Finally, a modern art exhibit that I love

Ai Wei Wei’s exhibit at the Royal Academy is the thing to see right now if you’re gonna to visit an art museum in London. To me, it’s what modern art should be, but hardly ever is: a clearly articulated, original, possibly provocative but essentially subversive vision – all of which is accessible to the layperson.

Ai himself stressed this last point. In one of the commentaries which accompanied the exhibit, he said that “of course you can not force anybody to thinking or to feel the same way, but you have a responsibility to make sure your language is clear.”

I couldn’t agree more.

What tribes do I identify with?

One of the best pieces I’ve ever read about what’s responsible for the Internet-outrage cycle comes from this past January, from Scott Alexander in New Statesman. It’s worth reading in absolute full and contains far too many excellent passages for me to excerpt any particular one.

Without getting in to the argument (again, read it for yourself), the story got me thinking about tribalism generally, specifically the tribes I identify with personally. These are the groups I give the benefit of the doubt, or instinctually feel as if I should defend. The groups whose bad behavior I am more likely to excuse.

Foundational Texts: The Myth of Sisyphus

Some time around College I read Camus’ The Stranger, which I loved for its final, climactic interrogation of faith. After finishing, I immediately went in search of other books by Camus and soon came across The Myth of Sisyphus.

I read the opening two lines, which were immediately and forever imprinted in my mind:

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.

Just to set your mind at ease, both Camus and myself answer this fundamental question in the affirmative. That is, life in fact is worth living. And yet The Myth of Sisyphus is still a constant presence for me. I still fundamentally question what life is and what about it makes it worth continuing on (though for sanity’s sake I have long since made an agreement with myself that this questioning will not result in a reversal of previous said conclusion regarding life).

Project Greenlight: It’s amazing how willing I was to forgive bad behavior in exchange for good art

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A few nights ago I watched The Leisure Class on HBO, the movie which was made during Season 4 of the resurrected Project Greenlight. This is the reality show in which Ben Affleck and Matt Damon pluck an aspiring filmmaker from nowhere and partner with HBO to give the director money, a script, and distribution. Dreams come true, roll credits.

Every episode of Project Greenlight was fascinating, beginning with HBO’s decision to “bet on the director,” not on the script they’d chosen to give that director. Their pick from among a panel of finalists was Jason Mann. This is the guy who basically walked into the final pitch session trashing the script while professing only minor interest in actually directing it as his first feature film.

Mizzou and Tim Tai: Un-fucking-believable

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For the base primer, read Conor Friedersdorf, “Campus Activists Weaponize ‘Safe Space.” The YouTube video of a student photographer on assignment from ESPN who inadvertently has become the story, is embedded in the piece, or you can watch it here.

Some of that student’s previous photographs for ESPN are here. Activists who shouted at him that he is an “unethical” journalist clearly haven’t seen these photographs… otherwise they would have invited him gladly into their quote-unquote, safe space – which, as Friedersdorf points out, is a public space, entitling Tim Tai, as a matter of law and the First Amendment, to take photographs there.

Watch, watch, watch the video. Here it is again.