Eddie Izzard, one of my favourite comedians, actors, transvestites and all-around rad human beings, puts into very funny words exactly what I have always thought about the practice of fetch:
We throw sticks at dogs, that's the level we have dogs at. You'd never dream of throwing one for a cat. We throw sticks for dogs, and dogs go, "Oh, he's dropped his stick! I better go and get that. [mimes chasing after the stick] Saw you dropped your stick there, thought I'd bring it back. And you – hang on! [mimes giving the stick back and follows it with eyes as it's thrown again] Did you see me just bring that back? And then you … you dropped it again? This is very weird. I don't know what's going on here. [mimes bringing the stick back again] Now, hang on to it this time, I don't want to piss about all the time. You think I enjoy this? There you … don't fucking throw it!" That's why the third time, when they come back, they won't give it to you. They go, [through clenched teeth]
"No … I won't let you take it!"
In the video below (for a text version, click here), Benjamin Bratton, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD and Director of The Center for Design and Geopoltics at CALIT2, asks: Why don't the bright futures promised in TED talks come true? Professor Bratton attacks the intellectual viability of TED, calling it placebo politics, middlebrow megachurch infotainment, and the equivalent of right-wing media channels.
I will admit that my knowledge of TED talks is limited - I didn't know until recently, for instance, what TED even stood for. (Technology, Education and Design, in case you're as much in the dark as me.) But I do know that after watching a few talks on topics of interest to me, I was struck by the fact that the presenters, who were all good speakers, really had very little to say that was groundbreaking in any way. I was a little underwhelmed, to be truthful.
Mr. Bratton has had the opposite experience - he critiques the American Idol-style presentation of TED talks and argues that the great ideas of great minds should not be dismissed simply because they don't translate well to theatrical presentations. Scientists may not make great public speakers, for instance, but their work should not be judged on its stage-worthiness. I agree with this view as well, so I guess for me, that's two strikes against TED talks.
What about you? What are your thoughts on this popular presentation format? I'd love to hear in the comments.
If you are viewing this post via email, click here to see the video.
"You cannot find peace by avoiding life."
"Language is wine upon the lips."
"As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world."
"Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and a lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul. She becomes all outer show and inward emptiness; dull, callous, and indifferent."
"It is far more difficult to murder a phantom than a reality."
My computer is fixed (hallelujah!) and I'm so happy to be back in the blogging saddle. For today's instalment of well-said Sunday, I present to you some gems from the always insightful Fran Lebowitz. Enjoy.
"I've done the calculation and your chances of winning the lottery are identical whether you play or not."
"I never met anyone who didn't have a very smart child. What happens to these children, you wonder,
when they reach adulthood?"
"Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra. In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra."
"To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land;
I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel."
"Very few people possess true artistic ability. It is therefore both unseemly and unproductive to irritate the situation by making an effort. If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint,
simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass."
"All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.
If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer."
"Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don't get in real life - wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I'm grateful for it the way I'm grateful for the ocean."
Anne Lamott, from Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anna Guest-Jelley, of Curvy Yoga fame, posted a brilliant article this week in response to comments made recently by Lululemon chairman and co-founder Chip Wilson.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Wilson attempted to address recent reports of the company's yoga pants having problems with pilling by blaming the problems on women's bodies rather than the pants themselves.
Guest-Jelley rightly condemns this way of thinking by saying, "Bodies aren’t problems. And anyone who claims otherwise is enforcing a power structure that makes some people okay and other people not okay."
Click here to read her full article.
This week, Sam Sacks, author of the Fiction Chronicle for the Wall Street Journal, posted an article on the New Yorker website entitled, "Against the Death of the Novel". Sacks writes in response to a previous article posted on the New York Review of Books site by Tim Parks in which Parks expresses his unhappiness with so-called "traditional" novels. (Bolding is mine):
"But Parks isn’t talking only about mediocre novels when he invokes the tyranny of tradition. By his way of thinking, anyone who uses elements of conventional forms has done so out of either unthinking habit or unwilling necessity.
But this is untrue. For many, if not most, writers, things like plot, character development, and catharsis are not narrative fallbacks but dynamic tools that give shape to the stories they’re passionate to tell or develop ideas that are uppermost on their minds. The art of storytelling is ancient, but it is a flighty kind of world view that automatically equates oldness with staleness. Missing from Parks’s essay is the recognition that talent transmutes tradition. Gifted writers can make accustomed methods feel as new and vital as a work explicitly devoted to structural innovation. In both cases, the object is the same: form is used in the service of artistic vision."
I agree. Do you? Feel free to leave a comment below.
From the Twitterverse this week:
"9:58 is the new 10:58." Sandra Bernhard
"'Boo!' - Cow with a cold." Patton Oswalt
"You can't spell hero without her. (boom)" Sarah Silverman
"It's only November 1st and I'm already seeing Halloween decorations. Jeez." Jim Gaffigan