Happiness studies and positive psychology, which started seriously taking off in the 1990s, are “scholarly fields that combine Eastern religions, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and behavioral economics – but above all represent a shift of focus among some psychologists from mental illness to mental health, from depression and anxiety to subjective well-being.”
Ask David Foster Wallace – or Leslie Jamison: “I’d been afraid that meetings were basically lobotomies served alongside coffee-flavored water and Chips Ahoy!; afraid that even if sobriety could offer stability and sincerity and maybe even salvation, it could never be a story. But Infinite Jest knew better. It wasn’t that the novel’s brilliance survived the deadening force of sobriety. Its brilliance depended on what sobriety had wrought.”
This isn’t new; once digital designs became possible, and embroidery machines could run all day and night, the costumes had to step it up to match. The early days of change were harsh: “Irish dancing solo costumes went through a very bad period in the early 2000s. …There were feathers, animal prints. It was almost like the more gaudy you could make it, the better.” Now it’s all Swarovski crystals, and “classic Celtic patterns are once again in style, just a lot more blinged out, blindingly so.”
The belief that humans are perfectible leads, inevitably, to mistakes when ‘a perfect society’ is designed for an imperfect species. There is no best way to live because there is so much variation in how people want to live. Therefore, there is no best society, only multiple variations on a handful of themes as dictated by our nature.
“As dancers, we grow up in studios surrounded by people with similar abilities. We take for granted these incredible skills that we’ve spent years perfecting because everybody around us can do much the same as us. We sympathize with our friends who end up in “boots” for their broken metatarsals and we mourn the loss of the incredibly refined senior dancers once they retire. But the demands of being in a ballet company are such that we don’t waste much time considering the potential loss of our own career.”
“The use of YouTube is no accident. The internet is a great way for fans to party contrapuntally. Online musicians have turned dozens of songs into fugues, from ‘Uptown Funk‘ to the ‘Star Wars‘ theme and ‘Old MacDonald‘.” (Even the fight songs of the two Super Bowl teams got fuguified.) “Others are making older pieces easier to understand. By adding scrolling videos to the music – each voice marked by different lines of colour – Stephen Malinowski lets fans follow the subject with their eyes as well as their ears.”
“We see quite clearly that students’ personalities change when they go to university,” Sonja Kassenboehmer of Monash University, the paper’s lead author, said in announcing the findings. “It is good news that universities not only seem to teach subject-specific skills, but also seem to succeed in shaping skills valued by employers and society.”
A translation into Syriac of one of the 2nd-century Greek physician’s treatises has been discovered as a palimpsest on the pages of an 11th-century Syriac psalter that once belonged to the Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai. Researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Silicon Valley are now scanning the book to recover as much text as possible.
“The Musée des Arts Décoratifs has long had an identity crisis. It is in a 19th-century wing of the Louvre building … but it does not belong to the Louvre. It gets confused with the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, the elite national school for art and design on the other side of the Seine River, even though there is no connection between the two institutions. And it is not a museum dedicated to the early 20th-century Art Deco movement, even though ‘Art Deco’ is shorthand for ‘Arts Décoratifs.’ So in January, in an effort to reinvent itself, the museum changed its name.”
That number isn’t a shock — Netflix has been clear about the importance of TVs for a long time, and it’s why the company has spent a lot of energy working out integration deals with pay TV distributors like Comcast and Sky — but it’s a good reminder that not everything is moving to the phone.
“In the past decade, film criticism has become better than ever, by which I don’t mean that every critic writing is better than those of the past but that criticism is better over all—more critics than ever have actually seen many classic movies and a wide range of current ones, because cinephilia, an ardor for wide-ranging moviegoing, is now a core premise for even attempting criticism. (The gap between aesthetically advanced young critics and op-ed think-piecers is even more conspicuous than ever.) Above all, there’s a wider and stronger strain of curiosity, a deeper variety of interests that goes together with a younger set of critics who possess a wider variety of backgrounds and experiences, which makes it altogether less likely that a great movie will meet a solid tsunami of critical dismissal—and the sharing of views far and wide on social media, especially on Twitter, helps to get word around among critics as well as viewers.”
Nonprofits generally don’t create their own elaborate art to rally more community support. Most have limited budgets, which necessitates putting time, money, and effort into programming first, in order to impact the communities they’re serving. Still, more funders are thinking up creative ways to use the medium.
“Santiago Ramón y Cajal …, whose work in his field can be compared to Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur in theirs, is also among the best draftsmen of the 20th century. If his penciled linear, fractalizing networks and abstract webs were inserted into any art museum’s early-20th-century permanent collection they would stop people in their tracks and vie with the best the museum has to offer.”
Not long ago, the scientists and software developers who pioneered the World Wide Web thought it would democratize publishing and usher in a more open, educated and thoughtful chapter of history. But while the Internet and its offshoot technologies have improved society and daily life in many ways, they have been an unmitigated disaster for the way we communicate and learn.
“This flowering of ballet in Egypt, an East-meets-West tale of Cold War cultural politics, happened long ago, in the 1960s and early ’70s. … The Egyptian ballerina Magda Saleh danced the dream role of Giselle in Moscow as a guest star with the mighty Bolshoi Ballet … and in the opera house in her hometown, Cairo – where to call a woman a ‘dancer’ was an insult – with a full troupe of Egyptians trained by Russians in an academy established by the Egyptian state.”
“Sexual harassment, various instances of discrimination and retaliation are among the top complaints, according to these employees. They describe supervisors who are inept at scheduling, a workforce that is chronically understaffed and managers who are not held accountable for their actions.”
“[The MacArthur Fellow] will create three works for American Ballet Theater dancers, starting with a pièce d’occasion for Ballet Theater’s spring gala on May 21. The new works, announced on Tuesday by the company, are co-commissions with the Vail Dance Festival, where Ms. Dorrance will create the second piece.”
“Helen Molesworth, the chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art whose exhibitions have included the critically acclaimed 2017 Kerry James Marshall retrospective that was also a rare popular hit, has been fired, according to sources close to the museum. … [MOCA board member Catherine] Opie said she called [director Philippe] Vergne after receiving the surprise [news] and was told that Molesworth had not written a letter of resignation but was terminated for ‘undermining the museum.'”
“The Ivey Awards have been celebrating theatre in the Twin Cities for the past 13 years. But on Feb. 28, the organization announced that it will discontinue producing the annual awards event due to difficulty raising funds.” Allison Considine looks at the history of the prizes and reaction to their disappearance.
Zachary Woolfe: “The centrality afforded to conductors makes them appear indispensable. It inclines institutions to look past obvious problems and try their best to make their relationships with their maestros work, at most any financial or moral cost. The way some conductors have abused their power — Charles Dutoit, like Mr. Levine, has recently been felled amid numerous accusations of sexual misconduct — is a function of being granted so much power in the first place.”
Two of the women have described incidents over the past 10 years in which they were sent to Mr. Meier’s New York apartment, where he exposed himself, according to interviews with one of the women and several former employees of the firm. A third woman said in an interview that Mr. Meier grabbed her underwear through her dress at a firm holiday party, and a fourth said he asked her to undress at his apartment so she could be photographed.
HBO Programming President Casey Bloys warned of the growing cost of high-end drama. “As a show goes on they get more expensive and as shows get more ambitious they will get more expensive. More money doesn’t always equal better but in some cases the scope of ideas do require it,” he said. HBO is currently developing between three and five spin-offs of Game of Thrones and Orsi admitted that it was facing a budget “conundrum” if it goes forward with any of these.
More than six years after the right-wing extremist set off a car bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and shot 69 more to death at a summer youth camp, “[Erik] Poppe, one of Norway’s best-known directors, has channeled his outrage into a film, U – July 22, the first cinematic depiction of the attack. The movie, which opened in Norway on Friday, has prompted a wider debate about the ethics of fictionalizing the traumatic event.”
Justin Davidson: “These questions matter because the company’s future depends on its prestige and the goodwill of all those who buy tickets, perform there, or give it money. The company and its chief conductor were intertwined for decades, and each boosted the glory of the other. It’s simply not enough for the Met to say, We didn’t know! But, hey, it’s cool now: James Levine doesn’t work here anymore, and leave it at that.”