If you are in or can get to New York, you really do have to see the Matisse Picasso show at MoMA. It's spectacular (wonderful works from two great artists) and witty (clever, provocative pairings). Who cares if the premise -- that each artist was constantly comparing himself to and competing against the other -- is flawed? It's pretty convincing for at least some stages of their careers. And every artist needs rivals he/she can respect.
So far 20 people -- Latin American historians mostly -- have asked for and received copies of my 1982 essay "Liberty and People: The Political Thought of Simón Bolívar." Now that's what I consider effective self-publishing: it goes to those interested in reading it. If you want a copy, write me. Some people have had trouble opening the attachment (which is in Word), but another correspondent says she had no trouble after she first put it on her hard disk.
On the front-page of yesterday's NYT, Patrick E. Tyler wrote, "The fracturing of the Western alliance over Iraq and the huge antiwar demonstrations around the world this weekend are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion." From California, Daniel del Solar shares this:
For my book on Latin American architecture and urbanism, I've been re-reading Walter J. Ong's famous Orality and Literacy. This is because I think it will help explain why the Mayas, Mexicas, Incas et al. created urban forms so different from those of Europe. But meanwhile, there are other wonderful benefits of reading Ong (or Luriia, or Vygotsky, or Julian Jaynes, any of the other pioneers in thinking about how literacy transforms our thinking). This passage is an example:
As writing and eventually print gradually alter the old oral noetic structures, narrative builds less and less on 'heavy' [exaggerated] figures until, some three centuries after print, it can move comfortably in the ordinary human lifeworld typical of the novel. Here, in place of the hero, one eventually encounters even the antihero, who instead of facing up to the foe, constantly turns tail and runs away, as the protagonist in John Updike's Rabbit Run. The heroic and marvelous had served a specific function in organizing knowledge in an oral world. With the control of information and memory brought about by writing and, more intensely, by print, you do not need a hero in the old sense to mobilize knowledge in story form. The situation has nothing to do with a putative 'loss of ideals'. (Pp. 70-71)