The Flaming Lips / “The Impulse”
To the question “Is the cinema an art?” my answer is, “What does it matter?” You can make films or you can cultivate a garden. Both have as much claim to be called art as a poem by Verlaine or a painting by Delacroix. If your film or your garden is a good one it means that as a practicioner of cinema or gardening you are entitled to consider yourself an artist. The pastry-cook who makes a good cake is an artist. The ploughman with an old-fashioned plough creates a work of art when he ploughs a furrow. Art is not a calling in itself, but the way in which one exercises a calling, and also the way in which one performs any human activity. I will give you my definition of art: art is “making.” The art of poetry is the art of making poetry. The art of love is the art of making love.
—Jean Renoir, My Life and My Films
What I see and keep secret appalls me. What I speak and do not know delivers me. Does not deliver me. Will all my nights be enough to dismantle this lightning-flash? O glimpsed countenance, inexorable and pounded by the blind white air!
Asiago Bread Recipe (by Betty Crocker Recipes)
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups Gold Medal® Better for Bread™ bread flour or Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package regular or fast-acting dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary or thyme leaves, if desired
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups diced Asiago, Swiss or other firm cheese
Cooking spray for greasing bowl and cookie sheet
1. In a large bowl, stir 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar and yeast until well mixed. In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, heat the water over medium heat until very warm and an instant-read thermometer reads 120°F to 130°F. Add the warm water to the flour mixture. Beat with a wire whisk or an electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, stopping frequently to scrape batter from side and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap; let stand about 1 hour or until bubbly.
2. Stir in the oil, rosemary and salt with a wooden spoon. Stir in enough of the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is soft, leaves side of bowl and is easy to handle. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 15 minutes.
3. Sprinkle flour lightly on a countertop or large cutting board. Place dough on floured surface. Knead by folding dough toward you, then with the heels of your hands, pushing dough away from you with a short rocking motion. Move dough a quarter turn and repeat. Continue kneading 5 to 10 minutes, sprinkling surface with more flour if dough starts to stick, until dough is smooth and springy. Knead in 1 cup of the cheese. Spray a large bowl with the cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place 45 to 60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if an indentation remains when you press your fingertips about 1/2 inch into the dough.
4. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with the cooking spray. Sprinkle flour lightly on a countertop or large cutting board. Gently push your fist into the dough to deflate it. Place dough on floured surface. Gently shape into football-shaped loaf, about 12 inches long, by stretching sides of dough downward to make a smooth top. Place loaf with smooth side up on the cookie sheet. Coat loaf generously with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place 45 to 60 minutes or until dough has almost doubled in size.
5. Move oven racks to lowest and middle positions. Place an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan on the bottom oven rack; add hot water to the pan until about 1/2 inch from the top. Heat the oven to 450°F.
6. Pour a small amount of cool water into a clean spray bottle. Spray the loaf lightly with water; sprinkle with a small amount of flour. With a sharp serrated knife, carefully cut a 1/2-inch-deep slash lengthwise down the center of the loaf. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cheese into the slash.
7. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until loaf is deep golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from cookie sheet to a cooling rack. Cool 30 minutes before slicing; cut with a serrated knife.
The Rite of Spring 1913: Why did it provoke a riot?
The Rite of Spring caused an outrage on its premiere in Paris a century ago. But was it the music or the dance? Ivan Hewett investigates.
It was 100 years ago that the most famous scandal in the history of the arts took place, at a swanky new theatre in Paris. Anyone who was anyone was there. The cosmopolitan German aristocrat Count Harry Kessler said that “it was the most dazzling house I’ve ever seen in Paris”. Jean Cocteau wrote that “the smart audience in tails and tulle, diamonds and ospreys, was interspersed with the suits and bandeaux of the aesthetic crowd. The latter would applaud novelty simply to show their contempt for the people in the boxes… Innumerable shades of snobbery, super-snobbery and inverted snobbery were represented.”
What drew them on the night of May 29 1913 was the whiff of something potentially outrageous: a brand-new ballet from the Ballets Russes, which had entranced and shocked Paris ever since their first appearance there in 1909. What gave the event an extra frisson was that this Rite of Spring was the product of the most savage of all these so-called “Northern savages”.
Igor Stravinsky, the composer, had scored a massive hit the previous year with Petrushka, which added an exciting element of modernist collage to colourful Russian folklore. Vaslav Nijinsky, the choreographer, had caused a minor scandal a few months previously, with his blatantly erotic portrayal of the lovesick faun in Debussy’s L’Après-midi d’un faune.
Stravinsky was hoping the new ballet would be an even bigger hit than Petrushka. “From all indications I can see that this piece is bound to ‘emerge’ in a way that rarely happens,” he wrote gleefully to Nicholas Roerich, who was the guiding spirit behind the ballet’s vision of pagan Russia. It’s a fair bet that Diaghilev, the great entrepreneur behind the Ballets Russes, was hoping for something more than an emergence. He wanted a scandal.
And he got one, though what actually happened that night is something of a mystery. The dancer Dame Marie Rambert remembered that “a shout went up in the gallery: ‘Un docteur!’. Somebody else shouted louder, ‘Un dentiste!’” Kessler said that people started to whisper and joke almost immediately. The conductor of the premiere, Pierre Monteux, was told by one of his double-bass players that “many a gentleman’s shiny top hat or soft fedora was ignominiously pulled down by an opponent over his eyes and ears, and canes were brandished like menacing implements of combat all over the theatre.”
These are just a few of dozens of eyewitness reports. As the musicologist Richard Taruskin points out, the Rite is the most over-documented premiere in history, and yet so many things are obscure. Was it the choreography that annoyed people, or the music? Were the police really called? Was it true that missiles were thrown, and challenges to a duel offered? Were the creators booed at the end, or cheered?
There were certainly plenty of good reasons for outrage, starting with the high, almost strangled bassoon melody that begins the work, soon draped with fluttering, twittering woodwind sounds.
It’s often said that the pulsating rhythms of the Rite of Spring are what caused the outrage, but pulsating rhythms at least have an appeal at a visceral level (an appeal certainly felt at the Rite’s premiere, where according to one eye witness one excited onlooker beat out the rhythms on the bald pate of the man in front). It’s more likely that the audience was appalled and disbelieving at the level of dissonance, which seemed to many like sheer perversity. “The music always goes to the note next to the one you expect,” wrote one exasperated critic.
At a deeper level, the music negates the very thing that for most people gives it meaning: the expression of human feelings. As Stravinsky put it, “there are simply no regions for soul-searching in The Rite of Spring”. This is what separates it so decisively from Stravinsky’s hit of 1911, Petrushka. There we’re immersed in a human world, which exudes the very specific cultural ambience of Russia. It’s true that the main characters are puppets, rather than rounded human beings. But they have characters, even if they’re somewhat rudimentary, and at the end there’s even a suggestion that Petrushka might have a soul.
There’s no sign that any of the creatures in the Rite of Spring has a soul, and there’s certainly no sense of a recognisable human culture. The dancers are like automata, whose only role is to enact the ritual laid down by immemorial custom. An iron necessity rules everything: there has to be a game of Rival Tribes, there has to be Dance of the Young Girls, and an elder has to bless the earth. And finally, a young girl has to be chosen and then abandoned to her fate, which is to dance herself to death.
Which brings us to the other great innovator of that long-ago premiere, Vaslav Nijinsky. This strange young man, with his oddly shaped body and strange naive air (“One became aware of strange absences in his personality,” said Stravinsky) created something as epoch-making in dance as Stravinsky’s score was in music. Whereas classical dance aspired upwards, in defiance of gravity, Nijinsky’s dancers seemed pulled down to the earth. Their strange, jerky movements and awkward poses defied every canon of gracefulness.
Given all this, it’s no surprise there was a scandal. And yet, among the shouting and hissing, there were one or two sensitive observers who realised they were witnessing something deeply original, rather than merely shocking. The French writer Jacques Rivière observed that “there is something profoundly blind about this dance. There is an enormous question being carried about by all these creatures moving before our eyes. It is in no way distinct from themselves. They carry it about with them without understanding it, like an animal that turns in its cage and never tires of butting its head against the bars.”
To be reminded of that brute animal unconsciousness at the zoo is one thing; to have it enacted by a troupe of highly trained dancers and musicians, in a theatre full of Parisian sophisticates, is quite another. Perhaps the riot was a sign of disquiet, a feeling that the world had lost its moorings, and that barbarism was about to be let loose in the streets. Given that the First World War would soon break out, that feeling wasn’t so wide of the mark.
Indigo by Miles Davis
a pick me up.
Do people get caught in the cycle of overeating and drug addiction because their brain reward centers are over-active causing them to experience greater cravings for food or drugs? In a unique prospective study Oregon Research Institute (ORI) senior scientist Eric Stice, Ph.D., and colleagues tested this theory, called the reward surfeit model. The results indicated that elevated responsivity of reward regions in the brain increased the risk for future substance use, which has never been tested before prospectively with humans. Paradoxically, results also provide evidence that even a limited history of substance use was related to less responsivity in the reward circuitry, as has been suggested by experiments with animals. The research appears in the May 1, 2013 issue of Biological Psychiatry.
In a novel study using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Stice’s team tested whether individual differences in reward region responsivity predicted overweight/obesity onset among initially healthy weight adolescents and substance use onset among initially abstinent adolescents. The neural response to food and monetary reward was measured in 162 adolescents. Body fat and substance use were assessed at the time of the fMRI and again one year later.
“The findings are important because this is the first test of whether atypical responsivity of reward circuitry increases risk for substance use,” says Dr. Stice. “Although numerous researchers have suggested that reduced responsivity is a vulnerability factor for substance use, this theory was based entirely on cross-sectional studies comparing substance abusing individuals to healthy controls; no studies have tested this thesis with prospective data.”
Investigators examined the extent to which reward circuitry (e.g., the striatum) was activated in response to receipt and anticipated receipt of money. Monetary reward is a general reinforcer and has been used frequently to assess reward sensitivity. The team also used another paradigm to assess brain activation in response to the individual’s consumption and anticipated consumption of chocolate milkshake. Results showed that greater activation in the striatum during monetary reward receipt at baseline predicted future substance use onset over a 1-year follow-up.
Noteworthy was that adolescents who had already begun using substances showed less striatal response to monetary reward. This finding provides the first evidence that even a relatively short period of moderate substance use might reduce reward region responsivity to a general reinforcer.
“The implications are that the more individuals use psychoactive substances, the less responsive they will be to rewarding experiences, meaning that they may derive less reinforcement from other pursuits, such as interpersonal relationships, hobbies, and school work. This may contribute to the escalating spiral of drug use that characterizes substance use disorders,” commented Stice.
Although the investigators had expected parallel neural predictors of future onset of overweight during exposure to receipt and anticipated receipt of a palatable food, no significant effects emerged. It is possible that these effects are weaker and that a longer follow-up period will be necessary to better differentiate who will gain weight and who will remain at a healthy weight.
(Image courtesy: West Virginia University)