by James Bowman
President Obama, in the midst of scandal to the right of him (the IRS) and scandal to the left of him (the AP wiretaps), scandal behind him (Benghazi) and scandal ahead of him (Obamacare implementation) is outraged about — sexual assaults in the military, which has apparently reached "crisis" proportions. And who can doubt it when Sally Quinn is, in her own words, "sputtering with outrage" about it — always an infallible indication of crisis. Yet she also professes to think that "sexual assault is part of the military culture." Well which is it? If it’s a crisis, it can hardly be part of the military culture, which has been around for a very long time, and if it’s part of the military culture, it can hardly be a crisis.
Today at The Atlantic, TNC’s Emily Esfahani Smith has a new article up titled “Is Sex Still Sexy?” commenting on the Bowdoin College sex education play Speak About It. The play, according to its official website, is “a performance-based presentation about consent, boundaries and healthy relationships” that “captures what healthy sex can and should look like.” But in a perfect example of the law of unintended consequences, Emily explains how Speak About It, though perhaps well meaning, ultimately undermines the healthy sexual culture it is trying to encourage. “Rather than promoting healthy sexuality,” Emily writes, “sexual exhibitionism is killing the eroticism that has traditionally been the essence of sex.”
The New Criterion’s theater critic, Kevin D. Williamson (whose coverage is available here), had an interesting experience last night during Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. He recommends the show, but not the audience, which “was horrible — talking, using their phones, and making a general nuisance of themselves.”
I am just writing a piece about Maureen Dowd that begins with a quotation from William Hazlitt: “Those who lack delicacy hold us in their power.” La Dowd exemplifies the melancholy truth of Hazlitt’s observations in her girly, gossipy prose that brings the cattiest of sorority nastiness to the august pages of a once-serious newspaper. [...]
So, Andy McCarthy reports on the Pew Research Center’s survey on “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics, and Society.” The world’s Muslims, mind you. That’s a capacious group. The bottom line: things are not so bad, really. Yes, two thirds of those interviewed support the death penalty — the death penalty, Kemo Sabe — for [...]
by Eric Simpson
The Tokyo String Quartet; Photo: Henry J. Fair
This year marks the end of the Tokyo String Quartet's remarkable forty-four year run, following the announcement that its two longest-tenured members, Kikuei Ikeda and Kazuhide Isomura, will retire at the end of the season. Though they have a handful of concerts to go—concluding with a recital at the Norfolk Festival in Connecticut—on Saturday night they made their final New York appearance, with a sentimental program of final—or nearly final—compositions at the 92nd Street Y.
by Peter Wood
Paul Du Chaillu was the young man who ventured inland from the coast of Gabon in 1856 on a quest to be the first European to encounter the njena, the supposedly ferocious beast we now call the gorilla. That same year, William Henry Edwards, grandson of Jonathan Edwards, decided as “to go down the butterfly path,” which would lead in time to his becoming (according to a later scholar) “the greatest butterfly student which this country has ever produced or probably ever will.”
by James Panero
Last year, the London-based Frieze Art Fair came to New York, pitched a tent on Randalls Island, and it was cool. The sophomore effort, on view through Monday, keeps much of the formula from a year ago. The 250,000 square-foot custom tent by SO-IL is back with sweeping views of the East River. (All photographs by James Panero).
Gertrude Stein once asked: “What do writers want?” Her heartfelt answer (this was one thing she really knew about): “Praise, praise, praise.” Truer words, etc., etc. I’ve had occasion to ponder the fathomless vanity of writers recently. I won’t go into the particulars, except to say that it is an untidy subject, mournful and [...]
Image from the Onassis Foundation
We are delighted to draw attention to “After Thermopylae: How Wars are Concluded and Commemorated,” a panel discussion on June 4th at The Morgan Library & Museum featuring TNC contributor Bruce Cole. The event, sponsored by the Onassis Cultural Center, marks the publication of Professor Paul Cartledge’s new Oxford University Press title, After Thermopylae: The Oath of Palatea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars, and will focus on “how wars end and how they are remembered, drawing examples from the Graeco-Persian War, the Great War, and the War on Terror.”
Get all the details and reserve a spot here.
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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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