Recent links of note:

“Lefty Lingo”
Lionel Shriver, Harper’s Magazine

I am surely not alone in once having wondered, as an impressionable college student, about the actual subject of talks advertised under such headings as “An Embodied Political History of the Cis-Heteronormative Hermeneutics of Privilege.” Perhaps this was the point; coded language has always been employed by variously affiliated groups to distinguish members from non-members. But this tendency has taken on a new and disturbing aspect in our age. Take the so-called “democratization” of academia, which seems by now such a fait accompli that we wonder when, not if, the progressive platform will expand to include “PhDs for All.” Apart from making such degrees worthless, the trend has made linguistic Dr. Frankensteins of many: imprecise or meaningless terms like “privilege,” “cisgender,” and “marginalized,” which would have withered on the academic vine in due time, are now happily seized upon, dismembered, and brought back to life as heady vernacular by pseudo-smarties eager to bombard their ideological opponents and wow audiences with their erudition. Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Lionel Shriver winningly articulates how such language betrays a complete absence of independent thought in those who wield it.

“Van Dyck, the artist’s artist”
Tim Smith-Laing, Apollo

The English-speaking world can count itself lucky that Van Dyck, Handel, Rossini, and many others from continental Europe decided to set up shop in London at or near the height of their powers. It redounds even more to our profit when we have the chance to position and evaluate these periods of creative genius in the context of their careers writ large. According to Tim Smith-Laing, who writes for Apollo magazine, a new Van Dyck retrospective at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich offers one such opportunity. Although “it is sometimes easy to think of the last nine years of Van Dyck’s life as his defining period,” Smith-Laing reports that the exhibition provides a thoroughly detailed overview of Van Dyck’s career and demonstrates that, though his work for Charles I of England was undoubtedly of the highest order, our appreciation of it only grows when it is set against the rich and profound backdrop of his entire oeuvre.

“Confessions of the new Grub Street”
William Boot, The Critic

Publishing is a business, much to the disappointment of so many high-minded literary hopefuls. This was true at the publication of George Gissing’s novel New Grub Street in 1891, it is true today, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be true in the future. But recent events, writes the pseudonymous William Boot in The Critic, have revealed anew the massive disparity between the aspirations and apparent values of the literary establishment and the dour reality of the immense copy mills that keep the lights on. The evidence he cites includes, but is not limited to, the following: the unseemly decision to split this year’s Booker Prize between Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood, thereby making two political awards out of a literary one; the fact that “book” reviews today are more likely assembled from a few chapters plus whatever seems to be the consensus among other tastemakers; and an editor friend’s bashful suggestion of a tacit credo among some publishers—that “black people didn’t buy books”—that could help explain why so many titles about race and society, many with valuable things to say, are marketed toward a white and smugly liberal audience. Is there another, better option than the current literary arrangement? And if so, would we ever see a book about it?

Podcast:

Roger Kimball introduces the December issue
The Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion discusses highlights in this month’s issue and remembers the life and work of Peter Collier.

Dispatch:

Chopin-like Scriabin, Beethoven-like Tchaikovsky
by Jay Nordlinger
On an evening at the Philharmonic.

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