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Index: Commentary on Art and Literature


Alan Wall: ‘When Christians decided to impose their figural readings on the Hebrew Bible, and to employ typology, they deemed the text before them to be allegorical, or at least to have allegorical potential.’

Pastmodern art.

David Rosenberg: ‘We’re not seeing through or onto the surface: we are resisted.  By what?  By the plant, a species we know doesn’t need us and lived long before us—as inviolate in its existence as bigger species than ours, like trees.  True, we move around, but they too spread their species, and they are necessarily aware of the smaller ones that live on, in, and by them. ‘

What Is Truth?

Alan Macfarlane: ‘I found that more than three-quarters of the world lives outside the modern Western world view and does not accept our divisions. People  have different concepts of truth and reality.’

The wages for reading is rage.

Christopher Landrum: ‘It must be admitted that the recent sentence-by-sentence inspections of some books from some of our school libraries may mean–because the inspections occur under sunlight, accompanied by the use of magnifying glasses–some volumes run the risk of spontaneous combustion. But such incidents should be considered statistical outliers.’

The Loves of Marina Tsvetaeva.

CDC Reeve: ‘In her autobiographical story, “My Pushkin,” Tsvetaeva tells of her reaction to a scene from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which her mother thinks she is too young to understand: “Like a little fool—six years old—she’s fallen in love with Onegin!”’

A Visit to ‘The Merchant of Venice’.

Oscar Mandel: ‘But for Shakespeare, and most probably for his audience, a daughter’s reverent obedience needed no explanation; it was her virtue that mattered. Subtly searched out and believable motivations are our imperative.’

Considering ‘The Young American Writers’ anthology, fifty-five years later.

Richard Kostelanetz: ‘Both Carroll and myself resisted attributing to our writers a common esthetic stance and, in this respect, we differed from, say, Ezra Pound’s Des Imagists (1914). Or even a common background, such as a geographical residence or university writing programs.’


Anthony Howell: ‘The literary establishment, that is the commercially published establishment, here in the UK has always frowned on abstract writing and kept the gates closed against us that have engaged in such. But they can’t keep out the slammers.’

The Censor of Art.

Samuel Barlow: ‘The chief and essential offense committed by the Society for the Suppression of Vice, was the violation of the constitutional right of any man to be tried by a jury of his peers. Here at least it is pleasant to record that such a Jury of Peers has risen and insisted on rendering a true verdict, even if it partake some-what  of the nature of a post-mortem.’

Modern Artiques.

Robert Almon: ‘T.S.Eliot, who before he was twenty one, had written as fine poetry as this generation has produced, is a victim of the culture via ideas regime, more insistently the autocrat of the English mind than it is of the American.’

Small Magazines.

Ezra Pound: ‘The value of fugitive periodicals “of small circulation” is ulti­ mately measured by the work they have brought to press. The names of certain authors over a space of years, or over, let us say, the past score years, have been associated with impractical publication.’

Everything that is the case.

Peter Robinson: ‘For something to ‘be the case’ in philosophy is of course not the same as ‘the case’ that Oscar Wilde puns on, namely the large valise such as was supposed to contain the two volumes of Miss Prism’s unusually sentimental novel in The Importance of Being Earnest, or, for that matter, the case of a woman suffering from advanced Parkinson’s Disease being taken away from her husband during the opening phases of a global pandemic.’


John Wilkinson: ‘With Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land” the violet hour recurs as the eventide bringing into sharp and estranged focus, activities and settings which otherwise are banal..’

Pop Songs.

Alan Wall: ‘ You could half-whisper into a mike, and you were instantly in a bedroom, disrobing. Leonard Cohen was very close to the mike. There was a reason for this: in any orthodox sense, he couldn’t sing. He was endearingly aware of the fact.’

Georges Braque: A poetry of things.

Anthony Howell, on Morandi: ‘Ambivalence and ambiguity seem the very subject matter. How can all those objects actually balance on the top of that frail table, a top which seems tilted in our favour?’