I missed seeing Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings when they were in New York last year, and just learned about them in the current issue of GQ Magazine (sorry, there is not an article on their own site about this; how odd). Wow, they are strong. Amazing how the pain in the normally playful figures central to his work is depicted, and after reading about the struggles he had early in life in the violent Colombia of his youth, I can see how the depiction of the prisoners in the Iraqi prision moved him to represent this through his art. The juxtaposition of his style and this subject matter is disturbing, just as are the photos of the soldiers humiliating the prisoners themselves. I find it interesting that the painter has chosen not to sell any of the fifty or so works in this set; quite telling of how he views torture and those who profit through it.
I wrote about how much I liked the production of Verdi’s Macbeth I saw Monday night at the Metropolitan Opera, and I am glad that the Times shared in my asessment. The voices, the acting, the costumes, scenery, and interpretation of Verdi were wonderful. Even the scene when the army was being armed, loosely set in Post World War II Scotland amidst poverty and mass fleeing the nation due to its war mongering leader (Macbeth), I could not help but recalling Myanmar, Iraq, Rwanda, and so many other places around the world where the simple citizens would rather flee their homeland than live with the constant threat of terror.
The Times especially loved the conductor, James Levine, as they saluted his work within Verdi’s masterpiece:
It was hard to resist the overall production and variable vocal performances when Mr. Levine was conducting the work so splendidly.
Leave it to Beth Kantor, the innovative web guru of nonprofit social media and low-cost technological wizardry to raise enough money online to send not one, but now almost two students in Cambodia to college. Beth has long been involved with working with the needy in Cambodia, and with her large network of admirers and colleagues and associates, she has raised thousands of dollars in a day or so, all through small donations and via word of mouth (with some Twitter and Facebook support). Keep up the good work, Beth, and glad I could pitch in at least a little bit!
I saw the new production of Verdi’s Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera, and have to confess that I was blown away by Maria Gugleghina, the soprano who dominated the opera as Lady Macbeth. She sand standing still, walking, laying down in bed, and even nearly face-down on stage–all without any decrease in vocal delivery or richness of sound. As I have only recently started to attend the opera, I have not seen more than a handful of performances over the past three years, but last night was the first time I heard a performer fill the full house with her voice. The Met’s blog has some great pictures of the opening night, and I am eager to read about what the NY Times will say tomorrow about this.
The Chronicle had an interesting article on the increasing number of books that are written by philosophers for ordinary folks. While this is anathema in the discipline that often focuses so inwardly that those outside it have no idea what they are talking about (who else considers if perception and emotion can be cognitive attributes?), it is refreshing to see ery smart people writing about cultural phenomena that are often more complex than at first noticed. I hope Bill Irwin continues with his almost all-consuming commitment to this.
After writing about the Matrix and Philosophy, how about George / Rudy / Hillary / Barack and Philosophy? What, not enough substance for takers?