Spotlight

Ah, Look At All The Lonely People-‘Jeff Koons Is Back’ Via Vanity Fair

Full piece here. -Koons gets the Annie Leibovitz treatment (an unfortunate photo ...

Update & Repost-A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

Koons has a retrospective at the Whitney going on right now: —————– ...

Repost-A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

—————– Koons’ site here.  Part 1 of a 5-part documentary above. I often ...

Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs.

Saturday Poem-William Stafford

Traveling Through The Dark
 —–
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
 
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car   
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;   
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
 
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason—
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,   
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
 
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;   
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;   
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
 
I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,   
then pushed her over the edge into the river.
———–

Every Time An Activist Gets His Wings…From Inside Philanthropy: ‘Did You Hear The Koch Brothers Just Gave A Million Bucks To NPR To Cover Healthcare?’

Full piece here. (No, it didn’t really happen, but this is one of my hobby horses, and I’m not afraid to whip it often).

NPR works alongside the Kaiser Family Foundation to deliver ACA coverage.

Money, money, money:

‘My point, of course, is that growing concern about the subversion of public media by private donors is quite selective. Progressives only fret when it’s conservative money coming in, but ignore cases in which funders they like are writing the checks. And while the right routinely hits NPR for being too liberal, it’s been strangely quiet on NPR’s sources of funding and the possible conflicts embedded in funding arrangements’

Let’s just say most people are attracted to large revenue streams, even lofty secular idealists.  The money has to come from somewhere.

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A brief rant:

Activists of all stripes seem to occupy a special place in the moral universe of NPR coverage. Perhaps a pure, uncut activist is a little much, but such folks can always be backed-up with the right studies and statistics.  In a four-minute piece, activists can be bolstered by a two-minute interview with a more knowledgeable bureaucrat and/or favorable university professor.

Activism is virtuous, after all.

From civil rights to feminism to environmentalism to gay rights…equality will eventually be reached, doled-out, quantified and planned.  But only if the general will is being served daily, while the ‘The People’ are rising-up demanding change, protesting and chanting, forming purely democratic coalitions and autonomous collectives that can only make our politics and the world a better place.

Each individual is gaining more freedom daily through collective action, dear reader.

***I’ve been assured that every time an activist gets his wings, the storehouse of moral good increases by a hectare, while the happiness index inches upwards.

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Of course, making such Left-liberal ideals the highest things around means always courting activists to some extent, for no other purpose than staying in business. It also means making choices in the real world.  Private donations by listeners to NPR are generally good, while private ownership in a company donating to political campaigns is generally bad.

The foundation money that funds Left-liberal think tanks and action committees is generally a force for good in politics, while the Koch brothers money is generally bad, and suspicious.

Even if the foundations were started by capitalists, innovators thriving under a relatively free flow of capital and labor like Henry Ford’s motor company did, dramatically driving down the price of cars for everyone, these cash-cows have finally been bent to the right ideals.

Equality is next, right after the next big private/public partnership.

(addition: yes, that last part is sarcasm, and no, I don’t think anyone is capable of being the moral judge nor final arbiter of the Civil Rights movement and its gains of freedom for many in the real world.

Rather, one can simply point out many of its costs and consequences; the logical flaws, including the lack of limiting principles to political power.

I think it’s more clear now how endlessly rewarding victimhood, capitalizing on grievance and injustice, and cultivating envy into a movement led by a charismatic figure has consequences.

It seems there’s some good when the folks at NPR are called-out on their activism as well as their moral and political commitments, to see how their business works while they are busily minding everyone else’s business).

Related On This SiteJack Shakely At The Los Angeles Review Of Books Reviews Ken Stern’s ‘With Charity For All’

How Many Techno- And Bureaucrats Are Enough?-David Greene At NPR: ‘Rochester Focuses On A New Piece Of American Manufacturing’

A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…We’re already mixing art and politics, so…
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Rattling Around-An Artsy Editorial: ‘Pop Culture & Iconic Art History Mashups From The Father Of Stencil Art’

Full piece here (Hat-tip to Anthony Williams)

Before Banksy, there was Blek Le Rat:

‘Following the cut-and-paste technique of Dada-ist collages and the sourcing of commercial imagery in Pop Art, appropriation of visual material or pop culture images has long been utilized by street and graffiti artists. Le Rat continues this style of sampling in his more recent body of works, employing pop culture references and Old Master artworks in a series of graphic spray paint works on canvas.’

An interview here:

——————

Hopefully, dear reader, you will indulge a few ideas that have sprung to mind, as clearly no one knows better what’s happening on the streets.

The first is the Youtube mashup, or in certain cases the sampling of music across different genres and styles, then cramming and crafting them back together into potentially new creations just by using the stuff of Youtube videos.

All this requires is access to a computer and the focus to really listen to music that draws one in. No particular musical training nor long years’ sacrifice is required.  In fact, Youtube has some real practitioners out there, taking apart and putting music videos back together, sifting through an enormous compilation of free and/or cheap recorded music.  The bar for being a D.J. just got lower.

The lower cost and easier availability of basic programs and equipment has spurred-on new genres of music, often driven by a few creative, talented and ambitious people and groups out to make something rather beautiful out of these component parts and their own experiences.

Hip-hop and 80’s synth-pop are just two examples.

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The second idea that springs to mind is the shared history Youtube mashups, stencil artists like Le Rat, and graffiti artists might have with pop and modern art’s impulse to make meaning, often deeper meaning, out of what is at-hand in a large commercial society such as ours. All this takes might be a can of spray-paint, some basic technique, and a willingness to break the law where the law doesn’t often go.

On the higher-end, the art can be meant to spread and ‘democratize’ deeper artistic influences and ideas (a certain smugness there), while on the lower-end, a tag can be the nothing more a than a guy taking a piss on a wall with a spray-can.  The high-low dynamic can be intoxicating.

Yet, there are beautiful things to be found, however, especially when and where one looks for beauty.

There seems a basic desire in us to make something that will last and that will endure, to copy what works, and to aim for beauty and try and transcend and give meaning to our own experiences and circumstances.

The need to discover and share meaning through aesthetic influence and preference likely isn’t going anywhere either. From gangs to high-school cliques to art houses, from individual taggers to the loftiest aesthete and critic, there’s a whole lot of judgment and self-identification constantly going on in human affairs through through the process of judging what we like and don’t like, which group we may be a part of and which we may not at any point in time.

Back to the piece:

‘Hugely influential on today’s generation of graffiti artists, Le Rat’s counter-iconography continues to cut across time periods, media, and styles while still paying tribute to the iconic works and masters he uses in his work.’

Images surround us in the form of  thousands of prints, photos, comic book art, cartoons, advertisements etc that first drove a lot of modernism and its subsequent reactions in Pop Art.

Robert Hughes really didn’t like the lack of acquired skill and mastery of materials many moderns lack.

There have been a lot of virulent reactions to ‘modern’ life and technology ranging from utopian futurism to nihilism to consumerism and a kind of dejected anti-consumerism and spiritual malaise.

—————

Camille Paglia wants to tilt the culture more towards art education, but manages to resist the more virulent strains of secular ideology filling the modern hole, pushing back against the radicalism of feminist ideology when it encroaches upon aesthetics:

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You don’t need Debussy when you’ve got Paul Mauriat.

What if eternity is listening to well-done orchestral elevator music?

=========

Some Links On 5Pointz, Graffiti, & The Arts–Property Rights & The Rule-Of-Law

Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’

So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’ What are these people doing with art?:  Often combining them with a Left-of-Center political philosophy as they are at NPR for popular consumption.

On this site, see: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

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… Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Brasilia: A Planned City
Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Tuesday Quotation: Arthur Schopenhauer

“Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

A re-post.

Some Links-ISIS And Protest

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Twisted Appeal Of ISIS:”

‘Don’t discount this sort of impulse. You may not be able to relate to it at all, but it’s real. War is hell–that’s for damn sure–but it’s also an incredible antitode to alienation and boredom.’

Henri Barker at The American Interest ‘The Meaning Of Kobani

‘Fall or survive, Kobani has assumed an importance few could have anticipated, becoming the rallying cry for Syrian and Turkish Kurds as much as Halabja was for their Iraqi brethren. Moreover, Kobani’s plight has once again drawn the whole international community’s attention to the region’s Kurdish question.’

Dexter Filkins At The New Yorker-‘ISIS Vs. The Kurds: The Fight Of Their Lives’Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

Theodore Dalrymple: ‘Your Dad Is Not Hitler

‘If you have to protest that you’re not something, that only goes to show that really, underneath it all, you are that something: for if you were not, you wouldn’t have to proclaim it. After all, a bear doesn’t have to go round proclaiming it’s a bear, that it partakes of ursitude; it just is a bear and everyone knows it.’

That Generation of ’68 is still with us. Christopher Hitchens & William F Buckley On Anglo-American Relations

So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’

Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘What The New Atheists Don’t See’Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain…From The WSJ Weekend Journal-Theodore Dalrymple: “Man Vs. Mutt”Michael Moynihan At Newsweek: ‘http://www.jihad.com

Repost-Andrew Potter At The Literary Review Of Canada: ‘Twilight Of The Pundits’

Full piece here.

What is a ‘public intellectual’ anyways, and how can it relate to journalism?

On a recent conference our author went to, the following was offered to journalists:

No more quoting political scientists:  It’s lazy and signals the reporter couldn’t find any other apparently neutral or objective source to talk. These people work in academics, not politics, so I’m not interested in their opinions on anything but their own research.’

This is often lazy journalism; an easy way for journalists to reinforce their beliefs and get a soundbite, while the quoted professor might receive a little flattery and perhaps star power if it happens often enough.

Potter:

‘The important thing to understand about journalists is that they are the lowest ranking intellectuals. That is to say: they are members of the intellectual class, but in the status hierarchy of intellectuals, journalists are at the bottom. That is why they have traditionally adopted the status cues of the working class: the drinking and the swearing, the anti-establishment values and the commitment to the non-professionalization of journalism.’

and on professors:

The important thing to understand about academics is that they are the highest rank of intellectuals. That is why they have traditionally adopted the status symbols of the 19th-century British leisured class—the tweeds and the sherry and the learning of obscure languages—while shunning the sorts of things that are necessary for people for whom status is something to be fought for through interaction with the normal members of society (such as reasonably stylish clothing, minimal standards of hygiene, basic manners).

The ideas of original thinkers and those of thinkers in academia often trickle down into popular thought anyways, but the easy quote is often just a way to reinforce one’s own beliefs or ideology, or get a quick fix.

Also:

‘In a philosophical debate, what everyone involved is trying to get at is the truth. In contrast, what is at stake in the political realm is not truth but power, and power (unlike truth) is a “rival good”—one person or group can wield power only at the expense of another. This is why politics is inevitably adversarial. Political power is ultimately about deciding who shall govern, and part of governing is about choosing between competing interests’

Politics ain’t beanbag.  The  pursuit of truth and thinking new thoughts is difficult, tedious and often ill-explained and poorly understood by most of the public.

Related On This Site:  From FuturePundit: ‘Low Empathy Response Makes Others Seem Less Human?’From Edge: ‘Re: What Makes People Republican? By Jonathan Haidt’Paul Krugman At The Guardian: ‘Asimov’s Foundation Novels Grounded My Economics’

So, economics is a science?: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Given my ideological leanings, I fear an academic-government-journalism triangle of entrenched interests guiding the ship of state.  That said, nepotism, ideology, ignorance, power, doubt and truth shall carry on.  Hate Is A Strong Word-Some Links On The BBC, The CBC, & NPR

Repost-From The Times Higher Education: Simon Blackburn On The The Atheist/Believer Debate

Full article here.

He appeals to David Hume’s depth and humor.

“But it is not just that old tunes are being replayed, but that they are being replayed badly. The classic performance was given by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, written in the middle of the 18th century. “

and Blackburn’s last paragraph:

“The upshot ought to be not dogmatic atheism, but sceptical irony. Of course, the latter is just as infuriating to those making special claims to authority, perhaps more so. Men and women of God may find it invigorating and bracing to meet disagreement, but even benevolent mockery is mockery. They would find that it is much harder to bear the Olympian gaze of the greatest of British philosophers.”

Recent related posts: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…and how to get away from creationist/darwinist dualism…From Bloggingheads: Adam Frank And Eliezer Yudkowsky Discuss The Epistemology Of Science

Bryan Magee Via Youtube: ‘John Passmore on Hume: Section 1′

Is There Any Island Left For Islanders Like Him? From The New Yorker On Billy Joel: ‘Thirty-Three Hit Wonder’

Excellent piece here.

I think you’ve got to look at Billy Joel’s raw talent; the prodigious musical gifts and compositional ability; the mimicry, the voices, the piano-playing which became a vehicle for so many of his hits.  Add a quite nice voice and a road-warrior mentality trying to offer value at every show, working alongside his band, and you’ve got quite a package.

An American Songbook kind of guy.

I can barely think of anyone more Lon-Giland, who put his abilities to the American grindstone, but whose talent often hovers above any chosen genre he finds himself in.

Thanks, Billy.

Nick Paumgartner on a Slate review of Joel:

‘He was terrible, he is terrible, he always will be terrible. Anodyne, sappy, superficial, derivative, fraudulently rebellious. . . . Billy Joel’s music elevates self-aggrandizing self-pity and contempt for others into its own new and awful genre: ‘Mock-Rock.’ ”

He [Rosenbaum] called Joel “the Andrew Wyeth of contemporary pop music.”

When I mentioned this to Joel, he said, “What’s wrong with Andrew Wyeth?”

What is wrong with Andrew Wyeth? On this site see: Spring Beauties’-A Brief Post And A Link On Andrew Wyeth

On sitting down with Joel:

‘In between pieces, he began to explain that these were variations on a motif and that they were telling the story of the history of Long Island, from its pastoral beginnings to the arrival of the Europeans—“I’m imagining the prow of a ship, and a Puritan hymn”—and then the bustle of the nineteenth century. Farming, fishing, the railroad. “Getting busy on Long Island,” he said. “This one’s almost Coplandesque, with big open fifths.” We were a long way from Brenda and Eddie. He played intently as the room went dark.’

That sounds like a pretty talented artist looking for roots and sifting through American history and Americana for inspiration to me…

Here’s a popular song in the seafaring style trying to do good for local people without the righteous self-flattery and regard stars so often bring to the table:

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Repost-A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Likely Terror In Ottawa & Cathy Young, Bad Laws & Challenging Feminist Discontents

R.I.P. Nathan Cirillo.  Thoughts and prayers to his family, as he was the Canadian soldier killed by a lone gunman likely motivated by that gunman’s recent conversion to Islam.

Just a few doors away from the gunman’s path was today Canada’s Wednesday caucus, apparently including the Prime Minister and his party in a room on one side, and the opposition in a room on the other.

It’s a small world after all.  Crazed, possibly self-radicalizing morons seeing themselves as part of a global ideological and religious struggle just need to be included in the ‘community’…

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Cathy Young suggests the Federalist Society has gone soft for pulling-out having her as a speaker:

‘In its response to my column on my relationship with the Federalist Society’s speakers bureau, the Federalist Society claims that it continues to host events on the same topic that got me dropped from their list—challenging hardline feminist doctrines on “rape culture” and rape legislation—and speakers who share the same “basic perspective” as mine.’

The Federalist’s original response to Young.

This blog tries to focus on feminist ideology and its discontents; the warmed-over and mainstreamed activists, the utopians (flip-side totalitarians as you can bet there’s a moral framework and human nature under all the power theories and bad incentives)…the radicals who keep doing radical things.

I think there ought to be a more honest brokering of the costs to having such folks drive debate, as well as more sunlight disinfecting what is often just re-hashed critical theory, an ideology celebrating victimhood and denigrating its capitalist oppressors.

The personal ain’t political, and let’s face it, much of this logic doesn’t often lead to liberal places, even if it has meant more freedom for some, and likely, many women, in many cases.

Such people, similar to religious zealots and various other true-believers, need to be put continually into their proper context.

Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

Gender equity feminists are what I take Thomas Sowell to mean by ‘intellectuals’ and include many ‘intellectuals’ who use statistics to often justify preconceived ideas….which is misusing statistics:

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These are pretty much the kinds of policymakers finding a listening ear and ideological ally in the White House right now:

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Repost-From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

Full post here.

Let’s not forget how badly some folks have acted in the Middle-East and in the West:

‘The posting on Revolutionmuslim.com says: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.’

No, I wouldn’t take that as a threat at all…

Update:  Did Comedy Central censor the potentially offensive parts…as a result of the ‘threats’?  What is insidious about a terroristic threat is how much it works.  Also, how much (if there is a causal connection) of the decision might be fear of legal action, loss of revenue, pc related?

Comedy Central, by most accounts, doesn’t want to re-air the episode.

Related On This Site:   From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

Is Islam incompatibile with freedom as we define it here in the West, or is this a false choice?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Ayan Hirsi Ali has used the ideals of the West (especially women’s rights) to potentially confront Islam; which has served her politically as well:  Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’ Certainly, excessive relativism can create ghettoes of un-integrated Muslims in European society, and turn out more violence and threats of violence.

See Also:  If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here.  Libertarians stand firm on this issue:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders-Yale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.

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