Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Attempts to forget a depressing fact

I'm now in the part of my course where I do my project.  I've more or less accidentally ended up with a very odd one, which involves learning about early brain development.  This involves quite a few rather depressing things; for example I recently found out that there is a thing called the Kazdin hopelessness scale for children. We live in a world in which someone has successfully quantified the hopelessness of children. So I googled Kazdin, worried about the toll that sort of work would take on someone, and discovered that he (presumably the same man) is also the author of The Kazdin Method: Parenting the Defiant Child. Defiant children are probably more fun to work with than hopeless ones, so I've stopped worrying about Kazdin. I'm not going to look into it for fear of what I find, but if Kazdin is the man who did the Learned Helplessness experiments on rats which involved timing how long it took them to drown then a) I really hate him and b) he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children anyway. I hope someone's looking after the hopeless children.

As always, there are likeable things out there too. Here for example is a good song:

If you go to this website and then click on "Digitale Gemälde" you get the artist's meldings of Renaissance faces with modern photographs. I rather like these, even though the heads of famous madonnas on the bodies of semi-clad ladies are a bit odd.

It's Laurence Durrell's Centenary. There's an exhibition.

You can get The Alexandria Quartet on Kindle now. I prefer The Avignon Quintet, which isn't available on Kindle yet. Also recently available on Kindle are the books of Thomas Pynchon. My favourites are Mason and Dixon, Vineland, and V. (which includes Fairing and his parish among the rats). Plus Neal Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) are available at last. Hurray!

Also, I went to an Art History in the Pub event, which was quite good. It was organised by an art historian who was covered in tattoos -- he even had some small ones on his face. I wished it were socially OK to ask him about this, because I'd imagine that as an art historian either the choosing of tattoos would be fraught with significance, or else alternatively maybe tattoos are sufficiently outside the bounds of general art that they are a liberating opportunity to choose entirely for yourself. The talk was given by a young woman sitting in a big velvet chair on a raised platform, which gave the whole thing a soothing atmosphere. It was about Tudor and Stuart portrait sets, an interesting topic. The person I sat next to writes for the Fortean Times and we talked about cryptozoology for a bit -- a friend of my parents in Devon had an alpaca killed, she swears by a Big Black Cat.

Plus the National Art Pass is doing a three-month free trial. I like the Art Fund. My housemate/landlord dislikes them because their rhetoric is very much about "saving" things for the nation, as if foreigners are likely to set them on fire, drop them in the bath, or something, and I agree that that's a bit dodgy. We "saved" the Macclesfield Psalter from going to the Getty, for example, where they would lavish ridiculous amounts of money on its conservation and what's more, on its scholarship. (My landlord/housemate is going to the Getty on a three-month research jaunt to study a manuscript they have there just for an exhibition, because increasing knowledge is part of their remit and even now they have cash.) (Though of course the Fitzwilliam looks after it beautifully -- they do a wonderful job despite being cash-strapped to the extent that most things that happen there seem to do so as a result of ad hoc donations by rich people.) Anyway, although I don't think things need "saving" I do like the idea of paying some money towards a big fund that can buy things for UK museums, and also you get very good discounts off entry into museums, galleries, and exhibitions. I used to have an Art Pass but I let it lapse because of student poverty, but it was great when I did have it because I rarely went to a paid-entry museum or exhibition where it didn't get me some money off.

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