As I am supposed to be writing my dissertation at the moment, I find myself entertaining myself during breaks reading the most random blogs, articles and visiting some really cool sites . Now, I know they will come in handy one day and (I am trying to convince myself) they are contributing to my academic research in some way but for now, I am going to dump them on this blog! Enjoy!
I absolutely looooveee the blog eyeteeth which is by Paul Schmelze, a former editor at Adbusters and he recently posted a really great little blog about a Jerusalem street art stencil. Here’s what he says:
I’m not entirely sure what to make of the message. One Flickr user translates the text as “War isn’t cookies.” That is, it’s not a cake walk, a piece of cake, easy as pie. But the more direct read is that, like cookies chewed up and spat out by a hasty ravenous monster, soldiers are victims of war, too. In spite of the fact that, as an institution, the IDF is one of the world’s best-funded, most sophisticated fighting forces, the individual soldiers are, well, fragile. The sentiment brings to mind a speech by Haruki Murakami I often quote here. He used an egg and and a wall in a metaphor for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. One way to read the metaphor, he says, is that unarmed civilians are the eggs, while tanks, guns and white phosphorus shells are the wall. But he also offers a more nuanced interpretation:
Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: It is The System. The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and cause us to kill others – coldly, efficiently, systematically.
This was one of those rare interviews which had the right proportions of freedom and control to really bring out interesting stuff. It was in SEED Magazine which is a random science magazine which has some absolute gems of articles every now and then. Here are snippets of the interview with the Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom about “essentialism”—a belief that there’s a deeper nature to things that makes them what they are.
Seed: You begin the book with an incredible story from the art world that, you say, illustrates the concept of essentialism.
Paul Bloom: Yes— the story of a famous Nazi, Herman Goering, who was Hitler’s favorite. Goering and his boss had this perpetual competition going over who could steal the most art. They went throughout Europe and pillaged, taking art from the people they conquered. Goering was a tremendous snob, and he bought a Vermeer from this art dealer, van Meegren. After the war, van Meegren was nabbed by investigators who discovered that he had sold all this art—including great Dutch treasures—to the Nazis. And they put him in prison. When van Meegren realized he was going to be executed for treason, he confessed. He said that he did sell the artwork to the Nazis, but that it wasn’t treason, because they were not actual Vermeers….He had defrauded the Nazis, he explained, because he’d painted them himself!
Now van Meegren, as you may know, was an absolute jerk. He was beset with petty jealousies; he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. He never got the respect he felt he deserved, so years earlier he had decided to start faking art as a way to get money. Not surprisingly, nobody believes his “I jipped the Nazis” story. So in court, while he was in detention, he offered to do another painting of the Vermeer, as a way to prove his innocence. As one Dutch tabloid put it, “He Paints for His Life!” His new work turned out far superior to the one he had sold Goering, and in the end, van Meegren was given a much lighter sentence. I like that story because it illustrates that who painted the artwork really mattered. And it mattered to everyone involved: It mattered to Goering—a guy who was responsible for the murder of millions and yet, according to his biographer, this was the first time in his life that he looked “as if he’d truly seen evil.” It mattered to all of the art critics who loved the Supper at Emmaus and several other paintings that turned out to be painted by van Meegren. They were horrified to discover that the paintings weren’t by Vermeer at all.
He also goes on to talk about this syndrome called Capgras Syndrome, where people think that people they love have been replaced by exact duplicates because (proposes V.S. Ramachandran) the part of the brain responsible for intuitive feeling and familiarity doesn’t work.
“So you look at the person and you think, They have the same face as my wife or my boyfriend, but I don’t feel anything, so it can’t be them.”
So wierd. And kinda heart-breaking.
Interesting (I use that word far too much) article on dissident art in Saudi Arabia published in Qantara.