What the Brain Can Tell Us About Art (and Literature)

In ‘What the Brain Can Tell Us About Art‘ (New York Times, April 12, 2013), Eric R. Kandel writes: Alois Riegl….understood that art is incomplete without the perceptual and emotional involvement of the viewer. Not only does the viewer collaborate with the artist in transforming a two-dimensional likeness on a canvas into a three-dimensional depictionContinue reading “What the Brain Can Tell Us About Art (and Literature)”

Do Sancho Panzas Trump Don Quixotes?

In Stendhal‘s The Charterhouse of Parma, the Conte says to ‘our hero’ Fabrizio: A half brainless individual, but one who keeps his eyes open and day in day out acts with prudence, will often enjoy the pleasure of triumphing over men of imagination. It was by a foolish error of imagination that Napoleon was led toContinue reading “Do Sancho Panzas Trump Don Quixotes?”

RIP Roger Ebert

I don’t read movie reviews before I see a movie; I read them afterwards. I don’t like running into spoilers and I dislike the idea of not making up my own mind about a movie. Once I’ve seen the movie, I’ve formed an opinion, which remains relatively impervious to the critiques of others. But still,Continue reading “RIP Roger Ebert”

Mozart on Constanze: Tepid but Frank

In December 1781, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote a letter to his father Leopold, telling him he wanted to marry Constanze Weber. He might have been a brilliant composer, but when it came to describing his beloved, his skills did not transfer so well. [I] must make you acquainted with the with the character of myContinue reading “Mozart on Constanze: Tepid but Frank”

Why The Talking Dead is a Bad Idea

Last night, I declined to watch the Oscars and chose The Walking Dead instead. If you’re going to watch zombies, why not watch a more interesting group of them? Snark aside, I had not seen most of last year’s crop of nominees, other than the mildly diverting Argo, and more to the point, I’ve burned outContinue reading “Why The Talking Dead is a Bad Idea”

‘If It’s Dead, Kill It’: The Second Compendium of the Walking Dead

Last year, I discovered The Walking Dead (the television series and the comic book). Like most fans of the television series, I’m all caught up now with the second half of the third season. Given the disappointing nature of the first two episodes of the second half, I’m glad that I have something else toContinue reading “‘If It’s Dead, Kill It’: The Second Compendium of the Walking Dead”

‘What One Cannot Or Will Not See, Says Something About You’

From Rachel Cohen‘s A Chance Meeting: There was something of the mystic about [Beauford] Delaney. His friends regarded him as a kind of minor deity, and his stories and observations often had the quality of parables. [James] Baldwin told the story again and again of standing on Broadway and being told by Delaney to lookContinue reading “‘What One Cannot Or Will Not See, Says Something About You’”

Adam Gopnik on the Scientist’s Lack of ‘Heroic Morals’

In an essay reviewing some contemporary historical work on Galileo, (‘Moon Man: What Galileo saw‘, The New Yorker, February 11, 2013), Adam Gopnik, noting Galileo’s less-than-heroic quasi-recantation before the Catholic Church, writes: Could he, as Brecht might have wanted, have done otherwise, acted more heroically? Milton’s Galileo was a free man imprisoned by intolerance. What wouldContinue reading “Adam Gopnik on the Scientist’s Lack of ‘Heroic Morals’”

American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and the ‘American Gothic’ Style

The opening credits/titles for season 1 of American Horror Story are very creepy; in their visual ‘style’ they resemble those of season 3 of The Walking Dead. Let’s call this style ‘American Gothic’; what makes it work? The central motif in ‘American Gothic’–at least in the two sequences cited above–is the decay of the familiar: inevitable,Continue reading “American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and the ‘American Gothic’ Style”

The Emperor Has No Clothes Ritual

In ‘Expect to be Lied to in Japan‘ (New York Review of Books, 8 November 2012), Ian Buruma writes: I decided to go on a little trip to Matsushima this summer because I had never seen this particular “Great View,” even though I had in fact been there once before, in 1975. Then, too, IContinue reading “The Emperor Has No Clothes Ritual”