The History of the Guitar & Guitar Legends: From 1929 to 1979

In the age of the Clas­si­cal Edu­ca­tion, stu­dents pored over and mem­o­rized the works of “author­i­ties,” exem­plars of gram­mar, rhetoric, log­ic, etc. Con­stel­la­tions in the night sky of igno­rance, so to speak, these writ­ers and thinkers showed the way to knowl­edge through their excel­lence. The method may have fall­en out of favor in mod­ern ped­a­gogy, but it sur­vives in pop­u­lar cul­ture, and in the videos here, pro­duc­er and musi­cian Rick Beato employs it as a way of teach­ing the his­to­ry of gui­tar.

In the episode above, he names gui­tar play­ers from 1929–1969 that “every seri­ous gui­tarist should know.” Below, he does the same for the decade of the sev­en­ties. These gui­tarists exem­pli­fy Clas­si­cal, Blues, Jazz, Coun­try and Rock & Roll gui­tar, accord­ing to Beato, and yes, he knows he prob­a­bly left off your favorite play­ers, so go ahead and men­tion them in the com­ments.

Beato includes a brief film or audio clip of each play­er, with the unspo­ken assump­tion that seri­ous stu­dents will seek out more of their record­ed music and become more famil­iar with what made them unique. In the list below, you can see the 48 names he lists in his first video.

1. Andres Segovia
2. Julian Bream
3. Charley Pat­ton
4. Robert John­son
5. Light­nin Hop­kins
6. Blind Lemon Jef­fer­son
7. Lead­bel­ly 8. Elmore James
9. Mud­dy Waters
10. Fred­die King
11. Albert King
12. B.B. King
13. Bud­dy Guy
14. Otis Rush
15. Djan­go Rein­hardt
16. Char­lie Chris­t­ian
17. Wes Mont­gomery
18. Joe Pass
19. George Ben­son
20. Bar­ney Kessel
21. Herb Ellis
22. George Van Eps
23. Ken­ny Bur­rell
24. Jim Hall
25. Grant Green
26. Tal Far­low
27. Anto­nio Car­los Jobim
28. Les Paul and Mary Ford
29. Chuck Berry
30. Hank Mar­vin
31. Dick Dale
32. George Har­ri­son
33. Kei­th Richards
34. Steve Crop­per
35. Chet Atkins
36. Jer­ry Reed
37. Glen Camp­bell
38. Jimi Hen­drix
39. Eric Clap­ton
40. Jim­my Page
41. Jeff Beck
42. Peter Green
43. Mike Bloom­field
44. John­ny Win­ter
45. Car­los San­tana
46. Jer­ry Gar­cia
47. Ritchie Black­more
48. Frank Zap­pa

The peri­od of 1970–1979 saw “some of the most sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ments for the role of the gui­tar,” brought about by the British Inva­sion, the influ­ence of the blues, and the “son­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal advances of the gui­tar.” The peri­od began with two great loss­es in the gui­tar world: jazz great Wes Mont­gomery in 1968 and Jimi Hen­drix in 1970. But many more greats soon came to promi­nence, such as clas­si­cal gui­tarists Christo­pher Parken­ing and John Williams and jazz adven­tur­ers Pat Methe­ny and Joe Pass.

Beato namechecks sev­er­al gui­tarists well-known to most of the lis­ten­ing pub­lic and many more you may nev­er have heard before. His rapid intro­duc­tion will like­ly inspire gui­tarists to learn what they can from these author­i­ties of the instru­ment, broad­en­ing both their his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge and their tech­nique. He promis­es more videos like this in the future, each cov­er­ing a new decade. Who will Beato choose as most influ­en­tial play­ers of the eight­ies, nineties, and oughties? Sub­scribe to his chan­nel to find out.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Rock Musi­cal­ly Told in 100 Gui­tar Riffs and 100 Bass Riffs

Learn to Play Gui­tar for Free: Intro Cours­es Take You From The Very Basics to Play­ing Songs In No Time

How to Build a Cus­tom Hand­craft­ed Acoustic Gui­tar from Start to Fin­ish: The Process Revealed in a Fas­ci­nat­ing Doc­u­men­tary

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

Get a First Listen to David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti’s Long-Lost Album, Thought Gang

All of David Lynch’s movies, tele­vi­sion shows, music videos, and com­mer­cials — and also his paint­ings, pho­tographs, and com­ic strips — express a con­sis­tent, and con­sis­tent­ly Lynchi­an, vision. But that vision depends on more than just the visu­al: the son­ic has also played a vital part in its devel­op­ment at least since the night­mar­ish­ly intri­cate sound design of Lynch’s 1977 debut fea­ture Eraser­head. And just imag­ine how much impact lat­er Lynch projects like Blue Vel­vet, Twin Peaks, The Straight Sto­ry, and Mul­hol­land Dri­ve would have lost with­out the rich and often haunt­ing scores of Ange­lo Badala­men­ti, a com­pos­er with whom Lynch has worked at seem­ing­ly every oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Lynch made his own offi­cial debut as a record­ing artist sev­en years ago with Crazy Clown Time, and this Novem­ber he and Badala­men­ti will release their first col­lab­o­ra­tive album Thought Gang. Accord­ing to its Band­camp page, this “eso­teric jazz side­ project of David Lynch and Ange­lo Badala­men­ti evolved from the seeds of Twin Peaks’ trade­mark slow cool jazz and blos­somed into more exper­i­men­tal pas­tures: hori­zon­less vis­tas of acid­-soaked free­jazz, laced with spo­ken word nar­ra­tives and sprawl­ing nois­escapes.” If that sounds good to you, you can get a first taste of the album from the track “Wood­cut­ters From Fiery Ships” above.

The Thought Gang ses­sions hap­pened 25 years ago, between the end of Twin Peaks’ sec­ond sea­son and the pro­duc­tion of the Twin Peaks movie Fire Walk with Me. Out of those ses­sions came a quan­ti­ty of music that Lynch describes as “sort of like jet-­fu­eled jazz in a weird way… but it’s all based on sto­ries.” Two of those tracks, “A Real Indi­ca­tion” and “The Black Dog Runs at Night,” appeared on the sound­track of the movie, and two oth­ers, “Frank 2000” and “Sum­mer Night Noise,” (as well as the instru­men­tal mix of anoth­er, “Log­ic and Com­mon Sense”) fea­ture in Twin Peaks: The Return, which aired on Show­time last year. More con­nec­tions to Lynch’s oth­er work sur­face in “Wood­cut­ters From Fiery Ships,” begin­ning with its title, which adorned a Lynch-themed, seem­ing­ly nev­er-devel­oped CD-ROM game twen­ty years ago.

Much of the Lynchi­an imagery that fills the song — talk-sung by Badala­men­ti him­self, who, says the Band­camp page, sum­moned “such a vio­lent laugh­ter­-fueled excite­ment from Lynch that he lit­er­al­ly induced a her­nia” — may also sound famil­iar. A char­ac­ter called Pete “saw the girl next door take off her clothes last night and walk through her house nude.” At a din­er, “he heard a man say that the doc­tors had cut him down his neck and into his chest.” A “grey man with big ears lit a big cig­ar” and “smoke drift­ed over Pete’s apple pie.” Badala­men­ti at one point declares that “things aren’t mak­ing sense. For instance, why is that boy bleed­ing from the mouth?” True fans will rec­og­nize that line as the title of one of Lynch’s paint­ings. And so the grand Lynchi­an project con­tin­ues, some­how get­ting both weird­er and more coher­ent all the time.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ange­lo Badala­men­ti Reveals How He and David Lynch Com­posed the Twin Peaks‘ “Love Theme”

Hear the Music of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Played by the Dan­ish Nation­al Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra

Hear the Music of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks Played by the Exper­i­men­tal Band, Xiu Xiu: A Free Stream of Their New Album

David Lynch’s Music Videos: Nine Inch Nails, Moby, Chris Isaak & More

David Lynch’s New ‘Crazy Clown Time’ Video: Intense Psy­chot­ic Back­yard Crazi­ness (NSFW)

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.

Download Classic Japanese Wave and Ripple Designs: A Go-to Guide for Japanese Artists from 1903

Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese art may please so many of us, even those of us with lit­tle inter­est in Japan itself, because of the way it inhab­its the realm between rep­re­sen­ta­tion and abstrac­tion. But then, it does­n’t just inhab­it that realm: it has set­tled those bor­der­lands, made them its own, for much longer than most cul­tures have been doing any­thing at all. The space between art, strict­ly defined, and what we now call design has also seen few achieve­ments quite so impres­sive as those made in Japan, going all the way back to the rope mark­ings on the clay ves­sels used by the islands’ Jōmon peo­ple in the 11th cen­tu­ry BC.

Those ancient rope-on-clay mark­ings can eas­i­ly look like pre­de­ces­sors of the “wave pat­terns” still seen in Japan­ese art and design today. Since time almost immemo­r­i­al they have appeared on “swords (both blades and han­dles) and asso­ci­at­ed para­pher­na­lia (known as ‘sword fur­ni­ture’), as well as lac­quer­ware, Net­suke, reli­gious objects, and a host of oth­er items.”

So says the Pub­lic Domain Review, which has fea­tured a series of three books full of ele­gant wave and rip­ple designs orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1903 and now avail­able to down­load free at the Inter­net Archive (vol­ume onevol­ume twovol­ume three).

Called Hamon­shū, the books were pro­duced by the artist Mori Yuzan, “about whom not a lot is known,” adds the Pub­lic Domain review, “apart from that he hailed from Kyoto, worked in the Nihon­ga style” — or the “Japan­ese paint­ing” style of Japan­ese paint­ing, which emerged dur­ing the Mei­ji peri­od, a time of rapid West­ern­iza­tion in Japan.

He “died in 1917. The works would have act­ed as a kind of go-to guide for Japan­ese crafts­men look­ing to adorn their wares with wave and rip­ple pat­terns.” Though they do con­tain text, they require no knowl­edge of the Japan­ese lan­guage to appre­ci­ate the many illus­tra­tions they present.

Tak­en togeth­er, Mori’s books offer a com­plete spec­trum from tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese-style rep­re­sen­ta­tion — espe­cial­ly of land, water, moun­tains, sky, and oth­er nat­ur­al ele­ments — to a taste of the infi­nite vari­ety of abstract pat­terns that result. Such imagery remains preva­lent in Japan more than a cen­tu­ry after the pub­li­ca­tion of Hamon­shū, as any vis­i­tor to Japan today will see.

But now that the Inter­net Archive has made the books freely avail­able online (vol­ume onevol­ume twovol­ume three), they’ll sure­ly inspire work not just between rep­re­sen­ta­tion and abstrac­tion as well as between art and design, but between Japan­ese aes­thet­ics and those of every oth­er cul­ture in the world as well.

via Pub­lic Domain Review

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Japan­ese Wood­work­ing Mas­ters Cre­ate Ele­gant & Elab­o­rate Geo­met­ric Pat­terns with Wood

Mes­mer­iz­ing GIFs Illus­trate the Art of Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese Wood Join­ery — All Done With­out Screws, Nails, or Glue

Down­load 2,500 Beau­ti­ful Wood­block Prints and Draw­ings by Japan­ese Mas­ters (1600–1915)

1,000+ His­toric Japan­ese Illus­trat­ed Books Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Smith­son­ian: From the Edo & Meji Eras (1600–1912)

The Art of Col­lo­type: See a Near Extinct Print­ing Tech­nique, as Lov­ing­ly Prac­ticed by a Japan­ese Mas­ter Crafts­man

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.

R. Crumb Illustrates Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea: Existentialism Meets Underground Comics

Sartre’s nov­el Nau­sea intro­duced his philo­soph­i­cal view as a form of ill­ness to a WWII read­er­ship. “Nau­sea is exis­tence reveal­ing itself—and expe­ri­ence is not pleas­ant to see,” he wrote in his own sum­ma­ry of his first book, pub­lished in 1938. The novel’s drama­ti­za­tion of His­to­ri­an Roquentin’ s cri­sis presents a case of exis­ten­tial sick­ness as most­ly invol­un­tary.

Though pub­lished before his many Marx­ist books and essays, Nau­sea con­nects the malaise to a cer­tain class expe­ri­ence. “I have no trou­bles,” thinks Roquentin in Robert Crumb’s short adap­ta­tion of the book above, “I have mon­ey like a cap­i­tal­ist, no boss, no wife, no chil­dren; I exist, that’s all…. And that trou­ble is so vague, so meta­phys­i­cal that I am ashamed of it.” Nau­sea, in one sense, is bour­geoise alien­ation, while Roquentin’s con­ver­sa­tion part­ner, the Self-Taught Man, con­fess­es a naïve human­ist ide­al­ism.

The char­ac­ters alone, some crit­ics sug­gest, imbue the book with a sub­tle par­o­dy. As he lis­tens to the Self-Taught Man’s trou­bles and rumi­nates on his own, Crumb’s Roquentin grows more Sartre-like. Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the Self-Taught Man takes on a Crumb-like demeanor and aspect. Their dia­logue moves briskly, the scene resem­bling My Din­ner with Andre with less ban­ter and more neu­ro­sis. Sartre’s tone lends itself well to Crumb’s obses­sive, tight­ly-com­posed pan­els.

Crumb’s lit­er­ary inter­pre­ta­tions have grav­i­tat­ed toward oth­er anx­ious writ­ers like Charles Bukows­ki and Franz Kaf­ka, as well as the mur­der and incest of the book of Gen­e­sis. The under­ground comics leg­end is right at home with Sartre­an dread and despair. Crumb became famous for Fritz the Cat, an ani­mat­ed film ver­sion of his raunchy hip­ster, what many called his gross­ly sex­ist and racist sex fan­tasies, and the draw­ing and slo­gan “Keep on Truckin’.” He was a fig­ure of 60s and 70s coun­ter­cul­ture, but that’s nev­er where he belonged.

Crumb was a Sartre­an pro­tag­o­nist , even when he “often por­trayed him­self in his work as naked… and pri­apic.” In an an inter­view with Crumb The Guardian describes him:

his words are depres­sive and lugubri­ous, and yet he appears mel­low, laugh­ing eas­i­ly through his exis­ten­tial nau­sea. The most ter­ri­ble sto­ries amuse him as much as they pain him. He tells me how a best friend killed him­self by swal­low­ing four bot­tles of paper cor­rec­tion flu­id, and he chor­tles. He talks of his own despair, and gig­gles. He admits that he could nev­er have imag­ined a life quite so fulfilled—with Aline, and his beloved daugh­ter Sophie, also a car­toon­ist, and suc­cess and money—and says he’s still mis­er­able as hell, and laughs.

He is a lit­tle Roquentin, a lit­tle bit Sartre, a lit­tle bit Self-Taught man, apply­ing to his read­ing of lit­er­a­ture and phi­los­o­phy an LSD-assist­ed, sex-pos­i­tive, and unavoid­ably con­tro­ver­sial and depres­sive sen­si­bil­i­ty. See the full Crumb-illus­trat­ed Nau­sea here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

R. Crumb Describes How He Dropped LSD in the 60s & Instant­ly Dis­cov­ered His Artis­tic Style

R. Crumb Shows Us How He Illus­trat­ed Gen­e­sis: A Faith­ful, Idio­syn­crat­ic Illus­tra­tion of All 50 Chap­ters

Three Charles Bukows­ki Books Illus­trat­ed by Robert Crumb: Under­ground Com­ic Art Meets Out­sider Lit­er­a­ture

Under­ground Car­toon­ist Robert Crumb Cre­ates an Illus­trat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Franz Kafka’s Life and Work

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

Paul McCartney Breaks Down His Most Famous Songs and Answers Most-Asked Fan Questions in Two New Videos

Paul McCart­ney has played it safe for decades, rely­ing on the bril­liance of his song­writ­ing and musi­cian­ship, which no one ever doubts and so he nev­er has to prove. His songs usu­al­ly fall into a for­mu­la famil­iar from Bea­t­les’ days: “sil­ly love songs,” writes Stephen Ear­lewine at Pitch­fork, “mini-suites… polite polit­i­cal protests, and old-fash­ioned rock­ers.” But while the Bea­t­les had each oth­er, the exper­i­ments of George Mar­tin, LSD, tran­scen­den­tal med­i­ta­tion, and a moment of per­fect cul­tur­al kismet to twist and warp their music into all sorts of weird shapes, McCartney’s solo releas­es tend to stick to his estab­lished strengths, some­times to the detri­ment of what can hap­pen when he moves out of his com­fort zone to get deep­er and more vul­ner­a­ble.

Yet as near­ly every crit­ic has so far not­ed of his newest album, Egypt Sta­tion—which he heav­i­ly pro­mot­ed, for exam­ple, with an appear­ance on Car­pool Karaoke and a “secret” show at Grand Cen­tral Sta­tion—McCart­ney lets lis­ten­ers in on some sur­pris­ing con­fes­sion­al dark­ness. The Nick Drake-like lyrics of open­er “I Don’t Know” show him earnest­ly con­fronting aging, mor­tal­i­ty, and depres­sion, with­out any of the usu­al sun­ni­ness or comedic turns of phrase: “I got crows at my window/Dogs at my door/I don’t think I can take any­more.” The can­did admis­sion, Erlewine writes, “would be star­tling in any con­text, but what stings most is the tac­it acknowl­edg­ment that 76-year-old McCart­ney real­izes he’s near­ing the end of his long, wind­ing road.”

In inter­views, like his lat­est with Rolling Stone, how­ev­er, McCart­ney sounds as upbeat as ever. He describes sit­ting in Apple meet­ings after the breakup of the Bea­t­les as “like see­ing the death of your favorite pet,” but he also enthus­es about his patched-up rela­tion­ship with Yoko (“Now it’s like we’re mates”), love for his band—who have now been play­ing togeth­er longer than both the Bea­t­les and Wings—and his pride in his musi­cal lega­cy (“It’s a damn good job I did”). He sounds just as pleased to be onstage in his mid-70s as he was in his 20s—the gen­uine love of per­form­ing and engag­ing with fans hasn’t dulled one bit with age, just as his abil­i­ty to write and sell hit records remains sol­id.

As for his time-test­ed for­mu­la, Erlewine com­ments, it only “makes the moments where Paul attempts some­thing slight­ly new seem all the more appar­ent.” One new thing he’s game­ly tried in recent years is mak­ing online videos for fans. A few years back, he dropped a few lessons show­ing how to play the bass and gui­tar parts on “Ever Present Past” from 2007’s Mem­o­ry Almost Full. This year, McCartney’s fan ser­vice includes the two videos here. First at the top, he spends almost a half an hour dis­cussing the best-known songs in his 60-year-career for GQ: “I Lost My Lit­tle Girl,” “Yes­ter­day,” “I Saw Her Stand­ing There,” “And I Love Her,” “Eleanor Rig­by,” “A Day in the Life,” “Hey Jude,” “Hel­ter Skel­ter,” “Black­bird,” “Let It Be,” “Hi Hi Hi,” “Here Today,” “Jet,” and Egypt Sta­tion’s “I Don’t Know.”

Above, McCart­ney accept’s Wired’s “auto­com­plete chal­lenge,” answer­ing the internet’s most searched ques­tions about him­self, such as “Why is Paul McCartney’s nick­name ‘Mac­ca’?” and “Why did Paul McCart­ney write ‘Let it Be’?” (Answers: “Cause I’m from Liv­er­pool, and they abbre­vi­ate every­thing in Liv­er­pool” and he was “a bit stressed out”—and a lit­tle high—and his moth­er came to him in a dream with the advice: “just let it be.”) Is there always more learn about Paul McCart­ney? Yes, appar­ent­ly there is. But even when he repeats him­self, he’s still great fun to watch.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Chaos & Cre­ation at Abbey Road: Paul McCart­ney Revis­its The Bea­t­les’ Fabled Record­ing Stu­dio

The Genius of Paul McCartney’s Bass Play­ing in 7 Iso­lat­ed Tracks

Paul McCart­ney Offers a Short Tuto­r­i­al on How to Play the Bass Gui­tar

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

This Man Flew to Japan to Sing ABBA’s “Mamma Mia” in a Big Cold River

Austin Weber trav­eled to Kyoto and sang ABBA’s “Mam­ma Mia” in a big cold riv­er. What made the result­ing video so strange­ly com­pelling? Maybe, as one YouTube com­menter not­ed, it’s that the “video has about 100 pix­els but every one is used to their full poten­tial.” Or maybe, as anoth­er YouTu­ber said, “it’s the syn­thy ABBA, the goofy zooms and edit­ing, or the bit­ter­sweet premise com­bined with the song.” Or maybe it’s that the video sim­ply “brings us back to the mid 2000’s,” when our YouTube cul­ture all got start­ed. It’s hard to know. But maybe we should­n’t over­think it and just enjoy.

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.

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Umberto Eco Explains Why We Make Lists

Cre­ative Com­mons image by Rob Bogaerts, via the Nation­al Archives in Hol­land

We hate lists, which have told us what to do since at least the days Leonar­do da Vin­ci, and which now, as “lis­ti­cles,” con­sti­tute one of the low­est stra­ta of inter­net con­tent. But we also love lists: a great many of us click on those lis­ti­cles, after all, and one might argue that the list, as a form, rep­re­sents the begin­ning of writ­ten texts. “The list is the ori­gin of cul­ture,” said Umber­to Eco in a 2009 Der Spiegel inter­view about the exhi­bi­tion on the his­to­ry of the list he curat­ed at the Lou­vre. “It’s part of the his­to­ry of art and lit­er­a­ture. What does cul­ture want? To make infin­i­ty com­pre­hen­si­ble. It also wants to cre­ate order  — not always, but often.”

How, as mere human beings, do we impose order when we gaze up into infin­i­ty, down into the abyss — pick your metaphor of the sub­lime­ly, incom­pre­hen­si­bly vast? We do it, Eco thought, “through lists, through cat­a­logs, through col­lec­tions in muse­ums and through ency­clo­pe­dias and dic­tio­nar­ies.” The breadth as well as depth of the knowl­edge he accu­mu­lat­ed through­out his 84 years — which itself could seem sub­lime­ly and incom­pre­hen­si­bly vast, as any­one who has read one of his list-filled nov­els knows — placed him well to explain the ori­gins, func­tions, and impor­tance of the list. In the Spiegel inter­view he names Don Gio­van­ni’s 2,063 lovers, the con­tents of Leopold Bloom’s draw­ers, and the many ships and gen­er­als spec­i­fied in the Ili­ad as just a few of the clas­sic lists and enu­mer­a­tions of West­ern cul­ture.

Eco’s research into and/or obses­sion with lists pro­duced not just the exhi­bi­tion at the Lou­vre but also a book, The Infin­i­ty of Lists: An Illus­trat­ed Essay. Did it also lead him to any oth­er answers about why, whether in the Mid­dle Ages with its “very clear image of the uni­verse,” the Renais­sance and Baroque eras with their “world­view based on astron­o­my,” the “post­mod­ern age” in which we live today, or any oth­er time, “the list has pre­vailed over and over again?” Ulti­mate­ly, we make lists when­ev­er we expe­ri­ence a “defi­cien­cy of lan­guage,” such as when lovers describe one anoth­er (“Your eyes are so beau­ti­ful, and so is your mouth, and your col­lar­bone”) or when we remem­ber the “very dis­cour­ag­ing, humil­i­at­ing lim­it” of death. Mak­ing lists of things that seem infi­nite is “a way of escap­ing thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die.”

Hav­ing died in 2016 him­self, Eco left behind an immense per­son­al library (his walk­through of which we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture). “It might actu­al­ly be 50,000 books,” he said to the Spiegel inter­view­er, but he refused to put them on a list and find out for sure: “When my sec­re­tary want­ed to cat­a­logue them, I asked her not to. My inter­ests change con­stant­ly, and so does my library.” If he were to try to list his inter­ests, he would have had to keep scrap­ping the list and draw­ing up a new one; more than pro­vid­ing abun­dant mate­r­i­al for his writ­ing, this con­stant and life­long cir­cu­la­tion of fas­ci­na­tions (he men­tioned first lov­ing Chopin at 16, and again in his sev­en­ties) con­firmed his engage­ment with the infi­nite world around him: “If you inter­act with things in your life, every­thing is con­stant­ly chang­ing. And if noth­ing changes, you’re an idiot.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Umber­to Eco Explains the Poet­ic Pow­er of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts

Umber­to Eco Makes a List of the 14 Com­mon Fea­tures of Fas­cism

Watch Umber­to Eco Walk Through His Immense Pri­vate Library: It Goes On, and On, and On!

Umber­to Eco Dies at 84; Leaves Behind Advice to Aspir­ing Writ­ers

Leonar­do Da Vinci’s To Do List (Cir­ca 1490)

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.

A Massive, Knitted Tapestry of the Galaxy: Software Engineer Hacks a Knitting Machine & Creates a Star Map Featuring 88 Constellations

The next time some non-crafty type dis­par­ages your hob­by as a frumpy pur­suit, show them soft­ware engi­neer Sarah Spencer’s “Stargaz­ing.”

The 9’x 15’ knit­ted tapes­try is an accu­rate equa­to­r­i­al star map fea­tur­ing all 88 con­stel­la­tions as viewed by the naked eye, includ­ing the Milky Way and the South­ern Cross, the best known star group in Spencer’s native Aus­tralia.

The project ate up 33 pounds of Aus­tralian wool in three shades, includ­ing the same ultra­ma­rine blue sport­ed by a num­ber of accom­plished Aus­tralian women whose por­traits are on dis­play as part of the 2018 Archibald Prize.

While “Stargaz­ing” is machine knit, its cre­ation took longer than most hand-knit­ted projects.

What start­ed as a lark, hack­ing and pro­gram­ming a 40-year-old, sec­ond­hand Emp­isal knit­ting machine, grew into some­thing much larg­er when Spencer devel­oped a com­put­er algo­rithm that allowed one tri-col­ored knit stitch per pix­el.

Years lat­er, she was ready to start knit­ting her star map, a reflec­tion of her inter­est in STEM—science, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and math­e­mat­ics.

“Stargaz­ing” is actu­al­ly com­prised of sev­en pan­els, each the result of dusk-to-dawn labor on the part of the hacked machine. Stitch­ing them togeth­er required many more human hours.

The piece was unveiled at the UK’s tech-and-arts fes­ti­val, Elec­tro­mag­net­ic Field, on August 31. Spencer had cal­i­brat­ed the place­ment of the tapestry’s plan­ets to cor­re­spond with their celes­tial coun­ter­parts’ loca­tions that night.

For now, the tapes­try is one-of-a-kind, but giv­en its indus­tri­al ori­gins, it’s not hard to fore­see a future in which cou­ples can cud­dle under astro­nom­i­cal­ly cor­rect afghans, while gaz­ing up at the stars.

via Atlas Obscu­ra

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Astron­o­my Cours­es

The Ancient Astron­o­my of Stone­henge Decod­ed

The His­to­ry of Car­tog­ra­phy, “the Most Ambi­tious Overview of Map Mak­ing Ever Under­tak­en,” Is Free Online

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.

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