Death of the Virgin (ca. 1000)/ © Worcester Art Museum, all rights reserved.
Recent links of note:
British Museum’s ivory icons denied US entry for loan show
by James Bowman
Hilllary Clinton/ Courtesy of Manuel Balce Ceneta (AP)
Hillary Clinton came to Northern Virginia, where I live, the other day and addressed what The Washington Post described as “a crowd of several thousand Democrats” at George Mason University. “Several,” as we learned a few lines further down, meant two—although the Patriot Center where she spoke can hold ten. Thousands, that is. This is not a traditional meaning of the word “several,” but then the article’s author, Rachel Weiner, was obviously getting into the spirit of the occasion, which was decidedly anti-traditional.
Will Bradley and Robert Mammana
On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling: gay marriage is now legal according to federal law. On Sunday, New York's Gay Pride Parade unfurled like a party horn, all bright and loud through the streets of Manhattan. Brands (like Jell-O and Coca-Cola and Google) have already issued promotional ads and logos. Everyone on Facebook now has a rainbow-tinted profile picture.
But at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in the West Village, The Twentieth-Century Way is a reminder of another time. The production's palette itself—brown, black, and beige—shuts out any hopeful, sunny hues: this is Long Beach in 1914, when a homosexual act was a crime. Two struggling actors, Warren (Robert Mammana) and Brown (Will Bradley) become "Vice Officers" to make a living. In brief, they seduce unsuspecting men, trap them in compromising circumstances, and then throw them in jail. Fifteen bucks a head. Of course, a tangle of affection and lust complicates the simple scenario: both men trip over their humanity.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Portrait of Adolphe-Marcellin Defresne, Graphite on paper, 1825/ Courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum.
The portrait is meant to give us a direct line into the soul of its sitter, or at least we’re told. It’s meant to expose underlying truths about the subject, using physiognomy to express that which cannot be gleaned from the subject’s name alone.
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Preliminary sketches of the White Rabbit Preparatory drawing (graphite and pen-and-ink on paper), 1862-1864/ © Governing Body of Christ Church, Oxford
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There is a new CD called Pas de Deux, featuring a concerto by James Horner. I was going to review it. Then the composer died. He was killed last week when the plane he was piloting crashed. I decided not to review his music—for what if I didn’t like it?
Then I decided I would listen to it and write about it if I did, in fact, like it. I have now listened to it. I like it well enough. Anyway, I will write about it, with due respect.
Recent links of note:
‘Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi’
by James Bowman
Le Chevalier de Bayard
In physics, so they tell me, the great white intellectual whale which has so far eluded even the brightest minds is what they call the “unified field theory” which would account for discrete descriptions of physical phenomena—such as general relativity and quantum theory—relations between which remain largely undiscovered. If there are laws of ratiocination analogous to those of physics, one of them must be that this urge to intellectual simplification and unification is a constant of human thought. It’s a theory, anyway. It occurred to me on reading an article in The Washington Post, which I took to be a progressive attempt to develop a sort of unified field theory of those demon -isms: sexism and racism — with colonialism thrown in for good measure.
by Lucia Ryan
While the focus in public secondary education narrows on the common core curriculum and standardized testing, there remains a tier of prestigious independent schools and specialized public schools sending large percentages of their graduating classes to top-rated institutions each year, the reasons for which, aside from money, go widely unmentioned. This year, for the first time in its history, Stanford’s admission rate dipped to 5%. At no surprise to its applicant pool, the toxicity of the competition to be in that 5% was also at an all-time high. Such competitiveness and cutthroat drive has become ubiquitous in these high-performing schools, and perhaps seen as necessary in maintaining their ever-climbing standards. Having graduated from such a school, one that boasts a nearly 50% matriculation rate to Ivy League schools, Stanford, and MIT, I have observed the ways in which the stifling pressure to excel affects the students behind these numbers, and how they may emerge level-headed in spite of it.
( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)
In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.
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