Recent links of note:
John Gray, The Times Literary Supplement
John Gray’s cover story for the most recent edition of The Times Literary Supplement (its 6,000th ever, in fact) examines the rise of “hyper-liberalism” and its effects on our political and cultural life. Rejecting the frequently made claim that the far Left (in the academy, in the political sphere, etc.) has abandoned liberalism, Gray argues that its ideological shift represents a radicalization of calcified liberal principles, one that categorically rejects dissent. In a wide-ranging and extensive review of the issue, Gray discusses the millenarian overtones of the “secular religion” of politics, identity politics (“a postmodern twist on the liberal religion of humanity”), and John Stuart Mill’s role in laying the seeds for the present moment. In his analysis of the abridgement of free speech in the academy, Gray is particularly incisive: “In institutions that proclaim their commitment to critical inquiry, censorship is most effective when it is self-imposed.”
“Abstract Expressionism’s Forgotten Sculptor”
Karen Wilkin, The Wall Street Journal
Herbert Ferber was a full-fledged participant of the New York School as a painter and sculptor, but he seems to have been squeezed out of the institutional memory of that famed avant-garde movement. Look through mainstream museums of modern art and you’ll find Ferber’s close friends and colleagues such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Barnett Newman, but few representative works by Ferber himself. Out to rectify this oversight is “Herbert Ferber: Space in Tension,” at the Wadsworth Atheneum. In a review of the exhibition for The Wall Street Journal, Karen Wilkin makes a strong case that, when we study art history, focusing on individuals rather than movements will help us avoid generalization and renew appreciation for genuine accomplishment by those relegated to the sidelines of grand narratives. Ferber’s work, writes Wilkin, “is both serious and perfectly encapsulates the period’s aspirations for eloquent forms and gestures.” Wilkin recently reviewed “Zurbarán: Jacob and His Twelve Sons, Paintings from Auckland Castle” at the Frick Collection, for the April issue of The New Criterion.
“Drue Heinz, Patron of Literature and Host of Authors, Dies at 103”
Richard Sandomir, The New York Times
Drue Heinz, who died last Friday in Lasswade, Scotland, at Hawthornden Castle at the age of 103, was a legendary philanthropist—supporting publishing and literary endeavors, including our own. Born Doreen Mary English in 1915 in Norfolk, England, Heinz’s giving was instrumental to the successes of a number of journals and magazines such as The Paris Review, which she also published for fourteen years. Heinz’s seemingly unending generosity will be forever appreciated, and she will be deeply missed by us at The New Criterion as well as many others.
“On the Cowardly Firing of Kevin Williamson”
David French, National Review
Last week, we noted the risible controversy surrounding Kevin Williamson’s appointment to the writing staff of The Atlantic. Well, as new developments have proven to us, “miserable” would be more appropriate, perhaps, to describe the nature of the controversy. On Thursday, The Atlantic’s Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg submitted to the keyboard activists and fired Williamson for opinions he had only days earlier defended. David French at National Review renews his defense of his former colleague, and decries the cowardice of Goldberg’s capitulation.
From our pages:
“Shock and awe at MassArt”