Recent links of note:
“Is Europe Helpless?”
Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal
Deeply disturbed by the recent string of terrorist attacks across France and Germany, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal used his latest column to ponder when and how Europe made itself susceptible to such chaos. The answers he comes up with are no great secrets: unrestricted immigration, hesitation to use proactive force, and distaste for the very concept of national interest. And yet, as he points out, Europe’s elites have given no sign of having come to terms with their errors. To help them along, Stephens suggests Israel as an example of a terror-sieged nation that has dealt shrewdly with its situation on all fronts—a fair point, though not one likely to resonate in Brussels any time soon.
“Young Rembrandt’s Existential Insights”
Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker
If you have a chance to visit the Morgan Library in Midtown Manhattan by the end of the summer, be sure to budget ample time for the “Rembrandt’s First Masterpiece” exhibition, anchored by the Dutch painter’s Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver, which he conceived and completed before his twenty-fourth birthday. As he admired the painting earlier this month, The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl rightly noted that the exhibition’s bland title undershoots the power of the piece. Rembrandt’s characterization of Judas amplifies his emotions compared to the straightforward description of the moment in the Gospel of Matthew, and his chiaroscuro accents from an undepicted light source evoke the divine light of Judas’s epiphany. As Schjeldahl points out, Rembrandt’s success in depicting extreme despair is most likely a testament to his ambition—his youthful willingness to attempt a bold representation of his subject, which, executed with care, resulted in a work that acquires its power in the eyes of those who have experienced some part of Judas’s misery.
“Trump: Tribune of Poor White Folks”
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
The GOP primary race and the nomination of Donald Trump have given rise to an entire subcategory of journalism that attempts to diagnose the ills of working-class whites, the group that powered Trump’s success at the polls. Unlike most of this commentary, which comes from authors on the nation’s coasts with nothing other than brief interviews and statistics to shape their opinions of the working class, Rod Dreher’s latest piece draws on the experience of rural poverty that both he and his interviewee share. Following up on his recent review of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis, Dreher sat down with the book’s author, J. D. Vance, who offered memories of his hardscrabble childhood—memories which have been made more vivid by their contrast with his subsequent experience at Yale Law School. Vance addresses his subject with a refreshing lack of bias, ascribing blame for today’s social tumult to different causes in roughly equal proportions—from structural economic changes to declining respect between the upper and lower classes, and, finally, the habits of working-class whites themselves.
From our pages:
On Dubussy’s Boîteà joujoux, played by the Seattle Symphony under Ludovic Morlot.