Friday, July 29, 2022

Matisse's "The Red Studio" at MoMA

two plaster sculptures from "The Red Room"

Matisse’s “The Red Studio” derived from the tradition of studio paintings (Velazquez's Las Meninas” is one of the most famous of its predecessors). Matisse was not painting himself so much as the objects in his studio and not the process ie palette or easel but the product. “The Red Studio” was as Apollinaire commented, the “most disparaged” of Matisse’s work.  His patron Serge Shchukin rejected the commission. There were ll objects in the artist’s studio at Issy Les Molineux  painted over in vermillion red. Amongst them were two plaster sculptures from a series entitled “Jeannette IV” clearly visible on two stools. The large nude has a particularly interesting provenance. Matisse used his daughter Margaret Duthuit as one of the models who posed with their knees raised. He alternately called these particular paintings, which were destroyed (and only exist as they're portrayed in "The Red Studio") as “night” or “dawn” after the names of Michelangelo’s sculptures on the two tombs in the Medici chapels. Alain Robbe-Grillet once said,“New forms seem like the absence of form.” Curiously there's still something radical and extreme about "The Red Studio." It feels like an act of erasure, as if the artist sacrificed the objects of his world--and their meanings--to color.

read "Inventing Abstraction at MoMA" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Dear Ethicist: Is it Wrong to Have Violent Thoughts?

Tomas de Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor

Dear Ethicist: Is it wrong to have violent wishes? And what about sexual fantasy? Let’s say I covet my neighbor’s non-binary partner and want a threesome in a dungeon. Should I try not to think these things? Repression is never a good thing. It’s like depression. Some psychiatrists believe it should be treated and others think the symptom is sending a message. Let’s not confuse the messenger with the message, BTW, but I'm disinhibiting which is giving me a loose tongue. Soon I’ll be having one of my Tourette episodes in which repressed hatred takes the form of invective. It’s wrong fitting your enemies for cement shoes before you toss them in the East River—one of the punishments Mafia dons once handed out. The stocks are another punishment and visits to museums of medieval torture devices in hillside Tuscan villages don’t help matters. You don’t need to be rocket scientist to allow that the Inquisition could be very creative when it came to punishment and retribution. On the other hand, what good is it to try to fill the mind with thoughts of love, when you're going to turn into Rasputin the moment the endorphins wear off?

read "The First Law of Emotional Thermodynamics: Longing Is Directly Proportional to Self-Hatred" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Shake Me, Wake Me When It's Over" by The Four Tops

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Elsinore or White Castle?

Now is the winter of your discontent made glorious summer by this sun of New York! My, how all occasions do inform against not only me but everyone (get off the pity pot already), but not sans teeth which you will need when you attend the convention of Shakespearians scholars held this year at White Castle. White Castle is a latter day Globe Theatre and a cynosure for scholars like Harvard’s Stephen Greenblatt and Columbia’s James Shapiro. White Castle may conjure horsepower rather than horses and there are few White Castles that have a moat. White Castle was founded September 13, 1921 so it obviously had an influence on Orson Welles’ classic Chimes at Midnight which centers around the repudiation of Falstaff by Henry. The rest is silence but by the time Fortinbras arrives at Elsinore he’s hungry and ready to join Craver Nation.

read "The Final Solution: All in the Family" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and see the animation of Erotomania

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Et in Arcadia ego

Here is a quote from Jonathan Bate's review of Paul Holberton's A History of Arcadia in Art and Literature in the TLS: “Panofsky’s essay was called ‘Et in Arcadia ego.” It proposed that the tomb of Daphnis in Virgil’s fifth eclogue was the source for the inscription on the plinth holding a skull in Guercino’s baroque painting of two Acrcadian shepherds confronted by the knowledge there is mortality even in the most pleasant place.” Panofsky was the father of iconography and Bate is a knighted academic and novelist who teaches at Arizona State University, no less. But it’s a mouthful by any standards. “Say no more!” as Monty Python used to warn. The subject of Arcadia is actually an interesting piece of iconography and the above sentences are swimming in the kind of erudition in which some readers may actually drown, a la Narcissus who was smitten by his own reflection. Epistemology is a fragile discipline. An educated person can be like an overexcited child always raising their hand in class—unable to hold off disgorging all they know. It’s notoriously hard for intellectuals to keep a secret. Arcadia is generally thought to be a place of simple repose and beauty, something that was apotheosized by the pre-Raphaelites. It’s ironic that so many long sentences, no matter how interesting they turn out to be, are needed to convey the point. I am in Arcadia. While reading Bate's piece was heady, the experience could hardly be called Arcadian.

read "Why Big German Words Like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "What a Wonderful World"by Sam Cooke

Monday, July 25, 2022

Diplomacy Porn

Christiansborg Palace

The popular Netflix series Borgen deals with the machinations of a fictitious female Danish prime minister, Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) who inhabits Copenhagen's Christiansborg Palace, also known as Borgen. It’s “diplomacy porn,” Scenes from a Marriage meets Clausewitz--who once famously said “war is diplomacy by other means." Both the Danish national politics with its moderate, left and right wing parties are spotlighted along with both the civil war in an African country Khorun resembling Ethiopia and the war in Afghanistan. Borgen bears comparison to The Bureau, another popular series, where the internecine workings of the French Intelligence service are counterposed with the complex interior lives of the characters. In Borgen, diplomacy goes on in the news room of the country’s major news station as well as between the PM's press secretary, Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbaek) and a reporter, Katrine Fonsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) who are involved in a romantic duel a la Philadelphia Story. Truth itself is the sometimes inflated currency. It's the lode that's mined and ultimately drives the narrative. The feminist angle, as manifest both in the chambers of government and bed chambers is naturally an important part of the plot, as well as a host of painful secrets involving childhood abuse and mental illness. The lucubrations of plot recall another Bergman movie, Through a Glass Darkly in which the mental illness of a child attends the striving and self-centered parent.  

read "More Flicks Than Pricks" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

Friday, July 22, 2022

Vassily Kandinsky: Around the Circle

"Study for Improvisaton #28" by Vassily Kandinsky

You can take liberties when reviewing an exhibition by the author of a seminal treatise entitled “On the Spiritual in Art.” The current show at the Guggenheim "Vassily Kandinksky: Around the Circle"cleverly sandwiched between the two parts of a exhibit by the Chilian Artitst, Cecily Vicuna, “Spin Spin Triangulene,” which if you don’t know is a “polyradical framework(s) with high spinning ground states.” Vicuna, in fact, quotes Kandinsky thusly “The circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions. It combines the concentric and the eccentric in a single form and in balance.” The artist himself describes his poetics as an exploration of “the expressive potential of color in the symbolic often spiritual resonance of forms.” You might call this ur-abstraction. "Around the Circle" underscores the enormous influence Kandinsky had on almost all abstract art.There are intimations of Miro’s dreams and Braque’s geometry, just to name a few. Kandinsky’s spiritualism opened the door to surrealism too. He said: “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays touching one key or aother to cause vibrations in the soul.” The show itself starts from the end of Kandinsky’s career and as you significantly circle upwards leads back to the beginning, with the museum's architecture inadvertently making its own statement about the trajectory of the artist's career. BTW, talking about the arc of life and the spiritual (vs the material?), Kandinsky didn't start out as a starving artist. He had inherited some real estate which he lost after the revolution in l917.

read "Inventing Abstraction at MoMA" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to 'Walking on Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox

Thursday, July 21, 2022

55 Cancri e

deep field image from James Webb Space Telescope

The Big Bang is estimated to have occurred 13.2 billion years ago.  The James Webb Space telescope launched December 21 2021 reached the LT Lagrange point, one million miles in space. Hubble previously the most powerful tool revealed that space was expanding and there are also instruments like the Event Horizon telescope that explore black holes like the one at the center of the Milky Way. One of the points of interest is the locating of exoplanets, like the recently discovered 55 Cancri e surrounding distant stars--light years away. Webb is estimated to be able to relay images going back as far as l00,000,000 years after the Big Bang. What will this mean for those who believe in the existence of wormholes? Is the astrophysics behind a space telescope a little like the difference between driving and flying? Will those who believe in string theory and alternate worlds, based on the quantum notion that one piece of matter can be two places at the same time, tell NASA scientists to “get a horse.” Though a mystery is not necessarily something that can’t be understood, it may be a force that has yet to be explained. Back in l956, amateur astronomers could discover Sputnik, the first satellite in the night sky, but what does it mean to have the ability to sight phenomena that still elude understanding? 55 Cancri e is an exo-planet about eight times the size of the earth that takes 7 days to orbit a G star named Copernicus.

read "The Wormhole Society" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

and listen to "Tell It Like It Is"by Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville and Greg Allman

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Ale and Quail

photo: Francis Levy

If you drive half way up Route 17 towards Binghamton you will come to Roscoe Lew Beach.The sophistic question of which one it is will be resolved after the Neoplatonists finally resolve the number of angels that can be balanced on the head of a pin. Suffice it to say that Roscoe is home to the Roscoe Diner, an institution that had followers when tweeting was still for the birds. Remember the Ale and Quail Club in Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story? This is fly fishing country. You'll find Main Street Sports and down from that the red awning of Brothers Ammo but alongside those venues you have the Beaverkill Angler,Trout Town Flies and, of course, The Trout Town Inn. Fly fishing enthusiasts have their choice of Raimondo’s, The Junction, across the street, or Kassos for Greek cuisine after being knee deep in a cold Catskills stream. 

read "What's It Like to Be a Fly?" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the animation of Erotomania

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Does Ovid Need a Metamorphosis?

Ovid Supermarket (photograph: Hallie Cohen)

There is an Ovid, NY and by the way a Romulus if you’re on the way to Rome (New York, that is) and naturally a Syracuse and Ithaca. They don’t advertise too many tours of the ruins of Rome, NY though like a lot of other depressed upstate areas, there are indeed ruins usually in the form of the kind of defunct 19th century factories Dreiser wrote about in An American Tragedy. Why is much of upstate NY named after the ancient world when there's no resemblance is a question that has never been adequately answered, apart from the fact that it came about during the Classical Naming Period of New York State history, 1789-1803? However, the first thing that’s likely to go through the head of the itinerant traveler is, does Ovid need a metamorphosis? The Ovid supermarket with its red awning presides over Main Street and at the corner is a pizzeria which also offers wings. The next block down even boasts a Chinese take-out place. So the short answer is why change anything when it's all there?

read "Diasporic Dining: The Roscoe Diner" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Bernadette"by The Four Tops

Monday, July 18, 2022

Skaneateles on $500 a Day

Lynn Law Firm Skaneateles (photo: Francis Levy)

Homer is the town before Skaneateles and there’s a Damascus in the area too and of course Ithaca and Rome. Homer's one of those old towns with the massive Victorian red brick buildings.There are lots of villages of this ilk especially in Vermont and Massachusetts where now defunct rellcs of the Industrial Age are turned into museums like MASS MoCA. Vergennes, Vermont, for example, boasts a grand old opera house that’s been brought back into service with a modern repertoire of family friendly concerts and events. If you take Route 20 West from Homer, you’ll arrive in the resort town of Skaneateles. It’s lovely and quaint, but a little like Jykll and Hyde, Skaneateles is what happens when a fixer upper is turned into a mansion. It even has a luxury hotel in which the gardens are modeled on Giverny. If you drift down to East Genesee, the Main Street, in search of something simple, you’re likely to hit upon a law office with an auspicious and intimidating facade.Take 321 North a block or two and you'll know you're back in the real world of normal hardworking people when you encounter the local CVS across the street from a Tops supermarket.

read "Giverny in Skaneateles" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

and listen to "Young Americans" by David Bowie

Friday, July 15, 2022

Giverny in Skaneateles

Giverny in Skaneateles (photograph: Hallie Cohen)

Is there a bright side to the ersatz over the authentic? Walter Benjamin famously wrote "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” whose title addresses the very question. Modernity facilitates the ability to copy and duplicate with increasing degrees of exactitude. The 3-D printer is one of the miracles of modern technology. Of course forgers exemplify the dark side of this phenomenon. Intellectual property rights are becoming increasingly difficult to protect. But why is a replica inferior? This may be one of the underlying messages of Pop and certainly Warhol. Is there not a democratization implicit in reproduction? Would it be better if large crowds had not partaken of the Van Gogh Immersive Experience? Art historians and connoisseurs push back on this kind of thinking but let’s say you go to a hotel like the Skaneateles Mirbeau which recreates Giverny outside the dining room. Can you enjoy breakfast overlooking a faux garden? Are you prepared for the pleasures of a second-hand experience?

Read "The Real Thing" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the animation of Erotomania

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Happy Birthday!

The ultimate act of reification, the Marxist term for commodifying, is trying to decide on the right birthday present for your loved one. The object itself carries baggage as they say about people on whom the past lays a burden. The Germans have a compound word which refers to this usually in terms of history, Vergangenheitsbewaltegung. The word itself partakes of the pathetic fallacy. To say it, hear it or even look at it mirrors the very thing being described. It takes a while for the eyes or ears to take in a 23 letter word. One reason why some people try to find the perfect gift is that they hope it will accomplish what words alone can’t. The object itself becomes an objective correlative for a relationship. Pearls and diamonds are common gifts for those who can afford them. Then on a more modest scale there are roses and chocolate. Surprise isn’t a thing but it functions like one, again proposing a substitute for raw emotion. It takes a lot of planning to create a surprise. The net effect may be nothing more than worry in the creator of the event. Will it go off? However, it's guaranteed to inspire an adrenalin rush in the celebrant. Sometimes a gift may be funny but humor as Freud pointed out in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious can sometimes veil aggressive or hostile wishes. Maurizio Catalan’s “America," an 18 karate gold toilet installed in the Guggenheim for a year, is an example. The French psychoanalyst Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel wrote about this impulse in Creativity and Perversion. There are those who eschew materialism either because they're cheap or so romantic no one thing can ever do justice to the depth of their feelings. These individuals may wake up next to their beloved on a big birthday, turn towards them, peck them on the lips without any grand gesture and simply say, “I Love You.” The message is so simple, succinct and lacking in symbolism—so devoid of hyperbole and overcompensation—that it may hit the mark like Cupid's arrow.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Will Cassidy Hutchinson Be Press Secretary To President Cheney?

 United States House Select Committee on January 6

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you're punching at air? You’re trying to fight back but you're helpless. It's enough to take the wind out of your sails.Trump is a little like the Sphinx. The January 6th committee launches its salvos and they're absorbed by being totally dismissed. His secret has always been not to defend, but attack. So the former president claims he doesn't even know her. If anything she's just another social climber. But imagine Cassidy Hutchinson as press secretary to President Cheney. Improbable but not totally impossible. Sociopaths are hard acts to follow. If the Titanic could sink so could Trump. What are Trump’s dreams like? Do his punches land? If so that may well be his Achilles heel. He might be connecting so well to the dwindling Retrumplican base, he doesn’t realize no one has his back.

read "Seer Wanted No Experience Necessary" by Francis Levy, The Screaming Pope

listen to "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" by Gene McDaniels

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Waiting for Godot?

Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman

Remember Miss Havisham from Great Expectations—the jilted lover, fossilized in cobwebs, wearing her original bridal gown? Couples, afraid to face the world, who remain tangled in their bedsheets might be reminded of Dickens’ famous character whose predicament also mirrors the Democratic party. Its "quantum entanglement" allows it to hold two equal and opposite positions at the same time. Instead of making waves, they’re wavering while being gerrymandered into oblivion. As Philip Larkin says in a poem called “Wants,” “Beneath it all, desire for oblivion runs.” Joe Biden is a good man, an honest man, a just man except in the case of what he did to ‘Anita Hill ("What Joe Biden Hasn't Owned Up to About Anita Hill," The New Yorker, 4/27/19)--which allowed Clarence Thomas' appointment. Shelley is another poet worth quoting. “Look at my work, ye Mighty, and despair,” says Ozymandias. John Fetterman has become the Godot for all those who’re waiting...for someone to come.

Read "Hail! Hail! Mr. Creosote" by Francis Levy, The Screaming Pope

and listen to "1-2-3" by Len Barry

Monday, July 11, 2022

Moore v. Harper

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case which could cast the dye on electoral politics. Under the "Independent State Legislature" theory being argued in Moore vs. Harper,  the might rule that states have the right to appoint electors. Add to that Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania state senator and far right Trump supporter, winning the Republican nomination for the upcoming gubernatorial race and secession will be a part of the agenda for both the right and left. In l982 Key West declared its independence as The Conch Republic. It’s motto is famously "we seceded where others failed." On a recent episode of Better Call Saul a right wing extremest of the David Koresh variety offers to pay a million dollar legal retainer with bills which he has minted and which use his own rather than Ben Franklin’s face. Is the United States on the way to fragmenting like Yugoslavia after the death of Tito? Will the US become 50 warring principalities divided like Bosnia and Serbia along religious lines? 

read "Is the Left Wing Right?" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

and watch the trailer for the animation of Erotomania

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Amber Alert

You see "amber alerts" posted on Interstates when a child is missing or abducted. Usually a license plate, make and color of car are provided, along with age and distinguishing characteristics. But there's another kind of "Amber alert" that's fast becoming an Urban Legend. It’s "Amber Heard." Whatever your feelings about the suit involving Johnny Depp and his former wife, neither “heard” nor “amber” will ever be the same. Literally “Amber Heard” sounds like an acknowledgement over a police radio. Remember Highway Patrol the 50’s tv series? Imagine Broderick Crawford intoning “Amber Heard” instead "10-4" after an all points bulletin has gone out. Amber itself had lost its meaning as a color. People either associate it with an alert or an actress in a defamation suit. “Heard” once the past tense of “hear” has been retired as a past participle. Such are the vicissitudes of everyday usage--which may cause language (and meaning) to evolve. “Have you Heard?” has now become a loaded expression that can get you #MeTooed” when employed in a PC crowd. Here's where "affirmative consent" comes in. Be sure to ask your partner's permission, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to utter "Amber Heard." 

read "Hamptons Journal: La Grande Bouffe" by Francis Levy, TheScreamingPope

and listen to "Roadrunner" by Junior Walker & the Allstars

Friday, July 8, 2022

Hamptons Journal: La Grand Bouffe

James Jones Truman Capote, Willie Morris, John Knowles  (Jill Krementz, 1975)

In this world of pain and suffering, with stories in the Times about shop keepers in small Ukrainian towns coming home in body bags, it seems almost like a capital crime to be fixated on status. However, resort towns like East Hampton and Sag Harbor are the Dow Jones of social capital. One's position on the food chain is titrated to the point where slights are felt more than they would be in Gotham where Superman comes out of the closet or to the rescue or both. But who are these people? For free soloists, the Hamptons was always a painful place. Back in the 60s, it was the home to the kind of strivers after artistic greatness with whom venture capitalists might be invidiously compared. It's hard to believe Bobby Van’s was once frequented by the likes of Willem de Kooning, Willie Morris, Kurt Vonnegut, Roy Lichtenstein, George Plimpton, James Brady and John Knowles. Today the steak house caters to the population of Manhattan real estate owners and brokers who are the only ones who can afford to buy or rent a house. Which would you rather be rejected for? Your lack of money or talent? Still if you talk to old-timers who bear their scars from the culture wars, they will agree that the body snatchers have invaded. If you look at the crowd filling any of the tony restaurants in East Hampton, Bridgehampton or Sag Harbor  on a summer night, it’s reminiscent of a gigantic pig trough in which expensively dressed diners with deep pockets grab and lurch and worry about not getting as much as fast as the pronoun at the next table. Even infants in strollers ooze entitlement--with all roads leading to Dalton.

read "East Hampton Journal: the 711 or Erewhon," HuffPost

and listen to "Try a Little Tenderness" by The Commitments

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Is the Left Wing Right?

Jacques Derrida

We are in the Second Civil War. The first was about slavery. You were either South North, for or against. The second Civil War is being fought over the perception of reality which is a harder battle for which there’s unlikely to be an Appomattox. What are the meaning of facts? And who’s lying? Ironically this is a battle that has been going on in the humanities for quite some time. Is the left wing right? Deconstruction, the mode of analysis that has dominated literature and history in academia for decades, argues that perception itself is culturally defined.Thus, deconstruction could be used to argue that when Democrats talk about facts they're merely expressing proclivities. Did Donald Trump learn about "The Big Lie" at the Ecole Normale, home of Derrida and other deconstructionists? Their "Big Lie," for them, is the existence of absolute truth. Would that the Second Civil War remained merely a contest between academics. Paul de Man a major deconstructionist figure turned out to be a Nazi sympathizer so analogies between the academic left and the political right might not be that far flung. Who would you rather be up against an Oath Keeper with an automatic weapon or an English scholar like Stanley Fish with a glossary?

read "Sperm Count: Deep Thought" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" by Marvin Gaye

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Quarks of Fate

Are you a multi-tasker, one of those sub-atomic particles that occupies two coordinates at the same time in the quantum universe like Schrödinger's cat? Better are you an electron whose got its cell up to its ear as it pings its Alexa? Is it better than having to choose between being a Democrat or revanchist Republican, Rand Paul-like libertarian or Retrumplican? The choices existing in the visible world are so awful and hopeless that one longs for alternate universes, even if you have to live life on a string, or shoestring as it were.

read "Inventing Abstraction at MoMA" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Hail! Hail! Mr. Creosote!

Monty Python's Mr. Creosote

There used to be name-calling contests where people would hurl insults at each other and someone would be declared the winner. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt engaged in an insult contest on BBC 1. The loser, in these kind of events, is usually the one who can't keep their composure and starts laughing. It's a little like the annual hot dog eating competition in Coney Island. Last year’s winner with 79 hot dogs and buns was Joey Chestnut. But let’s get down to brass tacks. Why not push the certifying of electors one day ahead and establish a congressional holiday on January 6 of each presidential inaugural year in which members of congress could face off against each other? How about Marjorie Taylor Greene v. AOC, Lauren Boebert v. Maxine Waters and Paul Gosar DDS v Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar. On the senate side why not start with Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson v. Bernie Sanders. In the Middle Ages locals jumped mounted Carti Vulgari on special occasions to ride around and curse. These may have been the inspiration for the threatening Trump caravans made up of Oath Keepers, who’d pull a gun on bystanders who didn’t get with the program. The general advice is not to stoop to the level of some goon whose mouth is filled with racist and sexist epithets. Hillary Clinton got into trouble for referring to “deplorables.” If she’d only have called them “adorables,” history might have taken a different course. But what's one to do when Lauren Boebert says “I'm tired of this separation of church and state junk?" Do you cuss her back and tell her she hasn’t read the constitution or just vomit in her face? Remember Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote?

read "James Brown and Wilson Pickett in a Cold Sweat" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "In a Cold Sweat" by James Brown and Wilson Pickett

Monday, July 4, 2022

A Truly Gated Community

Independent Jewish Cemetery Association

Are you "iterate?" That is adept at formulating and conceptualizing? It’s something that comes in handy at gatherings where the lingua franca is the pithy throwaway which brings up the question of the afterlife. If you take route 114 into the town of Sag Harbor from East Hampton you will pass on your left the Independent Jewish Cemetery Association. The headstones are like the crowd at one of those Hamptons parties where everyone is trying to hide their desire to get attention--or not. Schwartz, Shapiro, Stein, Levy are all vying to be top man on the totem pole, even in death. The fact is, it's as expensive to buy or rent in the Hamptons as it is to die. In death as well as life the three most important things are: location, location, location.

read "Obit." by Francis Levy, HuffPost

listen to "I Love You 1000 Times" by the Platters

Friday, July 1, 2022

Identity Politics Comes to the Table of Contents of the Paris Review

issue #1 the Paris Review

It’s no surprise that identity politics has made its way to a once august bastion of expression. The former editor, Lorin Stein, who was significantly a translator of Michel Houellebecq’s controversial Submission, was #MeToo'd. Now the current editor Emily Stokes has abolished denotations of genre in the journal's table of contents. the Paris Review no longer differentiates between fiction and non-fiction, plays or short stories. All of these use one bathroom denoted  “prose.” Are there differences between short stories and plays? What is the purpose of lumping all these once distinct genres together? Does placing non-fiction works with fiction imply there's no difference? New Historians like Stephen Greenblatt will undoubtedly applaud the decision to lump these once distinct categories together—under the theory that beauty not being necessarily truth should just be appreciated for what it is. Picasso’s famous “art is a lie that makes us realize truth” would fit neatly into this argument. Anyway if you don’t like "all for one" and "one for all" when it comes to literature, you might prefer the table of contents in the venerable old New Yorker where the lines are more sharply drawn and every piece fits into a distinct category.

read "Is F*ucking Losing Its Meaning" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Super Freak" by Rick James