Visions of the Astral Plane

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The term ‘spiritual’ has a wide range of associations these days, sometimes betokening other world-directed experiences and at other times implying something more whimsical and soft-centred. Until the so-called Enlightenment, spiritual subjects in the West were a staple of art, music and literature, but from then on the spiritual began to lose its cachet as […]

Only Connect

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Towards the end of this diverting book, Brian Dillon recalls the moment when, as a graduate student, he delivered a paper to a roomful of academics. His subject was an essay written in 1930 by Siegfried Kracauer in which Kracauer describes a photograph of a film actress standing outside the Hotel Excelsior on the Venice […]

No Way Through the Painted Ceiling

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The woman known to history as Catherine the Great was born Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike of Anhalt-Zerbst in 1729, the eldest child of a minor Prussian prince. She was married in St Petersburg in 1745 to her second cousin Karl Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp, who had been proclaimed heir to his aunt, Empress Elizabeth of […]

The Gulag on Camera

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

When did the Soviet avant-garde come to an end? For a long time it was assumed that the era of exciting experimentation in Russia was brought abruptly to a close in 1932, when the Central Committee abolished independent literary and artistic organisations and announced the establishment of consolidated creative unions. The new era of ideological […]

Drippers & Printmakers

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The American political tradition derives from Great Britain, and so, some say, does American English. But the modern American arts took more from France. French novelists showed Henry James how to develop the English triple-decker without falling back into existing American styles, whether the disorderly entertainments of Twain or the syncretic weirdness of Melville. French poets showed Pound and Eliot

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