The Portrayal of Depression in Louis Malle’s The Fire Within

The Fire Within (1963) is a drama film written and directed by Louis Malle, which goes by the title Le Feu follet in French, meaning “The Manic Fire” or “Will-o’-the-Wisp”. It’s based on the 1931 novel Will O’ the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, which itself was inspired by the life of the French…

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Asemic Writing and the Desire for the Esoteric

Asemic writing is, by definition, meaningless. It is wordless writing. But what attracts artists and viewers alike to the art form is the way that certain marks can appear meaningful. The scrawls and strokes can be so reminiscent of a natural language or system of glyphs that they look as if they could be read…

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Does Mindfulness Explain the Mental Health Benefits of Mandala Drawing?

Mandalas are intricate designs and symbols that are drawn in geometric forms (mandala is Sanskrit for “circle”). They originated in India, and are pervasive in Buddhist culture – particularly Tibetan Buddhism – as a way to represent the universe, deities, or certain realms. They are a form of spiritual artwork used across the world as…

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Derrida, Barthes, and the Origins of Asemic Writing

In my first post on asemic writing, I briefly touched on the origins of this art form, noting that the artists Tim Gaze and Jim Leftwich applied the term asemic to their quasi-calligraphic works in 1997. (See my review of Gaze’s latest book, Glyphs of Uncertain Meaning, which also includes some more information about the…

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Meshuggah, Transhumanism, and the Allure of Cults

In one of Meshuggah’s most well-known tracks, New Millennium Cyanide Christ, we find an exploration of the themes of transhumanism and cults. Drummer Tomas Haake, who writes the lyrics for the band, said of the track in an interview with Greg Prato: That’s more of a dystopian take on a sectistic or extremist kind of…

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