how can I draw a line? and, does life have meaning?


"I find funny and silly the pompous kind of self-important talk about the artist who takes risks. Artistic risks are like show-business risks—laughable. Like casting against type, wow, what danger! ... I’m not trying to undersell art. I think it’s valuable, but I think it’s overly revered."  Woody Allen

Barry Blitt was on the New Yorker cover for weeks in a row a while back.  I spent some time noticing his line, and little offhand color washes,  and it shows in this sketch of one of my favorite neurotic heroes of existential dread.

Speaking of existential dread: a study recently published documents its successful treatment with Acetaminophen!  (excerpt below).   I tried it on my son Adam (11) after he came to me in a state of tearful terror about the expanding universe and mortality in general in the wake of the Marathon bombings. It worked like a charm.  I was so strongly reminded of this famous scene from Annie Hall.

"Researchers at the University of British Columbia say they've discovered yet another use for Tylenol besides breaking a fever and relieving pain: Reducing anxiety associated with "thoughts of existential uncertainty and death."

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the research involved a double-blind study in which several groups of participants were given either Tylenol-brand acetaminophen or a placebo.

Members of the Tylenol groups reported feeling less upset following conversations about death and other existential topics.

"Nobody has shown this before, and we are surprised that the effect emerged so robustly," said lead researcher Daniel Randles, "that a drug meant primarily to alleviate headaches also prevents people from being bothered all that much by thinking about death. It was certainly surprising."

One of the study groups was tasked with watching a "surreal [and] confusing" short film by David Lynch and discussing it afterwards.

The researchers found that those who had taken the Tylenol did not experience feelings of existential dread and "looked just like the control group that hadn't talked about their death or watched the unpleasant [film] clip."

Previous studies have already determined the effects acetaminophen can have on social anxiety due to its impact on the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex — the part of the brain that hands both physical pain and social distress.

One study noted by PsychCentral found that Tylenol can also be useful in reducing "the non-physical pain of being ostracized from friends."

I am so amused by the role David Lynch's work  plays in this investigation.