Book Review: The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

The Italian Teacher: A Novel by Tom Rachman (New York: Viking, 2018. 352 pp) Tom Rachman was born in London in 1974 and raised in Vancouver. He attended the University of Toronto and Columbia Journalism School, then worked as a journalist for the Associated Press in New York and Rome for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. His first novel, The Imperfectionists, was an international bestseller, translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in London. Art of Personality What holds artistic value? And what doesn’t? Where is the line between genuine beauty worthy of cultural esteem and something that is meaningless? Do we make art for art’s sake, or must it perform some economic function? And even more, does it take… Read More →

Film Review: Paterson

Paterson

Paterson written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (Amazon Studios, K5 International, Inkjet Productions, R, 118 min) Starring Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Rizwan Manji, Barry Shabaka Henley, Chasten Harmon, and William Jackson Harper. On the Quotidian Collectively, we need to reappraise the quotidian. In our pursuit of the next titillating meme, status update, or app notification, the simple pleasures of life seem to disintegrate like salt upon contact with boiling water. It’s ok to be bored. No. I’ll suggest a stronger statement. BOREDOM IS A VIRTUE. Now, a mind left in idle should never be the only aim. That said, the mundanity of life expands the subconscious atmosphere, opening our minds to creative juices left dormant when we’re always plugged in…. Read More →

Book Review: Pattern Recognition

Patter Recognition by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition: A Novel by William Gibson (New York: Putnam, 2003. 362 pp) William Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction novelist. A pioneer in the genre of “cyberpunk,” Gibson has earned numerous awards including the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the Ditmar Award, the Seiun Award, and the Prix Aurora Award. Form and the Unreliable Narrator Sometimes I take minor joy in the serendipitous connections between my reading and television consumption habits. Currently, I’m diving into Mr. Robot, the critically acclaimed hacker drama. Taking a chapter out of the cult classic, Fight Club, Mr. Robot uses an unreliable narrator to question toxic masculinity and the expectations of the dominant culture. With visual cues corresponding to… Read More →

Television Show Review: Master of None: Season 2

Master of None Season 2

Master of None: Season 2 created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television, Netflix, Alan Yang Pictures) Starring Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandra Mastronardi, Shoukath Ansari, Bobby Cannavale, and Fatima Ansari. Transcending Form Art seemingly seeks a state of barrierlessness. The best art often works to transcend its form. A basic melody becomes a harmony. A hero to anti-hero. A cave drawing to Impressionism. While we cling to elements of the familiar—atonal music is a bridge too far to cross and a story needs a beginning, middle, and an end—familiarity breeds contempt. Given the orbit of boringness linked to familiarity, the pushing of art may likely link closely to the desire to… Read More →

Book Review: Art in Action

Art in Action by Nicholas Wolterstorff

Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic by Nicholas Wolterstorff (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980. 250 pp) Nicholas Wolterstorff is the Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School. He has also taught at Calvin College, the Free University of Amsterdam, and the University of Notre Dame. He has received numerous fellowships and serves on the editorial boards for Faith and Philosophy, Topics in Philosophy, and is the general editor for the Supplementary Textbook Project of the Christian College Coalition. In Pursuit of Art One of my most favorite classes as an undergrad explored the philosophy of art. Why do we pursue art? What constitutes a work of art compared to just work? How… Read More →

Television Show Review: Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table created by David Gelb (Boardwalk Pictures, City Room Creative) Starring Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallman, Niki Nkayama, Magnus Nilsson, and Ben Shewry. Getting Philosophical Upon entry to my preferred academic institution, my parents provided ample pressure to study business. I understand the position. What is college if not a place to earn a degree to set yourself up for consistent success? Unfortunately, my passions—at the time—orbited separate academic pursuits. Even though I have a passion for business, my reasoning for avoiding its study remains consistent. The study of business, at its core, is a normative practice. It tells you what to do and what not to do; if you can master the complicated functions, you have the… Read More →

Book Review: Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems

Pictures from Brueghel by William Carlos Williams

Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems: Collected Poems 1950-1962 by William Carlos Williams (New York: New Directions, 1962. 184 pp) Born in Rutherford, New Jersey, William Carlos Williams studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. While his primary occupation was a family doctor, William Carlos Williams had a successful secondary career as a poet. Williams won the first National Book Award for Poetry and was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He died in 1963. All that Jazz Even though I’ve critically consumed copious amounts of music over the years, I don’t know what to do with Jazz. The very thing I enjoy about critical reflection surrounds the narrative and structure of any given piece. Jazz, by definition, represents the very… Read More →

Book Review: The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne

The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne by M.L Longworth

The Mystery of the Lost Cézanne: A Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery by M. L. Longworth (New York: Penguin Books, 2015. 320 pp) M. L. Longworth is the author of the Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series set in Southern France. She has lived in France for over seventeen years and splits her time between Aix-en-Provence, where she writes, and Paris, where she teaches writing at New York University’s Paris campus. Starting from the Middle Now We’re Here My favorite television critic, Todd VanDerWerff, often bangs the drum of starting a television series at any point. If you hear a show gets going in the third season, don’t waste time with the preliminary seasons just to get to the good stuff. You’ll… Read More →

Book Review: American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods: Author’s Preferred Text by Neil Gaiman (New York: William Morrow, 2011; originally published in 2001. 560 pp) Neil Gaiman is a bestselling author of more than twenty books. He has received numerous awards including the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Locus Award. Nothing New Under the Sun A wise, ecclesiastical thinker once said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Such sentiments are particular true for the arts. Everything feels derivative. With music, the Western scale provides 12 notes. It’s no wonder an old musician sues a new musician every quarter or so for plagiarism. Painters have the same issue. Why else travel further through the Dadaist… Read More →

Film Review: Under the Skin

Under The Skin

Under the Skin written by Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer, directed by Jonathan Glazer (Film4, British Film Institute, Silver Reel, R, 108 min) Starring Scarlett Johansson. In Appreciation of Art Jonathan Glazer cut Under the Skin from a different cloth. To approach this film as you would any standard movie from Hollywood is to miss the point categorically. Therefore, this review needs to pivot in order to capture this piece of art well. So let’s get plot out of the way. We won’t need much more than a paragraph as Under the Skin intentionally withholding in its plot; it’s not the point of the movie. A Broad Sketch As a broadest sketch, Under the Skin reveals an alien female life… Read More →