The arts through a long, long lens

This week, your Arts & Leisure section steps back and tries to take in the big picture about the arts on the verge of a new millennium. But wait, there's more: Next week, we'll step way, way back and attempt something that we know is, well, basically impossible.

Let me explain. For nearly a year, arts writer M.S. Mason has been gathering string on a trend she was seeing across many artistic disciplines: the return to a search for meaning, for the transcendent. Sometimes the resulting works were overtly religious, but more often not.

Her cover story today (look to the right) sums up those months of reading, viewing, and interviewing. It'll be followed in future sections by related pieces on specific aspects of "The Search for Meaning in the Arts."

Next week, May 19, as part of the Monitor's ongoing series on the millennium, the Arts & Leisure section will be replaced by a special section, "1000-2000: A Thousand Years of the Arts."

We've assigned our writers and a group of outside experts the impossible task of summing up the last millennium. They bravely took up the challenge, and I think you'll enjoy the results, including what will surely be a controversial timeline (what, no El Greco?) and four adventurous efforts to identify the Top 10 most influential works of the millennium.

Our regular Arts & Leisure section will return May 26 with a cover story on how an unlikely vehicle - video games - is leading the "convergence" of TV, film, computers ... and you. And film critic David Sterritt will fill you in on the happenings at the Cannes film festival. See you then!

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