Lithuania’s National Youth Theatre

Valdas Vasiliauskas at Eurozine:

During the romantic 19th century, even at the beginning of the 20th, art legends were born in the attics and garrets, preferably Parisian. During the more practical decades of the late 20th century, artists relocated to much more prosaic places, such as the smoke-filled cellars of Liverpool (The Beatles) or the garages and student dormitories of the American West Coast, populated by computer magicians and IT wizards. The great legend of the Lithuanian theatre was born in a warehouse in Vilnius, more specifically, in the section of the Youth Theatre used both as a workshop and a warehouse in which stage decorations were stored. Nowadays, the building – a newly redecorated palace, originally built during the 15th and 17th centuries by the Radziwiłł family – is difficult to recognize and hosts the Museum of Lithuanian Theatre, Music and Cinema. In the 1970s, it was a dilapidated structure, despite the fancy name – Experimental Stage of the Youth Theatre – given to one of its decrepit halls. It was this stage, the most modest among the Lithuanian theatres of the time, that was chosen by Eimuntas Nekrošius for his debut as a theatre director in 1977. Then a student of GITIS, the Lunacharsky State Institute for Theatre Arts in Moscow (renamed the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts in 1991), Nekrošius directed his diploma performance A Taste of Honey (Medaus skonis) with the troupe of the Youth Theatre.

more here.

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an art project in detroit

Sarah Rose Sharp at Hyperallergic:

“These instructions enact a mimetic play with traditional ‘How-To’ manuals, which allow children to go through the process of making in a systemat­ic way, adhering to tradition, or picking up a ver­nacular of handiwork,” Gallagher wrote, by way of introducing the book associated with the exhibition, which he characterizes as “a guide for emerging artists, to shepherd them through the process of making.” He added: “This prosthetic and hereditary knowledge, what we gain from those before us in their absence, is the foundation of how we under­stand the spaces we occupy.”

The resulting show, presented at Holding House over the weekend of June 9, and next headed for a second installation of selected works at a new gallery space in Detroit’s Southwest neighborhood, is extremely interdisciplinary and wide-ranging. Some of the proffered instructions are hilariously simple, like ‘parent’ Jayson Bimber’s instructions to Austin Brady to “Make an art.”

more here.

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the william blake legacy

Michael Caines at the TLS:

When William Blake was four years old, he saw God press his head up against the window; the poor boy was set “a-screaming”. “Sauntering along” a few years later, Blake saw – and not for the last time – “a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars”. Just before he died, in 1827, “his countenance became fair, his eyes brightened, and he burst out into singing of the things he saw in heaven”. Such was the visionary life of the writer and artist, as recorded by the fond few who had paid him any attention.

Blake’s obscurity in his own lifetime has become one of the well-known facts about him. As has his mystic eccentricity. When stories such as those above began to emerge, they helped to foster the myth of an odd kind of sage.

more here.

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Wednesday Poem

Written Deer

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
…………………………………………………………….. —Wisława Szymborska

My handwriting is all over these woods.
No, my handwriting is these woods,

each tree a half-print, half-cursive scrawl,
each loop a limb. My house is somewhere
here, & I have scribbled myself inside it.

What is home but a book we write, then
read again & again, each time dog-earing

different pages. In the morning I wake
in time to pencil the sun high. How
fragile it is, the world—I almost wrote

the word but caught myself. Either one
could be erased. In these written woods,

branches smudge around me whenever
I take a deep breath. Still, written fawns
lie in the written sunlight that dapples

their backs. What is home but a passage
I’m writing & underlining every time I read it.

by Maggie Smith
from the Academy of American Poets

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Watermarks: Diving into the fathoms to find life’s fluency

Donovan Hohn in Lapham’s Quarterly:

pastel mixed with water on a partially primed canvas glazed in places with thin oil paint, height 59.1cm, width 72.7cm.

These days I live in southeast Michigan, which is to say I dwell in a water­shed of paradox. Here we are, at the edge of the Great Lakes, which together contain 84 percent of North America’s and 20 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. The Great Lakes are puddles of glacial melt. Rainfall and tributaries contribute only 1 percent of their total volume. Much of the rest is “fossil water,” sequestered from the water cycle since the last ice age. Under a recently issued state permit, the Nestlé corporation, a major purveyor of bottled water, can now draw up to four hundred gallons of Michigan groundwater per minute for just two hundred dollars a year. And yet in Flint, people now regard their faucets with warranted suspicion, and in Detroit, whose water treatment plant would have spared the people of Flint from mass poisoning, the water company has been turning the spigots off, letting their delinquent customers go thirsty or purchase bottled water from Nestlé.

Two years ago, during the federal emergency in Flint, I spent some time in the city following a team of civil engineers conducting an investigation. I watched as contractors excavated a residential street, extracting a service line from under the asphalt. The line—a few dozen yards of copper pipe—was evidence at a crime scene, and the scientists labeled it with forensic care. Looking at it coiled on a sun-dappled lawn, dirt still clinging to the copper, I experienced a feeling that I later recognized as disenchantment. What I couldn’t get over was how small the pipe’s diameter was: three-quarters of an inch. This was it? The source of the everyday magic?

For most of my life, running water had been one of those technologies, like the telephone or electric light, that I took for granted. Where the water came from and where it went when it gurgled down the drain were both mysteries that I’d only rarely wondered about. Living in the age of indoor plumbing is a bit like living beside a stream whose headwaters and mouth are distant rumors. The waterworks of wealthy nations, or at least those of certain zip codes, are a kind of man-made River Lethe. In imperial Rome the aqueduct was a public monument as well as an engineering feat. Buried underground, our own aqueducts invite forgetting. In New York City the subterranean water tunnels constitute, writes David Grann, “a city under the city,” one that few New Yorkers know about, let alone ever see.

More here.

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New windows open for immunotherapy in lung cancer

Hendriks and Besse in Nature:

Chemotherapy became the standard treatment for lung cancer in the twentieth century1. But in the past 15 years, there has been a drive to improve outcomes for people with this still-deadly disease, either through therapies that target enzymes encoded by genes harbouring cancer-driving mutations, or through immunotherapies, which activate the body’s immune system to target tumours. Writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, two groups2,3 provide evidence that supports the use of immunotherapies to treat non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at different stages of the disease. Tumour cells evade destruction by activating signals known as immune checkpoints, which deactivate immune cells called T cells4. Two immune checkpoints are the proteins cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), which are expressed by T cells themselves. Another, programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), is produced by tumour cells (Fig. 1).

Antibodies that interact with these proteins to prevent their normal activity, and so reawaken the immune system, are now used to treat metastatic NSCLC — the stage at which the cancer has spread. Antibodies that bind PD-1 or PD-L1 are sometimes successful in patients who have had treatments such as chemotherapy, but whose cancer has nonetheless progressed5. Alternatively, the anti-PD-1 antibody pembrolizumab can be used as a first-line treatment for metastatic NSCLC when the percentage of tumour cells that express PD-L1 is high — these patients respond better to immunotherapy than to chemotherapy6.

If such immune-checkpoint-targeted antibodies (ICTs) can improve outcomes for metastatic NSCLC, could they also help to tackle early-stage disease? In the first of the current papers, Forde et al.2 carried out a pilot study to investigate whether the anti-PD-1 ICT nivolumab could be used to shrink tumours before surgery, which is a standard treatment for most cases of early-stage NSCLC. The authors treated 21 patients with 2 doses of nivolumab 2 weeks apart, starting 4 weeks before the planned surgery date. They showed that surgery did not need to be delayed (for example, because of an adverse event with nivolumab) for any patient. The researchers anticipated that four weeks would not be enough time for the reactivated immune system to significantly shrink the tumour. Indeed, imaging revealed significant shrinkage in tumours in only two patients before surgery. However, examination of the surgically removed tumours revealed that 45% had undergone a major response to the ICT — less than 10% of the tumour cells remained alive. ICTs, unlike chemotherapy, cause inflammation and scar-tissue formation in tumours, and can therefore sometimes cause tumour growth. However, the researchers found that even two tumours that showed such growth had undergone a strong pathological response.

More here.

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June 12, 2018

Charles Krauthammer: A note to readers

Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post:

I have been uncharacteristically silent these past ten months. I had thought that silence would soon be coming to an end, but I’m afraid I must tell you now that fate has decided on a different course for me.

In August of last year, I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my abdomen. That operation was thought to have been a success, but it caused a cascade of secondary complications — which I have been fighting in hospital ever since. It was a long and hard fight with many setbacks, but I was steadily, if slowly, overcoming each obstacle along the way and gradually making my way back to health.

However, recent tests have revealed that the cancer has returned. There was no sign of it as recently as a month ago, which means it is aggressive and spreading rapidly. My doctors tell me their best estimate is that I have only a few weeks left to live. This is the final verdict. My fight is over.

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The emotion of disgust has six basic triggers

Susan Scutti at CNN:

“Disgust evolved to protect us from disease in our ancient past. The disgust response today may, or may not, be a good guide to what might make us sick today,” said Val Curtis, lead author of the study and a professor and director of the Environmental Health Group of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“It is unlikely to be a coincidence that many of the stimuli that elicit the emotion of disgust in humans are also implicated in the transmission of infectious disease,” Curtis and her co-author, Mícheál de Barra, a lecturer at Brunel University London, wrote.

To better understand disgust, Curtis and de Barra recruited more than 2,500 participants through advertisements on social media and psychology websites for an online survey. They checked IP addresses to control for the possibility of multiple survey entries from a single participant.

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Yanis Varoufakis: As horrified as we may be at Trump’s uncouth antics, it is important to understand the tectonic shifts underpinning them

Yanis Varoufakis in The Guardian:

Donald Trump’s early departure, and his subsequent refusal to endorse the G7 communique, has thrown the mainstream press into an apoplexy reflecting a deeper incomprehension of our unfolding global reality.

In a bid to mix toughness with humour, Emmanuel Macron had quipped that the G7 might become the … G6. That’s absurd, not least because without the United States, capitalism as we know it (let alone the pitiful G7 gatherings) would disappear from the planet’s face.

There is, of course, little doubt that with Trump in the White House there is an awful lot we should be angst-ridden about. However, the establishment’s reaction to the president’s shenanigans, in the United States and in Europe, is perhaps an even greater worry for progressives, replete as it is with dangerous wishful thinking and copious miscalculation.

Some put their faith in the Mueller investigation, assuming that Mike Pence would be kinder to them as president. Others are holding their breath until 2020, refusing to consider the possibility of a second term. What they all fail to grasp is the very real tectonic shifts underpinning Trump’s uncouth antics.

More here.

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The oldest baobab Trees are collapsing, and there’s only one likely explanation

Ed Yong in The Atlantic:

Around 1,500 years ago, shortly after the collapse of the Roman Empire, a baobab tree started growing in what is now Namibia. The San people would eventually name the tree Homasi, and others would call it Grootboom, after the Afrikaans words for “big tree.” As new empires rose and fell, Homasi continued growing. As humans invented paper money, printing presses, cars, and computers, Homasi sprouted new twigs, branches, and even stems, becoming a five-trunked behemoth with a height of 32 meters and a girth to match.

And then, in 2004, it collapsed.

The tree’s demise was sudden and unexpected. In March, at the end of the rainy season, Homasi was in full bloom. But by late June, its health had suddenly deteriorated. One by one, its stems broke off from the gargantuan trunk and toppled. The last of them fell on New Year’s Day, 2005, ending 15 centuries of life.

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Tuesday Poem

Pen and Ink Sketch

………………………………….. How little it takes –
a single line
……….. from
…………………………………………………………………. the
……………………………………………………… right edge
…………………………………………… downward
meeting another
……….. from the left
…………………. and there are hills –

……….. a straight line between the two,
……………………. squiggles,

……………………. now the sea.

……….. add a circle, low,
…………………… in what’s become
………………………………. the sky
…………………………………………. and dusk
falls
……………………………… .above three
………………….. quick
……….. pelican
………………….. V’s.

………………….. less
………………….. than thirty
………………….. touches
………………….. of the pen,
………………….. world floods
………………….. the page,

………………….. and these words
………………….. ………… wash
………………….. ashore.

by Nils Peterson

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the norway of jon fosse

Scott Manley Hadley at berfrois:

Jon Fosse is also a man, though about a decade older than Knausgaard. This story collection, Scenes From A Childhood, has recently been published in the UK by Fitzcarraldo Editions. In fact, acknowledging (or ignoring) this gender bias, the publishers include an extract from a Paris Review article in the blurbs at the front of the text that compares “the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters” to the Beatles, deciding that “Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all”. This description of Fosse is certainly accurate, if the impression given by this collection is correct, as the stories included here boast a rich emotionality as well as a complex blending of reality and dream to create a powerful dissociative response. The stories that comprise this collection vary from the bizarre to the conventional, using a gentle variety of voices to show loneliness, affection, depression, anxiety, excitement, hope and loss. This is powerful work.

more here.

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the santa claus town

Chantel Tatolli at Harper’s Magazine:

By 1956, Howard had graduated more than five hundred Santas, working in department stores across the country from Macy’s in Kansas City to D. H. Holmes in New Orleans. On his fifty-acre farm just west of Albion, he opened a Christmas-themed amusement park, encircled by a miniature railroad, and home to pigs, cows, and a team of reindeer. “But he wasn’t a good businessman,” said Cheryl Mowatt, a local librarian. Howard would wave poorer families through the gates, sometimes allowing entry to six kids when they had only three tickets. Eventually, he could not pay a bill for toys, and a court put the school, suit business, and park up on the auction block in 1965.

more here.

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