Recent links of note:
“Ancient Rites in Madrid”
Christopher North, The Critic
“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering. The rest are merely games”—or at least so thought Hemingway. Since this declaration, man has summited Earth’s tallest peaks and outlawed bullfighting throughout most of the world (motor racing, however, is thriving). Mexico City, the Western hemisphere’s capital of bullfighting, made the practice illegal just last year, and now its ring, Plaza de Toros México, lies dormant in the middle of the city in much the same way the Colosseum must have after the last gladiator battle. You can see it as you fly into the city’s airport. Hemingway also wrote that one can judge the morality of the sport only after one has “seen the things that are spoken of and knows truly what their reactions to them would be.” Whether this is correct or not, I’m not sure, but if anyone is qualified to speak to the matter it is Christopher North. From the ever-fresh pages of The Critic, North has taken up Hemingway’s torch to chronicle the state of the sport, here explaining to his audience the mythic temptation that defines it.
“MOMA to Stage Major Retrospective for Groundbreaking Printmaker Käthe Kollwitz in 2024”
Maximilíano Durón, ARTnews
The twentieth century supplied ample material for those artists concerned with suffering. A voice often drowned out by the noise of the Guernicas and Dresden War Triptychs is the spare, restrained whisper of Käthe Kollwitz, the German printmaker, sculptor, and painter. At a time when artists were largely transforming their visions of suffering into abstract and alien dimensions, Kollwitz elected to keep her focus on the figural and plain. Her heavy, stark, and very German woodcuts typically take as their subject mothers and children, each one absorbing the entirety of the loss and despair that permeated Germany during the war years. For the first time in over three decades, Kollwitz will receive a major retrospective in the states. MOMA plans to exhibit over one hundred pieces spanning the artist’s career, an especially exciting prospect given the fact that Kollwitz was active for what amounts to fifty years between the 1890s and her death in 1945.
“Why Religion and the Humanities Are in Decline”
Terence Sweeney, Public Discourse
If, as many authors have contested, the modern West was born when Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan, then our genesis story is not a cheery one. Consider this statement by the Englishman: “In the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” The upshot of this premise is that life ends but has no end, meaning final purpose. Such a hollowed-out standpoint inevitably makes way for a quest toward nothing more than what is immediately useful, thus making the modern world inimical to anything properly concerned with purpose. Terence Sweeney is concerned precisely with this type of emptiness. According to Sweeney, it is this neglect of the why question that explains the nature of modernity, and that same neglect also explains the decline of both Christianity and the humanities. When the why question is forgotten, life has no alternative but to become a ceaseless series of meaningless gestures and assertions, like a never-ending Twitter feed. Sweeney argues that it is only the reunification of Christianity and humanism that can refill the vacuum of meaning.