Shakespeare’s writing—all of it, poetry and plays—was repulsive to Tolstoy, who claimed that whenever he read Shakespeare he was overcome by “repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment.” As for “King Lear,” ranked among Shakespeare’s four greatest tragedies, he found it “at every step,” according to George Orwell, “stupid, verbose, unnatural, unintelligible, bombastic, vulgar, tedious and full of incredible events, ‘wild ravings,’ ‘mirthless jokes,’ anachronisms, irrelevancies, obscenities, worn-out stage conventions and other faults both moral and aesthetic.”
“No one has ever written a song about Coronary Thrombosis, / Even though its blessings have been widely recognized . . . / Even though it has saved many people from a lifetime of sorrow . . . / Even though it has rescued many people from bottomless pits of Death . . . / Even though it has provided a good life for millions of doctors, nurses, / Ambulance drivers, morticians, stonecutters and countless others. / Yet, on ungrateful Tin Pan Alley / No one has ever written a song about Coronary Thrombosis.”
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m. A FREE ONE EVENT Featuring Vijay Gupta, violinist, founder of Street Symphony, a MacArthur Award-winner, and popular TED speaker; Hồng-An Trương, an artist using photography, sound, video, and performance, whose work has been shown at venues including the International Center for Photography, The Kitchen, and the Museum of Modern Art; and Hank Willis Thomas, a conceptual artist whose work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; and Hong Kong Arts Centre; and who collaborates on the artist-run initiatives for civic engagement For Freedoms and the Wide Awakes. This cross-disciplinary panel will be moderated by Sarah Lewis, associate professor at Harvard University; a leading commentator on race, contemporary art, and culture; and a much-viewed TED speaker.
‘He did not believe that men were born good, and he admitted original perversity as an element to be found in the depths of the purest souls—perversity, that evil counsellor who leads a man on to do what is fatal to himself precisely because it is fatal and for the pleasure of acting contrary to law, without other attraction than disobedience, outside of sensuality, profit, or charm. This perversity he believes to be in others as in himself. . . . As much as possible he banished from poetry a too realistic imitation of eloquence, passion, and a too exact truth.’
My sonnets don’t usually come in pairs, although looking back on them I can see them being paired sometimes as sequels or cousins. Paradoxically, these two came as a pair because they are so different from each other. The darker mood of the one that came second (“Clocking In”) rebukes the lighter mood of the one that came first (“Kings”). Why I should have objected puzzles me now.
The designers of The New York Times Magazine are at it again. Do they think edgy makes sense when their design looks like the cover was badly trimmed? Yes, the headline reads “UP, UP AND AWAY FROM IT ALL.” But if the rationale for the design was to get so far up and away, why take half measures? Why not clip off the name of the magazine entirely? Now have a look at the off-the-page design of the spread complete with layout markups, which introduces the cover story on page 43. My guess is the editors want to persuade us the magazine is spontaneous and improvisatory (as in no longer the Gray Lady of legend, which it actually hasn’t been for many years).The spread works nicely. Much better than the cover. But why are they trying so hard?
Although Albert Camus does not come up in WHO’S YOUR DEATH HERO? — a conversation between the filmmaker Richard Kern and the writer who goes by the name of Supervert — he would be my candidate in answer to the title. Camus’s declaration, “I want to keep my lucidity to the last and gaze upon my death with all the fullness of my jealousy and horror,” conveys precisely what this book is about as if he’d read it himself.
‘Both belong to a cycle of nine, mostly written during my stay in the rural Connecticut countryside to escape the Covid-19 pandemic during the Spring and Summer of 2020. Both are addressed to writers I admire. “Last Breath” begins the cycle. It was written while remembering my late friend Carl Weissner, before the pandemic began. “The Way the Lines Break” ends the cycle. It was written toward the end of my stay and is addressed to Théophile Gautier, whose poems and stories I was reading thanks to the suggestion of my friend Gerard Bellaart.’ — JH
It’s a 16,000-word letter that Neal Cassady wrote to Jack Kerouac, who said it was his inspiration for On The Road. The letter, written in 1950, went missing and was found in an attic in Oakland, California, in 2011. Now for the first time it is being brought out in full by the London-based publisher Black Spring with an introduction by the noted Beat scholar A. Robert Lee, along with illustrations. I’m betting Lee will tell us if the letter really was the inspiration for On the Road—Kerouac, true to his calling, loved to make things up— and if he really did adopt his prose style from it. The reality is likely more nuanced than the legend.
Ed Ruscha‘s latest poster “EE-NUF! VOTE!” offers this commentary: “Get Richer” / “Bye-Bye Roe Vs. Wade” / “Highway to Hell” / “Fast Track to Facism” / “Gobble More Gas” / “Kids in Cages” / “EE-NUF EE-NUF” / “You’ve Got the Most to Lose” / “Green Light Pollution” / “Gateway to White Supremacy”
Van Dyek Parks tweeted the poster today with this comment: “We will weave civility into the torn fabric of our flag—-with illuminations from the arts—by the likes of So-Cal’s adopted son Ed Ruscha.”
This is what the people did back then: Infamous William M. Tweed, the corrupt 19th-century NYC power broker whose ring of cronies controlled the government purse, manipulated the legislature, and embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars, was booted from office in the election of Nov. 7, 1871. Thomas Nast depicted him in defeat as a bloated, gouty Roman consul clutching a broken sword, wearing a royal headband of threadbare dollar signs and a sovereign medallion off his miserable likeness on his fat belly. Fast forward to Nov. 7, 2020.