“The older you get the more difficult it is to learn to speak French like a Parisian. But no one knows exactly what the cutoff point is – at what age it becomes harder, for instance, to pick up noun-verb agreements in a new language. In one of the largest linguistics studies ever conducted,” researchers concluded that the cutoff is later than many experts thought.
One striking feature in a number of editorships is the manner in which editorial practice shifts towards a more charismatic and singular mode over time. This is certainly a common feature for three of the most successful literary editors of the twentieth century, each of whom edited a long-running publication that was firmly embedded in a parent institution.
While in the new millennium the quality of French intellectual life has plummeted, its reputation remains. Shlomo Sand bracingly compares media-friendly intellectuals such as Houellebecq, Éric Zemmour and Alain Finkielkraut to Nazi-collaborating writers such as Robert Brasillach and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. Like such past figures, Sand argues, they cling to a France that is “totally imaginary” and yearn for it to be purified of the Other. In 1940 that meant Jews, in 2018 Islam.
Andrew Mellor writes about the commentary he did for the live video stream of this year’s Malko Competition for Young Conductors. “Much like a pundit pitting the poor defensive track record of West Ham against the unstoppable firepower of Manchester City, I tried to ascertain what dangers the prescribed works would pose for each contestant, and tapped the expertise of other journalists in so doing. What’s the worst thing that can happen in the slow movement from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony?”
“Literature is not tennis or football, where international competition makes sense. It is intimately tied to the language and culture from which it emerges. Literary style distinguishes itself by its distance from the other styles that surround it, implying a community of readers with a shared knowledge of other literary works, of standard language usage and cultural context. What sense does it make for a group from one culture — be it Swedish, American, Nigerian or Japanese — to seek to compare a Bolivian poet with a Korean novelist, an American singer-songwriter with a Russian playwright, and so on? Why would we even want them to do that?”
“US lawmakers are working on legislation that would subject the country’s art dealers to financial regulation by the government and which could prove challenging for galleries, an art-law firm warned its clients this week. New York-based Pearlstein McCullough & Lederman said that legislation is likely to be introduced in Congress during the week of 14 May, adding dealers of fine art and antiquities to the list of regulated financial institutions under the Bank Secrecy Act.”
It’s not just sushi and ramen and anime and Marie Kondo. “‘Japan is the global imagination’s default setting for the future,’ as the author William Gibson wrote in 2001. ‘The Japanese seem to the rest of us to live several measurable clicks down the time line.’ … But what Gibson wrote about products was just as true about other, less visible trends in Japanese society: economic stagnation; a plunging fertility rate; a dramatic postponement of the ‘normal’ milestones of adulthood, such as getting married or simply moving out of the family home; a creeping sense of ambivalence about what the future might hold. Seventeen years later, America has finally caught up.”
She wasn’t just a famed concert violinist and teacher, but a freedom fighter who took a stand. “After martial law was declared in Poland in late 1981, she announced while on a concert tour of the West that she would not return to the country. She stayed away for almost a decade.”
“With all its gizmotopian technosyncrasies, it cannot actually compete with your neighborhood shop. It stocks too few books, its approach is too robotically data-driven, its employees are not remarkably knowledgeable about books, it is selling toys and e-gadgets as much as (or more than) books, it is not a cozy place to browse or to discover something you did not already know about.” Yes, fine – but Amazon is also still a huge threat to independent bookstores and to publishing itself.
Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland all helped Washington State gather info and collections for the revamped and massively expanded Nordic Museum, which was originally founded to tell the stories of the fishing communities of Ballard. Things have changed a bit: “Our story in the old museum was from about 1880 to 1920, mainly the immigration story. But here the story goes all the way back in time, starting when the ice recedes in the Nordic country.”
The Baltimore Museum of Art has plenty of art by Warhol, Rauschenberg, Kline, and other artists, but it’s selling some of their works in order to fund the purchase of art by artists of color both male and female, and by women of all races. Why? “The massive overrepresentation of white, male artists is a problem the BMA shares with galleries all over the western world, and cuts to the heart of a UK museum heritage that grew out of 19th-century philanthropy, endowments and bequests.”
The surgery comes as the conductor is about to transition from music director to “music director laureate” and will mean he misses the final three concerts of his music director tenure at the DSO. “Slatkin, who became DSO music director in 2008, said his cardiologists have assured him surgery should fix his heart issues. His recovery is expected to take about three months.”
We’re not even talking about the assaults and abuses alleged to have been committed by various male authors – no, this is about the Nobel committee itself. “At the root of the institution’s unprecedented crisis are a raft of wide-ranging allegations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a photographer and leading cultural figure in Sweden, who is married to Katarina Frostenson, an academy member and author.”
In a statement, the Academy announced that the governing board had voted to remove the two disgraced stars “in accordance with the organization’s standards of conduct”. The board continued “to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity”.
“When it was announced that the Royal’s feathery blockbuster was being entrusted to Scarlett, eyebrows were raised. It wasn’t his talent that was in question, it was his artistic unpredictability. He exploded on the scene in 2010, when, still a junior dancer, he created Asphodel Meadows, a beautiful one-act work that proclaimed his classical credentials. Yet he went on to wrong-foot audiences with dark and disturbing works such as Sweet Violets (2012), a gothic sex-and-death thriller about a Jack the Ripper serial killer, and Hansel and Gretel (2013), reimagined as a grotesque paedophile nightmare. But hey, he says, it’s only make-believe. ‘I was just trying to tell a good story. You don’t have to worry about me.'”
“The Swedish Academy … announc[ed] Friday that the prize will not be handed out this year, on the grounds that the academy is in no shape to pick a winner after a string of sex abuse allegations and financial crimes scandals … and it was decided that two winners will be announced in 2019, with one recipient recognized for this year’s eligibility period.”