We have incentivized a safe, cloying storytelling rooted in domestic perspectives and intimate conflicts. These novels generally feature a personal issue (abandonment by a parent, bereavement, breakup) processed through or alongside a traumatic historical incident (say, the clearing of the Newfoundland outports) with some vague connection to the protagonist (typically a university professor, historical researcher, or some other middle-class intellectual with enough time to visit archives). Before the story wraps up, there is certain to be a tepid love affair, several flashbacks, and a well-timed lyrical riff affirming the human spirit or the redemptive power of art. Moral questions will lend the story a patina of gravitas, but there will be no attempt to reckon with the complex roots of social or political problems.
On the day of the second-ever Gay Pride celebration in Orange City, Iowa, Paul Dorr, director of a “crisis center and pro-life, pro-family movement” called Rescue the Perishing read from a blog post titled “May God And The Homosexuals of OC Pride Please Forgive Us!” and threw the library books into a burning trash can. The public library and local police department are discussing legal action.
The UK nonprofit Nesta “has launched a new £3.7m fund that will make small repayable loans to English arts, cultural and creative organisations … to help [them] ‘articulate, monitor and evaluate their social impact’. Recipients of longer term loans that can demonstrate they are achieving their goals will be rewarded with lower interest rates.”
Although Le Guin was a vocal defender of science fiction and fantasy who argued that those genres had as valid a claim to literature as the best realist or mimetic fiction, she also saw her writing in broader terms. “Where I can get prickly and combative is if I’m just called a sci-fi writer,” Le Guin said. “I’m not. I’m a novelist and poet. Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions.”
Canadian writers are making less money than ever — with incomes from writing dropping 78 per cent from 1998, according to a report released Monday by the Writers’ Union of Canada. The numbers, accounting for inflation, have been undergoing a steady drop. According to the report, writers made $9,380 in 2017, down from $12,879 in 2014 — a 27 per cent drop in just three years.
Perhaps there is no such thing as an easy or hard discipline. Maybe there are only easy and hard questions. Biology only seems so hard because it has been defined by a set of very hard questions. Physics only seems easy because centuries of effort by deeply insightful thinkers have produced a set of answerable questions.
Anyone who’s flipped back and forth between the texts and the maps in books by J.R.R. Tolkien or Robert Louis Stevenson knows how much help they can be to the reader. But authors themselves find their maps to be a tremendous help, too.
“For musicians in Paris, the rue de Rome is a legendary place, at the same level as Tin Pan Alley or 42nd Street in New York. Sheet music shops and luthiers’ workshops are packed in like sardines. … It’s a place to inquire into these mysterious objects” — the hand-crafted bows for string instruments — “whose secrets are unknown even to most musicians.”
“Last weekend in downtown Los Angeles, [Lynch and] Showtime previewed [the] first Twin Peaks VR experience, which will be available for fans to buy on Steam for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift sometime in 2019. … However, the full experience will eventually be a one-hour production created by Showtime and Collider, with guidance from Lynch himself.”
“It’s the challenge of the seemingly unadorned sentence or expression that passes so naturally it seems to ‘write itself.’ While the translation of these sentences can sometimes occur just as naturally, more often than not it requires vast amounts of hairpulling. Few things are as difficult as ease.” Mark Polizzotti offers some examples from his work translating the Nobel winner Patrick Modiano.
Spencr Kornhaber: “The reasons not to speak ill of the dead are easily understood: They can’t defend themselves, and their loved ones are already in pain. … [Yet,] in each recent shocking celebrity death there are, plausibly, lessons — about mental health, substance use, social media, domestic violence, and other things — that might help curb the darker trends in American life. Can those lessons be heard and discussed without causing offense?”
Word is finally getting around that the marble statues of ancient Greece weren’t snowy-white; they were painted in vibrant colors. Same for the Parthenon — indeed, of most buildings. It may seem hard to believe that the latest version of the game Assassin’s Creed, subtitled Odyssey and set during the Peloponnesian War, could look anything like actual 5th-century-BC Athens, but scholars have reacted very positively.
“Gregor first gained national renown in the 1970s within the Photorealism and Abstract Expressionism movements, and his landscapes regularly feature vibrant colors and skewed perspectives. He often broke down his body of work into five categories: ‘Illinois flatscapes,’ ‘Illinois landscapes,’ ‘Illinois colorscapes,’ ‘trail paintings,’ and ‘vibrascapes.'”
As Andris Nelsons, an eminent Latvian conductor, coaxed the quiet notes from the string section of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, a woman in the balcony rustled a bag of gum, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported. A young man sitting next to her glared a few times and then lost his patience. He snatched the bag from her and threw it onto the floor.
The US has had a long history of mistrust in highly educated professionals, but we seem to have shifted to a situation in which expertise has become both a disqualification and a reason for attack.
Nearly every company that makes video is finding its way into the streaming media business. Disney is planning its own Netflix competitor for 2019, backed by content holdings like Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar. AT&T plans to launch its own Time-Warner focused equivalent around the same time. Similar competitors from Amazon and Comcast are already taking shape. With the streaming subscription business growing this fast, everyone wants a piece — and they’re ready to fight for it.
“The proposal will force platforms, like YouTube, to prioritize content from a small number of large companies. The burden of copyright proof will be too high for most independent creators to instantly demonstrate. There is a better way forward for copyright online but it’s critical you speak up now as this decision may be finalized by the end of the year.”
“You want to honour the victims, but you also want to provide a thrilling night at the movies. Maybe there is no way of squaring that circle.” Steve Rose considers the two new films about the 2011 mass murders by a white nationalist terrorist in Norway.
The Nathan Rapaport sculpture Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs has been at the site, near the eastern end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, since 1964, but around it has been built a new $13 million plaza that includes those artifacts — plus testimony about them from survivors, available via a free app.
“Literature — the top-shelf, award-winning stuff — is positively ectoplasmic these days, crawling with hauntings, haints and wraiths of every stripe and disposition. These ghosts can be nosy and lubricious, as in George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo … [or] confused by their fates, as in Martin Riker’s new novel, Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return … They terrify, instruct and enchant — sometimes all in the same book.” For instance, Lauren Groff’s Florida, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees, Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House, Hari Kunzru’s White Tears, and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing. Parul Sehgal looks at the genre’s hold on writers and readers alike.
More than 255,000 people attended SLSO concerts at Powell Hall. Also, more than 8,000 attended performances in California and Nebraska this year. SLSO sold out 20 of the more than 300 total concerts during the season.
Six years of shooting in dozens of locations, famous film auteurs playing versions of themselves, the cast and crew posing as film students to get a cheap rental rate for the MGM backlot (they smuggled Welles in a van), half a dozen or so different kinds of film stock — and that’s only the beginning of the story.
“The five fragments now believed to have ‘characteristics inconsistent with ancient origin’ have been displayed at the Museum of the Bible since it opened in November. Labels on the exhibit since it opened have warned guests that some scholars were skeptical of the fragments’ authenticity.”
Two years after she took the helm, “it appears that Kent’s fame has not attracted enough ticket buyers and donors to fund the new vision of the Washington Ballet, with more and better dancers performing the ‘Great Books’ of ballet. It’s a big risk, because the transformation will be costly and take years. And then there are the questions no one seems to have asked in the planning stages: Does the public want this kind of company, and will enough donors fund it?”
Lyn Gardner, who sees more plays in more places around the country than just about anyone, will swear by the high quality of the UK’s regional companies. Yet, she writes, with every effort they make to bring in more revenue, more funding cuts just set them further back.
“A leading figure in the history of Chinese art, Professor Fong taught for 40 years at Princeton University, where in the 1950s he established the nation’s first doctoral degree program in Chinese art and archaeology. Beginning in the early 1970s he was a driving force behind the Met’s ambitious effort to expand its collection of Asian art, including masterworks from China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and India, and add space in which to display it.”
“Major museums across Europe have agreed to loan important artifacts back to Nigeria for a new museum the country plans to open in 2021. The African nation’s Royal Museum will house a rotating display of artifacts, including the Benin bronzes that were looted during the Benin Expedition of 1897. The agreement marks a significant step after years of negotiations among European institutions and Nigerian authorities.”
It is only now, a decade after the financial crisis, that the American public seems to appreciate that what we thought was disruption worked more like extraction—of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity, our content, our DNA, our homes, our cities, our relationships. The tech visionaries’ predictions did not usher us into the future, but rather a future where they are kings.
A costly experiment? Surely, since box office revenue in these spaces is small relative to cost of production. Without philanthropic support, the project would be untenable. What Opera Philadelphia is discovering is that there are donors particularly anxious to invest in the future
Banksy’s stealth video of the bidding on Girl with Balloon at Sotheby’s and the sales job that preceded it adds yet another layer of satire to a subversive intervention that has a more serious subtext — a critique of self-sabotaging auction houses that have damaged their credibility as a transparent public marketplace where buyers can feel reasonably confident that they are paying fair market value, equitably arrived at, on a level playing field.