Lawrence Weschler

Riva Lehrer, The Pt Barnum of the Mind (Cat’s Cradle), 2008. Charcoal and mixed media on paper, 30 x 44 inches. Image courtesy of Lawrence Weschler.

LAWRENCE WESCHLER (Cowell College, UC Santa Cruz, 1974) was for over twenty years (1981-2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He recently graduated to director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, where he was director from 2001-2013.  He is also the artistic director emeritus, still actively engaged, with the Chicago Humanities Festival, and sometime curator for the New York Live Ideas Festival.  He is also the director of the Ernst Toch Society, dedicated to the music of his Weimar era émigré composer grandfather.

His books of political reportage include The Passion of Poland (1984); A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990); and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998).

His “Passions and Wonders” series currently comprises Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982); David Hockney’s Cameraworks (1984); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (1995); A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998); Boggs: A Comedy of Values (1999); Vermeer in Bosnia (2004); and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (2006).   Mr. Wilson was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Everything that Rises received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism

Recent books include a considerably expanded edition of Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, a companion volume, True to Life: Twenty Five Years of Conversation with David Hockney; monographs and catalogs, variously, on artists Liza Lou, Tara Donovan, Deborah Butterfield, Eric Fischl, Daniel Crooks, April Gornik, Abelardo Morell, Erwin Redl, Jorge TaclaFred Tomaselli, Theo Jansen, Gerri Davis and the Oakes Twins; his latest collection Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative; Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez (Abrams, 2016): and Waves Passing in the Night: Walter Murch in the Land of the Astrophysicists (Bloomsbury, 2017).

He is a contributing editor to McSweeney’s, the Threepeeny Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review and has recently been contributing regularly to Vanity Fair, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and The Believer.

He is currently completing a major volume on the life and work of his longtime friend, the late neurologist Oliver Sacks, due out in early 2019.

For over 25 years, Weschler has taught his course on “The Fiction of Nonfiction,” variously, at Princeton, Columbia, UCSC, Bard, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, Brown, and NYU.

Once, happening upon a Portuguese edition of Weschler’s 1990 book on torture in Latin America during a photo opportunity in a Rio shopping mall, Chilean General Augusto Pinochet flipped through its pages for a few moments, whereupon he pronounced, “Lies, all lies.  The author is a liar and a hypocrite.”