Thursday, 28 July 2016


I just read about an app that scans your skin and suggests products that you may not even be aware of. There’s definitely an educational factor. There’s an entertainment factor. But at the end of the day, it’s really helping with the need for instant gratification, says Jennifer Tidy of ModiFace, the leading provider of Augmented Reality Tech. Ooh, that’s so cool. Now I too can look like a model or a film star. But wait: Will I get paid like a film star?

No, you little idiot. This isn't for real. It's augmented reality, and it's the tip of an ad trend: Spend like a professional even if you are paid like a peon.  

Monday, 25 July 2016

Martha Nussbaum (

I just read an article about philosopher Martha Nussbaum in the NYer. This will do wonders, I hope, to rehabilitate the image of female academics, to prove that they are not all dowdy or, as the GOP says about another brainy woman: fat thighs, small breasts, left wing.

In case you wondered: Martha Nussbaum who combines good looks with top academic credentials admits to Botox and filler injections.  There are women like Germaine Greer who say that it’s a big relief, as you age, to not worry about men and forget how they look. I care about how men look at me, she says. I like men.

We already know that male academics like women. In fact some of them have been sued by their students for sexual harassment. Nussbaum is sixty-nine and in the photo accompanying the article in the NYer dares to strike a sexy pose, although there is something in her eyes that says “I’m nobody’s fool”, something that scared people when she was at Harvard. They couldn’t wrap their minds around this formidably good, extraordinarily articulate woman who was very tall and attractive, openly feminine and stylish, and walked very erect and wore miniskirts – all in one package. They were just frightened, a colleague explained.

Come on, men, have a little more courage!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

#AMTHINKING: I’m tired of playful installations like Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard at AGO.

You know what? I’m tired of “playful” installations combined with advocacy – in this case, a plug for the traditional urban landscape of Beijing. The piece consists of a snaking line made up of the backs of ramshackle old wardrobes, the kind I have in my basement and would like to get rid of. I’m thinking of doing an installation of all the junk I have accumulated and call it The Purging of the Soul, or some such. All I need is a curator to come up with the right words like this thoughtful, playful, and materially rich collection invites audiences to reconsider how we might hold on to some elements of tradition while radically reimagining them for the present. I’m quoting from the AGO’s description of Song Dong’s installation.

But seriously: Installation artists are taking on too much. A conga line of old wardrobes doesn’t do justice to complex issues like urbanization and city planning. We need a conga line of words for that.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

#AMTHINKING: Movie night in Toronto. Like a prayer.

Last Sunday afternoon I went to see LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP. No, this is not a review. It’s about my pre-movie experience in a large darkened space with five other people, an ancient couple, two women friends, a single, and me.

I guess a Sunday afternoon in July is not prime time for movie goers, but clearly those who do go are deliberate about their seating. The two women friends were anxious to secure their favourite seats – that’s what I heard them say in the dead silence of the cavernous room in which every paper crinkle was audible and  297 out of 300 seats were still available. 

I sat down in the middle of a row, at the centre of the room. The remaining three people in the audience shared my taste for symmetry and sat at the ends of that same row. Let me tell you, they sat there rooted when the movie ended, letting the credits roll to the bitter end and beyond, blocking my exit. 

But what I really want to talk about is the sacral silence of the darkened room before the movie started. It was like church. People didn’t dare to raise their voices. They whispered. The old couple mumbled what sounded like a prayer. Is this what religion has come to?

Monday, 27 June 2016


In a resort town a stateless young man, who calls himself Count Chmara, meets Yvonne, an actress, and her protector, Dr. Meinthe, but who among them is the most enigmatic and the best at the role-playing game?

Meinthe.  At long intervals, the muscles in his left cheek tensed, as if he were trying to catch a slipping, invisible monocle, but his dark glasses hid much of this twitching. Occasionally he’d thrust out his chin as though provoking someone. And then his right arm was shaken from time to time by an electrical discharge that communicated itself to his hand, which would trace arabesques in the air. All these tics were coordinated most harmoniously, and they gave him an agitated elegance.

Yvonne’s dog, Oswald. He belonged to a very rare strain of Great Danes, all of them congenitally afflicted by sadness and the ennui of life. Some of them even committed suicide. I wanted to know why sh’d chosen a dog with such a gloomy nature. Because there are more elegant than the others, she replied sharply.

Yvonne. She’d put on a beach robe with big orange and green stripes and lie across the bed to smoke a cigarette. It was very important for her to spend the season in this resort town, she explained. The season was going to be very brilliant. “Resort,” “season,” “very brilliant,” “Count Chmara” – who was lying to whom in this foreign language?

Count Chmara and Yvonne. We spent lazy days. We’d get up fairly early. In the morning, there was often mist—or rather a blue vapor that freed us from the law of gravity. We were light, so light…When we went down Boulevard Carabacel, we hardly touched the sidewalk.

A hotel that is past its glory days. The dreary walls and furniture begin to exude the sadness of shady hotels. There is a sickly-sweet smell in the corridors, which I can’t identify but must be the very odor of anxiety, of instability, of exile, of phoniness. A smell that has always accompanied me. The lobbies are nothing more than waiting rooms. Waiting for what, exactly? The lingering scent of Nansen passports.