- The observance of the precise anniversary has managed to escape official notice around here both this year and last year, but in July Ionarts completed its seventh year in existence. At the rate of at least one post per day, and sometimes more, that adds up to 4443 posts at the time of this writing. In that time, a couple million visitors have racked up several million page views, from all the inhabited continents of the planet. Hello, Japan, Peru, Croatia, Indonesia, Sweden, Hong Kong, India, Belarus, Thailand, New Zealand, and Iran! All of you, we thank you and please keep reading! [Ionarts Birthday]
- Eric Bietry-Rivierre reports on an astonishing archeological discovery made recently in Neuville-sur-Sarthe, a small village about four kilometers from Le Mans: recently uncovered ruins of a striking Gallo-Roman religious complex. Over an area of four hectares, the dig has turned up alignments of well holes, temple foundations, sepulchers, and several hundred small objects. There is no known name for the settlement, and it is not even clear what gods were worshiped there, but it is apparently one of the largest such sacred sites in western France and was active between the first century B.C. and the third century A.D.
- Composer Jonathan Harvey thinks that the classical music world needs to give up on its stuffy listening etiquette: "Young people don't like concert halls... and wouldn't normally go to one except for amplified music," he says in a radio interview to be broadcast today. "There is a big divide between amplified and non-amplified music. The future must bring things that are considered blasphemous, like amplifying classical music in an atmosphere where people can come and go, and even perhaps… and certainly leave in the middle of a movement if they feel like it." [The Observer]
- Critic Fiona Maddocks cries foul. "The London Philharmonic Orchestra's Vladimir Jurowski addressed this question after conducting Beethoven at a free-spirited beer-and-crisps concert at London's Roundhouse. While he could tolerate chatting and tweeting at this non-classical venue, he conceded that at the Royal Festival Hall any unnecessary noise is a distraction. Who, of a classical tendency, hasn't sat next to someone whose noisy breathing – yes, that's how much we mind – has prompted murderous feelings?" [The Observer]
- Architect Rem Koolhaas says that governments are too hasty to put historic buildings and other sites on protected status lists, without reflecting on "how we are trying to stop the advance of time, how what is preserved can remain alive while still evolving. We must stop embalming cities, monuments, and whole parts of the world, and not only because it is financially impossible." At the same time he notes with despair that countries all over the world are causing all traces of post-WWII architecture to disappear. [Le Monde]
- Michel Houellebecq's new novel La Carte et le Territoire is set to be available in bookstores in France on Wednesday, one of the big events of the rentrée littéraire. Slate.fr has isolated several passages of the book that were lifted, more or less verbatim, from an encyclopedia -- Wikipedia, to be precise. Flammarion, Houellebecq's publisher, maintains that this is just another example of the author's habit of incorporating or imitating non-fictional types of writing in his novels. [Le Point]
- The Château de Versailles regularly hosts expositions of contemporary art in its historic rooms. After Jeff Koons two years ago, there is currently an exhibit of sculptures by Takashi Murakami, with imagery inspired by Japanese manga cartoons. Petitions and threats of legal action to stop the exhibit have been circulating on the political right: Jean-Jacques Aillagon, now director of the château, says that these protests are coming from extreme-right, ultra-conservative factions in French society, people who want to make Versailles into "a reliquary of nostalgia for the France of the Ancien Régime." One young man, who has hosted one of the petitions, says that he has done so under a pseudonym because "not liking contemporary art could be seen badly by prospective employers." [France 2]