- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

Money for arts

“Surrealism itself was divided on the issue of what relation, if any, it should have to commerce. It was all very well to say, as some did, that the movement was born of a marriage of Freudian psychoanalysis with Marxist critiques of capitalism; certainly there had been a long flirtation with [Leon] Trotsky on the part of some surrealists in the 1920s and 1930s. …

“But artists have to earn a living. In 1926, both Max Ernst and Joan Miro did backdrop designs for a production of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ by Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. … Most of the surrealists, including [Andre] Breton, made their living by dealing, ‘art advising,’ involvement in photography, advertising and the fashion industry. Indeed, without the patronage of fashion, it is hard to see how surrealism would have made its way in Paris at all.

“[Salvador] Dali, in particular, received a lot of flak for his relations with the rich. But he never made any pretense about this, unlike [Pablo] Picasso, whose communist sympathies were mostly wind. ‘Picasso is a genius!’ Dali would later exclaim. ‘Me too! Picasso is a Spaniard! Me too! Picasso is a communist! Me neither!’ ”

— Robert Hughes, writing on “L’Amour Fou,” in the Guardian, March 24

Elite values

“My point here is that [George] Braden’s wrong about it being more likely that [U.S. Supreme Court] members will hold those values that are most widely held in society. Instead, I would argue, that SCOTUS members are most likely to hold the values of social elites. And so we come to Christopher Lasch, who wrote that:

“ ’[T]he new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension. In the United States, “Middle America” — a term that has both geographical and social implications — has come to symbolize everything that stands in the way of progress: “family values,” mindless patriotism, religious fundamentalism, racism, homophobia, retrograde views of women.’ …

“Given the prevalence of religious faith in America, Lasch’s comments about elite attitudes toward religion are particularly telling: ‘A skeptical, iconoclastic state of mind is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the knowledge classes. … The elites’ attitude to religion ranges from indifference to active hostility.’ …

“Not surprisingly, when it comes to the culture wars, for example, the SCOTUS swing votes (e.g., O’Connor and Kennedy) have consistently come down on the same side as elite opinion.”

— Stephen Bainbridge, writing on “Judicial Objectivity and Elite Values,” at professor bainbridge.com, March 27

Amazon time

“A parallel tale is chronicled in [William] Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’ … His Cleopatra represents mercurial imagination and volcanic passion. She is regal yet given to physical rages, and her impulsiveness compromises her political judgment.

“This profound play, which sympathizes with the fabled lovers even while it condemns them for their lack of realism, convinced me of the necessity for politically ambitious women to study military history and strategy. I argued this position, with little effect, from the early 1990s on, when feminists … were too consumed with domestic social-welfare issues and with women’s studies courses that preached male-bashing and female victimhood.

“The U.S. president is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Hence the first woman president, especially after 9/11, must have military expertise. After she was improbably elected a senator for the first time seven years ago, Hillary Clinton shrewdly got herself appointed to the Armed Services Committee. This is the new feminism. The path to power for women lies through male territory.

— Camille Paglia, writing on “Why can’t a woman … ,” in the Toronto Globe and Mail, March 24.

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