The Wisdom of Our Ancestors: Conservative Humanism and the Western Tradition, by Graham James McAleer & Alexander Rosenthal-Pubul (Notre Dame Press): “The modern West,” write Graham James McAleer and Alexander Rosenthal-Pubul in The Wisdom of Our Ancestors, “is no longer conscious of its identity: it no longer knows what it stands for or what it stands against.” This civilizational midlife crisis has triggered the rise of a new fleet of isms—neopaganism, vitalism, angelism, integralism, etc.—all of which McAleer and Rosenthal-Pubul believe fail to secure the future of our highest ism: humanism. It is this failure that they seek to correct. McAleer and Rosenthal-Pubul navigate a wide field of thought in their survey of the modern political landscape, ranging from Francis Fukuyuma on one end to the Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, dubbed “Putin’s brain,” on the other. The authors take Roger Scruton as their guide, but along the way they encounter such thinkers as Dostoevsky, Leo Strauss, Pierre Manent, and Nikolai Berdyaev. Here, as Daniel J. Mahoney notes in his foreword, is a book “rich, learned, and invigorating.” —LL
Master Drawings New York (through February 3): The eighteenth edition of Master Drawings New York continues on Manhattan’s Upper East Side through February 3. Clustered in galleries around the Metropolitan Museum and continuing down to Sixty-fourth Street, twenty-six exhibitors have mounted special exhibitions of works on paper from the fifteenth century to the present. Highlights include an unpublished drawing by Lorenzo Baldissera Tiepolo at Nicholas Hall and W. M. Brady & Co.; a J. M. W. Turner watercolor once owned by John Ruskin at Abbott and Holder; and “Plains Indian Ledger Drawings, 1870–1910” at David Nolan Gallery in collaboration with Donald Ellis Gallery. On Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Villa Albertine, the annual Master Drawings Symposium will present talks by Ricciardi Prize–winning scholars in conversation with New York curators. —JP
Listening to What You See: Selected Contributions on Dutch Art, by Peter Hecht (Ad Ilissum): In the preface to his new book of selected essays, Peter Hecht declares, “what all these papers have in common is that in them visual evidence is considered most important, and that art history ought to begin by looking . . . . This may sound obvious, but it is not.” Such a sentiment shouldn’t need airing, but in a field as deformed by theory as art history, it’s a worthy reminder that we are here for the works themselves, not some system into which the works can be fit. In twenty-eight chapters—comprising papers, reviews, and essays on “Institutions and Collecting,” “COVID Blues,” and “The Love of Art”—Hecht, a specialist in Dutch art who taught at Utretcht University, gives us a personal but scholarly tour d’horizon of the greats of Dutch painting. —BR
Mahler & Mozart performed by the New York Philharmonic, David Geffen Hall, New York (January 31, February 2 & February 3): I will never fail to think of Bernard Herrmann’s score to Hitchcock’s Psycho when I hear the opening of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4: a wintery stab of flutes and sleigh bells that quickly gives way to as balmy a Viennese dance as one could imagine. Like Hitchcock, Mahler had a taste for the ironic, and that taste shows in this picaresque and relatively down-to-earth affair (at just under an hour, it is the shortest of his lengthy symphonies). Hear it performed this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at David Geffen Hall by the New York Philharmonic under the guest baton of Gianandrea Noseda. The soprano Golda Schultz joins for a Mozart aria and the finale of the Mahler, and Francesco Piemontesi plays in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25. —IS
Mahler & Bach performed by the Met Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, New York (February 1): New York concertgoers will have the rare opportunity this week to go straight from Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 on one night to his Fifth Symphony on the next. This does more than just check two boxes: in its opening horn fanfare, the Fifth quotes directly from the first movement of the Fourth, and its famous Adagietto—which is making its comet-like rounds through the public consciousness once more following its use in the Leonard Berstein biopic Maestro—is the more mature and tragic version of the Fourth’s lovely adagio third movement. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall this Thursday in a concert also featuring Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder sung by Lise Davidsen, as well as music by Bach. —IS
“Music for a While #84: Pieces & people to know.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“The boy who cried dictator,” by James Piereson. On voters tuning out the claim that Trump will be a dictator.
From the Archives
“Founding philosophy,” by Michael Anton (June 2018). A review of The Political Theory of the American Founding by Thomas G. West.