“It’s easy to assume that people are reading less because of the myriad options they have to choose from. But is that really the case? What if we redefined what it means to read, as well as what constitutes literature?”
Professor of ethics Gordin Marino looks (briefly, so don’t worry) at the positions of Camus, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Jesus, and a retired Vietnam vet in a Florida swimming pool to come up with the answer.
“It is a notably upbeat claim, especially when compared with the hand-wringing that typically accompanies talk of public intellectuals in America, who seem always to be in the act of vanishing. The few who remain pale in comparison to the near-mythic minds that roamed the streets of New York in the 1930s and 1940s, when rents were cheap, polemics were harsh, and politics were radical. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. What happened? Intellectuals who couldn’t survive as freelance writers — and as New York gentrified, who could? — became professors. By the 1960s, few nonacademic intellectuals remained. Careerism and specialization gradually opened up a gulf between intellectuals and the public. The sturdy prose of Edmund Wilson and Irving Howe gave way, by the mid-90s, to the knotted gender theorizing of Judith Butler and the cult-studies musings of Andrew Ross.”
“A designer sees a problem, proposes a solution, makes a difference. Such tidy narratives fuel a reigning ideology in which every object, symbol or pool of information is just another design problem awaiting some solution. The thermostat, the fire extinguisher, the toothbrush, the car dashboard – all have been redesigned, whether anybody was clamoring for their alteration or not.” A deep dive into the thought, and the process, behind this makeover mania.
The items are the bike lock, the cell phone tower, the hospital gown, the toilet, the airport baggage carousel, and the prescription-medicine label. We think one of them is elegant but frivolous, one might work well but is unlikely to be adopted anytime soon, one’s confusing, one is genuinely ingenious (if it really works), one is “why didn’t anyone think of this before?”, and one should be put into production immediately. See if you agree.
After starting his career as a much-in-demand session pianist (he put together Joe Cocker’s US band), he spent the ’70s as a rockabilly star in his own right. (Elton John was once his opening act.) “He wore a cocked top hat, and with salt-and-pepper hair past his shoulders and a beard that reached his chest, created an inscrutable image that was equal parts shaman, tent revival preacher and cosmic ringmaster.”
Training for sports has become scientific, with athletes working with scientists to optimize their performance. Now the idea has come to dance – both to prevent and mitigate injury but also to maximize performance.
The Supreme Court justice made her official opera debut on Saturday night at the Kennedy Center — after a scattering of supernumerary roles in the past — as the Duchess of Krakenthorp, a small spoken part.
“Theater, and art in general, have the power to change the world. And way too many of us relinquished that power in service of preserving our donor base and protecting white fragility. We used our power to produce Miss Saigon. We used our power to produce The Mikado. We used our power to enable blackface, brownface, redface, cripface and yellowface. We used our power to victimize women. We used our power to produce multiple stories about white people lamenting to other white people about how the world is changing in front of audiences of white people. We used our resources to keep our lights on and our heads down while ignoring the small-handed, bloviating barbarian at the gate. And now he is here and we are “shocked.” Why? We built this.”
The director of such classic films as “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” can’t quite seem to stop working. “Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki commented that Miyazaki will draw storyboards until he dies.”
The singer: “The only reason I’m Jewish is probably antisemitism. Think about Soviet Russia – religion is illegal. So there’s no cultural Judaism, no tradition. The only thing that made Jewish people marry other Jews is that they didn’t want to be called ‘kikes’. They knew they wouldn’t hear the word ‘zhid’ come out of their husband’s face when they had their first marital fight. So it’s the only reason a lot of us exist.”
First of all, everyone’s sitting on great work because they’re waiting to see if the market will be there for great work. So that’s a slight problem.
Petina Gappah, winner of the Guardian First Book Award several years ago, Has a new book of short stories out. And the people in them experience quite a lot of painful challenges. Why? “The criminal justice system links everyone together, from the top politicians to the street vendors – it cuts across the boundaries of race and class.”
Basically? Private prisons – something well-covered in Ava DuVernay’s documentary “13th,” streaming on Netflix (and at a big screening in L.A. on Sunday night).
Ralph Fiennes won a best acting award, as did Billie Piper (whom US fans might know from Doctor Who) – and Glenn Close completes a theatre comeback in London with an award as well. The director of the Harry Potter play said, “It’s a show about the peril of isolation, about unity, about family and about love.”
This Week: Hard to imagine there are arts headlines to compete with election news, but here goes: Science tries to explain why we’re ideologically segregated… It’s not just politics – arts and entertainment don’t really know what their audiences want… Even the most-respected arts coverage is being cut back… Infighting on the jury of the National Book Awards point to how deeply we’re divided… To end on an upbeat note, read Lin Manuel Miranda on the power of arts education.
Why it’s time to completely, totally, finally give up on economic impact studies in the arts
This is my last attempt at this topic, based on some recent (friendly!) twitter conversations and questions. One. Let me start with some data. Here, from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, are sector shares … read more
AJBlog: For What it’s WorthPublished 2016-11-12
The Revenge of the Mediocre . . .
. . . upon the great is a risk that every biographer takes. Mary Wisniewski has taken it, and it defeats her. Old friends of Nelson Algren whom he later spurned, to say nothing of … read more
AJBlog: Straight|UpPublished 2016-11-12
The May-Sinatra-Ellington “Indian Summer”
Vibraphonist, arranger, bandleader and master transcriber Charlie Shoemake lives on the California coast halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. As a performer who also teaches, he is known in the jazz community for the … read more
AJBlog: RiffTidesPublished 2016-11-11
75 Days to Decide: Is Your Organization Part of the Solution – or Part of the Problem
How will you use these 75 days? In her Jumper blog, Diane Ragsdale delivers a stirring message for the dawn of the Trump Presidential era that deserves to be shared and contemplated with the staff, … read more
AJBlog: Audience WantedPublished 2016-11-11
Zuckerberg says that despite the company’s firing of human news managers and the fake news problem – he says 99 percent of news shares are from real sources – Facebook is not the problem: “I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.”
Dear designers: We need you to help create images that solve problems, bring clarity, inspire agency, and help those who want to “shape the future with pragmatic hopefulness.”
You probably already know about “Welcome to Night Vale,” but there’s so much more than that, including dramas with Catherine Keener and Oscar Isaac, stories conceived by Issa Rae, and an alternate universe old-time variety show with Mandy Patinkin and Tim Robbins.
Brutalism inspires wide swings of emotion, especially in the UK, but, an expert says, “the loss of some of the most innovative buildings of the postwar period would create a black hole in architectural history.”
“Actors who have done the part report it to be one of the hardest (if not zaniest) challenges of their career. Here’s a look at several of them, plus insight from puppet designers on what inspired their own Tyrones. Simple answer: It wasn’t all Elmo.”