The Spectacular Arrogance & Ignorance of Steven Pinker’s Scientism

August 8, 2013

What is one to make of an essay seeking to bridge a purported divide of understanding between science and the humanities – in which the humanities are said to fear and mistrust the sciences – that opens with the sentence, “The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists”? The essay […]

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Zero Dark Thirty and Torture

April 1, 2013

. I held my peace during the controversy over Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty because I was working on an extended consideration of the film and preferred to make my case fully in that venue. Suffice it to say as brief introduction that I think the criticisms of the film, those that accused it of […]

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Zero Dark Art vs Journalism

December 26, 2012

. There is a quite extraordinary article on Huffington Post today by G. Roger Denson. It addresses the controversy over director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal‘s film Zero Dark Thirty and the matter of torture. It is somewhat extraordinary for its length, by HufPo standards, but truly for for the quality of its perceptions and the […]

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The NRA and the Irrational Right

December 21, 2012

. There is room elsewhere for indignation at the NRA’s response today to the Newtown mass murder of children and educators by a mentally ill young man whose gun-owning mother apparently did not keep her firearm’s beyond a disturbed son’s reach. The outrage should be universal. But the irrationality is that of the American right, […]

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How We Lived On It (53) – “We are the knife people…”

August 12, 2012

. Maybe none of it, finally, is like bone – not solid and lasting enough – or muscle – not as strong – but cartilage: something in between, partaking of both, lesser, but also greater, because it is all about connections and making them. Some semi-random connections. Robert Hughes died this past week. What we […]

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How We Lived On It (50) – The Daughters

May 12, 2012

. Music: Tim Story, “The Daughers,” from Shadowplay. Art: Elizabeth Colomba    Related articles Being In and Out of Time ( How We Lived On It (49) – The First Hippie ( Jazz Is: 38 – “Nature Boy” ( Eating Poetry (XXXIV) – Time Is the Fire (

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Art on the Brain

December 7, 2011

. Welcome brainiac, hail mensch. From Alva Noë, “Art and the Limits of Neuroscience“: What we do know is that a healthy brain is necessary for normal mental life, and indeed, for any life at all. But of course much else is necessary for mental life. We need roughly normal bodies and a roughly normal environment. […]

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New Work

August 23, 2011

As of this Fall 2011 issue, I am (along with William Wallis) poetry and contributing editor for West magazine. West, housed at West Los Angeles College, is the online literary and arts magazine representing all of the nine Los Angeles Community Colleges, with a still expanding roster of contributing editors drawn from the talent at […]

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Philip Roth: Fictio cedit veritati

July 7, 2011

“Fiction yields to truth.” This is a dictum of ancient Roman law, specific in its application to Roman law, yet it yields a sentiment appropriate to the discussion. This is what Phillip Roth seems to have conveyed in his recent interview with Financial Times arts editor Jan Dalley that has set the literary world abuzz. […]

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Eating Poetry (XXV) – Some of the Words Are Theirs

May 6, 2011

The close of The Great Gatsby is probably the most famous and referenced ending of any American novel. Lyricized in a lushly romantic invocation of American promise, somehow gone wrong in the stinking, rich like of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, and in the aftermath of Jay Gatsby’s failed striving, with such foolish and criminal élan, […]

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CineFile – Basquiat

February 20, 2011

“My mom told me this story – or was it a dream?” It makes sense that it might take another painter to make a masterly, even painterly film about a painter. In both of these scenes from the 1996 film, director Julian Schnabel conveys an idiosyncratic ingenuousness in Jeffrey Wright‘s Jean-Michel Basquiat that mixes with […]

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Politics and Art

February 14, 2011

Vladimir Nabokov did not like the novel of ideas. Artists often have their idiosyncratic dislikes, contrary expressions of the unique aesthetic vision that drives their own work. Particularly, Nabokov did not like the work of those monuments of great-idea novels, Dostoyevsky and Mann, though there is no reason his distaste should have excluded the novels […]

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Making it Modern

December 31, 2010

“Art is a private thing, the artist makes it for himself; a comprehensible work is the product of a journalist.” Tristan Tzara, “Dada Manifesto,” March 23, 1918 “Literature is news that stays news.” Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (1934) Serge Diaghilev, at the composer’s studio, on hearing the first few minutes of Igor Stravinsky’s The […]

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Christopher Al-Aswad Prize

September 1, 2010

Chris Al-Aswad was many things, writer, artist, editor, and his own kind of community organizer, as a builder of community through the generosity of his spirit and personality, through social media, and through the extraordinary online journal that is his legacy. When he died just weeks ago at the profoundly sad age of 31, the […]

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The Holocaust Revisited

July 13, 2010

Reports Haaretz, Australian Jewish artist Jane Korman filmed her three children and her father, 89-year-old Holocaust survivor Adolk, in the video clip “I Will Survive: Dancing Auschwitz.” Originally released in December 2009, the video has been the source of some controversy. Dancing at Auschwitz and other memorialized sites of the Holocaust? How profane. But it […]

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The Apache Chronicles

February 10, 2009

Douglas Miles Exhibit at the Dada Contemporary; February 7, 2009: Tucson, Arizona All photos by Julia Dean

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Apache Chronicles

January 31, 2009

Douglas Miles, subject of our previous post, wil be exhbiting his work at the Dada Contemporary gallery in Tucson, AZ, 439 N. 6th Avenue, opening reception this coming Saturday February 7 from 6-8 p.m.  The Apache Skateboard Team will perform. AJA

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People of San Carlos II

January 29, 2009

Douglas Miles is Apache. He is an artist. He is an entrepreneur. He is a skateboard crew leader. He is an activist and “community organizer,” of a kind. (Photos by Brendan Moore: Can he be any one of those things alone? Or, for most people, must every role he takes on be encountered only […]

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Artful Humanity

January 11, 2009

Denis Dutton’s new book, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution, argues that art is not a social construct, but hardwired through evolutionary development into human being. Which  is what I’ve always argued. He just wrote the book. AJA

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Natives Go Classical – and Then Some

January 6, 2009

NPR reports that a “growing number of American Indian musicians are embracing classical music.” Increasingly, the composers report, this means mixing identities in a constructive and productive way: Mescalero Apache composer and musician Steven Alvarez hopes the classical native movement will offer American Indians a new musical voice in much the same way that reggae […]

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