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Items of Interest, Icarus Edition
“Cultural expressions are unowned, unownable, and more importantly, unlimited."
Daniel Chiaccio, proprietor of First Proof Press, where I have printed a screenprint edition, was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I encourage donations to Daniel’s GoFundMe to help both him and the studio keep running.
Emma Camp, Two-Thirds of College Students Think Shouting Down A Public Speaker Can Be Acceptable. “According to a new survey, only one-third of college students say it's never acceptable to shout down a controversial campus speaker. And one-quarter think using violence can be acceptable in at least some circumstances to stop someone from speaking on campus.”
Justin Murphy, Montaigne’s Paradoxical Path to Power. “He optimized for nothing other than personal freedom and mental sovereignty. By ignoring all social, cultural, and political incentives, he accidentally entered onto an entirely new way of thinking and producing written work.”
Joakim Book, Cultural Appropriation: The Nontheft of Something No One Owns. “Cultural expressions are unowned, unownable, and more importantly, unlimited. They are nonrivalrous in the public-goods sense in that anyone can don a Mexican hat, grow dreads, pray to a foreign God, play the traditional instruments of some faraway tribe, or, closer to my own heart, practice yoga.”
Justine el-Khazen, Unsubscribe From Everything. “If, back in 2003, government surveillance had reached a point that many of us felt the need to self-censor, today it’s private citizens who are imposing the censorship regime. Online mobs savage people for making an insensitive remark, communities shun people for asking questions. The desire to speak freely and without fear is driving not only the creation of platforms like Substack, but actual migration patterns. This is what happens when surveillance and social control are pervasive enough: True enemies, like al-Qaida, are replaced by boogeymen like @TrumpDyke, and dubious figments like ‘disinformation’ supplant real threats like terror.”
Adam James Pollock, The Canceling of Rex Whistler. “Rex Whistler, a brilliant artist and a fundamentally courageous man, who died saving the lives of his soldiers in war against Hitler’s Germany, is today smeared as a racist for a mural depicting victims of colonialism.”
Joseph Epstein, Whatever Happened to Culture? “The ultimate aim of the cultural life is the attainment of perspective, the deepening of knowledge, the acquisition (hope against hope) of wisdom; that of the digital world is information, little more. As a habit, digital culture, in its relentlessness, resembles nothing so much as smoking cigarettes.”
Jeremy Sigler, Love, Death, and Poetic Madness at Dia. “Though I spoke my mind with conviction at many editorial meetings, my impressions of Andre’s clairvoyant, anti-mimetic, criminological, bureaucratic, romantic, distinctly American Gothic poetry were never embraced. I came to understand that my premise risked alienating not only Andre and all of his affiliated fans, but many additional power brokers and gatekeepers (and potential lenders of artworks to the exhibition), for it required probing and encouraging an open debate about Mendieta’s horrific death, as well as Andre’s ‘inculcation’ (to use his word) into English romanticism, his ‘vainglorious’ personality flaw (to use another of his words), and the long history of passion crimes in poetry going all the way back to antiquity.”
Barry Brownstein, Orwell Exposed the Cowardice of Journalists and Intellectuals. “If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion. In this country intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face.”
Joanna Williams, The Censorship Bureaucracy. “In order to promote not just a legal right to free speech but a culture that values the free exchange of ideas as an end in itself, we need to dismantle the censorship bureaucracy that has become entrenched across Western societies over the past two decades. To do this, we have to understand what drove the explosive growth of illiberal, partisan policies that now seem to govern every aspect of our lives—at school, on campus, in the workplace, online, and in public spaces such as libraries, museums, and theaters.”
Charles Wing-Uexkull, Avid for Victory. “[P]erhaps the wealthy patrons who filled their houses with these beautiful human forms had different aesthetic priorities and higher, more exacting visions than the thousands who filled the seats of the theaters. The few struggled to uplift their flesh, to carve it into perfection and shine brighter than the others, even as the many, covetous democratic backbiters tore down and exiled their betters, addicted to theatrical spectacles of cursed elites succumbing to their own sins.”, Gatherings. “Wait, are YOU building a snapping turtle posse too?”
RIP Fernando Botero.
Opening soon: “Brett Taylor: Icarus,” September 14 - October 14 at Hollis Taggart. “Featuring around a dozen paintings from the 1960s and 70s, the exhibition celebrates Taylor’s distinctive visual language and imaginative approach to capturing his surroundings on the Greek island of Paros, where he established the Aegean School of Fine Arts in 1966.”
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We are in the midst of an Asynchronous Studio Book Club reading of Totality: Abstraction and Meaning in the Art of Barnett Newman by Michael Schreyach. Obtain your copy soon.
An exhibition of my work is up at the Fuller Public Library in southern New Hampshire through September 30, with a reception in the morning on September 23, this Saturday.
My opinion of Botero—something like, “Oh yeah, the fat people painter”—was turned around by a Colombian girlfriend who understood that he was archly criticizing a repressive regime. Obviously he had a shtick but I came, reservedly, to respect it. May he rest in peace.