These composers channeled the horror of the Holocaust and Hiroshima while honoring those who lived through it. KEY TAKEAWAYS By Tim Brinkhof Music, as the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once argued, resonates with us on a deeper level than any other art form. Talented composers can impart a sense of unutterable joy—and also evoke indescribable fear. Some of the most famous examples of scary music were written for horror movies. Horror scores frequently employ leitmotifs, where recurring themes are used to signal the presence of a monster, as well as techniques like “Mickey Mousing,” in which the music is synchronized with … Continue reading 4 disturbing classical music pieces based on history’s darkest moments
Art by Olivier Tallec from What If… On inviting the state of being that “allows for that larval inner experience which distinguishes true psychic creativity from obsessional productiveness.” BY MARIA POPOVA I suspect our ability to ask the unanswerable questions that Hannah Arendt knew are the heartbeat of civilization is intimately related to our capacity for dwelling in a particular state of being beyond the realm of our compulsive doing. Bertrand Russell called it “fruitful monotony.” Adam Phillips called it “fertile solitude.” Walt Whitman called it “loafing.” The Buddhist tradition describes it simply as presence. Whatever we may call it, amid a culture of filling the existential … Continue reading The Art of Lying Fallow: Psychoanalyst Masud Khan on the Existential Salve for the Age of Cultish Productivity and Compulsive Distraction
This image was inspired by the historic 1878 photographs by Eadweard Muybridge capturing a horse in motion and by AI’s ability to explore and visualize seemingly infinite creative possibilities. It was created using several AI tools, including DALL-E 2 for image generation from text, RunwayML for outpainting and Topaz Gigapixel for upscaling. The AI-generated images were cycled through themselves (the horses briefly became cows at one point!) and then manually layered on top of each other. (Kristian Glenn for Noema Magazine) AI-generated artwork is prompting hard questions about human creativity. The history of the photograph shows why the terms of … Continue reading What Is AI Doing To Art?
Created in the 1880s, “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan,” which depicts a father murdering his son, divides Russians to this day. KEY TAKEAWAYS Tim Brinkhof In 19th century Russia, writers spoke loud and clear. Instead of hiding their personal beliefs behind dense layers of symbolism, they wrote unambiguously about the social, political, and economic problems of their time. This made them somewhat unique in the literary world. Indeed, where the true meaning of books like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness continues to be debated to this day, there has never been any doubt that Nikolay Chernyshevsky’s What is to be Done? is, … Continue reading The most controversial painting in Russian history
“It’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations” BY MARIA POPOVA Every creator’s creations are their coping mechanism for life — for the loneliness of being, for the longing for connection, for the dazzling incomprehension of what it all means. What we call art is simply a gesture toward some authentic answer to these open questions, at once universal and intimately felt — questions aimed at the elemental truths of being alive, animated by a craving for beauty, haunted by the need to find a way of bearing our mortality. Without this elemental longing, without this authentic … Continue reading David Bowie on Creativity and His Advice to Artists
Sor Juana “A work responds to the reader’s, not the author’s, questions.” BY MARIA POPOVA All societies are both the creators of their myths and are created by them. All artists are the makers and remakers of our myths of meaning — myths we co-create whenever we engage with art. The best of them transmigrate across societies and epochs, naming what is difficult to name and difficult to bear, touching other lives — often lives wildly different from the artist’s — with that luminous longing for elemental truth that is the creative impulse in its purest form, the fundament of … Continue reading How We Co-Create and Recreate the World: Octavio Paz on Sor Juana, Poetry as Rebellion, and the Creative Collaboration Between Writers and Readers
Everyday beauty. A Mother Delousing her Child’s Hair, Known as ‘A Mother’s Duty’ (c1660) by Pieter de Hooch. Courtesy the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam The ultimate value of the world can be discovered if you are sensitive to what is beautiful Tom Cochrane is senior lecturer in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University in South Australia. He is co-editor of The Emotional Power of Music (2013), and the author of The Emotional Mind: A Control Theory of Affective States (2018) and The Aesthetic Value of the World (2021). We care about more than our own lives. We care about our families and friends and our … Continue reading Attuned to the aesthetic
Artistic dissent; a performance of Philip Glass’s The Trial, based on the novel by Franz Kafka, at the theatre in Magdeburg, Germany, 31 March 2015. Photo by Jens Wolf/dpa/Getty Good art, laced with irony, ambiguity and suspense, is not obviously political. That’s what makes it politically interesting Vid Simoniti is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Liverpool, where he also directs the MA in Art, Philosophy and Cultural Institutions. He is the author of Art Against the World (Yale University Press, forthcoming, 2023). When we look back at the early 2020s and ask which work of fiction held up the mirror to society … Continue reading What does art do?
Because Dylan “samples and digests” songs from the past, he has been accused of plagiarism. But imitatio isn’t the same. by Raphael Falco Over the course of six decades, Bob Dylan steadily brought together popular music and poetic excellence. Yet the guardians of literary culture have only rarely accepted Dylan’s legitimacy. His 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature undermined his outsider status, challenging scholars, fans and critics to think of Dylan as an integral part of international literary heritage. My new book, “No One to Meet: Imitation and Originality in the Songs of Bob Dylan,” takes this challenge seriously and places Dylan within … Continue reading How Bob Dylan used the ancient practice of “imitatio” to write songs
“A person who is lucidly aware of the miracles that surround him, who has learned to bear up under the loneliness, has made quite a bit of progress on the road to wisdom.” BY MARIA POPOVA “If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in,” Rachel Carson wrote as she contemplated the loneliness of creative work after her unexampled books about the sea made her one of the most beloved writers of her time, “you will interest other people.” She couldn’t have known it then, but across the Atlantic another visionary was drawing creative succor from her … Continue reading M.C. Escher on Loneliness, Creativity, and How Rachel Carson Inspired His Art, with a Side of Bach