Culture View

11/20/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

Dear Philip, I only met you twice — although “meeting” overstates my attempt, after coming across you unexpectedly in public spaces, to engage you in the barest way. Each interaction revealed a completely different aspect of you, so much so that — upon reading the Doppelganger-infused fiction of “Operation Shylock” — I began to understand how there might be two of you, the literary monk and the social raconteur.

10/23/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

08/21/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

Twelve years ago, my wife and I moved from Manhattan to Harrisburg, Pa., and sought a Jewish community in tune with our liberal, Upper West Side Jewish ethos. We found ourselves living in what was, for a provincial state capital floating in a sea of Evangelical Christianity, a remarkably diverse Jewish neighborhood — our new friends included Reform Jewish lesbians, egalitarian Conservative Jews, non-egalitarian Conservative Jews and Orthodox Jews who eschewed American holidays (including Thanksgiving) as inimical to Jewish tradition.

06/19/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

The last book I bought my grandmother, before she died on the eve of Shavuot, was Sarah Bakewell’s “How To Live, or A Life of Montaigne.” She hadn’t asked for this book, but she was under the impression I might have borrowed her French copy of Montaigne’s essays (she was always overestimating me), and I wanted to get her something Montaigne-like while we figured out who had pilfered les essais.

05/22/2012 | | Staff Writer | Culture View

One thing that often turns people off from art is that they can’t figure out what it means. The lack of fixed meaning frustrates them. The more abstract the art form — poetry, for instance, but even more so with dance, music and fine art — the more serious this problem becomes. But the cultural critic Charles Rosen makes an important point about art’s essential ambiguity — its inherent lack of fixed meaning — in his astute new collection of essays, “Freedom and the Arts.” 

04/24/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

When I was in college, a professor blew my mind when he explained the birth of modernism this way: In the old days, when artists looked out a window, they saw a garden. Today, when they look outside, they see the window.

In other words, the process of looking — or the presence of the “frame” — is what now captured people’s attention.