Can a Museum for ‘Progressive Artists’ Have an Arms-Manufacturer Vice-Chairman?
With essays that span the devastating effects of financial inequality and globalization and a new novel on climate change disaster, John Lanchester is becoming the central voice for the end of the world. But such serious business also requires a kind of trickery. It was exceptionally crowded for a weekday afternoon at the British Library as John Lanchester peered into a vitrine containing a curious jewel. It was the final weeks of a sold-out exhibition on Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and although the show included the oldest surviving copy of the poem Beowulf, the oldest known Latin Bible, and a variety of other literary treasures, these weren’t what the author was most interested in. Instead, Lanchester contemplated a bejeweled golden reading pointer. In the ninth century, its creator, King Alfred, had sixty of them made to accompany copies of his own translation into Old English of a Latin papal text — a kind of premodern marketing campaign. Its most interesting feature is its promotional self-awareness; Lanchester pointed to an inscription on the jewel that read, AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN — “Alfred …
The New York museum’s introduction of an admission charge reveals a wider problem of donor dependence and a hands-off government.
Oliver Sacks’s Latest Book Asks: What Do We Mean When We Talk About ‘the Mind’?
On what is lost when we spend our lives trying to avoid feeling alone.
In 1910, a fourteen-year-old Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald began recording his friendships, debaucheries, and many, many crushes in a diary known as his “thoughtbook.” It’s almost disturbing how perceptive he was of his social sphere at such a young age, and we can see his famous romantic idealization of women beginning to take flight with phrases like “she was very pretty with dark brown hair and eyes big and soft,” and moments where he grew so embarrassed over a crush that upon an unlikely meeting with one, he wrote, “I nearly fell down with embarrassment but I finally stammered ‘Give this to Kitty,’ and ran home.”