Leonardo da Vinci’s Earliest Notebooks Now Digitized and Made Free Online: Explore His Ingenious Drawings, Diagrams, Mirror Writing & More

Do a search on the word “poly­math” and you will see an image or ref­er­ence to Leonar­do da Vin­ci in near­ly every result. Many his­tor­i­cal figures—not all of them world famous, not all Euro­peans, men, or from the Ital­ian Renaissance—fit the descrip­tion. But few such record­ed indi­vid­u­als were as fever­ish­ly active, rest­less­ly inven­tive, and aston­ish­ing­ly pro­lif­ic as Leonar­do, who left rid­dles enough for schol­ars to solve for many life­times.

Leonar­do him­self, though world-renowned for his tal­ents in the fine arts, spent more of his time con­ceiv­ing sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies and engi­neer­ing projects. “When he wrote in the ear­ly 1480s to Ludovi­co Sforza, then ruler of Milan, to offer him his ser­vices,” remarks Cather­ine Yvard, Spe­cial Col­lec­tions cura­tor at the Vic­to­ria and Albert Nation­al Art Library, “he adver­tised him­self as a mil­i­tary engi­neer, only briefly men­tion­ing his artis­tic skills at the end of the list.”

But since so few of his projects were, or could be, real­ized in his life­time, we can only expe­ri­ence them through his most­ly inac­ces­si­ble, and gen­er­al­ly inde­ci­pher­able, note­books, which he began keep­ing after the Duke accept­ed his appli­ca­tion. “None of Leonardo’s pre­de­ces­sors, con­tem­po­raries or suc­ces­sors used paper quite like he did,” notes the Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um site, “a sin­gle sheet con­tains an unpre­dictable pat­tern of ideas and inventions—the work­ings of both a design­er and a sci­en­tist.”

Part of the dif­fi­cul­ty of piec­ing his lega­cy togeth­er stems from the fact that his hun­dreds of pages of notes have been dis­trib­uted across sev­er­al insti­tu­tions and pri­vate col­lec­tions, not all of them acces­si­ble to researchers. But ambi­tious dig­i­ti­za­tion projects are eras­ing those bar­ri­ers. We recent­ly fea­tured one, a joint effort of the British Library and Microsoft that brought 570 pages from the Codex Arun­del col­lec­tion to the web. As The Art News­pa­per reports, the Vic­to­ria and Albert has now launched a sim­i­lar endeav­or, dig­i­tiz­ing the Codex Forster note­books, so named because they came from the pri­vate col­lec­tion of John Forster in 1876.

This col­lec­tion includes some of Leonardo’s ear­li­est note­books. Codex Forster I, now online, con­tains the ear­li­est note­book the V&A holds, dat­ing from about 1487, and the lat­est, from 1505. “Writ­ten in Leonardo’s famous ‘mir­ror-writ­ing,’” the V&A notes, “the sub­jects explored with­in range from hydraulic engi­neer­ing to a trea­tise on mea­sur­ing solids.” Forster II and III should come online soon. “We are plan­ning to make these two oth­er vol­umes also ful­ly acces­si­ble online in 2019 to cel­e­brate the 500th anniver­sary of Leonardo’s death,” says Yvard.

The most inno­v­a­tive aspect of this par­tic­u­lar project is the use of IIIF (Inter­na­tion­al Image Inter­op­er­abil­i­ty Frame­work), a tech­nol­o­gy that “has enabled us to present the codex in a new way,” remarks Kati Price, V&A’s head of dig­i­tal media. “We’ve used deep-zoom func­tion­al­i­ty… to present some of the most spec­tac­u­lar and detailed items in our col­lec­tion.” Schol­ars and laypeo­ple alike can take a very close-up look at the many schemat­ics and tech­ni­cal dia­grams in the note­books and see Leonardo’s mind and hand at work.

But while all of us can mar­vel at the sight of his engi­neer­ing genius, when it comes to read­ing his hand­writ­ing, we’ll have to rely on experts. Let’s hope the muse­um will some­day sup­ply trans­la­tions for non­spe­cial­ists. In the mean­time, explore the dig­i­tized man­u­scripts here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

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

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

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

A Classic Video of Pablo Picasso Marking Art, Set to the Song, “Pablo Picasso,” by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers

Before the Sex Pis­tols and the Ramones, there were the Mod­ern Lovers, the Boston pro­to-punk band helmed by lead singer Jonathan Rich­man. Their sound owed a lot to the Vel­vet Under­ground, a band the teenaged Rich­man idol­ized, fol­low­ing them to New York City and ingra­ti­at­ing him­self to such a degree that their man­ag­er allowed him to couch surf for a few weeks.

Their sole album, released two years after they broke up, was cob­bled togeth­er from two dif­fer­ent demo ses­sions, one of them pro­duced by the Vel­vets’ John Cale.

By the time it came out, Rich­man had already embraced the gen­tler, sun­nier per­sona and sound that’s made him a cel­e­brat­ed solo artist with fans of all ages. He famous­ly remarked that he didn’t want to make music that could hurt a baby’s ears. As for­mer band­mate, bassist Ernie Brooks told punk his­to­ri­an Legs McNeil:

Jonathan start­ed say­ing his old songs were too neg­a­tive and dark, and he start­ed writ­ing things like “Hey There Lit­tle Insect,” and maybe he was way ahead of us, but we couldn’t fol­low him—he want­ed us to go, “Buzz, buzz, buzz” on stage, but we were too cool!

Rich­man’s impulse was cor­rect. More than 40 years out from the Mod­ern Lovers, his solo career is going strong. (On lat­er record­ings attrib­uted to Jonathan Rich­man and the Mod­ern Lovers, he is the only holdover from the orig­i­nal line up.)

But that Mod­ern Lovers album has plen­ty of stay­ing pow­er, too.

Rolling Stone dubbed it both the 48th best debut album and the 381st great­est album of all time.

And while “Road­run­ner” may be its best known track, thanks to a long run­ning cam­paign to make it the offi­cial rock song of Mass­a­chu­setts (over Richman’s protes­ta­tions that it’s not good enough to deserve the hon­or), “Pablo Picas­so”‘s mem­o­rable cho­rus can­not be unheard:

He could walk down your street

And girls could not resist his stare

Pablo Picas­so nev­er got called an ass­hole

(Fran­coise Gilot, Picasso’s mod­el, and moth­er of two of his chil­dren, might say oth­er­wise, accord­ing to sev­er­al YouTube com­ments elicit­ed by the unat­trib­uted short film above.)

In 1980, a writer for the zine Boston Groupie News tried to get Rich­man to reveal the song’s prove­nance. He had pur­sued art as a teenag­er, tak­ing Sat­ur­day morn­ing class­es at Boston’s Muse­um of Fine Arts. He’d put his phone num­ber on the back of his can­vas­es, con­ceiv­ing of that as a way to con­nect with peo­ple. So, was Picas­so his favorite painter or…?

No, as it turns out:

I read about him when I was 18. I moved to New York and was intim­i­dat­ed by these girls who (I) thought were attrac­tive. I was afraid to approach them. I did­n’t have too high a self-image. I was self-con­scious and I thought “Well, Pablo Picas­so, he’s only 5 foot 3 but he did­n’t let things like that both­er him.” So I made up this song right after I saw those girls. You can pic­ture it; I had this sad lit­tle look on my face and I was think­ing ‘Why am I so scared to approach these girls?’ That was a song of courage for me.

Picas­so looks pret­ty chip­per in the well select­ed vin­tage footage, above. The expres­sion Rich­man cops to hav­ing cul­ti­vat­ed sounds gloomi­er, a delib­er­ate ploy to entice girls into think­ing he was a sad and like­ly soul­ful artist.

In oth­er words, irre­sistible. Like a rock star!

The Mod­ern Lovers’ pop­u­lar­i­ty let him drop the self-con­scious pose, but his inter­est in art remained.

He still paints, and recent­ly iden­ti­fied some of the artists who have inspired him in Art News’ Mus­es col­umn: 

Mon­et con­tributed to his appre­ci­a­tion of the Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee.”

There’s a direct line between “Road­run­ner” and the lone­li­ness of Edward Hopper’s “Gas.”

And Picas­so? That ass­hole doesn’t even make the list.


Well some peo­ple try to pick up girls

And get called ass­holes

This nev­er hap­pened to Pablo Picas­so

He could walk down your street

And girls could not resist his stare and

So Pablo Picas­so was nev­er called an ass­hole

Well the girls would turn the col­or

Of the avo­ca­do when he would dri­ve

Down their street in his El Dora­do

He could walk down your street

And girls could not resist his stare

Pablo Picas­so nev­er got called an ass­hole

Not like you


Well he was only 5′3″

But girls could not resist his stare

Pablo Picas­so nev­er got called an ass­hole

Not in New York

Oh well be not schmuck, be not obnox­ious

Be not bell­bot­tom bum­mer or ass­hole

Remem­ber the sto­ry of Pablo Picas­so

He could walk down your street

And girls could not resist his stare

Pablo Picas­so was nev­er called an ass­hole

Alright this is it


Some peo­ple try to pick up girls

And they get called an ass­hole

This nev­er hap­pened to Pablo Picas­so

He could walk down your street

And girls could not resist his stare and so

Pablo Picas­so was nev­er called…

Want to hear it again? Try the ani­mat­ed take below, by the endear­ing­ly mod­est 7atenine22.

Read­ers, if you have any intel on the per­son respon­si­ble for the film at the top of the page, please let us know, so we can give cred­it where cred­it is due.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

14 Self-Por­traits by Pablo Picas­so Show the Evo­lu­tion of His Style: See Self-Por­traits Mov­ing from Ages 15 to 90

Pablo Picasso’s Mas­ter­ful Child­hood Paint­ings: Pre­co­cious Works Paint­ed Between the Ages of 8 and 15

Under­rat­ed Albums That You Want the World to Know About: What’s on Your List?

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 24 for anoth­er month­ly install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Don’t Call 911 If You See a Coyote, Unless It’s Carrying ACME-Branded Products: The Office of Sheriff, Monroe County, New York

Some­one in the Office of Sher­iff, in Mon­roe Coun­ty, New York, has a good sense of humor. And if you’re from the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies gen­er­a­tion, you will get a good laugh.

In oth­er news, Warn­er Bros. just announced that it’s devel­op­ing an ani­mat­ed Wile E. Coy­ote movie, some 70 years after he first appeared on the screen. Appro­pri­ate­ly the film is called, Coy­ote vs. Acme. Some­how that pum­meled coy­ote man­ages to endure.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Kill the Wab­bit!: How the 1957 Bugs Bun­ny Car­toon, “What’s Opera, Doc?,” Inspired Today’s Opera Singers to First Get Into Opera

The Strange Day When Bugs Bun­ny Saved the Life of Mel Blanc

The Evo­lu­tion of Chuck Jones, the Artist Behind Bugs Bun­ny, Daffy Duck & Oth­er Looney Tunes Leg­ends: A Video Essay

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 2 ) |

Watch the New Trailer for Orson Welles’ Lost Film, The Other Side of the Wind: A Glimpse of Footage from the Finally Completed Film

Orson Welles died more than 30 years ago, and his last fea­ture film F for Fake came out fif­teen years before that. But we’ll now have to revise our notions of where his fil­mog­ra­phy ends, since his long-unfin­ished project The Oth­er Side of the Wind just debuted at the Venice Film Fes­ti­val in advance of its Novem­ber 2nd release. Shot between 1970 and 1976, a process pro­longed by numer­ous finan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, the film was first thrust into lim­bo in its third year of edit­ing by the Iran­ian Rev­o­lu­tion, as some of its financ­ing had come from the Shah’s broth­er-in-law. The light at the end of The Oth­er Side of the Wind’s decades-long tun­nel of own­er­ship com­pli­ca­tions, when it final­ly appeared, took a form even Welles could nev­er have imag­ined: Net­flix.

The Oth­er Side of the Wind stars acclaimed film direc­tor John Hus­ton as an acclaimed film direc­tor named Jake Han­naford, recent­ly returned to Amer­i­ca after years of self-exile in Europe. An old-school rel­ic in the 1970s’ “New Hol­ly­wood” era, a time when a younger gen­er­a­tion of film­mak­ers like Mar­tin Scors­ese, Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la, and Ter­rence Mal­ick used the major stu­dios to real­ize per­son­al visions at a large cin­e­mat­ic scale, Han­naford tries to make a come­back with a coun­ter­cul­ture pic­ture of his own. Filled with long takes of vast land­scapes, mod­ern archi­tec­ture, a lone motor­cy­cle rid­er, and gra­tu­itous nudi­ty, this film-with­in-the-film, also called The Oth­er Side of the Wind, takes its cues not just from the New Hol­ly­wood kids but from Michelan­ge­lo Anto­nioni and the oth­er Euro­pean film­mak­ers then in vogue as well.

The “real” The Oth­er Side of the Wind, of which you can get a taste in the trail­er above, takes a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent tack, using doc­u­men­tary-style shoot­ing, quick cut­ting, and oscil­la­tion between col­or and black and white. This lay­er­ing of dif­fer­ent styles comes with a lay­er­ing of dif­fer­ent eras, each com­ment­ing on the oth­ers: the 1930s and 1940s that shaped Welles as a film­mak­er (and that Welles shaped as a peri­od in cin­e­ma), the New-Hol­ly­wood 1970s, and the present day, when a com­pa­ny like Net­flix has the clout to make projects hap­pen for any direc­tor, liv­ing or dead. The col­lab­o­ra­tion to com­plete the film involved new par­tic­i­pants as well as those who’d worked on it in the 1970s, like Welles asso­ciate Peter Bog­danovich, who played a film­mak­er in The Oth­er Side of the Wind not long after becom­ing a film­mak­er him­self.

Numer­ous oth­er direc­tors also appear in the film, from Gold­en-Age Hol­ly­wood jour­ney­man Nor­man Fos­ter to French New Wave fig­ure Claude Chabrol to coun­ter­cul­tur­al icon Den­nis Hop­per. As for Han­naford, a line in the trail­er describes him as “the Hem­ing­way of cin­e­ma,” the kind of macho artist who had long intrigued Welles, per­haps ever since he met and clashed with Hem­ing­way him­self. “He’s been reject­ed by all his old friends,” Welles once said of the Han­naford char­ac­ter in a pre­vi­ous ver­sion of the film. “He’s final­ly been shown up to be a kind of voyeur… a fel­low who lives off oth­er peo­ple’s dan­ger and death.” He put it more blunt­ly to Hus­ton in a quote that appears in Josh Karp’s book Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Mak­ing of The Oth­er Side of the Wind: “It’s a film about a bas­tard direc­tor. It’s about us, John. It’s a film about us.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Orson Welles’ First Ever Film, Direct­ed at Age 19

Dis­cov­er the Lost Films of Orson Welles

F for Fake: Orson Welles’ Short Film & Trail­er That Was Nev­er Released in Amer­i­ca

Watch Orson Welles’ Trail­er for Cit­i­zen Kane: As Inno­v­a­tive as the Film Itself

Orson Welles Remem­bers his Stormy Friend­ship with Ernest Hem­ing­way

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Last Great Moment of Elvis Presley’s Musical Career: Watch His Extraordinary Performance of “Unchained Melody” (1977)

As the “King” of Amer­i­can pop cul­ture in the mid-20th cen­tu­ry, Elvis embod­ied so many of his country’s con­tra­dic­tions. Revival­ist of the “love and theft” of black Amer­i­can music and per­for­mance; hum­ble, small town mama’s boy and duti­ful sol­dier who built a cult of mod­ern celebri­ty and a gar­ish tem­ple to con­spic­u­ous excess; self-appoint­ed cru­sad­er who railed against “the drug cul­ture” while his “legal” addic­tion to opi­ates and amphet­a­mines laid waste to his career and health.

Maybe in these con­flicts between humil­i­ty and fame-seek­ing, all-Amer­i­can whole­some­ness and trans­gres­sive seduc­tion, play­act­ing law­less­ness and mor­al­iz­ing law and order, his legions of fans saw their own split selves. His hip-shak­ing con­fi­dence seemed par­tic­u­lar­ly suit­ed to both inflam­ing and sooth­ing anx­i­eties and safe­ly chan­nel­ing pent-up pas­sions. Cer­tain incon­sis­ten­cies in his per­sona did not seem to trou­ble him over­much.

But he was not a well man in the last sev­er­al years of his short life and his tenure in the glit­ter­ing faux-palaces of Las Vegas dra­mat­i­cal­ly has­tened the decline. While the real­i­ty of Elvis in Vegas was tacky and sad, the mythos of Elvis in Vegas made it “cool for fad­ing super­star per­form­ers to find a sec­ond (or even third) act of their career in Vegas,” writes Mike Sager at Bill­board. “Elvis paved the way for the likes of Brit­ney Spears,” whose big Amer­i­can rise and fall resem­bles his in many ways.

Elvis’ own attempt at a third (or fourth) act is pre­dictably trag­ic. Exploita­tive man­ag­er Colonel Tom Park­er pushed him out on tour in 1977, notes Andy Greene at Rolling Stone, “despite his hor­rid shape.” Park­er “arranged a cam­era crew to film the June 19th show in Oma­ha” in order to “get more prod­uct in to the stores”—perhaps sens­ing that Pres­ley did not have much fur­ther to go. The cam­eras kept rolling in stops through­out the Mid­west.

He was an absolute mess. He was only 42, but years of pre­scrip­tion drug abuse and hor­ri­fy­ing dietary habits had left him bloat­ed, depressed and near death. He had an enlarged heart, an enlarged intes­tine, hyper­ten­sion and incred­i­bly painful bow­el prob­lems. He was bare­ly sleep­ing and should have prob­a­bly been in the hos­pi­tal, but he was still a huge draw on the con­cert cir­cuit and the mon­ey was too good to turn down.

It is ugly to dwell on this peri­od, except that some­how those final con­certs pro­duced the extra­or­di­nar­i­ly poignant footage of “Unchained Melody” at the top in Rapid City, South Dako­ta. “With­out a doubt,” writes Greene, “it’s the last great moment of his career.” He digs deep, his voice is clear and strong. The jar­ring con­trast between how good he sounds and how ter­ri­ble he looks under­lines and bolds the lines—“time can do so much…”

At the last tour stop in Indi­anapo­lis, he bare­ly pulled off a ren­di­tion of “Are You Lone­some Tonight,” above. The song starts off real­ly strong but soon devolves into Elvis mut­ter­ing gib­ber­ish, sweat­ing, and gig­gling to him­self. This is hard to watch and it’s no won­der the tour footage, aired once on CBS, “has yet to resur­face in any offi­cial capac­i­ty. This isn’t the Elvis that his estate wants the fans to remem­ber.” Sure­ly those fans them­selves pre­fer the kitschy fan­ta­sy. Less than two months lat­er, he was gone.

via Boing Boing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch John­ny Cash’s Poignant Final Inter­view & His Last Per­for­mance: “Death, Where Is Thy Sting?” (2003)

Watch George Harrison’s Final Inter­view and Per­for­mance (1997)

Watch John Lennon’s Last Live Per­for­mance (1975): “Imag­ine,” “Stand By Me” & More

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

John Turturro Introduces America to the World Wide Web in 1999: Watch A Beginner’s Guide To The Internet

There are only two kinds of sto­ry, holds a quote often attrib­uted to Leo Tol­stoy: a man goes on a jour­ney, or a stranger comes to town. When it set about pro­duc­ing A Begin­ner’s Guide to the Inter­net, a “com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice video” geared to view­ers unfa­mil­iar with the World Wide Web, inter­net por­tal com­pa­ny Lycos went with the lat­ter. That stranger, a his­to­ry teacher and aspir­ing come­di­an named Sam Levin, comes to a town named Tick Neck, Penn­syl­va­nia, his car hav­ing bro­ken down ear­ly in a cross-coun­try dri­ve to a gig in Las Vegas. In order to update his manager/sister on the sit­u­a­tion, he stops into the rur­al ham­let’s only din­er and orders “cof­fee, half reg­u­lar and half decaf — and the tele­phone book.”

Sam does­n’t make a call; instead he unplugs the din­er’s phone, con­nects the line to his com­put­er, looks up his inter­net ser­vice provider’s local num­ber, and (after the req­ui­site modem sounds) gets on the infor­ma­tion super­high­way. Today we know few activ­i­ties as mun­dane as going online at a cof­fee shop, but the towns­peo­ple, inno­cent even of e‑mail, are trans­fixed. Sam shows a cou­ple of kids how to search for infor­ma­tion on haunt­ed hous­es and col­lege schol­ar­ships, and soon the stu­dents become the teach­ers, demon­strat­ing online games to friends, chat rooms to a cranky old-timer (“I don’t like this word net­work at all. Net­work of what? Spies, prob­a­bly”) and even state gov­ern­ment feed­back forms to the may­or of Tick Neck (who describes her­self as “not much with a key­board”).

Though at times it feels like the 1950s, the year was 1999, per­haps the last moment before Amer­i­ca’s com­plete inter­net sat­u­ra­tion — before social media, before stream­ing video, before blogs, before almost every­thing pop­u­lar online today. “The video for Inter­net ‘new­bies’ star­ring John Tur­tur­ro was made avail­able for free rental on the com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice shelf of over 4,000 Block­buster Video stores, West Coast Video stores, pub­lic school libraries and class­rooms across the Unit­ed States,” says a con­tem­po­rary arti­cle at Newenglandfilm.com. “The pro­duc­tion was fund­ed by Lycos who has insti­tut­ed a cam­paign to bet­ter edu­cate the pub­lic about the World Wide Web.”

Those of us on the Web in the 1990s will remem­ber Lycos, which ran one of the pop­u­lar search engines before the age of Google. Launched in 1994 as a research project at Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty in Pitts­burgh (which might explain A Begin­ner’s Guide to the Inter­net’s set­ting), Lycos was in 1999 the most vis­it­ed online des­ti­na­tion in the world, and the next year Span­ish telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny Tele­fóni­ca acquired it for a cool $12.5 bil­lion. Tur­tur­ro, not to be out­done, had in 1998 ascend­ed to a high lev­el of the coun­ter­cul­tur­al zeit­geist with his role in the Coen broth­ers’ The Big Lebows­ki, the pur­ple-clad bowler Jesus Quin­tana — very much not a stranger any­one would want going online with their kids, but Tur­tur­ro has always had a for­mi­da­ble range.

His­to­ry has­n’t record­ed how many new­bies A Begin­ner’s Guide to the Inter­net helped to start surf­ing the Web, but the video remains a fas­ci­nat­ing arti­fact of atti­tudes to the inter­net dur­ing its first peri­od of enor­mous growth. “My fam­i­ly does­n’t own a com­put­er,” the young boy tells Sam, “and my dad does­n’t like ’em. He says facts are facts.” (That last sen­tence, innocu­ous at the time, does take on a new res­o­nance today.) The boy’s teenage sis­ter excit­ed­ly describes the inter­net as “like going to the library, depart­ment store, and post office, all at the same time.” Enter­ing his cred­it card num­ber to buy an auto-repair man­u­al for the skep­ti­cal mechan­ic, Sam says (with a strange defen­sive­ness) that “it’s com­plete­ly pri­vate. I’ve done it before and it’s not a prob­lem.” As with any stranger of leg­end who comes to town, Sam leaves Tick Neck a changed place — though not near­ly as much as the Tick Necks of the world have since been changed by the inter­net itself.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How to Send an E‑mail: A 1984 British Tele­vi­sion Broad­cast Explains This “Sim­ple” Process

From the Annals of Opti­mism: The News­pa­per Indus­try in 1981 Imag­ines its Dig­i­tal Future

In 1999, David Bowie Pre­dicts the Good and Bad of the Inter­net

What’s the Inter­net? That’s So 1994…

John Tur­tur­ro Reads Ita­lo Calvino’s Fairy Tale, “The False Grand­moth­er,” in a Short Ani­mat­ed Film

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

David Lynch Muses About the Magic of Cinema & Meditation in a New Abstract Short Film

One of the won­der­ful things about David Lynch is that, despite inter­views, sev­er­al doc­u­men­taries on his cre­ative process, plen­ty of behind-the-scenes footage of him direct­ing, and the release of a whole memoir/biography told both sub­jec­tive­ly *and* objectively…despite all that, the man is still an enig­ma. Even when he returned 25 years lat­er to famil­iar ground with the third sea­son of Twin Peaks, there was no sign of self-par­o­dy, and he deliv­ered some of the most bril­liant work of his career. How the hell does he do it?

That being said, if you have read his book Catch­ing the Big Fish or have heard him in inter­views, this short film direct­ed by his son Austin Lynch and Case Sim­mons, and pre­sent­ed by Stel­la McCart­ney, might not be any­thing new. If you are just now dis­cov­er­ing Lynch, then this is a quick primer on his cre­ative process and his devo­tion to Tran­scen­den­tal Med­i­ta­tion as a way to dive into that cre­ativ­i­ty and, even­tu­al­ly, bring peace to the world.

Austin Lynch is one of three Lynch chil­dren to work in enter­tain­ment. The eldest Jen­nifer Lynch direct­ed Box­ing Hele­na and wrote the Twin Peaks spin-off book The Secret Diary of Lau­ra Palmer. Riley Lynch is a musi­cian and appeared in two episodes of the recent Twin Peaks.

Giv­en the pedi­gree, Lynch and Sim­mons man­age to hon­or David Lynch with­out copy­ing his style. The short abstract pro­file also fea­tures very short cameos by Stel­la McCart­ney, Børns, Lola Kirk, and sev­er­al oth­ers.

The direc­tor appears here and there dur­ing the nine min­utes, back­lit by sub­tle col­ored lights in a pri­vate screen­ing room, watch­ing a movie. What movie? It doesn’t mat­ter.

“It’s so mag­i­cal, I don’t know why, to go into a the­ater and have the lights go down,” Lynch says. “It’s very qui­et and then the cur­tains start to open. And then you go into a world.”

The direc­tors link this to a famil­iar Lynch tale of the begin­ning of his film career, when Lynch was paint­ing at the begin­ning of his art school years and the can­vas start­ed to move and make sounds. No mat­ter how many times Lynch tells this sto­ry, there’s some­thing so odd about it. Is he talk­ing in metaphor? Did he hal­lu­ci­nate? Did he get vis­it­ed by a force beyond this real­i­ty? Are his great­est Lynchi­an moments his way of try­ing to make sense of that one episode?

He also talks about the cir­cle that goes from the film to the audi­ence and back, a feed­back loop that musi­cians also talk about, and is the rea­son Lynch still loves the cin­e­ma as an event space. Per­for­mance spaces fig­ure promi­nent­ly in his works, whether it’s the Club Silen­cio in Mul­hol­land Dr., the Lady in the Radi­a­tor in Eraser­head, or the var­i­ous lodges and per­for­mance areas in Twin Peaks. (It’s also why he despis­es watch­ing films on iPhones, apart from the size.)

Lynch explains here how he became a film­mak­er through study­ing med­i­ta­tion, how it saved him from anger and despair, and how these tech­niques led to land­ing big­ger cre­ative fish from “the ocean of solu­tions” and expand­ing artis­tic intu­ition.

Is Lynch enlight­ened? No, but he’s clos­er than most of us:

“Every day for me gets bet­ter and bet­ter,” he con­cludes. “And I believe that enliven­ing uni­ty in the world will bring peace on earth. So I say peace to all of you.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Makes a David Lynch Film Lynchi­an: A Video Essay

Hear David Lynch Read from His New Mem­oir Room to Dream, and Browse His New Online T‑Shirt Store

Watch All of the Com­mer­cials That David Lynch Has Direct­ed: A Big 30-Minute Com­pi­la­tion

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Hear the Original, Never-Heard Demo of John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Imag­in­ing a “broth­er­hood of man” sounds Pollyan­naish and painful­ly naïve when even an “uneasy truce of man” seems hard­ly pos­si­ble. But when John Lennon sings about it with con­vic­tion in “Imag­ine,” we sit up and lis­ten. Such is the pow­er of “Imagine”’s utopi­an vision, and Lennon lat­er admit­ted it “should be cred­it­ed as a Lennon/Ono song,” since “a lot of it—the lyric and the concept—came from Yoko,” specif­i­cal­ly from Grape­fruit, her lit­tle book of whim­si­cal “instruc­tions.” For decades the pair’s col­lab­o­ra­tions have received with­er­ing scorn from Bea­t­les fans, but no greater tes­ta­ment to their com­bined human­ist vision exists than “Imag­ine,” a prod­uct of Ono’s con­cep­tu­al dream verse and Lennon’s earnest songcraft.

So much has been said and writ­ten about the song, so many great and not-so-great cov­ers per­formed since its 1971 release, that we might think we know all there is to know about it. We even have behind the scenes footage in the doc­u­men­tary Gimme Some Truth of the some­times tense record­ing ses­sions. Yet it turns out that the orig­i­nal demo ver­sion Lennon record­ed at his own Ascot Sound stu­dios went unno­ticed in a box of tapes for 45 years. We can cel­e­brate its 2016 redis­cov­ery and now hear it for our­selves, that eight-track tape trans­ferred to dig­i­tal and enhanced by engi­neer Paul Hicks, above.

The record­ing was dis­cov­ered by Rob Stevens who found it, reports Jason Kot­tke, “while sift­ing through box­es upon box­es of the orig­i­nal tapes for Yoko Ono.” It seems that improp­er label­ing damned the tape to decades of obscu­ri­ty. “There’s a one-inch eight-track,” remem­bered Stevens, “that says noth­ing more on the ‘Ascot Sound’ label than John Lennon, the date, and the engi­neer (Phil McDon­ald), with DEMO on the spine. No indi­ca­tion of what mate­r­i­al was on the tape.” The find was “true serendip­i­ty,” he remarks.

Hear­ing this mov­ing, stripped-down solo ver­sion reminds me of David Bowie telling an audi­ence in 1983—just before singing the song on his Seri­ous Moon­light tour—of how Lennon approached his song­writ­ing: “’It’s easy,’ he said, ‘you just say what you mean and put a back­beat to it.’” Even with­out the back­beat, “Imag­ine” says exact­ly what it means. Imag­ine all the peo­ple liv­ing for today.

A set of “Ulti­mate Mix­es” of the Imag­ine album will be released in Octo­ber (pre-order here) and will of course include the new­ly-unearthed demo along with many oth­er demos and rar­i­ties. Till then, enjoy this amaz­ing dis­cov­ery, as well as Lennon’s live tele­vi­sion per­for­mance from 1972 on the Mike Dou­glas Show, just above.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch David Bowie Per­form “Imag­ine”: A Touch­ing Trib­ute to His Friend John Lennon (1983)

Watch John Lennon’s Last Live Per­for­mance (1975): “Imag­ine,” “Stand By Me” & More

John Lennon Extols the Virtues of Tran­scen­den­tal Med­i­ta­tion in a Spir­it­ed Let­ter Writ­ten to a Bea­t­les Fan (1968)

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

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