Tea With Chris: 1/N’s Worth of Everything

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Thursday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Margaux: Last week, I was unable to ignore a lot of short, conflicting, not-so-helpful articles that either argued that women’s position in the world is now supremely better than ever, or, that it is just as bad as it’s always been – no, it’s worse!  Then I came across a playful audio episode of Sook-Yin Lee’s Definitely Not the Opera under the theme of “Bragging”. It contains a really interesting and disappointing psych test where men and women both judged other women much more negatively than men when mentioning their own great accomplishments. Worth listening to – good to remember how we can all get it wrong.

This seems like a great time to tell you all something smart my boyfriend once did.  He, Misha Glouberman, sometimes runs conferences. I once went to one on art and copyright where the first thing they had us do was sit in groups of four. Misha quickly handed out little cards that had the equation 1/n. He said to please keep in mind for the conference, that if you’re talking more than 1/n (the number of your group) to try to think about that and ask yourself why you were talking so much and maybe to try to talk a little less. And that if you were talking less than 1/n, to think about that and ask yourself why and try to talk a little bit more. It proved to be a better day than normal.

This week, real-world evidence of triumphs – Julia Gillard calls out Australian opposition leader for hypocrisy and misogyny (a real pleasure to watch if you haven’t yet – the best entertainment is always the truth), and tragedies - the shooting of 14-year-old activist Malala Yousufzai and two other young girls. Made me remember a moving 30 minute documentary by the director Khadija Al-Salami that I watched on the DVD magazine Wholphin years ago. It was about “the bravest 13 year old girl in the world”, a girl named Nejmia. You can watch it here on Youtube.

Toronto artist Iris Fraser is making a movie called Brother Frank. Here’s the trailer - she’s currently gathering money to aid post-production. I think she used film to make it.

After watching the trailer for Brother Frank, I somehow wandered over to Youtube and watched all the trailers that Rebel Wilson is in. I was a little disappointed to realize with each trailer that she wasn’t the star. Though maybe there are no more stars, maybe we’re all 1/n in the movies now.

Bruce La Bruce on the train to Montreal on the New Yorker on Andy Warhol.  A really nice piece.

Speaking of Twitter, I caught a glimpse of a strange and wonderful Tipping Point moment: Roger Ebert declares “We all must become mostly vegetarian”.

Carl: I forgot to mention in my tea last week about the late Eric Hobsbawm that the Marxist historian was also (under a pseudonym) a jazz critic for a decade. Today, someone pointed me to a Simon Reynolds post in which he unearths a few more fellow-travelling intellectuals who once dabbled in the music-critic stream – including Perry Anderson, who in the New Left Review (and also under a pseudonym) in the late ’60s/early ’70s said this about Bob Dylan: “Within the metamorphoses of American rock, he plays something like the same role as Chateaubriand, fons et origo of European romantic literature in the last century: an omnipresent influence, monumentally reedy, vain and feeble in itself, yet paradoxically fecund and liberating for its successors, because of its impacts on genre, Dylan’s self-pitying verse and prophetic posturings again and again produce inferior art (sometimes nauseatingly so — items such as “Just Like a Woman” are a nadir by any criteria). Yet out of these vapourings have emerged groups like the Byrds and the Band.”

Things get predictably excessive when our friend Brian Joseph Davis interviews Mark Leyner for the Believer, describing the Trojan War as a reality-TV show. Quoth Leyner:Of course Helen gets stolen, but, from the Olympian perspective, it started at a wedding where there were three goddesses who asked Paris to pick the hottest goddess. For some reason Paris took part in this. Every other mortal said, ’Uh-uh. Not getting involved in this. This couldn’t be good, as I’m going to piss two goddesses off.’ But Paris did piss two goddesses off, and hence this whole series of events happened. and I thought: That’s it? That’s how all this happened? Is that not out of reality TV? When two girls come into the kitchen on the Jersey Shore and ask, ‘Who do you want to fuck most? Pick one.’ Then someone gets pissed off. … Again it’s one of these odd transpositions between most trivial and most important. Those distortions of scale, I think, are at the basis of both what’s poetic and what’s funny.”

Two videos of space changing: Toronto expands, a star explodes.

Chris: Hey, did you know there’s an International Pizza Expo? On a slightly more high-minded tip, here’s Michael DeForge’s comic “Leather Space Men,” which is sort of like those urban legends about Bill Murray if Bill Murray was an unspeaking bondage-gear-covered Other.

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