Wednesday, 24 August 2016

# AMTHINKING: The happier I am the less I write. I remember a cartoon in an Argentine newspaper: A poet begging his girlfriend not to make him so happy. It gave him writer’s block. Without a tragic love life, he couldn’t write tango lyrics.

Ditto when I’m leading a busy life. The more I move, the less I think. Friends, I never thought I'd say it, but I’m actually looking forward to a little boredom. #AMTHINKING: Boredom is good for the soul. Are there boredom classes? Should I start a new trend for all those people who are tired of yoga and meditation?

Thursday, 4 August 2016

#AMREADING Maylis de Kerangal, Mend the Living.
Translated by Jessica Moore as Mend the Living
The subject is clinical, but the language is lyrical and asks the existential question: What does it mean to be alive or dead?

Simon is in a coma after a car accident. His heart (or rather the machine to which he is hooked up) keeps pumping blood, a life of ebbs and flows, of valves and flap gates, a life of pulsations. On the night when his heart slips from the grip of the machine, it was bone-crackingly cold on the estuary and in the Caux region, while a reflectionless swell rolled along the base of the cliffs, while the continental plateau drew back, unveiling its geological stripes.

Dr. Revol informs Simon’s parents of his death. One needs time, of course, to catch one’s breath after uttering such a thing, time to take a pause, stabilize the oscillations of the inner ear so as not to collapse in a heap on the ground. Gazes dissolve. Revol ignores the beep beep at his belt.

He gets ready to speak to the parents about organ donation. He prepares for the conversation the way he prepares himself to sing, relaxing his muscles, regulating his breathing, conscious that punctuation is the anatomy of language, the structure of meaning, and he visualizes the opening sentence, its musical line, and gauges the first syllable he will utter, the one that will cleave the silence.
The parents give him permission to transplant Simon’s heart.

Before leaving the hospital, Simon’s mother turns around one last time toward the bed and what freezes her in place then is the solitude that emanates from Simon, from now on as alone as an object, as though he had been unballasted of his human aspect. Simon is dead, she says these words to herself for the first time.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


I just read about an app that scans your skin and suggests products that you may not even be aware of. There’s definitely an educational factor. There’s an entertainment factor. But at the end of the day, it’s really helping with the need for instant gratification, says Jennifer Tidy of ModiFace, the leading provider of Augmented Reality Tech. Ooh, that’s so cool. Now I too can look like a model or a film star. But wait: Will I get paid like a film star?

No, you little idiot. This isn't for real. It's augmented reality, and it's the tip of an ad trend: Spend like a professional even if you are paid like a peon.  

Monday, 25 July 2016

Martha Nussbaum (

I just read an article about philosopher Martha Nussbaum in the NYer. This will do wonders, I hope, to rehabilitate the image of female academics, to prove that they are not all dowdy or, as the GOP says about another brainy woman: fat thighs, small breasts, left wing.

In case you wondered: Martha Nussbaum who combines good looks with top academic credentials admits to Botox and filler injections.  There are women like Germaine Greer who say that it’s a big relief, as you age, to not worry about men and forget how they look. I care about how men look at me, she says. I like men.

We already know that male academics like women. In fact some of them have been sued by their students for sexual harassment. Nussbaum is sixty-nine and in the photo accompanying the article in the NYer dares to strike a sexy pose, although there is something in her eyes that says “I’m nobody’s fool”, something that scared people when she was at Harvard. They couldn’t wrap their minds around this formidably good, extraordinarily articulate woman who was very tall and attractive, openly feminine and stylish, and walked very erect and wore miniskirts – all in one package. They were just frightened, a colleague explained.

Come on, men, have a little more courage!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

#AMTHINKING: I’m tired of playful installations like Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard at AGO.

You know what? I’m tired of “playful” installations combined with advocacy – in this case, a plug for the traditional urban landscape of Beijing. The piece consists of a snaking line made up of the backs of ramshackle old wardrobes, the kind I have in my basement and would like to get rid of. I’m thinking of doing an installation of all the junk I have accumulated and call it The Purging of the Soul, or some such. All I need is a curator to come up with the right words like this thoughtful, playful, and materially rich collection invites audiences to reconsider how we might hold on to some elements of tradition while radically reimagining them for the present. I’m quoting from the AGO’s description of Song Dong’s installation.

But seriously: Installation artists are taking on too much. A conga line of old wardrobes doesn’t do justice to complex issues like urbanization and city planning. We need a conga line of words for that.