“I’m always more interested in mystery books where ‘whodunit?’ isn’t the biggest question of all. Even if the red herring doesn’t feed into whodunit, because of course it can’t, it feeds into more integral questions: What makes the detective go down that sidetrack? … A bunch of times I’ve started off writing something thinking, ‘This might be the solution’ and then going, ‘This totally can’t be the solution, it doesn’t fit — but I can see why the narrator might want it to be the solution.'”
Kizuna Ai, an anime-style cartoon character with two million followers, “is part of an emerging trend where 3D avatars – rather than humans – are becoming celebrities on YouTube, with dedicated fan bases and corporate deals. It’s becoming so popular that one company is investing tens of millions in ‘virtual talent’ and talent agencies are being established to manage these avatars.”
“It’s been a seeping, decentralized thing; to call it a takeover would be hyperbole. But the assertive Nigerian global influence today cannot be denied, whether it’s in literature, music, fashion, or art, with new talents appearing at a relentless pace. Many hold court in London, … [and] others are in the United States, where middle-class immigrants have flourished in places like Houston and Atlanta. But all of them feed off the scene in Nigeria itself — and in its megacity, Lagos, a frenetic engine of creativity.”
Jens Lindemann said his rental car didn’t move so much as an inch for about 10 hours after multiple traffic incidents, including a jackknifed semi-trailer, made the road impassable. “During the day, it was a little funny at first because I grabbed my trumpet and started playing some trumpet fanfares and O Canada and people were getting out of their cars and talking to each other.
The real-world and social-media combat we’ve been in for the past two years over what kind of country this is — who gets to live in it and bemoan (or endorse!) how it’s being run — have now shown up in our beefs over culture, not so much over the actual works themselves but over the laws governing that culture and the discussion around it, which artists can make what art, who can speak. We’re talking less about whether a work is good art but simply whether it’s good — good for us, good for the culture, good for the world.
“Too much information creates numbness. Then we stop feeling. Then we stop caring. Refugees become mere numbers, anyone who is different becomes a category, an abstraction. It is not a coincidence that all populist movements are essentially against plurality, against diversity. In creating dualistic frameworks and polarising society, they know they can spread numbness faster. The novel matters because it punches little holes in the wall of indifference that surrounds us. Novels have to swim against the tide. And this was never more clear than it is today.”
These stories map an increasingly egalitarian poetry landscape. In place of the traditional gatekeeping system is a supportive, welcoming environment, particularly for marginalized voices. Purveyors of female empowerment and romantic expression like Kaur, Nikita Gill and Yrsa Daley-Ward flourished in this ecosystem. Instagram poets who might not get a second look from the predominantly white literary establishment have risen to prominence on their own. The trend is democratizing, both for writers and readers.
Thematically, not much has changed since 1818, when the 20-year-old Shelley’s first novel went to print. As with Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, apocalyptic media concerning AI relies for its big scare on the domestic conventions of gothic literature. The robots will rise up to destroy the world and your precious privacy at home. Cue Alexa, the Amazonian robot who knows every matter of your personal taste. She orchestrates with music the organisation of your family life according to your – or rather, her – wishes.
Surveying the acres of white faces (and mostly greying or balding heads) in the West End, it is hardly surprising that theatres have traditionally deliberately catered to them. But what happens if you put on a show that doesn’t only speak to them? You might get a different sort of audience.
Expectations have been raised that a tourist tax could help ease the burden on the public purse of the festivals – but does that put their future public funding under threat?
“As a philosopher, I believe this ethical conundrum involves two issues: one, the question of moral responsibility for an action at the time it occurred. And two, moral responsibility in the present time, for actions of the past. Most philosophers seem to think that the two cannot be separated. In other words, moral responsibility for an action, once committed, is set in stone. I argue that there are reasons to think that moral responsibility can actually change over time – but only under certain conditions.”
“Studies from experts strongly support both sides. Personal conversations with friends (not experts) vary from indifference, strong supporters and audiobook opposers. … We’re not sure what to believe, so we made a pros and cons list.”
Gillian Slovo writes about why she and the Royal Society of Literature have established the new Christopher Bland Prize, a £10,000 award for a first-time author over age 50.
Damien Cave: “Our dry, sunny isle far from swampy Washington seems to be the latest pinup for the American desire to check out and start over. It reminds me a bit of Hawaii in the 1970s and ’80s (the era of Fantasy Island, Gilligan’s Island, and Magnum P.I.) and more recently with Lost. Or to go further back, it’s what Mexico was for Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and the Beats in the 1950s and ’60s — a place of great beauty where familiar rules and conflicts could be sidestepped or ignored.”
From the earliest expositions in London and Paris, through the early 20th-century fairs that introduced such American cities as St. Louis, Chicago, Buffalo, and San Francisco to the world, the starry-eyed futurism of the New York fair in 1939, and the coming-out parties of Seattle, (’62), Osaka (’70), Montreal (’67), and post-dictatorship Seville (’92) and Lisbon (’98), World’s Fairs announced that their host cities were open for business and a bright future was coming. Then they lost their luster? No, in fact — like so much manufacturing, they went to Asia. “How much optimism or innocence one might think World’s Fairs have lost,” writes Darran Anderson, “depends on how much one believes they had to begin with.”
And no, it’s not for graffiti. (Just imagine Disney graffiti.) “PaintCopter [is] a drone that can autonomously spray paint both flat and 3D surfaces. Disney Research says the goal is to be able to paint large surfaces without the need for scaffolding and ladders. … You can see the drone in action in the video below, and while its painting skills still leave a bit to be desired, you can imagine where this work is headed.”
Over the last several years, competing notions of “diversity” have emerged. In many corners, the traditional definition, focused on demographic diversity, has been eclipsed by a new concept centered on experiential or cognitive differences. Deloitte, a provider of advisory services to firms around the globe, including 85% of the Fortune 500, encapsulates the trend, noting, “Up to now, diversity initiatives have focused primarily on fairness for legally protected populations. But organizations now have an opportunity to harness a more powerful and nuanced kind of diversity: diversity of thought.”
In a country full of museums, however, the purpose of private museums — a broadly defined type of institution based on a single collector’s vision — isn’t always clear — besides, that is, giving an uber-wealthy art collector a glitzy vanity project and perhaps a tax write-off. What such museums offer, says one expert, is an opportunity to see art that might otherwise be hanging in a wealthy home or stuck in storage.
“Previously, social media was delivering great reach and PR but not converting to sales.” They are now using sophisticated analysis to track posts and put money behind content that gets a good reaction, then automatically ‘throwing good money after good’ – the opposite to what often happens in arts marketing, where spend is usually focused on difficult-to-sell inventory.
If you’ve ever tried to get permission to perform a play, you’ve probably encountered some issues having to do with theatrical copyright. But where did the concept of copyrighting theatrical works come from? What do the legal wrangles over who owns the rights to a performance say about the nature of theatre?
OSF declined to name any of the jobs or people that were let go, but issued a statement saying “This summer’s smoke and air quality issues (led) to significant financial losses … These events renewed and reinvigorated our continual efforts to analyze our systems and sustainability … We have committed ourselves to updating our processes and realigning our organization, ensuring we identify every way possible to place OSF on a stable path that will empower us to continue to serve the community.”
The future of the company, as it casts around for new leadership, is just another mystery. Meanwhile, to judge from the choreography and performances on display at the season-opening gala, New York City Ballet is in extremely capable hands.
Rocky Mountain locusts, to be specific. In the late 19th century, trillions of them laid waste to gardens, farms, and fields in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. Then, by 1902, they vanished completely. Two University of Wyoming professors, an entomologist and a composer, wrote a chamber opera about the ravenous insects’ rise and fall; it premiered last week in Jackson Hole.
Yes, they can interfere with police radio, ambulances, and air traffic control, but they “gave immigrant communities programming in their native languages, ran charity drives and created the first radio specifically for black Britons. Pirate radio was also the site of some of Britain’s most important musical innovations.” But the wildcat stations are starting to disappear. Why? Because they’re becoming legitimized.
Josephine Livingston: “The effect is extraordinary. It’s polyphony, but you, the listener, control what you hear. Curious about how the music melds with the music further down the park? Just keep walking. Captivated by a particular passage? Stay where you are. Dynamics in sound become dimensions in space. You’re so close to the singers that it’s awkward. Look them in the eye or look at your feet: It’s your choice. … In The Mile Long Opera, there are as many operas as there are listeners, because it changes according to your position in space and your frame of mind. It exists to the extent that one is tuning in.”
For his current production — a present-day take on the van Eycks’ Ghent Altarpiece — Milo Rau, artistic director of NTGent in Belgium, placed a classified ad looking for jihadists. He got no takers, but he did get hate mail and an international media furor. Once the piece got onstage, though, the praise was warm and widespread — the usual pattern with Rau’s work. “I’ve had scandals before a premiere,” he says, “but never afterward.”
The novel Wolf Hall, the first volume of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell/Henry VIII trilogy, took its name from the country estate of Jane Seymour’s family. “Now original features of the 16th-century property have been uncovered by a team of archaeologists and historians, including a network of brick-built sewers and some of the foundations of two towers.” The remains were found on the grounds of (the much later) Wolf Hall Estate in Wiltshire, which still belongs to Seymour descendants.
The criticism was led by theater major Bridgett Martinez, who had auditioned for Maria but was cast as understudy for the role. “If they didn’t have this diverse cast in mind, and they didn’t think that we as the Latino students could fulfill these lead roles, then why would they continue on with the show in the first place?” So they didn’t. Once Fox News and similar outlets picked up the story, discussion of the situation spread well beyond the university.
“There was also concern — even among some women — that two of the men might have been unfairly treated. … But as more details of the texting allegations emerged in a lawsuit, a number of women in the company made it clear to management that they would not feel comfortable dancing with those men again.” Among the details: what exactly Amar Ramasar texted that got him in hot water, more trouble caused (and disciplinary action received) by Chase Finlay, and a vicious anonymous note left at the stage door that said “stop believing the word of jilted whores” (and that’s just what was printable).
Why? Because “Royal” might make them seem elitist. Said (R)NT artistic director Rufus Norris, “This country is still very class divided and anything that adds to that perception, that this place is not open to everybody, could be a downfall. I fear that for some people that [the ‘Royal’ prefix] adds to that perception.”