Prufrock: Wagner’s Biggest Fan, the Treasures of Teotihuacan, and Europe’s Narrative

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In 2013, José Manuel Barroso, then president of the European Commission, launched a project called “New Narrative for Europe.” The goal was to create a stronger sense of European identity by calling on artists, writers, scientists, and students to reaffirm “the values of human dignity and democracy.” It was a complete failure. What happened?

When ISIS moves into the neighborhood, a family must decide what to do with Hamletbury it, or burn it.

Guggenheim removes art featuring live reptiles and videos of dogs on treadmills after it received “explicit and repeated threats of violence.”

The rise of Alexander Calder: “Calder’s figure sculptures had already gained him a reputation as a troubadour of the giddy high spirits of the Roaring Twenties on both sides of the Atlantic. But no one could have foreseen the breakthrough of the Galerie Percier show. Suddenly, Calder was now being embraced as a prophet of the increasingly austere mood of the early 1930s—of a world descending into the Depression and political crises on the left and the right. Working as an abstract artist, Calder was reaching for a contemplative, almost quietistic mood. What had changed? In the years 1930 and 1931 Calder had made two life-changing decisions: He became a married man and an abstract artist. These were the foundations on which he would build for the rest of his life.”

The treasures of Teotihuacan revealed: “In 2003, a tunnel was discovered beneath the Feathered Serpent pyramid in the ruins of Teotihuacan, the ancient city in Mexico. Undisturbed for 1,800 years, the sealed-off passage was found to contain thousands of extraordinary treasures lying exactly where they had first been placed as ritual offerings to the gods. Items unearthed included greenstone crocodile teeth, crystals shaped into eyes, and sculptures of jaguars ready to pounce. Even more remarkable was a miniature mountainous landscape, 17 metres underground, with tiny pools of liquid mercury representing lakes. The walls of the tunnel were found to have been carefully impregnated with powdered pyrite, or fool’s gold, to give the effect in firelight of standing under a galaxy of stars.”

Graph: Flutes and the origin of music around the world.

Essay of the Day:

In Lapham’s Quarterly, Alison Kinney writes about Richard Wagner’s biggest 19th-century fan: Ludwig II, king of Bavaria. Shortly after a performance of Tristan und Isolde, he…

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