Vivian Maier’s secret dust of art and grit was part gunpowder. Lying dormant, it was nothing, but when it got kicked around it lit up the world. Her work also caused legal complications, dueling documentaries, a host of questions about Vivian’s intent and desires, and a lot of talk about her difficult personality. Her identity and her story got packaged as a mystery tale. As her photographs gained fame, Vivian herself garnered intrigue. The more we scrutinize Vivian, the longer we stare into ourselves.

The human experience is rife with darkness and horror. When most people encounter gross violence or monstrosities depicted in art, they may be shaken, sickened, intrigued and/or become desensitized to it, but a homocidal person may connect in a more sinister way not only to disturbing art, but to seemingly unrelated things. Art effects people, but it doesn’t cause people to kill people, or to commit crimes, and the artist isn’t to blame for actions people take after they encounter theart. That’s what I think, at least, but writer John Grisham once very publicly stated that he believed this wasn’t the case. He thought Oliver Stone, and practically everyone involved with the making and distribution of Natural Born Killers, should be help responsible for the deaths of people killed by “copycat” murderers. He argued that people can be “under the influence” of art to a degree where the artist should be held accountable. When art imitates life, and life imitates art right back, who’s really to blame?

Ariel is grand, but you don’t know the tale of the little mermaid until you’ve read Hans Christian Anderson’s version. His decadent and mournful twist on mermaid lore has shaped our imaginations for centuries, and shines a searing light on the pains of growing up, identity crises, and, of course, unrequited love, which can snap an indescribable place in the heart. Cloaking this particular hurt in a macabre mythological tale gets this feeling precisely right, especially if you throw in the problems of bisexuality in an especially unaccepting time.

Whiplash an intense emotional experience, a rollarcoaster built on drumbeats, sweat, blood, and screams. It gets into your nervous system. It’s a myth-building movie, not only building the myth of these characters hurtling themselves towards a perception of greatness by sacrificing key parts of their flesh, emotional-well being, and humanity, but also rebuilding the myth of Charlie Parker into something far more soul-gouging that it already was. I saw too movies yesterday. One was the horror film The Babadook, but Whiplash is the one that will probably give me nightmares.

When actress and socialite Marthe de Florian’s granddaughter fled to the South of France from Paris at the start of WWII, she left behind her grandmother’s picturesque, lavishly furnished apartment.

Although payments were maintained for decades, no one returned to the apartment until 2010, after the granddaughter’s death, when auctioneers came to take inventory of the estate. What they found was preserved physical snap shot of a particular time, its state only altered by spiderwebs and dust.

The first image I saw of Anna Schuleit’s 2003 art installation project Bloom was a sea of orange tulips, lit up as if they were made of glass, in an old room with an office chair floating among them and an old air conditioner window unit. It was otherworldly and transcendent, and then I read that it was in a mental hospital, and I fell in love with it.

In 2010 author Zadie Smith offered these 10 tips for writing as part of a project for The Guardian inspired by a similar list Elmore Leonard provided The NY Times 10 years earlier. Other authors participated in this exercise, but Zadie’s was the one I found on Tumblr today, and it stopped me dead in my tracks with it’s leveling wisdom. Numbers four, nine, and ten can apply to absolutely anything in life, but number three gets down to the core of it: “You can either write good sentences or you can’t.”