Tag Archives: philosophy

my musings on the Cohen today

Not that anyone asked, but Leonard Cohen was a kindred spirit to me for the following reason. I felt that he was someone who had a predator spirit, but was clearly self-conscious about it, just like me. I felt that his songs spoke to those like me who are susceptible to making other humans their muses, to deriving ‘inspiration’ from humans they find beautiful, to roving and waiting like hungry wolves. Sometimes I see what I am and I say that I and my kind are a pestilence upon the innocent earth (Radiohead’s ‘creeps’ and ‘weirdos’ lol). But Leonard Cohen taught me to meditate on my objectifying instincts to make them into self-aware acts dignified enough to be shared with the muse, in principle or in practice. ‘We are ugly, but we have the music,’ he said. I guess he took this sublimation to its logical extreme in ‘If It Be Your Will’, making an act of admiration into a form of totally submissive worship. At the other end of the spectrum, he taught me not to overstate inspiration (‘that’s all, I don’t even think of you that often’). To me, the same thread ran through all of his lyrics about desire – a painfully strong intention to say, and to only say, something true. His comments on the mundane and the sublime are cut from the same cloth.
I’m not entirely sure what made me start writing this but (and now I apologize for possibly turning this into another boring-ass 2016 socio-political facebook fart) it might be because I believe it’s easier for me as a woman to be confessional about my predatory spirit (I’ve never been chastised about ‘the female gaze’), and I do like to speak up (if and) only if I can say something I think other people aren’t saying. Of course, I can only speak for myself. But I think what I mean to say is that Cohen, among others, has helped me deal with my masculinity, and for that I’m supremely grateful.
My job means that I’ve regularly worked with (mostly male) photographers and artists for most of the last decade, so the male gaze has, for better or worse, ended up being one of my primary objects of casual study throughout my adult life, haha. 😊 ‘Let me see your beauty broken down,’ it says to me during my typical working day, ‘as you would do, for one you love’. I’ve learned to deal with this request with more compassion as I recognize with increasing sensitivity that the roving poets and I are the same creatures. It dawns on me anew every day that, despite what people like to say about male desire being ‘simple’, which perhaps it is, I’ve nevertheless been fortunate enough to discover the sheer variety in the relationships men have with their desire – one of the most complex and fascinating things I’ve come across in nature. I’m grateful that Leonard Cohen shared this aspect of his nature with with such clarity.
So thank you, Mr. Cohen for teaching me to handle inspiration with dignity, to take my subject matter seriously and not myself, and to strive for truthfulness at all costs in my ongoing attempts to convert my human desires and longings into something worth sharing. 😉

“Models. Der Film” – a documentary by Leif Allendorf

This is the trailer for ‘Models. Der Film’, a documentary by Leif Allendorf about four different models living and working in Berlin – Jenny Jane, Melanie Unrau, Nadya Wendt and me. The movie involves interviews and some footage of each model at work. In this version my voice is dubbed into Deutsch. Continue reading

about the SuicideGirl Belle and Sebastian Music Video

Now this is interesting…to me, and really only because someone quoted a line from one of my interviews on a random topic, which technically makes me a cited philosopher now, doesn’t it? So I can give myself a pat on the head for that. Belle and Sebastian released a song called ‘Suicide Girl’, and SuicideGirls made a music video for the song. One Jim Williams of Kentucky* shared the video and said the following: “This video is described as a “Suicide Girls love letter to Belle and Sebastian”, and yet, presumably, Stuart work mark it ‘Return to Sender’. Stuart’s lyric for ‘Suicide Girl’ is not condemnatory, but it certainly expresses regret regarding the girl who “gives it all away”. The idea that the Suicide Girls phenomenon appeals to a “radical side” is of course ridiculous. Pornography is what it is – it’s neither radical nor conservative. That said, I’m not convinced that a woman loses anything by being paid to be filmed naked. And nor is artist, model and photographer, Rebecca Tun, who sums up this patronising, reductionist view as follows: “an unconscious line of reasoning [that runs] a bit like this: women revealing their bodies is a sexual act; female sexual activity consists of giving something away as if it were a finite commodity (it can after all be bought). Therefore when a woman reveals her body she’s giving something away, somehow decreasing the value of her assets.” For my part, the last woman I met who was ‘wrapped up in books’ (which included Nadine Strossen’s ‘In Defence of Pornography’ and Avedon Carol’s ‘Nudes, Prudes and Attitudes: Pornography and Censorship’) was also frequently ‘unwrapped’, in both pornographic magazines and lovers’ rooms. No fantasy affairs – she dared to get wet, so to speak.” I don’t have anything to add to the discussion at the moment. I think Jim hit the nail on the head in describing the attitude in question as both ‘patronizing’ and ‘reductionist’. *correction: Jim of Stafford, Staffordshire, and not Staffordsville, Kentucky 🙂

 on targeted advertising, young Wittgenstein, a wilderness and my elf


I really approve of targeted advertising. In my experience it’s been a win-win situation. (And more generally, I’d say about 80-85% of my happiness and accomplishments in life have been due to searching- and sharing-technology, but that’s a topic for another essay.) In the summer of 2012 my liking a Facey B page on Wittgenstein led to my seeing an ad from Riding-Iceland for a horse trip that would follow the trek that young Wittgenstein and his pal David Pinsent made 100 years earlier in the south of Iceland. Continue reading

… on targeted advertising, young Wittgenstein, a wilderness and my elf


I really approve of targeted advertizing. In my experience it’s been a win-win situation. (And more generally, I’d say about 80-85% of my happiness and accomplishments in life have been due to searching- and sharing-technology, but that’s a topic for another essay.) In the summer of 2012 my liking a Facey B page on Wittgenstein led to my seeing an ad from Riding-Iceland for a horse trip that would follow the trek that young Wittgenstein and his pal David Pinsent made 100 years earlier in the south of Iceland. I wasn’t horsey but I figured I’d pick it up as I went along. I went with my mum, because “mums go to Iceland”. I fell in love with the land, as most do, and furthermore I found myself my very own magical Icelandic elf boy whom I decided to keep.


We retraced Wittgenstein and Pinsent’s horsesteps, recreating the conditions under which young Wittgenstein was brooding over the mysteries of logic and language in pursuit of the clarity that led to the system laid out in his ’Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus’. Our first destination was, Þingvellir, the original location of Iceland’s anarchistic ‘thingy’, or parliament, where people gathered annually to discuss who stole whose sheep.


Pinsent’s diary documenting the trip shares impressions of the Icelandic landscapes and gives us a glimpse into Wittgenstein’s tense intellectual preoccupation.

About the scenery, Pinsent remarks: ‘The country through which we have passed is excessively bleak – moorlands covered with lava-stones and what in England would be called heather. The latter is of the most glorious colours – light green, yellow and pink – and even in the misty weather looked almost vivid. The road was not hilly, though there were some mountains in the distance’. He records that after a good supper…LW teaches him ‘Russell’s definition of Number etc and the use of his logical symbolism’, which Pinsent finds ‘excessively interesting’. He also notes that LW makes a very good teacher (Pinsent, p.17, McGuinness p.137).

– website: Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Chronology of his Life & Work Cambridge and Norway, 1911-1914


To add to the general epicness we were very fortunate to have Ray Monk with us on the tour – the world’s leading biographer of Wittgenstein. When we weren’t singing Beatles songs to an acoustic guitar in farmhouse kitchens he regaled us with lectures on the development of the foundations of mathematics during the time of Bertrand Russell…however, we spent most of the time singing and drinking.


It seems that every day Wittgenstein and Pinsent had serious talks about philosophy. On Wednesday 18th September, 1912, ‘LW talks logic again during their walk in the afternoon, and again after supper. Pinsent feels that he is learning a lot from LW, who he feels is ‘remarkably clever’. (Pinsent, p.21)’*. On Thursday 19th September, 1912, ‘they talk philosophy until 10pm. Pinsent records that LW talks a lot about people he despises, whom he calls ‘Philistines’, and Pinsent worries momentarily that LW considers him to be one such (Pinsent, pp.21-22)’*. For a number of days they wait hopefully for the renowned geysir Geysir to erupt. However, they eventually give up and move on. The next destination is Gullfoss, Iceland’s greatest waterall.


That night they stay at Skipholt, the farm where we in turn were to visit the descendants of the people who hosted Wittgenstein 100 years before, and bond with baby cows.


W and P were to spend the following day caught in a downpour while riding over ‘the dullest of marshy plains’ (Pinsent, p.23), which is precisely what happened to us in on the first day of our trek when the weather attacked us and turned Ray Monk blue just in time for his appearance at the “In Wittgenstein’s Footsteps” conference at the University of Iceland.


On Saturday 21st September, 1912 our heroes cross the Ölfusa river and have a tiff – so no logic lessons that night, presumably.


The following day they ride along the south coast to Herdísarvík. Logic lessons are resumed, and Pinsent notes that Wittgenstein teaches ‘very well’ (Pinsent, p.24, McGuinness p.137)*.


Next we followed our philosophers over lava-plains and through black volcanic dust.


And our philosophers’ next destination, KrĂœsuvĂ­k, home of several geothermal fields, craters, mud pots and hot springs, is a site where shortly thereafter I had the opportunity to appreciate these natural phenomena in the comfort of my own skin at dawn.

© Bragi JĂłsefsson . KrĂœsuvĂ­k, Iceland . September 2012


And finally…

On their boat journey back to England, our philosophers see the Aurora Borealis, and talk about ‘some new research Wittgenstein is doing’. Pinsent gets the impression that LW has ‘discovered something good’ (Pinsent, p.30)*.




The end.


Or should that be, as they sometimes say, “or should that be…the beginning?”


what are the rules?

I think i’m quite at Cambridge…

Hearing music with subtitles on “I’m Mister Coffee” with Martin Luther King’s “I have a bath”. Too utopian perhaps, but on the toilet I’m going to be prepared to meet inspiration halfway.

Continue reading

first ever blog post: on beauty

I’ve been telling myself for nearly a year to start a blog, or – as I’m sometimes going to call it from now on – a blob, due to the proximity of g and b on a qwerty keyboard and a mistake made by me in the last 10 seconds. Continue reading