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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Yeah, sign me up because I got to see not one, but two speakers on intellectual and spiritual topics this past week. In the first, as part of a lecture series at the University, I saw NPR's Juan Williams discussing his works on Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and his impact on race relations 50 years after the Brown decision. Aside from Williams's message -- an exhortation to people to seize their moment in history -- it made me appreciate just what it is a biographer does.

Until I met Ms. M.F.A.-in-Film E, I labored under the common misconception that a (film) documentarian is basically an impartial observer of some subject. Really, like any other artist, a documentarian has a (let's use the term loosely) "truth," or an idea, to be conveyed. I've since come to realize that you could apply that definition to a biographer, and that's what impressed me most about that talk.

Yesterday, I saw part of a session conducted by a genuine Tibetan rinpoche (and his translator). The lesson was on the Heart Sutra, a translation and commentary on the text. It was quite fascinating to me watching the obvious degree of thought and scholarship that went into the examination of the text in a way that's quite similar to the way Bibilical text is deconstructed.