Category Archives: fine arts

on inhabiting earth with inaccessibly beautiful things

I unfortunately know no Chinese. The sounds, resonances, allusions, and calligraphy of traditional Chinese poetry can reach me only through paraphrase or as abstract patterns, each character looking not much different from the next. However, Perry Link writes, Should we compare poetry across civilizations? … Continue reading

Posted in fine arts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Walter de la Mare, Fare Well

Derek Walcott says that he always “cherished” the poem “Fare Well” by Walter de la Mare “because of its melody and its plaintiveness.” I think Walcott proceeds to recite it from memory rather than read it, because his spoken rendition differs in very … Continue reading

Posted in notes on poems, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

aphorisms, proverbs, maxims, and the purpose of this blog

If you search the Internet for “aphorisms,” you’ll find a mix of authors, from Lao Tze to Jean Baudrillard. Some are literary figures who are eminently quotable–good at writing short, memorable passages that stand on their own even if they were originally composed … Continue reading

Posted in notes on poems, philosophy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

cultural mixing and power

  These two objects were juxtaposed during a wonderful Tisch Talk in the Humanities yesterday, with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Lisa Lowe from Tufts’ Department of English. On the left, an … Continue reading

Posted in fine arts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maoist chic as Orientalism

While visiting the excellent Tufts University Art Gallery exhibition, “Tseng Kwong-Chi: Performing for the Camera,” my colleagues and I heard the following story. Tseng was the child of Chinese anticommunist refugees. He moved to the East Village in the 1970s, where he worked and … Continue reading

Posted in fine arts | Leave a comment

game theory, naval warfare, and Derek Walcott

I am in Washington, DC but remembering our winter vacation in Les Saintes, near Guadeloupe, because I am reading Derek Walcott’s astoundingly good epic, Omeros. In the channel with three islets christened “Les Saintes” in a mild sunrise the ninth … Continue reading

Posted in notes on poems, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

remembering Melisto

This is Melisto, a daughter of Ktesikrates from Sounion, which is now a day-trip from Athens. I think her name means “Melody,” unless it’s related to the word for “honey.”* Melisto lived for a few years (six, perhaps?) around 340 BCE. The Macedonian King … Continue reading

Posted in fine arts | Leave a comment

on the proper use of moral clichés

In Joseph Roth’s finely wrought novel The Redetsky March (1932), a simple and good-hearted peasant orderly tries to make a huge financial sacrifice to help his boss, Lieutenant Trotta. The feckless Trotta is badly in debt, and the orderly, Onufrij, has … Continue reading

Posted in fine arts, philosophy | Leave a comment

St. Margaret of Cortona and medieval populism

This is highlight #3 from our recent vacation in Italy. St. Margaret of Cortona was a remarkable person–more on her in a moment. The picture is a narrative of her life painted around 1298, or just one year after she … Continue reading

Posted in fine arts, populism | Leave a comment

civic republicanism in medieval Italy: the Lucignano council frescoes

This is highlight #2 from our recent time in Italy. Lucignano is a small medieval town in Tuscany, notable for its street plan of concentric ellipses capping a steep hill. During the middle ages, it was contested by larger city-states, … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, fine arts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment