Posts Tagged 'biography'

An Autobiography Carved from Biography

Trailer for Moyra Davey’s film, Les Goddesses.

My latest review for VANDOCUMENT is online. This one takes-on Moyra Davey’s challenging 2011 film, Les Goddesses, in which she tells the story of a sad, distant time in her past via the biographies of other women: the 18th Century proto-feminist philosopher and literary figure Mary Wollstonecraft, Ms. Wollstonecraft’s daughters (including the writer Mary Shelley), and Ms. Davey’s own three sisters.

Check it out.

One thing about the review bears mentioning. I attempt to take Ms. Davey’s project seriously and therefore offer my best effort to dissect whatever-the-hell might be going-on in the film. Without in any way abandoning criticality, I am loathe to write derogatorily about any of the work I cover for VANDOCUMENT. My objective there (unlike the sometimes-harsh things I write on memestream) is to present a fair sense of a project or event contributing to the current local art scene while being supportive of the artists and institutions who are putting themselves on-the-line and bringing value to the community. So, if I have committed to a degree of non-negativity and intellectual engagement with Ms. Davey’s work in my review, please do not be misled into thinking that the film is any good. It is not.

Doing History Wrong

Was Gandhi-ji a saint, a devil, neither, or both?

Neoconservative historian Andrew Roberts has written a thoroughly dickish profile of Mahatma Gandhi in the Wall Street Journal, entitled Among the Hagiographers. Under the thin guise of a review of Joseph Lelyveld’s new biography, Great Soul, Mr. Roberts unleashes an unprovoked, relentlessly cruel smear-piece on Gandhi-ji. The essay bristles with the sort of raw enmity one might expect from a man whose professional career has revolved around the lionization of Winston Churchill and who has unreservedly adopted the venomous loathings of the man he idolizes.

The facile way to read Mr. Roberts’s offensively negative presentation is as a smoking condemnation of Gandhi-ji: the father of satyagraha was a creep and a pervert. Indeed, the essay catalogs many of Gandhi-ji’s personal shortcomings and reversals of position; and Mr. Roberts’s project is to spin these into an unflattering portrait of hypocrisy, if not outright depravity. Roberts presents precisely the opposite portrait from that assembled in the usual, beatifying hagiography; and the true object of Roberts’s loathing may be as much the Gandhian canon as Gandhi-ji himself. But, in this detail, I see a shred of subtle value in Mr. Roberts’s malicious piece. It illustrates the absurdity and ruthlessness of a bizarrely one-dimensional mining of the historical record.

Continue reading ‘Doing History Wrong’

Advances in Clinical Chemistry

Carl Wittwer Profiled in Clinical Chemistry

My second-most-favorite magazine of all time is Clinical Chemistry. Like my first-most-favorite magazine, I pretend to read it for the excellent articles, but mostly only look at the pictures.

If that’s not entirely true, it’s only because the images in Playboy (do they still publish Playboy?) are considerably more interesting than those in Clinical Chemistry, which tend to run toward crazy-shit-complicated graphs and conceptual layouts of brain-melting science. So, alas, I do struggle through the articles — which take me several hours for six to eight hard-won pages — with a Googleload of reference help.

No one will ever adjudge the literary merits of Clinical Chemistry to be on a par with Granta or the quality and usefulness of the science it contains to rival that of Cooks Illustrated. Still, the rag has its own nerdy charm.

Imagine my delight, then, when Clinical Chemistry finally published something that not only covers my favorite subject in all of science, but does so in an article I could read without feeling like a third-grader: a profile of Carl Wittwer.

Continue reading ‘Advances in Clinical Chemistry’


Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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