Month: August 2015

Calm — On Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line

An abridgement of Simon Critchley’s landmark essay on the 1999 film
W

ittgenstein asks a question, which sounds like the first line of a joke: ‘How does one philosopher address another?’ To which the unfunny and perplexing riposte is: ‘Take your time’. Terrence Malick is evidently someone who takes his time. Since his first movie, Badlands, was premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1973, he has directed just two more: Days of Heaven, in 1979, and then nearly a 20 year gap until the long-awaited 1998 movie, The Thin Red Line, which is the topic of this essay.
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Oliver Sacks 1933-2015

Acclaimed author and neurologist has passed away, aged 82

“My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.”

— Oliver Sacks

Gregory Cowles (The New York Times)

Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 82.Read More

Spinoza’s Guide to Living Well

From the introduction of Benedict de Spinoza’s ‘On the Improvement of the Understanding’ (Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione), an essay Schopenhauer recommended as ‘the most effective means known to me for stilling the storm of the passions’. The translator is unknown:
Benedict de Spinoza
Benedict de Spinoza

After experience had taught me that all the usual surroundings of social life are vain and futile; seeing that none of the objects of my fears contained in themselves anything either good or bad, except in so far as the mind is affected by them, I finally resolved to inquire whether there might be some real good having power to communicate itself, which would affect the mind singly, to the exclusion of all else: whether, in fact, there might be anything of which the discovery and attainment would enable me to enjoy continuous, supreme, and unending happiness.

I say “I finally resolved,” for at first sight it seemed unwise willingly to lose hold on what was sure for the sake of something then uncertain. I could see the benefits which are acquired through fame and riches, and that I should be obliged to abandon the quest of such objects, if I seriously devoted myself to the search for something different and new. I perceived that if true happiness chanced to be placed in the former I should necessarily miss it; while if, on the other hand, it were not so placed, and I gave them my whole attention, I should equally fail.Read More

David Lynch’s Factory Photographs

From Sara Barnes (Beautiful Decay):

If you’re familiar with the films of David Lynch, then you know the subtle uneasiness that he makes you feel. It doesn’t just stop with movies, as Lynch is also a photographer. Between 1980 and 2000, he shot monochromatic images of factories in Berlin, Poland, New York, New Jersey, and England. The result is a book of photographs titled The Factory Photographs […].Read More