Sunday, April 23, 2006


Have you ever discovered something and felt pretty cool about it, then after a little reflection felt like a fool because it took you so long? Along with the fact that millions must have discovered such an obvious thing before you?

In the Museum of Modern Art in New York last week I walked into a gallery and had this, Rene Magritte's "Empire of Light," in front of me. A little light bulb went off. That's gotta be the inspiration for this, the cover of Jackson Browne's 1974 album "Late for the Sky," I realized. Which of course it was. And which, of course, Browne acknowledged in the album credits ("...cover concept Jackson Browne if it's all reet with Magritte").

The funny thing, aside from my ignorance, is that my sister, who is an artist, though not a Jackson Browne fan, probably knew this. Much that she knows about history, politics, music, and literature she knows because of the influence they have had on and the extent they have been influenced by painting and design. She thinks more of teaching should emphasize these connections, which would not only allow the teaching of history and politics in particular to come alive, but would also introduce people to disciplines they otherwise might never care about or even be aware of. She's right, of course. My daughter fell in love with the "1812 Overture" when she saw "V for Vendetta" but was curious, when I played the whole CD for her, as to why "La Marseillaise" was in it. She's in her third year of high school French, she knew "La Marseillaise" and she was vaguely aware of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. How natural it seems to tie Napoleon and Tchaikovsky together. What better way to bring a history lecture alive than with a symphonic piece with cannons! This doesn't seem to happen, though.
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