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.
At just under five feet in height, Eva Kestner ’09 is one diminutive powder keg. A founding member and now music director of Yamatai, the Cornell taiko group, she not only plays the taiko, an instrument that demands immense strength and flexibility, but has also trained on the piano and timpani and is now teaching herself the guitar. Standing in the basement of her favourite haunt, Lincoln Hall, this soon to be professional taiko player (and member of the Japanese taiko group Bonten) talks about her journey as an artist, her influences and inspirations and the future of taiko music.
Seventeen professors and students gathered around a table yesterday to hear Sidney Griffith, professor at Catholic University of America, speak about 10th-century Baghdad. Griffith used the personage of Yahaya ibn Adi, a prominent Christian Intellectual of the time, as a tool to describe Baghdad at the time: a society comprised of Jews, Christians and Muslims willing to correspond and talk with each other.