Exhibition review (NYRB): Jean-Antoine Houdon

From the NYRB, April 8, 2010. “The ideas of France’s philosophers, the refinement of its language, and the sumptuousness of its fashion defined the eighteenth century. French paintings from the Age of Enlightenment gleam from the walls of great museums from St. Petersburg to New York. What would the Wallace Collection be without Watteau, the Frick without Fragonard?”

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Blogging now and then

Blogging, now and then by Robert Darnton (New York Review of Books, March 18, 2010). From the article:

Darnton compares blogging to earlier short forms of written communication ….

“Short, scurrilous abuse proliferated in all sorts of communication systems: taunts scribbled on palazzi during the feuds of Renaissance Italy, ritual insult known as “playing the dozens” among African Americans, posters carried in demonstrations against despotic regimes, and graffiti on many occasions such as the uprising in Paris of May–June 1968 (one read “Voici la maison d’un affreux petit bourgeois”). When expertly mixed, provocation and pithiness could be dynamite—the verbal or written equivalent of Molotov cocktails.

This subject deserves more study, because for all of their explosiveness, the blog-like elements in earlier eras of communication tend to be ignored by sociologists, political scientists, and historians who concentrate on full-scale texts and formal discourse.”

It’s the marginalia of history!

Twitter updates, 18th century edition

From the New York Times, April 13, 2010. By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries

“But it turns out that the way people share information on Twitter bears some similarities to the way they shared it more than 200 years before the service was created in 2006, according to Cornell professor Lee Humphreys, who has been comparing messages from Twitter and those from diaries in the 18th and 19th centuries…”