Orig­i­nal­ly from Paraguay, Joaquin Bald­win moved to LA and start­ed study­ing at The UCLA Ani­ma­tion Work­shop, where he direct­ed this short ani­mat­ed film, Papiroflex­ia (Span­ish for “Origa­mi”). The film end­ed up being a final­ist at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val in 2008. Then, in 2009, Bald­win went on win the com­pe­ti­tion with a new ani­mat­ed film, Sebas­tian’s Voodoo, even though he was com­pet­ing with films by Pixar and Dis­ney. You can watch four shorts (includ­ing Sebas­tian’s Voodoo) at Bald­win’s site, And for lots of oth­er film good­ness, be sure to check out our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

Marlon Brando Opens Up to Tennessee Williams

I had no idea that Mar­lon Bran­do was much of a writer, but this 1955 let­ter to Ten­nessee Williams is superb. Per­haps I just can’t help iden­ti­fy­ing him with Stan­ley Kowal­s­ki of the “Napoleon­ic code,” Stel­la!” and “Hoity-toity, describ­in’ me like a ape.” Espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing is his atti­tude towards suc­cess. (Note some of the lan­guage is a lit­tle strong/racy):

I have been afraid for you some­times, because suc­cess sings a dead­ly lul­la­by to most peo­ple. Suc­cess is a real and sub­tle whore, who would like noth­ing bet­ter than to catch you sleep­ing and bite your cock off. You have been as brave as any­body I’ve known, and it is com­fort­ing to think about it. You prob­a­bly don’t think of your­self as brave because nobody who real­ly has courage does, but I know you are and I get food from that.

This pas­sage echoes Williams’ own views on suc­cess, espe­cial­ly his beau­ti­ful (and iron­i­cal­ly inspir­ing) essay On a Street­car Named Suc­cess, writ­ten eight years ear­li­er:

It is nev­er alto­geth­er too late, unless you embrace the Bitch God­dess, as William James called her, with both arms and find in her smoth­er­ing caress­es exact­ly what the home­sick lit­tle boy in you always want­ed, absolute pro­tec­tion and utter effort­less­ness. Secu­ri­ty is a kind of death, I think, and it can come to you in a storm of roy­al­ty checks beside a kid­ney-shaped pool in Bev­er­ly Hills or any­where at all that is removed from the con­di­tions that made you an artist, if that’s what you are or were intend­ed to be. Ask any­one who has expe­ri­enced the kind of suc­cess I am talk­ing about–What good is it? Per­haps to get an hon­est answer you will have to give him a shot of truth-serum but the word he will final­ly groan is unprint­able in gen­teel pub­li­ca­tions.

You’ll find the rest of Bran­do’s let­ter (includ­ing an image of the orig­i­nal) — which includes reflec­tions on actors Anna Mag­nani and Burt Lan­cast­er — here.

Wes Alwan lives in Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, where he works as a writer and researcher and attends the Insti­tute for the Study of Psy­cho­analy­sis and Cul­ture. He also par­tic­i­pates in The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life, a pod­cast con­sist­ing of infor­mal dis­cus­sions about philo­soph­i­cal texts by three phi­los­o­phy grad­u­ate school dropouts.

Orson Welles Reads Moby Dick

Welles is read­ing just a short intro­duc­tion here. But if you want a com­plete audio down­load of Moby Dick, let me tell you how to get one. You can down­load a free read­ing of Melville’s clas­sic at Lib­rivox. The full mp3 zip file is right here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

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YouTube EDU Turns One Today

Just want­ed to send out a quick birth­day wish to YouTube EDU, which cel­e­brates its first birth­day today. The site now fea­tures over 65,000 aca­d­e­m­ic videos and 350 full cours­es, many com­ing from uni­ver­si­ties like Stan­ford, Yale, and MIT. My pro­gram at Stan­ford has hap­pi­ly con­tributed 12 cours­es to the col­lec­tion (find them here), and they’ve been down­loaded by thou­sands of view­ers across the world. It’s all very grat­i­fy­ing.

If you want to learn more about YouTube EDU, you can read this piece I post­ed short­ly after it launched. But, bet­ter yet, you should give the site itself a vis­it. And, to the folks at YouTube, keep up the good work!

PS If you’re look­ing for more intel­li­gent con­tent on YouTube, you should peruse our page that high­lights the smartest video chan­nels on the Tube. NASA, The New York Times, The New York­er, Google Talks, TED Talks — they’re all list­ed here.

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Sam Harris: Science Can Answer Moral Questions

What’s good, and what’s evil? Tra­di­tion­al­ly, reli­gion and phi­los­o­phy have answered these ques­tions, push­ing sci­ence to the side, ask­ing it to stick to the world of nat­ur­al laws and know­able facts. But Sam Har­ris wants to change things. At TED, he’s argu­ing that sci­ence (par­tic­u­lar­ly neu­ro­science) can address moral ques­tions pre­cise­ly because these ques­tions fall into the world of know­able facts. And, even bet­ter, sci­ence can pro­vide defin­i­tive, high­ly objec­tive answers to such ques­tions. Just as there are sci­en­tif­ic answers to all ques­tions in physics, so there are clear answers in the moral realm. This applies, for exam­ple, to whether chil­dren should be sub­ject­ed to cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment, or how soci­ety deals with very mean­ing­ful gen­der ques­tions. (Things get a lit­tle emo­tion­al on this top­ic at about 11 min­utes in.) The upshot is that Har­ris isn’t buy­ing a rad­i­cal­ly rel­a­tivist posi­tion on moral­i­ty, and this will dis­ap­point many post-mod­ernists. The Enlight­en­ment project is alive and well, ready to make its come­back.

Update: You can find a rebut­tal to Harris’s the­sis from physi­cist Sean Car­roll here. Thanks Mike for point­ing that out.


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Tim O’Reilly: The University as an Open iPhone Platform

Both the iPhone and Face­book took off when they opened them­selves up to out­side devel­op­ers, let­ting them inno­vate and build thou­sands of unfore­seen apps for users. In the video above, tech guru Tim O’Reil­ly asks how uni­ver­si­ties can do the same. How can they let devel­op­ers (in this case, the pro­fes­sors) inno­vate and dis­trib­ute con­tent to users (stu­dents) in new and effi­cient ways? There are more ques­tions than answers here, but if you want to imag­ine the uni­ver­si­ty in the 21st cen­tu­ry, these are the ques­tions you can’t avoid.

via @drszucker via Beth Har­ris, both at smARThis­to­ry.

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The Wilhelm Scream is Back

The Wil­helm Scream, named after Pri­vate Wil­helm, a char­ac­ter in the 1953 West­ern film The Charge at Feath­er Riv­er, has appeared in over 140 Hol­ly­wood films, includ­ing Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reser­voir Dogs, and oth­ers. (See full list here.) Now the scream is com­ing back. Accord­ing to the LA Times, the scream will again echo through cin­e­mas with the May 7 release of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2. Above, you can watch a mon­tage of The Wil­helm Scream. Nat­u­ral­ly, the ur-scream comes first. Thanks Veron­i­ca for the tip on this one!

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Harvard Comes to iTunes U

Since 2007, Apple has offered uni­ver­si­ties around the world a way to dis­trib­ute edu­ca­tion­al media via iTunes U. Fast for­ward to 2010, Har­vard has now set up its own iTunes U sec­tion, with more than 200 audio and video tracks cov­er­ing every­thing from the Har­vard Kuum­ba Singers to a course on Jus­tice with promi­nent polit­i­cal philoso­pher Michael Sandel. Oth­er high­lights include:

For free cours­es from Har­vard and oth­er fine insti­tu­tions, vis­it our col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es.

via Mac­World

Wes Alwan lives in Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, where he works as a writer and researcher and attends the Insti­tute for the Study of Psy­cho­analy­sis and Cul­ture. He also par­tic­i­pates in The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life, a pod­cast con­sist­ing of infor­mal dis­cus­sions about philo­soph­i­cal texts by three phi­los­o­phy grad­u­ate school dropouts.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.