Mark S. Weiner

Dancing a Jig

In Books and libraries, Video on May 10, 2016 at 11:16 am

As Mike Widener happily reports today in his blog, our short-short iPhone video “Putting Together a Book Exhibition” has won this year’s best video prize in the “Day in the Life” competition of the American Association of Law Libraries. The video documents the exhibition about illustrated law books that Mike and I are putting together for the Grolier Club in New York.

N.B.: the exhibition opening date was recently moved forward from February 2018 to September 2017. We hope to see you there!

 

What’s in My Bag: A Theory Guy Creates a Kit for the GH4

In Aesthetics, Video on April 3, 2016 at 12:46 pm

This post isn’t about law, but rather about my work in documentary video—it’s a post for gear heads, especially users of the Panasonic Lumix GH4.

I’m beginning to prepare to shoot a film that will accompany the rare book exhibition Mike Widener and I are putting together for the Grolier Club in New York. I’ve got a lot of nifty things planned for the film, and it looks possible that it will receive outside financial support, so I’m really excited about it. And because I’ve benefited so much from online discussions about gear—posts of the “what’s in my camera bag” type—this seemed like a symbolically appropriately time to share the conclusions to which I’ve come in assembling my own kit. A bit of paying it forward. I hope some people out there will find it helpful to see what a prosumer-level filmmaker has assembled all in one place and how I work with what I have. Narrative storytelling, analysis, and high theory may have come naturally to me; learning about gear has taken a bit longer.

I should say from the start that I don’t have a lot of money to spend. I’ve been able to assemble these items over the past three years by not going out to eat; grinding our own flour, baking our own bread, and making our own yogurt; keeping the heat in our New England home at 58 degrees; teaching a few pinch-hit, four-day intensive courses in constitutional law; and by selling of bunch of my old books from graduate school. Some of the gear also was a gift from family and friends. Because I don’t have a lot of money to throw around, I’ve thought a very great deal before putting down my cash, justifying each purchase carefully. And looking at it all now, I’m gob smacked at how it’s grown into a very respectable box of tools, despite the fact that I don’t have a proper paying job.

Has the sacrifice been worth it? Without question. For me, the chance to explore the great artistic medium of our time has been beyond price. I learn something new and subtle about the world every day I look through the viewfinder or fire up Adobe Premiere Pro.

A word about how and what I film. I’m self-taught, solo, and DIY. I produce, write, film, and edit entirely on my own. I don’t have a crew, even a minimal one, though occasionally my wife holds a circular reflector disc—which is really helpful! Most of the people I interview are scholars and librarians. This means that I need to keep my kit light, so that I can move around quickly and carry it all myself (I typically have less than a minute to set up a shot), and I need to keep it small, so that when I’m pointing the camera it won’t be intimidating to people who are naturally shy.

A final note. A lot of what I’ve purchased has been inspired by the advice of the great site Suggestion of Motion. Of all the forums and blogs I’ve read, it’s been the most helpful for my purposes. Readers may also recognize recommendations that come from other websites, but I’m afraid I’m no longer able to find the original source of my inspiration.

John Stuart Mill and the Rule of the Clan in Sweden

In Freedom of speech, Individualism, Race, Rule of the Clan, Sweden on March 26, 2016 at 11:41 am

Two items were published this week that brought me away from thinking about documentary film and back to The Rule of the Clan.

The first was a blog post titled “Why Libertarians Should Champion Social Liberty,” by Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center. Taylor advances a position that at first glance seems to run counter to core libertarian principles: he argues that “freedom is advanced by [government] preventing private racial discrimination.” This view is anathema to many libertarians, Taylors notes, who believe that government action to prevent private discrimination is “flatly immoral no matter how well-intentioned or worthwhile the consequences might be.”

But Taylor suggests that this is a misunderstanding of the libertarian tradition—one of whose patron saints, John Stuart Mill, had this to say in the first chapter of On Liberty:

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

Taylor then goes on to suggest—here’s the kicker—that “Mill’s heir on this matter might well be Mark Weiner.”

… Pause …

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