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Nick Flynn + William Hirst

Based on a True Story

Friday, April 27, 2012
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

Presented in association with Urban Zen

Nick Flynn’s memoir about his encounter with his absentee father in a Boston homeless shelter, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir in 2006. On March 3 it takes the form of a new film Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro as the wayward father Jonathan and Paul Dano as his son Nick. Directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy, Little Fockers), the film also features Julianne Moore and Lili Taylor. With psychologist William Hirst, an expert in trauma and collective and autobiographical memory, Flynn explores the degrees of truth in a memoir remembered.
“Every week, it seems, scientists discover a new gene to explain why we act as we do, why we feel sad or why we get fat. Genes, it’s now clear, are a mark on the blood, and the mark can be read and the life plotted. Easy as reading a map. This red mark is your father, across a vast sea from you. The scientists say that one day I could stand in the exact spot my father once stood in, hold my body as he did. I could open my mouth and his words would come out. They say it is only a ”tendency toward,” a warning. They say it is not the future, but a possible future.” – Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (Norton, 2004), won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir, and has been translated into ten languages. He is also the author of two books of poetry, Some Ether (Graywolf, 2000), which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and Blind Huber (Graywolf, 2002). He has been awarded fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Library of Congress, The Amy Lowell Trust, and The Fine Arts Work Center. Some of the venues his poems, essays and non-fiction have appeared in include The New Yorker, the Paris Review, National Public Radio’s “This American Life,” and The New York Times Book Review. He worked as a “field poet” and as an artistic collaborator on the documentary film Darwin’s Nightmare, which won an Academy Award for best feature documentary in 2006. One semester a year he teaches at the University of Houston, and spends the rest of the year elsewhere.
William Hirst is Professor of Psychology at the New School, whose focus is on social aspects of cognition and memory.He has contributed to the following publications: “Memory in the Circumstances in Which One Learned of a Death from AIDS: The Effects of Repeated Exposure,” Memory and Cognition (2003); “Social Influences on Remembering,” in D. Rubin (ed.), Autobiographical Memory (coauthor, 1996); “Cognitive Aspects of Consciousness,” in M. Gazzaniga (ed.), Handbook of Cognitive Neuroscience (1995).

About the Mnemonic Art Tour
Take advantage of a short tour of some paintings in the collection that function as mnemonic devices. The iconography in these paintings serve to reference specific passages in the sutras. That is why most of these works were not meant to be revealed to those who were not already initiates. The tour will include two types of paintings: narratives such as the life of the Buddha, and mandalas which are complex two-dimensional diagrams of one’s multi-dimensional state of mind.

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