Myth-Making with Color, with Emotion, with Metaphor: an interview with Maya Hawke
September 10, 2020
American popular culture frequently defaults to the insufferably crass, indolent, self-indulgent and, often enough, downright ugly. America is morally and artistically exhausted. Each new cringe-worthy effort excreted onto the Top 40 list steals away some of the nation’s dignity and leaves her people a little less capable of experiencing genuine wonder. In this poisonous, suffocating context, thoughtful art comes as an antidote, a blast of cold, fresh air. Maya Hawke’s folksy debut album, Blush, provides just such a blast. Her songs range from wistful and melancholic to joyful and frenetic, always with an element of play rendered infectious by a voice that is all silk and smoke.
The Sea, the Poison, the Promising Wake: an interview with Kate Bosworth
March 30, 2020
“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” Francis Bacon, whose insight has shaped reflections on the nature of beauty for more than four centuries, would no doubt find proof of his theory in Kate Bosworth. From her heterochromatic eyes to the fierceness and delicacy of her frame, she radiates dissonance, bursting at once with movie-star effulgence and an earthy groundedness. When I meet her for lunch at Pasadena’s Magnolia House, I’m swept away by her warmth and enthusiasm.
Phantoms of Self and Other: a review and interview with Christian Kiefer
October 21, 2019
Our country’s current social crises are the result of a widespread, trans-partisan refusal to recognize ourselves in the other and the other in ourselves. “Selfhood” is given in our encounter with the other. For anyone who cherishes their own distinctiveness, their own autonomy, this entails a debt to those different from ourselves. One of the chief joys — and the unsettling challenge — of great fiction is that it deepens our awareness of this reality.
By this measure, Christian Kiefer’s new novel Phantoms succeeds magnificently. Not only does it deepen one’s sense of duty to the other, its narrative framing actually models the work of self-reflection necessary to fulfill that duty.
Adventures in Theography: God and the Qur'an ― an interview with Jack Miles
Religion and Ethics
April 16, 2019
Recognising oneself in the other requires a sustained act of imagination. More than that, it requires sustained habits of imagination — it is a virtue, and thus must be cultivated. The interconnectivity of our age has made such cultivation more, rather than less, difficult. Our minds flit about from one digital diversion to the next and our ability to focus deeply on any one thing diminishes as we become increasingly atomised and isolated, our narratives fragmented.
Phenomenologies of Patience, Philosophies of Embrace: an Interview with Steven Yeun
February 21, 2019
“The modern loss of faith does not concern just god or the hereafter,” writes Byung-Chul Han, the Korean- German phenomenologist. “It involves reality itself and makes human life radically fleeting.” Heady stuff, but such reflection comes naturally for 35-year-old actor Steven Yeun, whose roles often confront the darkest corners of human nature. Han is just one of the many figures who populate Yeun’s bookshelves, and Yeun revisits him often to deepen his understanding of life, reality, and art.