Friday, September 25, 2009

Astra Taylor - The Examined Life - 09/28/09

Astra Taylor is a 29 year old Canadian-American documentary filmmaker. She has completed two feature-length documentaries, Zizek! (2005) and The Examined Life (2008), both of which received mixed responses from critics. Both films deal with philosophy: Zizek! focuses specifically on Slovenian philosopher/psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek while The Examined Life is a series of conversations with ten contemporary philosophers (Zizek among them), all filmed in some mode of transit or unlikely context. Taylor was home schooled and her work reflects this in its exploratory spirit and decidedly non-linear sensibility.

clip from The Examined Life (2008)

clip from Zizek! (2005)

link to an interview with Astra Taylor, after the release of The Examined Life (2008)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

autobiography - 09/24/09

"Autobiography is a life writing its life."
"The autobiographer thinks he knows his subject."
- William Gass

read: Gass, William H. "Autobiography." Finding A Form. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1996.


This essay by William Gass considers the functions and faults of the autobiography and autobiographical text. He writes of the significance of autobiography in our contemporary time, when self-absorption is rampant and the truth of "historical" account is suspect. He wants the reader to first and foremost to take note of the distinction between the life remembered and the life lived. Gass both poses and presents answers to his questions, "How does autobiography begin? With Memory. And the consequent division of the self into the-one-who-was and the-one-who-is." He seems to conclude that the autobiography is a philosophical concept rather than simply a literary form: "the true the ageless ego which compiles the history of its aging Other." And the highest function of the autobiography is to reveal how we are "jointly human."

***I look at my work, in some regards, as a sort of facilitated or guided autobiography. Rather than strictly a document of my perception of a person or their account of memory or the factual events of their life, I'm hoping to find a way to create a composite (auto/bio)-ography, which also takes into account not only the perspective of the subject and filmmaker but also the relationship between the two.

an abstract autobiography