Saturday, May 26, 2012

6 milliards d'Autres et moi, et moi, et moi...

Although I'm still no fan of Yann-Arthus Bertrand, I do appreciate the kinds of questions he's getting at in this formulaic though very French, inquisitive, philosophical set of questions.

Entre 50 et 300 entretiens ont été réalisés par pays. Chaque interviewé s'exprime face caméra et répond à 40 questions. Les voici :

01 | Commencer l'interview en demandant à la personne de se présenter en donnant son nom, son âge, sa profession, sa situation familiale et sa nationalité.

02 | Quel est votre métier ? L'aimez-vous ?

03 | Que représente la famille pour vous ?

04 | Qu'avez-vous envie de transmettre à vos enfants ?

05 | Qu'avez-vous appris de vos parents ?

06 | Qu'est-ce qu'il est difficile de dire à ses enfants ? À sa famille ?

07 | Quelle est votre plus grande joie ?

08 | Quelle est votre plus grande peur ?

09 | Qu'est-ce qui vous met le plus en colère ?

10 | De quoi rêviez-vous quand vous étiez enfant ?

11 | Quel est votre plus grand rêve aujourd'hui ?

12 | À quoi avez-vous renoncé ?

13 | Êtes-vous heureux ? Qu'est-ce que le bonheur pour vous ?

14 | Qu'aimeriez-vous changer à votre vie ?

15 | Qu'est-ce que l'amour pour vous ? Pensez-vous donner et recevoir assez d'amour ?

16 | Quel a été votre dernier fou rire ?

17 | Quelle fut la dernière fois où vous avez pleuré ? Pourquoi ?

18 | Quelle fut l'épreuve la plus difficile à laquelle vous avez dû faire face dans votre vie ? Qu'en avez-vous appris ?

19 | Avez-vous des ennemis ? Pourquoi ?

20 | Qu'est-ce qui vous met le plus en colère ? Et pourquoi ?

21 | Pour quelle raison seriez-vous prêt à tuer quelqu'un ? Pour quelle raison seriez-vous prêt à donner votre vie ?

22 | Pardonnez-vous facilement ? Qu'est-ce que vous ne pourriez pas pardonner ?

23 | Vous sentez-vous libre ? Dans votre vie de tous les jours de quoi ne pourriez-vous pas vous passer ?

24 | Aimez-vous votre pays ? Avez-vous déjà eu envie de quitter votre pays ? Pourquoi ?

25 | Qu'est-ce que la nature représente pour vous ?

26 | Avez-vous vu la nature changer depuis votre enfance ? Et que faites-vous pour la préserver ?

27 | Est-ce que vous vivez mieux que vos parents ? Pourquoi ?

28 | Que représente l'argent pour vous ? Pourquoi ?

29 | Qu'est que le progrès pour vous et qu'en attendez-vous ?

30 | Quel est le plus grand ennemi de l'homme ?

31 | Quel est le plus grand ami de l'homme ?

32 | Pourquoi les hommes se font-ils la guerre ? Que peut-on faire pour qu'il y ait moins de guerres ?

33 | Rendez-vous des comptes à un Dieu dans votre vie de tous les jours ?

34 | Que croyez-vous qu'il y ait après la mort ?

35 | Connaissez-vous une prière ? Pouvez-vous me la dire ?

36 | Quel est selon vous le sens de la vie ?

37 | Qu'aimeriez-vous dire ou poser comme questions aux gens qui vont vous regarder ?

38 | Quelle est votre chanson préférée ? Chantez la...

39 | Que pensez-vous de cette interview, de cet échange ? Quel est selon vous son but ?

40 | Souhaitez-vous ajouter quelque chose pour finir ?

The accusations against [Sidney Lumet] of opportunism, eclecticism and a taste for hybrid styles were in fact precisely his values and a testament to his pragmatist philosophy of filmmaking. Pragmatism has long been the great American philosophy, figures like Dewey, Peirce and William James arguing that the experimentalist imagination should take the place of all philosophical givens and a priori certainties, and that thinkers should focus on the problems facing them on a daily basis, here, now, on things in the making. They favoured chance associations and arrangements in the process of construction over fixed programs and the belief in permanent functions and set goals. Lumet's astonishing New York films are in line with the New Pragmatism that has developed in architectural theory in the USA since the 60s, his films too "don't start from an ideal [humanist or otherwise] vision of the city as a constant territory with permanent functions and a predictable progressive act, but diagnose the city, taking as its starting point in the actual conditions of the city...revealing new possibilities latent in a given field simply by framing the issues differently" (The Landscape Urbanism Appendix). Their characters' alliances and filiations are usually based on desperation or misguided loyalty (even families aren't safe havens, "the right to do irreparable harm is a blood right" says a character in Daniel [1983]). Rather than the naive Humanist he is so often portrayed as, Lumet's films belie a belief in the human being and in human values as constantly changing, open to forces beyond human society. There is no Common Humanity and, in these terms, what we have in common wouldn't be a fixed essence but, on the contrary, an openness to novelty, to change and to new filliations wherever we find ourselves in space and time. Our Humanity is a process, always in the making. Lumet's belief in process is most obvious in his police procedural films, but the interest of the non-police films is also often related to this problem of an open future the conditions of which have to be discovered.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay -

Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay -

[H]omosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.”

It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Who Gets to Be French? -

Who Gets to Be French? -

 THE French language is justly renowned for its clarity and precision. Yet on a seemingly simple matter its speakers stumble into a fog — who or what can be defined as French? The question arose afresh in the wake of the Toulouse killings. No one doubted that the perpetrator was 23-year-old Mohammed Merah, a native son of Algerian descent. But was Mr. Merah French?

Impossible, declared four members of Parliament belonging to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right party. In a joint statement, they insisted that Mr. Merah “had nothing French about him but his identity papers.” 

Nonsense, retorted the left-wing journal Libération: “Merah is certainly a monster, but he was a French monster.” A childhood friend of Mr. Merah provided a poignant elaboration: “Our passports may say that we are French, but we don’t feel French because we were never accepted here. No one can excuse what he did, but he is a product of French society, of the feeling that he had no hope and nothing to lose. It was not Al Qaeda that created Mohammed Merah. It was France.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What the Right Gets Right -

What the Right Gets Right -

a curious article asking liberals / leftists "what the right gets right," such as the fact that conservatives:

- acknowledge “the superiority of market systems for encouraging efficient use of resources.”

- “appreciate more instinctively the need for fiscal balance.”

- "are more suspicious from a philosophical point of view of big government as an answer to many issues and are suspicious of Wall Street institutionally and not just their high salaries, and bad practices.”

- are skeptical of “the application of social science theories to real world problems” and cognizant of “human fallibility/corruptibility.”

the article also limns a few "liabilities of conservatism" such as:

“Conservatives are too prone to engage in zero-sum thinking (either I keep my money or the government takes it). They fail to appreciate the possibility of positive sum solutions to social conflicts.”

Conservatives hold “the laissez-faire ‘minimal-state’ view that, although we have a moral obligation to refrain from hurting others, we have no obligation to help others. Conservatives cling to the comforting moral illusion that there is a sharp distinction between allowing people to suffer and making people suffer.”

“Conservatives fail to recognize that even if each transaction in a free market meets their standards of fairness (exchanges between competent adults who have not been coerced or tricked into contracts), the cumulative results could be colossally unfair.”

“Conservatives do not understand how prevalent situational constraints on achievement are and thus commit the fundamental attribution error when they hold the poor responsible for poverty.”

“Conservatives overgeneralize: From a few cases of poor persons who exploit the system, they draw sweeping conclusions about all poor persons.”

“Chance happenings play a much greater role in success or failure than conservatives realize. People often do not control their own destinies.”

For God So Loved the 1 Percent ... -

For God So Loved the 1 Percent ... -

...Realizing that they needed to rely on others, these businessmen took a new tack: using generous financing to enlist sympathetic clergymen as their champions. After all, according to one tycoon, polls showed that, “of all the groups in America, ministers had more to do with molding public opinion” than any other.

The Rev. James W. Fifield, pastor of the elite First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, led the way in championing a new union of faith and free enterprise. “The blessings of capitalism come from God,” he wrote. “A system that provides so much for the common good and happiness must flourish under the favor of the Almighty.”

Christianity, in Mr. Fifield’s interpretation, closely resembled capitalism, as both were systems in which individuals rose or fell on their own. The welfare state, meanwhile, violated most of the Ten Commandments. It made a “false idol” of the federal government, encouraged Americans to covet their neighbors’ possessions, stole from the wealthy and, ultimately, bore false witness by promising what it could never deliver.

...In an extensive public relations campaign, they encouraged communities to commemorate Independence Day with “freedom under God” ceremonies, using full-page newspaper ads trumpeting the connection between faith and free enterprise. They also held a nationwide sermon contest on the theme, with clergymen competing for cash. Countless local events were promoted by a national “Freedom Under God” radio program, produced with the help of the filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, hosted by Jimmy Stewart and broadcast on CBS.

...In the end, Mr. Romney is correct to claim that complaints about economic inequality are inconsistent with the concept of “one nation under God.” But that’s only because the “1 percent” of an earlier era intended it that way.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Experience Economy -

The Experience Economy -

an intriguing editorial by David Brooks...

"the past few decades, Americans have devoted more of their energies to postmaterial arenas and less and less, for better and worse, to the sheer production of wealth.

During these years, commencement speakers have urged students to seek meaning and not money. Many people, it turns out, were listening."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Amy Chua Is a Wimp -

Amy Chua Is a Wimp -

I have the opposite problem with Chua. I believe she’s coddling her children. She’s protecting them from the most intellectually demanding activities because she doesn’t understand what’s cognitively difficult and what isn’t.

Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.

...Chua would do better to see the classroom as a cognitive break from the truly arduous tests of childhood. Where do they learn how to manage people? Where do they learn to construct and manipulate metaphors? Where do they learn to perceive details of a scene the way a hunter reads a landscape? Where do they learn how to detect their own shortcomings? Where do they learn how to put themselves in others’ minds and anticipate others’ reactions?

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Highlights Interview with Daniel Bozhkov

The Highlights Interview with Daniel Bozhkov

JD: I think of your seasonal role as Skowhegan’s fresco master in terms of a liminal being or hybrid. There you are artist and instructor, interloper and community member, facilitator and, to a certain extent, participant. How does this particular circumstance influence the work you’ve made there, or the work you’ve made elsewhere?

DB: I think it has influenced a great deal. I’m very interested in this category of the “migrant” that Julia Kristeva talks about: a person who moves from one language to another, from one culture to another, and becomes multilingual and this necessitates translation of the whole individual experience into the second language. One is learning everything anew, and through that process reinventing oneself. Most of the words between two languages can be vaguely of proximity to each other, but ultimately there is a contextual experience that you cannot reach, or translate, unless you know both languages and you’ve learned them in both cultures. This brings me back to the question of the hybrid. You acquire a kind of hybrid mind, or hybrid relation to maybe everything. Simultaneous roles are the ones in which you experience reality. That whole notion between who is the instructor and who is the learner, who is the author and who is the reader become interchangeable within the activity.


JD: Your work has been described as “sublimely silly,” “squirrelly,” “funny,” “absurdly earnest,” and “spontaneous.” Can you talk a bit about the levity behind the buoyancy?

DB: “Levity behind the buoyancy.” This is a congregation of two terms that are oxymoronic next to each other. In some of my work there is that initial, not drive, but outcome that has to do with deflation of power. There are power structures and particular power conglomerates around us. I don’t necessarily mean power of the state but, for instance, the power of meaning to crystallize and not allow any other interpretation. It seems to me that I have an impetus to deflate that. Sometimes, in a very profound situation of deep sadness, there’s even more room, something really ridiculous seems to be part of it too. This extra space, this possibility for another turn, has something to do with the power of oxymoron.

There is an absurd side of the ‘necessity for existence.’ On one level, everything that exists justifies its own existence — it exists because it does. The fact that it’s there proves that it needs to be there. On another level, the whole system of trying to understanding this is completely absurd. In the most serious questions of life and death there is not only dark, but an absurd and ridiculous side as well. And I just can’t avoid it. It just comes out. In Bulgaria, for instance, there’s been an early medieval heresy, the Bogomils. They were Christian dualists who were told that the world was created by the God and the Devil at the same time. So there are negative things created by the negative, and positive by the positive. They have this apocryphal saying, “I believe in God, but I don’t trust Him.” The first part of that sentence is like a credo, the second part completely deflates that. Maybe they’re saying, “I don’t trust the human mind that speculates about God.” On one hand I have moments when I experience the profound level of interconnectedness of everything. On another I don’t trust my drive to completely comprehend it, because I appreciate that it’s enormous, it’s inexhaustible. My attempt to know it is ridiculous because I’m ill-equipped. In some of my works you see me experiencing this limitation.

JD: Unlike other artists who may use humor as an entryway into explorations of more ambiguous space, you see this absurdity or this silliness as being integral to the weightiness?

DB: Oh, absolutely — no, definitely. It’s part of the attempts to know, really. The absurd humor is not simply playing the part of the comic relief. I mean, Dostoyevsky is one of the darkest writers I’ve read, or Kafka, and there is a lot of deeply absurd humor there. You know how sometimes Monty Python reaches this very profound moment of “we don’t know what’s happening here,” it’s just so out there, it’s painfully silly, and, at the same time, you experience certain exhilaration that cuts through the limits of reason. Or Andy Kaufman with his ‘have-beens’ talk show, and his “inter-gender wrestling matches.” He introduces a freshly minted incoherence into the most banal situations, which we think that we know all too well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Museums Special Section - Haiti’s Visionaries, Rising From the Rubble -

Museums Special Section - Haiti’s Visionaries, Rising From the Rubble -

a reminder that art is something fundamentally human, a way of making sense when nothing does, necessary even in times of catastrophe...

"A funky downtown section of Port-au-Prince called the Grand Rue was the scene, in December, of a first-time art event called the “Ghetto Biennial.” Based on international models but operating on a tiny budget, it brought in a few artists from abroad but was basically a showcase for a collective of Haitian sculptors who call themselves Atis Rezistans. The group’s three senior members — Andr�Eug�ne, Jean H�rard Celeur and Frantz Jacques, known as Guyodo — work together in the Grand Rue, in a warren of cinderblock car-repair shops that supply the material for their art: rusted chassis, steering wheels, hubcaps, broken crankshafts, cast-off oil filters. With the help of young assistants, they turn this industrial junk into demonic doomsday figures with giant phalluses and gargoylish bodies topped by plastic doll heads or human skulls."

Ai Weiwei, Artist and Activist, Confined in Beijing -

Ai Weiwei, Artist and Activist, Confined in Beijing -

"A phalanx of Beijing police officers confined the prominent artist and activist Ai Weiwei to his north Beijing home on Friday, a move he suggested came at the behest of unnamed but powerful political figures in Shanghai who feared that he was about to embarrass them.

If so, they were correct."