L.L. Zamenhof and the Shadow People
December 30, 2009
Starting at midnight on December 15, 2009, the Google logo was draped in a green flag. Perhaps you thought it was the Palestinian or the Saudi flag; perhaps this unsettled you enough to mouse it. If you did, you’d have learned that the flag celebrated the one hundred and fiftieth birthday of Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, the founder of Esperanto. And if you clicked on it, you’d have helped make “L.L. Zamenhof” the third most often-searched term on Google that day. None of this was happenstance.
The Art of Work
December 28, 2009
The best movie ever made about dance.
The Best Art Books of the Year
December 22, 2009
Here is a gathering of books that appeal to the sense of touch and the sense of sight. You will want to read them, of course, but in many cases you will also want to feel the quality of the paper and the binding and let the beauty of the reproductions fill your eyes. There could be no better gift at a time when the book business is on the defensive. These are books that cannot be repackaged as eBooks. They are magically physical objects. Irving Penn: Small Trades, by Virginia A. Heckert and Anne Lacoste (The J. Paul Getty Museum).
December 19, 2009
Charles Dickens Michael Slater Yale University Press, 696 pp., $35 I. For a long time, everyone has known that Paris was the capital of the nineteenth century, the city where the modern was invented: the society of the spectacular. But everyone was wrong. The capital of the nineteenth century was London. Think about it. Walter Benjamin’s symbol of the Parisian modern was the arcade. The arcade! In London-according to the social campaigner Henry Mayhew, there were 300,000 dustbins, 300,000 cesspools, and three million chimneys.
Squaring Idealism and Realism
December 14, 2009
PARIS -- Europeans are coming to terms with the fact that President Obama is not a miracle worker, and with the reality that everything he does is not magic. Oh, yes, most Europeans are still happy Obama is president.
December 10, 2009
Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity Museum of Modern Art Kandinsky Guggenheim Museum This is an autumn of anniversaries in two of New York’s most important museums. At the Museum of Modern Art, “Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity,” the exhibition saluting the ninetieth anniversary of the opening of the legendary German school of art, architecture, and design, also marks the eightieth anniversary of the founding of the Modern.
So Much Gasbaggery, So Little Time
December 03, 2009
Barack Obama convened his first official summit before he was even elected president. In October 2008, then-candidate Obama gathered a gaggle of business and political heavyweights--Paul Volcker, Eric Schmidt, Jennifer Granholm, Bill Richardson, etc.--in a Florida community college gymnasium for what his campaign billed as the “Growing American Jobs Summit.” “No cheerleading,” Obama admonished the 1,700 people who packed into the sweltering gym expecting a campaign rally.
The November Pogrom
November 12, 2009
In our collective memory of the Holocaust, Kristallnacht occupies a central but ambiguous place. If you look simply at the statistics, there is little reason why the events of November 9-10, 1938, should loom so large.
November 10, 2009
Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West By Christopher Caldwell (Doubleday, 422 pp., $30) As its subtitle makes clear, this is a book about immigration, Islam, and the West. But at the same time this is also a book about a particular moral culture, a set of attitudes, habits, and beliefs that has developed in Western Europe over the past sixty years. There isn’t a good shorthand way to describe this moral culture. Sometimes it is called “political correctness,” though politics as such does not define it.
November 09, 2009
Monday marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is worth pausing to recall just how momentous, and unanticipated, this event and those that followed were. My students today have no memory of the cold war; to them, Prague and Budapest, just like Paris and Madrid, are simply places to visit or study in Europe.