Jim Holt on his Afternoon Pleasures in the Dark

Posted on by Tom Fleming

I love the movies. I am never too busy to go. I usually attend twice a week or so. I especially like going in the early afternoon: it seems a guilty pleasure, with the rest of the world at work, and most of the audience consists of pensioners, who have excellent cinematic manners. The earliest […]

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Watches America Explode

Posted on by David Gelber

In the 19th century the poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a corny ballad memorializing the bravery of a Union loyalist called Barbara Frietchie during the American Civil War. ‘ “Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country’s flag”, she said’ when confronted by a hostile band of Confederate soldiers. Well, if […]

Time to End All State Subsidy for the Arts

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

‘When you’re feeling glum, stick a bullwhip up your ***.’ This bit of traditional schoolboy’s verse appears to have been the inspiration for a photograph that is at the centre of the latest arts controversy on these shores. The photo in question is a rather lewd self-portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe (who died of Aids last […]

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Jim Holt Gives Us His Measure

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Now that President Bush has declared the Nineties to be ‘the decade of the brain’ (as Dan Quayle gnashes his teeth), it is perhaps a good time to look back at the tremendous progress that Western science has made over the last couple of millennia at understanding the nature of this organ, with its gyri, […]

Jim Holt Remembers Teenage Telephone Conversations with B F Skinner

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Back when I was an adolescent, the first big challenge to my faith came from reading the works of B F Skinner. Prompted by a cover story about the Harvard psychologist in Time magazine, I delved into his Walden Two and Beyond Freedom and Dignity. ‘By God’, I remember thinking, ‘there’s no such thing as […]

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Jim Holt Guides Us Around Greenwich Village

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Many years ago, when I was a child, my mother and father brought me to New York City to see the sights. We took a boat to the Statue of Liberty, went to the top of the Empire State Building, and caught Camelot on Broadway with Richard Burton as King Arthur, which I liked rather […]

Jim Holt sets out to Review Quentin Crisp

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Although the stately homes of England remain by and large where they were erected, many of the stately homos of England have transplanted themselves to the United States, to our (I speak as an American) good fortune. One of these is Quentin Crisp. Crisp has been living in the East Village in New York since […]

The Best All-Night Party in New York

Posted on by Tom Fleming

For all the chaos that prevails these days in New York, there is one aspect of the city which remains the very soul of rationality, and that is its street-plan. The rectilinear network of numbered streets and avenues affords instant orientation to the visiting out-of-towner. It is not, to be sure, flawlessly Euclidean in its […]

Jim Holt on the Discreet Charm of Some Disnoids

Posted on by Tom Fleming

There comes a point in life when one tends to get lazy about culture. Aesthetic entropy sets in. One loses the resolve to take on Tolstoy’s novels in the original Russian, to master the Goldberg Variations on the harpsichord, to write an epic poem, to reinterpret the prophetic works of Blake. When this happens, it […]

Jim Holt looks for Something to Read in New York

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Walter Benjamin wrote somewhere that a true bibliophile has no desire actually to read his precious books . Well, I wouldn’t know about that, for I am by way of being a bibliophobe. I prefer reissues to first editions, paperbacks to hardcovers, and bound galleys to paperbacks- though I draw the line at unbound galleys. […]

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Jim Holt Returns to the Bathroom for a Smoke

Posted on by Tom Fleming

T S Eliot has been having a rotten time of it here lately. Intellectuals and scholars are once again flogging the dead horse of his anti-semitism, in reaction to Christopher Ricks’s new study, T S Eliot and Prejudice, and an eminent Yale academic has just published a book villainising him for betraying this country’s native […]

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Holt’s Confessions of a New York Winedrinker

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Even for a Virginian, Thomas Jefferson was a pretty impressive fellow. In addition to drafting the Declaration of Independence (yes, I know he stole all the ideas from Locke) and more than doubling the size of this nation as president, he played a mean fiddle and was a dab hand at Palladian architecture. He founded […]

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