Dreams differ not only across a single lifetime or a single night, they also differ dramatically across historical epochs. The dreams of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and indeed the dreams of most peoples of the ancient world, were viewed as direct portals into the spirit world and the realm of the ancestors and gods. Ancient peoples (and traditional peoples even today) often experienced dreams as the place to conduct a transaction with a spirit being who could significantly help or hinder you in your daily affairs.
The strange thing is that these moments of love and loss are not the place where language finds its truest expression of meaning but are in fact the place where meaning itself starts to break down, where language as a whole reveals its incapacities. The cliché is a marker, or a stand-in, for something we aren’t sure how to express. Whether the message is pre-printed or one we resort to writing ourselves, clichés appear where words fail. In this way, greeting cards function as material testament to the lack of articulation at the heart of human experience, drawing attention to the gap between language and life.
Saul Bellow never followed his Québec into the contemporary world. Before Alice Munro won in 2013, he was the only Nobel Prize recipient in literature to have been born in Canada. Yet besides a library in Lachine that bears his name, his historical presence is invisible. By contrast, another Jewish scion of Montréal, Leonard Cohen, is enjoying a yearlong retrospective at the Musée d’Art Contemporain, the entirety of whose galleries are devoted to works depicting or inspired by or tangentially related to that beautiful loser.
Properly conceived, leisure could be the ultimate social safety net for an era of technologically driven uncertainty. It is potentially a space for bootstrapping new “careers,” which may or may not adhere to the traditional forms of self-employment or wage labor. It is also a space where one can move beyond the career-as-identity paradigm altogether, and contribute to one’s community through cultural and civic activities that are ignored in economic models because they are unremunerated.
Using the Vulcan printer, ICON can print an entire home for $10,000 and plans to bring costs down to $4,000 per house. “It’s much cheaper than the typical American home.” It’s capable of printing a home that’s 800 square feet, a significantly bigger structure than properties pushed by the tiny home movement, which top out at about 400 square feet. In contrast, the average New York apartment is about 866 square feet.
“Composed by [Shirley] Graham, who had studied at Oberlin … and would later marry W.E.B. Du Bois, the opera” – titled Tom-Tom – “tells the diaspora story of African-Americans, beginning in an unnamed West African village, traveling to a Southern plantation, and ending amid the Harlem Renaissance.” Why did it disappear? Says scholar Lucy Caplan, who re-discovered the score and hopes to see it produced, “Opera companies also would have been hesitant to put on a work by a black female composer affiliated with the Communist Party.”
“[This] isn’t to say 2017 wasn’t a good year for the short story – it was, but the ‘renaissance of the short story’ story is an old one that is rolled out year after year. Does that matter? I think it does. By getting caught up in this recurring phantom narrative” – because the genre never really faded – “and dwelling on press release froth rather than the work being produced, we spurn the opportunity to talk about short stories in a way that might actually deepen how they are understood and engaged with by readers.”
“María Inés Rodríguez, the director of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, was called into a town hall meeting last Tuesday, March 6, during which she was informed that her artistic program was ‘too demanding’ and she was being let go. … But a group of more than 50 art world luminaries … have now signed an open letter condemning Rodriguez’s forthcoming dismissal.”
“We are in an interesting cultural moment in the United States as I write this; scandals about the abuse of power through sexual manipulation and assault proliferate in social media. … #MeToo ripples through our awareness, even as older women and men face the reality that their careers, their ambitions, and their visibility have already been impacted by that power for decades. Mine certainly has been. … I don’t know if I will ever again write a play that connects with such a wide demographic of audience members.”
“Many a scholar will have a hard time admitting this point, but, beyond the academy, there’s not a single skill set that would be enhanced by reading Virgil. A mechanic or surgeon who reads Virgil will be neither a better mechanic or surgeon—nor a better human being. He’ll just be a mechanic or surgeon who enjoys Virgil. When it comes to being relevant to a larger purpose beyond ourselves, there is no case to be made for reading Virgil. Unfortunately, we persist in making our cases in response to the standard attacks.”
“I don’t believe polyphony is dead, but I do think the future of choral music will embrace techniques that preserve the horizontal approach to writing, while maintaining accessibility and not falling into anachronistic musical styles like traditional tonal polyphony. Such techniques are already arising in today’s choral music. Our traditional interest in polyphonic textures and increased harmonic complexity can, for instance, be satisfied with thick layers of otherwise tonal material. When done well, these layers create dense, multi-faceted textures, without demanding a high level of virtuosity from the singers. Instead, these techniques will engage choristers as thoughtful and musical artists.”
How can video games be confused for reality when its players view them as escapism and freedom from reality? In their book Rules of Play, scholars Katie Salen Tekinbaş and Eric Zimmerman argue that there are significant flaws in our understanding of video games and what exactly constitutes immersion.
Like the flagship store, all three new Shakespeare bookstores will be about 3,000 sq. ft. and will have a café with seating and Wi-Fi, as well as a book machine and carefully selected inventory. In addition, a standalone Shakespeare grab-and-go café will open this summer near the Lexington Avenue store, which is the official brick-and-mortar store for Hunter College. The café will be located outside the Hunter College Subway Station.
“At the end of 2017, US hip-hop star Nelly played a men-only concert in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; US country singer Toby Keith headlined a similar gig earlier in the year. These shows were flagged as landmark progress, in a strict Gulf state where music was apparently deemed ‘haram’. It’s certainly surreal to watch clips of Nelly pumping up a party where females are banned; in fact, pop culture has long reigned in this Kingdom – and its 1980s powerhouse was the Saudi bootleg cassette shop.”
“Working largely out of the artistic limelight at her home in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., Ms. Stein resurrected historical weaving techniques and merged them with 20th-century Bauhaus design sensibilities.” She also, early in her career, made sock puppets out of actual socks – and one of those puppets became very famous.
Martin Gammon explains why the estimates some people use of the money that could be gained from deaccessioning are likely way, way off and couldn’t raise enough money to do any good.
“[He was] a force of nature, a whirlwind, an ambulant torrent of surreal invention, physical and verbal, whose Liverpudlian cheek masked the melancholy of an authentic clown. ‘This isn’t television, missus,’ he’d say to the front stalls, ‘you can’t turn me off.’ And then he would embark on an odyssey of gag-spinning that, over five hours, would beat an audience into submission, often literally, banging a huge drum and declaring that if we did not like the jokes he would follow us home and shout them through the letter-box.”
“[He] started building his career in the 1950s Soviet Union, gradually becoming one of the best known and beloved actors of his generation. He received multiple awards for his film and stage work, including the 1980 Boston International Film Festival award for his portrayal of a 19th century Russian nobleman in Oblomov. In his later years, he taught acting in Moscow and served as director of several large theaters, including the legendary Chekhov Moscow Art Theater. … In addition to theater and movie roles, Tabakov was also popular for his voiceover work in children’s cartoons.”
Decorative but not useful: the instrumental benefits of the arts
What good are the arts beyond the personal aesthetic pleasure we gain from them? There is quite a list out there, of these so-called instrumental benefits of the arts … But you don’t have to work in the art world long to know that these instrumental benefits are not seen as a purely intellectual enquiry, but are a tool for advocacy … read more
AJBlog: For What It’s Worth Published 2018-03-11
TEFAF Maastricht: Changing, But the Same
The world’s best art fair – Tefaf Maastricht. whose 275 participating galleries show the art of seven millennia, all told – got underway last Thursday, as usual. Fair organizers are keen to point out what’s different this year: … read more
AJBlog: Real Clear Arts Published 2018-03-12
Monday Recommendation, Keith Jarrett Trio: After The Fall
Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette, After The Fall (ECM)
In 1998 Keith Jarrett was emerging from a siege of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that had sidelined him for two years. As he … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-03-12
Life is full of small pleasures, and I do my best not to undervalue them. For me, many of life’s pleasures are solitary. … Sometimes, though, events capture my attention, pull me out of my self and away from my solitary activities. Last spring was such a time. Like many others, I found national and world events disrupting my routines. That disruption was a good thing: … read more
AJBlog: Infinite Curves Published 2018-03-12
HBO created an entire theme park set in the American frontier, where “Westworld” fans can experience what it’s like to be a guest of the sci-fi show’s park. Actors playing the town’s residents live out elaborate storylines, and visitors interact with them like they’re AI hosts from the show.
The Met did not release the specific findings of its investigation, which it said had included interviews with 70 people. The statement also said that the investigation had “uncovered credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers, over whom Mr. Levine had authority,” adding that he was also being fired as the artistic director of the Met’s young artists program.
The NRA’s visual logic suggests a new twist in the culture wars. Cities, today, are thriving, and the old rhetoric of the city as a kind of cancer spreading into the heartland no longer works. So the NRA has adopted a new narrative: The city, no matter how successful, is a pernicious collective endeavor that will ultimately decay into violence and oppression. The video in which “Cloud Gate” appears is succinct in this prediction: From its opening images of public sculpture and architecture it moves directly into images of protest and violence and finally an urgent exhortation from the narrator
“Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked me to fill a new post called chief design officer for the city. In that role, beginning next month, I’ll be working in the mayor’s office to raise the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city — and the level of civic conversation about those subjects.”
No longer “just” for buying souvenirs, the modern museum gift shop seeks to extend the experience of the museum. Games out of art, art as products of any sort. Visitor engagement begins when you open your wallet.
They’re styling it as audience engagement, but if you’re actually in the museum space itself, does a virtual experience really deliver more than the real experience around you?
Balich also has to convince Italy’s traditionally skeptical art conservators that he’s not out to circumvent visits to the real chapel with a glitzy concoction that includes theater, ballet and many, many bells and whistles. “Italy has all these very conservative art critics, and they are against the idea of ‘spettacolarizzazione,’” he said, using an Italian expression for putting on a big show.
The Teatro Massimo is not nearly as well-known internationally as those other theaters, but it is an opera house with a back story that few artistic venues can match. That in turn has contributed to bold experimentation in bringing high culture to a troubled community.
Though his music may often sound as if it were written by a man locked in the basement of the Paris opera—hearing late-nineteenth-century music, muffled, from a couple of floors down—he turns out to be very much a boy of the Monty Python generation, his ears full of rock and British comedy.