December 2010

Confessional Arts

RUMMAGING THROUGH THE HARDCOVER BIN at the local dump recycling center last week, I came across a discarded library copy of Fulton Sheen’s Peace of Soul (1949). It was famous in its day. I stopped to leaf through it, curious to see if it still held up. Or was it a phenomenon of the times, a relic of made-for-television piety? Answer: It is still a terrific book by a gracious, witty scholar with a gift for speaking to non-scholars without condescension or simplifications. Continue Reading
Artists and Eccentricity

WHEN WE TALK OF BOHEMIA, we are referring to a shifting cultural phenomenon that began among the Romantics, came to dissolute bloom in the prosperity of France’s Second Empire and continued, sporadically, through the Twenties and on into the Sixties. From Thomas De Quincey (17-85-1859) to the Beat Generation, thereabouts. But eccentricity has been with us forever. No doubt there were Neanderthals who considered themselves unique and entitled to attentions unearned by their dull, plodding fellows. // // Human history is a kaleidoscope of oddities—but do they belong to the nature of artists? Continue Reading