For Commerce And Contemplation-From David Thompson: ‘The Humble Among Us:’

Let’s face it, some people claiming to speak for the arts, or all artists, or all of the public who would benefit from the arts, are quite obviously speaking for themselves, their own interests, and/or ideas that will never speak for all artists nor all of the public.

In the worst cases, they can be speaking for ideas which seek to deploy the arts as propaganda.

Usually, though, after the humor dies down, such thinking tends to lead to more foundations, arts councils and programs, not necessarily better art:

‘As a member of our creative caste, Ms Delaney wants to capture the buzz and thrum of city life. She wants to inspire “recognition” and, above all, “empathy.” It’s just that she’d prefer not to empathise too much with those non-creative people. Say, by working for a living and paying her own bills’

For those interested, here are a few central questions I’ve gleaned from many discussions and debates of my own:

Who decides what is good and not good art, and what the public ‘ought’ to be viewing?‘

’Should artists of ambition, some talent and potential genius be supported, and if so, how?  Does this support always incentivize them to make better art?

Does institutionalization lead to the easier appropriation of art by the religious, the politicians, the speculators and patrons, the culture vultures and various other ideological interests?

From The New Criterion: ‘The Special Relationship: Past, Present, & Future’

Full piece here.

What are some goals the American and British governments share beyond the gamesmanship of diplomacy and pursuit of their respective national interests on the world stage?

Kissinger:

‘One of the great acts of statesmanship is Churchill’s decision, or the recognition, during the war that Britain could no longer be a world power by itself. For the country that had been the dominant nation for a century, whose sacrifices had made it possible to win two wars, and whose endurance in 1940 saved the future of freedom, that was a very difficult recognition’

and we took over a lot of British interests after WWII:

‘I used to joke that the French try to deal with us by making us feel foolish, to prove to us that we didn’t have the brain power to follow them; the British dealt with us by making us feel guilty that we had let them down. They built themselves into our decision-making process in a manner that made them in many ways indispensable’

After some discussion of our objective in Iran as he sees them (will Iran get rid of its fissile material or not?), he argues for a return to a Reagan/Thatcheresque vision of the relationship:

But I don’t want to go so much into the details as to stress the fact that it’s absolutely imperative for the West to develop a common approach; and that this makes a Special Relationship at this moment more important even than it was historically. And on the American side, this makes it necessary that our foreign policy reflect an understanding of the history and of the national purposes of our friends, and again, very much, of Britain.’

Or at least he’s arguing for a more commonly shared Western strategy with more realism involved, if I’m not mistaken. Whether or not you think peace is a worthwhile long-term goal, more shrewdness and effective strategy probably couldn’t hurt at the moment.

Definitely worth a read.

George Shultz & Henry Kissinger At The Hoover Institution: ‘What A Final Iran Deal Must Do’

Thursday Quotations: Henry Kissinger

Class Warfare And All That-Some Monday Links

The view from the neo-liberal summit?-From The Economist, ‘The Onrushing Wave,’ (registration required).

There is genuine progress and technological change going on all around us, but will there necessarily more jobs for more people?  As the article points out, the last time there was such serious dislocation going-on was during the Industrial Revolution.  Many ideas and thinkers emerged which are still with us today (Adam Smith and Karl Marx, for example).

Walter Russell Mead:  ‘Hipster Idealists Lose Faith In The Valley

‘Today, Silicon Valley is rediscovering the importance of a strong relationship with a strong state power. Communication companies like Google need the US to defend their position in cyberspace against the attempts of EU-, Russia- and China-based companies, among others, to remake the digital world in their own interests. Government, in return, is intensely interested in the information that the tech companies carry and in both the software and the hardware they build. The frontier of national power today is closely related to the development of high tech, and the security and prosperity of big tech companies is bound up in the policies and the power of the state’

But don’t forget even if tech companies are no longer hip and cool, they’ve still driven-down the price of that device in your pocket.

————————

David Brooks tries to rein-in all that class resentment that’s been whipped-up in America during this progressive period in our politics. Columnists are always looking for middle-ground.  Worth a read:

‘Some on the left have always tried to introduce a more class-conscious style of politics. These efforts never pan out. America has always done better, liberals have always done better, when we are all focused on opportunity and mobility, not inequality, on individual and family aspiration, not class-consciousness.

If we’re going to mobilize a policy revolution, we should focus on the real concrete issues: bad schools, no jobs for young men, broken families, neighborhoods without mediating institutions. We should not be focusing on a secondary issue and a statistical byproduct’

He may be a youthfully reformed social democrat with conservative tendencies, but he makes some good points.

You know, it’s entirely possible to appreciate the liberal arts, high ‘culture,’ literature and cartoons (as the New Yorker is wont to do), without necessarily signing-on to the ‘social democratic’ political philosophy, nor the postmodern drift into in-group/out-group liberal-Left collectivism.

David Remnick at the New Yorker tags along with Obama:

There are mysteries afoot:

‘One of the enduring mysteries of the Obama years is that so many members of the hyper-deluxe economy—corporate C.E.O.s and Wall Street bankers—have abandoned him’

Hyper-deluxe!  It couldn’t have anything to do with his policy failures:

‘Obama bruised some feelings once or twice with remarks about “fat-cat bankers” and “reckless behavior and unchecked excess,” but, in general, he dares not offend. In 2011, at an annual dinner he holds at the White House with American historians, he asked the group to help him find a language in which he could address the problem of growing inequality without being accused of class ‘warfare.

How do you extract money from your donors, favoring their interests and creating a very uneven economic and political landscape, while at the same time using rhetoric far enough Left as to keep your coalitions active, thus potentially denigrating your donors?

A thorny problem.

‘The President of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing.” He paused yet again, always self-editing. “Not ‘probably,’ ” he said. “It’s definitely a good thing.’

Better late than never, I suppose, even sane, skeptical people judged politicians by what they say, rather than what they do.

Addition: Surely, if Obama had the policy success to match his idealism, inexperience, and the demands his political coalitions place upon the rest of us, he would still be so very appreciative of the constraints upon the power of the Presidency.  Surely

Maybe it’s better to have folks over at the New Yorker step back from the ledge of solidarity with some pride intact.

Happy MLK day.

Authentic Beauty?-A Quick Sunday Link

Wiser Men Stay Silent-Via Jezebel-Lena Dunham Responds To Unretouched Images From Her Vogue Shoot:

‘Yes, Vogue is fantasy. But no matter how fantastic the clothes or the setting or the lighting, the people in these images are real — and yet Vogue has to take the reality of a human being’s body and make it part of the fantasy too. It’s escapism, absolutely, but the message is clear: while you dream of wearing that gorgeous dress, you should also dream of physical perfection as defined by Vogue.’

Feminism and feminist ideology, aesthetics, and a woman’s desire to be beautiful are mixing together in the marketplace and public square.

This blog noticed the work of Pascal Dangin a little while back.  In the New Yorker, Dangin admits to having worked for Dove, applying some of his techniques (with heavy use of mathematics and computer graphics) to touch-up their photos.  You know the kind.


Selva-Real women in Hong Kong?

Full The NY Times had a follow-up piece on Dangin here.  Technology changes awfully quickly.

Another Dove photo here.

Regardless of his motives, Dangin considers himself an artist and what he does a pursuit of aesthetics.

Perhaps there’s a tension playing out before us, between the reasoning of academic and institutionalized feminists, the generally upper-middle-brow crust of popularizers, political influencers and professional writers, and on down to public sentiment, the popular culture, mainstream music and T.V. etc.

Sex still seems to be selling, and most everybody is attracted to beauty in one-form or another.

From Volokh: ‘Bloggers = Media for First Amendment Libel Law Purposes’

Full post here.

A protected class of journalists doesn’t sound like a great idea for a free and open society:

Volokh quoting the Ninth Circuit ruling:

‘The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media … the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352. In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue — not the identity of the speaker — provide the First Amendment touchstones.’

It may just be me, but I think we can do better than an institutionalized class of journalists formed around a guild structure, agreeing generally upon a basic worldview while following around our political class and generally quoting the ‘proper’ public intellectuals.

Of course, a lot of people say this until they get in the majority, or have their ideas and interests in power or in favor.

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteFrom io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

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

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Burke in America’

Full post here.

 ‘But I think the underlying point is sound: You can’t found an American conservatism on Burke alone, for the solid Burkean reason that he wasn’t an American, and thus wasn’t in the business of defending our particular particularities. But Burke read through/alongside Tocqueville is a different matter, and seen in that light I think the father of British conservatism’s place in the intellectual canon of the modern American right is deserved and secure.’

Related On This SiteSome Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’ Carl Bogus At The American Conservative: ‘Burke Not Buckley’

From George Will on Stephen Colbert:  “What conservatives say is that we will protect you against idealism.” Originalism vs. The living constitution: George Will Via The Jewish World Review: ‘True Self-Government

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Behavioral economics and libertarian paternalism and below all that some liberal totalitarianism (the personal is political crowd)…Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

A Few Iran Links

Instead of an emergent international order advancing peace, nuclear non-proliferation, human-rights and democracy throughout the Middle-East, this looks just as much like an American withdrawal from the region, a resultant power vacuum with a few weak peace-deals attached, and a serious lack of overall strategy.   The old Moscow-Damascus-Tehran alliance is flaring up.

From The L.A. Times: ‘New Iran Agreement Includes Secret Side Deal, Tehran Official Says:

‘The new agreement, announced over the weekend, sets out a timetable for how Iran and the six nations, led by the United States, will implement a deal reached in November that is aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambition.’

David Keyes At The Daily Beast: ‘How Iran, Putin & Assad Outwitted America

‘Zarif’s mission to Moscow quells any lingering hopes that Russia can be seduced away from Syria or Iran. Putin has made a simple calculation: Assad will protect his interests better than anyone. Russia, in turn, has made it clear that it will prop up Syria’s tyrant and their Iranian backers at almost any cost. ‘

Claudia Rosett At PJ Media: ‘Instructing Iran In Terrorist Etiquette

‘Iran’s senior officials suffer from no such delicacy toward the U.S. On Tuesday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani gloated on Twitter that in the recent Geneva agreement, “world powers surrendered to Iranian nation’s will.” Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator at the Geneva talks, Javad Zarif, made a point while visiting Lebanon of goingto lay a wreath on the grave of assassinated Hezbollah terrorist kingpin Imad Mugniyah. Lest anyone miss the moment, Zarif did this before a bevy of photographers, ensuring that his thumb-in-the-eye to the U.S. would make news.’

A quote from this piece over at the Atlantic: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

“Although the professional soldier accepts the reality of never-ending and limited conflict, “the liberal tendency,” Huntington explained, is “to absolutize and dichotomize war and peace.” Liberals will most readily support a war if they can turn it into a crusade for advancing humanistic ideals. That is why, he wrote, liberals seek to reduce the defense budget even as they periodically demand an adventurous foreign policy.”

-Dexter Filkins on Iran here.

-Scowcroft and Brzezinski may be offering plans: ‘George Shultz & Henry Kissinger At The Hoover Institution: ‘What A Final Iran Deal Must Do’