My summers with Mapplethorpe were an unusual introduction to an arts career. But rather than putting me off, they revealed to me that museums are interesting, dynamic places that can alter people’s perceptions of the world. I suddenly understood how the arts and the humanities are living forces in our culture, tied up intimately with politics and policy.
But if one trait characterizes Americans with lots of disposable income, it’s their tireless compulsion to dispose of that income in brand new ways. The more pedestrian the product in question, the greater its seeming potential to evoke untold volumes of feeling and meaning. A few centuries into the future, inhabitants of a ravaged globe may look back on this time as the crucial moment at which delusional fervor around unremarkable, overpriced things reached its apex.
Kathy English did not let Aulakh down. A suicide note is not a contract. And colleagues and loved ones have no duty to abide by its terms. Even in death, the departed can offer up value to the living. And in Aulakh’s case, her life, her death, and her last cri de coeur may have much to say about the frustrations, indignities and heartbreak endured by staff at the country’s biggest newspaper.