Fool’s Gold

Fool’s Gold

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Composer John Adams and his librettist Peter Sellars immersed themselves in the vivid letters of a New England doctor’s wife who wrote about what she observed in the gold mining camps of the 1850s Sierras. She found...
The Ring in Vienna

The Ring in Vienna

Three days after the last rolling waves of the Rhine river had dissolved into thin air, the music stayed inside my body. All of the themes of Richard Wagner’s opulent masterpiece resound. They’ve seeped into me through the surge and flow of the four operas...
Dull Blade

Dull Blade

According to “director” Denis Villeneuve, in the year 2049 women will still be objectified as nubile, pliant toys for men. And men will still wonder why life has no meaning. An old trope—AIs searching for their own identity and searching for a way to...
taste of autumn

taste of autumn

Tomatoes, ripened on the vine—always a sign of the end of summer and the time to feel the approach of autumn. Some people look at a calendar to know when the seasons change. I have found that it’s not difficult to detect the exquisitely calibrated changes of...
Mother!: a Gothic parable

Mother!: a Gothic parable

Darren “Black Swan” Aronofsky’s latest metaphysical conceit, Mother!, may be many things, but a serious example of cinematic storytelling is not one of them. A showcase for the bovine beauty and monochromatic facial expressions of his current...
Hockney’s Turandot

Hockney’s Turandot

Anyone who has seen opera sets by David Hockney remains fairly breathless for days on end. Sometimes years. Rarely has a practicing artist shown such a keen understanding of, and fascination with the playful possibilities of visual storytelling. His sets summon the...
Being There

Being There

Have we lost contact with the tangible world? Look around. What do you see? Screens! Information gleaned through hand-held electronic devices. Through those screens we love to look at animals, our friends, mouth-watering foods, faraway landmarks, natural wonders. What...
Bill Viola in Florence

Bill Viola in Florence

Here was a long-awaited experience—the chance to finally see the great Pontormo Visitation along with Bill Viola‘s haunting video response made five hundred years later. There in a single darkened room was the newly-restored Mannerist painting portraying the...
On the Other Hand

On the Other Hand

My bags are always packed! To go from here to there is to indulge in a blend of aesthetic schizophrenia, wanderlust, and bad faith. Insisting that I love exactly where I live, I still climb onto a plane roughly once a year to become whatever the next large foreign...
Bilocation and other travel puzzles

Bilocation and other travel puzzles

Ah the unavoidable psycho-physical malaise of bilocation—the doubling of oneself that happens between travel and homecoming. Think of it as a variation on the mind/body problem. Our body is spatially bound but our consciousness is adrift; e.g. somewhere near the...