So this Great Recession of ours – don’t kid yourself, it ain’t over – is a moral crisis as well as an economic catastrophe. You might even say it’s a spiritual impasse, because it makes us ask what social scaffolding other than work will permit the construction of character – or whether character itself is something we must aspire to. But that is why it’s also an intellectual opportunity: it forces us to imagine a world in which the job no longer builds our character, determines our incomes or dominates our daily lives.
What would you do if you didn’t have to work to receive an income?
In short, it lets us say: enough already. Fuck work.
Reading “A History of Pictures” is like touring a great museum with an artist and critic chatting over your shoulder. The conversation sometimes drones on, especially when Hockney rehashes his “optical theory” that artists from Jan van Eyck onward used lenses to project images onto canvas. But most of the dialogue, abundantly illustrated with full-page glossies, is original and surprising.
That both black and white musicians have a place in the history of rock and roll is a truism. But, as the cultural historian Jack Hamilton shows in his new book Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination, almost nothing else about the music’s racial makeup is simple or settled. From Little Richard and Chuck Berry to the Dominoes, Ike Turner, and Howlin’ Wolf, rock and roll’s founding figures were African American, yet “rock” as we know and hear it now is coded white. In Hamilton’s telling, rock’s long evolution from a raucous offshoot of black party music to a lavishly produced, aesthetically ambitious, and securely white art form “is a story of the forced marriage of musical and racial ideology.”
“To try to see the whole of a person can be such a difficult thing to do,” Chabon said, “and to see the whole of a time is even harder, but those are the things that were unconsciously driving me as the scope of the book increased.”