Some thoughts on the Paul J. Cohen film, eight years after his passing

I’m a family friend, of the sons, but I also knew Paul. cohen66They started filming, before Paul’s illness presented. They went with him to Austria for Godel@100, and filmed that lecture, which is searchable on Youtube. The boys, although Stanford grads and good in math by most people’s standards, are in the arts, and are Hollywood SAG actors. I would say that they are still mourning Paul and that has prevented them from furthering the film, which starts with a discussion of the math per se but digresses, for instance, to footage of Paul being moved from one part of Stanford Hospital to another, after a surgery. A known filmmaker, and mutual friend Elizabeth Thompson, met with the sons to discuss the dynamics, how much family to intersperse with how much math. They corresponded with David Foster Wallace about whether he would narrate, and he declined.

Paul was quite a character, and enjoyed music and comedy — he did stand-up in clubs. They are in some ways like the Kaplanskys, whose daughter Lucy is a successful folk-singer. The Cohen estate donated their family piano to the math department, for the fourth floor, at Stanford.

I would think they would welcome correspondence, encouragement and suggestions, about this film. I sent them the link to Alec Wilkinson’s article in The New Yorker, about Prof. Zhang, and the film.

If you search my blog, there is more about the Cohens. (Plastic Alto, on wordpress)

Eric Cohen, channeling Chico Marx and Kurt Godel, at Stanford math

Eric Cohen, channeling Zeppo Marx and Kurt Godel, at Stanford math

The Cohens at this point are 7, a prime, not that it’s anyone’s business:

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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