Tag Archives: culture

‘No path to heaven / except through this dirt’

My title is from the poem by Philip Metres, “Never Describe the Sky as Azure,” in Poetry, September 2021. A Reservation Over the Fist Resisting the repressive Texas governocracy is of the essence. Are fisting poses ginned up for camera … Continue reading

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“I’m Trying to Overwhelm the Museum,” He Said

[Adam] Pendleton, 37, is best known as a painter of abstract canvases in a distinctive black-and-white style that challenge how we read language. Made using spray-paint, brush and silk-screen processes, they incorporate photocopied text, words unmoored from context, letters scrambled … Continue reading

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UK Sculptor: Hard Row to Hoe

It will be [a shrine], but not for art lovers. Or for anyone who is easily embarrassed. Perhaps not even for Diana’s sincerest believers, for the statue group’s emotive symbolism is undermined by its aesthetic awfulness. In style it breathes … Continue reading

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E Pluribus Nihil

Archaeologists of the far future sifting through America’s plastic ashes will peg the collapse of its civilization to two insidious language events: (1) When America dissolved “talking about problems” into “having conversations around issues.” (2) When America demoted “national” security … Continue reading

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Fanfare for the Arch and Monarchic Empyrean

For fanfaronnish, pharaonic, peerlessly peeraged personnages kitted, kilted, severely coiffed and balconic in presence, shod and booted in besotted opulence, blackamoorian brooched, got up in splendid headgear, lorded lads and ladied dames garbed in emblazoned berobement, none… For sherlockian, sherwoodian, … Continue reading

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How Are Posh Men Educated?

…The vanities of posh men… centre on an ancient system that trains a narrow caste of people to run our affairs…. Ever questing to penetrate British lingo, I wobble over “public” versus “private” education in the kingdom’s parlance. In my … Continue reading

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‘Miner of Difficult Truths’

I can study all day Alice Neel’s brushwork and modeling of flesh and features, how she gestures at her subjects’ surroundings with casual precision. Her “Carmen and Judy” has a frank, womanly exactness and searing intimacy that The New Yorker’s … Continue reading

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Native ‘Son’

A chance juxtaposition of readings* has suggested to me the perennial nature of America’s brutish policing streak. In 1941, Richard Wright’s manuscript novel “The Man Who Lived Underground” is rejected by publishers who are made queasy over scenes of violence: … Continue reading

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‘Cry of Pain’

Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” ruefully ironizes over a lad clever enough to “slip betimes away / From fields where glory does not stay.” Novelists, though, get more mileage out of superannuated jocks — Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom, Malamud’s Roy … Continue reading

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‘Inter faeces et urinam nascimur’

“Between feces and urine we are born,” said Augustine in the 4th century. The bishop of Hippo’s take on parturition was that our mothers effectively defecate us from their feculent crannies. Doctrine on sex and love handed down by dour … Continue reading

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