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Archive for the ‘Humanities’ Category

Jay-Z’s “Empire State”: not the anthem to modernity we need

James Harkin’s recent comment piece in The Guardian, “Jay-Z’s hymn to modernity”, does not get the significance of this rap mega-hit exactly right. Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” does celebrate New York City, but falls short of upholding the challenge and potential of modernity – something that New York sorely needs today. Harkin says that, […]

The unreliability of memory

Thumbnail : The unreliability of memory

In his latest novel, the mostly hopeful story of a dying man trying to make sense of his life, Paul Auster ditches his usual formalism in favour of creating engaging characters. Read my review of Invisible, by Paul Auster, in the spiked review of books, here.

Brooklyn Public Library

Thumbnail : Brooklyn Public Library

This past weekend I took my seven-year-old son to our local library, the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. He wanted to go so that he could learn more about the French Revolution (having had his curiosity piqued by hearing about French support for the American Revolution). When we got there, he was mainly interested in the pictures showing the violent […]

Alisa Weilerstein: Bach Cello Suite

Here’s some music for a Friday: Alisa Weilerstein performing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3, Prelude (courtesy of WQXR and John Schaefer’s Soundcheck program on WNYC). Ms. Weilerstein performed Bach’s six Cello Suites at Columbia University in November 2009 and April 2010. On May 1st, she will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic and Daniel Barenboim […]

Centenary of Mark Twain’s death

Thumbnail : Centenary of Mark Twain’s death

Yesterday, April 21st, marked 100 years since the death of Mark Twain, the pen name of Samuel Clemens. “I am not an American,” Twain once said. “I am the American.” Few would disagree. Faulkner called him “the father of American literature”. The photo above shows Twain working in his outdoor octagonal study in Elmira in upstate New […]

Chicago’s art and architecture

Thumbnail : Chicago’s art and architecture

  Chicago has wonderful architecture, public sculpture and art. The photo above shows “Cloud Gate” by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor. Below is a picture of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry and home to the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Both “Cloud Gate” and the Pritzker are located in Millenium Park, which is […]

Battle over humanism at the science museum

Thumbnail : Battle over humanism at the science museum

  The New York Times published an excellent article by Edward Rothstein last week on the science museum. He visited science museums in the US and internationally, and discovered a variety of conflicting approaches, which he speculates may be “a sign of the science museum’s struggle to define itself.” One of Rothstein’s most interesting findings […]

The Pacific starts

  (Video: The Pacific trailer) HBO aired the premiere of its new ten-part series, The Pacific, last night. It was, as the network says, an “event”. The Pacific is a drama about the US Marine Corps operations in the Second World War’s Pacific theatre. Many are referring to it as similar to Band of Brothers (a […]

Childe Hassam redux

Thumbnail : Childe Hassam redux

  When I saw rows and rows of American flags flying on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan the other day I was reminded of  the flag paintings of the American impressionist artist Childe Hassam, made from 1916 onwards. Here is Hassam’s painting “Flags, Fifth Avenue”: In his landmark history, American Visions, Robert Hughes writes that Hassam delighted […]

Samuel Barber centennial

  (Video: Barber String Quartet, No 1, in b minor, Op11, mvt 2-3) Today, March 9th, marks 100 years since the birth of Samuel Barber, the great American composer. Barber’s most famous work is his Adagio for Strings. In a nice piece in the New York Times, Johanna Keller writes: “If any music can come […]

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