Maya Angelou Reads “Still I Rise” and “On the Pulse of the Morning”

As we mourn Maya Angelou on the day after her death, it’s heart­en­ing to remem­ber that she lived sev­er­al more life­times than most in her 86 years, some filled with pain and strug­gle, some with great joy. While gen­er­al­ly known as a poet, writer, teacher, actress, and activist, Angelou actu­al­ly got her start in the pub­lic eye as a Calyp­so dancer and singer, even appear­ing in a film, Calyp­so Heat Wave and releas­ing an album, Miss Calyp­so, both in 1957. It’s said that Bil­lie Hol­i­day told Angelou in 1958, “you’re going to be famous but it won’t be for singing,” She was right of course, but Angelou retained the air of a per­former as a read­er of her work.

Above, see her deliv­er an ani­mat­ed read­ing of her famous poem, “Still I Rise,” which ref­er­ences many of her past lives, includ­ing lines that seem to allude to her Miss Calyp­so days: “Does my sex­i­ness upset you? / Does it come as a sur­prise / That I dance like I’ve got dia­monds / At the meet­ing of my thighs?” The stan­za is indica­tive of anoth­er qual­i­ty among the many she enu­mer­ates, “sassi­ness.” But she begins the read­ing on a more sober note, with a state­ment about human resilience, the abil­i­ty to get up and face the day, despite the fears we all live with. “Wher­ev­er that abides in a human being,” she says, “there is the noble­ness of the human spir­it.”

That resilience, the tran­scen­dence of painful per­son­al and ances­tral his­to­ries, was the great theme of Angelou’s work, whether in poems like “Still I Rise” or her reveal­ing 1969 auto­bi­og­ra­phy I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, also the title of a poem from her 1983 col­lec­tion Shak­er, Why Don’t You Sing?. While the caged bird is a very per­son­al sym­bol for Angelou, her poem “On the Pulse of the Morn­ing,” which you can see her read above at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inau­gu­ra­tion, speaks to the whole human species in ele­men­tal terms. Again she twines themes of tran­scend­ing painful and bloody his­to­ries with those of the “noble­ness of the human spir­it.” The speak­er of the poem is the earth itself, who address­es each of us as “a bor­dered coun­try / Del­i­cate and strange­ly made proud.” “His­to­ry,” she writes in much-quot­ed lines from the poem’s ninth stan­za, “despite its wrench­ing pain / Can­not be unlived, but if faced / With courage, need not be lived again.” For all the pain Angelou her­self endured and faced with courage, it’s a sen­ti­ment she earned the right to pro­claim. Her cel­e­bra­tion of not only the par­tic­u­lar African-Amer­i­can strug­gle, but also its part in the uni­ver­sal human strug­gle for dig­ni­ty and pur­pose stands as her endur­ing lega­cy. She ends the poem where she begins her read­ing of “Still I Rise” above, with a call for us to treat each oth­er with care and respect, to not be “wed­ded for­ev­er / To fear, yoked eter­nal­ly / To brutish­ness”:

Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sis­ter’s eyes, and into
Your broth­er’s face, your coun­try
And say sim­ply
Very sim­ply
With hope –
Good morn­ing.

Both poems will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

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!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Dylan Thomas Recite His Clas­sic Poem, “Do Not Go Gen­tle Into That Good Night”

Hear Sylvia Plath Read 50+ of Her Dark, Com­pelling Poems

Stream Clas­sic Poet­ry Read­ings from Harvard’s Rich Audio Archive: From W.H. Auden to Dylan Thomas

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

Stephen Hawking Reveals the Conditions That Could Lead to England’s Victory at The World Cup

Speak­ing at the Savoy Hotel in Lon­don, physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing told a crowd: “Ever since the dawn of civil­i­sa­tion, peo­ple have not been con­tent to see events as uncon­nect­ed and inex­plic­a­ble.” “They have craved under­stand­ing of the under­ly­ing order in the world. The World Cup is no dif­fer­ent.” Using what he calls “Gen­er­al Logis­tic Regres­sion Mod­el­ling,” Hawk­ing has stud­ied the 45 World Cup match­es the Eng­lish soc­cer team has played since 1966 (the last time the team won the tour­na­ment), and he has iden­ti­fied the con­di­tions that could lead Eng­land to anoth­er vic­to­ry in the World Cup this sum­mer. Wear­ing red uni­forms, play­ing with a 4–3‑3 for­ma­tion, and hav­ing a Euro­pean referee–they’re his­tor­i­cal­ly a plus. So is play­ing in cool­er tem­per­a­tures, at low­er alti­tudes, with kick off hap­pen­ing around 3pm. Hawk­ing also reveals the best way to score in a penal­ty shootout. That’s cov­ered, too, in the video above.

via The Guardian

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawk­ing & Arthur C. Clarke Dis­cuss God, the Uni­verse, and Every­thing Else

Video: The Day Bob Mar­ley Played a Big Soc­cer Match in Brazil, 1980

Watch “The Secret Tour­na­ment” & “The Rematch,” Ter­ry Gilliam’s Star-Stud­ded Soc­cer Ads for Nike

Matthew Weiner on The Art of Writing Mad Men: The Paris Review Interview


This week­end, AMC aired episode 7 of Mad Men’s final sea­son. The show will now take a break, until episodes 8–14 hit the air­waves ear­ly next year. Before you turn your atten­tion else­where, you may want to spend some time with the Paris Review’s big inter­view with Matthew Wein­er, the cre­ator of Mad Men. The inter­view cov­ers a lot of ground.

We learn that Wein­er is a par­tic­u­lar fan of John Cheev­er. “[W]ith John Cheev­er, I rec­og­nized myself in the voice of the nar­ra­tor.” “Cheev­er holds my atten­tion more than any oth­er writer. He is in every aspect of Mad Men, start­ing with the fact that Don lives in Ossin­ing on Bul­let Park Road.” (Find the Paris Review’s 1976 inter­view with Cheev­er here.)

We also dis­cov­er that Wein­er stud­ied poet­ry in col­lege with Christo­pher Reeve’s father, Frank Reeve, and there were a cou­ple of years when Wein­er con­sid­ered T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land “the most inter­est­ing thing in the world.”

Then the con­ver­sa­tion turns to Mad Men, where Wein­er reveals what’s at the heart of the show: “I’ve always said this is a show about becom­ing white. That’s the def­i­n­i­tion of suc­cess in America—becoming a WASP. A WASP male.” “Don Drap­er knows he’s poor, very much in the mod­el of [Lee] Iacoc­ca or [Sam] Wal­ton, who came out of the Great Depres­sion, out of real­ly hum­ble begin­nings. Or like Con­rad Hilton, on the show. These men don’t take no for an answer, they build these big busi­ness­es, these empires, but real­ly it’s all based on fail­ure, inse­cu­ri­ty, and an iden­ti­ty mod­eled on some abstract ide­al of white pow­er.”

Wein­er has lots more to say, includ­ing about his days writ­ing for The Sopra­nos. Read the com­plete inter­view here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

T.S. Eliot Reads His Mod­ernist Mas­ter­pieces “The Waste Land” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Gay Talese: Drink­ing at New York Times Put Mad Men to Shame

The Paris Review Inter­views Now Online

Read 9 Free Books By Noam Chomsky Online

Image by Andrew Rusk, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

The gross and ever-increas­ing degree of eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty in the Unit­ed States has become a phe­nom­e­non that even the country’s elites can no longer ignore since the explo­sive pub­li­ca­tion of Thomas Piketty’s Cap­i­tal in the 21st Cen­tu­ry. The book’s high­ly tech­ni­cal mar­shal­ing of data speaks pri­mar­i­ly to econ­o­mists and sec­on­dar­i­ly to lib­er­al pol­i­cy­mak­ers. Piket­ty’s calls for redis­tri­b­u­tion have lead to charges of “Marx­ism” from the oth­er end of the polit­i­cal spectrum—due to some inevitable degree to the book’s provoca­tive title. Yet in the reck­on­ing of actu­al Marx­ist Slavoj Žižek, the French econ­o­mist is still “a good Keyn­sian” who believes that “cap­i­tal­ism is ulti­mate­ly the only game in town.”  While the Marx­ist left may cri­tique Piketty’s pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions for their reliance on state cap­i­tal­ism, anoth­er fierce left­ist thinker—Žižek’s some­time intel­lec­tu­al rival Noam Chomsky—might cri­tique them for their acqui­es­cence to state pow­er.

Chomsky’s role as a pub­lic intel­lec­tu­al has placed him at the fore­front of the left-anar­chist fight against neolib­er­al polit­i­cal econ­o­my and the U.S. for­eign and domes­tic poli­cies that dri­ve it. Whether those poli­cies come from nom­i­nal­ly lib­er­al or con­ser­v­a­tive admin­is­tra­tions, Chom­sky asserts time and again that they ulti­mate­ly serve the needs of elites at the expense of mass­es of peo­ple at home and abroad who pay the very dear cost of per­pet­u­al wars over resources and mar­kets. In his 2013 book On Anar­chism, Chom­sky leaves lit­tle room for equiv­o­ca­tion in his assess­ment of the role elites play in main­tain­ing a state appa­ra­tus that sup­press­es pop­u­lar move­ments:

If it is plau­si­ble that ide­ol­o­gy will in gen­er­al serve as a mask for self-inter­est, then it is a nat­ur­al pre­sump­tion that intel­lec­tu­als, in inter­pret­ing his­to­ry or for­mu­lat­ing pol­i­cy, will tend to adopt an elit­ist posi­tion, con­demn­ing pop­u­lar move­ments and mass par­tic­i­pa­tion in deci­sion mak­ing, and empha­siz­ing rather the neces­si­ty for super­vi­sion by those who pos­sess the knowl­edge and under­stand­ing that is required (so they claim) to man­age soci­ety and con­trol social change.

This excerpt is but one minute exam­ple of Chom­sky’s fierce­ly inde­pen­dent stance against abuse of pow­er in all its forms and his tire­less advo­ca­cy for pop­u­lar social move­ments. As Hen­ry Giroux writes in a recent assess­ment of Chomsky’s volu­mi­nous body of work, what his many diverse books share is “a lumi­nous the­o­ret­i­cal, polit­i­cal, and foren­sic analy­sis of the func­tion­ing of the cur­rent glob­al pow­er struc­ture, new and old modes of oppres­sive author­i­ty, and the ways in which neolib­er­al eco­nom­ic and social poli­cies have pro­duced more sav­age forms of glob­al dom­i­na­tion and cor­po­rate sov­er­eign­ty.” And while he can sound like a doom­say­er, Chom­sky’s work also offers “the pos­si­bil­i­ty of polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic alter­na­tives” and “a fresh lan­guage for a col­lec­tive sense of agency and resis­tance.”

Today we offer a col­lec­tion of Chomsky’s polit­i­cal books and inter­views free to read online, cour­tesy of Znet. While these texts come from the 1990s, it’s sur­pris­ing how fresh and rel­e­vant they still sound today. Chomsky’s gran­u­lar pars­ing of eco­nom­ic, social, and mil­i­tary oper­a­tions explains the engi­neer­ing of the eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion Piket­ty details, one ever more char­ac­ter­ized by the title of a Chom­sky inter­view, “The Pros­per­ous Few and the Rest­less Many.” See links to nine books below. To read, click on links to either the “Con­tent Overview” or “Table of Con­tents.” The books can also be found in our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

Nec­es­sary Illu­sions: Thought Con­trol in Demo­c­ra­t­ic Soci­eties (1989): Based on the Massey Lec­tures, deliv­ered in Cana­da in Novem­ber 1988, Nec­es­sary Illu­sions argues that, far from per­form­ing a watch­dog role, the “free press” serves the needs of those in pow­er.

Deter­ring Democ­ra­cy (1991): Chom­sky details the major shift in glob­al pol­i­tics that has left the Unit­ed States unchal­lenged as the pre­em­i­nent mil­i­tary pow­er even as its eco­nom­ic might has declined dras­ti­cal­ly in the face of com­pe­ti­tion from Ger­many and Japan. Deter­ring Democ­ra­cy points to the poten­tial­ly cat­a­stroph­ic con­se­quences of this new imbal­ance, and reveals a world in which the Unit­ed States exploits its advan­tage ruth­less­ly to enforce its nation­al inter­ests — from Nicaragua to the Philip­pines, Pana­ma to the Mid­dle East.

Year 501: The Con­quest Con­tin­ues (1993): Ana­lyz­ing Haiti, Latin Amer­i­ca, Cuba, Indone­sia, and even pock­ets of the Third World devel­op­ing in the Unit­ed States, Noam Chom­sky draws par­al­lels between the geno­cide of colo­nial times and the mur­der and exploita­tion asso­ci­at­ed with mod­ern-day impe­ri­al­ism.

Rethink­ing Camelot: JFK, the Viet­nam War, and U.S. Polit­i­cal Cul­ture (1993)

What Uncle Sam Real­ly Wants (1993): A bril­liant dis­til­la­tion of the real moti­va­tions behind U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy, com­piled from talks and inter­views com­plet­ed between 1986 and 1991, with par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to Cen­tral Amer­i­ca. [Note: If you have prob­lems access­ing this text, you can read it via this PDF.]

The Pros­per­ous Few and the Rest­less Many (1994): A fas­ci­nat­ing state-of-the-world report from the man the New York Times called “arguably the most impor­tant intel­lec­tu­al alive.”

Secrets, Lies and Democ­ra­cy (1994): An inter­view with David Barsami­an

Keep­ing the Rab­ble in Line (1994): Inter­views with David Barsami­an

Excerpts from Pow­ers and Prospects: Reflec­tions on Human Nature and the Social Order (1996): A scathing cri­tique of ortho­dox views and gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy. See full text in pdf form here.

And for expo­nen­tial­ly more Chom­sky, see, which hosts well over a hun­dred of his top­i­cal arti­cles from the Viet­nam era to the present.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Noam Chom­sky Calls Post­mod­ern Cri­tiques of Sci­ence Over-Inflat­ed “Poly­syl­lab­ic Tru­isms”

Film­mak­er Michel Gondry Presents an Ani­mat­ed Con­ver­sa­tion with Noam Chom­sky

Clash of the Titans: Noam Chom­sky & Michel Fou­cault Debate Human Nature & Pow­er on Dutch TV, 1971

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

Ernest Hemingway’s “Love Letter” to His “Dearest Kraut,” Marlene Dietrich (1955)


Click to enlarge

We think today of Ernest Hem­ing­way as that most styl­is­ti­cal­ly dis­ci­plined of writ­ers, but it seems that, out­side his pub­lished work and espe­cial­ly in his per­son­al cor­re­spon­dence, he could cut pret­ty loose. One par­tic­u­lar­ly vivid exam­ple has returned to pub­lic atten­tion recent­ly by appear­ing for sale on a site called a let­ter from Hem­ing­way to leg­endary singer-actress Mar­lene Diet­rich, dat­ed August 28, 1955. “In the inti­mate, ram­bling and reveal­ing let­ter,” writes the Wall Street Jour­nal’s Jonathan Welsh, “Hem­ing­way pro­fess­es his love for Diet­rich a num­ber of times, though the two are said to have nev­er con­sum­mat­ed the rela­tion­ship.” He also, Welsh notes, “talks about stag­ing one of her per­for­mances, in which he imag­ines her ‘drunk and naked.’ ” The full let­ter, which spares no detail of this elab­o­rate fan­ta­sy, runs as fol­lows:

Dear­est Kraut :

Thanks very much for the good long let­ter with the gen on what you found wrong. I don’t know any­thing about the the­ater but I don’t think it would occur to me, even, to have you intro­duced even to me with strains of La Vie En Rose. Poor peo­ples.

If I were stag­ing it would prob­a­bly have some­thing nov­el like hav­ing you shot onto the stage, drunk, from a self-pro­pelled min­nen­wer­fer which would advance in from the street rolling over the cus­tomers. We would be play­ing “Land of Hope and Glo­ry.” As you land­ed on the stage drunk and naked I would advance from the rear, or from your rear wear­ing evening clothes and would hur­ried­ly strip off my evening clothes to cov­er you reveal­ing the physique of Burt Lan­cast­er Strong­fort and announce that we were sor­ry that we did not know the lady was loaded. All this time the Thir­ty ton S/P/ Mor­tar would be bull­doz­ing the cus­tomers as we break into the Abor­tion Scene from “Lakme.” This is a scene which is real­ly Spine Tin­gling and I have just the spine for it. I play it with a Giant Rub­ber Whale called Cap­tain Ahab and all the time we are work­ing on you with pul­mo­tors and raversed (sic) clean­ers which blow my evening clothes off you. You are foam­ing at the mouth of course to show that we are real­ly act­ing and we bot­tle the foam and sell it to any sur­viv­ing cus­tomers. You are referred to in the con­tract as The Artist and I am just Cap­tain Ahab. For­tu­nate­ly I am crazed and I keep shout­ing “Fire One. Fire Two. Fire Three.” And don’t think we do not fire them. It is then that the Germ of the Mutiny is born in your disheveled brain.

But why should a great Artist-Cap­tain like me invent so many for so few for only air-mail love on Sun­day morn­ing when I should be in church. Only for fun, I guess. Gen­tle­men, crank up your hears­es.

Mar­lene, dar­ling, I write sto­ries but I have no grace for fuck­ing them up for oth­er medi­ums. It was hard enough for me to learn to write to be read by the human eye. I do not know how, nor do I care to know how to write to be read by par­rots, mon­keys, apes, baboons, nor actors.

I love you very much and I nev­er want­ed to get mixed in any busi­ness with you as I wrote you when this thing first was brought up. Nei­ther of us has enough whore blood for that. Not but what I num­ber many splen­did whores amongst my best friends and cer­tain­ly nev­er, I hope, could be accused of anti-whor­eism. Not only that but I was cir­cum­cised as a very ear­ly age.

Hope you have it good in Cal­i­for­nia and Las Vegas. What I hear from the boys is that many peo­ple in La Vegas (sic) or three or four any­way of the mains are over-extend­ed. This is very straight­gen but every­body knows it if I know it although I have not told any­one what I’ve heard and don’t tell you. But watch all mon­ey ends. Some peo­ple would as soon have the pub­lic­i­ty of mak­ing you look bad as of your expect­ed and legit­i­mate suc­cess. But that is the way every­thing is every­where and no crit­i­cism of Neva­da or any­one there. Cut this para­graph out of this let­ter and burn it if you want to keep the rest of the let­ter in case you thought any of it fun­ny. I rely on you as a Kraut offi­cer and gen­tle­men do this.

New Para­graph. I love you very much and wish you luck. Wish me some too. Book is on page 592. This week Thurs­day we start pho­tog­ra­phy on fish­ing. Am in charge of fish­ing etc. and it is going to be dif­fi­cult enough. With a bad back a lit­tle worse. The Artist is not here nat­u­ral­ly. I only wrote the book but must do the work as well and have no stand-in. Up at 0450 knock off at I930. This goes on for I5 days.

I think you could say you and I have earned what­ev­er dough the peo­ple let us keep.

So what. So Mer­dre. I love you as always.


“To him she was ‘my lit­tle Kraut,’ or ‘daugh­ter,’ to her he was sim­ply ‘Papa’ — and it was love at first sight when they met aboard a French ocean lin­er in 1934,” writes The Guardian’s Kate Con­nol­ly of the two icons’ unusu­al rela­tion­ship. “Hem­ing­way and Diet­rich start­ed writ­ing to each oth­er when he was 50 and she was 47, remain­ing in close con­tact until the writer’s sui­cide in 1961. But they nev­er con­sum­mat­ed their love, because of what Hem­ing­way referred to as ‘unsyn­chro­nised pas­sion.’ ” A fan of both Hem­ing­way and Diet­rich could pre­sum­ably desire noth­ing more than one of the orig­i­nal pieces of their cor­re­spon­dence, but this par­tic­u­lar let­ter, with a start­ing price of $35,000, drew not a sin­gle bid — per­haps a sale, like the phys­i­cal expres­sion of the Old Man and the Sea author and “Lili Mar­leen” singer’s love, fat­ed nev­er to hap­pen.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­lene Dietrich’s Tem­per­me­n­tal Screen Test for The Blue Angel (and the Com­plete 1930 Film)

Ernest Hem­ing­way to F. Scott Fitzger­ald: “Kiss My Ass”

Ernest Hemingway’s Delu­sion­al Adven­tures in Box­ing: “My Writ­ing is Noth­ing, My Box­ing is Every­thing.”

Ernest Hemingway’s Favorite Ham­burg­er Recipe

Clive Owen & Nicole Kid­man Star in HBO’s Hem­ing­way & Gell­horn: Two Writ­ers, A Mar­riage and a Civ­il War

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How Star Wars Borrowed From Akira Kurosawa’s Great Samurai Films

Hol­ly­wood has a long his­to­ry poach­ing from abroad. Ask Orson Welles, who along with cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er Gregg Toland, incor­po­rat­ed the look of Ger­man Expres­sion­ist cin­e­ma into Cit­i­zen Kane. Ask Quentin Taran­ti­no who cribbed much of Ringo Lam’s City on Fire for his break­out debut Reser­voir Dogs. And ask George Lucas who was so great­ly influ­enced by Japan­ese mas­ter Aki­ra Kuro­sawa that he lift­ed large chunks of his Hid­den Fortress for Star Wars.

Above is a video that (if you can get past the bro-tas­tic nar­ra­tion and man­gled Japan­ese pro­nun­ci­a­tion) neat­ly unpacks how Lucas’s sem­i­nal space opera owes a lot to Kuro­sawa. It doesn’t take too much imag­i­na­tion to con­nect a light saber with a samurai’s katana. Obi-Wan Kenobi’s robes look like some­thing that Toshio Mifu­ne might wear in one of Kurosawa’s epics. Lucas even uses Kurosawa’s trade­mark screen wipe. Below is an inter­view with Lucas where he describes how Kurosawa’s visu­al style influ­enced him.

Hol­ly­wood gen­er­al­ly has a bet­ter track record with bor­row­ing from for­eign film­mak­ing genius­es than actu­al­ly work­ing with them. Fritz Lang and John Woo were seduced into com­ing to Amer­i­ca only to be forced by over­bear­ing stu­dios into mak­ing ano­dyne ver­sions of their pre­vi­ous works. Kuro­sawa him­self had a deeply trou­bling expe­ri­ence in Hol­ly­wood; cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences, stu­dio pol­i­tics and Kurosawa’s auto­crat­ic direct­ing style – he wasn’t nick­named ‘The Emper­or’ for noth­ing – got him axed after three weeks from the 20th Cen­tu­ry Fox movie Tora! Tora! Tora!. Kuro­sawa took the blow very per­son­al­ly and, fol­low­ing the box office flop of his next movie Dodesukaden, attempt­ed sui­cide.

Yet the spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess of Star Wars proved to be an unex­pect­ed boon to Kuro­sawa. With his new­found influ­ence in Hol­ly­wood, Lucas man­aged to strong arm 20th Cen­tu­ry Fox, the same stu­dio that axed Kuro­sawa a decade before, into fund­ing Kage­musha. The movie proved to be a com­mer­cial and crit­i­cal hit, win­ning the Palme d’Or at Cannes. The film also gave Kuro­sawa the clout to raise the mon­ey for his last mas­ter­piece Ran.

Of course, Lucas wasn’t the only film­mak­er influ­enced by Kuro­sawa. Check out Kuro­sawa: The Last Emper­or — a doc­u­men­tary about the direc­tor fea­tur­ing a host of film­mak­ers who have been influ­enced by him, includ­ing Bernar­do Bertoluc­ci, John Woo and Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s List of His 100 Favorite Movies

Watch Kurosawa’s Rashomon Free Online, the Film That Intro­duced Japan­ese Cin­e­ma to the West

The Kuro­sawa Dig­i­tal Archive

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa & Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la Star in Japan­ese Whisky Com­mer­cials (1980)

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.

In Basho’s Footsteps: Hiking the Narrow Road to the Deep North Three Centuries Later


Mat­suo Basho (1644–1694) lived his pecu­liar life on the con­vic­tion that art could cre­ate an aware­ness that allowed one to see into and com­mu­ni­cate the essence of expe­ri­ence. Through­out his life he searched for the state of being one with the object of his poems, some­thing he believed a poet need­ed to reach in order to write truth­ful­ly. This life-long search brought Basho to wan­der­ing. He thought that trav­el­ling would lead to a state of karu­mi (light­ness), essen­tial for art. In May 1689, when he was already a renowned poet in Japan, he sold his house and embarked on his great­est trip. Basho trav­elled light, always on foot and always slow­ly, look­ing care­ful­ly and deeply. He sought to leave every­thing behind (even him­self) and have a direct expe­ri­ence with the nature around him, and he saw Zen Bud­dhism and trav­el­ling as the way to achieve this. He walked 2000 kilo­me­ters around the north­ern coast of Hon­shu (Japan’s main island), writ­ing prose and poet­ry along the way, and com­pil­ing it all in a book that changed the course of Japan­ese lit­er­a­ture, The Nar­row Road to the Deep North.

We are Pablo Fer­nán­dez (writer) and Anya Gleiz­er (painter), the adven­tur­ers and artists behind In Basho’s Foot­steps. 325 years have passed since Basho began hik­ing the Nar­row Road.  This sum­mer, we will retrace his trail, in an effort to come in con­tact with Basho’s approach to art and trav­el­ling. We will hike for three months, camp­ing on the way, trav­el­ling as light­ly and aus­tere­ly as pos­si­ble. We will write and paint along the route, and com­pile what we pro­duce in an artist’s book. It will be hard, but art avails no com­pro­mis­es. Of course, apart from the phys­i­cal and men­tal hard­ships, there are finan­cial ones (flights and food for three months, and pub­lish­ing costs). To make the project pos­si­ble, we have used Kick­starter, a crowd­fund­ing plat­form. With Kick­starter peo­ple are able to fund the projects they like, and receive a reward in exchange (we are giv­ing our back­ers copies of our book, silk-screen prints and even paint­ings, depend­ing on the pledge).  This is a great way of cre­at­ing an audi­ence involved in the cre­ation process. We don’t only receive finan­cial sup­port, but also very use­ful feed­back, and we will be able to show our audi­ence how the book is com­ing togeth­er. Because we want our art to reach as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, we are giv­ing a dig­i­tal edi­tion of the book to every­one who backs the project with more than $5, before the book is acces­si­ble to the gen­er­al pub­lic. Our Kick­starter cam­paign ends on June 4th. It has been a great suc­cess so far: We have already cov­ered the trav­el­ling costs and now we are fund­ing the pub­lish­ing costs. For us, crowd-fund­ing has opened up the tra­di­tion­al obsta­cles between cre­ators and read­ers. This sum­mer, with the help of all our sup­port­ers, we will retrace Basho’s Foot­steps.

Edi­tor’s note: This has been a guest post by Pablo Fer­nán­dez and Anya Gleiz­er. Please con­sid­er sup­port­ing their great project here. Also find trans­la­tions of Basho’s poet­ry in our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

The Acid Test Reels: Ken Kesey & The Grateful Dead’s Soundtrack for the 1960s Famous LSD Parties

“If you remem­ber the ‘60s, you weren’t there.” The quote was sup­pos­ed­ly uttered by Grace Slick. Or Paul Kant­ner. Or Den­nis Hop­per. The truth is no one real­ly remem­bers who said it first.

Of course, the “60s” was not sim­ply the decade that came between the ‘50s and the ‘70s but a short­hand for a gen­er­a­tional revolt fueled in part by one stu­pid war and a gen­er­al dis­il­lu­sion­ment with con­sumer cap­i­tal­ism. The ground zero for the “60s,” at least in the Unit­ed States, was in San Fran­cis­co and, at the cen­ter of the scene, there was Ken Kesey, the Mer­ry Pranksters and their leg­endary coun­ter­cul­ture bac­cha­na­lias called Acid Tests. These hap­pen­ings fea­tured groovy flash­ing lights, live music from the likes of The Grate­ful Dead, and copi­ous amounts of LSD. Up top, Kesey explains the mean­ing of the Acid Tests for you:

Thanks to the inter­net, you can expe­ri­ence a bit of what these orig­i­nal hip­pie fests were like. Above is audio from two shows in Jan­u­ary 1966 which had Kesey and long­time Mer­ry Prankster Ken Babbs crack­ing jokes and drop­ping truth bombs in between songs from the Grate­ful Dead. Below is the set list of that show along with the audio of two more shows with Kesey and the Dead. Some of the track list­ings might be incom­plete prob­a­bly because every­one was hav­ing too much fun to take notes. So crank it up and turn on, tune in and drop out.

The Fill­more Acid Test

Fill­more Audi­to­ri­um, San Fran­cis­co, CA
Jan­u­ary 8, 1966
1. Stage Chaos/More Pow­er Rap
2. King Bee
3. I’m A Hog For You Baby
4. Cau­tion: Do Not Step On Tracks >
5. Death Don’t Have No Mer­cy
6. Star Span­gled Ban­ner / clos­ing remarks

The Sound City Acid Test
363 6th Street, San Fran­cis­co, CA
Jan­u­ary 29, 1966
7. Ken Kesey inter­viewed by Frank Fey
8. Ken Babbs and har­mon­i­ca
9. Take Two: Ken Kesey
10. Bull
11. Peg­gy The Pis­tol
12. One-way Tick­et
13. Bells And Fairies
14. Lev­i­ta­tion
15. Trip X
16. The End

The Pico Acid Test
Dan­ish Cen­ter, Los Ange­les, CA
March 12, 1966
1. Vio­la Lee Blues
2. You See A Bro­ken Heart
3. In The Mid­night Hour
[mis-dat­ed, accord­ing to David Lemieux, and not cor­re­spond­ing to the vault copy­’s setlist; these are prob­a­bly from 3/19/1966]

The San Fran­cis­co State Acid Test
What­ev­er It Is Fes­ti­val
San Fran­cis­co State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Fran­cis­co, CA
Stereo Con­trol Room Mas­ter (rec. 4:00AM — 6:00AM)
Octo­ber 2, 1966
4. The Head Has Become Fat Rap
5. A Mex­i­can Sto­ry: 25 Ben­nies
6. A Tar­nished Gala­had
7. Get It Off The Ground Rap >
8. It’s Good To Be God Rap >
9. Nir­vana Army Rap >
10. The Butch­er Is Back
11. Acid Test Grad­u­a­tion Announce­ment
12. Send Me To The Moon >Clos­ing Rap
Cred­its on 10/2/66:
Voic­es: Ken Kesey and Hugh Rom­ney
Gui­tar: Ken Kesey
Vio­lin: Dale Kesey
Organ: Jer­ry Gar­cia
Engi­neer­ing: Steve New­man, Ken Kesey, Moun­tain Girl

The San Fran­cis­co State Acid Test
What­ev­er It Is Fes­ti­val
San Fran­cis­co State Uni­ver­si­ty, San Fran­cis­co, CA
Octo­ber 2, 1966
1. Ken Kesey’s dia­logue (iso­lat­ed remix)

Mer­ry Prankster Sound Col­lage Sequences
Octo­ber 2, 1966
2. Prankster Music/Sound Col­lage #1(sequence 1)
3. Kesey Rap > Prankster Music/Sound Col­lage #2 (sequence 2)
4. Prankster Sound Col­lage #3 > Prankster Raga(sequence 3)
Prankster Record­ings broad­cast over the P.A.

End of What­ev­er It Is Fes­ti­val
Octo­ber 2, 1966
5. Clos­ing Jam
6. Prankster Elec­tron­ics

Acid Test Grad­u­a­tion Jam
Win­ter­land, San Fran­cis­co, CA
Octo­ber 31, 1966
7. Jam Ses­sion (musi­cians unknown)
from The World Of Acid film sound­track

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ken Kesey Talks About the Mean­ing of the Acid Tests in a Clas­sic Inter­view

UC San­ta Cruz Opens a Deadhead’s Delight: The Grate­ful Dead Archive is Now Online

The Grate­ful Dead Rock the Nation­al Anthem at Can­dle­stick Park: Open­ing Day, 1993

Bob Dylan and The Grate­ful Dead Rehearse Togeth­er in Sum­mer 1987. Lis­ten to 74 Tracks.

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.

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.