David Lynch’s Perfume Ads Based on the Works of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald & D.H. Lawrence

As we wrote last week, David Lynch is not only one of the great cin­e­mat­ic spe­lunk­ers of the uncon­scious, cre­at­ing images and sto­ry­lines that have dis­turbed movie­go­ers for almost four decades, but he’s also had a suc­cess­ful run as a com­mer­cial direc­tor, mak­ing ads for among oth­er com­pa­nies Alka-Seltzer, Bar­il­la Pas­ta and Geor­gia Cof­fee.

In 1988, fresh off his suc­cess with Blue Vel­vet and just before he start­ed pro­duc­tion on his land­mark TV series Twin Peaks, he made his first com­mer­cials — a quar­tet of adver­tise­ments for Calvin Klein’s per­fume Obses­sion fea­tur­ing pas­sages from such lit­er­ary titans as F. Scott Fitzger­ald, D.H. Lawrence and Ernest Hem­ing­way. (Lynch’s ad fea­tur­ing Gus­tave Flaubert is mys­te­ri­ous­ly unavail­able on Youtube.)

The com­mer­cials have all the pre­ten­sion, the lus­cious black and white pho­tog­ra­phy and the vacant-eyed beau­ti­ful peo­ple that you might expect from a Calvin Klein ad. Yet they also show glim­mers of Lynch’s aes­thet­ic – a noirish, dream-like tone, an odd­ly framed close up, a fond­ness for flash­ing lights. Lynch dialed down the weird to serve the text. The result is far more roman­tic and beau­ti­ful than you might expect from the direc­tor. If you’re hop­ing to see a David Lynch com­mer­cial that will give night­mares, check this one out instead.

The ad for F. Scott Fitzger­ald, which you can see above, uses one of the more famous pas­sages from The Great Gats­by.

He knew that when he kissed this girl, and for­ev­er wed his unut­ter­able visions to her per­ish­able breath, his mind would nev­er romp again like the mind of God. So he wait­ed, lis­ten­ing for a moment longer to the tun­ing-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blos­somed for him like a flower and the incar­na­tion was com­plete.

Sharp-eyed view­ers might have caught that the ad stars future Oscar-win­ning actor Beni­cio Del Toro and Heather Gra­ham, who would lat­er appear in Twin Peaks. The com­mer­cial dis­solves back and forth between Del Toro and Gra­ham until the inevitable kiss when the ad cuts, with sur­pris­ing­ly lit­er­al­ness, to a bloom­ing flower.

The D.H. Lawrence ad uses a quo­ta­tion from Women in Love:

Her fin­gers went over the mould of his face, over his fea­tures. How per­fect and for­eign he was—ah how dan­ger­ous! Her soul thrilled with com­plete knowl­edge. This was the glis­ten­ing, for­bid­den apple … She kissed him, putting her fin­gers over his face, his eyes, his nos­trils, over his brows and his ears, to his neck, to know him, to gath­er him in by touch.

Lynch shows a blonde in a bro­cade dress loom­ing over her improb­a­bly beau­ti­ful para­mour who is lying on a divan. She paws at his chis­eled fea­tures before lean­ing in for a kiss.

And final­ly, the Ernest Hem­ing­way ad – the spook­i­est and most Lynchi­an of the bunch — fea­tures a pas­sage from The Sun Also Ris­es:

I lay awake think­ing and my mind jump­ing around. Then I could­n’t keep away from it, and I start­ed to think about Brett. I was think­ing about Brett and my mind start­ed to go in sort of smooth waves. Then all of a sud­den I start­ed to cry. After a while it was bet­ter and I lay in bed and lis­tened to the heavy trams go by.. and then I went to sleep.

This ad opens with a half-naked man lying awake in a dark­ened room filled with grotesque shad­ows. He’s haunt­ed by the specter of an androg­y­nous woman in a tank top. There’s a flash of light­en­ing and then the woman kiss­es his cheek. Lynch clos­es up on his eye, which is welling up with a sin­gle tear.

As a side note: the half-naked guy in the ad is James Mar­shall who went on to star in Twin Peaks, as did Lara Fly­nn Boyle who appears in the miss­ing Flaubert com­meri­cial. Lynch has a rep­u­ta­tion of being very loy­al to his actors.

The Obses­sion ads proved to be such a suc­cess that he start­ed get­ting requests to do com­mer­cials for oth­er lux­u­ry per­fume com­pa­nies like Gior­gio Armani’s Gio and Yves Saint Laurent’s Opi­um.

As Lynch told Chris Rod­ley in Lynch on Lynch, he thinks of com­mer­cials as “lit­tle bit­ty films, and I always learn some­thing by doing them.”

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Lynch’s Unlike­ly Com­mer­cial for a Home Preg­nan­cy Test (1997)

David Lynch Teach­es You to Cook His Quinoa Recipe in a Weird, Sur­re­al­ist Video

What David Lynch Can Do With a 100-Year-Old Cam­era and 52 Sec­onds of Film

Pete Seeger Dies at 94: Remember the American Folk Legend with a Priceless Film from 1947

We’ve got some sad news to report. Last night Pete Seeger, one of Amer­i­ca’s nation­al trea­sures, died at the age of 94. For near­ly 70 years, Seeger embod­ied folk music and its ideals (“com­mu­ni­ca­tion, enter­tain­ment, social com­ment, his­tor­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity, inclu­sive­ness”) and became a tire­less advo­cate for social jus­tice and pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment. In recent years, Seeger made his voice heard at Occu­py Wall Street and even paid a vis­it to the 2013 edi­tion of Farm Aid, where he sang “This Land is Your Land”. Above you can watch a film that brings you back to Seeger’s ear­ly days. Released in 1946, To Hear Your Ban­jo Play is an engag­ing 16-minute intro­duc­tion to Amer­i­can folk music, writ­ten and nar­rat­ed by Alan Lomax and fea­tur­ing rare per­for­mances by Woody Guthrie, Bald­win Hawes, Son­ny Ter­ry, Brownee McGhee, Texas Glad­den and Mar­got May­o’s Amer­i­can Square Dance Group. In the film, Seeger is only 27 years old. We’ll miss you dear­ly Pete.

To Hear Your Ban­jo Play resides in our col­lec­tion of 625 Free Online Movies.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leg­endary Folk­lorist Alan Lomax’s ‘The Land Where the Blues Began’

94-Year-Old Pete Seeger Sings “This Land is Your Land” at Farm Aid

Willie Nel­son, Pete Seeger, and Arlo Guthrie at Occu­py Wall Street

Pete Seeger on “Turn! Turn! Turn!”

Pete Seeger, 91, Per­forms BP Protest Song

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Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Seconds to the New World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

Last Novem­ber Mag­nus Carlsen, then only 22 years old, became the Chess World Cham­pi­on when he sound­ly defeat­ed Viswanathan Anand in a best-of-12 series match held in Chen­nai, India. Carlsen won three games, tied ten, and lost none. Only the sec­ond chess cham­pi­on from the West since World War II (and the first since the “eccen­tric genius” Bob­by Fis­ch­er), Carlsen sud­den­ly found him­self a celebri­ty of sorts, get­ting air­time on TV shows. Appear­ing on the Scan­di­na­vian talk show, Skavlan, a few days ago, Carlsen delight­ed view­ers when he played a game of speed chess against Bill Gates, the wun­derkind of a pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, who co-found­ed Microsoft when he was only 20 years old. So how did Gates hold up? Well, let’s just say that, true to its name, it was a game of speed chess. Gates lost speed­i­ly — in 79 sec­onds and just nine moves.

Not that he needs it, Bill got a lit­tle con­so­la­tion yes­ter­day when it was announced that he and Melin­da will be the com­mence­ment speak­ers at Stan­ford’s grad­u­a­tion this com­ing June.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Famous Chess Match from 1910 Reen­act­ed with Clay­ma­tion

Chess Rivals Bob­by Fis­ch­er and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Cen­tu­ry’

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi Square Off in a Mon­strous Game of Chess (1934)

Watch the Complete, Crowdsourced Concert Film of Neil Young’s Great Carnegie Hall Show (1/7/14)

On Jan­u­ary 7th, Neil Young played an acoustic solo con­cert at Carnegie Hall and treat­ed the audi­ence to what Rolling Stone calls, “an absolute­ly jaw-drop­ping two hour and 20-minute show that focused large­ly on his gold­en peri­od of 1966 to 1978.” “It was, with­out a doubt, one of the great­est Neil Young shows of the past decade, at least when he was­n’t play­ing with Crazy Horse.” Above, we have a crowd­sourced con­cert film of that entire glo­ri­ous show. It was stitched togeth­er and uploaded to Youtube by Reel­ife Doc­u­men­tary Pro­duc­tions. Find the 23-song setlist here.

via @SteveSilberman

Relat­ed Con­tent:

See Neil Young Per­form Clas­sic Songs in 1971 BBC Con­cert: “Old Man,” “Heart of Gold” & More

Great Sto­ry: How Neil Young Intro­duced His Clas­sic 1972 Album Har­vest to Gra­ham Nash

‘The Nee­dle and the Dam­age Done’: Neil Young Plays Two Songs on The John­ny Cash Show, 1971

Neil Young Busk­ing in Glas­gow, 1976: The Sto­ry Behind the Footage

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

lewis carroll letter writing

My grad­u­ate school super­vi­sor taught me all I know about pro­fes­sion­al email eti­quette. Vague lan­guage? Poor form. Typos? Noth­ing worse. Run-on para­graphs? A big no-no. Spelling your recipient’s name wrong? No com­ing back from that one. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, hasti­ly com­posed emails and ambigu­ous phras­ing are all too com­mon, par­tic­u­lar­ly with the high vol­ume of emails many peo­ple send dai­ly. Skimp­ing on the cour­tesy and the proof­read­ing, how­ev­er, is like­ly to cost you points with your recip­i­ent. Thank­ful­ly, we’ve pro­vid­ed a list of cor­re­spon­dence best prac­tices, com­piled by an author­i­ty on let­ters: Lewis Car­roll (who, inci­den­tal­ly, would have cel­e­brat­ed his 182nd birth­day today). In 1890, Car­roll began to sell a Won­der­land Stamp Case, which helped its users to orga­nize their var­i­ous postage stamps. Paired with the case was a short essay, enti­tled “Eight Or Nine Wise Words About Let­ter-Writ­ing.”

The ini­tial guide, of course, refers to pen and paper cor­re­spon­dence. In fact, Carroll’s fore­most pre­cept, which instructs one to write leg­i­bly, is no longer a con­cern in the dig­i­tal age. Nev­er­the­less, the remain­ing eight rules pro­vide a clear and sim­ple crib sheet for let­ter-writ­ing that has stood the test of time remark­ably well:

1) Start by address­ing any ques­tions the receiv­er pre­vi­ous­ly had - “Don’t fill more than a page and a half with apolo­gies for not hav­ing writ­ten soon­er!

The best sub­ject, to begin with, is your friend’s last let­ter. Write with the let­ter open before you. Answer his ques­tions, and make any remarks his let­ter sug­gests. Then go on to what you want to say your­self. This arrange­ment is more cour­te­ous, and pleas­an­ter for the read­er, than to fill the let­ter with your own invalu­able remarks, and then hasti­ly answer your friend’s ques­tions in a post­script. Your friend is much more like­ly to enjoy your wit, after his own anx­i­ety for infor­ma­tion has been sat­is­fied.”

2) Don’t repeat your­self - “When once you have said your say, ful­ly and clear­ly, on a cer­tain point, and have failed to con­vince your friend, drop that sub­ject: to repeat your argu­ments, all over again, will sim­ply lead to his doing the same…”

3) Write with a lev­el head — “When you have writ­ten a let­ter that you feel may pos­si­bly irri­tate your friend, how­ev­er nec­es­sary you may have felt it to so express your­self, put it aside till the next day. Then read it over again, and fan­cy it addressed to your­self. This will often lead to your writ­ing it all over again, tak­ing out a lot of the vine­gar and pep­per, and putting in hon­ey instead, and thus mak­ing a much more palat­able dish of it!”

4) When in doubt, err on the side of cour­tesy - “If your friend makes a severe remark, either leave it unno­ticed, or make your reply dis­tinct­ly less severe: and if he makes a friend­ly remark, tend­ing towards ‘mak­ing up’ the lit­tle dif­fer­ence that has arisen between you, let your reply be dis­tinct­ly more friend­ly. If, in pick­ing a quar­rel, each par­ty declined to go more than three-eighths of the way, and if, in mak­ing friends, each was ready to go five-eighths of the way—why, there would be more rec­on­cil­i­a­tions than quar­rels! Which is like the Irishman’s remon­strance to his gad-about daughter—‘Shure, you’re always goin’ out! You go out three times, for wanst that you come in!’ ”

5) Don’t try to have the last word — “How many a con­tro­ver­sy would be nipped in the bud, if each was anx­ious to let the oth­er have the last word! Nev­er mind how telling a rejoin­der you leave unut­tered: nev­er mind your friend’s sup­pos­ing that you are silent from lack of any­thing to say: let the thing drop, as soon as it is pos­si­ble with­out dis­cour­tesy: remem­ber ‘speech is sil­vern, but silence is gold­en’! (N.B.—If you are a gen­tle­man, and your friend a lady, this Rule is super­flu­ous: you won’t get the last word!)”

6) Humor is hard to trans­late to writ­ing. Be obvi­ous. - “If it should ever occur to you to write, jest­ing­ly, in dis­praise of your friend, be sure you exag­ger­ate enough to make the jest­ing obvi­ous: a word spo­ken in jest, but tak­en as earnest, may lead to very seri­ous con­se­quences. I have known it to lead to the break­ing-off of a friend­ship. Sup­pose, for instance, you wish to remind your friend of a sov­er­eign you have lent him, which he has for­got­ten to repay—you might quite mean the words “I men­tion it, as you seem to have a con­ve­nient­ly bad mem­o­ry for debts”, in jest: yet there would be noth­ing to won­der at if he took offence at that way of putting it. But, sup­pose you wrote “Long obser­va­tion of your career, as a pick­pock­et and a bur­glar, has con­vinced me that my one lin­ger­ing hope, for recov­er­ing that sov­er­eign I lent you, is to say ‘Pay up, or I’ll sum­mons yer!’” he would indeed be a mat­ter-of-fact friend if he took that as seri­ous­ly meant!”

7) Don’t for­get that attach­ment! — “When you say, in your let­ter, “I enclose cheque for £5”, or “I enclose John’s let­ter for you to see”, leave off writ­ing for a moment—go and get the doc­u­ment referred to—and put it into the enve­lope. Oth­er­wise, you are pret­ty cer­tain to find it lying about, after the Post has gone!”

8) Using a post­script? Make it short — “A Post­script is a very use­ful inven­tion: but it is not meant (as so many ladies sup­pose) to con­tain the real gist of the let­ter: it serves rather to throw into the shade any lit­tle mat­ter we do not wish to make a fuss about.”

Casu­al Vic­to­ri­an-era “sil­ly women!” sex­ism aside, Car­rol­l’s tips are sur­pris­ing­ly fresh and applic­a­ble. If you’re plan­ning on engag­ing in some seri­ous snail-mail cor­re­spon­dence, we sug­gest you check out Car­rol­l’s com­plete essay over at Project Guten­berg.

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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

See Sal­vador Dali’s Illus­tra­tions for the 1969 Edi­tion of Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land

See The Orig­i­nal Alice In Won­der­land Man­u­script, Hand­writ­ten & Illus­trat­ed By Lewis Car­roll (1864)

The Real Alice in Won­der­land Cir­ca 1862


“Exceptional, Spooky and Beautiful” Moments With Birds: Dennis Hlynsky’s Creepy Nature Videos

If, by some stretch of the imag­i­na­tion, the end timers have it right, I hope artist Den­nis Hlyn­sky will con­sid­er set­ting up his tri­pod as demons spew forth from the earth­’s crust.

His small brains en masse project has me con­vinced that he is the per­fect per­son to cap­ture such an event. Have a look at how he doc­u­ments the com­ings and goings of birds.

I’ve nev­er expe­ri­enced a star­ling mur­mu­ra­tion myself, out­side of the famous, shot-on-the-fly footage (right above) of Sophie Wind­sor Clive and Lib­er­ty Smith, indie film­mak­ers who chanced to find them­selves in the right canoe at the right time, ornitho­log­i­cal­ly speak­ing. I admire these young wom­en’s sang-froid. I would’ve been cow­er­ing and slash­ing at the air with my pad­dles. That fun­nel cloud of black wings is unnerv­ing even from the safe remove of my liv­ing room, but a groovy sound­track by Nomad Soul Col­lec­tive encour­ages even the most bird-pho­bic amongst us (me) to see it as some­thing gor­geous and awe-inspir­ing, too.

Hlyn­sky does­n’t attempt to lead the wit­ness with reas­sur­ing sound cues. Instead, he amps up the creepy via “extrud­ed time,” lay­er­ing sequences of frames atop one anoth­er until the dark­est pix­els become trac­ers empha­siz­ing flight paths. The com­bi­na­tion of every­day sound and visu­al por­tent makes it dread­ful­ly easy to imag­ine one’s truck break­ing down at an inter­sec­tion right around the 7 minute mark.

Per­haps I’ve seen too many zom­bie movies.

Or have I?

Hlyn­sky is obvi­ous­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by nature, but he also states that “to some degree these videos are stud­ies of mob behav­ior. Are these deci­sions instinc­tu­al or small thought­ful con­sid­er­a­tions? Does one leader guide the group or is there a com­mon brain? Is a virus a sin­gle crea­ture or a dif­fused body that we inhab­it?”

Put anoth­er way, per­haps there’s a rea­son it’s called a mur­der of crows, as opposed to a brunch, hug or sweat­shirt of crows. Hlyn­sky, who’s the type of guy to seek their com­pa­ny out, describes his time spent film­ing them to be among the most “excep­tion­al, spooky and beau­ti­ful” moments of his life.

As for these New Jer­sey seag­ulls, “throw a french fry in the air and with­in 30 sec­onds the entire screech of birds will come.” Yikes. Here, extrud­ed time con­spires with the ambi­ent sounds of a board­walk amuse­ment park, in a tour-de-force of avian-inspired psy­chic unrest.

Pag­ing Tip­pi  Hedren… I’m out of here!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Fal­con and the Mur­mu­ra­tion: Nature’s Aer­i­al Bat­tle Above Rome

Cor­nell Launch­es Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Ani­mal Sounds, with Record­ings Going Back to 1929

Para­Hawk­ing in Nepal: What It’s Real­ly Like to Fly with Birds

Ayun Hal­l­i­day wish­es she had a cat instead of a mean, orange-striped owl. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Alfred Hitchcock and Vladimir Nabokov Trade Letters and Ideas for a Film Collaboration (1964)


Alfred Hitch­cock, writes James A. David­son in Images, “is usu­al­ly men­tioned in the same breath with Cor­nell Wool­rich, the lit­er­ary ‘mas­ter of sus­pense,’ ” not least because he adapt­ed a novel­la of Wool­rich’s into Rear Win­dow (1954).” Yet David­son him­self finds in Hitch­cock “a much greater affin­i­ty with that of the Russ­ian émi­gré writer Vladimir Nabokov, with whom he is not typ­i­cal­ly asso­ci­at­ed since there is no appar­ent con­nec­tion” like the one between Nabokov and Stan­ley Kubrick, who brought Nabokov’s nov­el Loli­ta to the screen. Hitch­cock and Nabokov nev­er sim­i­lar­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed, but not out of a lack of desire. Close his­tor­i­cal con­tem­po­raries and mutu­al admir­ers, the writer and the direc­tor did once exchange let­ters dis­cussing film ideas they might devel­op togeth­er. You’ll find the full text of both Hitch­cock­’s query and Nabokov’s inter­est­ed response at the Amer­i­can Read­er.

“The first idea I have been think­ing about for some time is based upon a ques­tion that I do not think I have seen dealt with in motion pic­tures or, as far as I know, in lit­er­a­ture,” wrote Hitch­cock to Nabokov on Novem­ber 19, 1964. “It is the prob­lem of the woman who is asso­ci­at­ed, either by mar­riage or engage­ment, to a defec­tor.” After fill­ing out a few details, suit­ing the con­cept per­fect­ly to what he calls “the cus­tom­ary Hitch­cock sus­pense,” he lays out a sec­ond, about a young girl who, “hav­ing spent her life in a con­vent in Switzer­land due to the fact that she had no home to go to and only had a wid­owed father,” sud­den­ly finds her­self released back to the hotel run by her father and his entire fam­i­ly. But ah, “the whole of this fam­i­ly are a gang of crooks, using the hotel as a base of oper­a­tions,” which would lead into the telling of an “extreme­ly col­or­ful sto­ry.” Reply­ing nine days lat­er, Nabokov admits that Hitch­cock­’s first idea, about the defec­tor’s wife, “would present many dif­fi­cul­ties for me” due to his unfa­mil­iar­i­ty with “Amer­i­can secu­ri­ty mat­ters and meth­ods.” The one about the crim­i­nal hotel, how­ev­er, strikes him as “quite accept­able,” and he goes on to make two pitch­es of his own.

Nabokov’s first idea, some­thing of a rever­sal of Hitch­cock­’s first one, involves a defec­tor from the Sovi­et Union in the Unit­ed States. His sec­ond focus­es on a star­let “court­ed by a bud­ding astro­naut.” When this astro­naut returns home famous from a major mis­sion, the actress, whose “star­rise has come to a stop at a mod­er­ate lev­el,” real­izes “that he is not the same as he was before his flight.” Unable to put her fin­ger on it, she “becomes con­cerned, then fright­ened, then pan­icky.” Nabokov tan­ta­liz­ing­ly men­tions hav­ing “more than one inter­est­ing denoue­ment for this plot,” but alas, we’ll nev­er see them cin­e­ma­tized, and cer­tain­ly not by the likes of Hitch­cock. “One can only imag­ine the kind of invo­lut­ed, com­plex, and play­ful work these two men would have pro­duced,” writes David­son. “What is left, in the end, is the work they pro­duced, which can be well sum­ma­rized by a line the fic­tion­al John Shade wrote in Pale Fire: ‘Life is a mes­sage scrib­bled in the dark.’ ”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

21 Free Hitch­cock Movies Online

François Truffaut’s Big Inter­view with Alfred Hitch­cock (Free Audio)

Vladimir Nabokov Mar­vels Over Dif­fer­ent Loli­ta Book Cov­ers

Vladimir Nabokov (Chan­nelled by Christo­pher Plum­mer) Teach­es Kaf­ka at Cor­nell

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 Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Face­book page.

Nietzsche Dispenses Dating Advice in a Short Screwball Film, My Friend Friedrich

My Friend Friedrich opens on awk­ward, bespec­ta­cled Colum­bia stu­dent Nate hav­ing a heart to heart on the phone with his moth­er. Then, in a phi­los­o­phy class, he almost suc­ceeds in land­ing a date by lob­bing an illus­trat­ed invi­ta­tion at his love inter­est, Emma. All goes awry when a taller, more con­fi­dent, bespec­ta­cled Colum­bia stu­dent cuts him off at the knees. So far, so very New York stu­dent film, but a con­ceit arrives to dis­tin­guish this sto­ry of Ivy League dat­ing woes: the ghost of Friedrich Niet­zsche appears before Nate to guide him towards self-actu­al­iza­tion.

In what “seems to have been a senior project at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts,” accord­ing to Crit­i­cal The­o­ry (a Vimeo upload dates the film as “cir­ca 2003), My Friend Friedrich gives us the typ­i­cal under­grad­u­ate expe­ri­ence of the philosopher’s voice. Niet­zsche instructs our young friend to regard the flash­ing lights, tall build­ings, and “horse­less car­riages” of Times Square as mean­ing­less. “Nihilism cares about noth­ing” he says and urges his pupil to will him­self to pow­er. It’s not too pro­found a por­tray­al of Nietzsche—though of course it’s only played for laughs—and seems to come main­ly from a sur­face read­ing of his Will to Pow­er, an unfin­ished man­u­script pub­lished after the philosopher’s death. (His sis­ter fraud­u­lent­ly pitched a man­gled edi­tion to the Nazis as Nietzsche’s under­writ­ing of their ide­ol­o­gy, cut­ting out all of her brother’s strong remarks against anti-Semi­tism.)

One could argue, if it’s worth explain­ing the humor, that this super­fi­cial take on Niet­zsche is pre­cise­ly the point, since it’s the dif­fi­dent Nate’s slight read­ing of Will to Pow­er at the out­set that pro­duces his hal­lu­ci­na­tion-slash-vis­i­ta­tion. Niet­zsche helps Nate win an intel­lec­tu­al piss­ing con­test by quot­ing Beyond Good and Evil chap­ter and verse, then goads him into some awk­ward out­bursts and even­tu­al­ly over­stays his wel­come. The screw­ball con­clu­sion is ripped right out of Wes Ander­son.

It’s all in good fun, but if you find your­self eager for some more sub­stan­tial Niet­zsche resources, we’ve got them aplen­ty. You might begin with emi­nent Niet­zsche schol­ar and Will to Pow­er trans­la­tor Wal­ter Kaufmann’s lec­tures on Niet­zsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre. In our list of free phi­los­o­phy cours­es you’ll find Niet­zsche cours­es by Leo Strauss, Rick Rod­er­ick, and oth­ers. Alain de Bot­ton offers an intro­duc­tion on Niet­zsche as part of his Guide to Hap­pi­ness, and BBC pro­gram Human, All Too Human presents Niet­zsche’s life in a doc­u­men­tary series that also includes Sartre and Hei­deg­ger. Many works by Niet­zsche can also be found in our Free eBooks and Free Audio Books col­lec­tion.

And if it’s more Niet­zsche humor you’re after, see this failed attempt to explain the philoso­pher to a group of 5‑year-olds.

via Crit­i­cal The­o­ry

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Sartre, Hei­deg­ger, Niet­zsche: Three Philoso­phers in Three Hours

Dis­cov­er Friedrich Nietzsche’s Curi­ous Type­writer, the “Malling-Hansen Writ­ing Ball”

Wal­ter Kaufmann’s Clas­sic Lec­tures on Niet­zsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre (1960)

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

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