This week: Open studios in Bushwick, the New York Philharmonic & more.
Words are Weapons: Inside ISIS’s Rhetoric of Terror, by Philippe-Joseph Salzar, translated by Dorna Khazeni (Yale University Press): The destruction caused by terrorist acts is well known and understood in the minds of all Westerners. Little ambiguity surrounds the reporting of death tolls and structural damage to our civic centers when they occur. When it comes to those who commit these acts of violence, however, things get murky: Who are these people?; What are their ideological motivations?; Where did they come from?; etc. These questions are often ambiguously responded to (or even left unanswered entirely) because of the self-imposed strictures of political “correctness.” In the Islamic State, however, powerful theological rhetoric is used unreservedly alongside physical violence to advance the goal of a “global caliphate.” In his latest book, Words are Weapons, Philippe-Joseph Salazar argues that this discrepancy in rhetorical potency has led to ISIS’s ongoing success in the “war of words” being conducted on the ground as well as in the digital realm. Essentially a philosophical study of ISIS’s rhetorical strategy, Salazar’s book (translated by Dorna Khazeni) illuminates the strange and fascinating illogic of ISIS propaganda, and makes the strong case that Western language sterilized by political correctness damages our efforts to defeat Islamic extremism. —AS
Bushwick Open Studios 2017, Brooklyn, (September 23–24): The chance to see an artist’s studio space is foundational and intimate, but it can also be intimidating and time-consuming. The open doors of Bushwick Open Studios lower the barriers to entry. The event’s eleventh annual iteration this weekend opens up hundreds of studios across Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Ridgewood (Queens). A place to start, with a kick-off Friday evening 7–10 PM, is “Seeking Space 2017,” the event’s official group show at 272 Seigel Street, with two hundred participating local artists. Another promising ensemble is “Music to my Eyes,” a group show organized by the artist Ellie Murphy about “the presence of music in art,” at 1733 Menahan Street. “Sassy Circus & Creepy Clowns,” at Bizarre Black Box Gallery’s space at 12 Jefferson Street, features Meryl Meisler’s haunting photographs of the final day of “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Several excellent gallery exhibitions remain on view at 56 Bogart Street. And in the studio buildings, the open studios of Kerry Law, at 1717 Troutman Street #301, and my colleague Caetlynn Booth, at 659 Woodward Avenue, offer two welcome waypoints. —JP
Opening night at the New York Philharmonic (September 19): The fall season finally gets under way on Tuesday night with the opening of the New York Philharmonic. The orchestra’s Music Director–elect, Jaap van Zweden, will lead a performance of Mahler’s thrilling, dramatic Fifth Symphony for the gala concert on Tuesday night, streamed on Facebook Live. For the weekend subscription concerts, Philip Glass’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra rounds out the program, featuring Katia and Marielle Labèque as soloists. —ECS
Time and the Conways, at the American Airlines Theater (Opening October 10) : Though widely read in his time, J. B. Priestley now languishes in relative obscurity. If readers know any of his works, it is his drawing-room drama An Inspector Calls, which is a set text in British secondary schools, and which enjoyed a revival by the director Stephen Daldry for the British National Theatre in 1992. American audiences may soon know Priestley better with a revival of Time and the Conways appearing on Broadway next month (previews have already begun). Focused, like much of Priestley’s work, on the nature of time, the play examines the downfall of a prosperous Yorkshire family, with Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Grantham from “Downton Abbey”) starring. —BR
From the archive: “Dictionary Johnson” by Christopher Ricks (September 2005). A review of The Works of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 18: Johnson on the English Language by Samuel Johnson.
From the current issue:“The case of Stephen Greenblatt” by Bruce Bawer. On the career of the literary historian Stephen Greenblatt.