“In the pursuit of cultural hegemony, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz government has carried out a full-scale assault on the Hungarian cultural establishment, taking over funding bodies, defaming critics and putting loyalists in positions of influence. The result today is almost total conformity to the Hungarian nationalism of Fidesz and the sidelining of independent culture.”
“The notion of mattering is intimately linked with the notion of attention. To say that something matters is to assert that attention is due it, the kind of attention that both recognises and reveals its reality. Something that matters has a nature that demands to be known, and the knowledge may yield other attitudes and behaviour due it. If I say that something doesn’t matter, I’m saying that it’s not worth paying attention to.”
Visitors began lining up before 8 a.m. on the last day of the holiday weekend, which was the first of the museum’s September Walk-up Weekdays. Several hundred were waiting when the doors to the Smithsonian’s newest venue opened at 10 a.m.
The moral philosopher Samuel Scheffler at New York University has suggested that the real problem with a fantasy of immortality is that it doesn’t make sense as a coherent desire. Scheffler points out that human life is intimately structured by the fact that it has a fixed (even if usually unknown) time limit. We all start with a birth, then pass through many stages of life, before definitely ending in death.
The festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress since 2001, drew at least 200,000 readers to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in downtown D.C. They listened to talks and interviews with more than 100 authors, including Amy Tan, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Dave Eggers, Meg Wolitzer and Roxane Gay. Packed rooms were the order of the day for almost all the presentations.
Jeanette Winterson: “The novel … begins with a famously disingenuous sentence: ‘He, for there could be no doubt about his sex … ‘ and then we spend the rest of the novel doubting exactly that. Is Orlando the first English language trans novel? It is, yet in the most playful way. Orlando manages his transition with grace and a profound truth. On seeing himself as a herself for the first time in the mirror, she remarks: ‘Different sex. Same person.'”
“This year sees the release of two films which centre on the 2011 attack in Norway by rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, which left 77 people dead. … Questions arise around the ethics of this particular docudrama style of film-making – what can a film based on real events tell us that documentary footage or eyewitness testimony cannot?”
“[He] was among the most prominent ambassadors for traditional African music in the United States. A revered jazz pianist and composer, he incorporated that continent’s complicated rhythms, tonalities and call-and-response patterns in records that ushered in a new era of transatlantic fusion.”
Rufus Norris stepped in for ailing lead actor Richard Harrington in last Friday’s sold-out performance of Laura Wade’s Home, I’m Darling. “It’s a last-resort situation,” he said, “But it was only a few days before the show finishes and we couldn’t add an extra date. We had a full house who wouldn’t be able to see it again.”
It’s a straightforward outreach program to connect with people who may rarely or never visit a museum, let alone Amsterdam. But the reproductions are made with a new process the museum calls “reliefography” – and (this is in a mall, after all) some of them are available for purchase.
Lyn Gardner, in a post-Edinburgh column, considers plays that “have a fractured messiness that upends some of the traditional ways we tell stories on stage. … We need to recognise that what might once have been considered failings are in fact their strength. It is theatre that is as much about disrupting the traditional form as telling stories about women that are different from those traditionally told, if they have been told at all.”
Matt Trueman’s list includes an Austrian who has actors lip-sync amid candy-colored stage designs, a Frenchman who stages marathon adaptations of great novels, an Austrian who creates devised theatre with ethnic minority and refugee casts, a Vietnamese-Frenchwoman who draws from both literature and post-colonial experience, and a Croatian whose ferociously confrontational work regularly attracts death threats.
The Paul Taylor Foundation’s new artistic director, Michael Novak, and executive director John Tomlinson tell reporter Colin Moynihan about some of the measures the choreographer took in the year before he died and some of the particular plans they have to preserve both Taylor’s dances and his company.
The world’s most expensive artwork, which was purchased for the Louvre’s UAE franchisee last fall at a price of $450 million, had been scheduled to go on view there on September 18. Now the Abu Dhabi government has called the occasion off, with no explanation and no new date yet given.
“The announcement [disinviting Bannon] followed several scathing rebukes and high-profile dropouts after the festival’s lineup, with Mr. Bannon featured, was announced.” (One guest who withdrew, comedian Patton Oswalt, suggested Milo Yiannopoulos as his replacement.) Top New Yorker editor David Remnick also encountered stiff resistance from members of the public and the magazine’s staff.
“Founded in 1818 [in Rio de Janeiro], the museum is Brazil’s oldest scientific institution and one of the largest and most renowned museums in Latin America, amassing a collection of some 20 million scientifically and culturally invaluable artifacts.” Says one Brazilian scientist, “The importance of the collections that were lost couldn’t be overstated. They were unique as it gets: Many of them were irreplaceable, there’s no way to put a monetary value on it.”
Firefighters and museum staffers were able to remove some items from the burning building in Rio, so it will take time for the scale of the destruction to become clear, but here is an overview of what the museum contained, including an 11,500-year-old skeleton, coffins from ancient Egypt, frescoes from Pompeii, pre-Columbian and indigenous art and artifacts, and a major fossil collection.
Even in times of budgetary constraint, cultural institutions must not be shortchanged when it comes to financial support for their most basic function—the protection of the irreplaceable objects of cultural and scientific importance that are in their care.
Thelonious Monk: The Complete Prestige Recordings
Any Monk collection without the Prestige dates is missing the pianist’s early partnership with Art Blakey, who is considered by many musicians and critics to have been Monk’s ideal drummer.
“Rows of pigments in tubes, jars, and bowls are visible through the doors of floor-to-ceiling cabinets. … There are the products of nineteenth-century chemical innovation — viridian green, cadmium orange, and the chrome yellow with which van Gogh was infatuated but which, over time, has begun to darken his sunflowers. But at the heart of the Forbes Collection are the natural pigments that were the staples of painters’ inventories before chemically synthesized paints replaced the impossibly esoteric, the dangerously toxic, the prohibitively expensive, and the perilously fugitive.”
Judith Thurman (who speaks only three languages and came to grief with Vietnamese) meets with several of these savants to find out what (including any special neurological features) makes them tick.