Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs.
A follow-up on Dangin.
Technology changes awfully quickly.
As previously posted:
Another Dove photo here.
Regardless of his motives, Dangin considers himself an artist and what he does a pursuit of aesthetics.
Selva-Real women in Hong Kong?
Full piece here (Link may not last)
Totten, in this blog’s opinion, is at his best discovering new places as a travel writer/journalist. Some pictures included:
‘I’ve seen cities in the Middle East pulverized by war. I’ve seen cities elsewhere in Latin America stricken with unspeakable squalor and poverty. But nowhere else have I seen such a formerly grandiose city brought as low as Havana. The restored part of town—artifice though it may be—shows all too vividly what the whole thing once looked like.’
Havana wasn’t just another 3rd-world and/or typical Carribbean capital, it was a Spanish-style city of genuine character, class and wealth, showing American/English influences as well.
Now, unfortunately, as Totten explains, it’s the capital of a rotting, totalitarian police state, with its citizens still forced to live under a maximum salary of $20. Even if one had $20, there’s nearly nothing to buy, as many stores have only a few items on the shelves. Cubans are still forced to live this way.
‘He told me about what happened at his sister’s elementary school a few years after Castro took over.
“Do you want ice cream and dulces (sweets),” his sister’s teacher, a staunch Fidelista, asked the class.
“Yes!” the kids said.
“Okay, then,” she said. “Put your hands together, bow your heads, and pray to God that he brings you ice cream and dulces.”
Nothing happened, of course. God did not did not provide the children with ice cream or dulces.
“Now,” the teacher said. “Put your hands together and pray to Fidel that the Revolution gives you ice cream and sweets.”
The kids closed their eyes and bowed their heads. They prayed to Fidel Castro. And when the kids raised their heads and opened their eyes, ice cream and dulces had miraculously appeared on the teacher’s desk’
Look at where that gotten them.
Towards a theme-Apparently, memory is short. Some people in America have taken-up romanticized notions of Communist revolution (no more Che shirts, please, even if done with ironic or iconic cool). Unmistakably, from Moscow to Beijing to Pyongyang, the same totalitarian impulses are there, the same rigid State and party control, the same centrally planning, ruthless junta living according to very different rules from the “People.’
North Korea has been frozen in time since 1948, when the first Kim was installed by the Soviets. Since the Korean War, it’s grown into a cult of personality, headed by the divinely inspired, thoroughly repressive Kim dynasty and in its wake, a totalitarian State. It is bizarro world, but still has a large military, with missiles pointed at Seoul, and virtually little else. Like a sick dog on a rusty chain, it growls when it needs food.
Take a trip to the Hermit Kingdom:
What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”
What set-off the Spanish-American war and a good run of yellow journalism? The 1898 destruction of the Maine in Havana, which led to Cuban independence a few years later in 1902, until the revolution in 1959.
Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon
A good background and synopsis of American/Iranian diplomacy, and of the Iranian regime’s likely aims to become a Shia-led, anti-American/Western Islamist Republic dominating the Middle-East with deliverable nukes:
We need to make sure they’re not just buying time on our dime:
‘Some adjustments are inherent in the inevitable process of historic evolution. But we must avoid an outcome in which Iran, freed from an onerous sanctions regime, emerges as a de facto nuclear power leading an Islamist camp, while traditional allies lose confidence in the credibility of American commitments and follow the Iranian model toward a nuclear-weapons capability, if only to balance it.
The next six months of diplomacy will be decisive in determining whether the Geneva agreement opens the door to a potential diplomatic breakthrough or to ratifying a major strategic setback. We should be open to the possibility of pursing an agenda of long-term cooperation. But not without Iran dismantling or mothballing a strategically significant portion of its nuclear infrastructure.’
Previously on this site:
I was surprised to find that Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981, described very nearly what the Obama administration’s current Iran policy seems to be. Runs from 32:52 to 35:10 (Sorry I couldn’t embed with the exact time-stamp).
A few minutes can explain a lot. Well worth your time.
Addition: Here’s a brief summary of that argument:
1. The Iranians and the Iranian regime, despite what their intentions may be, have a right to enrich uranium up to 5% according to international law. They’re doing this.
2. We’re asking them to abandon this right as a precondition to any negotiations, creating an asymmetry. We should offer to lift sanctions first in return just to get them to swallow their pride and sit down for talks. This pride may extend beyond the mullahs and regime, and go into the cultural and national psyche of Iranians.
3. Whatever their intentions may be, unlike North Korea, the Iranian regime isn’t out and proud about nuclear enrichment and weaponization. They’re at least claiming to follow international law which gives us some leverage.
Dexter Filkins on Iran here.
Just as optics revolutionized the sciences and the boundaries of human knowledge, from Galileo to Newton and onwards, Tim Jenison wonders if optics may have revolutionized the arts as well.
‘But still, exactly how did Vermeer do it? One day, in the bathtub, Jenison had a eureka moment: a mirror. If the lens focused its image onto a small, angled mirror, and the mirror was placed just between the painter’s eye and the canvas, by glancing back and forth he could copy that bit of image until the color and tone precisely matched the reflected bit of reality.’
Good Vermeer page here for a refresher on the Dutch master.
Penn & Teller helped make a documentary which has gotten good reviews, entitled ‘Tim’s Vermeer.‘
They discuss the project and Tim’s theory below (perhaps only the Girl With The Pearl Earring knows for sure if the painter used such a technique):
Related On This Site: In The Mail: Vivian Maier
Goya, that modern, had to make a living from the royal family: Goya’s Colossus…Goya’s Fight With Cudgels…Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And Thinkers…NASA Composite Image Of The Earth At Night…Beauty?…Garrett Mattingly On Machiavelli-The Prince: Political Science Or Political Satire?
A Pre-K Program In Every Pot?-From The New York Observer: ‘Bill de Blasio Confident About Pre-K Agenda After Meeting With Assembly Democrats’
Let’s hope De Blasio doesn’t go full Maduro quite yet:
‘A centerpiece of his mayoral bid, Mr. de Blasio’s proposal calls for a tax hike on those making more than a half million dollars a year to fund expansive pre-K and after-school programs. Raising income taxes requires the approval of the State Legislature and critics have assailed Mr. de Blasio’s plan as quixotic because the State Senate, partially-controlled by Republicans, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo could torpedo the plan.’
Health-care and education are natural areas in which to secure the People’s future. Given De Blasio’s connections with labor, activists, and folks who look over to the right and see progressives, charter schools have reason to see a rough times ahead in New York City. Perhaps so could any New Yorker paying taxes not affiliated with those coalitions, or at least they ought to check and see how their money’s being spent in a few years.
I suppose we’ll find out how effective de Blasio will be against Cuomo’s upstate pushback.
Walter Russell Mead notes how this could play out for charters:
‘Bill de Blasio’s tenure many not mean the end of charter schools in New York City, but it will make them considerably more difficult to operate. With the cutback in city aid for charter schools, de Blasio appears committed to fighting one of the most promising things happening in city’
And to step back a bit, perhaps education reformer Diane Ravitch is succumbing to the same anti-capitalist, collectivist, 60′s Left zeitgeist, abandoning a more liberal-minded independence?
Sara Mosle At the Atlantic has ‘The Architect Of School Reform Who Turned Against It?:’
‘If the reform movement hopes to retain the public’s trust, insisting that reputable charters expel their for-profit brethren is a sensible place to start. Ravitch also argues convincingly that charters should accept a fairer share of the toughest-to-educate students. For her part, Ravitch might lead her own followers to recognize that the desire to improve teacher quality isn’t tantamount to teacher-bashing.
“If my child were in a school where he was not learning,” Ravitch wrote in the not-too-distant past, “I would not wait for a gathering of social scientists to tell me whether it was okay for me to put him in another school.” A reform movement convulsed by extremism shouldn’t hinder parents, or children, either. If only Ravitch, too, would dedicate her zeal to a less divisive vision.’
Is this an ongoing argument between post-60′s establishment liberalism and progressive street politics in America, with consequences for the rest of us?
Thanks for the funny photo, NY Post.
Addition: Adjusted headline from a reader: ‘A Pre-K Slot In Every Pot…’ Boffo!
Related On This Site: What Will De Blasio’s New York Look Like?-Some Links…Sandinistas At The NY Times: ‘A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist’…Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform
Richard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’…Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’...The Irish were a mess: William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’
Politicians and politics likely won’t deliver you from human nature, nor fulfill your dreams in the way you want: anarchy probably won’t either: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’
Having used every subterfuge
To shake you, lies, fatigue, or even that of passion,
Now I see no way but a clean break.
I add that I am willing to bear the guilt.
You nod assent. Autumn turns windy, huge,
A clear vase of dry leaves vibrating on and on.
We sit, watching. When I next speak
Love buries itself in me, up to the hilt.
Politics Here, Politics There, Politics Everywhere?-From The Hoover Institution: ‘David Mamet On Conservatism’
Celebrated American playwright David Mamet underwent a conversion to conservatism in rather dramatic and public fashion a few years ago. In leaving his liberal views behind, he’s no doubt become a heretic to some. At the link, he hosts an interview at Il Forno in Santa Monica with Uncommon Knowledge’s Peter Robinson.
Here’s my take, for what it’s worth:
-Born and raised in Chicago, Mamet seems pretty old-school and pretty tough. He reminds me a bit of Norman Mailer, verbally pugilistic and combative, though unlike Mailer he’s taken a different turn into ju-jitsu, instead of boxing, as well as into a different set of motivating principles. Alec Baldwin’s Death-Of-A-Salesman-on-steroids speech from Glengarry Glen Ross is a well-known example of Mamet’s work (demonstrating the kind of balls-out truth-telling dialogue from which Baldwin has possibly not recovered). I’m guessing Mamet grew-up back before anti-bullying campaigns and excessive political correctness became the norm.
Mamet also cites Chicago School Of Economics neoclassical thinkers’ Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell and Austrian economist/political philosopher Friedrich Hayek as central to his conversion. Hayek’s rather tragic view of limited resources and opportunity costs being the natural state of affairs for mankind is clearly an influence. This would generally lead one to eschew the Statist/rationalist idealism and socialist utopianism typically associated with many Left and liberal Left movements.
***As I understand it, Thomas Sowell, after becoming a young Marxist eventually became a young ex-Marxist, embracing a hard-bitten empiricism regarding outcomes and results, not the intentions, of economic and social policies. See him discuss his later vision of human nature and political organization in a Conflict Of Visions.
-Mamet cites the Bible, but mainly the Talmud as a source of wisdom and knowledge to draw upon as a guide for flawed human nature. Jewish folks in the U.S. have traditionally formed a reliably liberal/Democratic voting bloc, so unlike many Christian religious conservatives, they aren’t necessarily voting Republican. There are no doubt many reasons for this, but to be sure, there are also many tales of neoconservatives ’mugged’ out of the social sciences and policy-making halls of the liberal establishment into doubt and skepticism, some chased away by the New Left. There is also a conservative Christian/Jewish pro-Israel alliance which has traditionally been strong on national defense (some fundamentals of that American/Israeli relationship may be changing).
Religious belief can ground one in a kind of traditional and tragic view of human nature. This, say, as opposed to human nature understood as simply a blank slate or existentialist absurdity, or by some political movements as human clay to be molded with the right knowledge and right people in charge of our social institutions (they always seem to nominate themselves). As Mamet discusses in the video, there are distinctions to be made between Talmudic justice and social justice.
I’m guessing he might agree there are distinctions to be made between abstract equality and equality under the law (the exception of Civil Rights and black folks held under the civil laws is discussed). I’m also guessing he’d argue there are distinctions to be made between life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on one hand, and liberation theology and/or individual freedom granted by a rights-based cohort in charge of government on the other.
-Mamet also touches on the fact that the arts aren’t a political endeavor. If writing a play is simply a didactic enterprise and/or a vehicle for deploying a political philosophy (Ayn Rand?), then I think the artist has probably failed in some fundamental way to show the audience/reader a unique truth which only that work of art has to show. Didactic art can come across as clunky at best, pure propaganda at worst.
Personally, I tend to believe that politics, religion, convention and popular thinking all have trouble with the arts.
Anyways, this is just a brief summary. Any thoughts or comments are welcome.
Feel free to highlight my ignorance.
Christopher Hitchens referenced Hayek’s work in reviewing Mamet’s book. For Hitchens it seems, Mamet was adopting the grim literalism of religious texts without a richness of irony vital to the Western tradition (Hitchens cites Hegel). He also charges Mamet with taking-up his new political commitments with the zeal and ignorance of the newly converted.
’I have no difficulty in understanding why it is that former liberals and radicals become exasperated with the pieties of the left. I have taught at Berkeley and the New School, and I know what Mamet is on about when he evokes the dull atmosphere of campus correctness. Once or twice, as when he attacks feminists for their silence on Bill Clinton’s sleazy sex life, or points out how sinister it is that we use the word “czar” as a positive term for a political problem-solver, he is unquestionably right, or at least making a solid case. But then he writes: “The BP gulf oil leak . . . was bad. The leak of thousands of classified military documents by Julian Assange on WikiLeaks was good. Why?” This is merely lame…,’
So, why is Hollywood so reliably liberal on so many issues?:
Related On This Site: Via Youtube: Christopher Hitchens On Faith And Virtue
Taking religion out of the laws, and replacing it with a Millian/Aristelolian framework?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder……From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum
People are using art for political, religious, commercial and ideological reasons as always…right or left…believer or non-believer…Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And Aesthetics…From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’
Trading Robert Moses for Brailia…an authoritarian streak?: Brasilia: A Planned City…And Aesthetics…Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?
Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza… A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’
From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…Marketplace aesthetics in service of “women”: Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And Aesthetics…
Can Kant do all that heavy lifting…what are some of the dangers of Enlightenment project?: From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On Kant…A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …
How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?…Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’
Darwin and the arts. Kirsch has an interesting piece reviewing 3 books, including one by Denis Dutton. What might neuroaesthetics have to say about art that hasn’t been said already?
‘This sensible reticence served both art and science well enough for more than a century after Darwin’s death. But with the rise of evolutionary psychology, it was only a matter of time before the attempt was made to explain art in Darwinian terms. After all, if ethics and politics can be explained by game theory and reciprocal altruism, there is no reason why aesthetics should be different: in each case, what appears to be a realm of human autonomy can be reduced to the covert expression of biological imperatives. The first popular effort in this direction was the late Denis Dutton’s much-discussed book The Art Instinct, which appeared in 2009.’
Worth a read.
More broadly, it’s interesting to note how art, aesthetics, morality, moral reasoning, ethics etc. are being attached to Darwin’s thinking. For some, I suspect, it is to advance a secular humanist platform which is full of oughts and shoulds for all of us in other areas of life, including politics and culture.
Related On This Site: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’…Denis Dutton R.I.P.-December 28th, 2010 …From Bloggingheads: Denis Dutton On His New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’…A Few More Thoughts On Denis Dutton’s New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’
How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia. See the comments: Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…Adam Kirsch At The Prospect: ‘America’s Superman’… From The Spiked Review Of Books: “Re-Opening The American Mind”.
Some say we’re just selfish, others disagree-Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’…
Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’…Adam Kirsch In The New Republic On Slavoj Zizek: The Deadly Jester…Slavoj Zizek In The New Republic: Responding To Adam Kirsch
From The Detroit Free Press: ‘Detroit Bankruptcy Creditors Ask Judge To Take Steps Toward Sale Of DIA Treasures’
In case you missed it:
‘The DIA has pledged to protect its collection vigorously in court. Michigan’s attorney general has issued a formal opinion stating that a forced sale of art would be illegal because the museum holds the works in the public trust, but legal experts say the ruling may not hold up in court’
Very comprehensive and easy to navigate.
More from Megan McArdle on the behavior that comes with pension bonuses: Not worth saving.
Some links on this site: Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here. At least he’s sticking around.
Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself? See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).
Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either: A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’
GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’
What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine