“The midcentury ideal — of literature as an aesthetically and philosophically complex activity, and of criticism as its engaged and admiring decoding — is gone. In its place stands the idea that our capacity to shape our protean selves is the capacity most worth exercising, the thing to be defended at all costs, and the good that a literary inclination best serves. Democratizing the canon did not have to mean abdicating authority over it, but this was how it played out.”
“Summer performances at the Royal Opera House face disruption if security staff vote to go on strike over allegations of bullying and poor pay. Union Unite represents the vast majority of the 30-strong security workforce at the ROH, who will start voting on whether to take strike action on April 16, with the ballot closing on May 4.”
Christopher Marcisz makes the case that people don’t go to the Berkshire Museum for art (the area has better art museums already) and barely remember the paintings they see there. People – schoolkids and families, mostly – go for the natural history and science exhibits, and money from the paintings sold will give those exhibits a facelift they desperately need.
Why? Well, the previous owners sold the building to a development corporation – which asked for a $1 million per month increase in rent after the lease expires June 30. So, according to new owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, “the Los Angeles Times this summer will move from its historic Art Deco headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to a campus currently under construction in El Segundo.”
Rosie Lee Hooks has been director of Los Angeles’ Watts Tower Arts Center since 2010, and she has grown programs, attendance, and attention by leaps and bounds. Now, supporters say, there’s an art program at the heart of her three-week suspension. They claim it’s “related to the mural that local artist Jacori Perry had started to paint depicting jazz musician and Watts hero Charles Mingus on the side of the campus’ Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center building.”
Yes, there’s even a name for this phenomenon. “In recent years, so-called Anglocreep, the subtle adoption of British phrases into everyday American speech, has become a tic (or some might say an annoyance) among star-spangled strivers, particularly coastal creative types — otherwise known as the ‘chattering class,’ to invoke another Britishism.”
Various studies point to the conclusion that subjecting the mind to formal discipline — as when studying geometry or Latin — does not, in general, engender a broad transfer of learning. There is no sweeping increase of a general capacity for tasks like writing a speech or balancing a checkbook. But surely a narrower claim is true: that mathematics, so systematically built as it is on inference, must develop logical thinking. Right?
Few creators have left as profound a mark on popular culture. According to The-Numbers, a box office data site, films featuring Mr. Lee’s superheroes have grossed more than $24 billion worldwide. “Stan is right up there with Walt Disney as one of the great creators of not just one character, but a whole galaxy of characters that have become part of our lives. Right now, I think he’s probably bigger than Disney.” Yet at the summit of Mr. Lee’s career, storm clouds have gathered.
As much as I share the Bay Area’s love for these two great museums, I see endemic weaknesses that threaten their otherwise promising future. The Fine Arts Museums’ board cannot control the ambition of its director, and shouldn’t even try. What the board most needs at this crucial moment is not someone it can master, but a willing partner.
Talk to orchestra leaders around the country, and you find a new consensus about what community work means: a new approach to an orchestra’s role, even a new approach to training musicians. Leaders of some of the most innovative orchestras stress the need to find different ways to perform and get the music out there. But it’s a hard thing to talk about without lapsing into routine orchestra-speak — and an even harder thing to spotlight for a public.
One American anthropologist asked for a file kept on her by the secret police in Romania – and she was shocked to find that more than 70 people had informed on her during her time there, and that the secret police thought she was a spy. She tries not to judge her friend/informants, but other anthropologists “believe they do better research when they embrace and act on their moral reactions to the world they are trying to understand.”
Historians may rejoice, while fans of mythology might be a little sad: “One driving force behind the renovation was to put artworks into proper historical context. Mr. Potts and his team have rearranged works in the permanent collection galleries to tell a more chronological story, from 3000 B.C. to 400 A.D., largely presenting Greek works on the first floor and Roman on the second. Gone are the entertaining themes like ‘gods and goddesses’ that mixed figures from different periods in a pantheon of superheroes.”
French law forbids the exclusion of any children, but the singer left his estimated £100 million estate only to the daughters he adopted with his fourth wife. But he made his will in California. “A judge will now have to weigh up whether Hallyday, 74 when he died of lung cancer in France, was a US or French resident, thereby deciding if his will breaks French law.”
And no auditions in “private residences” either. At least, that’s the SAG-AFTRA goal, part of a #MeToo result: “The hotel audition guidelines build on the union’s Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment released in February. Hollywood figures, including disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, are accused of making unwanted sexual advances on dozens of women in these private meetings.”
He saw a dance performance by chance in his freshman year at the University of Iowa. He “was lucky to discover dance when he did, in the early 1960s — the tail end of the heroic age of American modern dance. The summer after his freshman year (1962), he headed to the American Dance Festival ‘to find out what dance was.’ His first class there was taught by Martha Graham; the second, by Alvin Ailey; and the third by José Limón.”
Thinking isn’t everything, or rather, it isn’t actually divorced from feeling. “Part of being intelligent is about the ability to function autonomously in various conditions and environments. Emotion is helpful here because it allows an agent to piece together the most significant kinds of information. For example, emotion can instil a sense of urgency in actions and decisions.”
This isn’t a new story, but it’s a darn good one. “Word of the performance’s cancellation, which had been broadcast on the radio, was rescinded, and crowds started forming at the theater: Yale students, local fans and trainloads of theater folk from Manhattan. Meanwhile, Mr. Adler and another assistant stage manager crisscrossed New Haven, rounding up the actors from Kaysey’s (a theater hangout) and the nearby Taft Hotel, where most of the cast was housed.”
Harrison, who with her husband Newton formed the art duo The Harrisons, created work that was “unconventional, to say the least, pushing the very boundaries of what constitutes art. They made topsoil and grew crops in it. They consulted on urban planning projects in Baltimore, Europe and elsewhere. Well before global warming was in the public consciousness, they considered its likely effects through maps and other means. And then there was ‘Hog Pasture,’ one of their earliest works. … They made an actual pasture indoors, with hopes of having a real hog root around in it.”
“In the quest to create intelligent robots, designers tend to focus on purely rational, cognitive capacities. It’s tempting to disregard emotion entirely, or include only as much as necessary. But without emotion to help determine the personal significance of objects and actions, I doubt that true intelligence can exist – not the kind that beats human opponents at chess or the game of Go, but the sort of smarts that we humans recognise as such. Although we can refer to certain behaviours as either ’emotional’ or ‘cognitive’, this is really a linguistic short-cut. The two can’t be teased apart.”
“I wouldn’t know personally, but smoking weed sometimes gives people great bad ideas. In the case of four college freshmen in Kentucky, the idea was to steal upwards of $11 million dollars in rare folios of John James Audubon’s classic bird illustrations and writing.” And they didn’t even manage that, as Peter Clark recounts: the folios were too heavy to escape with, and they got caught with other books they did steal – thanks to the badass librarians they made the mistake of tangling with. This epic tale of epic fail is on the way to the big screen, under the title American Animals.
“Following intensive protests against the decision to install Chris Dercon as director of Berlin’s radical theater with a strong left-wing tradition, the former head of London’s Tate Modern has decided to call it quits. … ‘Both parties have agreed that Chris Dercon’s appointment has not worked out as hoped, and the Volksbühne promptly needs a fresh start,’ stated Berlin public radio station, RBB, when first reporting the news.”
“The Trout Breaks the Ice is based on the story of Mikhail Kuzmin, who disappeared into the official obscurity imposed by the Soviets on artists considered deviant or who were out of favour. The play’s success comes amid fears that the relative freedom enjoyed by Russian theatre is under threat.”