The latest episode of Conversations With Bill Kristol, featuring David Gelernter:
" Yale University professor David Gelernter is a pioneering computer scientist, cultural critic, and artist. In this conversation, Gelernter details the decline in America’s cultural literacy over the last few generations—a phenomenon Gelernter terms “America-lite.” Gelernter also discusses computer science, the future of the Internet, and the promise and peril of new technologies. Finally, Kristol and Gelernter consider art and the art world today," writes the Foundation for Constitutional Government, the sponsor of the series.
President Obama has ignored the recent history of U.S. foreign policy, faithfully repeating failed strategies and turning his back on successes. The pattern is so strange and striking, we can almost hear it trying to tell us something. The something is this: You cannot be a nationalist and a globalist simultaneously; not if you take either of those ideologies seriously. The president takes them very seriously, and has made it clear that he is not a nationalist but a globalist.
News from academia! “President Salovey and I,” writes Yale’s provost, “have invited a distinguished group of academic leaders to a diversity summit at Yale on February 11-12, 2014. Their visit will include a series of discussions with faculty and administrators about the challenges of diversifying our faculty.” Praise the Lord—at last!
‘Matisse: In Search of True Painting” is a smallish but superb show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It focuses on pairs and series of related paintings, and the sheer loveliness of its best pieces resounds through the huge building and out onto Fifth Avenue. But it is sad that this small-scale, dazzling-masterpieces-only approach wasn’t extended to Henri Matisse’s late cutouts—which also occur in pairs and in series.
I met Michael Cromartie in 1985 at Windy Gap, a Christian retreat in North Carolina. As a recent convert, I was there to talk about the only religious subject about which I knew anything: how I happened to become a Christian in my 30s after having been blasé about religion for years.
Nowness is one of the most important cultural phenomena of the modern age: the western world's attention shifted gradually from the deep but narrow domain of one family or village and its history to the (broader but shallower) domains of the larger community, the nation, the world. The cult of celebrity, the importance of opinion polls, the decline in the teaching and learning of history, the uniformity of opinions and attitudes in academia and other educated elites — they are all part of one phenomenon. Nowness ignores all other moments but this. In the ultimate Internet culture, flooded in nowness like a piazza flooded in sea water, drenched in a tropical downpour of nowness, everyone talks alike, dresses alike, thinks alike.
This is exactly how I felt during the hour or so I spent watching the Oscars on Sunday. Hollywood seemed so small. Not geographically or financially. But in terms of cultural hegemony. The only real "star" on the scene -- in the sense that Cary Grant or Bette Davis were "stars" -- was Meryl Streep. And she lost. Of the nominees for Best Picture, Avatar was the only cultural experience in which the entire world participated. It lost, too.