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“An ignorant person is one who doesn’t know what you have just found out ”
— Will Rogers
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Instrument Of The State Culture

Perceptive review of Julian Barnes’s novel about Shostakovich, The Noise Of Time. Barnes manages a “highly readable marriage of suave execution and chilly, grown-up subject matter”. But the theme is a tired one — the pains of a great artist living under a tyrant. And strangely absent is the element which might have given the book true originality: Music. “I found this Shostakovich to be more of a writer than a composer” (1,230 words)

Francis Bacon: Late Paintings Culture

Rewarding short discussion of Francis Bacon’s late paintings. “Seeing a large show of Bacon’s art is like being with a person who is always ‘on’, which is why there’s something exhausting about his presentation of high-pitched anxieties, his nihilism, and his often-expressed idea that he was some kind of outlaw. Violent, illegible action in the center of a large background, an inert field — that’s his essential subject” (700 words)

Deadly Treatment, Fatal Error World

On refugees. “The current approach is founded on a hope that an all-European obstacle course will stem the flow. Anything encouraging refugees to see the relative benefits of dying elsewhere helps: faulty life vests and frequent drownings; the absence of logistical and humanitarian support, apart from NGOs and amateur volunteers; abuse by robbers and police; paying Lebanon and Turkey to keep them in squalid camps, etc.” (900 words)

The End Of Times Life

How the young live. What you can learn by watching a child use social media. “I would watch in awe as she flipped through her snaps, opening and responding to each one in less than a second with a quick selfie face. She answered all 40 of her friends’ snaps in under a minute. How was this even possible? Is she a freak of nature, or is this just how things are done when you’re young? What do these ‘teens’ know that I don’t?” (1,500 words)

I Miss Barack Obama World

President Obama has maintained an integrity and a humanity in office that is rare in modern American politics and that none of his prospective successors comes near to equalling. “Imagine if Barack and Michelle Obama joined the board of a charity you’re involved in. You’d be happy to have such people in your community. Could you say that comfortably about Ted Cruz?” (Metered paywall) (813 words)

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