Lost In Translation – Why Americans Don’t Translate

Less than three percent of all the books published in the US are translations from other countries. As for translated literary books, the number probably amounts to about 150 out of the 150,000 books published in the US each year. Whose fault is this? Let’s move beyond the cliche explanations, writes John O’Brien: “There is no hope whatsoever that philanthropy in America is going to get smarter, nor are the book review editors and other media going to become more interested. If change is to be set in motion, it will have to be through the foreign governments themselves.”

Vonnegut: Careful Of Those Hermaphroditic Semi-Colons

Kurt Vonnegut has advice for the artist-afflicted: “I realize that some of you may have come in hopes of hearing tips on how to become a professional writer. I say to you, ‘If you really want to hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts. But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college’.”

An Aesthetic Protest? Can We?

“There has always been a certain incommensurability between political activities that depend on mass mobilization and the idiosyncratic sensibility of the aesthete — even the public-spirited, politically active aesthete. For every argument that aesthetic concerns are a luxury in the face of political injustice, there is the rebuttal that aesthetic freedom is as necessary for the human spirit as any political right.”

Sing Out That Protest

Can classical music play a role in political proitest, wonders Kyle Gann. “No one can doubt that music has a big role to play in the world of political protest. The controversial musicians we read about in the papers, though, are mostly from the pop and folk genres. It’s not only that those musicians are more visible, though that’s certainly true as well. Classical music and jazz seem to have a more long-term, measured, even sublimated approach to political protest, slower to react and more deeply embedded in the structure of the music itself.”

Ideas 10, Writing, 0

Why is academic writing so bad? “One reason academic bad writing is evergreen is vocational. The bad writing in question is not the merely quotidian clunkiness and hack writing that’s inevitable in a vast profession under constant pressure to publish – it’s the notoriously opaque, preening, self-admiring, inflated prose of ‘theory.’ And for the moment, for whatever bizarre reason, ‘theory’ is what gets promoted and given tenure, therefore aspiring Assistant Professors and adjuncts have to crank it out, whether they actually like doing the stuff or not. But another reason, and one with a more malign effect, is the easy availability of an array of defense mechanisms.”

Time For A New Name For New Music?

Greg Sandow thinks it’s time to rename contemporary classical music. “I think we might need another term for what we talk about here. Our genre, obviously, is ‘new music’ — but what does that mean? The words themselves don’t say very much. There are all kinds of new music—new salsa, new merengue, new Christian rap, new Mariah Carey remixes. Which ‘new music’ do we mean? Well, new classical music, I guess.” But that’s not very accurate either…

Orrin Hatch – Senator, Musician, Composer

US Senator Orrin Hatch is a “musician and a songwriter and a producer—a member of ASCAP—and whose works have been recorded by Gladys Knight, Donny Osmond, Brooks and Dunn… One time I was kidding and I said that I even wrote a song during a boring committee meeting and I got an irate letter from one of my Utah constituents saying, ‘How dare you use your government time to write your lousy music,’ and I thought I’d better not make that claim any more’.”

A Rant Against Multi-Culturalism

“Only two decades ago, the central principle of anti-racism was that all individuals in our society should be treated equally, regardless of ethnic origin or religion. Yet through multiculturalism, the malign ideological spawn of anti-discrimination, we have moved far away from that stance. We are now told that, in the name of ‘celebrating diversity’, we must respect every aspect of every culture in our midst. Not only must we act correctly in word and deed, but, more importantly, we must also be trained to harbour no negative thoughts about the behaviour of any other ethnic group. This outlook is utterly inimical to personal freedom and equality before the law, the very pillars of our civilisation.”

Who Wants Talent? Really!

“My theory is that in all areas of creative human endeavor, the presence of true talent is almost always the kiss of death. It’s no accident that three people who were tragically forced into bankruptcy late in their lives were Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, and Mark Twain. It’s no fluke of fate that Schubert died shortly after giving the world the Unfinished Symphony. You probably wouldn’t have finished it either if you had syphilis and twelve cents in your pocket. Or how would you like to have died at age 29 in the back seat of a Cadillac? If you’re Hank Williams, that’s what talent got you. But what is talent? And why would anyone in his right mind want it? As Albert Einstein often said, ‘I don’t know’.”

Critic Vs Corcoran – Gopnik Causes Stir

Some at Washington’s Cordoran Gallery are buzzing about the scathing criticism Washington Post critic Blake Gopnik has heaped their way. “Gopnik has been most personal about the Corcoran. Gopnik tells Post Watch he wants the Corcoran board ‘to know there are repercussions to having shows like that.’ His review blamed Corcoran board chair Otto Reusch. Corcoran director David Levy calls Gopnik’s review ‘unethical’ and says the critic often displays ‘immodest immaturity’ in his reviews.”