David Sedaris’ Tips for Humour Writing

Anybody can be a storyteller and a humourist because interesting things happen to everyone, and there is humour to be found in almost every indignity. “Everything’s funny eventually” says Sedaris, and he must know as he’s able to laugh about having a flexible metal tube inserted into his urethral meatus as part of a medical screening for cancer.

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Read more about the article Review: Indra Nooyi (2021) My Life in Full: Work, Family, & Our Future. Portfolio/Penguin
Indra K. Nooyi (2021)

Review: Indra Nooyi (2021) My Life in Full: Work, Family, & Our Future. Portfolio/Penguin

For her meteoric rise to be a satisfying story the rags-to-riches-heroine needs to start from a position of complete destitution. Put her in a middle class home with its usual opportunities, joys, disappointments, and brushes with tragedy, and then even her rise to the presidency of the United States is immediately less interesting. This story arc can only be rescued from narrative indifference if she’s a colourful personality, someone perpetrating incredible hijinks, always getting into capers which strain our moral muscles but from which we come away with her stronger rather than broken. None of this true of the story of Indra K. Nooyi’s life; it has neither a rags to riches trajectory nor the emotional heft of a tale worth the telling. It is fitting that this stylized ledger of Nooyis deeds, personal and professional, is delivered in a monotone, grocery list, register. The troughs and peaks are equally unremarkable in the treatment they receive, and the ending is clear right at the start. Indra Nooyi was born, she worked hard, and with a little luck she succeeded.

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Read more about the article Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Marcus du Sautoy on Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut
Toronto Vibe Watercolour by Cain S. Pinto

Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Marcus du Sautoy on Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut

Marcus du Sautoy talks about mathematics as the art of the shortcut, promoting his latest book at the Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021.

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Read more about the article Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Najwa Zebian & Shashi Bhat on the Self as Safe-Space
Watercolour by Cain S. Pinto

Jaipur Literature Festival Toronto 2021: Najwa Zebian & Shashi Bhat on the Self as Safe-Space

A home within needs to be a 5 room independent house with a garden, Zebian says; this is a floor plan for what you deserve not what you can afford. In a world saturated by manuals for washing your penis, Bhat’s fables seem less propagandistic.

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Overcoming Adorno’s Aesthetic Critique

Adorno observes in his posthumous opus Aesthetic Theory: “It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident anymore” (2). Adorno’s pessimism about art in his time and ours arguably presupposes a problematic definition of art and artistic merit. In what follows I’ll rehearse his arguments, give a charitable gloss of considerations which lead him to his position, and argue that they are consequences of his subscription to something like the institutional theory of art. I’ll then present Levinson’s historical theory of art as a sound alternative to the institutional theory of art, develop an evaluative framework for assessing artistic merit, and show it is compatible with Adorno’s attitudes towards art while being immune to problems he identifies with the prospects of art in his time and ours.

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Read more about the article On Hating Writers but Loving Writing
Amy Hungerford introduces the CEO of Misogyny, David Foster Wallace.

On Hating Writers but Loving Writing

Are some writers so morally unsavoury that their novels, however admirable, are incapable of being lovable? Amy Hungerford, Ruth Fulton Benedict Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, certainly thinks so. In her polemic against Wallace in general, and Infinite Jest in particular, she opines that Wallace’s zealous defence of the length of his doorstop against a condescendingly described Michiko Kakutani’s protestations can only be evidence of his misogyny.

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Read more about the article Medium-relativity of the Temporal Dimension in Visual Art
Left: Rubens Flap by Jenny Saville. Right: Watercolour rendition of Rubens Flap by Cain S. Pinto.

Medium-relativity of the Temporal Dimension in Visual Art

Visual arts are conventionally classified as spatial arts; they can be apprehended in a single moment. Yet, arguably, they also codify a temporal dimension which is elided by the spatial vs. temporal art dichotomy. Acrylic paints dry very rapidly, dry to a darker shade, and create layers of application that have a uniform level of saturation throughout a brushstroke. These facts about the medium compel the acrylic artist to constantly mix colours for each part of a painting, mix colours a smidgen lighter than they intend it to appear in the final work, and achieve any gradations in colour intensity implied by the lights and shadows on the subject using as many tints and shades of the local colour as may be required to achieve smooth transitions. By contrast watercolours dry relatively slowly, dry to a lighter tint, and create applications that have a gradated saturation going from high to low from the centre of a brushstroke to its peripheries [modulo the wetness of the paper].

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Read more about the article Have the Artist, the Neuroscientist, or the Art Critic Stolen the Philosopher’s Lunch?
The Critic. Brush pen illustration by Cain S. Pinto.

Have the Artist, the Neuroscientist, or the Art Critic Stolen the Philosopher’s Lunch?

Surveying the squishy underbellies of the artist, the art critic, and the neuroscientist in their capacity as aesthetic theorists it becomes apparent that they are too close to a given art form to take a panoptic view of aesthetic value, have overweening critical predilections that are not susceptible to rational justification, or take an impractically narrow view of what is in fact an incredibly vast and undifferentiated domain of human endeavour. The philosopher of art remains free to remedy these deficiencies in her analyses because she is disposed, and called upon, to rise above the form-specific evaluative standpoints of artists, replace the idiosyncratic judgements of professional critics with rational frameworks that apply across the whole aesthetic domain, and find reliable ways to answer questions not reducible to facts about what goes on in the human body having an aesthetic experience at a given level of resolution. One might cavil that the artist, the critic, and the neuroscientist might themselves take on the role of the philosopher by rising above and remedying the specific deficits of their typical analyses, exemplified in our discussion. Of course, they are welcome to do so. But clearly in doing this they abandon their identity and theoretical precommitments qua artists, critics, or neuroscientists and become philosophers of art themselves. They’ve not stolen the philosopher’s lunch so much as joined her at the buffet.

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