- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

War and art

“To judge from their paintings, the impressionists led idyllic private lives — afternoons on the river, seaside holidays, sun-dappled fields and gardens, bars, cafes, ballerinas. They painted happiness, and must surely have been happy. Sue Roe’s businesslike if sometimes gushy group biography [‘The Private Lives of the Impressionists’] reminds us that the contrary was true. It would be hard to find a school of painters who were subjected to more misery and humiliation, or underwent such disasters, personal and national.

“In 1870, only four years after the group started to cohere, the French army suffered bloody defeat on the battlefield of Sedan. … Frederic Bazille, one of the group’s founders, died in the fighting. Manet and Degas, serving in the national guard, witnessed the horrors of the siege of Paris, the uprising of the working class in the Commune (during which many of the city’s buildings were torched) and its suppression by a terrified government that cost the lives of 20,000 Communards. Renoir came within a hair’s-breadth of being executed in the final roundup. Monet and Pissarro escaped to England with their families, but Pissarro’s studio was ransacked and turned into a slaughterhouse by the conquering Prussians, who used his canvases as butchers’ aprons.”

— Jon Carey, writing on “Suffering for their art” July 2 in the Times of London

Frame job

“If the American Left believed in sainthood, they would have resolved to beatify George Lakoff by now. They adore the Berkeley linguist as an intellectual hero. His brilliant innovation, as they see it, has been to harness the power of cognitive science to unlock the mysteries of conservatism — that dreaded mental disorder that plagues the brains of half the country. …

“Lakoff first made a name for himself by explaining how the right wing has used mind tricks and manipulative language to dominate American politics. It is he who is chiefly responsible for the Left’s recent obsession with the terminology of ‘framing.’ On any day of the week, you can read throughout the ranks of left-wing bloggers the following fervent incantation: ‘We need to reframe the debate.’ … Lefties have become strangely fixated on this basic idea, perhaps because it offers a comfortable explanation as to why they have been losing so many arguments and elections lately: It’s not that their ideas are tired and discredited; it’s just that they haven’t been so good at ‘framing the debate.’ ”

— Anthony Dick, writing on “Free to Twist Left in the Wind” July 11 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Soccer bum

“Here is a champion who, in front of two billion people, was putting the final touches on one of the most extraordinary sagas in soccer’s history. …

“And then this valiant knight who is a hair’s breadth from victory and just minutes from the end of a historic match (and of a career that will carry him into the Pantheon of stadium-gods after Pele, Platini and Maradona) — commits a crazy incomprehensible act that amounts to disqualification from the soccer ritual — the final image of him that will go down in history and, in lieu of apotheosis, will cast him into hell.”

— Bernard-Henri Levy writing on “Zidane” July 11 in the Wall Street Journal

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