Category: The Arts

My Conversation with David Rubinstein

Here is the audio, video, and transcript — David has a studio in his home!  Here is part of the CWT summary:

He joined Tyler to discuss what makes someone good at private equity, why 20 percent performance fees have withstood the test of time, why he passed on a young Mark Zuckerberg, why SPACs probably won’t transform the IPO process, gambling on cryptocurrency, whether the Brooklyn Nets are overrated, what Wall Street and Washington get wrong about each other, why he wasn’t a good lawyer, why the rise of China is the greatest threat to American prosperity, how he would invest in Baltimore, his advice to aging philanthropists, the four standards he uses to evaluate requests for money, why we still need art museums, the unusual habit he and Tyler share, why even now he wants more money, why he’s not worried about an imbalance of ideologies on college campuses, how he prepares to interview someone, what appealed to him about owning the Magna Carta, the change he’d make to the US Constitution, why you shouldn’t obsess about finding a mentor, and more.

Here is an excerpt from the dialogue:

And:

And please note that David has a new book out, The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream.

My Conversation with David Salle

I was honored to visit his home and painting studio, here is the audio, video, and transcript.  Here is part of the CWT summary:

David joined Tyler to discuss the fifteen (or so) functions of good art, why it’s easier to write about money than art, what’s gone wrong with art criticism today, how to cultivate good taste, the reasons museum curators tend to be risk-averse, the effect of modern artistic training on contemporary art, the evolution of Cézanne, how the centrality of photography is changing fine art, what makes some artists’ retrospectives more compelling than others, the physical challenges of painting on a large scale, how artists view museums differently, how a painting goes wrong, where his paintings end up, what great collectors have in common, how artists collect art differently, why Frank O’Hara was so important to Alex Katz and himself, what he loves about the films of Preston Sturges, why The Sopranos is a model of artistic expression, how we should change intellectual property law for artists, the disappointing puritanism of the avant-garde, and more.

And excerpt:

COWEN: Yes, but just to be very concrete, let’s say someone asks you, “I want to take one actionable step tomorrow to learn more about art.” And they are a smart, highly educated person, but have not spent much time in the art world. What should they actually do other than look at art, on the reading level?

SALLE: On the reading level? Oh God, Tyler, that’s hard. I’ll have to think about it. I’ll have to come back with an answer in a few minutes. I’m not sure there’s anything concretely to do on the reading level. There probably is — just not coming to mind.

There’s Henry Geldzahler, who wrote a book very late in his life, at the end of his life. I can’t remember the title, but he addresses the problem of something which is almost a taboo — how do you acquire taste? — which is, in a sense, what we’re talking about. It’s something one can’t even speak about in polite society among art historians or art critics.

Taste is considered to be something not worth discussing. It’s simply, we’re all above that. Taste is, in a sense, something that has to do with Hallmark greeting cards — but it’s not true. Taste is what we have to work with. It’s a way of describing human experience.

Henry, who was the first curator of modern and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, was a wonderful guy and a wonderful raconteur. Henry basically answers your question: find ways, start collecting. “Okay, but I don’t have any money. How can I collect art?” You don’t have to collect great paintings. Just go to the flea market and buy a vase for 5 bucks. Bring it back to your room, live with it, and look at it.

Pretty soon, you’ll start to make distinctions about it. Eventually, if you’re really paying attention to your own reactions, you’ll use it up. You’ll give that to somebody else, and you’ll go back to the flea market, and you buy another, slightly better vase, and you bring that home and live with that. And so the process goes. That’s very real. It’s very concrete.

And:

COWEN: As you know, the 17th century in European painting is a quite special time. You have Velásquez, you have Rubens, you have Bruegel, much, much more. And there are so many talented painters today. Why can they not paint in that style anymore? Or can they? What stops them?

SALLE: Artists are trained in such a vastly different way than in the 17th, 18th, or even the 19th century. We didn’t have the training. We’re not trained in an apprentice guild situation where the apprenticeship starts very early in life, and people who exhibit talent in drawing or painting are moved on to the next level.

Today painters are trained in professional art schools. People reach school at the normal age — 18, 20, 22, something in grad school, and then they’re in a big hurry. If it’s something you can’t master or show proficiency in quickly, let’s just drop it and move on.

There are other reasons as well, cultural reasons. For many years or decades, painting in, let’s say, the style of Velásquez or even the style of Manet — what would have been the reason for it? What would have been the motivation for it, even assuming that one could do it? Modernism, from whenever we date it, from 1900 to 1990, was such a persuasive argument. It was such an inclusive and exciting and dynamic argument that what possibly could have been the reason to want to take a step back 200 years in history and paint like an earlier painter?

It is a bit slow at the very beginning, otherwise excellent throughout.

My favorite things Idaho

I used to blog “My Favorite Things…” all the time, but I ran out of new places to go for a while.  Now there is Idaho!  Boise in particular.  Today, I can think of a few “favorite things” from Idaho, here goes and potatoes don’t count:

Artist: Matthew Barney.  Filmmaker and artist, prominent in the avant-garde but much of his work is quite accessible if you don’t mind the near total absence of dialogue.  Is the nine-hour Cremaster cycle his masterpiece?  (I’ve only seen parts).  According to the internet “Cremaster is a paired muscle of the pelvis and perineum that is fully developed only in the external genitalia of males. Being located between the internal and external layers of spermatic fascia, cremaster covers the testes and spermatic cord.”  Many scenes from the movies have been turned into photos and artworks as well.

Do people in Idaho look like that?

Composer: LaMonte Young.  Is he the most underrated twentieth century avant-garde composer?  The Well-Tuned Piano is one of my favorite works, though it is a tough slog for many, being about five hours in length, here is a YouTube version.  He was even born in a log cabin in Idaho, and grew up LDS.  His career blossomed in New York, but he attributed his interest in drone sounds to the Idaho wind and other sounds from his boyhood.

Other music: Built to Spill.

Author: Jerry Kramer, who grew up in Idaho and later played football for the Green Bay Packers.  I loved Instant Replay as a kid.  But is there a “real author” from Idaho?  Is it better or worse to be a “real author”?  Marilynne Robinson has never clicked with me.

Poet: Ezra Pound, born in Idaho.  A fascist and anti-Semite, and not a true favorite of mine, but he was talented and it seems odd not to list him.  Can I name a better poet from Idaho?

Explorer: Sacagewea.  I hope she is cancel-proof.

Drum Battle: Idaho.  Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.  For some reason, it reminded me of Benny Goodman’s Clarinade (not from Idaho).

Film, set in: My Own Private Idaho and Napoleon Dynamite might be the best known.  But perhaps I will go with Smoke Signals, Superman II (the one with Gene Hackman), and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.  Superman II, if I had to say.

Here is more Matt Barney:

I’ll be sure to report on my visit.

The greatest book(s) on Africa ever written?

Yes, I am talking about the new seven-volume set Architectural Guide to Sub-Saharan Africa.  I am now about halfway through volume II, and will read the rest, albeit slowly.  The books have plenty of text and also a lot of quality photographs.  While they are easy to read, they are not actually fast going.

These books have dozens of authors, so a systematic review misses the point. But just think: do you need to read yet another largely political history of Africa, detailing the conflict in Biafra, the fall of apartheid in South Africa, and the Mugabe dictatorship in Zimbabwe?  At what I hope are your current margins, what exactly are you going to learn?

Should you instead read seven volumes about how Africans (and sometimes non-Africans) have built Africa?  Its homes.  Its businesses.  Its government buildings and non-profit centers.  Its churches and mosques.  What Africa looks like and why.  Every significant discussion is accompanied by a relevant photograph.

Is that not a more important learning?

Where else can you find a sub-chapter “Beyond Design: Finnish Architects in Senegal”?  Which are in fact the most notable vistas in the Nouakchott fish market?  Why does it seem that no building in Mauretania is next to any other building in Mauretania?  (I am reading the West Africa volume, obviously.)

Definitely recommended, a notable achievement.

Jack Yeats, the greatest Irish artist

I am going to pick Jack Butler Yeats (1871-1957, Sligo) as Ireland’s greatest artist. And yes he was the brother of William Butler Yeats and son of the artist John Butler Yeats, notable in his own right.

(For background, here are my earlier posts on William Orpen, John Lavery, Mainie Jellett, and Harry Clarke.  Here are a few contenders whom I ruled out from the get-go.)

Wikipedia offers the following useful description of Jack Yeats:

His favourite subjects included the Irish landscape, horses, circus and travelling players. His early paintings and drawings are distinguished by an energetic simplicity of line and colour, his later paintings by an extremely vigorous and experimental treatment of often thickly applied paint. He frequently abandoned the brush altogether, applying paint in a variety of different ways, and was deeply interested in the expressive power of colour. Despite his position as the most important Irish artist of the 20th century (and the first to sell for over £1m), he took no pupils and allowed no one to watch him work, so he remains a unique figure.

I don’t think there are images I could show to convince you that Yeats should stand above the other contenders.  His signature expressionist works are thick with three-dimensional texture, and they look like crap on-line.  I am fortunate to have seen a large exhibit of them lately in Dublin.  When I first saw some many years ago, I thought they were a splotchy mess, a kind of second-rate Gaelic Kokoscha, but they hold up and improve remarkably well with time.  Everything is where it ought to be.

Here is a “more normal” picture by Yeats:

His scenes are more animated, more impudent, more multi-faceted, and fresher than those of any other Irish painter.  It is easy to imagine him still inspiring painters today, Irish or otherwise, and I don’t think the same is quite true for the other names surveyed.  There is something “whole greater than the sum of the parts” that makes Yeats a clear, easy, and I think (mostly) consensus choice for Ireland’s greatest artist.  And he certainly was “Irish enough” to count.

Here is a good Christie’s short essay, mixed in with six high-quality images of works recently up for sale.  Oh, and here is one of the expressionist horse paintings after all:

The best places to see Yeats works are in Dublin and Sligo, but London and even the Walters in Baltimore have some.  Catch the Dublin exhibit while you can!

Will this revolution be televised?

More than a century after the artists of the Vienna Secession declared “to every age its art; to art its freedom”, the Austrian capital has found a new site for artistic expression free from censorship: the adults-only platform OnlyFans.

Vienna’s tourism board has started an account on OnlyFans – the only social network that permits depictions of nudity – in protest against platforms’ ongoing censorship of its art museums and galleries.

In July, the Albertina Museum’s new TikTok account was suspended and then blocked for showing works by the Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki that showed an obscured female breast, forcing the museum to start a new account. This followed a similar incident in 2019, when Instagram ruled that a painting by Peter Paul Rubens violated the platform’s community standards which prohibit any depictions of nudity – even those that are “artistic or creative in nature”.

In 2018, the Natural History Museum’s photograph of the 25,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf figurine was deemed pornographic by Facebook and removed from the platform.

The Leopold Museum has likewise struggled to promote its collection of nudes by the expressionist Egon Schiele, with advertising regulators in Germany, the UK and US refusing to show them in a city tourism campaign in 2018. (The tourist board successfully resubmitted the posters with banners obscuring the bare bodies reading: “Sorry – 100 years old but still too daring today.”)

Here is more from The Guardian, via Jason D.

Who are the greatest Irish artists? part V, Harry Clarke

Harry Clarke, 1889-1931, born Dublin, stained glass artist and book illustrator, styles broadly Art Nouveau and symbolist.

He produced over 130 stained glass windows, the majority of which are in Ireland and then England.  He was renowned for his rich, original colors and his deep blues.  The value of his work is often site-specific (it would make for a great “go around Ireland” tour), and, unlike with most paintings, a jpeg picks up only one part of the broader work. Nonetheless here is one image:

Or try this:

Still not good enough.  I don’t feel I can make a real case by giving you more images, maybe you would do better to just view a bunch en masse.  A visit to the National Gallery in Dublin is better yet.  Barring that, this excellent catalog has fine images.  Here is a good short piece on Clarke’s weirdness (“the Irish artist welded Christian, Celtic and pagan imagery with the decadence of Klimt and Beardsley into an exotic futuristic fantasy”), also with quality images.

I see a few reasons for giving Clarke serious consideration:

1. He did most of his major work in Ireland.  And his “Celtic revival” emphasis is perhaps closer in spirit to contemporary Ireland than are the Anglo-Irish backgrounds of many of the other leading contenders for best Irish artist.

2. He expresses the playful, dramatic, and rebellious sides of the Irish national spirit.

3. He is strikingly original.  Some of his work also influenced later developments in illustration and graphic novels.  He in turn drew on varied sources, including religious illustrations, Russian ballet and Russian theatre art, and the cinema.

4. The colors are memorable and the technical execution is very strong.

5. He and his studio did church stained glass for Bayonne, New Jersey.

6. You could imagine him doing a cover for a Camille Paglia book.  As it stands, he did illustrate Goethe, Swinburne, and Hans Christian Andersen.

Ultimately he seems a little too concentrated in one direction to be my top pick, and maybe my number one Irish artist shouldn’t be so…”fruity”?  But I enjoy his work greatly those (few) times I have been able to see it and I do recommend him highly.

I hope you’ll be getting the final installment in this series — my #1 pick — pretty soon.

Why are newer, nice neighborhoods so hard to find?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, Scott Alexander has been covering related issues.  Here is one excerpt:

I can visit many European cities and find lovely parts of town to walk through. Closer to home, there is no recently created neighborhood in my own Virginia, or nearby Maryland, that can compare to the older homes of Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. The nicest residential neighborhoods of Washington, such as Georgetown, are typically quite old, predating World War II for most of their attractive structures and sometimes going as far back as the 18th century. Do I need to mention Prague, or the contrast between prewar and postwar German buildings?

A few caveats: The modern world has produced striking individual buildings, such as Guggenheim Bilbao or the Seattle Public Library, among many others. And there are neighborhoods that sell a kind of livability, such as the Kentlands in Maryland or Celebration, Fla., and it works well. It’s just not that beautiful or striking. In general, modern residential neighborhoods are not very aesthetically appealing.

This is not a purely subjective judgment (though it is my personal subjective judgment). If you ask the objective and measurable question of which neighborhoods tourists pay money to see, the answers are almost exclusively older neighborhoods, dating as far back as medieval times but pretty much never after 1940. Tysons Corner just isn’t as charming as Old Town Alexandria.

The decline of neighborhood beauty is all the more striking because of economic development. The world is not just two or three times wealthier now as it was in the 18th century, it is dozens of times wealthier. That is why the increasing cost of craftsmanship, while real, cannot account for the decline of neighborhood beauty. And note that when it comes to interior design, product design, cinema and many other areas, there are still plenty of notable and beautiful creations, fueled of course by greater wealth.

And:

One common explanation for the decline of urban and neighborhood beauty is the rise of the automobile, which makes it harder to develop such places. Surely cars and traffic can ruin many an attractive scene. Still, this is not even close to a full answer. For one thing, there are autos all over Paris, so at least in principle it ought to be possible to build in ways that are both highly attractive and allow for cars.

Or consider college campuses and their central quads, which typically do not have automobiles even today. The ones people admire are the older ones, not the newer campuses, which tend to be functional but aesthetically mediocre. The beauty of the University of California at Santa Barbara relies a lot on the surrounding scenery, not the architecture.

No need to put this point in the comments:

“Selection effects” are also often cited as an explanation for the decline of neighborhood beauty: The best neighborhoods from the past are (at least partially) preserved, conveying an overly glorified sense of the aesthetics of previous eras. It’s a good point, but it’s hard for me to name many recent neighborhoods that will go down in history as aesthetically admirable.

My solution to the puzzle?  I think we’ve given up on coordination and instead we devote our resources to making interiors much more pleasing, beautiful, and comfortable.  The modern world is not aesthetically bankrupt!  So:

These days, most homeowners decide to “go it alone.” Since they cannot hope for a latter-day Rothenberg ob der Tauber — namely, coordination around exterior excellence in a consistent style — they focus on the interior, and indeed interior design has made huge strides forward. The lovely and comfortable rooms of many modern houses, along with many other recent aesthetic creations, belie the common notion that the world is too depraved to express beauty.

In that equilibrium, the exteriors of houses often end up coordinated — around relatively inexpensive, highly functional, non-aesthetic features so common in suburbs. It doesn’t make sense to aim for a 19th-century-palace look if your neighbor is doing an Art Deco exterior.

We do end up with more beauty on net:

So outward appearances suffer as homeowners save the real beauty for private purchases. And when beauty is privatized, it makes more sense to spend your money on other things — such as a really nice case for your iPhone.

Ever try to sit on one of those older sofas?  Ouch!

Addendum: As a side note, wonderful neighborhoods are great for tourists, but perhaps they are slightly overrated?  There is one splendid neighborhood of modernist homes in Alexandria, and I could live there if I wanted to.  But it would not improve my life, so I am staying put.

Who are the best Irish artists?, part IV, other names

Francis Bacon was born in Ireland, but not of Irish parents, he did not grow up in Ireland, and he did not consider himself Irish.  So I do not count him as a contender for my exercise.

Sean Scully is a contemporary abstract painter of renown, and his works are held by many major museums.  He was born in Dublin, and now his paintings may go for $600,000-$800-800.  To me they seemed like a bargain, in the 1990s, at one tenth that price.  I like his work, but to my eye he could just as easily be a “New York painter” and in a way he is.  He even pops up on Google as “American artist.”  His family moved to England when he was four years old, and Wikipedia calls him a “British artist.”  Whatever.  I’m not going to award him first prize, but if you are curious here is one not atypical image:

Louis le Brocquy (1916-2012) counts as a “real Irish artist,” and some of his best works sell for a million pounds or more.  I can’t help but find his major work clunky rather than revelatory.  To me the figures are not so much “ugly,” as was suggested in Ireland during his time, but rather pointless.  He is somehow not even a true radical.  And dare I confess that I prefer my Irish artists not entirely cosmopolitan?  Here is one image of his:

Nope, he won’t be my number one.  I’ll be considering two more individuals in this series, coming soon I hope.

Who are the best Irish artists?, part III, Mainie Jellett

Mainie Jellett, 1897-1944, born in Dublin to a well-to-do Protestant family of Huguenot origin.  She studied with William Orpen in Dublin and then moved to England, where she developed an attractive figurative style.  But soon thereafter her work turned abstract  when she studied Cubism in Paris in the early 1920s.  She was part of what might be the most significant (and rapid) revolution in the history of art, although the Irish branch of that revolution usually receives little attention.  She and Evie Hone led the introduction of modern art to Ireland, and arguably still represent the peak of that tradition.  “Like James Joyce, who had ‘not become modern to the extent that he ceased to be Irish’, Jellett made modernism Irish.” (source)

She blended cubism on top of Christian devotional ideas and also structures and images from the Book of Kells and other medieval Celtic sources.  At its best, her work is just perfect — you would not wish for the curves or angles or colors to go any other way.  Here is a classic Jellett image, also drawing on some Chinese influences:

Here is her painting “Abstract Crucifixion”:

For a point of contrast, see her homage to Fra Angelico.  Her Anglo-Irish background led to some hostility, and her deliberate invocation of specifically Catholic images is sometimes interpreted as a project for Irish cultural reconciliation.

Here is a less typical but still fine representational work:

I can’t bring myself to call her the greatest Irish artist ever, as perhaps she is not tops in breadth or multiplicity of perspectives, but she was one of the very best and I do not tire of viewing her work.  She is the equal of many of the better-known modernist artists from other countries and she excelled also in watercolors and sketches.  Her life was cut tragically short by pancreatic cancer.

Who are the best Irish artists?, part II on John Lavery

John Lavery (1856-1941, born North Belfast, Catholic) is perhaps the most classic pick for Ireland’s greatest artist, though he is not my personal pick.  He did, however, create many of Ireland’s most beloved and I would say most typical paintings.  It is difficult to keep him out of your top three.  Although he moved to Scotland as a child, and then to England, his works captured the Ireland of the period very well.  He also was tangentially involved in Irish politics, mostly as an intermediary and negotiator, and he died in Ireland while escaping the Blitz, thereby cementing his Irish credentials just a wee bit.

Consider this work, in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, a portrait of his own wife sketching, more luminous when you see it live:

And the chess players:

Here is “Michael Collins (Love of Ireland)”:

There is a consistent depth and classiness to his work.

Like William Orpen, Lavery also was an official artist for WWI, commissioned by the British.  His crowd and war room scenes were the best of that lot:

He was born on St. Patrick’s Day, ended up an orphan, and his wife Hazel later taught Winston Churchill how to paint.  John Lavery painted his Hazel — actually born an American — onto Irish currency notes, where she remained for fifty years until the advent of the euro.  It was widely rumored that Michael Collins was the love of her life, and that she had affairs.

Top paintings by Lavery might auction for about one million pounds, much cheaper than say a Warhol.  Is that a form of aesthetic arbitrage?  Or are you just paying less for a less important and also less liquid asset, appreciated by many fewer people?

Does a Lavery look good in your Miami Beach contemporary home?  Does it get you dates?  But doesn’t he represent a whole country?  How did he do that by spending so little time there?  That too is part of the magic of art.

Who are the best Irish artists?, part I on William Orpen

During my recent trip to Dublin and the UK I tried to make a systematic go of learning more about Irish art, mostly by looking at it more systematically.  I’ll do a multi-part series about the best Irish painters, noting that hardly anyone outside of Ireland seems to follow Irish art.  That is a shame, as it is a greatly underrated area, as most things are once you get to know more about them.  Overall, I think of it as a fairly conservative form of modernism, subtle in its attachments to Ireland, and on the aesthetic side lacking in manifestos and foot-stomping.  It is perhaps a better introduction to “the Irish spirit” than the more familiar yet also more exotic and mannered gateways of Joyce and W.B. Yeats.

Let’s start with…

William Orpen, 1878-1931, born County Dublin but mostly worked in London.

His best work is of World War I, as he was stationed by the British government as a war artist in France.  His perspective on war was critical and penetrating, but not maudlin.  It is striking how many sides of the war experience he portrayed, not just fighting, but soldiers walking through towns, German planes circling overhead, abandoned trenches, lone soldiers sitting, a deserter being interrogated, and much more.  It is one of the most significant human attempts to depict the multi-faceted sides of war.

This body of work does not receive more recognition, perhaps because it panders to neither anti- nor pro-war types, nor to Irishmen, nor to Englishmen.  Orpen’s war work made him a painter without a clear constituency.  Here is a good survey of his war work.  Note also that much of it is owned by Imperial War Museum in England, so the reputation of these works has not been “equitized,” namely there are few private collectors or galleries to talk up its value.  His genius was not widely recognized until the 1980s.

I think of Orpen’s war work as critical of the modernist “machine aesthetic,” well ahead of his time in seeing where it would lead.  He is plaintive and tragic, yet accepting of the rules of social convention, including those of war.

There are many more wartime images here.  Here is one soldier:

And this set piece:

Here is one of the military portraits, full of character and it understands how the soldiers on the other side would never quite look like this:

Orpen did support the British war effort and found that returning to Ireland after WWI was not an appealing option, given the civil war and pending independence from Britain.  He ended up orphaned just as Ireland itself took on a geopolitically orphaned status in the 1920s.

Oh, here are Dead Germans in a Trench:

At first the British military was going to ban public display of the painting, but then they realized only the Germans were dead in it.

Orpen actually is best known for his lovely portraits, especially of well-to-do British women, and that is how he paid the bills:

But it was death and terror that brought out the best in him.

A simple, reductive account of my visit to the National Gallery, London

From the 15th through the 17th centuries, the most skilled physical producers in the West were also the best applied chemists and they had ample financial support and they were working out all visual permutations of expressing the best idea the West ever has taken up.

Pretty amazing when you think of it in those terms.

Understanding the onset of hot streaks in careers

By Lu Liu, et.al., in Nature:

Across a range of creative domains, individual careers are characterized by hot streaks, which are bursts of high-impact works clustered together in close succession. Yet it remains unclear if there are any regularities underlying the beginning of hot streaks. Here, we analyze career histories of artists, film directors, and scientists, and develop deep learning and network science methods to build high-dimensional representations of their creative outputs. We find that across all three domains, individuals tend to explore diverse styles or topics before their hot streak, but become notably more focused after the hot streak begins. Crucially, hot streaks appear to be associated with neither exploration nor exploitation behavior in isolation, but a particular sequence of exploration followed by exploitation, where the transition from exploration to exploitation closely traces the onset of a hot streak. Overall, these results may have implications for identifying and nurturing talents across a wide range of creative domains.

For the pointer I thank Alice Evans.

My appearance on the Ezra Klein Show

Talking with Ezra is always both fun and enlightening for me, here is his partial summary of the episode:

So we begin this conversation by discussing the case for and against economic growth, but we also get into lots of other things: why Cowen thinks the great stagnation in technology is coming to an end; the future of technologies like A.I., crypto, fourth-generation nuclear and the Chinese system of government; the problems in how we fund scientific research; what the right has done to make government both ineffective and larger; why Cowen is skeptical of universal pre-K (and why I’m not); whether I overestimate the dangers of polarization; the ways in which we’re getting weirder; the long-term future of human civilization; why reading is overrated and travel is underrated; how to appreciate classical music and much more.

Here is the link, full transcript here, definitely recommended!