Five panelists — one each from the departments of biological engineering, industrial labor relations, neuroscience, history and philosophy — grappled with this question as they attempted to convince the Klarman Hall audience that their respective fields of study mattered most and should be preserved.
Is it ever morally permissible to risk the well-being of others for a higher purpose? In a recent “Chat in the Stacks” talk at Olin Library, Prof. Andrew Moisey, history of art and visual studies, admitted that he had taken such a risk with the publication of The American Fraternity (2018). The American Fraternity is an art book of photographs taken by Moisey at a UC Berkeley fraternity. It includes images of women passed out, nude and in compromising positions, their faces at times obscured. In the Q&A session, Moisey recognized that these images pose a risk to the women depicted, should the women be identified.
I spent roughly one hour and 10 minutes twice a week for an entire semester discussing the body. I’ve thought that after the amount of time spent reading about this physical entity — and believe me, even English classes about the body know how to work you — and pondering over its purpose, I thought I would come closer to understanding what this thing I’m living in is. The body to me is such a beautiful thing. The unique aspects of each and every body fascinates me. I think it’s lovely the way skin folds and smooths.
When I was a junior in high school, I taught a film and media class at my former elementary school. I gathered a group of 11 year olds around a computer to write a script and asked them, “What message do you want to share to your audience?” They told me they wanted to make a movie about a dog traveling around the world; somehow dynamite and chicken wings were involved but I can’t remember how. “No, I mean what do you want the meaning to be?” I asked again. They didn’t understand what I was trying to say. They suggested dinosaurs instead of the dog.
We’re all sinners to an extent.* Some of us are aware of our cosmic wrongdoings, and some of us have yet to learn, but all of us have to cope with who we are. One day, perhaps we’ll even love who we are (but I don’t want to ask too much). In the meantime, it seems like we’re expected to engage in a process of continuous growth — as does the model-millennial, who improves himself to improve the world he inhabits. Albeit in a leisurely way, I, too, advocate for self-improvement, but not by scorning my flaws. Sometimes, adopting a new perspective serves better than donning a new personality.
I had a conversation with a girl recently. As I write that, I can almost hear my middle school friends sardonically expressing their disbelief. But it’s true. I did. And the conversation still sticks out in my memory.
There’s a quote chalked into the wall near Rockefeller that I knew existed, but never really actually saw until about a week ago when I caught a glimpse of it on accident. It’s yellow chalk, carved carefully above a bench built into the concrete wall leading up to the Big Red Barn. “Dear God, be good to me,” it reads. “The sea is so wide, and my boat is so small.” Someone I respect very much brought it up to me my freshman year. “I think about the quote a lot when finals come around,” he said.
“The unExamined Life is not worth living.” Such is the quote from Plato that opens Examined Life, directed by Astra Taylor. So where’s the “the”? The documentary’s title describes an unspecified substance, a sort of universal life-stuff. But it is the connotation implied by the quote, and left out of the title, that makes the movie itself worth watching. Examined Life makes charmingly clear the differentiated specificity, the very the-ness of life. In her most substantial line, Taylor says, “I’m thinking about the challenge of making a film about philosophy.” What she gets is a film about philosophers — a less grandiose entity, but no less intriguing.