Jenny Diski covered nearly every conceivable topic in her essays for the London Review of Books: shoes, Stanley Milgram, the women’s movement, Karl Marx. But the essays are always as much about herself as the subject at hand. “I start with me, and often enough end with me,” she once …
The apparent calm of the election belied the real concerns of the German public, concerns evident in the election results. Chancellor Angela Merkel barely campaigned. To the eyes of the public, the two major parties seemed nearly identical. This provided the far-right party with an opening to be the opposition. If people turned to a party that said the unspeakable, it was partly because very speakable things weren’t being said at all.
In El Salvador, gangs dictate a significant part of the economy, while the government’s law-and-order strategy has failed to reduce one of the highest murder rates in the world. Turning citizens into informants, the town of San José Guayabal claims to have defied this trend, anticipating violence before it happens. But it’s unclear whether its approach can be replicated at the national level.
The Renaissance accountant Matthäus Schwarz often took note of the outfits in which he looked particularly fine. In 1520, at age twenty-three, he hired an artist to draw his most notable getups and collected these in a book that he continued to fill throughout the rest of his life.
In The Address Book, the French artist Sophie Calle found an address book on a Paris street, photocopied its pages, and returned it to its owner. She then interviewed the people listed within and published the results in the French daily Liberation. Critics of Calle’s work often describe it as mere snooping. She may be a an excellent stalker, but in her pursuit of strangers, Calle presents a kind of artistic Zeno’s paradox: the closer you get to someone else, the more you realize the distance separating you.
“Ennion: Master of Roman Glass” was the Metropolitan Museum’s first ancient glass exhibit. This lovely small show presented the work of Ennion, the best-known glassmaker of antiquity. During his career in the first century AD, Ennion’s wares decorated the homes of Rome’s upper and middle classes from Jerusalem to Venice. The show is a welcome reminder of just how keen the Romans were about precious glassware—easy to forget, since so little of it survives.
Simon Rattle’s last year as the head of the Berlin Philharmonic—he has been conducting the orchestra to great acclaim since 2002—is the last chance to see his energetic conducting style at work in the orchestra’s acoustically superb concert hall.