Albert Camus: The Madness of Sincerity — 1997 Documentary Revisits the Philosopher’s Life & Work

Open­ing with a child­hood sto­ry from his life, the doc­u­men­tary above, Albert Camus: The Mad­ness of Sin­cer­i­ty, tells us that the philosopher/journalist/novelist’s first love was “the howl­ing and the tumult of the wind.” It’s a beau­ti­ful image for a writer who con­front­ed the pain, joy, and con­fu­sion of human exis­tence with­out the ready-made props of reli­gious belief, nation­al­ist alle­giance, or ide­o­log­i­cal con­for­mi­ty. Camus’ “mad­ness of sin­cer­i­ty” pro­duced endur­ing work like The Stranger, The Plague, The Rebel, The First Man, and The Fall and won him a Nobel Prize in 1957.

His con­vic­tion also cost him friend­ships as he turned away from mass move­ments and pur­sued his own path. It was a cost he was pre­pared to bear. As he would write in The Fall in 1956, “How could sin­cer­i­ty be a con­di­tion of friend­ship? A lik­ing for the truth at all costs is a pas­sion that spares noth­ing and that noth­ing can with­stand.”

After the wind, of course, Camus had many more loves, and many lovers. A few of them appear above, along with Camus’ daugh­ter Cather­ine and son Jean to dis­cuss the great themes of his work in three chap­ters: the Absurd, Revolt, and Hap­pi­ness. With dis­cus­sion and excerpts—read by nar­ra­tor Bri­an Cox—from Camus’ work, the doc­u­men­tary traces his life from birth and a dif­fi­cult child­hood in French Alge­ria, to his dai­ly edi­to­ri­als for Com­bat dur­ing the French Resis­tance, his turn against Com­mu­nism and deci­sion to live in near-exile in the ‘50s, and his pre­ma­ture death in a car acci­dent in 1960 at the age of 47. All in all, the doc­u­men­tary leaves us with the impres­sion of Camus as a mag­net­ic indi­vid­ual, and a deeply prin­ci­pled one, who held true to the words quot­ed from his Nobel accep­tance speech ear­ly in the film about the writer’s task, which is always, he said, “root­ed in two com­mit­ments… the refusal to lie about what one knows, and resis­tance to oppres­sion.”

Find more thought-pro­vok­ing films in our col­lec­tion, 285 Free Doc­u­men­taries Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Albert Camus Deliv­er His Nobel Prize Accep­tance Speech (1957)

Albert Camus Wins the Nobel Prize & Sends a Let­ter of Grat­i­tude to His Ele­men­tary School Teacher (1957)

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

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

16,000 Pages of Charles Darwin’s Writing on Evolution Now Digitized and Available Online

Darwin Tree of Life

The Dar­win­ian the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion is an amaz­ing sci­en­tif­ic idea that seems, at least to a layper­son like me, to meet all the cri­te­ria for what sci­en­tists like Ian Glynn praise high­ly as “elegance”—all of them per­haps except one: Sim­plic­i­ty. Evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry may seem on its face to be a fair­ly sim­ple expla­na­tion of the facts—all life begins as sin­gle-celled organ­isms, then changes and adapts in response to its envi­ron­ment, branch­ing and devel­op­ing into mil­lions of species over bil­lions of years. But the jour­ney Dar­win took to arrive at this idea was hard­ly straight­for­ward and it cer­tain­ly didn’t arrive in one eure­ka moment of enlight­en­ment.

darwin Notebook D

The process for him took over two decades, rep­re­sent­ed by the hun­dreds of pages of notes he left behind, all of which will be freely avail­able online at the Dar­win Man­u­scripts Project at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in 2015. This means 30,000 dig­i­tized doc­u­ments, like the naturalist’s first “Tree of Life” at the top of the page, from a July 1837 note­book entry, and Trans­mu­ta­tion Note­book D above, the first note­book in which Dar­win began work­ing on the the­o­ry of nat­ur­al selec­tion.

The Muse­um has cur­rent­ly announced that it is a lit­tle over the halfway point, with just over 16,000 dig­i­tized doc­u­ments that cov­er, they write, “the 25-year peri­od in which Dar­win became con­vinced of evo­lu­tion; dis­cov­ered nat­ur­al selec­tion; devel­oped expla­na­tions of adap­ta­tion, spe­ci­a­tion, and a branch­ing tree of life and wrote the Ori­gin [of Species].” Direc­tor of the project David Kohn describes that lat­ter famous work as “the mature fruit of a pro­longed process of sci­en­tif­ic explo­ration and cre­ativ­i­ty that began toward the end of his Bea­gle voy­age… and that con­tin­ued to expand in range and deep­en in con­cep­tu­al rig­or through numer­ous well-marked stages.”


Now his­to­ri­ans of sci­ence can trace those stages as though they were a fos­sil record, start­ing with that famous H.M.S. Bea­gle voy­age, in which the young Dar­win sailed from South Amer­i­ca to the Pacif­ic Islands—stopping at numer­ous sites, includ­ing the Gala­pa­gos Islands of course, and col­lect­ing sam­ples and mak­ing obser­va­tions. The jour­ney pro­duced a live­ly account, 1839’s Voy­age of the Bea­gle, pre­lude to the ful­ly devel­oped the­o­ry pre­sent­ed 20 years lat­er in On the Ori­gin of Species. Look­ing into the Bea­gle voy­age sec­tion, you’ll find hun­dreds of pages of notes, like that above on Gala­pa­gos mock­ing­birds. Darwin’s hand­writ­ing will present a chal­lenge, which is why, Hyper­al­ler­gic tells us, the project is “adding tran­scrip­tions and a schol­ar­ly struc­ture to its high-res­o­lu­tion images.”

darwin Children's drawing

Hyper­al­ler­gic also sums up the remain­ing con­tents of the huge archive, which in addi­tion to the Bea­gle mate­r­i­al will fea­ture every­thing “from the rest of his life, which he spent defend­ing his work.” This means “scrib­blings in books he stud­ied, abstracts, his own book drafts, arti­cles and their revi­sions, jour­nals he read, and his note­books on trans­mu­ta­tion.” You’ll also find “some charm­ing odd­i­ties” like draw­ings by the scientist’s chil­dren (above) on the back of orig­i­nal Ori­gin man­u­script pages. Learn much more about the archive, and Darwin’s life­long work, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al History’s Dar­win Man­u­script Project site.

via io9/Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Did Charles Dar­win Read? See His Hand­writ­ten Read­ing List & Read Books from His Library Online

Read the Orig­i­nal Let­ters Where Charles Dar­win Worked Out His The­o­ry of Evo­lu­tion

Trace Darwin’s Foot­steps with Google’s New Vir­tu­al Tour of the Gala­pa­gos Islands

New Ani­mat­ed Web Series Makes the The­o­ry of Evo­lu­tion Easy to Under­stand

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

A Haunting Drone’s-Eye View of Chernobyl

Back in August, Col­in Mar­shall remarked that drones “have drawn bad press in recent years: as the intru­sive tools of the com­ing sur­veil­lance state, as deliv­er­ers of death from above in a host of war zones, as the pur­chase-deliv­er­ing har­bin­gers of world dom­i­na­tion by” “But as with any tech­nol­o­gy,” Col­in went on to note, “you can also use drones for the good, or at least for the inter­est­ing.” Like cap­tur­ing mes­mer­iz­ing aer­i­al footage of major cities around the world, cities such as Los Ange­les, New York, Lon­don, Bangkok & Mex­i­co City. Now let’s add Cher­nobyl to the list.

While work­ing on a recent 60 Min­utes episode, film­mak­er Dan­ny Cooke vis­it­ed Cher­nobyl, and, using a drone (a DJI Phan­tom 2 and GoPro 3+, to be pre­cise), he cap­tured haunt­ing footage of the city dev­as­tat­ed by the nuclear melt­down of April 26, 1986. Cher­nobyl has cooled off enough that jour­nal­ists and sci­en­tists can now vis­it the area for short peri­ods of time. (Biol­o­gists, for exam­ple, are active­ly study­ing the crip­pling effects radi­a­tion has had on Cher­nobyl’s ani­mal life, and pro­duc­ing dis­turb­ing videos show­ing how birds are devel­op­ing tumors, and spi­ders are spin­ning asym­met­ri­cal webs.) As for when Cher­nobyl will be tru­ly hab­it­able again, the best guess is anoth­er 20,000 years. By that time, the detri­tus will have ful­ly giv­en way to nature, and, if peo­ple still roam the earth, they’ll get some­thing close to a fresh start.

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!


All of Lionel Messi’s 253 Record-Setting Goals in La Liga, Shown in One Video

Ear­li­er this month, when Lionel Mes­si scored a hat-trick against Sevil­la, he reached a mile­stone. He had scored his 253rd goal in La Liga, mak­ing him the all-time top scor­er in the elite Span­ish soc­cer league. His first goal came on May 1, 2005, and it took him just 289 match­es to break the record pre­vi­ous­ly held by Tel­mo Zarra. If you’re late to appre­ci­at­ing the artistry of Mes­si, not to wor­ry. Above, we have a video that runs 31 min­utes and brings togeth­er footage of every Mes­si goal in La Liga — all 253 in a row. To see the goals pre­sent­ed in anoth­er fash­ion, check out this info­graph­ic.

via Twist­ed Sifter

Lynda Barry’s Wonderfully Illustrated Syllabus & Homework Assignments from Her UW-Madison Class, “The Unthinkable Mind”

Lynda Barry Syllabus

Our rev­er­ence for car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry, aka Pro­fes­sor Chew­bac­ca, aka The Near Sight­ed Mon­key is no secret. We hope some­day to expe­ri­ence the plea­sure of her live teach­ings. ’Til then, we creep on her Tum­blr page, fol­low­ing with home­work assign­ments, writ­ing exer­cis­es and les­son plans intend­ed for stu­dents who take her class, “The Unthink­able Mind,” at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin.

And now, those course mate­ri­als have been col­lect­ed as Syl­labus: Notes from an Acci­den­tal Pro­fes­sor, an old fash­ioned, tan­gi­ble book. It’s like a paper MOOC!

(Yes, we know, MOOCs are free. This will be too, if you add it to your hol­i­day wish list, or insist that your local library orders a copy.)

Barry 2

Barry’s march­ing orders are always to be exe­cut­ed on paper, even when they have been retrieved on smart­phones, tablets, and a vari­ety of oth­er screens. They are the antithe­sis of dry. A less acci­den­tal pro­fes­sor might have dis­pensed with the doo­dle encrust­ed, lined yel­low legal paper, after pri­vate­ly out­lin­ing her game plan. Barry’s choice to pre­serve and share the method behind her mad­ness is a gift to stu­dents, and to her­self.

barry homework

As Hillary L. Chute notes in Graph­ic Women: Life Nar­ra­tive and Con­tem­po­rary Comics:

 The decon­tex­tu­al­iza­tion of cheap, com­mon, or util­i­tar­i­an paper (which also harkens back to the his­tor­i­cal avant-garde) may be under­stood as a trans­val­u­a­tion of the idea of work­ing on “waste” –a know­ing, iron­ic acknowl­edg­ment on Barry’s part that her life nar­ra­tive, itself per­haps con­sid­ered insignif­i­cant, is visu­al­ized in an acces­si­ble pop­u­lar medi­um, comics, that is still large­ly viewed as “garbage.”

Work­ing on “garbage” must come as a relief for some­one like Bar­ry, who has talked about grow­ing up under a hos­tile moth­er who saw her daughter’s cre­ative impuls­es as a “waste” of paper:

I got screamed at a lot for using up paper. The only blank paper in the house was hers, and if she found out I touched it she’d go crazy. I some­times stole paper from school and even that made her mad. I think it’s why I hoard paper to this day. I have so much blank paper every­where, in every draw­er, on every shelf, and still when I need a sheet I look in the garbage first. I ago­nize over using a “good” sheet of paper for any­thing. I have good draw­ing paper I’ve been drag­ging around for twen­ty years because I’m not good enough to use it yet. Yes, I know this is insane.

Sam­ple assign­ments from “The Unthink­able Mind” are above and below, and you will find many more in Syl­labus: Notes from an Acci­den­tal Pro­fes­sor. Let us know if Pro­fes­sor Chew­bac­ca’s neu­ro­log­i­cal assump­tions are cor­rect. Does draw­ing and writ­ing by hand release the mon­sters from the id and squelch the inter­nal edi­tor who is the ene­my of art?

Barry 1

Barry 3

Barry 4

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Join Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry for a Uni­ver­si­ty-Lev­el Course on Doo­dling and Neu­ro­science

Car­toon­ist Lyn­da Bar­ry Reveals the Best Way to Mem­o­rize Poet­ry

Lyn­da Bar­ry, Car­toon­ist Turned Pro­fes­sor, Gives Her Old Fash­ioned Take on the Future of Edu­ca­tion

1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Neil Gaiman Reads Bad, Fake Neil Gaiman Stories

The Amer­i­can Pub­lic Media show, “Wits,” asked its lis­ten­ers to write their “poor­est imi­ta­tions of Neil Gaiman’s writ­ing.” And then they got Gaiman him­self to read the best/worst sub­mis­sions. You can watch the results above, and hear the com­plete radio show here.

To watch/listen to Gaiman read­ing sto­ries that he actu­al­ly wrote, see this col­lec­tion where Neil reads eight works, includ­ing the entire­ty of The Grave­yard Book.

via @Electric Lit­er­a­ture

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:

Neil Gaiman’s Free Short Sto­ries

Neil Gaiman Gives Grad­u­ates 10 Essen­tial Tips for Work­ing in the Arts

Where Do Great Ideas Come From? Neil Gaiman Explains

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

Crash Course Big History: John Green Teaches Life, the Universe & Everything

If you don’t under­stand big his­to­ry, you’ll nev­er under­stand small his­to­ry. That idea has­n’t yet attained apho­rism sta­tus, but maybe we can get it there. Last month, we fea­tured a free, Bill Gates-fund­ed short course on 13.8 bil­lion years of “Big His­to­ry”. Back in 2012, we fea­tured well-known online edu­ca­tor (and now even bet­ter-known young adult nov­el­ist) John Green’s Crash Course on World His­to­ry. Now these worlds, or rather these his­to­ries of the world, have col­lid­ed in the form of  Crash Course Big His­to­ry, a web series “in which John Green, Hank Green, and Emi­ly Graslie teach you about, well, every­thing.” In true fash­ion of the biggest pos­si­ble his­to­ry, the Crash Course crew begins at the begin­ning — the real begin­ning, the Big Bang, which the first fif­teen-minute episode gets into above.

“Mr. Green! Mr. Green!” exclaims Green at him­self, momen­tar­i­ly tak­ing on his sig­na­ture sec­ondary pushy-stu­dent per­sona. “That’s not his­to­ry, that’s sci­ence.” Return­ing to his cool-pro­fes­sor per­sona, Green lays it out for him­self: “Aca­d­e­mics often describe his­to­ry as, like, all stuff that’s hap­pened since we start­ed writ­ing things down, but they only start there because that’s where we have the best infor­ma­tion. The advent of writ­ing was a huge deal, obvi­ous­ly, but as a start date for his­to­ry, it’s total­ly arbi­trary. It’s just a line we drew in the sand and said, ‘Okay, his­to­ry begins now!’ ” In order to push that line as far back as pos­si­ble, his­to­ry must fuse with sci­ence, allow­ing the study of the past to best incor­po­rate and con­tex­tu­al­ize all it can about (and stu­dents of Green had to know he would quote Dou­glas Adams on this) “Life, the Uni­verse, and Every­thing.”

Sev­en episodes in and under­way right now, Crash Course Big His­to­ry has gone on to cov­er not just the uni­verse, but the sun and the Earth, the emer­gence of life, the epic of evo­lu­tion, and how that process pro­duced humans. Hav­ing arrived at the appear­ance of Homo sapi­ens, Green and com­pa­ny cov­er, in the fresh­ly released sev­enth episode, the process of “human­i­ty con­quer­ing the Earth. Or at least mov­ing from Africa into the rest of the Earth,” going on to reach “a crit­i­cal mass of inno­va­tors” and devel­op “col­lec­tive learn­ing.” And amid the grand sweep of plan­e­tary move­ment, evo­lu­tion, and mass migra­tion, we con­tin­ue to find new ways to col­lec­tive­ly learn all the time — of which the Crash Cours­es rep­re­sent only one par­tic­u­lar­ly enter­tain­ing vari­ety.

You can watch future Crash Course Big His­to­ry videos by fol­low­ing this playlist on Youtube. It’s also worth men­tion­ing that Bill Gates has helped fund these Crash Course videos, just as he has helped fund the larg­er Big His­to­ry Project men­tioned in our pre­vi­ous post.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take Big His­to­ry: A Free Short Course on 13.8 Bil­lion Years of His­to­ry, Fund­ed by Bill Gates

A Crash Course in World His­to­ry

The His­to­ry of the World in 46 Lec­tures From Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty

Free Down­load of The His­to­ry Man­i­festo: His­to­ri­ans New Call for Big-Pic­ture Think­ing

Down­load 78 Free Online His­to­ry Cours­es: From Ancient Greece to The Mod­ern World

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.

Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow Finally Gets Released as an Audio Book

gravitys rainbow audiobook

A quick heads up for Thomas Pyn­chon fans. Four decades after its pub­li­ca­tion, you can final­ly get Gravity’s Rain­bow as an audio book — pos­si­bly even as a free audio book.

Accord­ing to The New York Times, “Since the mid-1980s, a George Guidall record­ing [of the 1973 nov­el] has been float­ing around, like some myth­i­cal lost rock­et part — no one had heard it, but all Pyn­chon fans knew some­one who knew some­one who had — but in Octo­ber a new ver­sion, autho­rized and rere­cord­ed… — hit the stands.”

The new release, which runs 40 hours and 1 minute, is also nar­rat­ed by Guidall. It’s avail­able on (Hear an audio sam­ple below.) And there’s a way to get it for free. As we’ve men­tioned before, Audi­ble lets you down­load an audio book for free if you sign up for their 30-Day Free Tri­al. And even if you decide to can­cel the tri­al, you can still keep the audio book and pay no mon­ey. That said, I dig Audi­ble’s sub­scrip­tion ser­vice, as I’ve spelled out before, pre­cise­ly because you can get big long audio books for a real­ly rea­son­able price.

Learn more about the Free Tri­al pro­gram here, and to get Grav­i­ty’s Rain­bow, sim­ply click here and then click the “Try Audi­ble Free” link on the right side of the page. NB: Audi­ble is an sub­sidiary, and we’re a mem­ber of their affil­i­ate pro­gram.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Thomas Pyn­chon Edits His Lines on The Simp­sons: “Homer is my role mod­el and I can’t speak ill of him.”

Take a Cin­e­mat­ic Jour­ney into the Mind of Thomas Pyn­chon and His New Book, Bleed­ing Edge

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 3 ) |

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