Category: New Discoveries

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Derren Brown’s “Sacrifice”

The British mentalist, magician and showman Derren Brown has long created television specials of enduring power and controversy. Much of his work concerns psychological manipulation and social coercion. In our view, shows like “Russian Roulette” (filmed live on a 15-minute delay) and “The Push” (in which an average member of the public is convinced to...

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New Music Menagerie

The Unabashedly Weird: Baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton’s “making bones, taking draughts, bearing unstable millstones pridefully, idiotically, prosaically.” Not your usual trio: drums, cello, and bass clarinet. And not your usual music. Boundary-less, tangential, sly, the music here invites you to find deep meaning in the improvised meanderings, or none at all. The Straight-ahead: Pianist Brad Whiteley’s...

Experimental Documentary: “True Hallucinations”

Based on the autobiographical memoir by the groundbreaking author, lecturer and psychonaut Terence McKenna, the experimental documentary “True Hallucinations,” by filmmaker Peter Bergmann, knits together nearly three hours of consciousness-raising McKenna audio recordings with psychedelic imagery and music. The movie itself becomes a kind of trip, a journey to the subconscious and the edges of...

Johnny Otto’s “Water & Spirit”

The new show from Los Angeles-based artist Johnny Otto contains colored pencil drawings, guerrilla art on cardboard, and a series of large paintings on canvas. Each work employs two or three primary colors mixed with white and black, applied copiously and vigorously. The results are mesmerizing. Otto reminds us of a less busy, more focused...

Colyn Cameron’s “Sad and Easy”

We’ve had “Sad and Easy,” the latest recording from Wake Owl frontman Colyn Cameron, on auto-play. Airy, soft, trippy, light, elegant, real — the music is simultaneously catchy, in the best tradition of pop songs, and ethereal, in the best tradition of anti-pop. Cameron has a singular voice, androgynous leaning toward feminine, that goes down,...

“Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb

Published in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, the essay “Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb, is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing we’ve lately had the pleasure of reading. Discursive and tangential in form, the essay nonetheless always returns to the author’s central inquiry: What does it mean to choose to love? The adoptive...

Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s “Stonelight”

“Stonelight,” the debut collection from Appalachian poet Sara McCarrt-Jackson, is as plain and unfussy as West Virginia dirt. Seldom have poems of such beauty and human sentiment proclaimed themselves so simply and directly. Shale, coal, rocks, stones — the minerals McCarrt-Jackson’s miners seek have a talismanic power, which the poet translates into the music of...

Daughters of Destiny

The Shanti Bhavan boarding school, in Tamil Nadu, India, founded by a rich man who realized giving away most of his money to the “lowest” members of his society would make him infinitely richer, caters to children of the Dalits, the so-called “untouchables,” India’s bottom caste. The goal is to educate them so they can take care...

The Mind’s I

We recently encountered the 1981 anthology “The Mind’s I,” by Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett, and we’re pretty sure our brain will never be quite the same. The collection contains “fantasies and reflections on self and soul” expressed in essays, stories and one-act plays that work as literary thought experiments meant to refine (define?) our understanding...

Valerie Fox’s “Insomniatic”

Half way through Valerie Fox’s sensational poetry chapbook “Insomniatic,” it dawned on me that her poems are funny — effortlessly. They’re not jokey or gimmicky, so why all the deep humor? Because they’re remarkably real, and each person’s version of reality is usually the darkest and brightest comedy of all. Fox’s work has an undercurrent of...