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Living the Art 6: Weaving a World, by Randall Auxier

                              Weaving a World By Randall Auxier Bob Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for literature. Folk music is hereby raised to fine art? Bosh. I think the division between fine art and “low” arts is artificial. Some of the best art I have ever seen (or heard or eaten) was made by people smugly…

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Living the Art 5: The Mayflower and the Moon, by Randall Auxier

                                       The Mayflower and the Moon by Randall Auxier In a wearied voice the singer confesses his need for some rest. His melody comes from a Bach chorale. But our singer, a notable presence in the great folk scare, probably heard the melody in a 1965 recording by some fellow New Yorkers. No one ever…

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Living the Art 4: Of Teaspoons and Waves

Of Teaspoons and Waves By Randall Auxier Paul Simon wrote (over a happy chord and floating rhythm) “she makes the sign of a teaspoon, he makes the sign of a wave.” That’s cryptic. But we see it here, in the video. What does that sign mean? These two people seem to understand, after he puts…

x1952-84, Noah's Drunkeness, Artist: Tissot, Photographer: John Parnell, Photo © The Jewish Museum, New York

Living the Art 3: Everything is Holy

Everything Is Holy Now by Randall Auxier It’s a line from Peter Mayer‘s song “Holy Now.” There is a longing for the holy, whatever it is. But the connection between holiness and beauty has been a problem for Western (and some Eastern) religions. If we worship what cannot be seen, what happens when we actually…

bunting-and-cardinal

Living the Art 2: Out of the Pure Blue

Out of the Pure Blue by Randall Auxier Every time I go to central Texas I am amazed by how ugly and hateful the grackals are. But this bird shimmers and shines iridescently and is often the color of deep indigo, which many regard as the most beautiful blue there is. Something has gone awry…

john-dewey

Democracy and Education

Years ago John Dewey wrote a book about the relationship between democracy and education, making the claim that the former relies upon the latter. Without an educated citizenry democracy cannot survive. I have been harping on the same theme for many years now and am saddened to say that Dewey was spot on. We are…

Diana RiggCollection Christophel

Living the Art 1: American Beauty

American Beauty by Randall Auxier      Crispin Sartwell‘s book Six Names of Beauty is probably the broadest study of the idea of “beauty” ever written. It covers six different languages and their cultures (English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Japanese, and Navajo), but also ranges across dozens of fields of meaning departing from each. Each chapter…

Jean-Léon Gérôme's Pollice verso (1872) Enraged crowds of bloodthirsty onlookers demand more action

The Mask of Empathy: How to be a White Social Justice Warrior

Co-Author: Laura J. Mueller It has become all too normal that what the average American citizen refers to as a “national tragedy,” such as police-initiated homicides of the unarmed, or mass shootings, is treated in predictably routine, hollow fashion. The oxymoronic tension between the tragedy and its therapeutic treatment is the New American Norm. The…

Langston Hughes at his typewriter in Harlem

Bojangles at the Zoo: The Anti-Social Teleology of Fame

The decade of the Harlem Renaissance was not only an important moment in American cultural history but, as Langston Hughes writes in his autobiography The Big Sea, it was a time in which even “the Negro was in vogue.” Hughes gives a vivid description of how precarious the social situation had become White people began…

Mark Twain with his friend, John Lewis, in the permanent collection of the Mark Twain House & Museum

“Look at my African American over here!”—Last Gasps of White Supremacy: Hegel’s World Soul on Horseback Found in the Descendants of Slaves by Myron Moses Jackson

Current events point to a future that forces whiteness into a state of chronic self-irritation. This week we have seen Muhammad Ali is being honored and memorialized no differently than a head of state. In his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, he went from not being able to enjoy the use of equal facilities or sit…