Dull Blade

Dull Blade

According to “director” Denis Villeneuve, in the year 2049 women will still be objectified as nubile, pliant toys for men. And men will still wonder why life has no meaning. An old trope—AIs searching for their own identity and searching for a way to...
taste of autumn

taste of autumn

Tomatoes, ripened on the vine—always a sign of the end of summer and the time to feel the approach of autumn. Some people look at a calendar to know when the seasons change. I have found that it’s not difficult to detect the exquisitely calibrated changes of natural...
Mother!: a Gothic parable

Mother!: a Gothic parable

Darren “Black Swan” Aronofsky’s latest metaphysical conceit, Mother!, may be many things, but a serious example of cinematic storytelling is not one of them. A showcase for the bovine beauty and monochromatic facial expressions of his current...
Hockney’s Turandot

Hockney’s Turandot

Anyone who has seen opera sets by David Hockney remains fairly breathless for days on end. Sometimes years. Rarely has a practicing artist shown such a keen understanding of, and fascination with the playful possibilities of visual storytelling. His sets summon the...
Being There

Being There

Have we lost contact with the tangible world? Look around. What do you see? Screens! Information gleaned through hand-held electronic devices. Through those screens we love to look at animals, our friends, mouth-watering foods, faraway landmarks, natural wonders. What...
Bill Viola in Florence

Bill Viola in Florence

Here was a long-awaited experience—the chance to finally see the great Pontormo Visitation along with Bill Viola‘s haunting video response made five hundred years later. There in a single darkened room was the newly-restored Mannerist painting portraying the...
On the Other Hand

On the Other Hand

My bags are always packed! To go from here to there is to indulge in a blend of aesthetic schizophrenia, wanderlust, and bad faith. Insisting that I love exactly where I live, I still climb onto a plane roughly once a year to become whatever the next large foreign...
Bilocation and other travel puzzles

Bilocation and other travel puzzles

Ah the unavoidable psycho-physical malaise of bilocation—the doubling of oneself that happens between travel and homecoming. Think of it as a variation on the mind/body problem. Our body is spatially bound but our consciousness is adrift; e.g. somewhere near the...
Authentic Cuisine

Authentic Cuisine

Now this is strudel! I was seated at the dark wood bar of Demel’s, arguably the most famed and luxurious coffeehouse in Vienna—where the coffeehouse was invented 300 years ago. From a vast kitchen not 20 paces from where I sat had come this insanely fine...
Time Travel Conflicts

Time Travel Conflicts

There are many forms of being in conflict with oneself, but few are as universal, if irrational, as that feeling you have after a satisfying trip far away from your everyday life. For two weeks I was lucky enough to be in Vienna and, briefly, Florence.  By the end of...