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Archive for the ‘Humanities’ Category

The battle to define the “21st Century Enlightenment”

Here is an animated video of a recent speech by Matthew Taylor, director of the Royal Society of the Arts, on the “21st Century Enlightenment”. I’m all in favor of Enlightenment values, and think that they are lacking today. Therefore, I welcome Taylor raising the subject. However, his argument  that we are “in thrall to animal spirits” […]

Wall Street 2: we’re all Gordon Gekkos now

Thumbnail : <i>Wall Street 2:</i> we’re all Gordon Gekkos now

In Oliver Stone’s sequel, released in British cinemas today, it’s no longer only the pinstriped bankers who are sinfully greedy – it’s all of us. Read my spiked article in full here.

Obama on Dylan at the White House

In his interview in the current issue of Rolling Stone, President Obama speaks about Bob Dylan’s performance at the White House in February of this year (video above): Here’s what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you’d expect he would be. He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set […]

Read science fiction for “the most interesting thought about human society”?

Historian Walter Russell Mead thinks so: At a time when many academics have become willfully obscure, political science is increasingly dominated by arcane and uninspiring theories and in which a fog of political correctness makes some forms of (badly needed) debate and exploration off limits, science fiction has stepped forward to fill the gap. In the […]

Promising start to Boardwalk Empire

Last night saw the opening in a new HBO series about Prohibition-era Atlantic City, Boardwalk Empire. It was a promising start. With Martin Scorsese directing, and lots of investment, it had feature-film production values.  Almost inevitably, the opening episode spends time introducing the characters. But even so, it kept a pretty good pace. Prohibition, which lasted from […]

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 […]

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