- John Keane on Wittgenstein and the Dangers of Certainty.
- Michael Meranze on the remaking of the [English] university – a review of Stefan Collini’s Speaking of Universities.
- Steve McCurry, a photo essay on the art of friendship. (There’s a little more on friendship here too.)
- Moira Donegan reflects on David Wojnarowicz’s unfinished film about Peter Hujar’s death, and on What I Love About Dying, the short doco about the untimely death of Kris Kovick.
- Pamela Klassen on secular Christian power and the spiritual invention of nations.
- Ingrid Rowland reviews a number of exhibitions and new books focused on Luther.
- Robyn Whitaker on the relationship between emotions and cognition in the learning process.
- J. Scott Jackson on Klempa on Barth as wartime preacher.
- Lucy Treloar on Moby-Dick.
- Slavoj Žižek on the New World Order.
- Chandra Manning on not writing a book right now.
- Has art ended again?
- ‘What do we gain, and what do we lose, when we aspire to unsentimentality?’ Did Diane Arbus, Hannah Arendt, Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, and Simone Weil pursue ‘heartlessness as an intellectual style’?
- Tim Parks reviews David Bellos’s book on Hugo’s Les Misérables.
- Colin Burrow on Iris Murdoch, and The Sea, the Sea (which is not ’too long’ at all.)
On ‘Has art ended again’:
‘Art’ in this context is usually referring to abstract and modern genres. As a representational artist, people always ask me what I think about modern and abstract art (assuming I am somehow opposed to them). I love modern and abstract art even though I don’t do either. Abstract and modern art are, in my opinion, visual aids to a wider philosophical or cultural conversation: take them out of their context, and they may not make much sense. But within the context of the conversation, they can be profound elucidations of that philosophy or culture. My guess about the origin of the idea that art has ended has something to do with that; the cultural conversation has changed, and the works of art that have illuminated it, filled it out, and carried it forward have become objects of an erstwhile philosophy or cultural milieu. Some may remain relevant but most simply help us remember the past (which is equally as important). The idea that art, music, philosophy, theology, dance, gardening or anything of the sort is dead, seems to me to assume that there is nothing left to ask, and nothing left to answer. While we still have one or two things on earth to love, desire, hate, understand, fear, grieve and seek, that will never be true. I think the declaration that art has ended is very damaging to the next generation. It is telling them one thing: who you are doesn’t matter.
Interesting pieces on Moby Dick and Les Miserables. Thanks for pointing these out, Jason.
@ Tamara: well said.
@Mike: you’re welcome.