Harper’s Notes

The Harper Review’s weekly newsletter: worshipping, gobbling, hobnobbing and more.

The editors

February 13, 2023

Eating and the American Dream: With the rising cost of eggs, shortages in baby formula, and spikes in the grain markets, it’s clear that food supply chains around the world are facing challenges. At an upcoming event hosted by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, former U.S. representative from Michigan Peter Meijer will discuss the regulations that determine our food safety and the impact that they have in times of crisis. According to Meijer, the federal government is often its own worst enemy when dealing with unexpected events like the ones we are facing now. The seminar will take place on Thursday, February 16, at 12:30 p.m. in the IOP living room.

Gathering at the Guggenheim: This week is the last to see the Guggenheim Museum’s major retrospective of Brooklyn-born figurative painter Alex Katz. The exhibition Alex Katz: Gathering, closing on February 20, 2023, has been the topic of art world musings since last October. Katz’s distinctly economical artworks come to life in the Guggenheim rotunda, where paintings don’t just line the walls but Katz’s “cutouts” hobnob like other museum-goers. The cutouts, painted on custom-shaped wooden or aluminum panels, play with the usually well-defined boundary between sculpture and painting, inviting artwork into the human plane.

Rise of the political convert: Andrew Tate’s misogyny may be old news, but his conversion to Islam certainly isn’t. The British-American ex-kickboxer, known for his libertine lifestyle, converted to the faith last October and reactions among the American Muslim community and beyond have been split. Brookings Institution senior fellow Shadi Hamid argues that his conversion is representative of a growing phenomenon: the rise of “political conversions.” In a piece for The Free Press, Hamid explains that as Tate sees it, “where Christianity in the West is weak, undemanding, and devoid of firm rules, Islam is exacting, masculine, and vigorous.” What does it say about a largely secularized America that religious conversions for largely political reasons, rather than for those of genuine faith? Perhaps, as Hamid puts it, secularization doesn’t make us irreligious, but creates new forms of religiosity.