Five Links I Love

By Maia Jasper White

Sharing a few lovely and important pieces from around the web.

1. This one, from today’s New York Times, is a beautiful defense of the necessity of the arts and humanities in our tech-driven world. (Hat tip to Brian Lauritzen for finding this one.)

The flavor of it:

Art and literature are tried on. Reading a book, seeing a painting or a play or a film: Such encounters are fueled by affect as well as intelligence. Much “fleshing out” happens here: We invest the art with our own feelings, but the art comes to live inside us, adding to our own repertoire. Art obliges us to “first-personalize” the world. Our commerce with art makes us fellow travelers: to other cultures, other values, other selves. Some may think this both narcissistic and naïve, but ask yourself: What other means of propulsion can yield such encounters?

… We enter the bookstore, see the many volumes arrayed there, and think: so much to read, so little time. But books do not take time; they give time, they expand our resources of both heart and mind. It may sound paradoxical, but they are, in the last analysis, scientific, for they trace the far-flung route by which we come to understand our world and ourselves. They take our measure. And we are never through discovering who we are.

2. This article, about the only playable Stradivarius guitar left in the world, includes a link to an exquisite performance on it.

3. Here is a stunning performance of a viola d’amore piece by one of my favorite living composers (and people), Reena Esmail. As per Reena’s usual: an exquisite intermarriage of Eastern and Western sounds. And I can’t say I’ve ever heard a viola d’amore played so virtuosically.

4. This touching and sobering piece is written by a professor of the History of Christianity — who was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer as a young mother. Poignantly enough, she is an expert in America’s “Prosperity Gospel” — which, under the looming shadow of her own mortality, she now relates to in new ways. It’s a beautiful read. It got me thinking about what it means to be “blessed” (and what we mean when we refer to ourselves as such); about our fragility and impermanence; and about how we cope with the inevitability of our finitude.

5. So as not to end on too bleak of a note: my new favorite cake recipe.

Hope to see you at our concert this Friday! (There may be cake.)