WRB—Oct. 1, 2022
It’s the reason for the season…that’s right, mugs.
He adored the WRB. He idolized it all out of proportion. [Uh, no. Make that “He romanticized it all out of proportion.” —Chris] To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a newsletter that existed in red and yellow and pulsated to the great tunes of LCD Soundsystem. [Uh… no. Let me start this over. —Nic] [It’s a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. —Chris]
To do list:
Follow us on Twitter, where our social media intern sporadically remembers to do his one job;
Although the Managing Editors cannot claim to have the creativity of the Astra team, merch-wise, you can still order a tote bag or now a MUG, both of which receive rave reviews and are as functional as they are stylish [I am pretty sure I set things up so that you get free shipping if you order both together. Someone let me know if that works. —Chris];
avail yourself of our world-famous classified ads, now stored on this page for non-paying readers to access, either by placing or responding to one;
The new McCarthy books start coming out towards the end of this month; in anticipation, you can read early interviews recently uncovered and published today in the The Cormac McCarthy Journal.
“Fall, especially in the northern states, is a magical time. The air is crisp, a whole new set of delicious produce appears in our meals, vibrant leaves dazzle our eyes—why, even the sky is a different color!” None of that’s true in D.C., but nevertheless Sarah Schutte recommends the work of Jim Arnosky at National Review: “These are certainly lovely books for any budding naturalist, but they really are perfect for any child. Not only do they teach practical outdoor wisdom, they spark curiosity about the world in which we live.”
“Rather than adding to our understanding of the author, the publication of his manuscripts and literary detritus was, for Didion, nothing more than a ‘process of branding’ that detracted from the meticulous nature of Hemingway’s other works.” That’s pretty funny in retrospect. Francesca Peacock writes about the perplexities of posthumous publication.
In UnHerd, Niall Gooch examines the “trad case” for brutalism: “The temptation is to look back on mid-20th century Britain through the distorting prisms of the economic disruption of the Seventies and the failure of the post-Sixties social settlement. However, life must be lived forwards, even if it can only be understood backwards. It is an injustice to the early Brutalists to associate them too directly with the things that went wrong in the years to come.”
We were going to read the Matthew Gasda piece in Compact, but we don’t have a subscription. [Someone told me last night they met some WRB readers at the Urbit conference though. I don’t know what that means, but, Hi! —Chris]
For the NYRB, Anahid Nersessian reviews two recent collections of poetry from Adam Kirsch (The Discarded Life, May) and Boris Dralyuk (My Hollywood and Other Poems, April), both about Los Angeles: “It’s always a risk to write like this, to take up old-fashioned meters and styles and try to make them new. The bar for failure is low. Meanwhile, there’s something perverse about giving Los Angeles—which is, after all, the city of Blade Runner and the Terminator franchise—the heritage treatment, nipping and tucking its poorly engineered sprawl and vibrant, violent cultural histories into the tidy package of received forms. Can ‘English heroic verse without rhyme,’ as Milton called blank verse, really capture LA’s edge-of-the-desert introversion?”
In this week’s issue of The New Yorker, Nikhil Krishnan reviews a new book about the German Romantics and their legacy (Magnificent Rebels, September): “The philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte is supposed to have declared in his first lecture at Jena that ‘a person should be self-determined, never letting himself be defined by anything external.’ Let’s put aside the fact that the world, with its passport controls and its subtler hierarchies, makes not being ‘defined by anything external’ a harder task for some people than for others. Does the broader Romantic fixation on the autonomous self make sense where it matters?”
For Public Discourse, Mary Lefkowitz reviews Jacob Mackey’s recent PUP book about ancient Roman religious practice (Belief and Cult, August): “No adherent of traditional Roman religion seems to have written a counterpart to St. Augustine’s Confessions, with its vivid description of how he converted to Christianity. The closest pagan equivalent is Apuleius’s novel Metamorphoses (also known as The Golden Ass), with its detailed account of how a rather profligate young man decided to become a celibate priest of the Egyptian goddess Isis.”
In the Journal, Schlomo Angel speculates that Bucky Fuller’s (Inventor of the Future, August) belief in intelligent design undermined the practicability of his own designs: “It is no wonder, therefore, that Fuller had little of use to say about cities and metropolitan areas, which also evolve as complex systems from simpler forms, seemingly without an overall grand design, and definitely without anyone ‘in control.’ Unlike architectural design, which is maximalist in its demands, the planning of cities is minimalist at best, involving setting boundaries and providing support while relinquishing control.” [“Notorious dome guy” (WRB Aug. 20, 2022). —Chris] [What could have been. —Nic]
McMillian Park is dead. Finally.
October 4 | Godine
From the publisher: Learn to see art as an artist does. Discover how a painting’s composition or a sculpture’s structure influence the experience of what you’re seeing. With an artist as your guide, viewing art becomes a powerfully enriching experience that will stay in your mind long after you’ve left a museum.
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Drawing heavily on examples from the European traditions of art, Perry aims to overturn assumptions and asks readers to re-think artistic prejudices while rebuilding new preferences. Included are essays on how artists “read” paintings, how scale and format influence viewers, how to engage with sculptures and murals, as well as glimpses into some of the great museums and churches of Europe.
Seeing Like an Artist is for any artist, art-lover, or museumgoer who wants to grow their appreciation for the art of others.
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