July 2011

Manga Catechesis

SOMETIMES I JUST DO NOT KNOW what to think. This is one of them. // A comic book, Habemus Papam, featuring Benedict XVI as a manga-style superhero will be handed out to all the ardent juveniles who show up in Madrid for World Youth Day. It runs about a week, from August 16 to 21. You might think that gives the beardless young enough time to read a real book. But why read if you can get the gist of things just by looking at stylized graphics done in the style of trendy Japanese comics? Continue Reading
The Cross at Ground Zero

ATHEISTS ADMIT THAT ATHEISM IS A BELIEF SYSTEM. It is about time. Atheism is as much a faith-based system as any God-centered religion. The existence of God can neither be proven nor unproven, no matter all the effort expended on debate. Unbelievers assert their own beliefs as ardently as any church-goer. That is the single, dominant thread running through the law suit, filed by pious atheists, against the cross to be raised at Ground Zero. The cross, an accidental formation of steel beams left standing in the 9/11 rubble, is intended for display in the proposed 9/11 Memorial Museum designed for the site. Continue Reading
The Art of Punishment?

ONCE RADICAL EVIL SHRINKS TO PSYCHOLOGICAL PROPORTIONS, society’s ability to inflict hardship—including the psychological pain of deep remorse—diminishes. Restitution and rehabilitation become one and the same thing.  That pulls the rug out from under an artist’s capacity to conceive anything close to the grand hellscapes, sublime in their gravity, that came freely to Hieronymous Bosch. When intuitions of the demonic are disarmed and superceded by a therapeutic culture, what images are left to draw upon? Bosch lived in age that made this plausible: // // Contemporary Norway appears to have progressed to, even surpassed, this: // What brought Bosch to mind—more precisely, the contemporary impossibility of his hellscapes—is the post that appeared on the blog of Foreign Policy: “The Not-So-Terrible Fate of Norway’s Alleged Killer.” Writer Robert Zeliger explains:
If you’re going to go on a maniacal murder rampage and then not have the decency to include yourself in the body count — Norway is the place to do it.
Continue Reading
On the Grid with Lloyd Martin

LLOYD MARTIN LIVES AND WORKS IN RHODE ISLAND. By no means does that permit anyone to call him a New England painter. There is nothing regional about his painting. His achievement embodies Robert Hughes’ observation—made some twenty years ago—that Manhattan is no longer a creative center. A marketing center, certainly; but vital for the development of a painter’s talent? Not at all. Martin has been exhibiting annually with Stephen Haller Gallery for a full decade. Given the diagrammatic, linear rigor of work that grants no compositional quarter to expressive accidents, it is an impressive production schedule. Continue Reading
The Art of Swallowing

The art of eating is one thing. The art of swallowing is quite something else. The first concerns the graces and pleasures of the table. The second is not about gobbling your dinner. It is a reference to credulity, an artless childlike trust—in this instance—in the romance of organic food. As in: “He swallowed the con, hook, line and sinker.” Or: “How can you swallow a fish story like that one?” // Randolph Caldecott, "Frog, Rat & Mouse at Table" (19th C.) // For those of you who do not make it through comment sections, let me share a portion of Organic Food Myths, an article by Brian Dunning at Skeptoid.com. Continue Reading