Pages Navigation Menu

Unstrung Letter Y – Des yoyos aux yéyés: A Brief History Of Postwar French Popular Music

Posted on 1 Mar 2013 in Unstrung Letters, Video clips | 1 comment

with Victor Based on a series of miniaturized history lessons held at the open mic nights in Paris from December 2012 to March 2013, A Brief History Of Postwar French Popular Music is a cultural studies lecture in verse. Framed as a poem in tight alexandrines (in English), the lesson is punctuated with live renditions of referenced songs (in French). Expect a subjective, somewhat insolent and completely out-of-the-box analysis of the French musical tradition, a sweeping portrait from the underground scene in the cellars of Saint-Germain-des-Prés to the contemporary music industry. Vaguely organised as a series of thematic chapters, the poem is an homage to the vibrant, multi-faceted musical heritage known as la chanson française, a heritage intimately tied the French language itself, for better or for worse. The lesson covers a tight selection, from the linguistic gymnastics of...

Read More

Unstrung Letter D – Democracy Unlimited: Direct Representation from Athens to Occupy

Posted on 24 Feb 2013 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

with Lizzie Sutcliffe It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time… – Winston Churchill The informal lecture series Unstrung Letters returned with a presentation by Lizzie Sutcliffe about the contemporary debate concerning democracy, representation and radical social movements like Occupy Wall Street, 15M and the Arab Spring. After a fascinating historical introduction on the concept of democracy, using ancient Athens and mediaeval Iceland as starting points for the discussion, she posed questions like: Is representative democracy really the best system? Is the voting booth the end of political history? Will all the people of the earth soon be able to lay aside their differences and unite in bitching about those morons they’ve elected? Or is it better to speak with your own...

Read More

Unstrung Letter V – Finding Vagabonds: in Literature and in Life

Posted on 20 Jan 2013 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

Unstrung Letters continuing its unending battle to discuss serious things in the least-serious way possible. This month Helen Cusack O’Keeffe, writer with an extensive background working with the NHS, tried to address questions like: Why are we as writers often fascinated with people who exist on the margins of polite society? What psychic functions do homeless people play in our world view, and can we fully understand something as profoundly life-affecting as sleeping rough on the city streets, if we have no direct experience of it? After a historical survey of what the legal homeless condition means throughout the world (in part 1), she then considered some classic treatments of this theme by Orwell, Hamsun and Gorky, in addition to some more recent ones, eg. Alexander Masters’ Stuart’s A Life Backwards. Throughout her presentation, she referenced her ten year experience spent working in a...

Read More

Unstrung Debate: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted on 16 Dec 2012 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

On a cold winter night in Paris, a rag tag band of Unstrung Letters supporters rallied around their preferred combatant in Unstrung Debate II: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Intelligently defended propositions, witty interjects and enraged defenses – listen to each round by pressing “play” below. Or just look at the pretty pictures by Viola Manfra… First, James “The Ref” Thompson and his moustache laid down the law in his stern introduction. Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. In the first bout, the fiery Lizzy “The Red” Sutcliffe faced off against the evil incantations of Kate “The Witch” Noakes on the proposition that murder should be legalized. Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9...

Read More

Unstrung Letter I – Sexuality and Identity

Posted on 27 Nov 2012 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

Pat Cash discusses sexuality and identity and asks the question: “How do you identify a gay guy?” He likes musicals, dances to Kylie Minogue and watches the Golden Girls obsessively. “How do you tell a lesbian?” She wears leather jackets, has a mohawk and drives a motorbike down the Castro in San Fran. In this day and age, homosexuality proposes its own identity in the modern world which is remarkably absent in the annals of history. To be gay or lesbian is not just to like men or women sexually. It’s something more. If the idea of what it is to be ‘gay’ becomes solidified and codified, perhaps more people are afraid to come out with their desire because that identity offers them nothing for their current lives played out in a ‘straight’ identity’s cultural context. Acceptance and tolerance...

Read More

Unstrung Letters – Sexuality and Identity in the Modern World

Posted on 25 Nov 2012 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

by Pat Cash This paper was presented at the informal lecture series Unstrung Letters. You can listen to the audio recordings and see photos of Pat’s presentation here. How do we define identity in the modern world? Identity is an opalescent notion, it is not codified, and there are many ways of terming/phrasing its definition. The three main definitions as I have narrowed it to here are: ontological: ‘the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another’ epistemological: ‘condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is’ solipsistic identity: ‘the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time’ It is simultaneously a singular notion – the fact of who you are, or how you present yourself to the world – and a polymorphous notion, for that fact is multifaceted in itself;...

Read More

Unstrung Letter M – How NOT to succeed in the Music Business

Posted on 25 Oct 2012 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

An informal discussion with James Jewell followed by a concert with his Washington’s Teeth. James has a sorta-career that has spanned nearly half a century. He’ll discuss such obvious strategies as Never-Naming-Your-Band, sleeping till noon, holding onto your soul and valuing your integrity. In a business where success often seems unrelated to talent or quality, James will reflect on his personal experiences as well as examine the questions that many of us as artists face: Why do I do this? Does recognition have any real value? If I were prettier, would I be famous-er? Listen to Jame’s lecture and discussion (35:55): Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. Listen to Washington’s Teeth in concert: Audio clip: Adobe...

Read More

Unstrung Letters: A short reflection on our first year

Posted on 28 Jul 2012 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

With Unstrung Letters, there were no defined goals. There were no institutions, no doctorates, no relevant credentials. So the talks were messier, less focused than professional academic conferences. More like conversation, I guess.  There were word-plays, inside jokes, over-eager, ill-informed posturing and two mice. There were things said that were deeply moving and and things that were deeply stupid. These are the moments of spontaneous hilarity and profundity that come from the best kind of conversation. They were made possible by the unrehearsed and candid words of our 10 or so speakers. There was  always a real sense of speaking without authority–What right have I to tell people what to think? Because when you take critical discussion out of the hands of professionals–researchers, economists, critics, pundits–and put it in the hands of amateurs, we are left with only ourselves...

Read More

Unstrung Debate: the last Unstrung Letters of the Season!

Posted on 22 Jun 2012 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

Sunday, June 24th – Au chat noir To celebrate our 6 months of lecturing and listening, we will have formal debates on questions from 3 of the following topics: +Religion +Aesthetics +Society +Literature +Current Economics   The audience will get to vote on which topics they want to see debated. Then we will have three quick rounds of debate. There will be time limits and some kind of handy bell. While there will be 4 or 5 principal combatants, the whole audience will have an opportunity to put in their opinion. It could get violent. It could get polite. That depends on you. As any good host would, I’ll bring my boxing gloves as well as my linen...

Read More

Unstrung Letter E – Embodied Learning

Posted on 13 May 2012 in Unstrung Letters | 0 comments

By Mandoline Whittlesey Embodiment: a process in which we bring our experience of the world into our bodies, in which we allow our bodies’ experience to be the learning…. So what is embodied learning? Who does it? Is it even possible to learn in a disembodied way? Somatic practices (from the Greek Soma, “of the living body”) are those specialized in conscious embodiment, that is, choosing to include the body in a person’s learning process. What are the advantages of conscious embodiment? Cellular model for learning: How does a single cell, and the way cellular communities develop, provide insight into the function of our nervous system? These questions find their roots in phenomenology, post-Jungian psychology, advances in neuroscience and centuries of intuition and experience … but my desire is to share this topic in a simple, interactive way, offering...

Read More
Download mp3