Sunday, March 18, 2018

Reading Update

   If I mostly report on my reading that’s because that is mostly what I do. Because I walk only when I have a companion and then not for very long, I spend much time at my desk in my very pleasant room. I missed two excellent and very desirable concerts this week, thanks to the fact that my back has been acting up, for the first time in quite a few years. The one of those misses was most unusual for me—Ellie playing the Mozart concerto with her orchestra; hearing her practice it in the house was not an adequate substitute. The other was her orchestra playing Fidelio—no loss doing it without the  stilted spoken dialogue. I saw it only once, with Jon Vickers as the imprisoned Florestan “complaining” mostly in a horizontal posture.
    Well, what I am reading is quite different. A few years ago I put on my Kindle what they call a Sample, a biography of Disraeli about whom I knew nothing. Now I have started reading the whole biography by Robert Blake. I’ll have something to say about that before long.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

End of Blog?

You may have noticed that my blog postings have shrunk to the minimal. I’m now thinking of taking the next step and closing it down—not unreasonable for someone aged 91. I herewith broadcast that intention in the most unlikely case that there might be objections to that. ——RHW

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Art Collecting Today

I happened on this book by Doug Woodham and read it in the course of a few days. It’s a well done account of the ins and outs of the art market. I’ve done my collecting, in particular the works by sculptors, now in the collection of Northwestern’s Block Museum. Besides those ins and outs it has much to say about do’s and don’ts—all of them seem to be helpful. As to whether any collector is open to such general advice is an open question. Dyed in the wool collectors are not much interested in advice telling them what genre they should be interested in. Still, the book was worth reading even though I’m quite sure I will never benefit from its advice.   

Monday, March 5, 2018

Adam and Eve

   What book I happen to read is hei wie der Würfel fällt, (hey as the die falls) as the song would have it. I forgot how I got to the Kissinger biography; Mark gave me the Perl Calder volume, but before that I read Stephen Greenblatt’s Swerve and now his Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve.
   For me, Greenblatt’s projects hit the spot, though that is not as flattering as it seems. I have an allergy to free-wheeling acounts of actual happenings (the allergy is to bullshit), but I’m no longer prepared to plough through carefully documented narratives. So, voila. Greenblatt will not be flattered by my praising him as an author for semi-literates, though I am sure he knows that’s where the money is to be made.

   I am now reading his book on Adam and Eve and what happened to them in the centuries after their (ficticious) lives. Interesting if not always edifying. I’m at the point (around the time of the discovery of America) when it became clear (to most) that that there were vastly more people than the offspring of Adam and Eve. That huge increase of the canvas conveniently made Adam and Eve into the forefathers of just the Jews. I’m looking forward to further discussions, but I’m not optimistic.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

From The New York Times: N.R.A. Chief, Wayne LaPierre, Offers Fierce Defense of 2nd Amendment

Mr. LaPierre leveled a searing indictment against liberal Democrats, the news media and political opportunists he said were joined together in a socialist plot to “eradicate all individual freedoms.”
      What does it tell you that  practically the only time you hear from the the NRA is after  there has been a horrible incident of mass murder with  a gun. Other countries have gun ownership under control. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever make it to that level of civilization. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Alexander Calder

Jed Perl’s Calder

   I’m on Jed Perl’s side. I’m well into the first volume of the first biography of Alexander Calder.  It’s six hundred pages of text, plus lots of the usual. Many of the reviewers complain about the many details and digressions, but I didn’t mind them at all; indeed, welcomed them. Others can mine that material to shape leaner, more specialized biographies.
   I want to note a couple of things; not review the book. Calder—often referred to as Sandy, a nickname for his (and his father’s and grandfather’s) name of Alexander—had what seems like a friction-free childhood and adolescence and pretty calm adulthood and marriage—at least to the point that I have reached. He and then with his wife lived in various cities in the US, alternating with periods in France—though apparently he never became very fluent in French.
   Particularly interesting is the sequence of styles he went through in his very varied creative career—from elaborate and very clever figures made entirely of wire to super-minimalist entities inspired by a visit to Mondrian’s studio.  The Calder Circus is created much earlier than I had thought and periodically makes its appearance when its creator makes a few dollars with performances. The Calder Circus started on its travels in two suitcases, but later grew to need five of them.
   I’m now past Page 400 and the word “mobile” has appeared just twice. Those creations are still in the future, as are the works, some  of them very large, that became the genre known as stabiles.
   Throughout, the book is well illustrated and printed on superior paper making the volume unusually heavy.
   The internet says next to nothing about the “forthcoming” second volume. I hope it sees the light of day while I’m still around.