Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Odds and Ends

“How the Light Gets In: A Philosophical Festival at Hay” is being held in the United Kingdom, May 22 through May 31, 2009. Featuring Simon Blackburn and Anthony Grayling among others, it is billed as the United Kingdom’s first philosophy and music festival. Obviously, this seems a good way of bringing philosophy to the people.

Next April in 2010, there is scheduled to be a two-day conference, April 5 through 7, in Australia, at the University of South Australia, on emotional geographies: the public notice I received said that “We invite papers that interrogate emotion, society and space from diverse disciplinary and multidisciplinary backgrounds. We are interested in specific case studies as well as theoretical examinations of the nature of connections among these terms. The conference will be an exciting place to think about new ways of studying the natures, cultures and histories of emotional life. We welcome individual papers as well as panel proposals. We are happy to receive papers that engage in experimental as well as traditional formats.” I like the focus on the emotions, which remain mysteries and powers despite centuries of contemplation and trouble. Queries or abstracts of 300 words can be sent to CPCSGlobalisation -- at by July 17, 2009.

“I detest theory in criticism. Theory killed poetic criticism in France and Derrida’s Deconstruction theory has had a disastrous effect on criticism in this country and has completed the ruination of English departments by continuing what had started as a misreading and misunderstanding of the “New Critics”. Robert Graves said once that a poet writes poems for his friends, and I agree. And he also writes criticism for those same friends. The friend for whom I write is my ideal reader, intelligent, informed, sensitive, objective, and possessing above all sound and tasteful judgment,” declares William Jay Smith, in interview with the Contemporary Poetry Review (May 2009).

The New York Times recently had three different articles on novelist Colson Whitehead (Sag Harbor). Clearly, the paper has adopted him (it is a demonstration of how establishment power works).

With a poetry gathering at the White House and Mrs. Obama’s appearance at a ballet event in New York, the Obamas consistently seem to be affirming culture.

There is a Francis Bacon exhibit at the Metropolitan museum in New York, now until August 16th, a centenary exhibit, saluting the painter’s birth and his accomplishment.

The music group Green Day is at the top of the Billboard magazine charts, according to an online May 20th Billboard article, with the album 21st Century Breakdown, “selling 215,000 in an abbreviated three-day sales week.”

The Hartford Courant’s Thomas Kintner on Diana Ross, May 17: “Even in her middling moments, Ross was a more than able singer, gently kneading the notes of her 1973 hit "Touch Me In The Morning," and applying a precise yet informal caress to the slinky “It’s My House,” even when the song became repetitive while floating toward its finish. The pliability of her voice showed in the way she worked out “Love Child,” and she applied a crisp edge to the juicy bob of “More Today Than Yesterday.”……The day before, May 16, in an article “Becoming the best” in Nigeria’s publication Punch, Gogo Majin had written about Ross: “I watched Diana Ross perform live on television during her last visit to Nigeria. I took note of several things, some of which include the fact that she looked really great for a woman her age, and the ease and effortlessness with which she performed (she was completely at home on stage). But most important to me was the fact that despite several years of performing at shows around the world, her voice was still in great shape. The quality of her voice, live on stage, was as good as listening to her on CD. I am talking about the smoothness of her tone, the ability to hit all her high notes and her voice control.”

I heard Louisiana writer-musician David John (Dege) Legg interviewed on radio station KRVS yesterday (he writes for the Independent Weekly and has the band Black Bayou Construkt). It was a smart, amusing interview, though possibly too infatuated with ideas about “cool” and the cultural “underground.”

There is a lot of talk now about the television program “American Idol” and whether Adam Lambert or Kris Allen will be selected. I had not watched “American Idol” until recently, in the last several months. I can see how Lambert’s win would have some social significance (for his androgynous iconography, which some might consider transgressive) but I prefer Allen’s sound and look.