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Today marks 112 years since the birth of Irish writer, playwright, and Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett. To celebrate, the Samuel Beckett Society have assembled a collection of links to celebrate his life, work, and legacy. You can see their collection for yourself at the Samuel Beckett Society’s official website.

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Michelle Deininger

“There are many myths about class in the UK. The repercussions of these myths go largely unchallenged, and individual voices are often lost. In the first of a new series looking at the diversity of stories that make up the working class, Dr Michelle Deininger charts her journey from a council estate in Oxfordshire through her experiences in education to her current role as humanities lecturer at Cardiff University.”

Source: Wales Arts Review

In an exclusive interview with People magazine in March 2018, legendary tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins discussed the reissue of his 1957 album, Way Out West; the establishment of a Sonny Rollins archive; and the importance of diligent and continuous practice to his development as a player and composer:

Sonny-Rollins-with-Mohawk-by-Lee-Tanner“A lot of the people I grew up with in my early teens, we all wanted to be jazz musicians — but we didn’t have the talent. It was a gift. Music is a gift. Anybody can learn music, but it’s only a few people who have a gift that are really talented enough — especially these days — to make it in this highly competitive world. So it’s definitely a gift. However, you have to apply yourself, you have to work at it. I had a gift, but I didn’t explore it enough, I feel, and that’s why I was always the guy who practiced incessantly. I was always trying to catch up and learn things.”

— Source: People

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Joan Didion

“When I was starting to write—in the late fifties, early sixties—there was a kind of social tradition in which male novelists could operate. Hard drinkers, bad livers. Wives, wars, big fish, Africa, Paris, no second acts. A man who wrote novels had a role in the world, and he could play that role and do whatever he wanted behind it. A woman who wrote novels had no particular role. Women who wrote novels were quite often perceived as invalids. Carson McCullers, Jane Bowles. Flannery O’Connor, of course. Novels by women tended to be described, even by their publishers, as sensitive. I’m not sure this is so true anymore, but it certainly was at the time, and I didn’t much like it. I dealt with it the same way I deal with everything. I just tended my own garden, didn’t pay much attention, behaved—I suppose—deviously. I mean I didn’t actually let too many people know what I was doing.”

— Joan Didion, The Art of Fiction No.71, The Paris Review

“After being ill, I concentrated more on the landscape. In a sense, all the natural things became incredibly important.”

— Fay Godwin

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W. G. Sebald

“But the fact is that writing is the only way in which I am able to cope with the memories which overwhelm me so frequently and so unexpectedly.”

— W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

Celebrating the women’s civil rights movement

Today marks International Women’s Day, which has commemorated the struggle for women’s civil rights throughout the twentieth century. The day was originally known as International Working Women’s Day, and for most of its history has been connected with socialist movements and communist states such as China and Soviet Russia. In the mid-1970s, during the height of Second Wave Feminism, the UN recognised International Women’s Day and invited its member states to do the same.

Reads for IWD 2018

A beautiful collection of images taken by French photographer François Halard
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Saul Leiter’s apartment in the East Village, New York. Photograph: François Halard.

(more…)

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“It might have been about two years before the birth of tintinnabuli, in 1974, when Arvo and Nora Pärt met the icon painter Viktor Krivorotov in Georgia, who also dealt with creative psychology. And Nora asked for his advice. What can he do? How could he find a way out of this creative dead end? ‘And Krivorotov recommended experimenting with different types of art – precisely the ones you do not know or command. You just have to have the courage to do poorly and fail, and even have a certain impudence,’ Nora relates.

As the paper and canvas felt too demanding to paint on, at some point they arrived at flowerpots – ordinary clay pots that usually came with flowers. ‘And then I just waited for the flowers to dry, to get the pot,’ she continues. In the beginning it was only Nora who painted the pots with water-based paint, but one day Arvo too took a pot in his hands. ‘And what did he paint? Some sort of lines. Simple lines in different colours,’ Nora recalls. We will never know if it was painting that eventually got the composer’s creativity flowing again, but indeed it released something in him.”

Arvo Pärt Centre

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“When asked why it makes her emotional, Chastain said that she ‘was playing a character who was the embodiment of love, so every day was just filled with so much joy.’

‘I was meditating on expanding my heart space and living with an open heart,’ she says. ‘Of course it affects you and how you treat other people. I loved those little boys so much, and I loved Terry so much. Watching the movie and seeing Mrs. O’Brien running through the streets with those little boys, I remember how wonderful it was. I’m heartsick for it.'”

IndieWire

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“One of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers, Wittgenstein published only one book. To celebrate its centenary, we revisit Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. An unusual work of philosophy by any standard, it was written on the front lines during World War I and purported to distinguish sense from nonsense. Wittgenstein felt that in the Tractatus he had solved all the problems of philosophy. Appropriately, once finished writing the book, he abandoned philosophy, only returning years later to focus on ordinary language and its philosophical potential. In this panel, we take a look back at the man, his early life and work, and consider why his thinking has been of such enduring interest.”

Listen to the complete recording over at theForum website.

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“Zadie Smith has been a vital literary voice since her first novel, White Teeth, became an instant bestseller. [In The Observer,] she answers questions from famous fans, including Teju Cole, Philip Pullman and Sharmaine Lovegrove, and a selection of our readers” — The Observer

“To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.”

— Confucius, The Analects

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Arthur Schopenhaer’s book collection. Photograph: Patrick Lakey.

“Still, I think there is something right in Schopenhauer’s dismal conception of our relationship with our ends, and that it can illuminate the darkness of midlife. Taking up new projects, after all, simply obscures the problem. When you aim at a future goal, satisfaction is deferred: success has yet to come. But the moment you succeed, your achievement is in the past. Meanwhile, your engagement with projects subverts itself. In pursuing a goal, you either fail or, in succeeding, end its power to guide your life. No doubt you can formulate other plans. The problem is not that you will run out of projects (the aimless state of Schopenhauer’s boredom), it’s that your way of engaging with the ones that matter most to you is by trying to complete them and thus expel them from your life. When you pursue a goal, you exhaust your interaction with something good, as if you were to make friends for the sake of saying goodbye.

Hence one common figure of the midlife crisis: the striving high-achiever, obsessed with getting things done, who is haunted by the hollowness of everyday life. When you are obsessed with projects, ceaselessly replacing old with new, satisfaction is always in the future. Or the past. It is mortgaged, then archived, but never possessed. In pursuing goals, you aim at outcomes that preclude the possibility of that pursuit, extinguishing the sparks of meaning in your life.

The question is what to do about this. For Schopenhauer, there is no way out: what I am calling a midlife crisis is simply the human condition. But Schopenhauer was wrong. In order to see his mistake, we need to draw distinctions among the activities we value: between ones that aim at completion, and ones that don’t…”

Aeon Ideas

Theme: Stuff, consumerism, waste, recycling, objects

Closes: Midnight 28 February 2018 (California, USA time).

New Philosopher