Archive for January, 2019

We’re Gonna Rock!

Posted: January 31, 2019 in Uncategorized

Here it is! While this is a totally optional activity, it should be lots of fun and good for our general morale. Hope you can make it to hear and meet some great bands. I only wish the price of admission was a little cheaper. Bear in mind that the headlining act is an underground band visiting here from Australia. I strongly suspect they don’t have Kanye’s budget. Without your help, they wouldn’t be touring at all.

By way of comparison, a typical show at USANA would cost five times as much, eat up hours of your time and gallons of gas, and leave you so far from the band you’d end up spending most of the evening staring at their image on a screen. This will be way better than that nonsense.

20th Century Today!

Posted: January 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

Judging The Dead

Posted: January 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

“Past … crimes are still put on trial, even if the system under which they were committed had different standards and is a thing of a past (or so we hope). Moreover, even if the dead cannot face justice themselves, it does make a difference how we remember and relate to the dead.”

If you have ever been at a rock or pop concert, you might recognise the following phenomenon: The band on the stage begins playing an intro. Pulsing synths and roaring drums build up to a yet unrecognisable tune. Then the band breaks into the well-known chorus of their greatest hit and the audience applauds frenetically. People become enthusiastic if they recognise something. Thus, part of the “greatness” is owing to the act of recognising it. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s just that people celebrate their own recognition at least as much as the tune performed. I think much the same is true of our talk of “great thinkers”. We applaud recognised patterns. But only applauding the right kinds of patterns and thinkers secures our belonging to the ingroup. Since academic applause signals and regulates who belongs to a group, such applause has a moral dimension, especially in educational institutions. Yes, you guess right, I want to argue that we need to rethink whom and what we call great.

“We’re still learning on a day-to-day basis what that impact is.”

Among toddlers, spending a lot of time staring at screens is linked with poorer performance on developmental screening tests later in childhood, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on Monday, found a direct association between screen time at ages 2 and 3 and development at 3 and 5.
Development includes growth in communication, motor skills, problem-solving and personal social skills, based on a screening tool called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. Signs of such development can be seen in behaviors like being able to stack a small block or toy on top of another one.

Nothing New, Ever?

Posted: January 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

Boredom Studies is an increasingly rich and vital area of contemporary research that examines the experience of boredom as an importan – even quintessential – condition of modern life. This anthology of newly commissioned essays focuses on the historical and theoretical potential of this modern condition, connecting boredom studies with parallel discourses such as affect theory and highlighting possible avenues of future research. Spanning sociology, history, art, philosophy and cultural studies, the book considers boredom as a mass response to the atrophy of experience characteristic of a highly mechanised and urbanised social life.


Andreas Gursky
The Rhine II (1999)
[The 2nd most expensive photograph ever sold.]

Eugenie Shinkle
Reader in Photography
Westminster School of Media Art and Design, London, UK

We’re Not OK, Computer Says

Posted: January 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

The expression of sadness, disgust and fear also increased over time.

Popular music has changed over the years, and the music of 2019 is noticeably different from the music of the 1960s or 1970s. But it is not just the music that changed, but also the lyrics. Data scientists at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan used quantitative analytics to study the change in lyrics of popular music over seven decades, from the 1950s to 2016. The results showed that the expression of anger and sadness in popular music has increased gradually over time, while the expression of joy has declined.

In a research paper published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Kathleen Napier and Lior Shamir analyzed the lyrics of over 6000 songs of the Billboard Hot 100 in each year. The Billboard Hot 100 songs are the most popular songs each year, and reflect the preferences of music fans. In the past the songs were ranked mainly by record sales, radio broadcasting, and jukebox plays, but in the more recent years it is based on several other popularity indicators such as streaming and social media to reflect the changes in music consumption.

“The texts for IT courses include those that educated persons are commonly expected to know, but the class is not a ‘great books’ class.”

–University of Utah, Honors College webpage

So, if Intellectual Traditions is not a Great Books program, what is it, and what are you supposed to learn in it. The Honors website strives to answer those and other questions, though this is simply a committee-generated statement. Individual professors will have their own opinions. If it were up to me, I would teach this course under the heading History of Consciousness.

What might be the difference between Great Books, Intellectual Traditions, and History of Consciousness? From what we have read and discussed so far this semester, which of these does our class most resemble?

The History of Consciousness Department offers a Ph.D. program that operates at the intersection of established and emergent disciplines and fields, acquainting students with leading intellectual trends in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Intellectual projects are problem based and draw upon diverse theoretical approaches. The major categories listed below have characterized work in the department over its more than 40 year history; faculty and student research projects typically fall within more than one of these categories. Fields and disciplines listed within these categories represent areas of specific current interest in the department, though we support student projects that move beyond the listed areas.

Your Brain Keeps Score

Posted: January 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

“You had a lecture at school that was about safe sex, drinking, drugs,” Walker said. “Why didn’t anybody come in and tell you about sleep?”

The research is changing policy in some areas, with school officials, for example, considering whether to push back school start times to better match teenagers’ sleep cycles. The National Sleep Foundation will hold its first consumer expo in March with a wide range of offerings, including mattresses and sleep trackers — a visible sign of the burgeoning sleep industry. Meanwhile, a growing number of scientists, not normally known for being advocates, are bringing evangelical zeal to the message that lack of sleep is an escalating public health crisis that deserves as much attention as the obesity epidemic.

Soviet Kitsch in Utah

Posted: January 24, 2019 in Uncategorized

Some of you may be surprised to learn that our beloved Beehive State is home to one of the largest collections of Soviet Socialist art to be found anywhere. What?! Sure, just drive south an hour or so and check out the Springville Art Museum. They have acres of canvas there that might as well have been painted by our friend Repin.

The question arises though: Why would people around here want to collect such works? I’ll leave that question to you to answer. Click the image below to check out the museum’s extensive holdings. Notice that the painters are not referred to as Soviet however, but rather as “Russian” – in fact, at least a few artists are not Russian but Ukrainian. Also, the art is incorrectly called “Social”, rather than Socialist. What up with that?

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Kozhevnikov, Ivan Vasilevich
Election Day on the Collective Farm (1958)
SOCIAL REALISM
OIL ON CANVAS
46-3/8″ x 113-3/8 x 117.7

(Click for link to Utah’s collection of Soviet Socialist art)

Read For Your Life

Posted: January 24, 2019 in Uncategorized

I should point out that the article’s examples of popular books is fairly lame.

More than a quarter–26 percent–of American adults admit to not having read even part of a book within the past year. That’s according to statistics coming out of the Pew Research Center. If you’re part of this group, know that science supports the idea that reading is good for you on several levels.

photo_20(19)_original

The indoor photos were taken at the grand piano, and in the library, where [composer Jean] Sibelius often listened to broadcasts and recordings of his works in the evenings.

Sibelius1

Ingram Marshall
“Sibelius in His Radio Corner” (1974-1980)

Sibelius in His Radio Corner was inspired by a photograph of the Finnish composer during his “forty years of silence,” sitting in an armchair and listening to his own work being performed on the radio. “In his old age Sibelius enjoyed pulling in distant broadcasts of his music off the short-wave. I imagined that with all the static and signal drift, some of these listening experiences might have been proleptically like a modern-day electronically processed kurzwellen piece.” New Albion Records


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Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing importance of statistics. The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.

–Walter Benjamin

9780262531993

Suspensions of Perception is a major historical study of human attention and its volatile role in modern Western culture. It argues that the ways in which we intently look at or listen to anything result from crucial changes in the nature of perception that can be traced back to the second half of the nineteenth century.

Focusing on the period from about 1880 to 1905, Jonathan Crary examines the connections between the modernization of subjectivity and the dramatic expansion and industrialization of visual/auditory culture. At the core of his project is the paradoxical nature of modern attention, which was both a fundamental condition of individual freedom, creativity, and experience and a central element in the efficient functioning of economic and disciplinary institutions as well as the emerging spaces of mass consumption and spectacle.

Jonathan Crary is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University. A founding editor of Zone Books, he is the author of Techniques of the Observer (MIT Press, 1990) and coeditor of Incorporations (Zone Books, 1992). He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Getty, Mellon, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

“Voici des fruits, des fleurs, de feuilles, et des branches . . . “


Claude Debussy–Ariettes Oubliees
(lyrics by Paul Verlaine)
~
“C’est L’Exstace”
“Green”
“Spleen”

Gabriel Faure–Melodies
~
“Apres un Reve”
“Nell”

painting_2079145b

“This curious state of inhibition can at least for a few moments be produced at will by fixing the eye on vacancy. . . . Monotonous mechanical activities that end by being automatically carried on tend to produce it. . . . The eyes are fixed on vacancy, the sounds of the world melt into confused unity, the attention becomes dispersed so that the whole body is felt, as it were, at once, and the foreground of consciousness is filled, if by anything, by a sort of solemn sense of surrender to the empty passing of time. In the dim background of our mind we know what we ought to be doing: getting up, dressing ourselves, answering the person who has spoken to us. . . . But somehow we cannot start. Every moment we expect the spell to break, for we know no reason why it should continue. But it does continue, pulse after pulse, and we float with it.”

–William James, Principles of Psychology, 1878

jamesCover

Readings for Tuesday, January 28th

Posted: January 22, 2019 in Readings

Here is our next author, Clement Greenberg. I don’t intend to discuss him until next Tuesday, as I’d like to dedicate this Thursday to chatting and regrouping with regard to the semester as it has transpired so far. Nevertheless, I’m furnishing all four essays we’ll eventually discuss.

For the record, Greenberg was an American critic who is widely considered one of the most important theorists of modern art. Just one bit of evidence to support this is the painting of Greenberg, by Mark Tansey, which depicts the critic as a victorious American general at the Versailles/Bonn Convention(s). We’ll have an occasion to discuss the complexity of Greenberg’s position of authority (along with Tansey’s depiction of him) very soon.

For now, good luck with a handful of readings which may prove to be a formidable challenge. I hope this challenge will be a rewarding experience. I don’t imagine we’ll have time to discuss all these material in a single day, but here they are all here for anyone wishing to press ahead.

Finally, I really enjoyed our meeting today, despite certain technical frustrations, and I hope you did too. It’s been a good semester so far and I thank you for the efforts and contributions you’ve made so far. Keep of the good work, and see you soon!




Clement Greenberg
(1909–1994)


“The Avant-Garde and Kitsch” (1939)
“Towards A Newer Laocoön” (1940)
“The Pasted-Paper Revolution” (1948)
“The Plight of Culture” (1953)

(click here for all four essays)

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Mark Tansey (American)
The Triumph of The New York School
oil on canvas, 74″ x 120″
The Whitney Museum of American Art
New York City, New York

(click image for names of artists depicted)


Just for the record, this stuff is some of my favorite music, ever.

Uh, your grade will go up if you listen to these tracks. I might not even be kidding. If nothing else, you may as well get an education as long as you’re in coolidge. Just saying.

The vast interval separating the “out” and “in” should be self-evident. Just one comparison worth noting is the way that Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto #1 sounds as if it were written as a deliberately ironic parody of Tchaikovsky’s very famous piano concerto. Perhaps listening to Prokofiev’s piece in isolation would not cause many people chuckle. But after hearing Prokofiev’s ironic take on the older composer’s aching pathos and pompous bluster, it’s hard to go back and listen to Tchaikovsky’s piano music without laughing out loud. I laughed anyway. Prokofiev, it must appear to us, is writing quite deliberately to render Tchaikovsky entirely obsolete, indeed ridiculous. What, to make another comparison and contrast, do we hear when listening to Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” back to back with Tchaikovsky’s?”

Yuck!

Tchaik

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
(1840 – 1898)

“Symphony Pathetique”
“Serenade For Strings”
“Violin Concerto #1 in D Major”
“Piano Concerto #1 in B-flat Minor”
“Romeo and Juliet – Fantasy Overture”

Cool!

Igor Stravinsky
(1882 – 1971)

“Dance of The Firebird”
“Petrouchka (Russian Dance)”
Violin Concerto #1 (Toccata)”

alsop_prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev
(1891 – 1953)

“Romeo and Juliet – Introduction”
“Piano Concerto #1 in D-flat Major”
“Violin Concerto #1 in D”
“‘Classical’ Symphony #1 (Allegro)”
“Piano Sonata #7 in B-flat Major”
“Sinphonietta (Allegro Giacosso)”


Dmitri Shostakovich
(1906 – 1975)

“Jazz Suite #1 – Foxtrot”
“String Quartet #2 in A Minor”
“Piano Concerto #1 (Allegretto)”
“Violin Concerto #1 (Nocturne)
“Violin Concerto #1 (Passacaglia)”

ryb

Piet Mondrian
Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1921
Oil on canvas, 39 x 35 cm

Nervous System Angelus


It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw
the nerves in patterns on a screen.

–T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917)

• • •


If we wish to discern whether anything is beautiful or not, we do not refer the representation of it to the object by means of understanding with a view to cognition, but by means of the imagination (acting perhaps in conjunction with understanding) we refer the representation to the subject and its feeling of pleasure or displeasure. The judgement of taste, therefore, is not a cognitive judgement, and so not logical, but is aesthetic-which means that it is one whose determining ground cannot be other than subjective. Every reference of representations is capable of being objective, even that of sensations (in which case it signifies the real in an empirical representation). The one exception to this is the feeling of pleasure or displeasure. This denotes nothing in the object, but is a feeling which the subject has of itself and of the manner in which it is affected by the representation.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (1790), SS 1. The judgement of taste is aesthetic.

Now, I would argue that the same applies to intelligence. To the extent that we believe in such a thing as a “beautiful mind,” the very last way we should ever expect to identify one would be by means of IQ testing or neurological analysis. Of the many areas of research in which the writings of Kant enjoy an enduring influence, one of the most significant is the field of Phenomenology, a branch of philosophy which (along with the Pragmatism of the American psychologist William James) first arises as a critique of Experimental Psychology. Though the very same could be said of Freud: psychoanalysis arose a critical rebuke to the brilliant inanity of Helmholtz, Fechner and Wundt.


But does anyone write today on this stuff, and in a way which combines the very best of Art History and the History of Science? Yes.

9780262531993


Or, if you were prefer to read the classic text I mentioned in class the other day, have a look at William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, considered by Modern Library to be one of the greatest books of the 20th century. (Pay no heed to the readers’ list, which has been hijacked by morons and zombies.)

More ‘Metaphysical’ Poetry

Posted: January 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

John Donne
(1572–1631)
“Batter My heart, Three-Person’d God”

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

George Herbert
(1593 – 1633)
“The Collar”

I struck the board, and cry’d, No more.
I will abroad.
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free; free as the rode,
Loose as the winde, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me bloud, and not restore
What I have lost with cordiall fruit?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did drie it: there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the yeare onely lost to me?
Have I no bayes to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?
All wasted?
Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
Away; take heed:
I will abroad.
Call in thy deaths head there: tie up thy fears.
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need,
Deserves his load.
But as I rav’d and grew more fierce and wilde
At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child!
And I reply’d, My Lord.

Richard Crashaw
(1612 – 1649)
“The Flaming Heart”

O heart, the equal poise of love’s both parts,
Big alike with wounds and darts,
Live in these conquering leaves; live all the same,
And walk through all tongues one triumphant flame;
Live here, great heart, and love and die and kill,
And bleed and wound, and yield and conquer still.
Let this immortal life, where’er it comes,
Walk in a crowd of loves and martyrdoms;
Let mystic deaths wait on ‘t, and wise souls be
The love-slain witnesses of this life of thee.
O sweet incendiary! show here thy art,
Upon this carcass of a hard cold heart,
Let all thy scatter’d shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy large books of day,
Combin’d against this breast, at once break in
And take away from me my self and sin;
This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be,
And my best fortunes such fair spoils of me.
O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
By all thy dow’r of lights and fires,
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove,
By all thy lives and deaths of love,
By thy large draughts of intellectual day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large than they,
By all thy brim-fill’d bowls of fierce desire,
By thy last morning’s draught of liquid fire,
By the full kingdom of that final kiss
That seiz’d thy parting soul and seal’d thee his,
By all the heav’ns thou hast in him,
Fair sister of the seraphim!
By all of him we have in thee,
Leave nothing of my self in me:
Let me so read thy life that I
Unto all life of mine may die.

The difference is not a simple difference of degree between poets. It is something which had happened to the mind of England between the time of Donne or Lord Herbert of Cherbury and the time of Tennyson and Browning; it is the difference between the intellectual poet and the reflective poet. Tennyson and Browning are poets, and they think; but they do not feel their thought as immediately as the odour of a rose. A thought to Donne was an experience; it modified his sensibility. . . . In the seventeenth century a dissociation of sensibility set in, from which we have never recovered; and this dissociation, as is natural, was aggravated by the influence of the two most powerful poets of the century, Milton and Dryden. Each of these men performed certain poetic functions so magnificently well that the magnitude of the effect concealed the absence of others. . . . But while the language became more refined, the feeling became more crude.

–T. S. Eliot, “The Metaphysical Poets”

Some music for your consideration and enjoyment. Feel free to respond to any or all of this. Have you heard similar music before? Why is this relevant to Eliot’s argument about art and poetry? What exactly happened, as far as Eliot is concerned, to the English mind in the transition from the 16th to the 17th century, and why is it so significant?


“fidelity to thought and feeling”

Thomas Tallis
(1505 – 1583)

“If You Love Me”
“A New Commandment”
“Out From The Deep”




byrd

William Byrd
(1543 – 1623)

“Prevent Us, O Lord”
“O Make Thy Servant Elizabeth”




gibbons

Orlando Gibbons
(1585 – 1625)

“See, See, The Word Is Incarnate”
“O God, The King of Glory”



Surprisingly, or not, Eliot would have considered the following music a serious step downward. Where is this suggested in his essays, and why would he have thought that?

“a dissociation of sensibility . . .
from which we have never recovered”

I received this email over the weekend. The opportunity to work in collaboration with students from the U’s medical school may interest you. Clink on the image to enlarge the flyer.

Hello,

My name is Alyssa, and I’m a second-year medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine and one of the co-directors of the second annual Global Case Competition. This an interdisciplinary event held on the UUSOM campus every year with the aim of bringing students from all disciplines from upper and lower campus together for three days to come up with a creative and unique solution to a global problem.

We are specifically seeking out students from disciplines that may feel as if they don’t have a role to play in such a competition, because those students tend to propose unique and imaginative solutions to these global problems as they are working from a framework separate from many students that choose to participate.

We would appreciate it if you would be willing to disseminate the attached flyer throughout your lectures and respective college to better recruit students from these much-needed disciplines.

The Global Case Competition will be held from Thursday, January 24th – Saturday, January 26th and will be an excellent opportunity for students to come together, meet students from outside of their discipline, work collaboratively on a complex and multi-faceted problem, and also have the chance to win some fantastic prizes.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at alyssa.brown@hsc.utah.edu.

I look forward to hearing from you soon, and thank you for your assistance in reaching out to as many diverse and creative students as possible.

Alyssa Brown
MD Candidate, Class of 2021

alyssa.brown@hsc.utah.edu

In the process of trying to make a point in class the other day about the origins of cinema, I incidentally mentioned this topic. A few students had heard of it, while others had not. It could seem hypocritical on my part to raise such a issue, because I have at times been known as peremptory and a bigmouth. But I believe it would be more hypocritical for me to raise the issue and then drop it, as if I were not at all part of the problem. Let me simply say that I’m sincerely trying to do my best.

I still don’t know why Sallie and I bothered to go to that party in the forest slope above Aspen. The people were all older than us and dull in a distinguished way, old enough that we, at forty-ish, passed as the occasion’s young ladies. The house was great–if you like Ralph Lauren-style chalets–a rugged luxury cabin at 9,000 feet complete with elk antlers, lots of kilims, and a wood-burning stove. We were preparing to leave, when our host said, “No, stay a little longer so I can talk to you.” He was an imposing man who’d made a lot of money.

He kept us waiting while the other guests drifted out into the summer night, and then sat us down at his authentically grainy wood table and said to me, “So? I hear you’ve written a couple of books.”

I replied, “Several, actually.”

He said, in the way you encourage your friend’s seven-year-old to describe flute practice, “And what are they about?”

They were actually about quite a few different things, the six or seven out by then, but I began to speak only of the most recent on that summer day in 2003, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, my book on the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.

He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”

So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingénue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I’d somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book–with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.

Here, let me just say that my life is well-sprinkled with lovely men, with a long succession of editors who have, since I was young, listened and encouraged and published me, with my infinitely generous younger brother, with splendid friends of whom it could be said–like the Clerk in The Canterbury Tales I still remember from Mr. Pelen’s class on Chaucer–“gladly would he learn and gladly teach.” Still, there are these other men, too. So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, “That’s her book.” Or tried to interrupt him anyway.

But he just continued on his way. She had to say, “That’s her book” three or four times before he finally took it in. And then, as if in a nineteenth-century novel, he went ashen. That I was indeed the author of the very important book it turned out he hadn’t read, just read about in the New York Times Book Review a few months earlier, so confused the neat categories into which his world was sorted that he was stunned speechless–for a moment, before he began holding forth again. Being women, we were politely out of earshot before we started laughing, and we’ve never really stopped.