When Respected Authors, from Goethe to Henry Miller, Try Their Hand at Painting

Freshly posted on publisher Melville House's blog, you'll find examples of visual art by textual artists; drawings and paintings, in other words, drawn and painted by people who have gone down in history for their way with sentences. This could easily turn into a lesson about not quitting one's day job. But, as you can see from the work above, Maria Nys Huxley at Siesta, Melville House blogger Kevin Murphy hasn't put together a study in the incompetence of the dilettante. You've surely already guessed the literary connection: the painting came from the hand of Brave New World author Aldous Huxley, who put his wife Maria Nys to canvas in 1920, when both were still in their twenties.

The post features more paintings from the late eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, Hermann Hesse, e.e. cummings, Zelda Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, Flannery O'Connor, and Henry Miller. Each one reflects  something familiar about the painter's main line of work: Goethe's, bucolic reverie; Proust's, the sketchiness of fading memory enriched by a scattering of bold details; Hesse's, a stare of unbroken intensity. One particular outlier, with its simple pen-and-ink composition as well as its overt humor, expresses the literary personality of its creator more strongly than all the others put together:

Can you guess the author — er, artist?

Find the full collection here.

via @KirstinButler

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

William F. Buckley Meets (Possibly Drunk) Jack Kerouac, Tries to Make Sense of Hippies, 1968

The first modern use of the word hippie can be traced back to 1965, when Michael Fallon, a San Francisco journalist, used the word to refer to the bohemian lifestyle emerging in the city's Haight-Ashbury district. (Apparently, Fallon took the word hipster used by Norman Mailer and then shortened it into hippie.) By 1967, the mass media couldn't stop talking about hippies. It was the Summer of Love in San Francisco, the defining moment of the counterculture, and the rest of the country was scratching its collective head, trying to make sense of it all. Who better to do it than William F. Buckley, the emerging voice of conservative America?

In this classic 1968 episode of Firing Line, Buckley tries to demystify the hippie movement with the help of three guests: Lewis Yablonsky, a professor of sociology and criminology at Cal State-Northridge; Ed Sanders, the activist poet who helped form The Fugs; and then Jack Kerouac, author of the Beat classic, On the Road. In many ways, Kerouac inspired the hippie movement. And he, himself, acknowledges the relationship between the Beats and the hippies. But, in watching this clip, one thing becomes clear: in style and substance, he and the hippies were also worlds apart....

Don't miss Yale's lecture on Kerouac and On the Road here.

via Biblioklept

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Delivers the Greatest Science Sermon Ever

Just when you think you've had enough Neil deGrasse Tyson, another not-to-miss video comes along. This one comes from the 2006 Beyond Belief Conference, and it features the astrophysicist giving what's been called the "greatest science sermon ever." As a youngster, Tyson stepped into the Hayden Planetarium (the institution he now runs) and he felt an unshakable calling to study the universe. It wasn't unlike the feeling someone undergoes when they're religiously born again. And ever since, Tyson has experienced revelation after revelation, epiphany after epiphany, when studying the universe, and especially whenever he's reminded that, chemically speaking, we are in the universe, and the universe is in us. We're all made of the same stardust. How can that not leave us with an incredibly spiritual feeling?

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Breaking News: Socrates Tried Again in Athens and Acquitted!

Note: the action starts at about the two minute mark, and the video is accompanied by an English translation.

The trial and execution of Socrates at Athens in 399 B.C.E. has come down to us as the archetype of intellectual martyrdom. But the facts of the case, as filtered through the writings of Socrates' students Xenophon and Plato, are sketchy.  "Why," asks Douglas Linder on the Famous Trials Web site, "in a society enjoying more freedom and democracy than any the world had ever seen, would a seventy-year-old philosopher be put to death for what he was teaching?"

Last Friday the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens gave Socrates a new trial, assembling a panel of distinguished jurists from Europe and America to reopen the case. As the Onassis Centre's Web site explains, the event was "not a re-enactment but a modern perspective based on current legal framework supplemented with ancient Greek elements and comical theatrics." This time the verdict was different--but just barely. The vote by the jury was a 5-5 tie, which meant Socrates was acquitted. The audience's vote was more decisive: 5 to convict, 584 to acquit. Of course, it was a little late for Socrates.

You can download The Apology of Socrates from our collection of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

The Ideas of Noam Chomsky: An Introduction to His Theories on Language & Knowledge (1977)

We've featured the linguist and polemicist Noam Chomsky here before, and not two weeks ago we posted about philosopher-broadcaster Bryan Magee. The Ideas of Noam Chomsky brings the two men together for a chat about linguistics, the philosophy of language, human cognitive programming, and the philosophy of science. Though Magee introduces Chomsky, a highly nontraditional intellectual to his adherents and detractors alike, as "something of a joker in the pack, as far as philosophy is concerned," he interviews him with all the attentiveness and respect he brings to discussions with purely philosophical luminaries. Clearly, Magee wants to know more about Chomsky's theories of language, and especially about their implications for what he calls the dominant philosophical problem: "that of the relationship between language and the world."

Rarely questioned along these lines in the media, Chomsky responds thoughtfully and in detail. This ultimately leads to a conversation about the divide between where meaningful scientific theories can develop, and where our cognitive limitations might prevent them from developing. You'll notice that none of this has to do with politics, and political guidance is what most of Chomsky's fans have expected from him over the decades. While even Chomsky himself has admitted to seeing no connection between his academic and activist careers, Magee pursues a line of inquiry late in the broadcast meant to tie them together. Magee asks astute questions and Chomsky provides honest answers, but finding a common root between ideas like deep grammar and anarchist socialism perhaps remains an intellectual stunt best not tried at home.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

The Open Goldberg Variations: J.S. Bach’s Masterpiece Free to Download

First published in 1741, J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations is often considered the most ambitious composition ever written for harpsichord. As this conversation at NPR notes, the piece begins "with an initial melody, the Aria, followed by 30 short but brilliant variations built on eight notes that Bach appears to have borrowed from Handel." It's an impressive example of musical one-upmanship -- so impressive that the demanding piece still captures our often divided attention today.

Now, with no further delay, let me direct your attention to The Open Goldberg Variations, the first Kickstarter-funded, open source recording of Bach's masterpiece, available entirely for free. If you click here, you can download and share the newly-released recording by Kimiko Ishizaka, performed on a Bösendorfer 290 Imperial piano in Berlin. You can do pretty much whatever you want with the recording because it's released under a Creative Commons Zero license, which automatically puts things in the public domain.

You can also stream the Open Goldberg Variations below, and don't miss this very related item: How to Download the Complete Organ Works of J.S. Bach for Free. And then this bonus: Glenn Gould's Performance of the Goldberg Variation's online. via BoingBoing

Jeff Buckley: Everybody Here Wants You. The Musician Remembered in 2002 Documentary

For a brief moment there, it looked like Jeff Buckley would perhaps be the heir apparent to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen -- the next in a line of prolific American musicians. In 1994, Buckley released his debut album, Graceand everyone took notice. Radio listeners. Fellow musicians. Music executives. Everyone. A new talent had emerged. And then tragedy struck. Before he could release his second album, Buckley, 30 years old, went for a swim in a quiet part of the Mississippi River; a speedboat passed by, creating a wake; and the singer drowned.

The 2002 documentary -- Jeff Buckley: Everybody Here Wants You -- revisits the short life and times of the young artist. As OC writer Mike Springer tells us: "The one-hour film features rare footage of Buckley’s early performances and interviews, along with commentary by Jimmy Page, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde and many of the people who were close to Buckley, including his mother. It chronicles his early work as a guitarist in Los Angeles, his emergence as a singer and songwriter in New York, the making of Grace, and the ghost that was always shadowing Buckley: the complicated legacy of his famous biological father, the folk singer Tim Buckley, who he barely knew, and who also died young." Find more documentaries in our collection of 500 Free Movies Online.

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