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« Two or Three Things I Learned About Impressionism, Part IV | Main | Dept. of Overgeneralizations -- More Women and Food »

February 12, 2003

Free Reads -- Lynn Sislo and more

Friedrich --

Good stuff from all over. Too much! But in the most wonderful kind of way.

Lynn Sislo has written a lovely -- touching and open-minded -- short memoir (here; be sure to read both parts) of what it was like when her Texas junior high school was desegregated. (Note to self: write posting someday on how great it is to be witnessing the birth of new art and literary forms -- the photoblog, the mini-essay, the mini-memoir, etc.)

Although blogosphere sweethearts Sasha Castel and Andrew Ian Dodge remain stuck in a gulag somewhere in deepest Maine, their blogging continues unabated, here.  Well, "unabated" is far too weak a word. The two of them manage to make all other bloggers look like bleary-eyed laggards. Recent postings have touched on opera (of course), the anti-war movement in Portland, and genetically modified food. They're using more images these days too. Sasha links to a special treat: an interview (here) by John Hawkins with columnist Mark Steyn. (Note to self: reserve opera tickets, brush up on political philosophy, then write posting about art and politics as separate "modes," to use an Oakeshottian term. Expect fierce rebuttal from Felix Salmon and, possibly, Robert Birnbaum.)

Aaron Haspel (here) kicks off what he's promised is a series on Bogus American Sages by letting the reputation of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. have it with both barrels; little is left of OWH Jr. when the dust settles. Mere postings later, Aaron returns to a discussion of rule-based reasoning that he's been carrying on with Jim Ryan of Philosoblog (here) fame. Jim responds to Aaron, then puts up a wonderful short paragraph that includes all you need to know about Karl Marx, meanwhile crediting Cinderella Bloggerfella (here) for setting him off. CB's gem of a posting turns out to be a response to Aaron, who in turn had written about a Mark Goldblatt piece about the MLA's annual meeting, which 2Blowhards had linked to maybe six or seven postings ago. Which pleases me, but which seems to prove nothing, really, except that blogging is a Really Great Thing.

At Out of Lascaux, here, Alexandra has been classing up the blogosphere with posts about anime and Japanese scrolls, David Hockney's theories about artists using optical-device crutches, and how she herself was once the stepdaughter of comics legend Wally Wood.

Modernist architecture takes it (deservedly) on the chin once again, this time from Paul Mansour at The Scourge of Modernism, here. "If you cannot line a street with 5 or 10 buildings of a particular style and have the total effect be greater than the sum of the parts then you are not working with an architectural style. Maybe you are working with art or sculpture, but you are not working with architecture," he writes, and Tom Wolfe never put it better.

Kevin Drum's CalPundit (here) and Chris Bertram's Junius (here) are brainy and provocative, the two decent-leftyish blogs I enjoy checking in with regularly. Kevin's been having fun tweaking Bush's proposed budget, and has been doing some innovative blogging too, supplying actual q&a's with actual public figures. Big media, watch out. The latest is with Nation columnist Eric Alterman, who has written a book that asks the question "What Liberal Bias?" -- ie., in the news and media. The q&a is readable here, and it's well worth wrestling with, however demented. (Note to self: write posting blowing lid off topic of how thoroughly arts coverage is saturated with leftyish assumptions and convictions. Include long detour into how it is that lefties can't understand why others look at them and see bias.)

A couple of promising, newish young-whippersnapper arts blogs. In the tradition of the legendary screenwriting-dude frat house the Pad o' Guys, the newly-opened Blog Lodge (here) is a gangblog where conversations are already raging about Jackie Chan, graphic novels, and how the pacing of storytelling in current studio movies compares to how it once was. There's a long posting up about the Oscars, too. But, given how good the Blog Lodge's moviechat is otherwise, even that can be forgiven. Max Leibman's Leibman Theory (here) fearlessly announces itself as the blog of a "politically conservative art school student." Not only does the kid have balls, he's got things to say, too -- plus he seems to visit 2Blowhards from time to time. Thanks, Max!

Big Media, sort of

In the Grand Junction Sentinel, Chris Garcia (here) does an amusing job with a classic and worthy topic, namely, "How is it that the presence of beer, cheering dudes, and video cameras can get some young women to take their tops off?" Via Fark, here. (Note to self: time to start blogging about eroticism. No more -- well, I was about to say "beating around the bush," but perhaps I should come up with better way of admonishing myself.)

A soon-to-be-aired TV movie and a soon-to-open play have some British writers returning to the subject of the dourly amusing poet Philip Larkin, one of my faves. In the Telegraph, Tom Payne (here) wonders why, if Larkin really was that bad a person, so many people liked him; while in the Spectator Robert Gore-Langton (here) makes a case for Larkin as the Sinatra of English verse. (Note to self: rhapsodize in a posting someday about Larkin's book about jazz, one of the best of all crusty-reactionary discussions of an art form.)

Fascinating, isn't it, the way so many people who never collected VHS tapes have become collectors of DVDs? Is it partly because tapes seem flimsy where a DVD is forever? That, it turns out, might be a mistake. Sue Lowe (here) explains in the Sydney Morning Herald that something called DVD rot can make a right mess of a silver platter.

I've found learning a bit about the science and biology behind such topics as color and perception to be far more helpful than reading most aesthetic theory.  Here's a Reuters report on recent discoveries in how the brain perceives and makes sense of color information. (Note to self: rhapsodize in posting someday about the brilliant Richard Gregory and his essential book "Eye and Brain.")

Right Wing-ism 101: the Wall Street Journal's Susan Lee (here) provides a useful compare-and-contrast essay on the topic of conservatives and libertarians. (Note to self: in posting someday be sure to quote Michael Oakeshott saying, "I'm a conservative in politics because I'm a radical in everything else." Second note to self: be sure to doublecheck precise wording of quote.)

Giles Worsley, architecture critic for the Telegraph, puts into print what many have wondered, namely, What should we do with ugly buildings of the 1960s and 1970s? He concludes, here, that perhaps they shouldn't be knocked down and forgotten after all.

The Economist's Economics Focus column compares living standards in the U.S. and Europe, here. The short version: We've got more money; they've got more leisure time.

Perhaps you can guess why it is I haven't gotten through many books recently.



posted by Michael at February 12, 2003


Thanks for all that, but BLOODY FREAKING HELL! I'm supposed to read ALL THAT?!?!?! Sometimes I think my blogroll really only needs about 5 lines in it, and yall would be one of them.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on February 13, 2003 1:09 AM

Hey, what kind of wimp blogger are you, anyway? If I read it all, you can too. Maybe while making calls on your cell phone.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 13, 2003 8:06 AM

But be sure not to miss the one about young women taking their tops off.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 13, 2003 8:10 AM

Thanks for the link, Michael. It is becoming apparent that you read and write more than humanly possible. So, what about that Oakeshott line - he would like the Susan Lee piece and subscribe to her libertarianism?

Posted by: Jim on February 13, 2003 8:30 PM

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