Of course I stole the title from this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound.
I stole the title not only because the words sounded right but because they seemed to sum up, in a no-nonsense way, all I have to tell you. Like many writers I have only this one “subject,” this one “area”: the act of writing. I can bring you no reports from any other front. I may have other interests: I am “interested,” for example, in marine biology, but I don’t flatter myself that you would come out to hear me talk about it. I am not a scholar. I am not in the least an intellectual, which is not to say that when I hear the word “intellectual” I reach for my gun, but only to say that I do not think in abstracts. During the years when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, I tried, with a kind of hopeless late-adolescent energy, to buy some temporary visa into the world of ideas, to forge for myself a mind that could deal with abstract.In short I tried to think. I failed. My attention veered inexorably back to the specific, to the tangible, to what was generally considered, by everyone I knew then and for that matter have known since, the peripheral. I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on my floor. I would try to read linguistic theory and would find myself wondering instead if the lights were on in the bevatron up the hill. When I say that I was wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron you might immediately suspect, if you deal in ideas at all, that I was registering the bevatron as a political symbol, thinking in shorthand about the military-industrial complex and its role in the university community, but you would be wrong. I was only wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron, and how they looked. A physical fact. Excerpt Joan Didion’s Why I Write, originally published in The New York Times Magazine, December 5, 1976.
This compilation of video shows some of the first imagery and data sent back from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Most of the imagery comes from SDO’s AIA instrument, and different colors are used to represent different temperatures, a common technique for observing solar features. SDO sees the entire disk of the Sun in extremely high spacial and temporal resolution and this allows scientists to zoom in on notable events like flares, waves, and sunspots.
Film still of Maya Deren in At Land. 1944. USA. Directed by Maya Deren. © 2010 Estate of Maya Deren. Courtesy Anthology Film Archives.
NEW YORK, NY.- The legacy of Maya Deren, considered America’s first prominent avant-garde filmmaker, film theorist, and visionary of experimental cinema, is explored in the exhibition Maya Deren’s Legacy: Women and Experimental Film, a five-month film series and video installation in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters and lobby galleries, from May 14 through October 4, 2010. Deren’s innovations—performing in front of the camera, using semi-autobiographical content, and meshing literary, psychological, and ethnographic approaches with rigorous technique—laid the groundwork for future generations of experimental filmmakers, bridging film, performance, and conceptual ideas. In the 1940s and 1950s, Deren (b. Ukraine, 1917-1961) was a pioneer of experimental cinema as an art form, independent and distinct from Hollywood production values or the dramatic narrative, closer to the modernist and avant-garde art practices of her generation. This exhibition looks at Deren’s legacy through her own work and that of a trio of women directors upon whom she had an indelible influence—Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer, and Su Friedrich. It is organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.
Maya Deren’s Legacy: Women and Experimental Film coincides with the publication by MoMA of Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art (June 2010), which includes an essay by Ms. Berger that explores Deren’s aesthetic theories, her films, and her methods of promotion and self-distribution. It also includes interviews by Ms. Berger with Schneeman, Hammer, and Friedrich, who discuss Deren’s impact on their work, revealing how Deren helped to pave the way for future women to enter the field of experimental cinema.