B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘culture’ tag

Obama Versus Art

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McLinlock Court - Art Institute of Chicago
McLinlock Court – Art Institute of Chicago

What an asinine criticism of the President. There are plenty of valid criticisms of Obama, from both right and left wing perspective, such as drone strike killings without due process, the fact of marijuana still being a Schedule 1 Narcotic, etc., but not doing “more for the arts”? What is he, a Medici?

The Obama image turned out to be misleading. All evidence points to the president being indeed thoughtful, even perhaps too thoughtful, if one believes critics who say he intellectualizes problems that demand more visceral responses. But there is little indication that Obama regularly indulges the particular relationship to art that this photograph implied: solitary contemplation of the inherited canon of paintings, sculpture, music, dance or theater. He is interested in culture, to be sure, but it is the living culture of our time, often the celebrity culture of popular music and commercial theater, but rarely the stuff people used to call “high” culture. Or that, at least, is the image his handlers have crafted.

So Obama didn’t visit the National Gallery of Art during his presidency (at least so far), and first lady Michelle Obama has been only once, and that late in the last term. The Kennedy Center reports that the first family hasn’t taken much advantage of the presidential box, and the president’s visits have been mostly limited to the annual Kennedy Center Honors. The president has also begged off attending an annual gala at Ford’s Theatre that has been a standard for his predecessors. If one adds to this the long periods that he left the chairmanships of both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities empty, his desultory picks for other important cultural positions, his choice of a librarian of Congress who doesn’t come from the tradition of the belles-lettres or serious scholarship, his record on culture is dispiriting at best.

That has caused some significant cognitive dissonance among people in the arts world who are otherwise full-throated champions of the president. Indeed, the arts offer some of the friendliest territory for the current administration, full of mainly left-wing coastal types who cherish values they believe the president embodies: intelligence, education, tolerance, cosmopolitanism, and a welcome embrace of ambiguity and complexity when parsing political and social problems. The dinner party consensus is thus: He is one of us, so why hasn’t he done more for the arts?

(click here to continue reading The arts community embraced Obama — but he never truly embraced the arts – The Washington Post.)

The dinner party consensus? Really, I guess the dinner parties I’ve gone to in the last eight years must have been filled with rubes and philistines, as I’ve never once heard anyone sob tearfully in their hors d’oeuvres that “Obama needs to do more for the Arts”. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, remember him? Big arts guy, right? Bush always listened to Stravinsky and John Cage at high volume while watching football games with the commentary turned off, went to the opera every Wednesday with his daughters, even dabbles in painting himself. And if the universe hates us and Donald Trump becomes the 45th president, the arts will flourish like never before.  

Caravaggio Medusa
Caravaggio Medusa

Written by Seth Anderson

September 15th, 2016 at 9:48 am

Posted in Arts,politics

Tagged with ,

Reading Around on November 15th through November 18th

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A few interesting links collected November 15th through November 18th:

  • Apocalypse Now /Redux :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews – In a note released with the film, Coppola emphasizes that this new material was not simply shoehorned into the original version of the film, but that “Redux” is “a new rendition of the movie from scratch.” He and his longtime editor Walter Murch “re-edited the film from the original unedited raw footage — the dailies,” he says, and so possibly even some of the shots that look familiar to us are different takes than the ones we saw before.
  • Smithsonian: Making Sense of Sustainable Seafood | Food & Think – Chilean seabass from Whole Foods, courtesy Flickr user swanksalot
  • Patagonia Toothfish

  • I’m Belle de Jour – Times Online – Revealed: the woman behind the Belle de Jour blog

    She’s real, all right, and I’m sitting on the bed next to her. Her name is Dr Brooke Magnanti. Her specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She is part of a team researching the effects of exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos on foetuses and infants.

    From 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a prostitute via a London escort agency; she started blogging as Belle de Jour — after the Buñuel film starring Catherine Deneuve as a well-to-do housewife who has sex for money because she’s bored — shortly into her career as a call girl, after an incident she thought funny enough to write down.

Written by swanksalot

November 18th, 2009 at 7:00 am

Reading Around on November 3rd through November 4th

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A few interesting links collected November 3rd through November 4th:

  • Fluidr / photos and videos sorted randomly – A random assortment of my photos (via Chicago Sage)
  • The Paranoid Style in American Politics – Harper’s Magazine, November 1964, pp. 77-86.It had been around a long time before the Radical Right discovered it—and its targets have ranged from “the international bankers” to Masons, Jesuits, and munitions makers.
  • Authoritarians, pt 2: the Problem Broadly Outlined | Cogitations – How is it that Bush and Cheney could take us to war in Iraq with constantly shifting rationales, unleash the NSA to spy on the country at large, and with the aid of foot soldiers like John Yoo cobble together shoddy legal findings as flimsy justification for torture and other abuses of executive power?

Written by swanksalot

November 4th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Reading Around on May 22nd through May 26th

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A few interesting links collected May 22nd through May 26th:

  • Concurring Opinions » Some Thoughts on the Supreme Court’s Reversal Rate – "Overall, this past term the Supreme Court reversed 75.3 percent of the cases they considered on their merits. The pattern holds true for the 2004 and 2005 terms as well, when the Supremes had overall reversal rates of 76.8 percent and 75.6 percent, respectively.

    It is interesting how remarkably constant the reversal percentage is — 75%. It suggests that the Supreme Court primarily takes cases it wants to reverse, with only a few exceptions. Assuming the Court takes about 70 cases a term, it will only affirm in about 17 of them. So perhaps the new game for commentators should be listing those 17 lucky cases that will get affirmed."

  • BW Online | April 26, 2004 | Trader Joe's: The Trendy American Cousin – "Welcome to Trader Joe's. About all this 210-store U.S. chain shares with Germany's Aldi Group — besides being owned by a trust created by Aldi co-founder Theo Albrecht — is its rigorous control over costs. But where Aldi carries such basics as toilet paper and canned peas, TJ's, as it's known, stocks eclectic and upscale foodstuffs for the wine-and-cheese set at down-to-earth prices."
  • Mad Dog Blog – Mark Madsen actually makes a lot of sense:
    "If Congress and the government allocate and allow so much time to pursue professional athletes and their statements about their own, or others’ possible steroid use, perhaps we should examine statements of elected officials and the CIA when it relates to interrogation, torture and national security. Surely we must pursue these issues with the same energy and effort with which we pursue the statements of professional athletes on personal steroid use."

Written by swanksalot

May 26th, 2009 at 6:01 pm