Am I a bigot? (The case of June Chu and other examples of outrageous PC bullshit)


It’s totally outrageous PC bullshit that June Chu, a dean at Yale University, has been put on leave because her Yelp reviews offended some hypersensitive liberals. Besides the fact that I identify very strongly with Chu, whose remarks, style and background, could have been my own, there are strong reasons why we need to nip overweening political correctness in the bud. First, political correctness which flies in the face of common sense reinforces the conservatives’ perception that the divide between right and left is absolutely unbridgeable, and that liberals have generally lost touch with reality – not to speak of the concerns of the ordinary, middle class American. Increased divisiveness and polarization are the last things we need in the United States (or indeed, Europe) right now. Next, ostracization and censure of university staff (or students) for failing to tiptoe around the shibboleths of political correctness is a politicization of the campus which, in theory, is no different than hiring professors or admitting students on the basis of their substantive political beliefs. Whereas ardent bible-thumpers or neo-Marxists might consider such tests (and missions) appropriate in an institution of higher learning, the overwhelming, vast majority of students and teachers in elite universities would place freedom of expression and debate over and above any specific body of belief or political persuasion. Finally, and this is probably my biggest axe to grind, because it’s personal, I take issue with the credentials of today’s righteous PC firebrands. Having attended both Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, I know that many of these provocateurs are pampered white kids who’ve never experienced any form of racism, prejudice or discrimination – let alone harassment. It’s galling to me that they are taking on the mantle of minority oppression without the foggiest notion of what it actually feels like. Trust me, it’s something that the June Chus of this world and I know only too well. And THAT is why it’s utterly absurd to brand June Chu a hater or bigot, explaining the title of my vlog. You can find screencaps of Chu’s reviews here — and judge for yourself. As for the coverage of the incident itself, you can definitely Google that on your own. I have emailed my video to Chu and all her dean-colleagues. Their contact info is on this page.
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Contemporary Music 101: The Playlist from An Exposition Not An Exhibition (Ari Benjamin Meyers), Spring Workshop


If you’re genuinely interested in (classical) contemporary music, here’s a playlist which is tantamount to a crash course in “Contemporary Music 101,” so to speak. Besides the durational performances of this “piece,” An Exposition Not An Exhibition by Ari Benjamin Meyers, staged at Spring Workship during Spring 2017, this list from the “exposition” was one of the most invaluable take-aways from the listening/witnessing experience for contemporary music neophyte me. Contemporary music is inscrutable and difficult. At first hearing, it can even be unbearable. But it’s my own experience that listening to it can afford genuine insight into the intellectual underpinnings, meaning and definition of music. Thus, delving into this genre of music is an intellectual investigation rather than an unmediated, bacchanalian experience. Here are the first 25 works in Meyers’ list, retyped for convenient reference, in case you don’t feel like transcribing from the video:
Farewell Symphony, Franz Joseph Haydn
Vexations (1893), Erik Satie
Scherzo (1903/1914), Charles Ives
String Quartet No. 2 (1907-1908), IV, Arnold Schoenberg
Unanswered Question (1908), Charles Ives
Four Pieces, Opus 7 (1910), Anton Webern
Six Bagatelles (1913), Anton Webern
Concertino (1930), George Antheil
Density 21.5 (1936), Edgar Varese
Variations (1936), Anton Webern
Living Room Music (1940), John Cage
Quartet for the End of Time (1941), Oliver Messiaen
Duo (1942), Roger Sessions
Dream (1948), John Cage
In a Landscape (1948), John Cage
Sonata (1948-1953), Gyorgy Ligeti
Quartet in Four Parts (1950), John Cage
4’33” (1952), John Cage
Sonata (1955), George Crumb
Sequenza (1958), Luciana Berio
Variations I (1958), John Cage
Variations II (1961), John Cage
Variations III (1962), John Cage
Mei (1962), Kazuo Fukushima
Variations IV (1963), John Cage
Ko-Lho (1966), Giacinto Scelsi
Violin Phase (1967), Steve Reich
Manto I (1967), Giacinto Scelsi
Chambers (1968), Alvin Lucier
Triple Quartet (1968), Steve Reich
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An exposition, not an exhibition (Spring Workshop)


Kudos to Hong Kong’s Spring Workshop and its founder, Mimi Brown, for breaking new ground in arts and culture by daring to introduce ground-breaking art exhibitions and performances like “An Exposition Not an Exhibition” by Ari Benjamin Meyers to Hong Kong. I attended an hour of this unusual musical happening which features a five-hour durational performance comprised of pieces from the canon of contemporary music, played in different locations within the premises of Spring Workshop, without any prior distribution or announcement of the program or sequence of pieces to be played, to the audience. The entire experience was rendered even more fun and intriguing by the sporting of masks by both the performers and audience members. By bringing this unusual, world-class event to Hong Kong, Spring Workshop dares us to open our mind to the new musical forms presented by contemporary music. If you’re interested to learn more about contemporary music, my best advice is to start by listening. The playlist for Meyers’ piece is a great starting point and can be found here on my site.
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1913: The Rite of Spring (Stravinsky/Nijinsky/Diaghilev)


Diaghilev’s 1913 Paris debut of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring choreographed by Nijinsky represented a revolutionary leap in modern art and culture and caused “rioting.” We have to ask, could such a leap of consciousness or concept occur today? The answer is, sadly, resoundingly, no. My various vlogs explain why culture and creativity are stranded and stymied at all phases of development, beginning with the artists themselves. You can see the full video of the Mariinsky Theatre’s performance, from which this clip was excerpted, here.
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Zuckerberg needs to grow up and get a conscience


Facebook announced its principal areas of focus and R&D during this week’s F8 conference. Call me naive. But I’m disappointed (that’s a very mild way to put it) that Mark Zuckerberg is just another tech entrepreneur mindlessly chasing numbers instead of exerting some moral leadership. He needs to grow up and get a conscience – URGENTLY. [I taped this vlog on the spur of the moment explaining the terrible lighting and my weirdly recumbent posture. Notwithstanding the aesthetics, I’m glad I did it.]
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Why rich artists are the best kind (Konstantin Bessmertny)


Artist Konstantin Bessmertny explains why the best artists are rich ones, citing Damien Hirst, for example. Mainly, rich artists are more likely to be pure in their artistic motives when they don’t have to worry about money. And, when they themselves are patrons or clients, they are more likely to make high-quality aesthetic choices. This clip is an outtake from a series of videos by me about Bessmertny’s exhibition at the Macao Museum of Art and is a tiny sampling of the artist’s extremely unorthodox and, sometimes, controversial views.
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Image versus Materiality (Daisuke Yokota at Foam Amsterdam)


(N.B. This film was originally formatted to fit a square Instagram frame.) A lyrical sculptural installation by Japanese photographer, Daisuke Yokota, of archival film suspended from the ceiling of photography museum, Foam Amsterdam, explores the relationship of image to its traditional photographic substrate, film, by dissociating image from its usual freight of associations – memories, culture, expectation. The three-dimensional installation through which members of the public can freely walk is also a metaphor for our relationship to imagery today: we are surrounded, even flooded, by it.
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Keukenhof: The Truth about Tulips


John and I visit the juggernaut of Dutch floral tourism, Keukenhof, in Lisse, Holland, to witness tulipmania up close. This vlog is an unvarnished recap of the show, the garden, the experience. If you’re a gardener — or Instagrammer, it’s definitely worthwhile. But despite the moniker “garden”, Keukenhof isn’t a real garden: it’s a commercial showcase for Dutch tulip industry.
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