Recent links of note:
“The Deadly Boredom of ‘A Meaningless Life’ ”
Terry Newman, Quillette
In the wake of such catastrophic events as those in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend, the sense of inevitable tragedy menacing our culture seems to have reached critical mass. Calls to action have come from both sides of the political aisle, and the issue of gun violence in America is being analyzed from almost every possible angle. We have a duty as citizens to weigh and consider each of these commentaries—or, at least, as many as we can, outlandish though some may be—knowing that the civil liberties in question are useless if one lacks the breath with which he might defend them. In a society where we judge tragedy more by the headlines it generates than the content of its action, we tend to analyze the perpetrators of such shootings as murderers first, suicides second. So devastating are the crimes they have committed, we reason, that the killers cannot bear to deal with the aftermath. But Terry Newman, writing for Quillette, offers a different spin on the “lone wolf” interpretation of such events: to understand fully how these seemingly isolated cases tear at the fabric of our society time and time again, perhaps we ought to begin with their suicidal aspect. Drawing upon the theories of the French sociologist Émile Durkheim, Newman makes a convincing case for why many such instances of violence can only be fully understood as “exit strategies” from a culture of isolation and alienation.
“The Artist Catching Fire at 85”
Brenda Cronin, The Wall Street Journal
“Sam [Gilliam] is the great abstract artist who represents,” in the opinion of Jonathan Binstock, “a bridge between abstract expressionists of the midcentury and the renaissance that abstraction is enjoying today.” Binstock, a curator of Gilliam’s recent exhibit at the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland, does not exaggerate when he says “renaissance,” if Mr. Gilliam’s popularity among art collectors is any indication. The artist, aged eighty-five, had a painting sell for $2.17 million at Christie’s last November. Gilliam’s career began in the ’60s, in which decade, surrounded by members of the Washington Color School, he eventually garnered enough acclaim to show at the 1972 Venice Biennale. Since then, Gilliam has quietly continued to build a portfolio of abstract art, one that is now rapidly exploding in value, but all the while he “has remained absolutely true to his vision,” in Binstock’s view. Gilliam claims not to appreciate the increased attention: “It creates a sort of sensation around your work, and you begin to be rated and ranked,” he says. The attitude seems to have worked out well for him.
“The New York Times doesn’t write headlines anymore—the mob does”
Kyle Smith, New York Post
As more and more print journalism makes its way online, many publications have found it necessary to tweak or even revamp their production process. For editors at The New York Times, that process apparently now includes employing anyone with a Twitter account for some good, old-fashioned “community policing.” Writing for the New York Post, our theater critic, Kyle Smith, explains exactly what transpired late Monday evening. Around nine o’clock p.m., a simple Twitter post by the FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver leveled criticism at the cover of the next morning’s Times, which was to read: “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism.” Note that, since Trump did, in fact, urge unity in the face of racism in the speech described, Silver and the band of chanticleers that jumped on his wagon had to couch their sneering disapproval in the vaguest of terms. Silver, for one, wrote that the headline was “not how [he] would have framed the story.” Beto O’Rourke, he of the ever-mellifluous tongue, gaped: “Unbelievable.” And, my personal favorite, Sen. Corey Booker: “Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. Please do.” The Times promptly caved and replaced the headline within hours. What else could they do? They were literally responsible. For what, exactly? Goodness gracious—don’t you know by now?
From our pages:
“The second Chartwell”
On the Churchill-inspired bookstore in midtown Manhattan.
“A man and his Beethoven”
Evgeny Kissin in recital at the Salzburg Festival.