For centuries, leading thinkers …. have told us not to jump to firm conclusions about the unknown. Yet today we jump faster and more frequently to firm conclusions. We like to believe there is wisdom in our snap decisions, and sometimes there is. But true wisdom and judgment come from understanding our limitations when it comes to thinking about the future. This is why it is so important for us to think about the relevant time period of our decisions and then ask what is the maximum amount of time we can take within that period to observe and process information about possible outcomes. Asking questions about timing is crucial, even if we cannot arrive at an answer as specific as ’42.’
[ … ]
Thinking about the role of delay is a profound and fundamental part of being human. Questions about delay are existential: the amount of time we take to reflect on decisions will define who we are. Is our mission simply to be another animal, responding to whatever stimulations we encounter? Or are we here for something more?
Our ability to think about delay is a central part of the human condition. It is a gift, a tool we can use to examine our lives. Life might be a race against time, but it is enriched when we rise above our instincts and stop the clock to process and understand what we are doing and why. A wise decision requires reflection, and reflection requires pause. The converse of Socrates’s famous admonition is that the examined life just might be worth living.
“And art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects “unfamiliar,” to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged. Art is a way of experiencing the artfulness of an object; the object is not important.
Published on The Huffington Post, Sunday April 28, 2012
Find the original text here.
I have a mental disorder that leads me to furiously research career paths at even the subtlest of nudges. I watched The West Wing and mapped out a path to become the Warren Administration’s Press Secretary (the first step involves me changing my name to C.J. Rothkopff); I pet a bunny and registered to take the VCATs (Veterinary College Admission Test); I read a book and bought a pen. So, I imagine that you can imagine the state of panic that this year’s success for women in comedy has put me in. I watched Bridesmaids last year in the Burlington theater and literally went home and first picked out my top 10 MFA Screenwriting programs and only second did I open a word document and start writing the most mediocre jokes. I have been continuously taunted for the past year as Kristin Wiig, Lena Dunham and the three women of Happy Endings (my idols, Casey Wilson, Eliza Coupe and Elisha Cuthbert), among many other talented comediennes have destroyed their male counterparts. It’s not news to point out that 2011 and 2012 have seen an almost incredible level of talent and success in the aforementioned women, and so I will leave the work of critiquing the first episodes of Girls to the 1,000,000 other interested bloggers who have already done a fine job with the task.
Since sex was invented, women have been welcome in front of audiences as performers, and many have significantly contributed to the evolution of comedy and film in general. What is continuing to niggle, however, is the announcement of flicks to be featured at this year’s Cannes film festival. In just a few weeks, 22 worthy directors of many shapes and sizes will descend upon the beach town to bask in le soleil and the glory of their artistic achievements. And the group really is diverse, boasting Wes Anderson’s much-fussed-about Moonrise Kingdom; the newest from Abbas Kiarostami, the Iranian auteur whose Where is the Friend’s Home? (or Khane-ye doust kodjast?) stole my heart in Aesthetics of the Moving Image two years ago; as well as pictures by Korean director Hong Sang-soo and the Belarusian Sergei Loznitsa. But you get where this is going: not one film by a woman was nominated. Homme des lettres Jean Cocteau famously said, “The Festival is an apolitical no-man’s-land, a microcosm of what the world would be like if people could make direct contact with one another and speak the same language.” I hate to say it for fear of sounding trite, but that no-man’s-land is obviously a man’s-land and that same language is dude.
Why is this alarming? Because one might assume that the major success women have found in comedy would correlate to similar success in film production. Instead, there has still been only one woman to win the Academy Award for direction (Katherine Bigelow, The Hurt Locker, 2008) and since the first festival was held at Cannes in 1946, only one woman, Jane Campion has ever won the film world’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or for The Piano. Women have risen to the highest ranks of the film world with a surprisingly skewed number heading up major studios. They (we) have not, however, been allowed the distinguished status of auteur, creators revered for their original aesthetic vision. Although surrounded by a busy cloud of hype, Lena Dunham comes close to this signifier, with her DIY, unpretentious style — but her generation and constructed image require that she rule trendier, even grungier festivals like SXSW.
Even still, Lena Dunham is criticized within the context of female filmmakers. As the dialogue is so heavily male, the qualifying of films made by women in those terms automatically puts them at a disadvantage. Ultimately, until critical analysis of film is degenderized and critics (male and female alike) can discuss female work as just work, then women will be unable to reach the same level of acclaim.
How psychedelic drugs can help patients face death - by Lauren Slater from NYT
From “That Thing Down There”
The Middlebury Campus, March 15, 2012
We’ve all witnessed the celebration of wagging schlongs that is the Pranksters’ annual library streak. For the unlucky (or, more appropriately, very lucky) First-Years and others who have not had the opportunity to witness said event, let me summarize in the briefest of terms. You will be seated by yourself in an upstairs carrel having logged onto Facebook for the twentieth time just to indulge yourself in some innocent stalking of Marisa Dinge: your trashy former camp friend, who studies forensic criminology at Palm Beach State and whose pictures depict a life full of bronzed-to-orange meatheads and poker tournaments — her profile is a veritable soap opera as dramatic as any on daytime television, full of first-person confessionals in the form of statuses, an amateurish slideshow set to R&B every time a friend of hers dies in a motorcycle accident (I’m sorry, it’s happened several times now, and your sympathy is starting to wane) and photos upon photos of a clearly self-conscious boyfriend whom she has forced to dress up as Natalie Portman in Black Swan for Halloween.
Anyway, you will be doing that and just then you will hear a shriek and some giggles as 20 skinny boys waggle their goodies in your face and some slightly plumper but wholly admirable girls trip enthusiastically behind them. I am not jealous of these Pranksters but recognize the courage required to participate and am pleased for the opportunity to appreciate a pair of boobies that are not my own once in a while.
But is this brush with raciness not enough for you? Did you come to Midd seeking liberated boys and girls who view their own sexuality as commodities that they are ready to exploit? Or, rather, who view their bodies as temples that others might worship? I thought I was happy here, but now Jyoti Daniere is gone (along with her risqué programming) and I’ve forgotten how to have an orgasm! So, here are some recommendations of Unis to which you and I might transfer due to annual events that celebrate debauchery and its technicalities:
Allegheny College – SexFest
This newly adopted tradition has caused one Ron Meyer of conservative news site, CNS News to huff about, shouting to the internet ether: “Here at Allegheny College, feminist groups are treating sexual intercourse like a party.” Well, yeah! If that’s wrong, Ronnie, I don’t know that I want to be right! The event is advertised as featuring “Games! Food! Condoms!” — a trio that I am fully behind — and is devoted to ensuring its attendees are informed about sexual health. So, wait … it’s not a party?
Brown University – SexPowerGod
This notorious event held every autumn is thrown by the Brown Queer Alliance. For only $20 you can attend the fête that has been featured on Bill O’Reilly’s radio show, The Radio Factor, when O’Reilly remarked of SexPowerGod, “You would have been safer in Baghdad than on the campus of Brown University.” Now, I might characterize that statement as verging on hyperbolic, but the party does feature a projector screen that publically relays messages from attendees that typically feature comments on costumes and propositions for sex! And I know a girl who was there and she was nakey.
Sarah Lawrence College – SleazeBall
This aptly named dance refers to a springtime dance that serves as the culmination of Sleaze Week. The week’s programming encourages open discussions about sexuality and sexual identity, and has featured classes and workshops such as “Sex: Its Not So Serious,” “Sexual Etiquette Class,” “BDSM/SEX Toys Workshop” and the Sleaze Cabaret. A.k.a. making public what I think about privately all day and all night.
Yale University – Sex Week
This is not really a party at all (sorry to disappoint), but a week of intensive programming, featuring a diversity of speakers from sex therapists to clergy to porn stars. The website describes it as “an interdisciplinary sex education program designed to pique students’ interest through creative interactive, and exciting programming,” and features debates, seminars, concerts and film screenings, among other events. This isn’t actually funny but awesome and frankly what you’re reading right now is real envy spouting out of the tips of my fingers and if I had a time machine I’d do better in high school and go to Yale and help out.
No, of course I wouldn’t! But maybe let’s start one of these here? Plz? I’ll come back from adult life and help out? Let me know.