Mary Douglas

Max Beckmann. Medea (1949-50). National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.                                 William Burroughs, Introduction to The Naked Lunch
That book seethed up from forgotten shallows while I watched a recent episode in the third season of House of Cards. Robin Wright’s character, Claire Underwood, wants to avenge herself on a male diplomat who has slighted her. In a previous scene, he scanned her body, and told her how good she looked in the dress she was wearing. Continue Reading
Artist as Seer

THE FLATTERING NOTION—fallacy, really—that artists see more than other, unpoetic, people comes to us from the Romantics. The German brand (Hegel, Schelling, Hölderlin, Schiller, Fichte and no small bit of Goethe) has been particularly virulent. Up to a point, of course, that bit about seeing has some merit. Down the centuries, artists were better than bakers, butchers, masons, et alia, at distinguishing one shade of gray from another, arranging colors in pleasing relation to each other, and gauging subtleties of line and hue. Continue Reading