things of little relevance

August 13, 2009, 6:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been savoring the NYRB on my big Euro Trip, in the airport, eating dinner alone at a schmancy restaurant in London, on the tube. The August 13th issue has been especially excellent.

J.M. Coetzee, From ‘Summertime’: Notebooks 1972–1975

So David Truscott, who did not understand x and y, is a flourishing marketer or marketeer, while he, who had no trouble understanding x and y and much else besides, is an unemployed intellectual. What does that suggest about the workings of the world? What it seems most obviously to suggest is that the path that leads through Latin and algebra is not the path to material success. But it may suggest much more: that understanding things is a waste of time; that if you want to succeed in the world and have a happy family and a nice home and a BMW you should not try to understand things but just add up the numbers or press the buttons or do whatever else it is that marketers are so richly rewarded for doing.

Disclaimer: Despite my love for all things ancient, I usually skip over articles about ancient art, but I am very happy that I forced myself to start Knossos: Fakes, Facts, and Mystery. I was dining alone at this really chic restaurant and passerbys’ quizzical stares finally made me feel unpopular. Mary Beard is a great dining companion, she specializes in classics for the TLS, and I absolutely adore her. She provides a fascinating look at the validity of Minoan art, along with a character sketch of Sir Arthur Evans, the complicated character who discovered (or comissioned) many objects. (plus Evelyn Waugh references!)

It is perhaps no wonder that when Evelyn Waugh visited Heraklion in the 1920s he found a disconcertingly modern collection of paintings in the museum. “It is impossible to disregard the suspicion,” he wrote in Labels (an account of his Mediterranean travels, published in 1930), “that their painters have tempered their zeal for accurate reconstruction with a somewhat inappropriate predilection for covers of Vogue.”

Finally, if you have a paper version of the NYRB at hand, definitely read I Am Not Steve Martin, a review of John Haskell’s Out of My Skin. The premise sounds suspiciously similar to my social interactions—I’m only comfortable when I’m playing some type of character.

I am sorry I am so boring. I wish I could offer some salacious anecdotes…Well, I could, but these articles are more interesting than anything that will ever happen in my life.



1 Comment so far
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I always find the history of archaeological practice fascinating, even if a lot of what was done makes me sigh sadly.

Comment by Perri

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