Nexus is a remarkable institution, based first in Tilburg University and since 2017 the VU University in Amsterdam, while claiming to fulfill a function that universities have largely forsaken. That function is the preservation and promulgation of high European culture. Nexus publishes a journal and holds conferences at which leading intellectuals speak and exchange opinions. Schwartz reflects on the conference of 1999. Continue reading “89: Cosmopolitans and other border-crossers”
177 Amateurs and professionals
Professional astronomers, ornithologists, entomologists and other scientists have a symbiotic relationship with amateurs, who do the boring fieldwork for which they have no time. Schwartz was able, as a publisher, to foster a bond of that kind in the study of Dutch still-life painters.
383 A victim of police murder I knew
The murder of George Floyd kindles Schwartz’s nightmarish memory of the killing of a person he knew who died at the hands of the police. In all their differences, both are dramatic instances of lethal abuse by a US policeman against an unarmed victim. With shocking images.
376 Article 50
A little over half a year into the Brexit Show, the author of the famous Article 50 that enabled it to happen talked to the Dutch journalist Melle Garschagen, for a piece that appeared in NRC Handelsblad on 4 January 2017. It led me to write to this distinguished diplomat and peer, whose reply to me is the provisional highpoint in my interaction with the powers that be.
195 Toward a theory of conspiracy
The inspiration to put this column of 2003 on the Schwartzlist in 2019 came from the excellent column on conspiracies by Ross Douthat in The New York Times, 13 August 2019. Continue reading “195 Toward a theory of conspiracy”
“Here’s not looking at you, kid: some literary uses of Vermeer”
Schwartz uncovers misappropriations of the great Dutch artist by a raft of writers and an artist. Is he sorry he didn’t write a novel about Vermeer? Maybe.
March 2001 Art in America pp. 104-07 (can be enlarged with CTRL+ for legibility)
Last paragraph and notes (all numbered i – you can link them to their place in the text if you really want to)
288 A missed appointment in Baghdad
To test the extent to which Iraq would have become a model Middle Eastern democracy by the year 2005, well into the era of neocon nirvana, in 2003 Schwartz and his artist buddy Joseph Semah plan to stage a Purim Play in Baghdad in March 2005. Happy holiday. Continue reading “288 A missed appointment in Baghdad”
286 Maxima was right
Tired of self-righteous pronouncements on the hot subject of Dutch national identity, Schwartz looks for a way of quantifying the subject. Statistics comparing Dutch attitudes toward Europe with those of other Europeans provide revealing results. For one thing, the Dutch turn out to be the most opinionated populace in this part of the world. But despite themselves, they do have their saving graces.
284 Being where?
The exhibitions that take place in Kassel every five years (initially four) since 1955 under the name documenta have a powerful founding myth. They were initiated in response to two forms of totalitarianism: they rehabilitated German artists who had been banned by the Nazis as “degenerate” and they showed up the repressive cultural policies of Communism by flaunting daring Free World art. A powerful myth indeed, but is it true? The yeses and the nos.
281 The Rembrandt riots
No one who has been educated under the regime of the ayatollahs in Iran has heard of Rembrandt, according to research carried out by Schwartz in Shiraz, Tehran and Isfahan. Being kept in the dark not only about him but about Western culture in general adds to the discontent of the Iranians, who nonetheless treated Schwartz to an exclusive, tourist-free introduction to some of their greatest cities and monuments.