Category Archives: fine arts

The Cliff-Top Monastery by A.B. Jackson

If you want a 20-line respite from the fascinating train wreck of American politics (on which my eyes are riveted, like everyone else’s), I recommend A.B. Jackson’s “The Cliff-Top Monastery” in the May issue of Poetry Magazine. A whole short … Continue reading

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Mozart illustrates the importance of “bids” in romantic relationships

The psychologist John Gottman discovered a fundamental condition of successful romantic relationships (which is consistent with my experience of 21 happy years of marriage). Partners frequently make “bids” for positive attention. Emily Esfahani Smith illustrates with an example: “the husband … Continue reading

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Derek Walcott becomes the volcano

(Orlando, FL) I’ve settled on a poem with which to express homage to the late Derek Walcott: his “Volcano” (1976) Joyce was afraid of thunder but lions roared at his funeral from the Zurich zoo. Was it Trieste or Zurich? … Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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