Art And Ambiguity

Oct 21 2014 @ 5:16pm

Freddie considers the limits of art criticism in the Internet age, “a vast explosion in the analysis and examination of the art around us”:

These efforts to cast the brute emotional power of art into the conventions of thinking are necessary, natural, and fun. But they can result in, for example, the deep hatred for ambiguity in art, the effort to tease out of every creator what really happened. More, so many takes on art today, straining for political relevance, misunderstand that it is precisely the ability of art to express the indefensible and the disturbing that lends it enduring power.

If you are yet another person online to point out that the lyrics of “Run For Your Life” off of Rubber Soul are disturbing and misogynist, you are yet another to fail to understand that John Lennon didn’t kill anybody. He wrote a song about his impulses to kill — his scary, ugly, unmentionable impulse to kill, driven by the frightening irrationality at the heart of love and desire. He put those impulses into his art because that is where they could be acknowledged without danger. His music was where the unforgivable monster of his feelings could live and do no harm.

Desperately Seeking Moderates, Ctd

Oct 21 2014 @ 4:44pm

In a column from last week, Fareed Zakaria recommends limiting our Syria strategy to containment, emphasizing the unlikelihood that American power can resolve the country’s civil war. He stresses the difficulty of finding reliable partners among the Syrian rebels, a topic the Dish has covered repeatedly. Fareed concludes:

The crucial, underlying reason for the violence in Iraq and Syria is a Sunni revolt against governments in Baghdad and Damascus that they view as hostile, apostate regimes. That revolt, in turn, has been fueled by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, each supporting its own favorite Sunni groups, which has only added to the complexity. On the other side, Iran has supported the Shiite and Alawite regimes, ensuring that this sectarian struggle is also regional. The political solution, presumably, is some kind of power-sharing arrangement in those two capitals. But this is not something that the United States can engineer in Syria. It tried in Iraq, but despite 170,000 troops, tens of billions of dollars and David Petraeus’s skillful leadership, the deals Petraeus brokered started unraveling within months of his departure, well before American troops had left.

Pushing back on Fareed’s claims, Michael Weiss and Faysal Itani make a forceful argument for greater engagement with the Free Syrian Army, pointing out that containment is what the Obama administration is already doing – and it isn’t working. They contest the “longstanding and intellectually disingenuous complaint” that the Syrian opposition has been taken over by al-Qaeda affiliates, leaving few “moderates” for the US to support:

Read On

Mental Health Break

Oct 21 2014 @ 4:20pm

A clever new take on the cover song:

Todd Starnes contends it’s a real threat:

Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court. Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene. “Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”

According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.” But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business – not as a church or place of worship – and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

Robert Tracinski is left breathless:

Heretics will be found out and forced to recant. No one ever expects the Secular Inquisition.

Dreher also freaks out. But Walter Olson cautions:

I will note that I have learned through hard experience not to run with stories from ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) or Todd Starnes without seeking additional corroboration. As a libertarian, I oppose subjecting this family business to any legal compulsion whatsoever, but it’s also important (as in the Dallas pastors case) to get the facts straight before feeding a panic.

James Peron’s understanding of the facts:

Read On

Stalker Stories, Ctd

Oct 21 2014 @ 3:19pm

During this relatively slow news week, a reader draws our attention to “the latest thing blowing up (a small corner of) the Internet”:

Kathleen Hale, YA author and fiancée of Simon Rich (Frank Rich’s son) wrote this article about her experience with a nasty review on Goodreads of her non-yet-published book. She became obsessed with the reviewer, who was also a book blogger. Hale eventually discovered that the reviewer was operating under a false identity, stolen photos, made-up job, faked vacation photos, etc. Against all advice, Hale decided to confront the reviewer, to find out why she had it in for her, going so far as to find her real name and address, pay for a background check on her, and go to her house.

What makes the story so interesting is the reaction to it. I don’t know if Hale thought she would get a sympathetic reaction to her confession, but she has instead set off a firestorm.

Read On

The View From Your Window

Oct 21 2014 @ 3:00pm

Yupukari-Guyana-1149am

Yupukari, Guyana, 11.49 am

A few readers comment on the thread:

Actually, I would agree with McArdle (not something I usually do) about the waning energy of middle-aged parents. My wife had our two lovely daughters (now 4 and 20 months) by the age of 33. And they tire her out as it is. However, being nine years older than wife, these kids can devastate me! My wife and I are both professionals, so we have always traditionally split the household duties 50/50. But she is currently finishing her PhD thesis, which means I’ve taken on the lion’s share of the household work and raising the kids, and I can tell you that my mid-40s body/energy level is just barely up to the task. She left me in charge for a week while she was in Germany for an academic meeting; while I kept everything running well, I was also exhausted and in bed most of those night by 9PM!

Raising kids is something that is really meant for your 20s and early 30s, when your energy is less restricted. If companies really want to support working parents (because I think running a household should be split between the responsible adults), there are a raft of other family-friendly policies that could be looked at.

But another reader praises the egg-freezing policy:

So, I’m 41. I froze my eggs one week ago. I don’t have a partner, I’m still hoping to meet someone I actually want to be with, and I don’t particularly want to be a single parent, but family is hugely important to me and don’t want to regret never having children. I hadn’t really thought much about egg freezing, but then I went to my ob/gyn over the summer, and she recommended that I go see a fertility doctor and see what my options are. So I did.

Read On

Kobani: A Battle In Multiples Wars

Oct 21 2014 @ 2:21pm

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.41.05 AM

Despite recent gains by Kurdish fighters in and around Kobani, aided by the delivery of small arms and other supplies yesterday, Kiran Nazish reports that the situation in the area remains tenuous:

Firas Kharaba, the leader of a Kurdish group, has been coordinating and managing the return of many wounded fighters from Kobani into Turkey. With the help of spies that, he says, infiltrated ISIS, “we found the power hub. … After the U.S. hit that building, they [ISIS] suffered a full blow.” More than 30 top fighters and commanders were killed, he said. Recently the Islamic State has been bringing in new fighters, but many of themaccording to Firas’s sourcesare not professionally trained fighters, but mere managers, organizers, and account keepers, with little experience in the battle field.

The main concern for YPG fighters now, is their on-the-ground force. What they need even more than manpower, says Kobani government official Idris Nassan, are “weapons on the ground.”

Read On

What Catholics Really Believe

Oct 21 2014 @ 1:59pm

As we enter a year of debate and discussion about the family in Catholic teaching, it’s obvious, thanks to Pope Francis’ skillful airing of the divides, that there is no consensus on the issues of treating the divorced or single parents or homosexuals, and a majority of bishops in favor of the status quo. But it’s worth noting at the same time what American Catholics actually believe. They are increasingly one of the most socially progressive groups in American society and culture. When I am asked by many outsiders how I can remain in a church that does not welcome me or my kind, I have to respond that I have rarely experienced anything but welcome. My fellow Catholics are almost always obviously comfortable around their gay fellow-parishioners, as are, mercifully, many priests.

Check out this graph, for example, on the question of sodomy – yes, full-fledged sodomy – over the decades in American life:

bialik-datalab-vatican-31

If you wanted a religious vocation that was all about endorsing gay sex (not something I would ever recommend), you should rush to be a Catholic! Carl Bialik’s data-driven analysis even finds the correlation between Catholicism and social liberalism to endure across cultures and countries:

We didn’t have data broken down by religion in individual countries, so instead I examined how attitudes within countries corresponded with the percentage of their population that is Catholic. In general, the higher a share of a country’s residents are Catholic, the higher percentage of residents express tolerance toward divorce and towards gays. The effect isn’t huge, but it’s consistent.

I immediately went to read Rod Dreher to see his head exploding. In fact, he agrees:

Read On

Peen Review, Ctd

Oct 21 2014 @ 1:42pm

NSFW, because Oz:

Readers point to some lesser-known shows and films with major peenage:

I love that this is a current thread! Check out Shortbus by John Cameron Mitchell (director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch) for some serious onscreen peen, and an overall excellent film about the city you love to hate: NYC.

Another adds regarding Shortbus, “How often in a non-porn, ‘art’, ‘indie’ movie do you see this much explicit sexual behavior that is clearly a legitimate part of the storytelling?” Many other readers sound off:

Given all that’s going on in the world, it seems a little weird to email you about boners on TV, but here are two notable instances that stand up – er – stand out:

Read On