For those who live on another landmass, Professor Brian Cox is presently magnetising British attention with his expositions of science on television and his columns in the tabloid Sun.
Cox, once a boyband member but now an advocate for ruthless empiricism, gave a revealing interview to the Guardian today in which he quoted Carl Sagan’s famous aphorism that science ‘has not got an agenda… it is a process that is utterly dispassionate’.
In a previous breath Cox had told the interviewer that ‘I just want to beat them (my critics) into the ground.’
He admits there may a paradox here. So that’s all right, then.
Cox is also absolutely sure, beyond doubt, that there is no God.
What he cannot grasp are the limits of his exaggerations. Education is entitled to exaggerate for effect. We expect teachers to take a theory to extremes in order to amplify core truths.
Television, on the other hand, exaggerates for survival. It pushes image and idea to extremes in order to stop viewers drifting off to more enlivening experiences. Cox is a prisoner of this process. Millions can see that. Only he can’t.
Just as Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt preens himself on establishing the ‘most generous tax regime in the world for arts giving, philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield has stepped into the breach to address urgent needs in the arts in a year of government clawbacks.
She has given £8.2 million to 11 institutions ranging from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the Holburne Museum in Bath. Most of the grants are education or child oriented.
Let’s hear it for Dame Viv. (She’s the one next in line)
Not having seen his work for six years – the last release was Don’t Come Knocking (2005) – I clocked in for a preview of Wim Wenders’ new film Pina in the hope of finding possible clues to his thinking on Wagner’s Ring.
Pina, in UK cinemas next month, is a multi-sensational tribute to the dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch (1940-2009), whom Wenders once described as ‘the inventor of a new art: dance theatre’.
Undaunted by Bausch’s swift and sudden death as filming was due to begin, Wender built the film elliptically around her suggestive approach to the making of dance, a workaholic, family-intense involvement with her dancers, singly and collectively, to create an experience that touches both emotion and intellect.
Filmed within her Tanztheater in Wuppertal and on location in and around the industrial city, Wender gives an impression of how society evolves – from one creative mind, to a small group of co-workers, to a theatre, a city, a country, the world. Wagner’s Ring metaphor is never far from mind.
By shooting in 3-D, the first European director to do so, he reinforces the relation of one-to-all that is so integral to Wagner’s epic narrative. He also eliminates audience. Every act in the film takes place unobserved, as if the spectacle entirely exists for itself. He also makes every possoible use of natural elements – water, air, space, light, darkness.
All of these impressions quicken the pulse greatly for what Wenders might achieve at Bayreuth. He stands in boyish wonderment before a great work of art, as if seeing it for the first time. Whether such innocence will best serve the complexities and nototieties of agner’s cycle remains to be tested, but the premise is sound and the technology astonishing.
Will Wenders introduce 3-D to Bayreuth?
Placido Domingo has postponed a concert in Buenos Aires and told the city he will not sing there again until it settles a musicians strike at the Teatro Colon.
The city had apparently tried to recruit musicians out of town to form a pick-up orchestra for the tenor, but Domingo declared solidarity with the strikers and refused to sing.
Spanish tenor Placido Domingo talks during a press conference about his performance scheduled for next 23 March, but not yet confirmed due to a trade dispute between the Estable Orchestra and the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Teatro Colon, the scene of one of the concerts, and the Government of the City of Buenos Aires. photo: EPA/LEO LA VALLE
It’s rare to see a legend remembering his humbler colleagues. Good man, Placido.
I wonder who will be the first classical star to boycott the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra
over the way it is replacing its tenured musicians with the youth orchestra.