Monday, 1 August 2011

4+1 reading suggestions and 1 pause


Nobility of Spirit – A forgotten ideal
, by Rob Riemen

Rob Riemen is an essayist and philosopher, founder of Nexus Institute in the Netherlands. When reading this book, I felt I was missing some basic knowledge in order to be able to fully appreciate it. But it was none the less inspiring. Thomas Mann “talked once of nobility of spirit as the sole corrective for human history. Wherever the ideal vanishes, culture vanishes with it”. Truth, justice, humanism, freedom, democracy. A book that, in my opinion, helps put into perspective events such as the greek crisis or the egyptian revolution.

Arts, Inc., by Bill Ivey

Bill Ivey was Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in the USA between 1998 and 2001. Insightfully, Ivey analyzes the cultural policies (or lack of them) along the 20th century and up to our days and launches an alert regarding the way the development of copyright laws, the control of these laws by private companies and the incapacity (or lack of willingness) of the american government to safeguard citizens´ cultural rights have seriously undermined everyone´s expressive life. In this book, Ivey proposes a Cultural Bill of Rights in defense of six fundamental cultural rights. Chapters, referring to the rights, have the following titles: Heritage; Artists; A creative life; America, art and the world; Art of lasting value; Strong, responsible institutions. There is a final seventh chapter: The failure of government.

Cognitive surplus, by Clay Shirky

This book´s subtilte clearly explains the subject: “How technology makes consumers into collaborators”. Shirky presents the most diverse case studies in order to show how new technological means (and the fact that they are cheap and accessible) have allowed citizens to share their free time and their knowledge in order to promote common causes, support projects, supervise their governements. And they aren´t doing it to make money. The motivations are intrinsic: the need to communicate and share, to be useful, to make the world a better place. Implications (and benefits) for the cultural sector are more than clear to me. The near future is becoming more and more interesting.

Bicycle diaries, by David Byrne

London, New York, Buenos Aires, Berlin, among others. Cities David Byrne has explored on his bicycle and a ‘pretext’ to talk about arts, culture, politics, people. I am highlighting four lines that capture the Istanbul I have in my heart and I have not visited for almost twenty years now: “I love its physical location – bounded by water, dispersed across three landmasses, one of which is where Asia begins. Its way of life, which seems Mediterranean, cosmopolitan, and yet tinged by the deep history of the Middle East, is intoxicating”.


I read this book very slowly, because I didn´t want it to finish. And, at the same time, I couldn´t keep away from it. So, I was reading each page more than once.

1 pause. Until September.