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City of God and city of man, take II

In comments on a recent entry, David Sucher was quite skeptical that either modernist urban design or its contrary has anything to do with religion or general political divides like liberalism and conservatism. He also wanted to know just what I meant by “modernist urban design.” Since the issues are interesting, my views need developing, and this is my blog I’ll go into the matter a little more:


    The City of God and the New Urbanism

    Another priority for paleo (or traditionalist) conservatives should be making connection with other tendencies of thought that are based on some of the same concerns and understandings. If trads and paleos are on to something real about modern life, they won’t be the only ones to notice it.


    A corpse as art and the death of thought

    A concrete result of the destruction by the Derrida virus and related strains of the ability to think like a normal human being: Hanging Corpse Admired as Sculpture on Campus. It was for this, it appears, that the Hungarians overthrew communism.


    Glitz and tyrants

    The admiration of the rich and famous for a left-wing tyrant: Critics assail Fidel Castro’s grip on Hollywood celebs. Why is mass-market entertainment and fashion left-wing? In part it’s because pop culture likes the exotic, miraculous and sexy—that’s what pleases the public—and a Caribbean Marxist paradise run by a personally magnetic strongman fits the bill. In part it’s because the world of entertainment and fashion is self-seeking and narcissistic.


    Chronicles of museology

    We visited the Brooklyn Museum yesterday for the first time in a while. It was a mixed success. The East and South Asian collections were much as ever. They’re small and have a bit of a backwater feeling, but they include some fine pieces—Shang jades and bronzes, Sung pottery, even some good post-Meiji prints and other things they bring out from time to time. Then we went to the new installation of American art.


    Hard times at the British Museum

    The retiring director of the British Museum, Dr. Robert Anderson, says that he ’ prefer[s] paternalism to populism’. The good doctor gives away too much by the phrasing. Neither paternalism nor populism is at issue in current disputes over the nature of the museum. The paternalist doesn’t give people the best he has, and the populist doesn’t favor a totally managed society in which “culture” becomes a personal lifestyle accessory.


    Eakins and Gauguin

    We escaped the heat yesterday by a visit to the Metropolitan Museum and were particularly struck by an exhibition of Thomas Eakins’ work and by some Gauguin canvases. Both represented possible responses to the basic problem of the late 19th century, the death of God. Eakins’ response was a sort of heroic materialism, the artist as workman, as scientific observer, as witness and advocate of the triumph of human discipline, observation and skill over brute natural necessity.


    The fine arts today

    The Tate Gallery has paid £22,300 for 30 grams of merda d’artista. The artist, apparently an honest and talented man, canned the stuff and sold it for the price of 30 grams of gold to express his utter disgust with the art world. A couple years later, in 1961, he died of drink.


    All in the family

    I’m not sure it was worth the effort putting Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi together for the joint exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. Maybe the thought was that neither is worth a major exhibit alone, but if you put them together Orazio provides artistry and Artemisia notoriety and then you’ve got something.


    There’s something odd about

    There’s something odd about intellectual property. Rules are necessary to prevent conflict in the case of tangible property but not intellectual property. So unlike other kinds of property, which would be found in almost any society, patent and copyright are visibly things we made up. The phrasing of the U.S. Constitution reflects the situation: Congress is empowered “[t]o promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”.



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