Jonathan Lieberson (1949–1989) was a philosopher, editor and critic. Lieberson taught at Barnard and Columbia. His book of essays, Varieties, included reflections on personalities as diverse as Diana Vreeland, Paul Valery and Clifford Geertz.


TV: A Day in the Life

Some years ago, I fell seriously ill and had to go to a hospital, where I was fitted out with catheters and intravenous tubing on both arms and could read only with great difficulty. I tried to divert myself with an enormous book on the several generations of a distinguished …

Bombing in Bayreuth

Der Ring des Nibelungen

by Richard Wagner, directed by Harry Kupfer, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, designed by Hans Schavernoch. Bayreuth Festival, 1988
The opera festival in Bayreuth, which performs only Wagner’s works—usually Der Ring des Nibelungen, and two or three others—continues to induce in some spectators the feeling expressed by Mark Twain when he attended it in the Nineties, that he was “a sane person in a community of the mad.” Because …

The Prophet of Broadway


a play by David Mamet, directed by Gregory Mosher
David Mamet, whose new play, Speed-the-Plow, is having a successful run in New York, grew up in Chicago, where he sought a career in the theater by, among other things, working as a busboy at the Second City and (because his uncle was director of broadcasting for the Chicago Board …

The Sense of Santayana

George Santayana

by John McCormick

Persons and Places: Fragments of Autobiography

by George Santayana, edited by William G. Holzberger, edited by Herman J. Saatkamp Jr., with an introduction by Richard C. Lyon
John McCormick’s biography of George Santayana—a long and detailed account of a slow and rather uneventful life—is part of a recent effort to revive, or exhume, the thought and reputation of the philosopher, whose autobiography, Persons and Places, was republished last year. One senses that this effort may be an …

Chopping Up ‘The Cherry Orchard’

The Cherry Orchard

a play by Anton Chekhov, in a translation by Elisaveta Lavrova, directed by Peter Brook

The Shifting Point, 1946–1987

by Peter Brook
With the support of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the British stage director Peter Brook has restored the Majestic Theater on Fulton Street in Brooklyn for two productions, the immense Indian epic The Mahabharata, which has completed its run, and now Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. The old theater has not …

Nixon in Brooklyn

Nixon in China

an opera, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, December 4-17, 1987
Nixon in China is an opera by Alice Goodman, a poet living in Cambridge, England, and John Adams, a composer who until recently was new music adviser at the San Francisco Symphony. The opera was commissioned by four companies—the Houston Grand Opera, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, De Nederlandse Opera, …

The Unimportance of Being Oscar

For those who like to take things to extremes, Oscar Levant was a hero. Before he died in 1972, he had completed a great arc of self-destruction that ruined his career as a pianist, a radio and film star, and that had put him into a series of hospitals to …

Too Many People?

Are World Population Trends A Problem?

edited, with an introduction by Ben Wattenberg and Karl Zinsmeister
Between 1949 and 1973 the population of China increased 64 percent and today it is over one billion. The Deng regime claims that high rates of population growth, lower rates of death caused by modern medicines, and a generally poor and badly educated population have forced China to spend too …