An Archive of 800+ Propaganda Maps Designed to Shape Opinions & Beliefs: Enter Cornell’s Persuasive Maps Collection

We tend to take a very special interest in archives and maps on this site—and especially in archives of maps. Yet it is rare, if not unheard of, to discover a map archive in which every single entry repays attention. The PJ Mode Persuasive Cartography Collection at Cornell University Library is such an archive. Each map in the collection, from the most simplified to the most elaborate, tells not only one story, but several, overlapping ones about its creators, their intended audience, their antagonists, the conscious and unconscious processes at work in their political psyches, the geo-political view from where they stood.

Maps drawn as propaganda must be broad and bold, casting aside precision for the pressing matter at hand. Even when finely detailed or laden with statistics, such maps press their meaning upon us with unsubtle force.

One especially resonant example of persuasive cartography, for example, at the top shows us an early version of a widely-used motif—the “Cartographic Land Octopus,” or CLO, as Frank Jacobs dubs it at Big Think. The CLO has never gone out of style since its likely origin in J.J. van Brederode’s "Humorous War Map" of 1870, which depicts Russia as a monstrous mollusk. Later, Caricaturist Fred W. Rose printed a reprise, the “Serio-Comic War Map for the Year 1877.”

A full twenty-seven years later, a Japanese student used the very same design for his satirical map of Russia-as-Octopus, the occasion this time the Russo-Japanese War. Titled “A Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia,” the Japanese map cites Rose, or “a certain prominent Englishman,” as its inspiration. Its text reads, in part:

The black octopus is so avaricious, that he stretches out his eight arms in all directions, and seizes up every thing that comes within his reach. But as it sometimes happens he gets wounded seriously even by a small fish, owing to his too much covetousness.

No doubt Russian persuasive cartographers had a different view of who was or wasn’t an octopus. Many years after his octopus map, Fred Rose dropped sea creatures for fishing in another of his serio-comic maps, "Angling in Troubled Waters," above, this one from 1899, and showing Russia as a massive incarnation of the tsar, his boots posed to walk all over Europe. After the revolution, the Russian octopus returned, bearing different names but no less menacing a beast.

Many maps in the collection show contradictory views of Russia, or Great Britain, or whatever world power at the time threatened to overrun everyone else. It’s interesting to see the continuity of such depictions over decades, and centuries (Jacobs shows examples of Russian octopi from 1938 and 2008). The map above from 1938 reflects “Nazi expansionist goals,” notes Cornell’s digital collections, by showing the supposed "German" populations scattered all over Europe and the need, as Hitler argued in the quoted speech, to protect and liberate “national comrades” by means of annexation, bombing, and invasion.

Where the blood red of the German map represents the “blood” of the volk, in the map above, from 1917, it stands in for the blood of everyone else if the “leaders of German thought” get what they want. Where the Reich map took aim at Europe, the quoted “former generals,” notes Cornell, “and well-known Pangermanists” in the WWI-era map above wanted to colonize most of the world, a particular affront to the British, who were well on their way to doing so, and to a lesser degree, the French, who wanted to. These two world powers had been at it far longer, however, and not without fierce opposition at home as well as in the colonies.

The famous eighteenth century British caricaturist James Gillray’s most famous print, from 1805, shows William Pitt and Napoleon seated at table, carving up the world between them to consume it.

A steaming ‘plum-pudding’ globe, both intent on carving themselves a substantial portion…. Pitt appears calm, meticulous and confident, spearing the pudding with a trident indicative of British naval supremacy. He lays claim to the oceans and the West Indies. In contrast Napoleon Bonaparte reaches from this chair with covetous, twitching eyes fixed on the prize of Europe and cuts away France, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and the Mediterranean.

Gillray’s cartoon hardly counts as a “map” but it deserves inclusion in this fine collection. Other notable maps featured include the 1904 “Distribution of Crime & Drunkenness in England and Wales,”a study in the persuasive use of correlation; the 1856 “Reynold’s Political Map of the United States,” illustrating the “stakes involved in the potential spread of slavery to the Western States” in support of the Republican Presidential candidate John Fremont; and the French Communist Party’s 1951 “Who is the Aggressor?” which shows American military bases around the world, their guns—or big black arrows—pointed at China and the U.S.S.R.

There are hundreds more persuasive maps, illustrating views theological, political, social, mechanical, and otherwise, dating from the 15th century to the 2000s. You can browse the whole collection or by date, creator, subject, repository, and format. All of the maps are annotated with catalog information and collector’s notes explaining their context. And all of them, from the frivolous to the world-historical, tell us far more than they intended with their peculiar ways of spatializing prejudices, fears, desires, beliefs, obsessions, and overt biases.

“Every map has a Who, What, Where and When about it,” as collector PJ Mode writes on the Cornell site. “But these maps had another element: Why? Since they were primarily ‘about’ something other than geography, understanding the map required finding the reasoning behind it.” The most recent entry in the archive, Christopher Neiman’s 2011 “World Map of Useless Stereotypes” from The New York Times Magazine turns the persuasive map in on itself, using its satirical devices to poke fun at propaganda’s reductive effects.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Criterion Announces New Streaming Service To Replace FilmStruck: Become a Charter Subscriber Today

Late last month, Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks announced--much to the chagrin of cinephiles--that it planned to close Filmstruck, a streaming service that specialized in arthouse and classic films. Fans and celebrities--from Christopher Nolan to Guillermo del Toro--quickly got behind a petition to save the streaming service. And today their wish came true, more or less.

The Criterion Collection and WarnerMedia just issued a press release, declaring that "the Criterion Channel will launch as a free-standing streaming service" in the spring of 2019. This will effectively allow the Criterion Channel to "pick up where FilmStruck left off, with thematic programming, regular filmmaker spotlights, and actor retrospectives, featuring major classics and hard-to-find discoveries from Hollywood and around the world, complete with special features like commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and original documentaries."

WERNER HERZOG TEACHES FILMMAKING. LEARN MORE.

If you want to demonstrate your appreciation and support, you can become a Charter Subscriber and gain the following benefits:

  • 30-day free trial.
  • reduced subscription fee for as long as you keep your subscription active. The regular fee will be $10.99 a month or $100 a year, but as a Charter Subscriber you’ll pay $9.99 a month or $89.99 a year.
  • Concierge customer service from the Criterion Collection, including a customer ID and a special e-mail address.
  • holiday gift-certificate present, for use on the Criterion Collection website.
  • Charter Subscriber membership card.
  • The satisfaction of knowing you’re keeping the best of film alive and available.

Hope this helps you have a great weekend.

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A Japanese Illustrated History of America (1861): Features George Washington Punching Tigers, John Adams Slaying Snakes & Other Fantastic Scenes

"George Washington (with bow and arrow) pictured alongside the Goddess of America"

Though I'm American myself, I always learn the most about America when I look outside it. When I want to hear my homeland described or see it reflected, I seek out the perspective of anyone other than my fellow Americans. Given that I live in Korea, such perspectives aren't hard to come by, and every day here I learn something new — real or imagined — about the United States. But Japan, the next country over to the east, has a longer and arguably richer tradition of America-describing. And judging by Osanaetoki Bankokubanashi (童絵解万国噺), an 1861 book by writer Kanagaki Robun and artist Utagawa Yoshitora, it certainly has a more fantastical one. "Here is George Washington (with bow and arrow) pictured alongside the Goddess of America," writes historian of Japan Nick Kapur in a Twitter thread featuring selections from the book.

"George Washington defending his wife 'Carol' from a British official"

History does record Washington having practiced archery in his youth, among other popular sports of the day, and the image of the Goddess of America does look like a faintly Japanese version of Columbia, the historical female personification of the United States.

The next image Kaur posts shows Christopher Columbus reporting his discovery of America to Queen Isabella of Spain. "So far, kinda normal," but then comes a bit of artistic license: a scene from the American Revolution in which we see "George Washington defending his wife 'Carol' from a British official named 'Asura' (same characters as the Buddhist deity)." Other illustrated events from early American history include "Washington's "second-in-command" John Adams battling an enormous snake," "the incredibly jacked Benjamin Franklin firing a cannon that he holds in his bare hands, while John Adams directs him where to fire," and "George Washington straight-up punching a tiger."

"George Washington straight-up punching a tiger"

The founding of the United States, as Kanagaki and Utagawa saw it, seems to have required the defeat of many a fearsome beast, including a giant snake that eats Adams' mother and against which Adams must then team up with an eagle to slay. What truth we can find here may be metaphorical in nature: even in the mid-19th century, the world still saw America as a vast, wild continent just waiting to enrich those brave and strong enough to subdue it. Global interest in the still-new republic also ran particularly high at that time, as evidenced by the popularity of publications like Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America (which still offers an insightful outsider's perspective on America), first published in 1835 and 1840.

"Together, John Adams and the eagle kill the enormous snake that ate his Mom. The power of teamwork!!!"

Japan, long a closed country, had also begun to take a keen interest in the outside world: American Commodore Matthew Perry and his warships, filled with technology then unimaginable to the Japanese, had arrived in 1853 with an intent to open Japan's ports to trade. In 1868 the Meiji Restoration would consolidate imperial rule in the country and open it to the world, but Osanaetoki Bankokubanashi, which you can read in its entirety in digitized form at Waseda Unversity's web site, came out seven years before that. At that time, the likes of Kanagaki and Utagawa, relying on second-hand sources, could still thrill their countrymen — none of whom had any more direct experience of America than they did — with tales of the grotesque creatures, vile oppressors, heroic rebels, and guiding goddesses to be found just on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

For more images, see Nick Kapur's twitter stream here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Pachelbel’s Chicken: Your Favorite Classical Pieces Played Masterfully on a Rubber Chicken

Music lovers bracing against the annual onslaught of the Singing Dogs’ "Jingle Bells" may find their savage beasts soothed somewhat by Eddy Chen’s performance of Pachelbel’s Canon, above.

Never mind that the instrument on which he plays four different tracks is a rubber chicken… or more accurately, as per Amazon, a Screaming Yellow Rubber Chicken Non Toxic Bite-resistant Squeaky Toy.

It retains its relaxing musicality. Chen, one half of Australian duo TwoSetViolin, plays that bird like the disciplined, classically-trained pro he is.

Classical chicken covers became a surprise hit for Chen and his partner, Brett Yang, veterans of the Sydney and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, whose virtually sold out world tour was the first of its kind to be entirely financed by Kickstarter donations.

The duo describes its mission as “upholding the integrity of classical music” while making it “relevant to the modern generation through fun, humour and simplicity,” noting, in a joint interview with Violinist.com:

There are people out there who are ready to love classical music, and we have to actively find them. It is the way classical music has been presented so far that makes it so austere. We were lucky that we learned the instrument for 20 years; if we were not musicians, it would be very hard to get into.

Everyone has the potential to like it, but sometimes musicians alienate and scare potential listeners with our pride.

Back when classical music was new, it was not 'classical'; it was just music.

Today our (classical music audience) is very small, but there are many great musicians

 Granted, the standards for classical music are there for a good reason: people want the best art, and that is a standard we should uphold. At the same time, sometimes we see people breaking down and freaking out because of those standards. It is sad to think of all that lost potential and love for music. We feel we are losing audiences; we are losing people who used to love music.

The chicken definitely appeals to young listeners, though surely there’s no age limit for enjoying its take on Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1...

Or Johann Strauss’ "The Blue Danube" Waltz, wherein Yang squeezes a chicken in each fist whilst Chen mans the violin…

Or the opening trumpet solo of Gustav Mahler 's Symphony No. 5

Or Beethoven’s "Für Elise," a favorite first classical piece for pianists and chicken players alike…

Others on TwoSetViolin’s classical chicken playlist include Handel’s "Hallelujah" chorus and the "Waltz of the Flowers" from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

Catch up with TwoSetViolin on the final leg of their American tour and subscribe to their YouTube channel for their insights into the classical musician's life and the importance of practice.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC this December for the 10th anniversary production of Greg Kotis’ apocalyptic holiday tale, The Truth About Santa, and the next monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

At Folsom Prison: A Mini-Doc on Johnny Cash’s Historic & Career-Changing Concert

It was the opposite of superstar rock concerts, or even a sweaty, dark stage like that at CBGB’s in New York. But the dining hall at Folsom Prison was the setting for a concert that would give Johnny Cash, on the verge of a career collapse, a second chance on life. And it would become one of the unlikeliest venues in the history of country music.

Nothing was the same after this unlikeliest of turnarounds. After the album recorded at this gig, Cash would be hurtled into superstardom. He’d get his own national TV show. And instead of being a drug and alcohol casualty, he’d take on the mantel of elder statesman with a hint of danger. No, he’d never killed a man in Reno just to watch him die, but when he sang it in that long drawl, you could believe so. None of the original artists that played on Sun Records had a second act quite like Cash.

And that’s all down to the decision to play a concert at California’s Folsom Prison, in which he had set one of his most famous songs from 1953.

In Polyphonic’s nine minute mini-doc above on the making of this classic album, he tries to piece together what makes the Folsom Prison album so special.

You might not think of the album as a radical piece of late ‘60s music similar to The White Album or Beggar’s Banquet, but it is. For it was birthed with the help of producer Bob Johnston, who had a try-anything attitude that was very much in the air in 1968. The recording is raw and very, very live sounding. The audience of prisoners is a part of the mix. Cash’s voice is similarly raw and flubs and mistakes were kept in. (But as the video points out, some of the audience noises were edited for greater impact, like a ‘whoop’ after Cash’s infamous “Reno” line.) June Carter’s sweet voice contrasts with Cash’s, but there’s an air of tension to the duets, as these men probably haven’t seen a young woman in the flesh for a very long time.

There’s also the empathy of the entire project. Cash sings like he’s one of them, and his songs are of isolation and loneliness. He even sings a song written by an inmate called “Greystone Chapel.” While so many acts at this time were stripping away artifice--think of Bob Dylan’s turn away from his psychedelic mid-‘60s height--Cash beat them all to it with unadorned honesty, humor, and in the middle of a prison, a sense of joy.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the album, and the racial make-up of Folsom has changed--it’s gone from a majority white prison to one populated by African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians.
And while country music would not get the same reception now as it did then, the biggest change is that prisoners make the music themselves. In a Los Angeles Times article about the prison, “the musicians at Folsom have formed hip-hop, hard rock/heavy metal, Latin rock, alt-rock, smooth jazz and progressive rock ensembles within Folsom’s walls.” One recent artist to visit and perform was hip-hop musician Common.

But none of that would have happened without Cash’s historic visit. As he told the Times’ Robert Hilburn about that moment, “I knew this was it. My chance to make up for all the times when I had messed up. I kept hoping my voice wouldn’t give out again. Then I suddenly felt calm. I could see the men looking over at me. There was something in their eyes that made me realize everything was going to be okay. I felt I had something they needed.”

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Leonard Cohen’s Last Work, The Flame Gets Published: Discover His Final Poems, Drawings, Lyrics & More

It's a perverse irony or an apt metaphor: Leonard Cohen is best known for a song that took him five years to write, and that went almost unheard on its debut, in part because the head of Columbia’s music division, Walter Yetnikoff, refused to release Cohen’s 1985 album Various Positions in the U.S. “Leonard, we know you’re great,” said Yetnikoff, “We just don’t know if you’re any good.” It might have been Cohen’s summation of life itself.

It wasn’t until Jeff Buckley’s electric gospel cover in 1994 (itself a take on John Cale’s version) that “Hallelujah” became the massive hit it is, having now been covered by over 300 artists. Canadian magazine Maclean’s has called the song “pop music’s closest thing to a sacred text.” One can imagine Cohen looking deep into the eyes of those who think that “Hallelujah” is a hymn of praise and saying, “you don’t really care for music, do ya?”

With the trappings and imagery of gospel, and a sleazy synth-driven groove, it tells a story of being tied to a chair and overpowered, kept at an emotional distance, learning how to “shoot somebody who outdrew ya.” Love, sings Cohen sings in his lounge-lizard voice, “is not a victory march… It’s not somebody who’s seen the light.” If you’re looking to Leonard Cohen for redemption, best look elsewhere.

Used in film and television for moments of epiphany, triumph, grief, and relief, “Hallelujah,” like all of Cohen’s work, makes profane and prophetic utterances in which beauty and ugliness always coexist, in a painful arrangement no one gets clear of. Cohen will not let us choose between darkness and light. We must take both.

In the last years of his life, he brought his tragic vision to a remarkable climax in his final, 2016 album, You Want it Darker. Last month, the final act in his magisterial career premiered in the form of The Flame. The book is “a collection of poems, lyrics, drawings, and pages from his notebooks,” writes The Paris Review, who quote from Cohen's son Adam’s forward: “This volume contains my father’s final efforts as a poet…. It was what he was staying alive to do, his sole breathing purpose at the end.”

Cohen did not leave words of hope behind. One of his last poems issues forth an enigmatic and terrifying prophecy, hammering away at the conceits of human power.

 

What is coming

ten million people

in the street cannot stop

What is coming

the American Armed Forces

cannot control

the President

of the United States

            and his counselors

cannot conceive

initiate

command

            or direct

everything

you do

or refrain from doing

will bring us

to the same place

the place we don’t know

 

your anger against the war

your horror of death

your calm strategies

your bold plans

to rearrange

            the middle east

to overthrow the dollar

to establish

            the 4th Reich

to live forever

to silence the Jews

to order the cosmos

to tidy up your life

to improve religion

they count for nothing

 

you have no understanding

of the consequences

of what you do

oh and one more thing

you aren’t going to like

what comes after

          America

But The Flame is not all jeremiad. In some ways it’s a turn from the grim, oracular voice of "You Want it Darker" and to a more intimate, at times quotidian and confessional, Cohen. “All sides of the man are present” in this book of poems and sketches writes Scott Timberg at The Guardian. “Was he, in the end, a musician or a poet? A grave philosopher or a grim sort of comedian? A cosmopolitan lady’s man or a profound, ascetic seeker? Jew or Buddhist? Hedonist or hermit?” Yes.

Cohen’s work, his son says, “was a mandate from God." The writing of his final poems “was all private." “My father was very interested in preserving the magic of his process. And moreover, not demystifying it. Speaking of any of this is a transgression.”

However else we interpret Leonard Cohen’s theo-mythic-philosophical incantations, he made a few things clear. What he meant by "God" was deeper and darker than what most people do. And to trivialize the mysteries of life and love and death and song, to pretend we understand them, he suggests, is a grave and tragic, but perhaps inevitable, mistake. "You want it darker," he sang at the end. "We kill the flame."

via The Paris Review

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

NASA Digitizes 20,000 Hours of Audio from the Historic Apollo 11 Mission: Stream Them Free Online

When we think of the Apollo missions, we tend to think of images, especially those broadcast on television during the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. And if we think of the sounds of Apollo, what comes more quickly to mind — indeed, what sound in human history could come more quickly to mind — than Neil Armstrong's "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" line spoken on that same mission? But that's just one small piece of the total amount of audio recordings made during the Apollo program, which ran from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. Now, with nearly 20,000 hours of them digitized, they've begun to be made available for listening and downloading at the Internet Archive.

"After the Apollo missions ended, most of the audio tapes eventually made their way to the National Archives and Records Administration building in College Park, Maryland," writes Astronomy's Catherine Meyers. But even after getting all the recordings in one place (easier said than done given the vast size of the archives in which they resided), a much larger challenge loomed.

"The existing tapes could be played only on a machine called a SoundScriber, a big beige and green contraption complete with vacuum tubes. NASA had two machines, but the first was cannibalized for parts to make the second one run."

Refurbishing the very last SoundScriber to play these 30-track tapes required the help of a retired technician, and then the research team needed to "play all 30 tracks at once to minimize the time required to digitize them, as well as to avoid damaging the almost 50-year-old tapes by playing them over and over." What with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing approaching next summer — and with First Man, Damien Chazelle's biopic of Neil Armstrong currently in theaters — NASA has cleared that mission's audio recordings for public release.

You can listen to the Apollo 11 tapes directly at the Internet Archive, or you can make your way through them at Explore Apollo, a site designed by students at the University of Texas at Dallas that highlights the most historically significant of the thousands of hours of audio recorded during Apollo 11: not just Armstrong's first step, but the launch from Kennedy Space Center, the lunar landing itself, and the astronauts' walk on the moon's surface. But space exploration is about much more than astronauts, as you'll soon find out if you spend much time at the Internet Archive's collection of Apollo 11 recordings, on which appear not just Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, but the hundreds and hundreds of other NASA personnel who made the moon landing possible. We may never have heard their names before, but now we can finally hear their voices.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

David Lynch Releases a Disturbing, New Short Film: Watch “Ant Head” Online

David Lynch has just released a new short film, and it's not very long on plot. Premiered at the Festival of Disruption earlier this year, “Ant Head” runs 13 minutes and features--writes IndieWire--"one shot that depicts a block of cheese in the shape of a head being overtaken by an army of crawling ants." And it's all set to music by Thought Gang, Lynch's experimental collaboration with composer Angelo Badalamenti. You can pick up a copy of their brand new album, eponymously called Thought Gang, here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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7 Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction

ErnestHemingway

Image by Lloyd Arnold via Wikimedia Commons

Before he was a big game hunter, before he was a deep-sea fisherman, Ernest Hemingway was a craftsman who would rise very early in the morning and write. His best stories are masterpieces of the modern era, and his prose style is one of the most influential of the 20th century.

Hemingway never wrote a treatise on the art of writing fiction.  He did, however, leave behind a great many passages in letters, articles and books with opinions and advice on writing. Some of the best of those were assembled in 1984 by Larry W. Phillips into a book, Ernest Hemingway on Writing.

We've selected seven of our favorite quotations from the book and placed them, along with our own commentary, on this page. We hope you will all--writers and readers alike--find them fascinating.

1: To get started, write one true sentence.

Hemingway had a simple trick for overcoming writer's block. In a memorable passage in A Moveable Feast, he writes:

Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.

2: Always stop for the day while you still know what will happen next.

There is a difference between stopping and foundering. To make steady progress, having a daily word-count quota was far less important to Hemingway than making sure he never emptied the well of his imagination. In an October 1935 article in Esquire "Monologue to the Maestro: A High Seas Letter") Hemingway offers this advice to a young writer:

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.

3: Never think about the story when you're not working.

Building on his previous advice, Hemingway says never to think about a story you are working on before you begin again the next day. "That way your subconscious will work on it all the time," he writes in the Esquire piece. "But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start." He goes into more detail in A Moveable Feast:

When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing you were writing before you could go on with it the next day. It was necessary to get exercise, to be tired in the body, and it was very good to make love with whom you loved. That was better than anything. But afterwards, when you were empty, it was necessary to read in order not to think or worry about your work until you could do it again. I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

4: When it's time to work again, always start by reading what you've written so far.

T0 maintain continuity, Hemingway made a habit of reading over what he had already written before going further. In the 1935 Esquire article, he writes:

The best way is to read it all every day from the start, correcting as you go along, then go on from where you stopped the day before. When it gets so long that you can't do this every day read back two or three chapters each day; then each week read it all from the start. That's how you make it all of one piece.

5: Don't describe an emotion--make it.

Close observation of life is critical to good writing, said Hemingway. The key is to not only watch and listen closely to external events, but to also notice any emotion stirred in you by the events and then trace back and identify precisely what it was that caused the emotion. If you can identify the concrete action or sensation that caused the emotion and present it accurately and fully rounded in your story, your readers should feel the same emotion. In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway writes about his early struggle to master this:

I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing truly what you really felt, rather than what you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced. In writing for a newspaper you told what happened and, with one trick and another, you communicated the emotion aided by the element of timeliness which gives a certain emotion to any account of something that has happened on that day; but the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion and which would be as valid in a year or in ten years or, with luck and if you stated it purely enough, always, was beyond me and I was working very hard to get it.

6: Use a pencil.

Hemingway often used a typewriter when composing letters or magazine pieces, but for serious work he preferred a pencil. In the Esquire article (which shows signs of having been written on a typewriter) Hemingway says:

When you start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none. So you might as well use a typewriter because it is that much easier and you enjoy it that much more. After you learn to write your whole object is to convey everything, every sensation, sight, feeling, place and emotion to the reader. To do this you have to work over what you write. If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to. First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it, and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it. That is .333 which is a damned good average for a hitter. It also keeps it fluid longer so you can better it easier.

7: Be Brief.

Hemingway was contemptuous of writers who, as he put it, "never learned how to say no to a typewriter." In a 1945 letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway writes:

It wasn't by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.

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Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in February 2013.

Related content:

Writing Tips by Henry Miller, Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman & George Orwell

Ernest Hemingway Creates a Reading List for a Young Writer (1934)

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Find Courses on Hemingway and Other Authors in our big list of Free Online Courses

The Art of Letterlocking: The Elaborate Folding Techniques That Ensured the Privacy of Handwritten Letters Centuries Ago

Occasionally and with diminishing frequency, we still lament the lost art of letter-writing, mostly because of the degradation of the prose style we use to communicate with one another. But writing letters, in its long heyday, involved much more than putting words on paper: there were choices to be made about the pen, the ink, the stamp, the envelope, and before the envelope, the letterlocking technique. Though recently coined, the term letterlocking describes an old and varied practice, that of using one or several of a suite of physical methods to ensure that nobody reads your letter but its intended recipient — and if someone else does read it, to show that they have.

"To seal a modern-day envelope (on the off chance you’re sealing an envelope at all), it takes a lick or two, at most," writes Atlas Obscura's Abigail Cain. Not so for the likes of Mary Queen of Scots or Machiavelli: "In those days, letters were folded in such a way that they served as their own envelope. Depending on your desired level of security, you might opt for the simple, triangular fold and tuck; if you were particularly ambitious, you might attempt the dagger-trap, a heavily booby-trapped technique disguised as another, less secure, type of lock."

Beginning with "the spread of flexible, foldable paper in the 13th century" and ending around "the invention of the mass-produced envelope in the 19th century," letterlocking "fits into a 10,000-year history of document security — one that begins with clay tablets in Mesopotamia and extends all the way to today’s passwords and two-step authentication."

We know about letterlocking today thanks in large part to the efforts of Jana Dambrogio, Thomas F. Peterson Conservator at MIT Libraries. According to MIT News' Heather Denny, Dambrogio first got into letterlocking (and far enough into it to come up with that term herself) "as a fellow at the Vatican Secret Archives," previously featured here on Open Culture. "In the Vatican’s collection she discovered paper letters from the 15th and 16th centuries with unusual slits and sliced-off corners. Curious if the marks were part of the original letter, she discovered that they were indications the letters had originally been locked with a slice of paper stabbed through a slit, and closed with a wax seal."

She and her collaborator Daniel Starza Smith have spent years trying to reconstruct the many variations on that basic method used by letter-writers of old, and you can see one of them, which Mary Queen of Scots used to lock her final letter before her execution, in the video at the top of the post.

Though we in the age of round-the-world, round-the-clock instant messaging — an age when even e-mail feels increasingly quaint — may find this impressively elaborate, we won't have even begun to grasp the sheer variety of letterlocking experience until we explore the letterlocking Youtube channel. Its videos include demonstrations of techniques historically used in EnglandItaly, AmericaEast Asia, and elsewhere, some of them practiced by notables both real and imagined. Tempting though it is to imagine a direct digital-security equivalent of all this today, humanity seems to have changed since the era of letterlocking: as the aphorist Aaron Haspel put it, "We can have privacy or we can have convenience, and we choose convenience, every time."

via Atlas Obscura

Related Content:

Lewis Carroll’s 8 Still-Relevant Rules For Letter-Writing

6,000 Letters by Marcel Proust to Be Digitized & Put Online

Jane Austen Writes a Letter to Her Sister While Hung Over: “I Believe I Drank Too Much Wine Last Night”

How to Jumpstart Your Creative Process with William S. Burroughs’ Cut-Up Technique

How the Mysteries of the Vatican Secret Archives Are Being Revealed by Artificial Intelligence

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.





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