Anna Irene Brue

A newcomer to NYC, originally from the open fields of Ohio, Anna Irene Brue is a Senior at Nyack College concentrating in International Community Development. She is a passionate writer full of questions, who has found her latest home as one of the International Arts Movement interns. Anna's spirited sense of life and deep hunger for wisdom help propel her forward through the hours as she grows. She thoroughly enjoys sharing good company, kite flying, large bodies of water, adventurous exploration, international politics, story telling, music, and learning all sorts of new things (which includes playing the piano, sewing, and mastering French these days).

Culture Matters More Than Politics

R.R. Reno unveils valuable insight into our shifting priorities, focusing on politics over culture, in his article “Culture Matters More Than Politics” published in “First Things.” Also recently published in “First Things,” Makoto Fujimura writes “A Letter to Young Artists.”

“These days, the ability to talk about politics in a knowing way is treated as a mark of sophistication…

It was not always so. Far from indicating effete and irrelevant erudition, the capacity to talk about Jane Austen or T.S. Eliot or James Joyce was once seen as clear indication of a highly developed and socially relevant mind.

The traumas of the Great Depression and World War II profoundly disoriented Americans…and many felt the need to answer basic questions about society and human destiny.

In this atmosphere, the pressing question about politics was not “Who is going to win?” but instead the question “What is politics for?” It was a question that required examining our more fundamental views of what human life is for, and what role society plays.

…the most potent force in political life is the human imagination, not control over the levers of state power.

At the end of the day, elections don’t shape or influence our cultural imaginations…our imaginations influence our elections.”

Philadelphia Museum’s Art Sale and the Ethics of Deaccessioning

Robin Pogrebin unveils the confusing rules, guidelines, and ethical structures meant to discourage museums from selling their collections, as the Philadelphia History Museum auctions artifacts to raise money for million dollar building renovations in the article, “Museum Sells Pieces of Its Past, Reviving a Debate.

“With budgets shrinking in a bad economy, the pressure to generate revenue is growing along with fears that museums are squandering public trusts meant to preserve the artifacts of the past for future generations.

‘This rapidly becomes a slippery slope,’ said Derick Dreher, the director of the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. ‘What museum director wouldn’t be tempted to say that air-conditioning is absolutely crucial for care of collections? Heating, humidification and dehumidification, similarly. But if we go down this road, we end up paying our gas, electric and water bills — classic operations costs — with deaccessioning proceeds.’

But, some argue, museums sometimes have to pare down their collections to remain viable.


Some museum professionals say the institution should have been more transparent about its sales, explaining what it was selling and why.


Others say the scope of the sales is troubling. ‘The motivation appears to be liquidation, rather than preserving the embedded knowledge and experience that these artifacts bring,’ said Kenneth Finkel, lecturer in American studies at Temple University who briefly served as deputy director of the museum. ‘Decisions made by donors and curators and libraries become the legacy. And the decision to deaccession stupidly is also a legacy.'”

Artists’ Tribute to Mexico’s Missing and Murdered Women

Cordelia Hebblethwaite, a reporter from the BBC News uncovers the story behind the London exhibit “400 Women” and the international artistic tribute to Mexico’s missing and murdered women.

“The murders began in 1993, and for a while captured the world’s attention; dozens of journalists investigated, and numerous books and songs were written. But to date, most cases remained unresolved, and it is still a mystery why women are being targeted in this way.

Each artist was given some very basic information about a murdered or missing woman, and was invited to create a portrait of them.”

As curator, Ellen Mara De Wachter explains later “each of the artists stands in for the woman who is missing, takes on her persona and her face, or her name, and represents them in this exhibition…”

The project’s initiator Tamsyn Challenger shares her purpose in this concluding remark, “I see the project as a singular art work with many voices. It works as a mass protest.”

The Library as Amusement Park

Daniel J. Flynn‘s recent article “Library as Amusement Park” published by City Journal, challenges the modern public library’s embrace of video games as a method of drawing in younger patrons and keeping the masses interested in the life of the mind.

“In the midst of branch closings and budget cuts, public libraries have acquired a new product for loan: video games.”

Ryan Donovan, senior librarian at the New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan branch and point man for its National Gaming day events states, “A library is no longer just a place for books but a dynamic institution that offers a multitude of services and a variety of programs to our patrons.”


“Donovan contends that ‘a high degree of literacy and problem solving skills are developed during game play for both children and adults alike, which makes library gaming programs worth doing.’


The image of the urban public library as a citadel of culture and quietude shielding patrons from the noisy, dumbed-down, digital world outside has taken a hit in recent years.

Libraries have become comfortable hosting many activities unrelated to the life of the mind. Indeed, libraries have been lending popular music and movies for decades. And one can hardly blame libraries for exhibiting the problems of the society that surrounds them. But there is a difference between tolerating vice and indulging it.

Whether video games serve as a gateway to books is an open question. Settled is their role in further inching libraries from centers of enlightenment to places of amusement…”

Effing the Ineffable

In “Effing the Ineffable,” Roger Scruton processes the inevitable question that we encounter as humans, “how do we express that which cannot be said?”

“…the real meaning of the world is ineffable. Having got to this point, Aquinas obeyed the injunction of Wittgenstein, whose Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus concludes with the proposition: ‘that whereof we cannot speak we must consign to silence.’


…something can be meaningful, even though its meaning eludes all attempts to put it into words…

Anybody who goes through life with open mind and open heart will encounter these moments of revelation, moments that are saturated with meaning, but whose meaning cannot be put into words. These moments are precious to us. When they occur it is as though, on the winding ill-lit stairway of our life, we suddenly come across a window, through which we catch sight of another and brighter world — a world to which we belong but which we cannot enter.

….

But a question troubles me as I am sure it troubles you. What do our moments of revelation have to do with the ultimate questions? When science comes to a halt, at those principles and conditions from which explanation begins, does the view from that window supply what science lacks? Do our moments of revelation point to the cause of the world?”

Street Art Way Below the Street | The Underbelly Project

Jasper Rees’ latest article “Street Art Way Below the Street” in the New York Times reveals the works of 103 street artists from around the world who mounted their artwork illegally in a long-abandoned New York City subway station this past summer. Here is a brief glimpse into the nature of their artistry, as they unveiled the project for a single night.

“Known to its creators and participating artists as the Underbelly Project, the space, where all the show’s artworks remain, defies every norm of the gallery scene. Collectors can’t buy the art. The public can’t see it. And the only people with a chance of stumbling across it are the urban explorers who prowl the city’s hidden infrastructure or employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.”


Rees quotes Workhorse, part of the pair who conceptualized this idea, when he said, “There is a certain type of person that the urban art movement has bred that enjoys the adventure as much as the art. Where else do you see a creative person risking themselves legally, financially, physically and creatively?”


“PAC and Workhorse saw the Underbelly Project as a way…evade the whims of the marketplace. Workhorse called it ‘an eternal show without a crowd.’

‘We do want to preserve the kind of sacred quality of the place,’ PAC said, ‘but we also want people to know it exists. And we want it to become part of the folklore of the urban art scene.’


Working conditions were far from favorable. The ambient humidity made stenciling and the wheat-pasting used by some artists laborious…Although other artists’ pieces would seem to be more permanent, the dampness of the space is already working against them. One thickly sprayed painting has simply never dried. The curators said they thought the painted works could last two or three decades if left untouched. But even assuming the work is discovered by the transportation authority sooner than that, PAC said, ‘I like the fact that it’ll feel apocalyptic, because things will be deteriorating, and it’ll already be a memory.’


After this reporter’s tour, the curators destroyed the equipment they had been using to get in and out of the site. ‘We’re not under the illusion that no one will ever see it,’ Workhorse said. ‘But what we are trying to do is to discourage it as much as possible.'”

Elif Batuman’s Review of “The Programme Era”

Released from the London Review of Books, Elif Batuman digests Mark Mcgurl’s book, “The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing” in her piece “Get a Real Degree.” The following are a few excerpts and thoughts from the author.

“The world of letters: does such a thing still exist? Even within the seemingly homogeneous sphere of the university English department, a schism has opened up between literary scholarship and creative writing: disciplines which differ in their points of reference (Samuel Richardson v. Jhumpa Lahiri), the graduate degrees they award (Doctor of Philosophy v. Master of Fine Arts) and their perceived objects of study (‘literature’ v. ‘fiction’).


Literary writing is inherently elitist and impractical. It doesn’t directly cure disease, combat injustice, or make enough money, usually, to support philanthropic aims. Because writing is suspected to be narcissistic and wasteful, it must be ‘disciplined’ by the programme…As long as it views writing as shameful, the programme will not generate good books, except by accident.


Many of the problems in the programme may be viewed as the inevitable outcome of technique taken as telos. The raw material hardly seems to matter anymore: for hysterical realism, everything; for minimalism, nothing much. The fetishisation of technique simultaneously assuages and aggravates the anxiety that literature might not be real work.


In the greater scheme, of course, the creative writing programme is not one of the evils of the world. It’s a successful, self-sufficient economy, making teachers, students and university administrators happy. As for literature, it will be neither made nor broken by the programme, which is doubtless as incapable of ruining a good writer as of transforming a bad one. That said, the fact that the programme isn’t a slaughterhouse doesn’t mean we should celebrate, or condone, its worst features. Why can’t the programme be better than it is? Why can’t it teach writers about history and the world, and not just about adverbs and themselves? Why can’t it at least try?

When ‘great literature’ is replace by ‘excellent fiction’, that’s the real betrayal of higher education.”

Small Change | Why the revolution will not be tweeted.

Staff writer for The New Yorker and author of four books, Malcom Gladwell publishes provoking thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, and social activism in his latest article, “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted.

“The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. The new tools of social media have reinvented social activism. With Facebook and Twitter and the like, the traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coördinate, and give voice to their concerns.


Greensboro (North Carolina) in the early nineteen-sixties was the kind of place where racial insubordination was routinely met with violence…Activism that challenges the status quo—that attacks deeply rooted problems—is not for the faint of heart.


What makes people capable of this kind of activism? The Stanford sociologist Doug McAdam compared the Freedom Summer dropouts with the participants who stayed, and discovered that the key difference wasn’t, as might be expected, ideological fervor…What mattered more was an applicant’s degree of personal connection to the civil-rights movement…High-risk activism, McAdam concluded, is a “strong-tie” phenomenon.

The kind of activism associated with social media isn’t like this at all. The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand “friends” on Facebook, as you never could in real life.


This is in many ways a wonderful thing. There is strength in weak ties, as the sociologist Mark Granovetter has observed. Our acquaintances—not our friends—are our greatest source of new ideas and information…But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.


Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice…

It is simply a form of organizing which favors the weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient. They are not a natural enemy of the status quo. If you are of the opinion that all the world needs is a little buffing around the edges, this should not trouble you. But if you think that there are still lunch counters out there that need integrating it ought to give you pause.”

A Commune Grows in Brooklyn

An interesting insider’s look into Bushwick, Brooklyn’s growing “collectivist” dynamic from Jed Lipinski’s article in the New York Times, “A Commune Grows in Brooklyn.”

ON a recent drizzly afternoon in Bushwick, Brooklyn, members of the Bushwick Food Cooperative gathered beneath a tent in a ramshackle backyard to claim their share of the weekly harvest. They picked through crates of cilantro and rosemary from a rooftop farm in Long Island City, Queens, and examined pastured eggs from an Amish farm cooperative in Pennsylvania.

…such scenes are not atypical across the greater metropolitan area, where a kind of renaissance in collectives is under way. Concepts like sharing and bartering — whether it’s fabric at Etsy Labs in Dumbo or powerboats at SailTime on the Chelsea Piers — are being revived and updated for the Twitter age.”

Jed Lipinski quotes Rachel Bosman, author of the new book “What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption,” when she says, “The groundswell of social technology today is creating unprecedented opportunities to share and collaborate…Farmers’ markets and Facebook have a lot in common. All around us we’re seeing a renewed belief in the importance of community, in both the physical and virtual worlds.”

“Bushwick is host to a staggering variety of collective organizations — including bedbug-ridden “freegan” cooperatives, handball-court movie theaters and activist bicycle collectives that double as bluegrass rock bands. Even the area’s formalized small businesses tend to work collaboratively, pooling resources and sharing employees.

In addition to food advocates, Bushwick is loaded with artists. Many have formed collectives to combat the isolation of the studio, the disappearance of state arts funding and what they see as the commercialism of the art world. Rather than petition fruitlessly for Chelsea gallery representation, these groups exhibit their work wherever they can — bedrooms, stairwells, street corners.”

Noticed | E-Books Make Readers Less Isolated

Recently published in the New York Times, Austin Cosidine’s article “Noticed | E-Books Make Readers Less Isolated” unveils the stigmatization of the “bookworm” and how technology may be helping that issue.

“VOLUMES have been written about technology’s ability to connect people. But burying one’s nose in a book has always been somewhat isolating — with its unspoken assertion that the reader does not want to be disturbed. So what about a device that occupies the evolving intersection between?

With the price of e-readers coming down, sales of the flyweight devices are rising…Social mores surrounding the act of reading alone in public may be changing along with increased popularity. Suddenly, the lone, unapproachable reader at the corner table seems less alone.

Paul Levinson, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University [states], “I think, historically, there has been a stigma attached to the bookworm, and that actually came from the not-untrue notion that, if you were reading, you weren’t socializing with other people.”

Not everyone agrees that e-readers have made the people reading them more approachable. In fact, the opposite may be true in some cases. Jenny Block, a Dallas-based writer and sex columnist, said that she thought her Kindle was a stronger pre-emptive rebuff than a book. “’I think the Kindle sends the imperative ‘I’m busy, please don’t disturb me’ message when you are traveling on a plane or eating in a restaurant or relaxing at a resort.'”

The Birth of Voice

The vast is still; the colors are shaped earthen. Each value of auburn and gold sweeps across the expanse of hinterland in swift strokes, raising moist soil from the fibers of the field. The dawn patiently waits, withholding its birth of pouring rays as the land is searched; cultivated, now quaking, sparking with life. A gentle, steady hum emerges quietly from the spaces between the traces of terrain. Deeply submerged in the chasms of softened darkness and chill, small seedlings begin to form, fragile, and hidden. Above the buried genesis, a cool emerald song blankets the land; enlivening and pricking the seedlings’ growth. One by one the emergence of a single root is spurred, and with courage each vulnerable new beginning advances through the grains of dirt that anchor it soundly. Penetrating every dimension, the song unveils the nature of the progressing creation; it is the origin of humanity’s voice. Each seed an utterance, each bud a speech, each conception a tongue, each word a release. Called to the surface by the Alpha, the voices stem from their safeguards of soil. The wild air of the heavens invigorates the developing fruition, the shoots fortify, stretching till tall. Limbs seek to clasp the sky; vocal chords begin to cry out. The seedlings surge into an erupting forest, the voices stand united.

Incomparable, all take their intentionally composed molds, nuances, and forms. From The Beginning, came the dawn of speech within the inlets to our souls.

Unto each creature made, a voice is given. Unto each voice, the trust of words bestowed.

Born to identify, communicate, explain, convey, and express the creations of both God and man, words accompany our every moment. Some are discovered in community, emboldened and fresh as the company they keep. Others found in solitude, drifting through the silence and resounding within us incommunicable mysteries. Few are the result of tumultuous grief, as billows of anguish crest to their peaks. While precious more reveal themselves in the morning, as the light sheds gleaming banners, unleashing the words hidden in joy and laughter. In authority, some can be vanquished like “fear,” “death,” and “vice” when others have proven their victory, “faith,” “life,” and “truth.” Passed down, whimsically made or accidentally uttered, words come into our possession, our care, our charge.

Author Henri Nouwen notes, “ . . . in Hebrew the words for ‘speaking’ and ‘creating’ are the same word.” As words dripped from the Lord, creations of every nature were labored into existence. It was His song that saturated the earth, drawing from the deep, the seedlings of voice, provoking them to breathe. The act of speaking, the formulation of words from our trembling roots, therefore have within them the gift to summon, evoke, create life. It is not the consonants or vowels that have the ability to transform, regenerate, restore, implement, and impart, but He who is in us, inspiring the utterances of our hearts, the meanings of our speech. No matter the strength, the height, nor the expanse of the sapling sown, that is our voice, each individual’s song is left vulnerable. A measure of sober accountability is placed; our tongues expose us for who we are. Out of the overflow of the mouth, the heart speaks. Our voices give us away. From the quivering branch comes the trembling lip; the rustling of leaves emits the gentle murmur of mouths, and determination to climb the celestial sphere proves itself true in declarations of freedom. Carefully grown, the seeds of our voices are as precious as they are powerful, originally aligned to the rhythmic beat of the Divine. However, as spirited creatures, in the deep of the wood, we have also tasted sulfuric ash, the yield of the deathly language that can creep from our tongues, burning branches unto roots. These devastating articulations of speech are commissioned by malice, lust, fear, vice, gossip, deceit, betrayal, selfishness, pride, and the like. Mastery of voice is sought for attainment, in order to conceal the whole of identity, to dampen the innate vulnerability and genuine nature. Regardless of the rearrangement of syllables sprinkled in honey, what is faithfully residing within us will be revealed, to the contradiction or affirmation of what is True. Therefore we must bear upon ourselves a resolute awakening, mindful of the life-giving or death consuming properties that words contain, and which our voices carry to the souls of one another. In the wild forest of humanity’s language, each tree can whisper to the roots of the other, strengthening, edifying, delivering hope.

Although our voices be not far, mankind searches valiantly for his or her individual tone over hill and high mountain, all the while failing to realize that it is a gift already given, not bestowed based upon our actions but based upon the grace that has formed us. It is matured and developed by every moment, every memory, every experience, every idea, every new paradigm, and every new word. It is an ever- growing wonder in a constant state of metamorphosis. It is right here — not contained by a page, but demonstrated through story. So may we open our mouths and create life in a world that is decaying, in full belief that the speech our voices carry holds unprecedented significance, shaping the day and age we walk in. Our words can imprison or free — what will we choose?