation in the air, that peace of mind we get when a celebrity endorses us by doing what we do….
– Ms. Pratie Place‘s daughter/co-blogger, who lives in Manhattan, puts her finger on a mystery:
I was at boyfriend’s house the other day (parents’ house, in the suburbs) and I went down to get something the basement. And just as I hit the bottom of the stairs, I got the oddest feeling. I felt–not quite sick–but just very strange. And what I realized it was, was, silence. There was no traffic, no office, no TV. There was no noise. My ears were ringing with silence. And it was good, but I didn’t feel quite as good as you might think….
I never sleep well the first night I’m back in Smalltown, U.S.A., on a visit. It’s too quiet.
– Excellent green-room advice from Mr. Think Denk:
I just finished this last weekend playing the Franck Quintet for piano and strings, a piece which apparently many people have trouble taking seriously. Last season I played this work at the end of a tour in Sayville or Islip (I don’t quite remember) and a man afterwards said some very unkind things about the piece, in a tone of voice I cannot forgive. This kind of dismissiveness I find very upsetting. Suddenly it seemed to me the five of us had driven out in the rain in a rental car, very tired, had nearly gotten lost in Long Island, and had worked hard in an unpleasant-sounding hall to bring the piece across, and some jerk had to mouth off…I worked myself into an inner rage about this, and came as close as I ever had to yelling at someone backstage. The Franck Quintet is, anyway, the Franck Quintet; either you “buy it” or you don’t. And if you don’t buy it, don’t take it out on the musicians…
As it happens, I used not to buy it–but now I do. (For what it’s worth, the older I get, the more music I like.)
– Mr. Something Old, Nothing New remembers the late Charles Rocket, who cut his throat the other day:
His best-known TV guest appearance was probably as Bruce Willis’s brother in the second season premiere of “Moonlighting,” competing with Willis for the attentions of Cybill Shepherd. He was a failed con man who started the episode by trying to plug the ultimate miracle product, “Rich ‘n Thin,” by doing the first and (deliberately) worst rap number by a white guy in prime-time TV….
Not only do I remember that episode, but until a few years ago, God help me, I could have recited most of the lyrics from memory. Strange how cluttered a middle-aged head gets….
– Ms. Household Opera asks (and answers) a wonderful question:
Which movie scenes always make you cry (and which ones always make you laugh)?
I’m not in the mood to generate original content today, but suffice it to say that our lists overlap.
– Says Mr. From the Floor:
Today, one doesn’t even need to have basic technical skills to publish a website. There is only one barrier to entry remaining for someone who wants to become a voice in the culture at large: the ability to think and write clearly. Granted, that’s still a large barrier, but there have always been more people interested in being journalists and critics than there have been publications to support them. Today one doesn’t need the backing of a major publication to develop a voice and establish a dedicated readership.
Today the editorial, printing, and distribution functions have almost no impact on how a writer develops credibility and reaches an audience of readers. Readers are rapidly migrating away from pay-for-use information services (in print or on the web) and turning to free sites hosted by print publications and to other information providers (like bloggers) for current cultural content. Researchers are becoming more reliant on search engine results for information and less reliant on proprietary systems and pay-for-use archives. By hiding their writers behind a curtain that readers must pay to open, mainstream publications are diluting their historical roles in the culture as conveyors of information and tastemakers….
Yes I said yes I will yes. The problem, alas, is that my bosses at The Wall Street Journal (unlike nearly everybody else in the newspaper business) turn a tidy profit by making the Journal‘s contents available on a subscription-only basis. I wish I could link to the stuff I write for them–but I’m awfully fond of earning a living, too. A paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox!
– Rich food for thought from Mr. Superfluities:
I can only go by the evidence of my own experience, small and insignificant in the larger scheme as that is. But it is this: that art, so far from engaging the world, should provide the means by which we are encouraged to transcend it. Turning from the ridiculous to the sublime, it is this which differentiates works like, say, Tristan, the canvases of Mark Rothko and the music of Morton Feldman from works like Angels in America, the canvases of Rauschenberg and the music of–oh, I don’t know, everybody from Eminem to Kander & Ebb. As Kant will happily tell you, there’s no escaping the boundaries of human sensual experience, but as Schopenhauer will whisper in your ear, you can always seek to transcend it through renunciation of the world and through the highest expressions of sensuality itself. Art and religion provide the means for that renunciation….
– Er, this is my life.
And by the way, Ms. A, thanks for the plug:
Who is your favorite political blogger? Favorite non-political blogger?
Political: Instapundit. Nonpolitical: About Last Night.
We always scroll down.
– Oh, yes, Lileks has been peeking, too:
Me, I love lunch. So little hangs on lunch; your expectations are low and easily met. So it’s hard to be pleased by however it goes. Some people like variety; others have the same thing every day because they can, and because it’s the one meal where a family man really has complete control. Breakfast might be drawn from the shifting stores of cereal and fruit; dinner is variable by law, because we’d all rebel if the same thing was served each night. Even the single man objects. The single man in his lowest state rotates between fast-food outlets, because even the dullest example of the genre knows there is something inexcusable about eating McDonald’s every night….
As for me, all I can say is that if I didn’t live two blocks away from Good Enough to Eat, I’d be reduced within days to the most desperate and pitiful of singletonian culinary extremities–sort of like one of Barbara Pym’s characters, only male, if you know what I mean.
– No matter what you do for a living, this is harder.
– Says Mr. CultureSpace:
I don’t know how accurate Capote is, and, to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter. A film, I have always believed, must work within its own parameters; its faithfulness to its source material is secondary, if it matters at all….
O.K., I take the point–but what if the “source material” is the historical record? Does it “matter” if an artfully made docudrama contains significant distortions that large numbers of ordinary folk come to regard as the whole truth and nothing but?
The northwest corner of the new de Young Museum twists skyward, as if it’s been pinched between an oversized thumb and forefinger and given a good tug. Maybe Jack’s giant wanted the museum back but (wary of the San Franciscan) decided against it and let go. And so the tower remains, with nowhere to hide and with a mesh-like copper exterior that simultaneously conceals and reveals its vague internal movements. It takes a few moments to realize that what moves is actually a swarm of people up on the observation deck. The lively shimmer and shadow tones down the tower’s looming ominousness and promises fairytale views to all who enter the museum proper….
[W]hat is the function of an art museum–of the building itself–and what are the effects of being contained within one? Holding art still, a museum invites stilled observations, yet a well-designed floorplan creates movement, a necessary counterpoint to all the stillness….
How I wish I’d been there!
– Says The Little Professor:
A few years ago, I had several students who declared, somewhat indignantly, that they couldn’t “relate” to The Tempest. (“Well, I should hope not,” I wanted to respond–but didn’t.) I understand the desire to find something familiar in a text, the yearning to find one’s own priorities and needs nested there. But there’s something so depressing about “I can’t relate to it”: it presumes that the reader’s mental activity can end once she stumbles across unfamiliar (or unpleasant) ideas….
– Lastly, if you haven’t seen this, look at it right this second. (You’ll need QuickTime to view it.)