What Michel Gondry’s movie, full of practical effects and the noise of film-grain, tells us about the mechanics of memory

As our lives become increasingly digitised, our memories migrate from the mind to the online realm. The internet has become, with astonishing rapidity, a Borgesian library that stores photos, notes, and messages to loved ones. The cloud is now home to those things that once existed in corporeal form, perhaps…


A series of letters responding to Christopher Hitchens’ advice on the philosophy of the dissident.

Dear Christopher,

As you well know, we are each assured of having only one life to live. There is no dress rehearsal and there are no do-overs. Books, by contrast, have many lives. You once described your children as your “only chance at even a glimpse of a second life…


On Guillermo del Toro’s “beautiful ugly fairytale” and how it reveals the dark side of the Golden Age

I make it a habit to follow the principle of being late because, as Wilde put it, “punctuality is the thief of time”. So I was in no rush to see The…


On the legacy of Steven Spielberg’s classic film and the steady decline that followed.

The latest instalment of the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (an apt subtitle, as we’ll see), offers opportunity for revisiting the series and wondering: Where did it all go wrong? It is hard to…


On Paul Bloom’s “Against Empathy” and how Alex Garland’s 2014 film “Ex Machina” explores the arguments for and against empathic feeling.

Paul Bloom is against empathy. The professor of psychology is not opposed to compassion or sympathy, and he certainly has nothing against caring for others. …


What Wes Anderson’s film about childhood tells us about being a grown-up — as opposed to simply being an adult

We begin on the island of New Penzance, which has had other names in other fictions. Its most well-known name (among the audience most likely reading this) is the Garden…


Why don’t we get to hear what Bob says to Charlotte at the end of the film, and what does this secret tell us about the movie’s themes?

Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation begins and ends with questions. As the movie fades into its opening shot, we are confronted with…


How Françoise Sagan’s novel shows that our sense of self shapes our sense of ethics

There is a moment in Françoise Sagan’s novel, Bonjour Tristesse, in which seventeen-year-old Cécile discovers how life fractures a person, forcing them to remake the broken halves into something like a whole. …


How “The Squid and the Whale” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” revisit and reshape shared themes

Within the confines of an apartment just around the corner from the first house I ever lived in, in a city just outside of the town I grew up in, aged nineteen and no longer…


After a world in lockdown and with social distancing becoming the new norm, what will happen to cinemas, galleries, and the ways we interact with the arts?

In a recent episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris and his friend Paul Bloom discussed the handshake. Bloom’s tentative idea was that, at some uncertain point after the COVID crisis has passed, certain groups will readopt the handshake a show of manners or friendliness, while others will forever…

Art Of Conversation

Exploring life, culture, and meaning through literature, cinema, and music. www.artofconversation.net

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