Watch the Rolling Stones Write “Sympathy for the Devil”: Scenes from Jean-Luc Godard’s ’68 Film One Plus One

After the Rolling Stones’ part­ly mis­guid­ed, part­ly inspired attempt at psy­che­delia, Their Satan­ic Majesties Request, the band found its foot­ing again in the famil­iar ter­ri­to­ry of the Delta Blues. But with the 1968 record­ing of Beggar’s Ban­quet, they also retained some of the pre­vi­ous album’s exper­i­men­ta­tion, tak­en in a more sin­is­ter direc­tion on the infa­mous “Sym­pa­thy for the Dev­il.” In the stu­dio, with the band dur­ing those record­ing ses­sions, was none oth­er than rad­i­cal French New Wave direc­tor Jean-Luc Godard, who brought his own exper­i­men­tal sen­si­bil­i­ties to a project he would call One Plus One, a doc­u­ment of the Stones’ late six­ties incarnation—including an increas­ing­ly reclu­sive Bri­an Jones. Godard punc­tu­ates the fas­ci­nat­ing stu­dio scenes of the Stones with what Andrew Hussey of The Guardian calls “a series of set pieces—an inco­her­ent stew of Sit­u­a­tion­ism and oth­er Six­ties stuff”:

Black Pan­thers in a dis­used car park exe­cute white vir­gins; a book­seller reads aloud from Mein Kampf to Maoist hip­pies; in the final scene the blood­ied corpse of a female urban guer­ril­la is raised to the Stones’ sound­track as Godard him­self darts about like a dement­ed Jacques Tati wav­ing Red and Black flags. You just don’t find this sort of thing at the local mul­ti­plex any­more.

For all of its heavy use of left­ist Six­ties iconog­ra­phy, its anar­chic attempt to fuse “art, pow­er and rev­o­lu­tion,” and its fas­ci­nat­ing por­trai­ture of rock and roll genius at work, the film crash land­ed in France, earn­ing the con­tempt of arch Sit­u­a­tion­ist the­o­rist Guy Debord, who called it “the work of cretins.”

Crit­ics and audi­ences appar­ent­ly expect­ed more from Godard in the wake of the abortive May ‘68 stu­dent upris­ing in Paris, and the gen­er­al neglect of the film meant that Godard missed his chance to, as he put it, “sub­vert, ruin and destroy all civilised val­ues.”

The film’s pro­duc­er, Iain Quar­ri­er, also found it dis­ap­point­ing. With­out the director’s per­mis­sion, Quar­ri­er decid­ed to reti­tle One Plus One with the more com­mer­cial­ly-mind­ed Sym­pa­thy for the Dev­il and tack a com­plet­ed ver­sion of that song to the last reel, a move that pro­voked Godard to punch Quar­ri­er in the face. But not every­one found Godard’s effort off-putting. In a 1970 review, the New York Times’ Roger Green­spun called it “heav­i­ly didac­tic, even instruc­tion­al…. [T]he prospec­tive text of some ulti­mate, infi­nite­ly com­plex col­lec­tivism.” Green­spun also decried Quarrier’s unau­tho­rized inter­ven­tions.

In his ret­ro­spec­tive take, Andrew Hussey admits that Godard­’s polit­i­cal pos­tur­ing is “bol­locks,” but then con­cludes that One Plus One is “great stuff: a snap­shot of a far-off, lost world where rock music is still a redemp­tive and rev­o­lu­tion­ary force.” And it’s both—ridiculous and sub­lime, a pow­er­ful crys­tal­liza­tion of a moment in time when all the West­ern world seemed poised to crack open and release some­thing strange and new. Watch the trail­er and scenes from Godard’s film above. You can also pick up a copy of the 2018 restora­tion of the film here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jef­fer­son Air­plane Wakes Up New York; Jean-Luc Godard Cap­tures It (1968)

Meetin’ WA: Jean-Luc Godard Meets Woody Allen in 26 Minute Film

Jean-Luc Godard’s After-Shave Com­mer­cial for Schick

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

Watch The Idea, the First Animated Film to Deal with Big, Philosophical Ideas (1932)

A vague sense of dis­qui­et set­tled over Europe in the peri­od between WWI and WWII. As the slow burn of mil­i­tant ultra­na­tion­al­ism min­gled with jin­go­ist pop­ulism,  author­i­tar­i­an lead­ers and fas­cist fac­tions found mount­ing sup­port among a cit­i­zen­ry hun­gry for cer­tain­ty. Europe’s grow­ing trep­i­da­tion fos­tered some of the 20th century’s most strik­ing painter­ly, lit­er­ary, and cin­e­mat­ic depic­tions of the total­i­tar­i­an­ism that would soon fol­low. It was almost inevitable that this peri­od would see the birth of the first deeply philo­soph­i­cal ani­mat­ed film, known as The Idea.

The Idea first emerged as a word­less nov­el in 1920, drawn by Frans Masereel. Masereel, a close friend of Dadaist and New Objec­tivist artist George Grosz, had cre­at­ed a stark, black-and-white sto­ry about the indomitable nature of ideas. Employ­ing thick, aggres­sive lines obtained through wood­cut print­ing, Masereel depict­ed a con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal order’s fight against the birth of a new idea, which even­tu­al­ly flour­ished in spite of the establishment’s relent­less attempts to sup­press it.

Set­ting to work in 1930, a Czech film-mak­er named Berthold Bar­tosch spent two years ani­mat­ing The Idea. Bartosch’s visu­al style remained true to Masereel’s  harsh, vivid lines. His ver­sion of the sto­ry, how­ev­er, took a decid­ed­ly bleak­er turn—one that was more rem­i­nis­cent of the writ­ings of his com­pa­tri­ot, Franz Kaf­ka. Where­as Masereel believed that the puri­ty of good ideas would over­whelm their oppo­si­tion, Bar­tosch, work­ing a decade clos­er to the Nazis’ ascen­dan­cy, was wary of such ide­al­ism.

Above, you can watch what film his­to­ri­an William Moritz has called “the first ani­mat­ed film cre­at­ed as an art­work with seri­ous, even trag­ic, social and philo­soph­i­cal themes.” Paired with a haunt­ing score com­posed by Arthur Honeg­ger, the 25-minute fea­ture is a pow­er­ful­ly mov­ing med­i­ta­tion on art, strug­gle, puri­ty of thought, and pop­ulist sav­agery that remains untar­nished after eight decades. It will be added to our col­lec­tion,4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

via Bib­liok­lept

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Franz Kaf­ka, the Won­der­ful Ani­mat­ed Film by Piotr Dumala

Orson Welles Nar­rates Ani­ma­tion of Plato’s Cave Alle­go­ry

The Tale of the Fox: Watch Ladis­las Starevich’s Ani­ma­tion of Goethe’s Great Ger­man Folk­tale (1937)

A Short, Animated Defense of Toronto’s Great Public Libraries

If you’ve been with Open Cul­ture since our ear­ly days, you might remem­ber I Met the Wal­rus, a short Oscar-nom­i­nat­ed film that recalls the time when John Lennon grant­ed an inter­view to a 14-year-old Bea­t­les’ fan named Jer­ry Lev­i­tan. The ani­mat­ed film (which we still high­ly rec­om­mend) was the visu­al cre­ation of Josh Ruskin and James Braith­waite, who have now teamed up to cre­ate “Our Pub­lic Library,” a short ani­mat­ed film that calls atten­tion to the bud­get cuts that are under­min­ing Toron­to’s great pub­lic library sys­tem. Toron­to’s law­mak­ers will be mak­ing key deci­sions about the fate of the library soon (some­thing hope­ful­ly May­or Rob Ford won’t be involved with, see­ing that he seems pre­fer the pipe and drink to the book). For infor­ma­tion on how to help pro­tect Toron­to’s pub­lic libraries, please vis­it the web site Our Pub­lic Library.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Dig­i­tal Pub­lic Library of Amer­i­ca Launch­es Today, Open­ing Up Knowl­edge for All

A Look Inside Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Per­son­al Library

The Odd Col­lec­tion of Books in the Guan­tanamo Prison Library

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 1 ) |

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 13 Tips for What to Do with Your Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey

fitzgerald turkey

Image by “The World’s Work” via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

“At this post hol­i­day sea­son, the refrig­er­a­tors of the nation are over­stuffed with large mass­es of turkey, the sight of which is cal­cu­lat­ed to give an adult an attack of dizzi­ness. It seems, there­fore, an appro­pri­ate time to give the own­ers the ben­e­fit of my expe­ri­ence as an old gourmet, in using this sur­plus mate­r­i­al.” There writes no less a leg­end of Amer­i­can let­ters than F. Scott Fitzger­ald, author of The Great Gats­by and Ten­der is the Night (both avail­able in our Free eBooks col­lec­tion). His words quot­ed here, from “Turkey Remains and How to Inter Them with Numer­ous Scarce Recipes,” a col­umn found in the Fitzger­ald mis­cel­lany col­lec­tion The Crack-Up, hold just as true this day-after-Thanks­giv­ing  as they did dur­ing those his life­time. Lists of Note offers the full piece, which itself offers thir­teen poten­tial uses for your left­over bird, some of which, Fitzger­ald writes, “have been in my fam­i­ly for gen­er­a­tions”:

1. Turkey Cock­tail: To one large turkey add one gal­lon of ver­mouth and a demi­john of angos­tu­ra bit­ters. Shake.

2. Turkey à la Fran­cais: Take a large ripe turkey, pre­pare as for bast­ing and stuff with old watch­es and chains and mon­key meat. Pro­ceed as with cot­tage pud­ding.

3. Turkey and Water: Take one turkey and one pan of water. Heat the lat­ter to the boil­ing point and then put in the refrig­er­a­tor. When it has jelled, drown the turkey in it. Eat. In prepar­ing this recipe it is best to have a few ham sand­wich­es around in case things go wrong.

4. Turkey Mon­gole: Take three butts of sala­mi and a large turkey skele­ton, from which the feath­ers and nat­ur­al stuff­ing have been removed. Lay them out on the table and call up some Mon­gole in the neigh­bor­hood to tell you how to pro­ceed from there.

5. Turkey Mousse: Seed a large prone turkey, being care­ful to remove the bones, flesh, fins, gravy, etc. Blow up with a bicy­cle pump. Mount in becom­ing style and hang in the front hall.

6. Stolen Turkey: Walk quick­ly from the mar­ket, and, if accost­ed, remark with a laugh that it had just flown into your arms and you had­n’t noticed it. Then drop the turkey with the white of one egg—well, any­how, beat it.

7. Turkey à la Crême: Pre­pare the crême a day in advance. Del­uge the turkey with it and cook for six days over a blast fur­nace. Wrap in fly paper and serve.

8. Turkey Hash: This is the delight of all con­nois­seurs of the hol­i­day beast, but few under­stand how real­ly to pre­pare it. Like a lob­ster, it must be plunged alive into boil­ing water, until it becomes bright red or pur­ple or some­thing, and then before the col­or fades, placed quick­ly in a wash­ing machine and allowed to stew in its own gore as it is whirled around. Only then is it ready for hash. To hash, take a large sharp tool like a nail-file or, if none is handy, a bay­o­net will serve the purpose—and then get at it! Hash it well! Bind the remains with den­tal floss and serve.

9. Feath­ered Turkey: To pre­pare this, a turkey is nec­es­sary and a one pounder can­non to com­pel any­one to eat it. Broil the feath­ers and stuff with sage-brush, old clothes, almost any­thing you can dig up. Then sit down and sim­mer. The feath­ers are to be eat­en like arti­chokes (and this is not to be con­fused with the old Roman cus­tom of tick­ling the throat.)

10. Turkey à la Mary­land: Take a plump turkey to a bar­ber’s and have him shaved, or if a female bird, giv­en a facial and a water wave. Then, before killing him, stuff with old news­pa­pers and put him to roost. He can then be served hot or raw, usu­al­ly with a thick gravy of min­er­al oil and rub­bing alco­hol. (Note: This recipe was giv­en me by an old black mam­my.)

11. Turkey Rem­nant: This is one of the most use­ful recipes for, though not, “chic,” it tells what to do with the turkey after the hol­i­day, and how to extract the most val­ue from it. Take the remants, or, if they have been con­sumed, take the var­i­ous plates on which the turkey or its parts have rest­ed and stew them for two hours in milk of mag­ne­sia. Stuff with moth-balls.

12. Turkey with Whiskey Sauce: This recipe is for a par­ty of four. Obtain a gal­lon of whiskey, and allow it to age for sev­er­al hours. Then serve, allow­ing one quart for each guest. The next day the turkey should be added, lit­tle by lit­tle, con­stant­ly stir­ring and bast­ing.

13. For Wed­dings or Funer­als: Obtain a gross of small white box­es such as are used for bride’s cake. Cut the turkey into small squares, roast, stuff, kill, boil, bake and allow to skew­er. Now we are ready to begin. Fill each box with a quan­ti­ty of soup stock and pile in a handy place. As the liq­uid elaps­es, the pre­pared turkey is added until the guests arrive. The box­es del­i­cate­ly tied with white rib­bons are then placed in the hand­bags of the ladies, or in the men’s side pock­ets.

What, you expect­ed recipes more… fol­low­able than these? And per­haps recipes with less alco­hol involved? These all make much more sense if you bear in mind Fitzger­ald’s for­mi­da­ble cre­ativ­i­ty, his even more for­mi­da­ble pen­chant for the drink, and his mor­dant sense of humor about it all. “I guess that’s enough turkey talk,” con­cludes this lit­er­ary icon of my Thanks­giv­ing-cel­e­brat­ing nation. “I hope I’ll nev­er see or hear of anoth­er until—well, until next year.” If you haven’t had enough, and indeed feel like get­ting the jump on next year, see also the Air­ship’s list of twelve Thanks­giv­ing recipes from favorite authors, includ­ing Jonathan Franzen’s pas­ta with kale, Alice Munro’s rose­mary bread pud­ding, and Ralph Ellison’s sweet yams.

via Lists of Note

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Recipes of Icon­ic Authors: Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, Roald Dahl, the Mar­quis de Sade & More

Pre­pare Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Per­son­al, Hand­writ­ten Turkey-and-Stuff­ing Recipe on Thanks­giv­ing

F. Scott Fitzger­ald Tells His 11-Year-Old Daugh­ter What to Wor­ry About (and Not Wor­ry About) in Life, 1933

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, lit­er­a­ture, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Face­book page.

T.S. Eliot, as Faber & Faber Editor, Rejects George Orwell’s “Trotskyite” Novel Animal Farm (1944)

We’ve writ­ten recent­ly about that most com­mon occur­rence in the life of every artist—the rejec­tion let­ter. Most rejec­tions are uncom­pli­cat­ed affairs, osten­si­bly reflect­ing mat­ters of taste among edi­tors, pro­duc­ers, and cura­tors. In 1944, in his capac­i­ty as an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Faber & Faber, T.S. Eliot wrote a let­ter to George Orwell reject­ing the latter’s satir­i­cal alle­go­ry Ani­mal Farm. The let­ter is remark­able for its can­did admis­sion of the pol­i­tics involved in the deci­sion.

From the very start of the let­ter, Eliot betrays a per­son­al famil­iar­i­ty with Orwell, in the infor­mal salu­ta­tion “Dear Orwell.” The two were in fact acquaint­ed, and Orwell two years ear­li­er had pub­lished a pen­e­trat­ing review of the first three of Eliot’s Four Quar­tets, writ­ing “I know a respectable quan­ti­ty of Eliot’s ear­li­er work by heart. I did not sit down and learn it, it sim­ply stuck in my mind as any pas­sage of verse is liable to do when it has real­ly rung the bell.”

Eliot’s apolo­getic rejec­tion of Orwell’s fable begins with sim­i­lar­ly high praise for its author, com­par­ing the book to “Gul­liv­er” in what may have been to Orwell a flat­ter­ing ref­er­ence to Jonathan Swift. A mutu­al admi­ra­tion for each oth­er’s artistry may have been the only thing Eliot and Orwell had in com­mon. “On the oth­er hand,” begins the sec­ond para­graph, and then cites the rea­sons for Faber & Faber’s pass­ing on the nov­el, the prin­ci­ple one being a dis­missal of Orwell’s “uncon­vinc­ing” “Trot­skyite” views. The rejec­tion also may have stemmed from some­thing a lit­tle more craven—the desire to appease a wartime ally. As the Ency­clopae­dia Brit­tan­i­ca blog puts it:

Eliot, that Tory of Tories, did not want to upset the Sovi­ets in those fraught years of World War II. Besides, he opined, the pigs, being the smartest of the crit­ters on the farm in ques­tion, were best qual­i­fied to run the place.

The deci­sion was prob­a­bly not Eliot’s alone, and Eliot par­en­thet­i­cal­ly dis­owns the opin­ions per­son­al­ly, writ­ing “what was need­ed, (some­one might argue), was not more com­mu­nism but more pub­lic-spir­it­ed pigs.” Indeed. The full text of Eliot’s let­ter is below.

13 July 1944

Dear Orwell,

I know that you want­ed a quick deci­sion about Ani­mal Farm: but min­i­mum is two direc­tors’ opin­ions, and that can’t be done under a week. But for the impor­tance of speed, I should have asked the Chair­man to look at it as well. But the oth­er direc­tor is in agree­ment with me on the main points. We agree that it is a dis­tin­guished piece of writ­ing; that the fable is very skil­ful­ly han­dled, and that the nar­ra­tive keeps one’s inter­est on its own plane—and that is some­thing very few authors have achieved since Gul­liv­er.

On the oth­er hand, we have no con­vic­tion (and I am sure none of oth­er direc­tors would have) that this is the right point of view from which to crit­i­cise the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion at the present time. It is cer­tain­ly the duty of any pub­lish­ing firm which pre­tends to oth­er inter­ests and motives than mere com­mer­cial pros­per­i­ty, to pub­lish books which go against cur­rent of the moment: but in each instance that demands that at least one mem­ber of the firm should have the con­vic­tion that this is the thing that needs say­ing at the moment. I can’t see any rea­son of pru­dence or cau­tion to pre­vent any­body from pub­lish­ing this book—if he believed in what it stands for.

Now I think my own dis­sat­is­fac­tion with this apo­logue is that the effect is sim­ply one of nega­tion. It ought to excite some sym­pa­thy with what the author wants, as well as sym­pa­thy with his objec­tions to some­thing: and the pos­i­tive point of view, which I take to be gen­er­al­ly Trot­skyite, is not con­vinc­ing. I think you split your vote, with­out get­ting any com­pen­sat­ing stronger adhe­sion from either party—i.e. those who crit­i­cise Russ­ian ten­den­cies from the point of view of a pur­er com­mu­nism, and those who, from a very dif­fer­ent point of view, are alarmed about the future of small nations. And after all, your pigs are far more intel­li­gent than the oth­er ani­mals, and there­fore the best qual­i­fied to run the farm—in fact, there couldn’t have been an Ani­mal Farm at all with­out them: so that what was need­ed, (some­one might argue), was not more com­mu­nism but more pub­lic-spir­it­ed pigs.

I am very sor­ry, because who­ev­er pub­lish­es this, will nat­u­ral­ly have the oppor­tu­ni­ty of pub­lish­ing your future work: and I have a regard for your work, because it is good writ­ing of fun­da­men­tal integri­ty.

Miss Shel­don will be send­ing you the script under sep­a­rate cov­er.

Yours sin­cere­ly,

T. S. Eliot

After four rejec­tions in total, Orwell’s nov­el even­tu­al­ly saw pub­li­ca­tion in 1945. Five years lat­er, a Russ­ian émi­gré in West Ger­many, Vladimir Gorachek, pub­lished a small print run of the nov­el in Russ­ian for free dis­tri­b­u­tion to read­ers behind the Iron Cur­tain. And in 1954, the CIA fund­ed the ani­mat­ed adap­ta­tion of Ani­mal Farm by John Halas and Joy Batch­e­lor (see the full film here). Yet anoth­er strange twist in the life of a book that could make dis­cern­ing anti-com­mu­nists as uncom­fort­able as it could the staunchest defend­ers of the Sovi­et sys­tem. You can find Ani­mal Farm list­ed in our Free Audio Books and Free eBooks col­lec­tions.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read Rejec­tion Let­ters Sent to Three Famous Artists: Sylvia Plath, Kurt Von­negut & Andy Warhol

Gertrude Stein Gets a Snarky Rejec­tion Let­ter from Pub­lish­er (1912)

No Women Need Apply: A Dis­heart­en­ing 1938 Rejec­tion Let­ter from Dis­ney Ani­ma­tion

Down­load George Orwell’s Ani­mal Farm for Free

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

What Cultural Icons of the 19th & 20th Centuries Would Have Liked About Life in the 21st Century


At the web site, The Fer­tile Fact, you can read lists and lists of things you nev­er knew about your favorite cul­tur­al fig­ures. Or rather, you can read lists and lists of guess­es about what your favorite cul­tur­al fig­ures of the 19th and 20th cen­turies would have enjoyed about life in our 21st cen­tu­ry. From Paul Hen­drick­son, author of Hemingway’s Boat: Every­thing He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934 – 1961, we learn that Papa would have liked e‑mail (“for a man who wrote let­ters to tune him­self up and cool him­self down against the day’s ‘real writ­ing’, email would have been a great out­let for his emo­tion”). But he would have loved Twit­ter:

Email squared. Hem­ing­way was the mas­ter of ‘cable-ese’, a form of slang devel­oped by jour­nal­ists in the 1920s to save space (and, as impor­tant­ly, mon­ey) when send­ing telegraphs, which he learned in his youth as a news­pa­per­man. He would have loved the 140-char­ac­ter lim­it to write small lit­tle nov­els of rage or love or some­thing in between. If he could write an arc of a sto­ry in six words, which went: “For Sale: baby shoes, nev­er worn,” there­by arguably invent­ing flash fic­tion, then just imag­ine the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the kind of War and Peace epics he might have tried via Twit­ter. And the pos­si­ble spats he might have got into, of course.


From Tom Williams, author of A Mys­te­ri­ous Some­thing In The Light: A Life of Ray­mond Chan­dler, we learn that the cre­ator of Philip Mar­lowe, anoth­er poten­tial Twit­ter enthu­si­ast, would take to the works of Quentin Taran­ti­no, since

The thing that frus­trat­ed Chan­dler most about Hol­ly­wood was that his vision as a writer rarely made it onto screen unmedi­at­ed. For Ray, the stu­dio always got in the way of what he was try­ing to do. It was a prob­lem that par­tic­u­lar­ly affect­ed The Blue Dahlia. Though a movie beset by prob­lems (a tight sched­ule meant Chan­dler had to write the end­ing in a state of extreme intox­i­ca­tion) one of the most con­stant laments in his let­ters is the studio’s per­sis­tent med­dling with the pic­ture. He wrote to a friend, short­ly after fin­ish­ing the film, “So here was I a mere writer and a tired one at that scream­ing at the front office to pro­tect the pro­duc­er and actu­al­ly going on the set to direct scenes – I know noth­ing about direct­ing – in order that the whole project be saved from going down the drain.”

Stu­dios were more inter­est­ed in get­ting pun­ters into the the­atre than pro­duc­ing good films as far as Chan­dler was con­cerned (see the bit­ter por­trait of a stu­dio boss in The Lit­tle Sis­ter who talks of car­ing only for the num­ber of the­atres he owns, not the films shown in them, while let­ting his dog uri­nate on his trouser cuff). Though Quentin Taran­ti­no is hard­ly the first direc­tor to work inde­pen­dent­ly of a stu­dio, his deter­mi­na­tion to make the films he wants (prov­ing the val­ue of let­ting a film-mak­er stick to his vision in the process) is some­thing Chan­dler would have admired deeply. Taran­ti­no is also will­ing to embrace all lev­els of cul­ture, and this too is some­thing Ray would have respect­ed; he was nev­er one for lit­er­ary snob­bery.


From Robert Zaret­sky, author of A Life Worth Liv­ing: Albert Camus and the Quest for Mean­ing, we learn that cre­ator of Meur­sault, the affect­less Arab-shoot­ing pro­tag­o­nist of The Stranger, would have approved of The Arab Spring:

The author of The Rebel would find lit­tle rea­son for hope, but none for despair. The instances of non-vio­lent protest in Tunisia and Egypt would serve as illus­tra­tions of Camus’ insis­tence that true rebels nev­er lose sight of the human­i­ty of those who oppress them. Syr­ia? The trag­ic illus­tra­tion of what hap­pens when rebels do lose sight of this imper­a­tive.

The Fer­tile Fact offers not only more things these three men would enjoy about our era, but sim­i­lar lists for such cre­ators as Alfred Hitch­cock, Nan­cy Mit­ford, Ten­nessee Williams, and Agatha Christie. How long before they pro­duce one for Vir­ginia Woolf, the writer who, describ­ing “the cre­ative fact,” “the fact that engen­ders and sug­gests,” coined the phrase that gave the site its name?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

18 (Free) Books Ernest Hem­ing­way Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time

Ray­mond Chan­dler Denounces Strangers on a Train in Sharply-Word­ed Let­ter to Alfred Hitch­cock

Quentin Tarantino’s 10 Favorite Films of 2013

Albert Camus Writes a Friend­ly Let­ter to Jean-Paul Sartre Before Their Per­son­al and Philo­soph­i­cal Rift

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, lit­er­a­ture, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Face­book page.

William Shatner Raps About How to Not Kill Yourself Deep Frying a Turkey

Like many oth­ers on Thanks­giv­ing, William Shat­ner sought a “moister, tasti­er” turkey expe­ri­ence. The for­mer Star Trek star had pur­chased a siz­able fry­er and, turned brash by pangs of hunger, threw cau­tion to the wind; despite know­ing Archimedes’ prin­ci­ple full well, Shat­ner bold­ly went where no cook should go and deposit­ed the turkey into a vat brim­ming with oil. Oh, woe­ful day! The oil, dis­placed by the turkey, ran over the fryer’s sides and onto the open flame. Flames then shot up, burn­ing Shatner’s arms.

In 2011, Shat­ner joined forces with the insur­ance com­pa­ny State Farm to cre­ate a cau­tion­ary video warn­ing would-be Thanks­giv­ing turkey fry­ers about the per­ils of engag­ing in such a gas­tro­nom­ic enter­prise. Accord­ing to State Farm, insur­ance claims relat­ed to Thanks­giv­ing grease & cook­ing-acci­dents dropped by half after this pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment came out.

In what can only be inter­pret­ed as an attempt to tam­per with per­fec­tion, in 2012, State Farm decid­ed to have YouTube’s melodysheep remix Shatner’s orig­i­nal video, giv­ing it a glis­ten­ing new coat of Inter­net viral­i­ty. We are pleased to say that the endeav­or proved to be a resound­ing suc­cess. Please enjoy the video, above, and remem­ber the fol­low­ing fry­ing tips:

1: Avoid oil spillover–don’t over­fill the pot.

2: Turn off the flame when low­er­ing the turkey into oil.

3: Fry out­side, away from the house.

4: Prop­er­ly thaw the turkey before fry­ing.

5: Keep a grease-fire-approved extin­guish­er near­by.

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman.

A Guide to Happiness: Alain de Botton’s Documentary Shows How Nietzsche, Socrates & 4 Other Philosophers Can Change Your Life

Alain de Bot­ton is a not a philosopher’s philoso­pher. This means that his work is giv­en lit­tle con­sid­er­a­tion inside acad­e­mia. It also means that he speaks to many, many more people—ordinary peo­ple hun­gry for human­ist ideas about living—than his peers. In his six-part video series, Phi­los­o­phy: A Guide to Hap­pi­ness, de Bot­ton tells us that he’d always looked to phi­los­o­phy as a dis­ci­pline that “has wise things to say about every­day wor­ries…. Phi­los­o­phy promised some­thing that might sound a lit­tle naïve, but was in fact rather pro­found: A way to learn to be hap­py.” I’m still not sure if this sounds more naïve or pro­found, but de Botton’s videos, each near­ly 25 min­utes long, con­cern thinkers who sure­ly knew the dif­fer­ence. Each video also func­tions as a trav­el­ogue of sorts, as de Bot­ton vis­its the cities that pro­duced the thinkers, and tries to square their his­to­ries with the mod­ern world around the relics.

Above, de Bot­ton dis­cuss­es Roman sto­ic philoso­pher and trage­di­an Seneca. An advi­sor to Nero, Seneca’s life may have been hap­py, at times, but it was hard­ly restrained. In any case, he had some­thing to teach us about the futil­i­ty of anger, and he was also, like de Bot­ton, a great pop­u­lar­iz­er of oth­er peo­ple’s ideas. Seneca char­ac­ter­ized anger as a ratio­nal response that nonethe­less relies on false premis­es, name­ly that we have more con­trol over our cir­cum­stances than we actu­al­ly do, and that our opti­mism about out­comes is unfound­ed and sets us up with unre­al­is­tic expec­ta­tions. De Bot­ton has before pro­fessed an affin­i­ty for the trag­ic view, and Seneca’s hor­ri­bly bloody works, which inspired the Eliz­a­bethan genre known as “Revenge Tragedy,” are par­tic­u­lar­ly grotesque explo­rations of anger. But per­haps it is those who most clear­ly see the per­ni­cious effects of an emo­tion, or lack of it, who under­stand it best.

Take Arthur Schopen­hauer, whom de Bot­ton con­sults as his author­i­ty on love. Like Seneca, Schopen­hauer seems very much at odds with much of his philo­soph­i­cal writ­ing on love and com­pas­sion. His essay “On Women” earned him a per­ma­nent rep­u­ta­tion as a misog­y­nist, deserved or not. He’s rumored to have had a vio­lent tem­per and wrote approv­ing­ly of keep­ing one’s dis­tance from the mass of peo­ple, most of whom annoyed him dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly. Schopen­hauer also famous­ly wrote that it would have been prefer­able not to have been born at all, a posi­tion of extreme mis­an­thropy known as anti­na­tal­ism.

But there are oth­er aspects of Schopen­hauer’s roman­tic life to dis­cuss, both its ear­ly suc­cess­es and lat­er fail­ures. “Noth­ing in life,” says de Bot­ton, “is more impor­tant than love for Schopen­hauer.” Even with all of its pains of rejec­tion, roman­tic love, Schopen­hauer wrote in The World as Will and Rep­re­sen­ta­tion, “is more impor­tant than all oth­er aims in man’s life; and there­fore it is quite wor­thy of the pro­found seri­ous­ness with which every­one pur­sues it.”

Anoth­er pop­u­lar British philo­soph­i­cal thinker, John Gray, has a very dif­fer­ent take on the great Ger­man pes­simist, call­ing his philosophy “more sub­ver­sive of human­ist hopes than any oth­er.” But de Botton’s tech­nique seems in many ways cal­cu­lat­ed as a mild sub­ver­sion of expec­ta­tion, choos­ing as he does such con­tra­dic­to­ry, and often very soli­tary fig­ures.

One soli­tary thinker who occu­pies a trea­sured place in the library of every human­ist is Michel de Mon­taigne, the genial French essay­ist who invent­ed the lit­er­ary term essai, and who some might say also per­fect­ed the form. Mon­taigne has always struck me as the hap­pi­est of men, even in, or espe­cial­ly in his long stretch­es of soli­tude, punc­tu­at­ed by con­sci­en­tious pub­lic ser­vice (despite his life­long painful kid­ney stones). While both Schopen­hauer and Mon­taigne engaged in lengthy self-exam­i­na­tion, Mon­taigne seems to have gen­uine­ly liked him­self and oth­ers. He treats him­self in his writ­ings as an old and hon­est friend with whom one can be per­fect­ly can­did with­out any fear of reprisal. This is per­haps why de Bot­ton chose him to illus­trate self-esteem.

Mon­taigne comes from a tra­di­tion much friend­lier to phi­los­o­phy as mem­oir (he invent­ed the tra­di­tion). And so, in this age of the mem­oir, he has seen a great resur­gence. In 2011, at least three pop­u­lar books on Mon­taigne came out, one titled How to Live and anoth­er sub­ti­tled Mon­taigne and Being in Touch With Life. Of all the six philoso­phers de Bot­ton sur­veys in his series, which also includes Niet­zsche, Epi­cu­rus, and Socrates, Mon­taigne would seem the most com­pli­men­ta­ry to de Botton’s casu­al, per­son­al approach to phi­los­o­phy, which seeks not to dig new ground nor dis­cov­er dis­tant coun­tries but to con­front the vex­ing human ques­tions that meet us always at home.

You can view all six episodes in the embed­ded playlist below:

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 90 Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es and Start Liv­ing the Exam­ined Life

Alain de Bot­ton Pro­pos­es a Kinder, Gen­tler Phi­los­o­phy of Suc­cess

The Dai­ly Habits of High­ly Pro­duc­tive Philoso­phers: Niet­zsche, Marx & Immanuel Kant

Alain de Botton’s Quest for The Per­fect Home and Archi­tec­tur­al Hap­pi­ness

The Art of Liv­ing: A Free Stan­ford Online Course Explores Time­less Ques­tions

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

More in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.