Letter from the Pulitzer fiction jury

This two-part letter/article from one of the members of the 2012 Pulitzer prize jury is a very interesting read:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/07/letter-from-the-pulitzer-fiction-jury-what-really-happened-this-year.html

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/07/letter-from-the-pulitzer-fiction-jury-part-ii-how-to-define-greatness.html

Even though it is primarily about literature, I think that anyone in a creative profession – including the sciences – should find parts of it interesting. For instance, the following observation about the way the content of paintings changed during the Impressionist period seems to mirror what happens in many areas of science, including in the area of AI right now!

“But as I scanned the cartons for Big Ones, I found myself thinking more and more of the Impressionists. I wondered over the fact that, in the course of several centuries, “serious” painting ceased to favor great historical or religious subjects, which tended to incorporate at least two dozen figures, facial and bodily expressions that ranged from despair to ecstasy, a landscape, a horse or two, symbolic vestments, symbolic gestures, and (optional, but recommended) various saints and angels, approving or angered, up among the roil and brilliance of the clouds.

And then, a mere minute later in historical time, a “serious” painting could be a Monet haystack. It could be a Cezanne portrait of a local farmer in overalls. It could be an empty Van Gogh field under an empty sky.

The Impressionists don’t strike us (don’t strike me, anyway) as lesser artists simply because they worked on an outwardly more modest scale. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, do I hurry past the paintings by Monet and Cezanne and Van Gogh to get to those by Tintoretto and the Delacoix? I do not. I’m happy to see all of them, but the Monets and Cezannes and Van Goghs don’t look small compared to the Tintorettos and Delacroixes. They’re just big in different ways.”

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