Archive | January, 2016

Arts History Update for early February 2016

26 Jan

Arts History Update for early February 2016 by David Cummins

Jiri Karasek ze Lvovic 1871-1951 was a Czech Bohemian poet, writer and literary critic who was also an occultist and hermetic. He lived in Prague. He was a major figure in the establishment of art and culture in Bohemia at the turn of the century but his side lost in favor of the side of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk 1850-1937 that highlighted a perceived Protestant humanist tradition and linked fifteenth century Hussiteism to the 19th century national reawakening. Still, Karasek was a collector of books and other printed materials, 40,000 items, and he donated them to the nation. He also collected art and likewise donated it to the nation, so his artistic heritage is a part of the Czech Republic today. He was a co-founder of the respected Modern Review journal in Prague.

He wrote a short novel that expresses his views on Nihilism as the preferred philosophy and a throwback to the Baroque and Romantic past embracing French decadence and acceptance of homosexuality A Gothic Soul (transl. Kirsten Lodge, Twisted Spoon Press 2015) 141 pages originally published as Goticka Duse [A Gothic Mind] (1900, revised 1905 and 1921) and here is the work online in the Czech language from the 1905 revision


Catalonia is the region of northeast Spain with a capital city of Barcelona. It has its own language Catalan. Written and published first in Catalan are novels by Raimon Casellas, Dark Vales (1901), Juli Vallmitjana, La Xava (1910), Caterina Albert, Solitud (1903), and Maria Vayreda, The Stabbing (1904). The countryside or cityscape in which the action takes place is as much a living character as the unhinged people who dwell in it.

Raimon Casellas 1855-1910 by suicide, published two collections of short stories in 1906 and 1909. He was an art historian, a critic and a leading figure in Catalan Modernism at the turn of the century. Dark Vales (transl. Alan Yates, Dedalus 2014) 206 pages $16 paperback $15 e-book is the story of a priest banished for heresy to a remote countryside near the village of Figueres 87 miles northeast of Barcelona. He feels entrapped by his own instability, the mood of the surrounding mountains [part of the Pyrenees spelled Pirineus in Catalan], and by a direct moral challenge by a prostitute who sets up shop in his parish. This novel is a “landscape of the mind”.

Contemporary Catalan literature would surely include Maria Barbal, Stone in a Landslide (1985) now in its 50th edition but in English for the first time at (transl. Laura McGloughlin & Paul Mitchell, Peirine 2010) $9.32 paperback $7 e-book. Comic and sometimes dark mysteries might include Teresa Solana, Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts (transl. Peter Bush, Bitter Lemon Press 2013) collection of short stories $4 as an e-book. I read two earlier Solana novels so can recommend these stories.


Turn your life into a business and make some “extra cash” is a paradigm for a middle class under economic stress. With UBER and Lyft your personal car becomes a temporary/occasional taxicab and you shuttle people from one local destination to another [ride-sharing or ride-hailing service through a smart phone app equipped with GPS].

Now there’s a company Airbnb that allows you to turn your home into a rental property–TX?ss_id=6r7ta591&page=3 and there are 47 rental opportunities for visitors to Lubbock through Airbnb. Shared rooms are the least expensive at $36 per night, private rooms and separate bathrooms are the norm, and one entire lavish home at $775 per night is the most expensive. In Austin Texas there is a movement to require owners of the home [the temporary/occasional landlord] to submit to fingerprinting and criminal background checks so that travelers can be assured that they are entering a home that won’t turn into a nightmare or horrific experience.

In Austin the city asked UBER and Lyft to register their car owners/drivers and present them for fingerprinting and criminal background checks and collision driving records but the two companies refused. A new ordinance requires this and the companies have attacked that ordinance by starting a petition drive for a referendum on the ordinance to repeal it

Stay tuned on this confrontation between local governments trying to promote public safety for their citizens and private out of state businesses using a digital platform to operate a business, and seeking to be unregulated and untaxed by the locales where they do business. These UBER executives are Libertarians turned entrepreneurs who are so selfish and myopic that they don’t want to succumb to community values and norms while they extract dollars from those communities. One hopes that the Austin city government will stand firm and make the ride-hailing taxicab substitutes be vetted for safe driving practices and lack of criminal records, just as commercial taxicab operators are vetted.

UBER started in San Francisco and a recent event ended with the UBER driver threatening to rape or kill the hapless female rider who was trying to cancel the ride due to anger expressed by the driver in getting to the location to pick her up UBER management would not reveal the driver’s identity, would not reveal any vetting or lack of vetting of the driver, and just says, after the fact, that he’s been permanently removed from their driver pool. Of course there’s no way to verify that. The San Francisco District Attorney and his counterpart in Los Angeles filed a civil lawsuit against UBER alleging that it hires rapists, kidnappers, and even killers as car owner/drivers in the ride-hailing service

UBER and Lyft operate in many American cities. UBER operates in Lubbock Texas Lyft operates in 13 Texas cities but not in Lubbock yet.

I’ve lived in New York City and can tell this readership that essentially UBER is a dispatcher for a gypsy cab service. What that phrase means is that UBER’s cars don’t have a license or medallion, aren’t registered with the City of New York, and the driver of the UBER vehicle is not vetted and licensed as an operator of a cab. If anything went wrong on a gypsy cab ride, the patron who called the police would discover that the phone number for the gypsy cab service had “gone dark” and no identifiable person could be located. The gypsy and his cab service had disappeared. When I lived in New York with a wife and two young children I never put us into a gypsy cab. The slightly lower rate or fare was not worth the risk of harm.

UBER takes advantage of two sets of people, the owners of cars who become UBER drivers, a naïve and inexperienced work force treated as independent contractors that is being played for fools by UBER management, and the patrons who take grave risks in using UBER but don’t know that they’re assuming risks. UBER thumbs its nose at city officials and their regulations and city and state tax authorities, preferring to be renegade urban business operators who don’t comply with regulations and don’t pay taxes.

Four years into its activities in New York City, UBER is beginning to crumble in that market. What happened is that NYPD saw the UBER vehicles and pulled them over and arrested the driver/owners of those vehicles operating without a medallion or license. UBER was forced into purchasing a medallion [sometimes a floating medallion] for a vehicle it didn’t own and then put its unlicensed driver/owner into the vehicle. S/he had to pay out of the fare (1) a commission to UBER, (2) a New York City sales tax, and a black car fee to the City. That amounted to about 36% of the fare and the driver/owner kept the rest. The result was that UBER drivers made less than legitimate taxicab operators. They woke up, smelled the roses, and found them wilted and forlorn. A 45% attrition rate or turnover in UBER drivers occurred. Almost half of UBER drivers this year in NYC won’t be UBER drivers next year. They bail. UBER is desperate to recruit new drivers and every time it announces a fare decrease it works against itself recruiting drivers.

Cities like Seattle who’ve had problems getting UBER cars and drivers registered and vetted, passed an ordinance that permits UBER drivers to unionize even though UBER classifies them as independent contractors. If the ploy works it will force UBER to pay minimum wages and other employment benefits even when the cars are not in service and making revenue, a death knell for UBER’s business model.

New York City has 13,587 taxicab medallions and most of those are on the road 24 hours a day using three or more licensed and vetted drivers. UBER has 20,448 cars in the city but only 16% of them are rolling at any given time. What that tells us is that the New York City market or demand for UBER service is fully met, and as work force problems continue UBER will crumble in New York City. The same thing is happening in San Francisco where UBER started and taxicab medallion applications fell after 2010. In 2015 they rose as people [a few of them former UBER drivers] realize that the taxicab model for transporting people is much preferable to UBER’s model.

UBER is a privately held company with no public disclosure of its financials. Look out for the future IPO initial public offering when UBER owner executives want to bail out. They will go public, pocket the investors purchase price for shares, and walk away into the night, true gypsies. Expect the initial IPO share prices to plummet. Please don’t be an investor at an UBER IPO. Sadly, you could make a bundle of money by selling short the newly issued stock and then covering your short position a few months later at a much lower than IPO level price.


The next exhibit at The Buddy Holly Center Fine Arts Gallery is A Look Back: Vintage Works of the South Plains January 29 – March 6, 2016. Clarence Kincaid, Jr., The Hub (1978) is a watercolor painting of a montage of structures that symbolize Lubbock, the Hub of the South Plains

Clarence Kincaid, Jr.


John Knox 1514-1572 was the author of A History of the Reformation in Scotland book # 1 1528-1558 book # 2 1559-1572. Texas Tech Library BR 385.K6 (1949).

The definitive biography of Knox is Jasper Godwin Ridley, John Knox (Oxford University Press 1968) 596 pages Texas Tech Library BX 9223.R5

This is the most comprehensive biography of John Knox since Hume Brown’s major study, published more than seventy years ago. The personality of Knox has alternately fascinated and appalled his posterity. The aristocratic eighteenth century condemned him; the Puritanical and radical nineteenth century admired him. Mr. Ridley’s twentieth-century view is that Knox, despite his intolerance and the tyranny of his Church Sessions, was a great contributor to the struggle for human freedom. One can appreciate the tribute that was paid to him, ten years after his death, by his English Puritan follower, John Field. “What a heroic and bold spirit he was!”

More recent biographies include Jane Dawson, John Knox (Yale University Press 2015) 384 pages $42.75 hardcover $32.50 paperback $27 e-book. Dawson is John Laing Professor of Reformation History, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, Scotland and this biography is drawing praise.

Rosalind K. Marshall, John Knox (Berlinn Ltd 2008) 244 pages $19 paperback $6.14 e-book.

While John Knox initially was a Catholic priest, he early on became disquieted and was mentored by reformist George Wishart who had heresy charges placed against him but still traveled the breadth of Scotland preaching until captured by Lord Bothwell in January 1546 and turned over to Cardinal David Beaton who conducted a show trial after which Wishart was hanged on a gibbet and his body burned at a stake. In retaliation two months later Cardinal Beaton was assassinated.

Knox spent time in Geneva with Protestant Reformation leaders. He was instrumental in ultimately making the Scottish Presbyterian Church the “established” church in Scotland, constantly in tension with Scottish nobles including Mary of Guise’s daughter the famous Mary, Queen of Scots. Much blood was spilled in these religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in England and Scotland. John Knox was responsible for some of it, thus he was known as Bloody John Knox.

Queen Mary I of England 1553-1558 was a Catholic daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. Queen Mary persecuted and killed many Protestants and so was known as Bloody Mary.

She was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth I 1558-1603 a Protestant or Anglican monarch [daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn]. Queen Elizabeth tried to maintain some level of uncomfortable peace and some tolerance by Anglicans toward Catholics and by Catholics toward Anglicans but conflict repeatedly occurred, occasionally deadly. In Scotland the crown was Catholic while Queen Elizabeth I ruled England as a Protestant Anglican. Mary of Guise was the second wife of King James V of Scotland and thus Queen of the Scots 1538-1542 and mother of Mary Queen of Scots for whom Mary of Guise acted as regent after James’s death 1542-1560.

One of the aspects of that “established church” status was that civil lords in their agricultural/geographical districts had the right to name the minister for a Presbyterian Church parish. At times in the 1830s the naming of a minister was unacceptable to the congregation and caused a walkout by the congregation to go to another parish. Finally, during the Disruption of 1843 there was a schism in the Church and a breakaway evangelical group formed the Free Church of Scotland, another Presbyterian Church than the former Presbyterian Church now knowing itself as the National Church of Scotland. The National Church of Scotland continued on but never thereafter wielded much power or cultural significance for Scotland. The Free Church claimed to be in succession from John Knox but gradually he became a relic of a past nationalism, not the present version of Scottish nationalism.

The Kirk is an informal name for The Presbyterian Church of Scotland or National Church of Scotland. The Free Kirk is an informal name for the Presbyterian Free Church of Scotland that broke away in 1843. Cathedrals in Scotland must be viewed specially. Most of them are pre-Reformation structures and in the Presbyterian Church there are no bishops so there is no cathedral structure like there is in Anglicanism or Catholicism. St Giles Cathedral, Glasgow Cathedral and Edinburgh Cathedral are thus places occupied by and part of the Presbyterian Church and really are just inner city parishes of the church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion and was approved by King James VI of Scotland in 1584 as a separate Protestant Church from the Presbyterian National Church of Scotland. In 1707 Scotland and England were united into The United Kingdom of Great Britain. The Scottish Episcopalians Act of 1711 protected the Scottish Episcopal Church but it has always been a minority church since then. It has cathedrals at Aberdeen, Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae, Oban, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth, Edinburgh and Dundee. Here is a picture of a small corrugated iron St Columba’s Church at Brora, Sutherland, Highland, UK 57 miles north of Inverness Scotland The parishioners would be known today as Anglicans or Episcopalians and most people would only use the word “kirk” to mean a Presbyterian church of some derivation. The Scottish Episcopal Church bishops, meeting in Aberdeen Scotland in 1784, consecrated the first American bishop Samuel Seabury. Bishop Seabury then sailed back to America to form the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America Here is the story


Museum of the Southwest 1705 W. Missouri Avenue in Midland Texas includes the Juliette and Fred Turner, Jr. Memorial Art Museum [presently closed for restoration and renewal until June], Fredda Turner Durham Children’s Museum, Marian West and William Blanton Blakemore Planetarium, and a Sculpture Garden. Please mark your calendars for a trip this Summer to the updated Midland museum.

The West Texas Triangle established in 2006 is a collaboration between five fine art museums, namely Grace Museum in Abilene, Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Ellen Noel Art Museum in Odessa, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of the Southwest in Midland. That collaboration enhances the exhibitions and special events at each museum. Currently a number of the Midland museum’s collection items are on display at one of the four other museums.


Want to self-publish the book you wrote? Try


Sundance Film Festival 2016 at Park City Utah opened on January 22, 2016 look around and see trailers and information about the most interesting films to come out of this year’s festival.


The latest promotion of and by Lubbock merchants, including restaurants, is the Lubbock VIP Card. You buy it for $20 and then use it at any of many listed merchants and when you use it, 25% of the amount of your purchases are sent by the merchant to the Lubbock charity of your choice. Of course the merchant not the customer takes a business expense income tax deduction for the contribution to the charity, and the real payor gets neither a charitable contribution nor business expense tax deduction.


I belong to a monthly dinner club at which there is a good meal, fellowship and a member of the club speaking, often on a topic that is arcane or at least not slave to what passes for news in today’s print and broadcasting media. The topic for January 2016 was King Richard III 1483-1485: Good Guy or Evil Uncle?

Where else in town, almost any town, would one expect to have a dinner conversation about the conundrum of good and/or evil with regard to a personage now 530 years removed?

For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?

Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts, it drinks even of dead waters.

You are good when you are one with yourself.

Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.

For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.”


All I can say is that the speaker was excellent, well prepared for his task and topic, and all of us enjoyed the presentation and the discussion that ensued. Afterward I thought how odd as well as enjoyable it was.

A tad of research disclosed that there was a gentleman’s monthly dinner club in London England in continuous operation from 1878 to 1939 titled The Sette of Odd Volumes. Originally formed by bibliophiles within or related to the book industry, it was expanded over time to include professionals, aesthetes generally, and iconoclasts of various stripes. A 149 word description of the Sette of Odd Volumes is found in The Oxford Companion to the Book (eds. Michael F. Suarez, S.J. & H.R. Woudhuysen, Oxford University Press 2010). Sette can be translated as Club. Odd in 18th century usage meant varied or unmatched. Volumes in this case is a word describing the member status, each member being a volume.

The stated objective of the Sette was “conviviality and mutual admiration” and each member was required to announce his pseudonym, examples being Idler, Necromancer, Seer, etc. and newly initiated members were required soon afterward to deliver their inaugural talk cautioned by Rule No. 10 “No Odd Volume shall talk unasked on any subject he understands” meaning that if the Volume were a chemist he couldn’t speak about chemistry but rather should speak about his hobbies or passions. The president of the club for each year, was referred to as His Oddshippe. Monthly meetings were places of excellent re-paste, light inebriation, and passionate discourse led by the speaker for the evening. Guests were allowed and some might later be proposed for initiation as a new member. Over a seven year period Oscar Wilde was a guest at six dinner meetings.

Residents of Boston Massachusetts, ever vigilant in their ability to mimic English society, founded their Club of Odd Volumes in 1887 and met at 77 Mount Vernon Street on Beacon Hill. The club, limited by charter to 87 members, continues to this day.

Some Lubbock monthly dinner clubs are religiously oriented, e.g. The Serra Club of Lubbock referring to Father Junipero Serra who traipsed the length of Alta [upper] California accompanied by Spanish soldiers. Monthly dinners are at Hanley Hall, St Elizabeth’s University Parish.

Safari Club International meets monthly at Gilbert’s Bar & Grill for dinner, a program, and fellowship

Lubbock Women’s Club hosts monthly gourmet dinners and wine tastings

Llano Estacado Driving Society [horse-drawn wagons and carriages] meets monthly for dinner at Furr’s Cafeteria on Slide Road.

The book industry will help you get started in setting up a dinner club


Inaugural issue of Authentic Texas: The Heritage Magazine of Texas, a quarterly, is Spring 2016. It’s free but to get it you must sign up to receive it. Stewart Ramser phone 432-538-7034 or e-mail Five non-profit heritage organizations own and operate this magazine. They are Texas Forts Trail, Texas Lakes Trail, Texas Mountain Trail, Texas Plains Trail, and Texas Tropical Trail so you can expect magazine content that will promote tourism in the North Texas, West Texas, and Rio Grande Valley areas.

The Trails projects are an activity of the Texas Historical Commission. Texas Plains Trail executive director is Barbara Brannon of Lubbock Texas. Contact her for more information at or phone 806-747-1997 website


Military veterans who are physically injured may very well still be strong patriots for America Justin Anderson, a Bellevue Nebraska resident, a southern suburb of Omaha on the west bank of the Missouri River, is such a patriot. He refashioned his wheel chair with tracks rather than wheels, put a scoop out front, and is plowing the snow-laden sidewalks of Bellevue during winter storms.

The character of that man is so evident from his actions that words are useless and unnecessary.



Arts History Update for late January 2016

14 Jan

Arts History Update for late January 2016 by David Cummins

Mr. and Mrs. Obama have selected contemporary art with which to decorate the White House during their tenure Some of that art speaks to its occupants being the first African-Americans.

Ruby Bridges was a six year old African-American girl in November 1960, six years after the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision announced that separate public education for races was inherently unequal and unconstitutional. A local federal district court order implementing the new understanding of the law, integrated the New Orleans schools in November 1960 and her parents volunteered Ruby Bridges and she was escorted to and from a previously all-white children Frantz Elementary School by federal marshals. A large and menacing crowd was outside the school. Ruby entered and that very day chaos occurred and all the white children were taken out by their parents, and all but one teacher refused to teach. The lone teacher taught one student classes with Ruby Bridges. Over the next several months a number of white children gradually returned to the school and teachers were reassigned to the school who didn’t object to African-American children.

Norman Rockwell saw this scene act itself out and he painted The Problem We All Live With (1963) depicting Ruby walking to school surrounded by the legs of federal marshals. It was published as cover art for Look Magazine and the nation viewed it. It is part of the collection at The Norman Rockwell Museum. In Mr. Obama’s first year in office 2009 he called the museum and asked to borrow it for the duration of his presidency. It hangs in a first floor state room so international and national visitors see it. In 2011 Mrs. Ruby Bridges Hall, still a resident of New Orleans, was an invited guest at the White House and she stood next to the first family and viewed the painting. Today there is a bronze statuary of Bridges outside former Frantz Elementary School now a charter school by a different name.

Glenn Ligon is an African-American artist. John Howard Griffin is a white journalist who blackened his skin and passed for an unemployed African-American, traveling in the south and he wrote a memoir Black Like Me (Houghton Mifflin 1961) reissued (Penguin Books 1976) Lubbock Public Library BIO GRIF 3 copies. Glenn Ligon painted Black Like Me # 2 (1992) consisting mostly of words from the memoir and it was purchased by the Hirshhorn Museum in 1993. In Mr. Obama’s first year in office 2009 he called the Hirshhorn Museum and asked to borrow the painting for the duration of his presidency. It hangs in the White House private living quarters upstairs.


Ursula K. Le Guin, Late in the Day: Poems 2010-2014 (Independent Publishing Group December 18, 2015) 112 pages hardcover $19 Late in the Day, Ursula K. Le Guin’s new collection of poems (2010–2014) seeks meaning in an ever-connected world. In part evocative of Neruda’s Odes to Common Things and Mary Oliver’s poetic guides to the natural world, Le Guin’s latest give voice to objects that may not speak a human language but communicate with us nevertheless through and about the seasonal rhythms of the earth, the minute and the vast, the ordinary and the mythological. As Le Guin herself states, “science explicates, poetry implicates.” Accordingly, this immersive, tender collection implicates us (in the best sense) in a subjectivity of everyday objects and occurrences. Deceptively simple in form, the poems stand as an invitation both to dive deep and to step outside of ourselves and our common narratives. The poems are bookended with two short essays, “Deep in Admiration” and “Some Thoughts on Form, Free Form, Free Verse. –

Le Guin will read from her latest poems and sign the book at Powells Bookstore on January 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm. She lives in Portland Oregon so it’s a short drive for her to the bookstore. She’s an award-winning science fiction/fantasy novelist. She is 86 years of age


Canadian Brass Quintet concert is Saturday February 6, 2016 at 7:30 pm at the Student Union Building Allen Theater on the campus of Texas Tech $25 plus $2.37 service charge for general admission, $10 plus $1.54 for seniors age sixty up


George Winston solo pianist concert is Saturday February 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm at Hemmle Recital Hall on the campus of Texas Tech $20 plus $2.09 service charge for general admission


Ila Nicole Sheren, Portable Borders: Performance Art and Politics on the U.S. Frontera Since 1984 (University of Texas Press 2015) 212 pages $55 hardcover

E. Carmen Ramos, Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art (Smithsonian American Art Museum 2014) 365 pages $45.25 hardcover


  • Saturday, January 23, 2016
  • 6:00pm  9:00pm


The 3rdAnnual Scottish Ceilidh & Robert Burns Supper will be held January 23, 2016, 6PM, at the Texas Tech Club (east side), 2508 Sixth Street, Lubbock, Texas.   

This celebration will continue to highlight Scottish heritage and the living legacy of Scotland’s Poet Laureate, Robert Burns (1759-1796). 

Activities for the evening include:

Brief lecture on the life and times of Robert Burns, prime rib dinner with haggis, neeps and tatties, the piping of the haggis into the dining room by noted Texas-born piper by EJ Jones of Houston, and Burn’s most famous poem, Auld Lang Syne, sung at the conclusion.

The Burns Supper was such a success last year that we decided to expand the program this year to include more elements of Scottish culture and heritage.  Your last name doesn’t have to begin with ‘Mac’ for you to join us for a wonderful evening!  Bagpipes, great food, fun people, a touch of the ‘highland mist’ perhaps, and a rousing time.  Wear your kilts, Gents, but remember to keep your knees together,” says Edson Way, member of the planning team.  He’ll be wearing the Red Douglas tartan himself.

The event is open to the general public and, as always, traditional Scottish attire including kilts, are encouraged.

Tickets are $75 and can be purchased by calling the Texas Tech Club at 742-4496.

This program made possible in part through a grant from City of Lubbock, as recommended by Civic Lubbock, Inc.

January 22



The Arts District Center for the Arts will open in Spring 2016 in Los Angeles at One Santa Fe Street in downtown “Keep LA Weird”.


Friday January 8 President Duane Nellis at Texas Tech University announced that he is resigning as president effective January 22, the day after classes begin for Spring semester, and will continue as a tenured professor at the university

January 8, 2016

Dear Texas Tech University Family,

Ruthie and I have truly appreciated the last two and a half years at Texas Tech University and being part of the Red Raider family. We have also appreciated the opportunity to have worked with so many of you to advance this excellent institution to new levels of success. I am proud of our enhancements to the student educational experience at Tech, that have resulted in greater levels of student retention, graduation rates, and overall student success, simultaneously, while working toward a campus-wide environment of innovation and entrepreneurship. During this same time we have strengthened our efforts to recruit more minority students, as we close in on becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, while our success in support of military veterans on our campus has been recognized nationally.

We have also hired a large number of new faculty and staff and continue to expand our infrastructure in ways that advance the university’s national research agenda. In research, we have added new research professorships, spurred new efforts in inter-disciplinary research, and created other mechanisms to grow our research enterprise. As we have extended such efforts toward new levels of economic development, entrepreneurship, and community partnerships, I am proud that last year we were one of a select number of universities nationally recognized as an “Innovative and Economic Prosperity University.” Such positive momentum has led us to be recognized the last two years by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the “Great Places to Work,” and helped contribute to our recent SACSCOC reaffirmation for our university as a whole. All of these successes, of course, were a team effort, and I thank you for your contributions.

Despite these successes and with mixed emotions, I have recently felt the need to explore new leadership directions in my career. As a result, effective January 22, 2016, I have decided to step down as president of Texas Tech University. The Chancellor and I have discussed my decision, and I will continue in my tenured university faculty position here at Texas Tech University. I also welcome the opportunity to provide a supportive role in special initiatives, focusing in areas such as international development, innovation, leadership training, and in enhancing the Honors College.

I am honored to have served as the 16th president of Texas Tech University. Ruthie and I will always have positive memories of the encouragement and strong support we have had from so many students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of this special university. During our time at Texas Tech, I will continue to work toward Texas Tech’s ongoing success.



Gardens at a French Chateau Louis Bench started planning, designing and planting the gardens at the chateau of Prince Stanislas Poniatowski and Princess Leticia near Cernay France, the Chateau du Bois Hinoust [hinoust wooden castle], in 1987 and has been working on the gardens ever since. The slide-show above is a blend of French formalism and English functionality and practicality. Who else among us would have a moat surrounding the mansion house?


New Yorker Magazine is well-known. Its editors and writers now produce a weekly one hour radio show, a separate thing, and since it’s not broadcast in Lubbock, you may wish to listen to 55 minute segments online as a podcast beginning with the first Saturday October 23, 2015 proceeding forward to episode 12 on Saturday January 9.

Interesting very smart conversation.

You may wish to listen only to the discrete segments, not an entire hour show. Here are the segments in podcast format


Iris Murdoch 1919-1999 died age 79 after a struggle with Alzheimer’s, was a novelist/philosopher and a libertine bohemian as a young woman during World War II and afterward in Britain. She was an avid letter-writer who spent up to four hours a day in hand-written correspondence, mostly with a Montblanc fountain pen. She often responded immediately when she received a letter from a correspondent, encouraging her epistolary relationships. She wrote more than 5,000 letters that exist after her demise.

Her biographer Peter J. Conradi edited Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War: The Letters and Diaries 1939-1945 (Oxford University Press 2009) 304 pages.

Recently we have Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934-1995 (eds. Avril Horner & Anne Rowe, Chatto and Windus 2015) 688 pages $28 hardcover $24 e-book. The editors previously wrote a book Iris Murdoch and Morality (Palgrave Macmillan 2010) 198 pages and then edited Iris Murdoch: Texts and Contexts (2012)

An archive and other data is found at Iris Murdoch Centre at Kingston University where Anne Rowe is Director of the Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies

An article on the recent work Living On Paper matches up epistolary revelations and feelings by Murdoch with the characters in her novels and what they’re about, a fascinating exercise that gives more meaning to her works and to her incautious behaviors and inspiring insights into the human condition. Sophie Ratcliffe, Love and Uglier Feelings: Iris Murdoch’s Life in Letters, From Gifted Schoolgirl to Aggravatingly Effortless Novelist and Passionate Bohemian, The London Times Literary Supplement, December 4, 2015 at page 3.

Simone Weil 1909-1943 French philosopher, Christian mystic, political activist and humanitarian, has always been of enormous interest to me. Gabriele Griffin, The Influence of the Writings of Simone Weil on the Fiction of Iris Murdoch: Unselfing the Other (Mellen Research University Press 1993) 360 pages Texas Tech Library PR 6063.U7 Z665 is for me a key into the philosophical underpinnings of Iris Murdoch. When Murdoch traveled in France after the war she met Jean-Paul Sartre and through him learned of the enormous influence upon thinkers by Simone Weil. Murdoch parlayed that influence.

Iris (2001) movie directed by Richard Eyre in which an elderly Murdoch is played by Judi Dench and a young promiscuous Iris is played by Kate Winslet, managed to describe some physical realities of her life without ever using a phrase of her novels or philosophical writings. If one knew no more than this screenplay, one might say, an interesting person recently died, but why on earth did they make a movie about her and not 3 million others? We should be charitable and admit that making a movie about “unselfing the other” might not have much of a box office. If you were to make a movie of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism (1872), how would you do it? Who would pay to see it?

Iris (2001) is in Lubbock Public Library DVD F Iris, Video F Iris. The screenplay was based on one of the trilogy written by Iris’s husband John Bayley, Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (Duckworth 1998), Elegy for Iris (St Martin’s Press 1999), and Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire (W.W. Norton 2000). Please don’t read any of the trilogy. They are born of the resentment by a cuckolded husband whose authorship of novels and other works was so decidedly inferior to those of Iris that his resentment of her was known by all. The trilogy expresses that resentment, may to some people reduce Iris, but actually only further reduces John who never should have authored or published them. John Bayley died age 89 an eccentric literary critic and author.


A permanent art installation at Chinati Foundation in Marfa Texas by Robert Irwin, is under construction He’s now 87 years of age and is overseeing the installation. It may take a while but get your high Chihuahua Desert dune buggy out and tuned up for a run to Marfa to see it. The Fort D.A. Russell [horse cavalry post 1911-1946] hospital structures weren’t restorable so they were demolished and Irwin’s installation goes into that space History morphs into art in an off the grid place like Marfa. and Building 98 is the former bachelor officers quarters for troops, and it was fun for me to sit in the old time saloon and quaff a libation in the same place as General George Patton did [before he was a general].

If you’re thinking, why Fort D.A. Russell? Short answer is that the Mexican Revolution against dictator Porfirio Diaz broke out in 1910 and while Diaz was overturned and sent off into exile within two years, the revolution continued and Mexico was an armed camp and didn’t settle down until 1921. Pancho Villa led the Revolutionary Army of the North of Mexico, and the bandit came across the border into the United States too often for Washington DC officials. This Fort was opened and horse cavalry from it often went into Mexico to punish cross-border activity and harass Villa and his bandidos. Brigadier General Black Jack Pershing led the most famous foray into Mexico to punish Pancho Villa. Townes Van Zandt wrote Pancho & Lefty (1972), EmmyLou Harris covered it in 1976 and Willie Nelson covered it in 1983 to great success, a song about that expedition that couldn’t quite ever corral Mister Villa.


Fletcher Martin painted an interior mural for the U.S. Post Office building in Lamesa Texas titled The Horse Breakers (1940). That building was later replaced by another post office building, and the Lamesa Independent School District took over the building with the mural. It abandoned the building in 1987 and it’s been vacant since. The mural was unseen and untended for years but in 2014 a conservation/restoration grant was received and Scott M. Haskins, Fine Art Conservation Laboratories, Santa Barbara California came to Lamesa in 2015 and removed the mural and took it to Santa Barbara where it is being worked on.

We await its return and are intrigued by where it might be installed in Lamesa.

Information about the artist Fletcher Martin is here including his mural for the Kellogg Idaho post office Study for Mine Rescue (1939) that caused quite a negative response by the citizens in Kellogg as mining was the main industry there and quite dangerous and unsafe work for miners. The truth in art can be painful. The mural was removed and hangs prominently in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Martin painted the replacement mural Discovery (1941) for the Kellogg post office. and a photograph of Discovery at the post office building.


January 14, 2016
Dear Colleagues and Supporters:
This morning during a special called meeting, the Board of Regents of the Texas Tech University System named an interim president of Texas Tech University and established a search committee to help identify the university’s 17th president.
Dr. John Opperman, who currently is the vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Texas Tech University System, will serve as interim president and begin his new duties January 22, 2016. He brings two decades of successful experience in higher education and has extensive history with Texas Tech University.
Serving in various capacities since 1996, Dr. Opperman has taught classes, managed system-wide strategic planning and held leadership positions in administration and finance, as well as policy development. This appointment also allows for our talented leadership and administration at Texas Tech University to remain in place and focused on strengthening our progress in their respective positions and areas.
I am confident Dr. Opperman, as well as our administration, faculty, staff and students, will do an outstanding job in continuing the important momentum that is advancing Texas Tech University as a national public research university.
The Board of Regents also appointed a search committee charged with identifying and recommending Texas Tech University’s next president. The search committee will be chaired by Regent Tim Lancaster and is comprised of representatives from multiple campus constituencies, including students, deans, faculty and alumni.
The 12-person committee consists of the following individuals:
  • Tim Lancaster (Search Committee Chairman), Regent and President & CEO of Hendrick Health System
  • Scott Dueser, Texas Tech Foundation Board Member, Former Regent & Board Chairman and Chairman, President & CEO of First Financial Bankshares, Inc.
  • John Esparza, Regent and President & CEO of Texas Trucking Association
  • Dr. Michael Farmer, Faculty Senate President and Associate Professor, Departments of Agricultural & Applied Economics and Natural Resources Management
  • Dr. Linda Hoover, Dean, College of Human Sciences
  • Dr. W. Brent Lindquist, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Don Maddox, Texas Tech Foundation Board Member and President of the J.F Maddox Foundation
  • Victoria Messer, Student Regent, Law Student
  • Linda Rutherford, President of the Texas Tech Alumni Association National Board of Directors and Vice President & Chief Communications Officer at Southwest Airlines
  • John Steinmetz, Regent and President & CEO of Vista Bank
  • Holton Westbrook, President of the Student Government Association, Undergraduate Student
  • Dr. Aliza Wong, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Honors College

Leadership from throughout the Texas Tech University System also has been asked to serve as resources available to the committee.

  • Dr. Richard Lange, President of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
  • Dr. Brian May, President of Angelo State University
  • Dr. Tedd Mitchell, President of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • Lisa Calvert, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement

I am grateful to the committee members for their dedication and service to Texas Tech University, and know they will work hard to represent all of those who support and collaborate with this great institution.

There is an unprecedented commitment to excellence and innovation at Texas Tech University, and building on this drive remains our top priority. We look forward to an even greater future with a permanent president who will bring further success and stability to our flagship institution.
Thank you again for your support of Texas Tech University and its continued prosperity.
Yours truly,
Robert L. Duncan


Arts History Update for mid January 2016

7 Jan

Arts History Update for mid January 2016 by David Cummins

JPMorgan Chase just paid $367 million to settle SEC Securities & Exchange Commission claims against it

Lifelock agreed to pay the FTC Federal Trade Commission $100 million for its breakdown in data protection, which is bad because that’s Lifelock’s main business


Looking to take a guided bus tour in West Texas this year? Website has six itineraries that look enticing. For more information contact your local convention and visitors bureau, in Lubbock that’s 806-747-5232 e-mail


The pipeline of the CRMWA Canadian River Municipal Water Authority sprung a leak and Lubbock is using more of its Lake Alan Henry water

and Bailey County sandhills wells water temporarily until the pipeline is repaired Not to worry, says Aubrey Spears director of water services in Lubbock.


Dave Hickey, 25 Women: Essays on Their Art (University of Chicago Press 2015) $29 hardcover $18 e-book, at 190 pages. Author’s previous jobs were executive editor of Art in America, editor of Village Voice, and arts editor of Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. Very smart, sometimes controversial writing on artists, sure to be an enjoyable read.

“Idiosyncratic assessments of contemporary women painters, sculptors, and installation and performance artists by an enfant terrible of art criticism. Hickey has been a thorn in the side of art criticism for years. . . . Admirable. . . . Hickey’s writing is clever, straightforward, and honest. . . . Hickey has piquant, insightful things to say about all of these artists.”

(Kirkus Reviews)


Medieval and early Renaissance novels don’t get much better than those by Umberto Ecco, for example The Name of the Rose (1980), Foucault’s Pendulum (1988), The Island of the Day Before (1994), The Prague Cemetery (2010) and Numero Zero (2015). Eco is 84 years of age Of course one must tolerate lives of Franciscan and Benedictine monks in a historic Roman Catholic Church written about by an author who has forsaken Catholicism while imagining the incalculable legacy of various strains of Catholicism. Eco specializes in semiotics so words are signs or symbols for living thoughts, then and now.

The Name of the Rose Texas Tech Library PQ 4865.C6 N613 (1984) Lubbock Public Library FIC ECO one copy

Foucault’s Pendulum PQ 4865.C6 P4613 (1990) FIC ECO one copy

The Island of the Day Before PQ 4865.C6 I8413 (1995)

The Prague Cemetery PQ 4865.C6 C4613 (2011) FIC ECO two copies

Numero Zero (2015) FIC ECO five copies $19 hardcover $15 paperback $12 e-book

Most novels above are in the 500-600 page range and are dense and intricate. Numero Zero is 191 pages a novel about the murky world of Italian media politics, conspiracy, and murder set in 1992 and forward.


Armed anti-federal government protesters have taken over a building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. They are one of many private anti-government armed militia groups in the United States. The leader is Ammon Bundy and his brother, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy who says, for him “the BLM doesn’t exist” in 2014 when he was a tenant on federal Bureau of Land Management land and refused to pay the contract rent for cattle grazing on the land or take his cattle off the land. The takeover in Oregon was accomplished after dark on a weekend when no U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employees were present, so no federal workers are hostages or threatened and none will be allowed to approach the compound and report for work.

This behavior is patently criminal as was that of the Branch Davidian group near Waco Texas and the Skinhead racist group in northern Idaho several years ago. Sooner or later, a waiting game will play out and one of two outcomes will happen, the protester criminals will individually skulk away from the compound closeted by federal law enforcement agents and will be welcomed into arrest and indictment for their crimes, or the protester criminals will commence or provoke a shootout to cause their deaths and hoped for martyrdom.

In many ways it’s just anguished selfishness, a group of people who don’t own or possess a valuable piece of real estate, have just trespassed and squatted and claimed it waving weaponry as their badge of authority. They couldn’t do that and it would instantly not be tolerated if they claimed the private property of another person or private entity, but they hope that they can do it and get away with it because it’s federal land and so many people in the country speak injudiciously when complaining or expressing irritation about the federal government for one reason or another.

The sheriff of the county and the Oregon state patrol have asked them to disperse and leave the property. They declined. The FBI [U.S. Justice Department] and U.S. Treasury Department have asked them to do so. They declined and are in their fourth day of occupation as I write.

On a map look for Burns Oregon and then the refuge is 30 miles to the south and slightly east. Ontario Oregon and the Idaho border is 129 miles to the east from Burns on US Highway 20. Alturas California is south southwest of Burns Oregon on US Highway 395, a distance of 192 miles. Burns has a population of 2,806 and is the county seat of Harney County that extends south all the way to the Nevada border, mostly high altitude sagebrush desert area and semi-arid but with depressions like Malheur Lake where the refuge is located and a migratory bird flyway is maintained. North of Burns is Malheur National Forest and there are some logging operations there.,_Oregon

Harney District Hospital,_Oregon#/media/File:HarneyDistrictHospitalBurnsOR.jpg Harney County Courthouse,_Oregon#/media/File:HarneyCountyCourthouse.jpg


Picasso Sculpture exhibition at Museum of Modern Art, New York City continues through February 7, 2016 and is awesome. Not since 1967 when The Sculpture of Picasso was exhibited by this same museum, have Americans in America seen so much wonderful sculpture by the genius painter/sculptor Pablo Picasso.

She-Goat (1950, first cast 1952) about which the sculptor said “she’s more like a goat than a real goat, don’t you think?” and of course she is because she says so much about goatishness or the qualities of goats. If you’ve been around goats, they are strange often irksome animals who like pigs are none too fussy about what they scavenge and ingest. When they get the wrong things in their stomach they are distended like this goat and exceptionally irksome because of a pronounced indigestion. On first glance one smiles and says to oneself, the genius must have spent many hours with goats, to know this much about them, and then convey it to us.


Want to audit a course at Texas Tech this Spring semester beginning January 21?

THA 5301-001 Playwriting I (CRN 30132) 3:30-4:50 TR: this course will focus on writing short scripts (10 to 20 minutes long) utilizing traditional, action-based dramaturgy. In-class exercises will focus on structuring plots, creating characters, shaping dialogue, etc. There will be weekly writing assignments using guided prompts. The prerequisite of THA 5300 will be waived for those who have not taken that course but who have some writing and/or theatre experience.

Questions? Contact Norman Bert at


The Books and Beer Club is forming, its first meeting will be at Crafthouse Gastropub 3131 34th Street at 7:00 – 8:30 pm on Saturday January 30. Angela Diaz, host, is asking people to bring a suggestion for a book, and she will select the books to be read the next few months. The people in attendance will decide the appropriate time, dates and venue for future meetings.