"Director Damani Baker's ambition, in his new documentary 'The House on Coco Road,' is to connect the US's 1983 invasion of Grenada to the saga of African-American struggles for freedom reaching back to the toil of his sharecropper forebears in Dixie and forward to the Black Lives Matter movement today," writes Joshua Jelly-Schapiro.
"Fighting was to John Keats like eating or drinking," writes Fleur Jaeggy in her new book 'These Possible Lives,' on Keats, Thomas De Quincey, and Marcel Schwob. "He sought out aggressive boys, cruel boys, but their company, as he was already inclined to poetry, must have provided some comic and burlesque treats."
"Koreans are by now long used to living within close firing range of Pyongyang and do not think it will attack unless provoked. What really worries them is Trump," writes Anthony Spaeth, Editor in Chief at South Korea’s JoongAng Daily.
"For Henry James’s seventieth birthday in 1913 a group of his admirers commissioned John Singer Sargent to paint him," writes Michael Gorra. "A compact but wonderfully heterogeneous show at The Morgan Library & Museum includes a comprehensive selection of Jamesian portraits along with other paintings of and by his friends."
J. Hoberman on Sofia Coppola's remake of the "masterpiece of misogyny" that is Don Siegel's 1971 'The Beguiled': "Where Siegel's 'Beguiled' was an expression of male hysteria, Coppola's version is a dark comedy of manners."
Liana Finck draws her impressions of Sara Berman's closet, a reconstruction of the artist Maira Kalman's mother's closet, now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
"Will we ever really know what, or even where, consciousness is? Is there any way to get at it scientifically, conclusively?" In their tenth dialogue, Tim Parks and Riccardo Manzotti consider whether they can perform an experiment to test consciousness.
Sue Halpern: "Trump’s data team knew exactly which voters in which states they needed to persuade on Facebook and Twitter and precisely what messages to use. How did the Russians know this, too? Largely ignored in this discussion is one possibility: that the Russians themselves, through their hacking of Democratic Party records, had better information than Trump."
Tim Page on the strange and complicated life of pianist Van Cliburn, who at age 23 won the gold medal in the first Tchaikovsky International Competition, at the height of the cold war.
"Although it’s been little noted: Emmanuel Macron, the new French president, managed to avoid talk about 'French identity' in both the presidential and legislative election campaigns," writes Sylvain Cypel in his essay about Macron's predilection for "the California version of the United States."
Jenny Uglow writes, "'Quentin Blake: The Life of Birds,' is a tiny exhibition, but one of pure, quirky joy. Oddly, the human traits that Blake illustrates seem clearer and sharper in these birds than in his drawings of people, perhaps because without the human features we see only the revealing shorthand of gesture, expression, and movement."
“Both Trump and Bannon have a history of being taken lightly only to rear up and catch the skeptics by surprise,” writes Sam Tanenhaus. He reviews Joshua Green’s new book ‘Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency.’
"Ellen Berkenblit’s pictorial subject matter—horses, tigers, nudes, hands —nods at myth-making. Her work is unironic, unembarrassed, and sincere about both form and content," writes Dan Nadel.
"'You & a Bike & a Road' is a lovely, slow book about going a journey—not an epic, world-dominating circumnavigation, but something quieter and more intimate," writes Jon Day.
Matthew Cobb reviews three new books about decoding and modifying genes: Recent "innovations give us the power to predict certain risks to our health, eliminate deadly diseases, and ultimately transform ourselves and the whole of nature. This development raises complex and urgent questions about the kind of society we want and who we really are."
"Today Raphael is often dismissed...supreme in grace and rhetoric, yet mannered and unnatural, even insincere," writes Andrew Butterfield. But "Raphael: The Drawings" at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford "provides a rare chance to see up close a wide array of the artist’s works from throughout his life, and the effect is thrilling and revelatory."
Ian Johnson writes, "Liu Xiaobo's life and death stand for the fundamental conundrum of Chinese reformers over the past century—not how to boost GDP or recover lost territories, but how to create a more humane and just political system."
Woody Guthrie was born on this day in 1912. “Doom was woven into his destiny,” Murray Kempton wrote in this essay on his life.
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"Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel, and Aung San Suu Kyi all lived to see release from the beastly regimes that repressed them, and Liu Xiaobo did not," writes Perry Link. "Is success of a movement necessary in order for its leader to be viewed as heroic?...Will the glint of Liu's incisive intellect be remembered?"
"Hokusai was perhaps the greatest draughtsman, Hiroshige excelled in landscapes, and Kuniyoshi had the wildest theatrical flair," writes Ian Buruma. "Utamaro (1753–1806) was the lover of women."
"Trump openly invited the Russian government to hack Hillary Clinton’s email—which is far more than Donald Jr. welcomed in secret," writes Masha Gessen. "The news has been as shocking as it has because, after all this time, we still have not learned to take Trump’s public utterances seriously."
Yo-Yo Ma writes about a unique floating concert hall designed by the architect Louis Kahn: “a powerful, living testament to American creativity and to the elemental role that culture plays in human life.” If a new guardian for the ship is not found this month, it will be broken down for the scrap heap.
"Regarded as one of the most influential designers in modern fashion, Rei Kawakubo appears to be more concerned with novelty and sparking interest and dialogue than with straightforward attraction or luxury," writes Stephanie LaCava. An exhibition of Kawakubo's label Comme des Garçons is now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
"Given the perennial relevance of the various injustices it circles around—the sexual exploitation and pious hypocrisy and persecution of whistle blowers—'Measure for Measure' invites updating," writes Geoffrey O'Brien of Simon Godwin’s production.
“Those of us who move from the periphery to the center turn our dial to different wavelengths depending on where we are and who else is in the room.” Colm Tóibín on Édouard Louis and Didier Eribon, coming out and moving away.
"'What did the Muslims expect?' asked one woman. 'After everything they’ve done to us,' agreed another. ...These ideas are not confined to the fringe; they appear to be held by a substantial minority," writes Christopher de Bellaigue of reactions after a man drove a van into a group of Muslims near a mosque in north London last month.
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): "Regional data demonstrate that the modern American death penalty has its origins in racial terror and is, in the words of the legal scholar Stephen Bright, 'a direct descendant of lynching.'"
"What really worries South Korea is not its bizarre and militaristic neighbor to the north, but the new US president," writes Anthony Spaeth, Editor in Chief at South Korea’s JoongAng Daily.
Over time, Elaine Blair writes, the comedian Louis C.K. has "gotten more traction with observations about our national mood disorder: the irritable, selfish public behavior and private melancholy of Americans in the smartphone age (or sometimes, more specifically, affluent white Americans). He’s most effective when he uses himself as representative American jerk and melancholic."
"Seen strictly on its own terms, Sofia Coppola’s remake of Don Siegel's 'The Beguiled' is an adept, mildly wicked, discreetly violent riff on the relations between men and women," writes J. Hoberman.
Ingrid Rowland on Bill Viola's "Electronic Renaissance," recently at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence
France's new President Emmanuel Macron has shown himself to be fascinated with "the California version of the United States, where Silicon Valley libertarianism mixes with a general progressivism on social issues," writes Sylvain Cypel.
"While Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are often twinned in the press and in the public imagination, these films demonstrate how false that equivalence is," writes Sue Halpern of Laura Poitras’s documentary portrait of Assange, 'Risk,' compared to her 2014 film, 'Citizen Four,' about Snowden.
Of "Matisse in the Studio," at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Claire Messud writes, "This glorious exhibition impresses the viewer with atavistic and abiding truths: Matisse’s passion for color, for light, for pattern, for flowers and the female figure; and his conviction that what endures is certainly matter: the flesh, the fruit, the flowers, the folds of fabric."
Annette Gordon-Reed writes, "What it means to be an American is not—has never been—so simple a proposition" as "Thomas Jefferson’s soaring language about the equality of mankind" that often defines the Declaration of Independence. Earlier this year, Gordon-Reed reviewed Robert Parkinson's 'The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution.'
"Was the Declaration of Independence a powerful indictment of British austerity policies?" Steve Pincus wrote in his 2015 essay, which considers how "our founders blamed George III and his government not for taxing too much but for doing too little to stimulate consumer demand."
Franz Kafka was born on this day in 1883. He wrote these love letters between 1912 and 1917 to a woman, Erich Heller writes, "whom he wished to marry, to whom he twice became engaged and from whom he twice parted."
“More than eight in ten American lynchings between 1889 and 1918 occurred in the South,” writes Bryan Stevenson, “and more than eight in ten of the more than 1,400 legal executions carried out in this country since 1976 have been in the South, where the legacy of the nation’s embrace of slavery lingers.”
"We often confuse freedom with arbitrariness, as though freedom were tantamount to doing something in a random way. But we are only really free, or rather we savor our freedom, when what we do is the necessary expression of what we are," says Riccardo Manzotti—who studies robotics, computer science, and philosophy of mind—in his latest conversation with Tim Parks on consciousness.
In 2015 the cartoonist and activist Eleanor Davis set off on a bicycle ride 1,800 miles from her parents’ house in Arizona to her home in Georgia. "Comics lend themselves to representing the experience of cycling: the flatness of the bird’s-eye-view map set in contrast to the scene-by-scene illustrations of Davis’s daily experience biking," writes Jon Day.
"At the center of both our flawed current system and its disastrous proposed replacement is a more fundamental reality: health care in the United States is enormously costly, often in ways that are baffling not only to patients but to doctors themselves," write Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband.
"An eight-month battle to retake Mosul from ISIS is coming to an end," writes Joost Hiltermann. "But further battles await...ISIS’s military defeat, which Western officials believe will come sometime later this year or early next, will hardly put an end to the conflicts that gave rise to the group."
“In recent years, two new genetic technologies have started a scientific and medical revolution,” writes Matthew Cobb in his review of three new books about decoding and modifying genes. “A brave new world is just around the corner, and we had better be ready for it or things could go horribly wrong.”
"Ellen Berkenblit’s striking new paintings are a riot of luminous colors," writes Dan Nadel, of the exhibit that is in its final week at Anton Kern Gallery. "Each layer of paint reveals something, and, in some works, seems to display the history of their own making."
Ahmed Rashid on the political crisis in Afghanistan
"Of all the masters of the woodblock print in the Edo Period, Utamaro—whose work is now featured at the Sackler Gallery—has the most colorful reputation," writes Ian Buruma. "Not only did he create extraordinary prints and paintings of female beauties, often high-class prostitutes, but he was also, it was said, a great habitué of the brothels in Edo himself."
Of the six men who traveled in a 1761-1767 Danish expedition to what is now Yemen, only one returned to Denmark. An account of the voyage was first published in English in 1964 as 'Felix Arabia.' New York Review Books has published a new edition.
David Cole weighs in on the 2016-2017 Supreme Court term, and looks ahead to next term's heady line up of cases, "at a time when, given the Oval Office’s current occupant, the judiciary’s check on the executive branch is more essential than ever."
Masha Gessen on the protests in Russia in early June, the "most geographically widespread in all of Russian history," during which more than 1,700 people were thrown in jail. "What is giving some Russians hope," Gessen writes, "is that a new generation of people who are not yet frightened seems to have burst onto the scene."
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