Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” Gets Released on Instagram as a Digital “Insta Novel”: It’s Free from The New York Public Library

Back in August, we highlighted a new initiative by the New York Public Library. An institution that’s hip with our times, the NYPL released on Instagram a digital version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in the Halloween spirit, comes a digital adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale, “The Raven.” They write:

“The Raven” includes a unique series of animations produced by Psyop and Studio AKA that takes readers on an ominous procession through a stark psychological landscape where the differing perspectives of both the Raven and Poe’s protagonist are depicted. The viewpoints steadily intercut and converge as the animation builds to its disquieting climax, as the door creaks open revealing “darkness there and nothing more.”

Read “The Raven” on Instagram here. And keep an eye out for NYPL’s upcoming adaptation of “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. It’s due out by the end of the year.

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36 Artists Give Advice to Young Creators: Wim Wenders, Jonathan Franzen, Lydia Davis, Patti Smith, David Byrne, Umberto Eco & More

“Whatever you do, nobody else can do that better than you. You have to find what you can do better than anyone else, what you have in yourself that nobody else has in them. Don’t do anything that you know, deep in your heart, that somebody else can do better, but do what nobody else can do except for you.” That sounds like fine advice, but when receiving advice we should always consider the source. In this case we could hardly do better: the source is Wim Wenders, director of Alice in the CitiesParis, TexasWings of Desire, and many other films besides, an auteur seldom accused of making movies anyone else could make.

Wenders’ interview clip and the others here come from “Advice to the Young,” a video series created by the Louisiana Museum in Denmark (which has quite an impressive gift shop, incidentally, if you happen to need advice on gift-shopping). Jonathan Franzen, author of novels like The CorrectionsFreedom, and Purity, admits to feeling embarrassment about “giving advice to the young writer,” but he still has valuable words for creators in any domain: “The most important advice I have is to have fun, to try to create something that is fun to work on.”

And by fun he means fun like you have on a tennis court, where “you’re not just messing around, you’re not just hitting the ball wherever you want — you are focused on having a game, and once you are in it you are having fun. That’s the kind of focused fun I’m talking about, and if you are having that kind of focused fun, there’s a good chance that the reader will too.”

The range of writers from which Louisiana Museum has sought advice also includes Lydia Davis, whose sensibility may differ from Franzen’s but who has garnered an equal (or even greater) degree of respect from her readership. “You learn from models and you analyze them, you study them, you analyze them very closely, one thing at a time,” she says, beginning her more expansive advice based on her own method. “You don’t just sort of read the paragraph and say, ‘Oh, that really flows, you know? That’s good.’ You say, ‘What kind of adjectives? How many? What kind of nouns? How long are the sentences? What’s the rhythm?’ You know, you pick it apart, and that’s very helpful.” Her other suggestions include to “be very patient, even patient with chaos” and to keep a notebook (“it takes some of the tension and the worry away, because if you write it down, it may just be a note. It doesn’t have to be the beginning of anything”).

“Do what you want to do,” Davis concludes, “and don’t worry if it’s a little odd or doesn’t fit the market.” That bit of guidance seems to have worked for her, and in the great variety of forms it can take seems to have worked for seemingly every other artist. Take Ed Ruscha, for instance, whose canvasses of gas stations, corporate signage, and other icons of American blankness must hardly have seemed geared toward any particular “market” when first he painted them. For the young he has only one piece of advice, received second-hand and briefly delivered: “No one could ever beat this thing that Max Ernst said. They asked him what a young artist should do, and he said, ‘cut off an ear.’ That’s good advice to follow. You can’t beat that.”

Other artists featured in the video playlist include Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Umberto Eco, Patti Smith & more.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, 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.

Martin Scorsese Creates a List of the 11 Scariest Horror Films

“When it comes to ripe old frighteners — or to any other overheated genre — Scorsese is the most ardent of proselytizers,” writes the New Yorker‘s Anthony Lane in a review of that respected director’s ripe-old-frightener-flavored Shutter Island, “so much so that I would prefer to hear him enthuse about Hammer Horror films, say, than to watch a Hammer Horror film.” And though no Hammer productions appear on it, Scorsese, who often seems as much film enthusiast as filmmaker, has put together a solid list of his personal eleven scariest horror movies for The Daily Beast. At its very top we have Robert Wise’s The Haunting, whose trailer you can watch above. Scorsese promisingly describes the story of the film, originally ballyhooed with the tagline “You may not believe in ghosts but you cannot deny terror!,” as “about the investigation of a house plagued by violently assaultive spirits.” His full and frightening list–perfect for Halloween–runs as follows:

You can watch clips of all these movies over at The Daily Beast. (And if you simply can’t get enough of the things, see also Time Out London‘s list of the 100 best horror films.) Such tastes make it no surprise to see a Hitchcock film make Scorsese’s list; so much does Scorsese love Hitchcock’s work — “one of my guiding lights,” he calls the maker of Psycho — that he once spoofed his own fanboyism in a commercial for Freixenet sparkling wine. For those who’d prefer a more conventional Scorsese-inspired binge watch, we’ve also featured his list of twelve favorite films overall and his list of 39 Essential Foreign Films. Whatever genre you favor, you could do much worse than taking his recommendations.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in November, 2014.

via The Daily Beast

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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.

Patti Smith’s Award-Winning Memoir, Just Kids, Now Available in a New Illustrated Edition

Hard to believe it’s almost a decade ago now since Patti Smith’s Just Kids took over Barnes & Noble displays, topped bestseller lists, won the National Book Award, and sent Wikipedia searches for “Patti Smith” into the stratosphere. A memoir of her gritty New York salad days with roommate/lover/best friend/soulmate/photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, the book immediately entered “that golden canon of classic New York stories about young people coming to the city to find out who they were meant to be,” as NPR’s Maureen Corrigan writes.

Indeed, Just Kids should be considered representative, its full text now a locus classicus of bohemian finding-yourself-in-New-York stories. (The embittered converse of the genre is forever crowned by Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That.”) But Smith didn’t rest on the many laurels the book garnered her. She released a widely-acclaimed album two years later, with a bonus track on the deluxe edition called “Just Kids,” then collaborated with Colombian artist José Antonio Suárez Londoño on the (sadly out-of-print) Hecatomb.

In 2015, Smith followed Just Kids with another memoir, M Train, a travelogue of sorts—of her literary pilgrimages and journeys through the city that embraced her. But as her work ethic shows, and as Just Kids documents in detail, she didn’t just luck out in the big city but fought her way to creative freedom and independence with zeal and real self-confidence, believing in the power of poetry and rock and roll, and of her place among the sixties royalty she encountered while “still a gangly twenty-two-year-old book clerk, struggling simultaneously with several unfinished poems.”

“I felt an inexplicable sense of kinship with these people,” she wrote, for example, of her run-ins with Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Jimi Hendrix ahead of Woodstock, a “feeling of prescience” that she might “one day walk in their path.” She saw “infinite possibilities” in the Chelsea Hotel’s plaster ceiling, “the mandala of my life.” You may call it faith, hubris, or delusion, but she sure showed us, and keeps showing us, that she earned her cred. Just Kids will inspire young artists for generations, not only through its first, explosive printing, but through a possible series on Showtime, who acquired the rights in 2015, and, now, in an illustrated edition just released last week.

The book resonates for its depictions of a bygone, decayed New York, when free spirits could scrape together their artistic selves with next to nothing, without having to craft their every move for social media. Smith’s vividly expressive writing brings that lost world alive in a wildly successful experiment, as she told KCRW in a 2010 interview, to “infuse truth with magic and love.”

She announced the book’s new edition on her Instagram, a forum she has taken to with aplomb, as anticipating the “30th year since Robert Mapplethorpe’s passing.” A poignant reminder, especially since she wrote the book, she once revealed, as a deathbed promise to her friend.

The full-color illustrated edition of Just Kids features never-before published photos, drawings, and other ephemera depicting major figures in Smith’s young life, like Sam Shepard, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, as well as her and Mapplethorpe’s first Brooklyn apartment, the iconic Max’s Kansas City, and the fire escape of the Chelsea Hotel. Order a copy here.

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

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Performs Songs from His New Soundtrack for the Horror Film, Suspiria

It’s a strange time to remake a Dario Argento movie. The master of giallo (Italian for “yellow”), the crime, thriller, and horror genre films that flourished in the 60s and 70s, took particular pleasure in torturing his female characters, often in scenes involving rape and starring his topless daughter. Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 Suspiria “opens its eyes in a world where female power has never been stronger or more under attack,” writes Wired’s Angela Watercutter, who advises those who haven’t seen the original to save it until they’ve watched the modern homage.

Aiming to “de-victimize” Argento’s women, the remake takes the original story of a coven of witches operating a dance studio in Berlin but emphasizes its characters as figures of mysterious power who are both “fear and revered.” Where Argento goes for the maximal amount of luridness—in blazing reds and yellows echoed in the first scenes in a neon McDonald’s sign—Guadagnino’s approach “is more muted in both palatte and tone, opting for insidious weirdness over shock and gore,” as David Roony writes at The Hollywood Reporter.

Contributing heavily to the shift in tone is a score from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke that could “hardly be more dissimilar to the cacophonous prog-rock of Goblin that was such an essential part of the original’s sensory assault.” To call the first Suspiria and its glorious score an “assault” is not at all pejorative, but a purely accurate description of their style. But Guadagnino wisely sensed that the grim beauty of Yorke’s songwriting would best speak to a contemporary version, so he hounded the Radiohead singer until he agreed.

Though he’d never scored a film before, and was intimated by the challenge, Yorke found his way in through the script. “There was this melancholy which I was really surprised about. Not like a normal horror film at all,” he says in the BBC interview at the top with Mary Anne Hobbs. He calls the film’s mood “a weird form of darkness,” which could equally describe the evocations of dread underlying all of his work. The process of scoring Suspiria, he says, was “freeing… because there’s no sense of my identity on it at all…. I’m whoever he wanted me to be at the moment, for whatever particular section of the film.”

These live performances for the BBC, especially “Suspirium” further up, might seem to belie that assessment. The songs draw deeply from Yorke’s familiar well of spare, atmospheric angst, which is all to the good. They also see him moving in unexpected directions. “Open Again” builds on a gently finger-picked acoustic guitar figure, and “Unmade,” above, almost channels Burt Bacharach’s moodier film pieces, with its lounge-y piano and yearning vocal melody.

The score became a family project; Yorke’s son played drums on some of the tracks and his daughter helped design the artwork. On a BBC Radio 6 appearance, Yorke also played an hour-long mix of his favorite atmospheric records and debuted a previously unreleased track called “Suspiria Solo Glass Harmonica.” Listen here and see the new Suspiria trailer below.

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

Wagashi: Peruse a Digitized, Centuries-Old Catalogue of Traditional Japanese Candies

If you’ve been to Japan, or even to any of the Japanese neighborhoods in cities around the world, you’ve seen wagashi (和菓子). You’ve probably, at least for a moment, marveled at their appearance as well: though essentially nothing more than sweet treats, they’re made with such striking variety and refinement that you might hesitate to bite into them.

First created in the 16th century, when trade with China made sugar into a staple in Japan, wagashi have developed into one of the country’s signature delicacies, appreciated for their taste but beloved for their form. You can browse and download a three-volume catalog of wagashi designs, itself centuries old, at the web site of Japan’s National Diet Library: volume one, volume two, volume three.

The site also has a special section about wagashi, though in Japanese only. The catalog itself, of course, also contains text in no other language, but wagashi isn’t about words.

Even without knowing Japanese, you can flip through each volume’s pages (volume one – volume two – volume three) and recognize the look of dozens of sweets you’ve seen or maybe even sampled in real life, where their colors may well look even more vivid than on the page.

Like most realms of traditional Japanese culture, wagashi demands painstaking craftsmanship. Often brought out at festivals and given as gifts, it also celebrates different aspects of Japan: its seasons, its landscapes, chapters of its history, and even its works of literature. Some wagashi designs do this abstractly, while others lean toward the representative, replicating real sights and symbols in a form both recognizable and edible.

Many wagashi, as Boing Boing’s Andrea James writes, “still look the same as they did hundreds of years ago when the art form flourished in the Edo period” of the 17th and 18th century. Instagram, as she points out, has proven a natural online home for not just the kind of traditional wagashi seen in these catalogs but designs that pay tribute to figures of more recent vintage, such as Rilakkuma and the aliens from Toy Story.

And though Halloween may not be an originally Japanese holiday, it hasn’t stopped modern wagashi-makers from bringing out the ghosts, skulls, and jack-o-lanterns in force.

via BoingBoing

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, 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 World’s Largest Collection of Tibetan Buddhist Literature Now Online

FYI: The Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC) and Internet Archive (IA) announced earlier this month “that they are making a large corpus of Buddhist literature available via the Internet Archive. This collection represents the most complete record of the words of the Buddha available in any language, plus many millions of pages of related commentaries, teachings and works such as medicine, history, and philosophy.” In a press release from the Internet Archive, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, a respected teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, expressed gratitude that the teachings of the Buddha have been made available online. “We can share the entire body of literature with every Tibetan who can use it. These texts are sacred, and should be free.” It should be noted that the texts aren’t written in English, but rather the authors’ native tongue.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.

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!

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The Evolution of Bob Dylan: Early Recordings Let You Hear an Unknown Singer Turn Into a 60s Superstar (1958-1965)

Approaching Bob Dylan’s body of work as a newcomer can be intimidating. The Nobel Laureate now gets taught at Harvard and Princeton, compared to Virgil and Ovid, Yeats and Joyce. Diving into Dylan’s own literary influences requires a formidable reading list. But as Sean Wilentz, consummate Dylan fan, Princeton professor of history, and author of Bob Dylan in Americapoints out, the Dylan legacy carries so much weight not only because of the singer’s voracious reading habits, but because he emerged “in a culture in which songwriting has always been a major force” on the culture.

New Dylan fans come to him through his influence on the past 50 years of popular music, and understand him through the influence of the first 50 years of 20th century American music on him. He’s cited by such diverse legends as Hendrix, Bowie, and Boy George—at one time everyone wanted to be Dylan, or to write like him, at least—but one reason so many have imitated him is because he acquired his considerable depth by imitating others.

Growing up in the bleak surroundings of Hibbing, Minnesota, “a good place to leave,” he said, Dylan spent his time absorbing all he could from the Delta blues, the Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, and Elvis. Like the best of his own imitators, Dylan developed the ability to transmute his influences into something new through close study, critical appreciation, and just plain-old goofing around.

In his earliest known recordings, made in 1958 in Hibbing with his hometown friend John Bucklen, Dylan does a little bit of all three, but mostly he sings ramshackle covers of rhythm and blues songs on an acoustic guitar, honing his talent for barreling through solo performances two years before he hit the stages of Greenwich Village’s coffeehouse folk scene.

The John Bucklen tape opens up a 5-hour Youtube collection featuring recordings from 1958 to 1965, which you can stream above. It’s a set of “almost all the earliest tapes Bob made before signing up with Columbia Records,” notes the Youtube uploader. (“Some of the early stuff is dismal at best,” one reviewer of the collection writes, “but its historical importance cannot be overstated.”) From the ’58 home recordings, overdubbed with Bucklen’s later commentary, we move to the so-called Minnesota Party Tape, “a 35 minute recording in Bob’s apartment in Minneapolis” featuring his renditions of some traditional songs like “Johnny I hardly Knew You” and “Streets of Glory.”

This tape also shows the predominating influence of Woody Guthrie on Dylan at the time, the songwriter whom he most modeled himself after in the early sixties—later writing that he aimed to be “Guthrie’s greatest disciple”—and who pops up again and again in nearly all of these recordings after 1960. In January of 1961, Dylan moved to New York to visit Guthrie, then dying of Huntington’s disease, and began picking up Irish folk songs and African American spirituals from Dave Van Ronk, Odetta, and other downtown folk singers. He integrates these styles into his Guthrie imitation and picks up bits of Pete Seeger, Hank Williams, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Jesse Fuller from his covers of their songs.

In tapes from 1962-63, we hear home recording versions of well-known originals from his first two albums—“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”—and hear in them the cumulative layering of influence from Dylan’s years of apprenticeship. The entire collection, which includes interviews with Billy James and Steve Allen and performances on radio and TV, shows Dylan “evolving from a young kid in Minnesota to a superstar in 1965 before going electric… an amazing look at a young Bob Dylan becoming a legend in front of you.” Key to that evolution was his talent for creative imitation of traditional American music and its greatest interpreters.

See the full tracklist in the comment section of the video, and note that the third and fourth segments are in the wrong order in the Youtube video above.

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

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