Leonardo da Vinci’s Visionary Notebooks Now Online: Browse 570 Digitized Pages

Quick, what do you know about Leonar­do da Vin­ci? He paint­ed the Mona Lisa! He wrote his notes back­wards! He designed super­cool bridges and fly­ing machines! He was a genius about, um… a lot of oth­er… things… and, um, stuff…

Okay, I’m sure you know a bit more than that, but unless you’re a Renais­sance schol­ar, you’re cer­tain to find your­self amazed and sur­prised at how much you didn’t know about the quin­tes­sen­tial Renais­sance man when you encounter a com­pi­la­tion of his note­books—Codex Arun­del—which has been dig­i­tized by the British Library and made avail­able to the pub­lic.

The note­book, writes Jonathan Jones at The Guardian, rep­re­sents “the liv­ing record of a uni­ver­sal mind.” And yet, though a “technophile” him­self, “when it came to pub­li­ca­tion, Leonar­do was a lud­dite…. He made no effort to get his notes pub­lished.”

For hun­dreds of years, the huge, secre­tive col­lec­tion of man­u­scripts remained most­ly unseen by all but the most rar­i­fied of col­lec­tors. After Leonar­do’s death in France, writes the British Library, his stu­dent Francesco Melzi “brought many of his man­u­scripts and draw­ings back to Italy. Melzi’s heirs, who had no idea of the impor­tance of the man­u­scripts, grad­u­al­ly dis­posed of them.” Nonethe­less, over 5,000 pages of notes “still exist in Leonardo’s ‘mir­ror writ­ing’, from right to left.” In the note­books, da Vin­ci drew “visions of the aero­plane, the heli­copter, the para­chute, the sub­ma­rine and the car. It was more than 300 years before many of his ideas were improved upon.”

The dig­i­tized note­books debuted in 2007 as a joint project of the British Library and Microsoft called “Turn­ing the Pages 2.0,” an inter­ac­tive fea­ture that allows view­ers to “turn” the pages of the note­books with ani­ma­tions. Onscreen gloss­es explain the con­tent of the cryp­tic notes sur­round­ing the many tech­ni­cal draw­ings, dia­grams, and schemat­ics (see a selec­tion of the note­books in this ani­mat­ed for­mat here). For an over­whelm­ing amount of Leonar­do, you can look through 570 dig­i­tized pages of Codex Arun­del here. For a slight­ly more digestible, and read­able, amount of Leonar­do, see the British Library’s brief series on his life and work, includ­ing expla­na­tions of his div­ing appa­ra­tus, para­chute, and glid­er.

And for much more on the man—including evi­dence of his sar­to­r­i­al “pref­er­ence for pink tights” and his shop­ping lists—see Jonathan Jones’ Guardian piece, which links to oth­er note­book col­lec­tions and resources. The artist and self-taught poly­math made an impres­sive effort to keep his ideas from pry­ing eyes. Now, thanks to dig­i­tized col­lec­tions like those at the British Library, “any­one can study the mind of Leonar­do.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leonar­do Da Vinci’s To Do List (Cir­ca 1490) Is Much Cool­er Than Yours

How to Build Leonar­do da Vinci’s Inge­nious Self-Sup­port­ing Bridge: Renais­sance Inno­va­tions You Can Still Enjoy Today

Down­load the Sub­lime Anato­my Draw­ings of Leonar­do da Vin­ci: Avail­able Online, or in a Great iPad App

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

Hear the 150 Greatest Albums by Women: NPR Creates a New Canon of Albums That Puts Women at the Center of Music History

What is it with all the trend­pieces on great women artists, writ­ers, direc­tors, singers, etc.? What, indeed. To ask the ques­tion is to acknowl­edge the premise of such pieces. Why should they need to be writ­ten at all if women in these fields received fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion else­where? That lists and arti­cles can be writ­ten in the hun­dreds puts the lie to pho­ny claims that “great” women do not exist in every field in num­bers. This is espe­cial­ly true in the 20th cen­tu­ry, when hard-won polit­i­cal gains opened cul­tur­al doors unimag­in­able to many pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. But those gains did not fun­da­men­tal­ly alter how cul­tur­al his­to­ries have been writ­ten.

Music crit­ic Anne Pow­ers and Lin­coln Cen­ter pro­gram direc­tor Jill Stern­heimer recent­ly con­sid­ered this prob­lem, one which, Pow­ers writes at NPR, per­sists even in the ways “music history’s being record­ed and revised in the dig­i­tal age.”

They won­dered, “why… was the impor­tance of women so often rec­og­nized as a trend instead of a source of last­ing impact? We came to a con­clu­sion that, in 2017, will like­ly strike no one as a sur­prise: that the gen­er­al his­to­ry of pop­u­lar music is told through the great works of men, and that with­out a seri­ous revi­sion of the canon, women will always remain on the mar­gins.”

This is a truth rein­forced in many dif­fer­ent ways: by the shelves weighed down with books about Jimi Hen­drix and Nir­vana, while only one or two about Aretha Franklin or Pat­ti Smith sit near­by; by the radio playlists that still only fea­ture women once or twice every hour.

This isn’t a prob­lem of “representation”—the term we so often hear applied to cast­ing deci­sions and awards shows. Pow­ers isn’t mak­ing a case for diver­si­ty in hir­ing, but for accu­ra­cy in writ­ing the his­tor­i­cal record. To that end, Pow­ers and Lin­coln Cen­ter, togeth­er with “near­ly 50 women who play a role in NPR… com­piled and vot­ed” on a list: “Turn­ing the Tables: The 150 Great­est Albums by Women.” You can hear near­ly all of those albums in our Spo­ti­fy playlist below. Call­ing the list “an inter­ven­tion, a rem­e­dy, a cor­rec­tion,” Pow­ers writes, “These albums were released between 1964, the year The Bea­t­les invad­ed Amer­i­ca… and 2016, when Bey­on­cé arguably ush­ered in a new peri­od with her ‘visu­al album’ Lemon­ade.”

The point is to offer a view of pop­u­lar music his­to­ry with wom­en’s work at the cen­ter. The list does not rep­re­sent an “alter­nate his­to­ry.” It stands for music his­to­ry, touch­ing upon every sig­nif­i­cant trend, social issue, set of son­ic inno­va­tions, and new avenue for self-expres­sion that pop­u­lar music has inter­sect­ed in the past fifty years.

Against the argu­ment for “affir­ma­tive action”—or sim­ply rewrit­ing old “great album” lists to include more women—Powers argues, “once a canon is formed, it gains an aura of immutabil­i­ty.” Plen­ty of lists include female artists. Almost none of them include women in the top spots, sug­gest­ing that “the par­a­digms that define great­ness remain mas­cu­line at their core.” Tokenism, no mat­ter how well-inten­tioned, does not make for “a shift in per­spec­tive beyond the sim­ple man­date to adjust the num­bers.”

Ava Duver­nay has made a sim­i­lar argu­ment against man­dat­ed “diver­si­ty” in Hol­ly­wood as a mol­li­fy­ing tac­tic that main­tains sta­tus quo pow­er rela­tion­ships. “The fact that the main­stream starts to gaze at this space doesn’t make it a moment,” she tells Hol­ly­wood Reporter, “it makes it a moment for them.” As Pow­ers writes of the way Joni Mitchell was often treat­ed by the rock estab­lish­ment, “the female musi­cian is a dream, a sur­prise and a dis­rup­tor. She can claim the cen­ter of atten­tion, but her right­ful point of ori­gin, and the place to which she returns, is a mar­gin.”

Instead of mar­gin­al inclu­sion in exist­ing cliques, Pow­ers argues for a cul­tur­al shift, a “new canon,” that isn’t hedged with the usu­al stan­dards that often exclude women on arbi­trary purist grounds. Keep­ing “wide para­me­ters,” the con­trib­u­tors “left room for acknowl­edged rock-era clas­sics as well as pop hits dis­missed by oth­ers as fluff.” That dis­claimer aside, there’s pre­cious lit­tle “fluff” on this list—mean­ing it’s hard to find albums here that wouldn’t qual­i­fy for “great­est” sta­tus on more nar­row­ly-defined genre lists. It is a list, that is to say, of 150 great albums, writ­ten, record­ed, and released over the course of fifty plus years, by some of the most tal­ent­ed writ­ers, play­ers, and musi­cians in mod­ern music his­to­ry.

“Lists have their lim­i­ta­tions,” Pow­ers admits, “They reflect bias­es and whis­pered com­pro­mis­es.” She and her con­trib­u­tors offer this one “as the begin­ning of a new con­ver­sa­tion” rather than an author­i­ta­tive state­ment. At such depth and breadth, how­ev­er, “Turn­ing the Tables” makes room for near­ly every pos­si­ble genre, from all over the world. Read the full list of 150 albums, with com­men­tary, here. A few of the 150 albums, includ­ing Lemon­ade, Biki­ni Kil­l’s Yeah Yeah Yeah, Joan Jet­t’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, Joan­na New­some’s Ys, and Lau­rie Ander­son­’s Big Sci­ence aren’t on Spo­ti­fy, so did­n’t make our playlist above. The top ten albums on the list are:

  1. Joni Mitchell, Blue (Reprise, 1971)
  2. Lau­ryn Hill, The Mise­d­u­ca­tion of Lau­ryn Hill (Ruffhouse/Columbia, 1998)
  3. Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You (Philips, 1956)
  4. Aretha Franklin, I Nev­er Loved a Man the Way I Loved You (Atlantic, 1967)
  5. Mis­sy Eliot, Supa Dupa Fly (The Goldmine/Elekra, 1997)
  6. Bey­on­cé, Lemon­ade (Parkwood/Columbia 2016)
  7. Pat­ti Smith, Hors­es (Arista, 1975)
  8. Janis Joplin, Pearl (Colum­bia, 1971)
  9. Amy Wine­house, Back to Black (Island, 2006)
  10. Car­ole King, Tapes­try (Ode, 1971)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Sev­en Hours of Women Mak­ing Elec­tron­ic Music (1938–2014)

1200 Years of Women Com­posers: A Free 78-Hour Music Playlist That Takes You From Medieval Times to Now

Women of Jazz: Stream a Playlist of 91 Record­ings by Great Female Jazz Musi­cians

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

The British Museum Creates 3D Models of the Rosetta Stone & 200+ Other Historic Artifacts: Download or View in Virtual Reality

Back in 2015, The British Muse­um gave the world online access to the Roset­ta Stone, along with 4,700 oth­er arti­facts in the great Lon­don muse­um. But that access was only in 2D.

Now they’ve upped the ante and pub­lished a 3D mod­el of the Roset­ta Stone and 200+ oth­er essen­tial items in the muse­um’s col­lec­tions. “This scan was part of our larg­er attempt to cap­ture as many of our icon­ic pieces from the col­lec­tion — and indeed the unseen in store objects — and make them avail­able for peo­ple to view in 3D or in more tac­tile forms,” Daniel Pett, a British Muse­um advis­er told Dig­i­tal Trends.

Oth­er 3D mod­els you might want to check out include the gran­ite head of Amen­emhat III, a por­trait bust of Sir Robert Bruce Cot­ton, and a stat­ue of Roy, High Priest of Amun.

Note: If you put your mouse on the objects and swiv­el on your track­pad, you can see dif­fer­ent sides of the arti­facts. Cre­at­ed with a com­pa­ny called Sketch­fab, the 3D mod­els are all avail­able to down­load. You can also see them in vir­tu­al real­i­ty. (Look for the lit­tle “View in VR” icon at the bot­tom of each image.)

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!

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The British Muse­um Is Now Open To Every­one: Take a Vir­tu­al Tour and See 4,737 Arti­facts, Includ­ing the Roset­ta Stone

1.8 Mil­lion Free Works of Art from World-Class Muse­ums: A Meta List of Great Art Avail­able Online

Artists Put Online 3D, High Res­o­lu­tion Scans of 3,000-Year-Old Nefer­ti­ti Bust (and Con­tro­ver­sy Ensues)

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 1 ) |

H.R. Giger’s Tarot Cards: The Swiss Artist, Famous for His Design Work on Alien, Takes a Journey into the Occult

The first tarot cards appeared in Europe in the mid-fif­teenth cen­tu­ry, and those who used them used to play sim­ple card games. But as the art of the tarot deck devel­oped to incor­po­rate a host of his­tor­i­cal, philo­soph­i­cal, and astro­nom­i­cal sym­bols, their imagery took on more weight, and a cou­ple hun­dred years lat­er the cards had become pop­u­lar instru­ments of div­ina­tion. From the late eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry on, one could obtain tarot decks specif­i­cal­ly designed for occult pur­pos­es, and their artis­tic vari­ety has only expand­ed in the 250 or so years since. In the 1990s, the imag­i­na­tive world of tarot col­lid­ed with an equal­ly rich set of visions: those of H.R. Giger.

Giger, a Swiss artist who first gained world­wide fame and influ­ence with his design work on Rid­ley Scot­t’s Alien (up to and includ­ing the ter­ri­fy­ing alien itself), unit­ed the bio­log­i­cal and the mechan­i­cal in a dis­tinc­tive and dis­turb­ing fash­ion.

After see­ing Giger’s art in his first book of paint­ings Necro­nom­i­con, a Swiss occultist by the name of Akron under­stood its poten­tial as tarot imagery. The col­lec­tion’s title pic­ture, Akron writes, showed a “fas­ci­nat­ing mon­ster” called Baphomet, “the sym­bol of the con­nec­tion between the ratio­nal and irra­tional world,” the same func­tion per­formed by the occult tarot deck itself.

When Akron approached Giger propos­ing to col­lab­o­rate on a deck, accord­ing to i09’s Lau­ren Davis, “Giger felt that he did­n’t have the time to cre­ate new works that would do the deck jus­tice. So he select­ed 22 of his exist­ing, pre­vi­ous­ly unpub­lished pieces” for the cards’ faces. In a lat­er inter­view, “Giger says that he nev­er stud­ied Tarot cards and in fact, had no inter­est in hav­ing his for­tune told with them. (Giger claimed he was too super­sti­tious, though he describes Akro­n’s descrip­tions of the indi­vid­ual cards as ‘some­times crazy, but fun­ny — but not prob­a­bly very seri­ous.’)” His “mix of occult iconog­ra­phy, demon­ic organ­isms, and his trade­mark bio­me­chan­i­cal aes­thet­ic make for apt, if unusu­al­ly dark Tarot illus­tra­tions.”

You can see more of Giger and Akro­n’s tarot deck, avail­able in both Eng­lish and Ger­man, at i09 and Dan­ger­ous Minds. Or bet­ter yet, pick up your own deck of cards. While brows­ing, do keep in mind two things: first, that Giger’s visions, even those select­ed to rep­re­sent age-old tarot arcana, can cer­tain­ly get NSFW. Sec­ond, even though the artist spe­cial­ized in night­mar­ish imagery (hence his pop­u­lar­i­ty on the grim­mer side of sci­ence fic­tion) we should resist inter­pret­ing them too lit­er­al­ly as rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the future. After all, the cards, as a much more light­heart­ed pro­duc­tion once joked, are vague and mys­te­ri­ous.

via io9

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Tarot Card Deck Designed by Sal­vador Dalí

Twin Peaks Tarot Cards Now Avail­able as 78-Card Deck

Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky Explains How Tarot Cards Can Give You Cre­ative Inspi­ra­tion

The 14-Hour Epic Film, Dune, That Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky, Pink Floyd, Sal­vador Dalí, Moe­bius, Orson Welles & Mick Jag­ger Nev­er Made

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch Iggy Pop & Debbie Harry Sing a Swelligant Version of Cole Porter’s “Did You Evah,” All to Raise Money for AIDS Research (1990)

Quick sur­vey: Who’s best fit to get at the heart of Cole Porter? The suave sophis­ti­cate who was born in a tux, mar­ti­ni glass clutched in his infant fist? Or punk roy­al­ty? “Well, Did You Evah!” from the 1939 Broad­way musi­cal DuBar­ry Was a Lady, is the brat­ti­er cousin of such Porter hits as “You’re the Top” and “Let’s Do It.” Frank Sina­tra and Bing Cros­by per­formed a boozy cov­er of it for the 1956 film High Soci­ety, but for my mon­ey, the defin­i­tive ver­sion is one Iggy Pop and Deb­bie Har­ry record­ed for a Cole Porter themed AIDS ben­e­fit album, Red Hot + Blue.

Some Porter clas­sics–“Every Time We Say Good­bye,” “So In Love”–demand sin­cer­i­ty. This one calls for a strong dose of the oppo­site, which Pop and Har­ry deliv­er, both vocal­ly and in the barn­storm­ing music video above. They’re dan­ger­ous, fun­ny, and any­thing but canned, weav­ing through rat-glam­my 1980s New York in thrift store fin­ery, with side trips to a ceme­tery and a farm where Pop smooches a goat.

As Alex Cox, who brought fur­ther punk pedi­gree to the project as the direc­tor of Sid and Nancy and Repo Man told Spin: “Iggy had always want­ed to make a video with ani­mals and Deb­bie had always want­ed to pub­licly burn lin­gerie so I let them.”

They also filled Pop’s palms with stig­ma­ta and ants, and swapped Porter’s cham­pagne for a case of gener­ic dog food.

There are a few minor tweaks to the lyrics (“What cocks!”) and the stars inject the pat­ter with a glee­ful­ly louche down­town sen­si­bil­i­ty. Mars ris­es behind the Twin Tow­ers, for a swelli­gant­ly off-beat pack­age that raised a lot of mon­ey for AIDS research and aware­ness. Oth­er gems from the project:

“It’s All Right with Me” per­formed by Tom Waits, direct­ed by Jim Jar­musch

“Night and Day” per­formed by U2, direct­ed by Wim Wen­ders

“Don’t Fence Me In” per­formed and direct­ed by David Byrne

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Iggy Pop Sings Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” in an Art­ful­ly Ani­mat­ed Video

Tom Waits For No One: Watch the Pio­neer­ing Ani­mat­ed Tom Waits Music Video from 1979

Talk­ing Heads Fea­tured on The South Bank Show in 1979: How the Ground­break­ing New Wave Band Made Nor­mal­i­ty Strange Again

Bill Mur­ray Reads Great Poet­ry by Bil­ly Collins, Cole Porter, and Sarah Man­gu­so

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

The Strange Story of Wonder Woman’s Creator William Moulton Marston: Polyamorous Feminist, Psychologist & Inventor of the Lie Detector

Most young male fans from my gen­er­a­tion failed to appre­ci­ate the gen­der imbal­ance in com­ic books. After all, what were the X‑Men with­out pow­er­ful X‑women Storm, Rogue, and, maybe the most pow­er­ful mutant of all, Jean Grey? Indie comics like Love and Rock­ets revolved around strong female char­ac­ters, and if the lega­cy gold­en age Mar­vel and DC titles were near­ly all about Great Men, well… just look at the time they came from. We shrugged it off, and also failed to appre­ci­ate how the hyper­sex­u­al­iza­tion of women in comics made many of the women around us uncom­fort­able and hyper­an­noyed.

Had we been curi­ous enough to look, how­ev­er, we would have found that gold­en age comics weren’t just inno­cent “prod­ucts of their time”—they reflect­ed a col­lec­tive will, just as did the comics of our time. And the char­ac­ter who first chal­lenged gold­en age atti­tudes about women—Wonder Woman, cre­at­ed in 1941—began her career as per­haps one of the kinki­est super­heroes in main­stream com­ic books. What’s more, she was cre­at­ed by a psy­chol­o­gist William Moul­ton Marston, who first pub­lished under a pseu­do­nym, due in part to his uncon­ven­tion­al per­son­al life. Marston, writes NPR, “had a wife—and a mis­tress. He fathered chil­dren with both of them, and they all secret­ly lived togeth­er in Rye, N.Y.”

The oth­er woman in Marston’s polyamorous three­some, one of his for­mer stu­dents, hap­pened to be the niece of Mar­garet Sanger, and Marston just hap­pened to be the cre­ator of the lie detec­tor. The details of his life are as odd and pruri­ent now as they were to read­ers in the 1940s—partly an index of how lit­tle some things have changed. And now that Marston’s cre­ation has final­ly received her block­buster due, his sto­ry seems ripe for the Hol­ly­wood telling. Such it has received, it appears, in Pro­fes­sor Marston & the Won­der Women, the upcom­ing biopic by Angela Robin­son. It’s unfair to judge a film by its trail­er, but in the clips above we see much more of Marston’s dual romance than we do of the inven­tion of his famous hero­ine.

Yet as polit­i­cal his­to­ri­an Jill Lep­ore tells it, the cul­tur­al his­to­ry of Won­der Woman is as fas­ci­nat­ing as her creator’s per­son­al life, though it may be impos­si­ble to ful­ly sep­a­rate the two. A press release accom­pa­ny­ing Won­der Woman’s debut explained that Marston aimed “to set up a stan­dard among chil­dren and young peo­ple of strong, free, coura­geous wom­an­hood; to com­bat the idea that women are infe­ri­or to men, and to inspire girls to self-con­fi­dence in ath­let­ics, occu­pa­tions and pro­fes­sions monop­o­lized by men.” It went on to express Marston’s view that “the only hope for civ­i­liza­tion is the greater free­dom, devel­op­ment and equal­i­ty of women in all fields of human activ­i­ty.”

The lan­guage sounds like that of many a mod­ern-day NGO, not a World War II-era pop­u­lar enter­tain­ment. But Marston would go fur­ther, say­ing, “Frankly, Won­der Woman is the psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­pa­gan­da for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.” His inter­est in dom­i­neer­ing women and S&M drove the ear­ly sto­ries, which are full of bondage imagery. “There are a lot of peo­ple who get very upset at what Marston was doing…,” Lep­ore told Ter­ry Gross on Fresh Air. “’Is this a fem­i­nist project that’s sup­posed to help girls decide to go to col­lege and have careers, or is this just like soft porn?’” As Marston under­stood it, the lat­ter ques­tion could be asked of most comics.

When writer Olive Richard—pen name of Marston’s mis­tress Olive Byrne—asked him in an inter­view for Fam­i­ly Cir­cle whether some comics weren’t “full of tor­ture, kid­nap­ping, sadism, and oth­er cru­el busi­ness,” he replied, “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that is true.” But “the reader’s wish is to save the girl, not to see her suf­fer.” Marston cre­at­ed a “girl”—or rather a super­hu­man Ama­zon­ian princess—who saved her­self and oth­ers. “One of the things that’s a defin­ing ele­ment of Won­der Woman,” says Lep­ore, “is that if a man binds her in chains, she los­es all of her Ama­zon­ian strength. So in almost every episode of the ear­ly comics, the ones that Marston wrote… she’s chained up or she’s roped up.” She has to break free, he would say, “in order to sig­ni­fy her eman­ci­pa­tion from men.” She does her share of rop­ing oth­ers up as well, with her las­so of truth and oth­er means.

The seem­ing­ly clear bondage ref­er­ences in all those ropes and chains also had clear polit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, Lep­ore explains. Dur­ing the fight for suf­frage, women would chain them­selves to gov­ern­ment build­ings. In parades, suf­frag­ists “would march in chains—they import­ed that iconog­ra­phy from the abo­li­tion­ist cam­paigns of the 19th cen­tu­ry that women had been involved in… Chains became a real­ly impor­tant sym­bol,” as in the 1912 draw­ing below by Lou Rogers. Won­der Woman’s mytho­log­i­cal ori­gins also had deep­er sig­ni­fi­ca­tion than the male fan­ta­sy of a pow­er­ful race of well-armed dom­i­na­tri­ces. Her sto­ry, writes Lep­ore at The New York­er, “comes straight out of fem­i­nist utopi­an fic­tion” and the fas­ci­na­tion many fem­i­nists had with anthro­pol­o­gists’ spec­u­la­tion about an Ama­zon­ian matri­archy.

The com­bi­na­tion of fem­i­nist sym­bols have made the char­ac­ter a redoubtable icon for every gen­er­a­tion of activists—as in her appear­ance on 1972 cov­er of Ms. mag­a­zine, fur­ther up, an issue head­lined by Glo­ria Steinem and Simone de Beau­voir. Marston trans­lat­ed the fem­i­nist ideas of the suf­frage move­ment, and of women like Mar­garet Sanger, Eliz­a­beth Cady Stan­ton, his wife, lawyer Eliz­a­beth Hol­loway Marston, and his mis­tress Olive Byrne, into a pow­er­ful, long-revered super­hero. He also trans­lat­ed his own ideas of what Have­lock Ellis called “the erot­ic rights of women.”

Marston’s ver­sion of Won­der Woman (he stopped writ­ing the com­ic in 1947) had as much agency—sexual and otherwise—as any male char­ac­ter of the time. (See her break­ing the bonds of “Prej­u­dice,” “Prud­ery,” and “Man’s Supe­ri­or­i­ty” in a draw­ing, below, from Marston’s 1943 arti­cle “Why 100,000 Amer­i­cans Read Comics.”) The char­ac­ter was undoubt­ed­ly kinky, a qual­i­ty that large­ly dis­ap­peared from lat­er iter­a­tions. But she was not cre­at­ed, as were so many women in comics in the fol­low­ing decades, as an object of teenage lust, but as a rad­i­cal­ly lib­er­at­ed fem­i­nist hero. Read more about Marston in Lepore’s essays at Smith­son­ian and The New York­er and in her book, The Secret His­to­ry of Won­der Woman.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Over 22,000 Gold­en & Sil­ver Age Com­ic Books from the Com­ic Book Plus Archive

Free Com­ic Books Turns Kids Onto Physics: Start With the Adven­tures of Niko­la Tes­la

Take a Free Online Course on Mak­ing Com­ic Books, Com­pli­ments of the Cal­i­for­nia Col­lege of the Arts

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

Marshall McLuhan Predicts That Electronic Media Will Displace the Book & Create Sweeping Changes in Our Everyday Lives (1960)

“The elec­tron­ic media haven’t wiped out the book: it’s read, used, and want­ed, per­haps more than ever. But the role of the book has changed. It’s no longer alone. It no longer has sole charge of our out­look, nor of our sen­si­bil­i­ties.” As famil­iar as those words may sound, they don’t come from one of the think pieces on the chang­ing media land­scape now pub­lished each and every day. They come from the mouth of mid­cen­tu­ry CBC tele­vi­sion host John O’Leary, intro­duc­ing an inter­view with Mar­shall McLuhan more than half a cen­tu­ry ago.

McLuhan, one of the most idio­syn­crat­ic and wide-rang­ing thinkers of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, would go on to become world famous (to the point of mak­ing a cameo in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall) as a prophet­ic media the­o­rist. He saw clear­er than many how the intro­duc­tion of mass media like radio and tele­vi­sion had changed us, and spoke with more con­fi­dence than most about how the media to come would change us. He under­stood what he under­stood about these process­es in no small part because he’d learned their his­to­ry, going all the way back to the devel­op­ment of writ­ing itself.

Writ­ing, in McLuhan’s telling, changed the way we thought, which changed the way we orga­nized our soci­eties, which changed the way we per­ceived things, which changed the way we inter­act. All of that holds truer for the print­ing press, and even truer still for tele­vi­sion. He told the sto­ry in his book The Guten­berg Galaxy, which he was work­ing on at the time of this inter­view in May of 1960, and which would intro­duce the term “glob­al vil­lage” to its read­ers, and which would crys­tal­lize much of what he talked about in this broad­cast. Elec­tron­ic media, in his view, “have made our world into a sin­gle unit.”

With this “con­tin­u­al­ly sound­ing trib­al drum” in place, “every­body gets the mes­sage all the time: a princess gets mar­ried in Eng­land, and ‘boom, boom, boom’ go the drums. We all hear about it. An earth­quake in North Africa, a Hol­ly­wood star gets drunk, away go the drums again.” The con­se­quence? “We’re re-trib­al­iz­ing. Invol­un­tar­i­ly, we’re get­ting rid of indi­vid­u­al­ism.” Where “just as books and their pri­vate point of view are being replaced by the new media, so the con­cepts which under­lie our actions, our social lives, are chang­ing.” No longer con­cerned with “find­ing our own indi­vid­ual way,” we instead obsess over “what the group knows, feel­ing as it does, act­ing ‘with it,’ not apart from it.”

Though McLuhan died in 1980, long before the appear­ance of the mod­ern inter­net, many of his read­ers have seen recent tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ments val­i­date his notion of the glob­al vil­lage — and his view of its per­ils as well as its ben­e­fits — more and more with time. At this point in his­to­ry, mankind can seem less unit­ed than ever than ever, pos­si­bly because tech­nol­o­gy now allows us to join any num­ber of glob­al “tribes.” But don’t we feel more pres­sure than ever to know just what those tribes know and feel just what they feel?

No won­der so many of those pieces that cross our news feeds today still ref­er­ence McLuhan and his pre­dic­tions. Just this past week­end, Quartz’s Lila MacLel­lan did so in argu­ing that our media, “while glob­al in reach, has come to be essen­tial­ly con­trolled by busi­ness­es that use data and cog­ni­tive sci­ence to keep us spell­bound and loy­al based on our own tastes, fuel­ing the relent­less rise of hyper-per­son­al­iza­tion” as “deep-learn­ing pow­ered ser­vices promise to become even bet­ter cus­tom-con­tent tai­lors, lim­it­ing what indi­vid­u­als and groups are exposed to even as the uni­verse of prod­ucts and sources of infor­ma­tion expands.” Long live the indi­vid­ual, the indi­vid­ual is dead: step back, and it all looks like one of those con­tra­dic­tions McLuhan could have deliv­ered as a res­o­nant sound bite indeed.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­shall McLuhan in Two Min­utes: A Brief Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the 1960s Media The­o­rist Who Pre­dict­ed Our Present

Has Tech­nol­o­gy Changed Us?: BBC Ani­ma­tions Answer the Ques­tion with the Help of Mar­shall McLuhan

McLuhan Said “The Medi­um Is The Mes­sage”; Two Pieces Of Media Decode the Famous Phrase

The Vision­ary Thought of Mar­shall McLuhan, Intro­duced and Demys­ti­fied by Tom Wolfe

Mar­shall McLuhan, W.H. Auden & Buck­min­ster Fuller Debate the Virtues of Mod­ern Tech­nol­o­gy & Media (1971)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

2,000+ Cassettes from the Allen Ginsberg Audio Collection Now Streaming Online

Last month Col­in Mar­shall gave you the scoop on Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty’s dig­i­ti­za­tion of Allen Gins­berg’s “Howl,” a project that takes you inside the mak­ing of the icon­ic 1955 poem. As a quick fol­low up, it’s worth men­tion­ing this: Stan­ford has also just put online over 2,000 Gins­berg audio cas­sette record­ings, giv­ing you access to “a stag­ger­ing amount of pri­ma­ry source mate­r­i­al asso­ci­at­ed with the Beat Gen­er­a­tion” and its most acclaimed poet.

For a quick taste of what’s in the archive, Stan­ford Libraries points you to an after­noon break­fast table con­ver­sa­tion between Gins­berg and anoth­er leg­endary Beat fig­ure, William S. Bur­roughs. But you can rummage/search through the whole col­lec­tion and find your own favorite record­ings here.

via Stan­ford Libraries and Austin Kleon’s newslet­ter (which you should sub­scribe to here)

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:

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl Man­u­scripts Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online, Reveal­ing the Beat Poet’s Cre­ative Process

The First Record­ing of Allen Gins­berg Read­ing “Howl” (1956)

Allen Gins­berg Reads His Famous­ly Cen­sored Beat Poem, “Howl” (1959)

James Fran­co Reads a Dream­i­ly Ani­mat­ed Ver­sion of Allen Ginsberg’s Epic Poem ‘Howl’

Allen Ginsberg’s “Celes­tial Home­work”: A Read­ing List for His Class “Lit­er­ary His­to­ry of the Beats

Allen Gins­berg Record­ings Brought to the Dig­i­tal Age. Lis­ten to Eight Full Tracks for Free

Allen Ginsberg’s Hand­writ­ten Poem For Bernie Sanders, “Burling­ton Snow” (1986)

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 1 ) |

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