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‘Gobstopping’ Islamic art objects at the Ashmolean.

By JANE JAKEMAN  [The Art Newspaper] — To illustrate the material culture supporting the various Islamic beliefs in the supernatural, whether “orthodox” or “superstitious”, the Ashmolean Museum has brought together examples that range not only from scholarly interpretation to popular faith, but also from lavish courtly productions to objects cherished at humbler levels. This in itself represents a new movement in Islamic art studies, traditionally largely focused on connoisseurship. That approach isolated the gobstopper art object in a glass case, whether physical or metaphorical, whereas the banners, talismans and amulets of poorer folk discussed here were part of their daily lives. Continue reading “‘Gobstopping’ Islamic art objects at the Ashmolean.” »

The media: missed again.

By “XIAOMAO” [Chronicle & a comment to a Washington Post article, “The media didn’t want to believe Trump could win. So they looked the other way.”] — no, you didn’t “miss” it. you deliberately, persistently, and consistently dismissed people and their voices by twisting our words, taking things out of context to make your misleading headlines, suppressing comments that you don’t like, and in not so subtle way insisting that simply because someone doesn’t have some BS 4 year sociology degree, he is “uneducated” or “rural” (hence less worthy than you and your opinion!) you only picked and published and made up sh!t that served your own agenda and naïveté and hypocrisy, polling, your superficial demographic typing of trump supporters. Continue reading “The media: missed again.” »

The weakness of secular belief.

The burkini has become a blasphemy against the French state and society consensus.

By BEN RYAN [Theos] — The real reason for banning the burkini had nothing to do with the women themselves but with the fear about what the burkini represents to France and French values. France is proud of its laïcité, its distinctive Republic vision of secularism, which is for many a key component of what it is to have a French society. In fact according to a poll by the Institut français d’opinion publique in 2015, 46% of French adults believe laïcité is the most important Republican principle (ahead of universal suffrage at 36% and freedom of association 8%).  It is also a country that feels under siege; a succession of terrorist attacks on French soil has made people afraid. Islam is now seen as a fundamental threat to Frenchness. The burkini is a visual sign of that fear – a public and (to many) alien demonstration of a faith that rightly or wrongly they now perceive as the enemy within. The burkini is a symbol of anti-laïcité, anti-Republicanism and, therefore, anti-Frenchness. It has become a blasphemy against the French state and society consensus. Continue reading “The weakness of secular belief.” »

Yves Bonnefoy, 1923-2016.

By SAM SACKS [The New Yorker] — Bonnefoy’s writing is made of these gentle disagreements—his lifelong project was the reconciliation of stubborn opposites. The child of a teacher and a railroad worker, he was born in Tours in 1923 and spent the war years studying mathematics and philosophy. With his celebrated début collection, in 1953 (“On the Motion and Immobility of Douve”), he began a truly polymathic literary career, publishing, along with free-verse poetry, short fiction, lyric essays, translations (notably of Shakespeare and Yeats), literary criticism, and art history. He devoted considerable attention to the visual arts. (His second marriage was to the American painter Lucy Vines; the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of his closest friends.) He travelled widely, and lectured in comparative literature both in France and abroad.

Continue reading “Yves Bonnefoy, 1923-2016.” »



Chernobyl todayA LITTLE MORE THAN thirty years ago, just after eleven o’clock, on Friday night, April 26, 1986, the people of Kiev were going to bed. As the city slowed, demand for electricity decreased to the point that the grid operator in Kiev, who was responsible for balancing electrical production with demand, felt that one of the generators at the Chernobyl power plant could be taken offline without affecting service. Continue reading “Chernobyl.” »

Geoffrey Hill, 1932-2016.

By TRISTRAM FANE SAUNDERS [DAILY TELEGRAPH] — One of Hill’s formative early memories was the sight German bombers flying over his home town of Bromsgrove. “Here were these peculiar, businesslike – sinisterly businesslike – winged things… I can still remember the peculiar frisson of it,” he told The Telegraph in 2013. Continue reading “Geoffrey Hill, 1932-2016.” »

On the Somme, after the first day.


gduhamel1_cuI HAD NO desire for laughter, and yet at times I felt a vague longing to laugh. It was when I thought of those men who write about the war in the newspapers, saying: “The breach has been made. Why do we hesitate to fling fifty divisions into it?” or, “It remains only to mass reserves close to the front. Quick! Four hundred thousand men into the breach.” Continue reading “On the Somme, after the first day.” »

‘Aleppo is President Obama’s Srebrenica…’

Editorial/Leader [Wall Street Journal] — A day after CIA Director John Brennan testified that ISIS now boasts far more fighters than al Qaeda had at its peak, there’s more disagreement in the Obama ranks. Fifty-one State Department diplomats have signed a letter that assails President Obama’s Syria policy…

Two decades ago the world stood by as thousands of Bosnian Muslims were rounded up and killed in Srebrenica. Aleppo is President Obama’s Srebrenica—not that a fawning press corps has noticed. Continue reading “‘Aleppo is President Obama’s Srebrenica…’” »

At Yale: ‘We ask that Major English Poets be abolished…’

A Petition [to the Yale University English Department] — We, undergraduate students in the Yale English Department, write to urge the faculty to reevaluate the undergraduate curriculum. We ask the department to reconsider the current core requirements and the introductory courses for the major. Continue reading “At Yale: ‘We ask that Major English Poets be abolished…’” »

A unique American college becomes just another State U.

By ROGER KIMBALL [Real Clear Politics] – You can’t set foot on a college campus these days without encountering incessant chatter about “diversity.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “diversity” most colleges really mean “strict intellectual and moral conformity about any contentious issue.”  Indeed, most colleges and universities are one-party states, purveying, at enormous cost, a species of ideological indoctrination while their charges enjoy a four-year holiday from the responsibilities of adult life masquerading as a liberal education.  Their parents are happy, or at least reconciled to the expense and the indoctrination, because said college provides their child with the all-important stamp of societal approval in the form of a meal ticket called a “diploma.”  What have they actually learned? What skills have they mastered? What is their character?  Those are questions that no one, having just spent  (in many cases) $250,000, wants to ask. Continue reading “A unique American college becomes just another State U.” »

‘Adieu’ is how the French pronounce ‘Brexit’.

By EDOUARD TÉTREAU [Le Figaro via VoxEurop] — Brexit is a fantastic opportunity. First off, for Europe itself. The UK’s exit would put a definitive stop to the EU’s hurried enlargement. The UK always encouraged this policy, seeing it as an effective way of diluting the Franco-German partnership that has called the shots on the continent. This enlargement has had two damaging consequences: states were integrated into the EU and even into the eurozone before they were ready, from Greece – doctoring its public accounts to benefit from the euro’s financial profligacy – to Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Bulgaria – one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Continue reading “‘Adieu’ is how the French pronounce ‘Brexit’.” »

Aprés France, le déluge.

By JAMES POULOS [Orange County Register] — President Obama has studiously ignored the obvious – year upon year upon year – when it comes to France’s critical role in staving off disaster in Europe. To be sure, the White House is well aware that sometimes the most important work in foreign policy takes place all but silently, behind the scenes. But, repeating a pattern that has all but demolished its credibility in the realm of leadership, the administration has simply opted out of shaping public and elite opinion around the centrality of U.S.-French relations to a clear, coherent and now more than urgent mission: to defeat international jihad and ensure European peace and security. Continue reading “Aprés France, le déluge.” »

A history lesson for Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper.


Walther Funk

Walther Funk. (via Wiki)

BORIS JOHNSON MADE what most people would regard as a mild observation to the Sunday Telegraph, when he said, “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried [European unification] out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.”

The furor was as immediate as it was ill-informed. The Telegraph headlined their scoop, “Boris Johnson: The EU wants a superstate, just as Hitler did”. Imagine that! The news that Hitler wanted a “superstate” was shocking. It led the BBC newscast, perhaps for the first time in nearly 70 years. Continue reading “A history lesson for Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper.” »

The closed minds of American academics.

By BEN VOTH [American Thinker] — Even President Barack Obama recently lamented the declining state of affairs on America’s college campuses. Essentially, a doctrinaire sense of victimology has descended upon campuses such that free speech, critical thinking, and debate are all but abolished in favor of “Safe spaces.” The complaints are extensive and well-founded. Allan Bloom’s concern in the 1980s about the “Closing of the American Mind” is profound, real, and upon us at today’s university campuses. What is not often discussed is what should be done to reverse this crisis and to begin anew the opening of the American mind. Continue reading “The closed minds of American academics.” »

On the lookout for agency and ambition.

By JOSEPH EPSTEIN [Wall Street Journal] — [Ronald] Syme was a master of the brief character sketch, not infrequently followed by a sharp observation. The mixture of good and evil in the same people fascinated him. After toting up Marcus Antonius’ many flaws, he writes that “a blameless life is not the whole of virtue, and inflexible rectitude may prove a menace to the Commonwealth.” Cicero, he says, “had lent his eloquence to all political causes in turn, was sincere in one thing only, loyalty to the established order. His past career showed that he could not be depended on for action or statesmanship.” Continue reading “On the lookout for agency and ambition.” »