Monday, May 18, 2020

Dialogic Cinephilia - May 18, 2020

     For Kant in particular, the human limits on abstract reason should be on of the chief subjects of philosophers, ethicists, and students of the natural world. We may live in a law-governed universe, Kant believed. All of creation may fit a divine plan of order and perfection.  It's deepest secrets, however, are always obscured by the frailty of our own minds. Our ideas of reality come to us through our senses, which should be treated as unreliable informants. Yet rather than being skeptical about everything we claim to perceive, the surest rout to true knowledge was to turn our attention toward our perceptions themselves.
     After all, while there are plenty of ways we might have wrong ideas about something we claim to see--a mirage, for example, or someone on the street who we mistake for an old friend--we can't be wrong about our own sense of reality. We are all, by definition, experts in our own experience. The job of philosophers should be to study the space between the sense-perceptions that bombard us and the mental pictures we fashion of things as we believe them to be. The way to understand something about the world was to steer a course between the belief in the universal power of reason and an unbending skepticism about our ability to know anything at all. One of Kant's students, Johann Gotffried von Herder, even suggested that entire peoples could have their own unique frameworks for sense-making--a "genius" that was peculiar to the specific Kultur that gave rise to it. Human civilization was a jigsaw puzzle of these distinct ways of being, each adding its own piece, some more rough-edged than others, to the grand picture of human achievement (18-19).


Appiah, Kwame Anthony. "The Defender of Differences." The New York Review of Books (May 28, 2020)

Carr, Jeremy. "Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom as Pasolini’s Film on Film." Senses of Cinema #94 (April 2020)

Duhigg, Charles. "A Tale of Two Cities." On the Media (May 15, 2020) ["Opacity, we know, is antithetical to public health in a pandemic. But there are more ways to undermine public trust and cooperation than suppressing bad news. Because when news is bad — or simply uncertain — human behavior can go in all the wrong directions.  Fortunately, public health authorities have been through this before. From polio in the 1950s through H1N1 in 2009 and Ebola from 2014 to 2016, their experience has coalesced into a compendium of best practices for informing the public: a literal playbook published by the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. It’s dedicated to the dos — and the please, please, please don’ts — of pandemic communications. In a recent New Yorker article, Charles Duhigg, host of the podcast How To! With Charles Duhigg, wrote the tale of two cities, Seattle and New York, struck back to back with coronavirus outbreaks. One city’s leaders followed the CDC guidelines to the letter. The other’s... did not. Duhigg and Bob discuss the cities' experiences, and the lessons they offer as the virus continues to spread."]

McCausland, Phil. "Mixed Messages in the Heartland." On the Media (May 15, 2020) ["During Monday's White House press briefing, President Trump asserted that, "All throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly." However, the White House's own data, collected by the Coronavirus Task Force's Data and Analytics Unit, paints a drastically different picture. According to an unreleased May 7 report obtained by NBC News, infections and deaths are skyrocketing around the United States, particularly in areas of the American heartland. But the keyword here is "unreleased" — the task force has been keeping its data close to the vest, releasing it in dribs and drabs. Consequently, it's up to often under-resourced state and municipal leaders to draw their own conclusions. Phil McCausland, an NBC News reporter covering rural issues, was one of the journalists who broke the hidden-data story. He tells Bob that, absent federal data and directives, civilians in rural communities are left largely in the dark about the severity of their circumstances."]

Murillo, Manu Yáñez. "The Devil's Playground." Film Comment (January/February 2020) ["In Serra’s explicitly imagined Liberté, an 18th-century cruising ground hosts fickle and fearsome games of desire"]

Pinsker, Joe and Kelly Weill. "What to Say When a Loved One Spreads Disinfo." On the Media (May 15, 2020)  ["Last month, law enforcement across Western Europe reported a slew of arson attacks on 5G towers. The vandalization spree is likely tied to a bizarre conspiracy theory that claims the enormous uptick in deaths has been caused by nascent 5G technology, not the Covid-19 virus. Meanwhile, Americans have been exposed to a flurry of pandemic disinformation. According to a recent Pew study, nearly one third of Americans believe an unsubstantiated theory that the virus was concocted in a lab, a claim repeated by President Trump himself. Earlier this month, a highly-produced anti-vax video called "Plandemic" found an unusually high degree of traction on the internet. According to Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill, this video and other forms of Covid-19 disinformation may be leading some Americans to other dangerous conspiracy theories like QAnon. She and Bob discuss what makes such outlandish fake media so effective. Then, Bob speaks with Atlantic staff writer Joe Pinsker, who crafted a set of guidelines for cautiously confronting friends and family who may be in the early stages of a conspiracy theory kick."]

Richards, Stuart. "And Then We Danced: Queer Sounds and Movements." Senses of Cinema #94 (April 2020)

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