A‑List Authors, Artists & Thinkers Draw Self Portraits

Over the years, Burt Brit­ton con­vinced A‑list writ­ers and artists to draw self-por­traits of them­selves. He first enticed Nor­man Mail­er long ago, while work­ing as a bar­tender at the Vil­lage Van­guard in NYC. Then came Miles Davis, Jorge Luis Borges (who was already blind), Mar­garet Atwood, Frank Gehry, Saul Bel­low, David Hock­ney, Allen Gins­berg, Cor­mac McCarthy (see above) and a parade of oth­ers. The doo­dled por­traits were lat­er col­lect­ed in a now out-of-print book, Self-Por­trait: Book Peo­ple Pic­ture Them­selves. You can still find a small­er col­lec­tion online at The Dai­ly Beast. The New York Times gives you more of the back­sto­ry on this col­lec­tion here.

via Maud New­ton

Spalding Gray Archives Head to the University of Texas

This week, the Har­ry Ran­som Cen­ter at UT-Austin acquired the archives of Spald­ing Gray (1941–2004), the actor and play­wright most well known for his per­for­mance piece “Swim­ming to Cam­bo­dia” (clip here). Accord­ing to The New York Times, the archive spans some 40 years and fea­tures per­for­mance note­books (see image above), diaries, and tapes of Gray’s per­for­mances, includ­ing an ear­ly ver­sion of “Swim­ming to Cam­bo­dia” record­ed in 1983, and a clip from “Life Inter­rupt­ed,” the mono­logue Gray was work­ing on when he died in 2004. Gray’s mate­ri­als will reside along­side the papers of David Mamet, Nor­man Mail­er, James Joyce, Samuel Beck­ett and oth­ers.

 The NYTimes has the full sto­ry here.

The Blue Ocean in RED

Dur­ing the past decade, Howard Hall has direct­ed four IMAX films that take you deep under the sea, right into the homes of amaz­ing marine life. Now, Hall has brought his act to Vimeo where he has post­ed a mon­tage of his favorite under­wa­ter shots from the past year. Filmed with a RED One cam­era, this footage was tak­en in the waters of the Mal­dives, Alas­ka, Cal­i­for­nia, Cos­ta Rica, and Mex­i­co. And it’s all fair­ly stun­ning. I would high­ly rec­om­mend watch­ing the video on Vimeo itself and siz­ing it to full screen. H/T to @eugenephoto.

Do Physicists Believe in God?

Every day, physi­cists and astronomers con­front the won­ders of the uni­verse. But does star­ing into the sub­lime abyss incline them toward a belief in God? Not if you ask the physi­cists at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Not­ting­ham School of Physics and Astron­o­my, who answer big ques­tions on YouTube and Six­ty Sym­bols, includ­ing “What hap­pens if you stick your hand inside the Large Hadron Col­lid­er, the world’s largest par­ti­cle accel­er­a­tor?

The Not­ting­ham physi­cists are in some good com­pa­ny. Accord­ing to a well-known 1997 study pub­lished in Nature, biol­o­gists with­in the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences reject­ed God and immor­tal­i­ty at rates of 65.2% and 69.0%. Mean­while, when phys­i­cal sci­en­tists were polled, the num­bers rose to 79.0% and 76.3%. The sum­ma­ry orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished by Nature now appears here.

via PourMe­Cof­fee

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3 Year Old Kid & Herbert von Karajan Conduct Beethoven’s 5th: Dueling Videos

Going viral right now: 3 year old Jonathan con­duct­ing the 4th move­ment of Beethoven’s 5th, and doing a pret­ty good job of chan­nel­ing the spir­it of Her­bert von Kara­jan. What you hear in the back­ground is a record­ing of Kara­jan and the Berlin­er Phil­har­moniker. And below we give you this: The real Kara­jan lead­ing the Berlin Phil­har­mon­ic through the same move­ment of Beethoven’s mas­ter­piece cir­ca 1966.

via @neatorama

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Reading While Driving, Seriously?

I gave up bik­ing on the roads this sum­mer for a good rea­son – too many knuck­le­heads tex­ting, chat­ting, even read­ing, while dri­ving. Read­ing a nov­el while dri­ving? A com­plete aber­ra­tion? Appar­ent­ly not. Join­ing the genius above, we have the Port­land, Ore­gon bus dri­ver giv­ing more thought to the Kin­dle than the road. And then this com­plete piece of work mind­less­ly mov­ing from the tra­di­tion­al book, to the Kin­dle, then to the smart­phone.

via Tech Crunch and Media Bistro

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The Gettysburg Address Animated

On Novem­ber 19, 1863, Abra­ham Lin­coln deliv­ered one of the best-known speech­es in his­to­ry: The Get­tys­burg Address. To pay homage to it, design­er Adam Gault and illus­tra­tor Ste­fanie Augus­tine have ren­dered the immor­tal words in beau­ti­ful black-and-white typo­graph­ic ani­ma­tion that visu­al­ly cap­tures the essence of Lin­col­n’s words as they are spo­ken.

For more on The Get­tys­burg Address, the Library of Con­gress has a fas­ci­nat­ing exhi­bi­tion of mate­ri­als relat­ed to the address, includ­ing the ear­li­est known draft and a short video on how the speech came to be. And for anoth­er visu­al treat, we rec­om­mend Jack Lev­in’s Abra­ham Lin­col­n’s Get­tys­burg Address Illus­trat­ed — a poignant and pow­er­ful selec­tion of images which, cou­pled with Lin­col­n’s equal­ly poignant and pow­er­ful words, are bound to put a lump in your throat.

Maria Popo­va is the founder and edi­tor in chief of Brain Pick­ings, a curat­ed inven­to­ry of eclec­tic inter­est­ing­ness and indis­crim­i­nate curios­i­ty. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Mag­a­zine, Big­Think and Huff­in­g­ton Post, and spends a dis­turb­ing amount of time curat­ing inter­est­ing­ness on Twit­ter.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Col­bert & Louis CK Recite The Get­tys­burg Address, With Some Help from Jer­ry Sein­feld

Hear John­ny Cash Deliv­er Lincoln’s Get­tys­burg Address

Behold Charles Laughton Deliv­er­ing the Get­tys­burg Address in its Entire­ty in Rug­gles of Red Gap

An Ani­mat­ed Neil deGrasse Tyson Gives an Elo­quent Defense of Sci­ence in 272 Words, the Same Length as The Get­tys­burg Address

Talking Literature with Great British Novelists

woolf joyce

Image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

For decades, the BBC has inter­viewed leg­endary British nov­el­ists, ask­ing them how they cre­ate their mem­o­rable char­ac­ters, paint their evoca­tive set­tings with words, and devel­op plots that keep us turn­ing pages. Now, these audio inter­views appear online in a col­lec­tion called In Their  Own Words. The archive takes you back to 1937, to a con­ver­sa­tion with Vir­ginia Woolf, then moves you for­ward to inter­views with Aldous Hux­ley, JRR Tolkien, Doris Less­ing, Mar­tin Amis, VS Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie, to name just a few. These record­ings sit nice­ly along­side a giant archive of lit­er­ary inter­views recent­ly pub­lished online by The Paris Review. (More on that here.) So, if you want to get into the “how” of lit­er­a­ture, you can now tap instant­ly into the col­lec­tive wis­dom of the lit­er­ary greats.

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