Behold an Anatomically Correct Replica of the Human Brain, Knitted by a Psychiatrist

Our brains dic­tate our every move.

They’re the ones who spur us to study hard, so we can make some­thing of our­selves, in order to bet­ter our com­mu­ni­ties.

They name our babies, choose our clothes, decide what we’re hun­gry for.

They make and break laws, orga­nize protests, frit­ter away hours on social media, and give us the green light to binge watch a bunch of dumb shows when we could be read­ing War and Peace.

They also plant the seeds for Fitz­car­ral­do-like cre­ative endeav­ors that take over our lives and gen­er­ate lit­tle to no income.

We may describe such endeav­ors as a labor of love, into which we’ve poured our entire heart and soul, but think for a sec­ond.

Who’s real­ly respon­si­ble here?

The heart, that mus­cu­lar fist-sized Valen­tine, con­tent to just pump-pump-pump its way through life, lub-dub, lub-dub, from cra­dle to grave?

Or the brain, a crafty Iago of an organ, pos­ses­sor of bil­lions of neu­rons, com­plex, con­tra­dic­to­ry, a mys­tery we’re far from unrav­el­ing?

Psy­chi­a­trist Dr. Karen Nor­berg’s brain has steered her to study such heavy duty sub­jects as the day­care effect, the rise in youth sui­cide, and the risk of pre­scrib­ing selec­tive sero­tonin reup­take inhibitors as a treat­ment for depres­sion.

On a lighter note, it also told her to devote nine months to knit­ting an anatom­i­cal­ly cor­rect repli­ca of the human brain.

(Twelve, if you count three months of research before cast­ing on.)

How did her brain con­vince her to embark on this mad­cap assign­ment?

Easy. It arranged for her to be in the mid­dle of a more pro­sa­ic knit­ting project, then goosed her into notic­ing how the ruf­fles of that project resem­bled the wrin­kles of the cere­bral cor­tex.


Not like­ly. Espe­cial­ly when one of the cere­bral cor­tex’s most impor­tant duties is deci­sion mak­ing.

As she explained in an inter­view with The Tele­graph, brain devel­op­ment is not unlike the growth of a knit­ted piece:

You can see very nat­u­ral­ly how the ‘rip­pling’ effect of the cere­bral cor­tex emerges from prop­er­ties that prob­a­bly have to do with nerve cell growth. In the case of knit­ting, the effect is cre­at­ed by increas­ing the num­ber of stitch­es in each row.

Dr. Norberg—who, yes, has on occa­sion referred to her project as a labor of love—told Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can that such a mas­sive crafty under­tak­ing appealed to her sense of humor because “it seemed so ridicu­lous and would be an enor­mous­ly com­pli­cat­ed, absurd­ly ambi­tious thing to do.”

That’s the point at which many people’s brains would give them per­mis­sion to stop, but Dr. Nor­berg and her brain per­sist­ed, push­ing past the hypo­thet­i­cal, cre­at­ing col­or­ful indi­vid­ual struc­tures that were even­tu­al­ly sewn into two cud­dly hemi­spheres that can be joined with a zip­per.

(She also let slip that her brain—by which she means the knit­ted one, though the obser­va­tion cer­tain­ly holds true for the one in her head—is female, due to its robust cor­pus cal­lo­sum, the “tough body” whose mil­lions of fibers pro­mote com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­nec­tion.)

via The Tele­graph

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Jazz Musi­cian Plays Acoustic Gui­tar While Under­go­ing Brain Surgery, Help­ing Doc­tors Mon­i­tor Their Progress

How Med­i­ta­tion Can Change Your Brain: The Neu­ro­science of Bud­dhist Prac­tice

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in New York City for the next install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain, this April. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Does Democracy Demand the Tolerance of the Intolerant? Karl Popper’s Paradox

Pho­to via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

In the past few years, when far-right nation­al­ists are banned from social media, vio­lent extrem­ists face boy­cotts, or insti­tu­tions refuse to give a plat­form to racists, a faux-out­raged moan has gone up: “So much for the tol­er­ant left!” “So much for lib­er­al tol­er­ance!” The com­plaint became so hack­neyed it turned into an already-hack­neyed meme. It’s a won­der any­one thinks this line has any rhetor­i­cal force. The equa­tion of tol­er­ance with acqui­es­cence, pas­siv­i­ty, or a total lack of bound­aries is a reduc­tio ad absur­dum that denudes the word of mean­ing. One can only laugh at unse­ri­ous char­ac­ter­i­za­tions that do such vio­lence to rea­son.

The con­cept of tol­er­a­tion has a long and com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ry in moral and polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy pre­cise­ly because of the many prob­lems that arise when the word is used with­out crit­i­cal con­text. In some absurd, 21st cen­tu­ry usages, tol­er­ance is even con­flat­ed with accep­tance, approval, and love. But it has his­tor­i­cal­ly meant the opposite—noninterference with some­thing one dis­likes or despis­es. Such non­in­ter­fer­ence must have lim­its. As Goethe wrote in 1829, “tol­er­ance should be a tem­po­rary atti­tude only; it must lead to recog­ni­tion. To tol­er­ate means to insult.” Tol­er­ance by nature exists in a state of social ten­sion.

Accord­ing to vir­tu­al­ly every con­cep­tion of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, a free and open soci­ety requires tense debate and ver­bal con­flict. Soci­ety, the argu­ment goes, is only strength­ened by the oft-con­tentious inter­play of dif­fer­ing, even intol­er­ant, points of view. So, when do such views approach the lim­its of tol­er­a­tion? One of the most well-known para­dox­es of tol­er­ance was out­lined by Aus­tri­an philoso­pher Karl Pop­per in his 1945 book The Open Soci­ety and Its Ene­mies.

Pop­per was a non-reli­gious Jew who wit­nessed the rise of Nazism in the 20s in his home­town of Vien­na and fled to Eng­land, then in 1937, to Christchurch, New Zealand, where he was appoint­ed lec­tur­er at Can­ter­bury Col­lege (now the Uni­ver­si­ty of Can­ter­bury). There, he wrote The Open Soci­ety, where the famous pas­sage appears in a foot­note:

Unlim­it­ed tol­er­ance must lead to the dis­ap­pear­ance of tol­er­ance. If we extend unlim­it­ed tol­er­ance even to those who are intol­er­ant, if we are not pre­pared to defend a tol­er­ant soci­ety against the onslaught of the intol­er­ant, then the tol­er­ant will be destroyed, and tol­er­ance with them. — In this for­mu­la­tion, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always sup­press the utter­ance of intol­er­ant philoso­phies; as long as we can counter them by ratio­nal argu­ment and keep them in check by pub­lic opin­ion, sup­pres­sion would cer­tain­ly be unwise. But we should claim the right to sup­press them if nec­es­sary even by force; for it may eas­i­ly turn out that they are not pre­pared to meet us on the lev­el of ratio­nal argu­ment, but begin by denounc­ing all argu­ment; they may for­bid their fol­low­ers to lis­ten to ratio­nal argu­ment, because it is decep­tive, and teach them to answer argu­ments by the use of their fists or pis­tols. We should there­fore claim, in the name of tol­er­ance, the right not to tol­er­ate the intol­er­ant.

This last sen­tence has “been print­ed on thou­sands of bumper stick­ers and fridge mag­nets,” writes Will Harvie at Stuff. The quote might become almost as ubiq­ui­tous as Voltaire’s line about “defend­ing to the death” the right of free speech (words actu­al­ly penned by Eng­lish writer Beat­rice Eve­lyn Hall). Pop­per saw how fas­cism cyn­i­cal­ly exploit­ed lib­er­al tol­er­a­tion to gain a foothold and incite per­se­cu­tion, vio­lent attacks, and even­tu­al­ly geno­cide. As he writes in his auto­bi­og­ra­phy, he had seen how “com­pet­ing par­ties of the Right were out­bid­ding each oth­er in their hos­til­i­ty towards the Jews.”

Popper’s for­mu­la­tion has been been used across the polit­i­cal spec­trum, and some­times applied in argu­ments against civ­il pro­tec­tions for some reli­gious sects who hold intol­er­ant views—a cat­e­go­ry that includes prac­ti­tion­ers of near­ly every major faith. But this is mis­lead­ing. The line for Pop­per is not the mere exis­tence of exclu­sion­ary or intol­er­ant beliefs or philoso­phies, how­ev­er reac­tionary or con­temptible, but the open incite­ment to per­se­cu­tion and vio­lence against oth­ers, which should be treat­ed as crim­i­nal, he argued, and sup­pressed, “if nec­es­sary,” he con­tin­ues in the foot­note, “even by force” if pub­lic dis­ap­proval is not enough.

By this line of rea­son­ing, vig­or­ous resis­tance to those who call for and enact racial vio­lence and eth­nic cleans­ing is a nec­es­sary defense of a tol­er­ant soci­ety. Ignor­ing or allow­ing such acts to con­tin­ue in the name of tol­er­ance leads to the night­mare events Pop­per escaped in Europe, or to the hor­rif­ic mass killings at two mosques in Christchurch this month that delib­er­ate­ly echoed Nazi atroc­i­ties. There are too many such echoes, from mass mur­ders at syn­a­gogues to con­cen­tra­tion camps for kid­napped chil­dren, all sur­round­ed by an echo cham­ber of wild­ly unchecked incite­ment by state and non-state actors alike.

Pop­per rec­og­nized the inevitabil­i­ty and healthy neces­si­ty of social con­flict, but he also affirmed the val­ues of coop­er­a­tion and mutu­al recog­ni­tion, with­out which a lib­er­al democ­ra­cy can­not sur­vive. Since the pub­li­ca­tion of The Open Soci­ety and its Ene­mies, his para­dox of tol­er­ance has weath­ered decades of crit­i­cism and revi­sion. As John Hor­gan wrote in an intro­duc­tion to a 1992 inter­view with the thinker, two years before his death, “an old joke about Pop­per” reti­tles the book “The Open Soci­ety by One of its Ene­mies.”

With less than good humor, crit­ics have derid­ed Popper’s lib­er­al­ism as dog­mat­ic and itself a fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy that inevitably tends to intol­er­ance against minori­ties. Ques­tion about who gets to decide which views should be sup­pressed and how are not easy to answer. Pop­per liked to say he wel­comed the crit­i­cism, but he refused to tol­er­ate views that reject rea­son, fact, and argu­ment in order to incite and per­pe­trate vio­lence and per­se­cu­tion. It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety sur­viv­ing for long if it decides that, while maybe objec­tion­able, such tol­er­ance is tol­er­a­ble. The ques­tion, “these days,” writes Harvie, is “can a tol­er­ant soci­ety sur­vive the inter­net?”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

20,000 Amer­i­cans Hold a Pro-Nazi Ral­ly in Madi­son Square Gar­den in 1939: Chill­ing Video Re-Cap­tures a Lost Chap­ter in US His­to­ry

How Did Hitler Rise to Pow­er? : New TED-ED Ani­ma­tion Pro­vides a Case Study in How Fas­cists Get Demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly Elect­ed

Rare 1940 Audio: Thomas Mann Explains the Nazis’ Ulte­ri­or Motive for Spread­ing Anti-Semi­tism

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

Killer Rabbits in Medieval Manuscripts: Why So Many Drawings in the Margins Depict Bunnies Going Bad

In all the king­dom of nature, does any crea­ture threat­en us less than the gen­tle rab­bit? Though the ques­tion may sound entire­ly rhetor­i­cal today, our medieval ances­tors took it more seri­ous­ly — espe­cial­ly if they could read illu­mi­nat­ed man­u­scripts, and even more so if they drew in the mar­gins of those man­u­scripts them­selves. “Often, in medieval man­u­scripts’ mar­gin­a­lia we find odd images with all sorts of mon­sters, half man-beasts, mon­keys, and more,” writes Sexy Cod­i­col­o­gy’s Mar­jolein de Vos. “Even in reli­gious books the mar­gins some­times have draw­ings that sim­ply are mak­ing fun of monks, nuns and bish­ops.” And then there are the killer bun­nies.

Hunt­ing scenes, de Vos adds, also com­mon­ly appear in medieval mar­gin­a­lia, and “this usu­al­ly means that the bun­ny is the hunt­ed; how­ev­er, as we dis­cov­ered, often the illu­mi­na­tors decid­ed to change the roles around.”

Jon Kaneko-James explains fur­ther: “The usu­al imagery of the rab­bit in Medieval art is that of puri­ty and help­less­ness – that’s why some Medieval por­tray­als of Christ have mar­gin­al art por­tray­ing a ver­i­ta­ble pet­ting zoo of inno­cent, non­vi­o­lent, lit­tle white and brown bun­nies going about their busi­ness in a field.” But the cre­ators of this par­tic­u­lar type of humor­ous mar­gin­a­lia, known as drollery, saw things dif­fer­ent­ly.

“Drol­leries some­times also depict­ed comedic scenes, like a bar­ber with a wood­en leg (which, for rea­sons that escape me, was the height of medieval com­e­dy) or a man saw­ing a branch out from under him­self,” writes Kaneko-James.

This enjoy­ment of the “world turned upside down” pro­duced the drollery genre of “the rab­bit’s revenge,” one “often used to show the cow­ardice or stu­pid­i­ty of the per­son illus­trat­ed. We see this in the Mid­dle Eng­lish nick­name Stick­hare, a name for cow­ards” — and in all the draw­ings of “tough hunters cow­er­ing in the face of rab­bits with big sticks.”

Then, of course, we have the bun­nies mak­ing their attacks while mount­ed on snails, snail com­bats being “anoth­er pop­u­lar sta­ple of Drol­leries, with groups of peas­ants seen fight­ing snails with sticks, or sad­dling them and attempt­ing to ride them.”

Giv­en how often we denizens of the 21st cen­tu­ry have trou­ble get­ting humor from less than a cen­tu­ry ago, it feels sat­is­fy­ing indeed to laugh just as hard at these drol­leries as our medieval fore­bears must have — though many more of us sure­ly get to see them today, cir­cu­lat­ing as rapid­ly on social media as they did­n’t when con­fined to the pages of illu­mi­nat­ed man­u­scripts owned only by wealthy indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions.

You can see more mar­gin­al scenes of the rab­bit’s revenge at Sexy Cod­i­col­o­gy, Colos­sal, and Kaneko-James’ blog. But one his­tor­i­cal ques­tion remains unan­swered: to what extent did they influ­ence that pil­lar of mod­ern cin­e­mat­ic com­e­dy, Mon­ty Python and the Holy Grail?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

800 Illu­mi­nat­ed Medieval Man­u­scripts Are Now Online: Browse & Down­load Them Cour­tesy of the British Library and Bib­lio­thèque Nationale de France

The Aberdeen Bes­tiary, One of the Great Medieval Illu­mi­nat­ed Man­u­scripts, Now Dig­i­tized in High Res­o­lu­tion & Made Avail­able Online

Medieval Cats Behav­ing Bad­ly: Kit­ties That Left Paw Prints … and Peed … on 15th Cen­tu­ry Man­u­scripts

Explo­sive Cats Imag­ined in a Strange, 16th Cen­tu­ry Mil­i­tary Man­u­al

David Lynch Made a Dis­turb­ing Web Sit­com Called “Rab­bits”: It’s Now Used by Psy­chol­o­gists to Induce a Sense of Exis­ten­tial Cri­sis in Research Sub­jects

Mon­ty Python and the Holy Grail Cen­sor­ship Let­ter: We Want to Retain “Fart in Your Gen­er­al Direc­tion”

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.

140 Courses Starting at Stanford Continuing Studies Next Week: Explore the Catalogue of Campus and Online Courses

Quick fyi: I spend my days at Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies, where we’ve devel­oped a rich line­up of online cours­es for life­long learn­ers, many of which will get start­ed next week. The cours­es aren’t free. But they’re first rate, giv­ing adult students–no mat­ter where they live–the chance to work with ded­i­cat­ed teach­ers and stu­dents.

The cat­a­logue includes a large num­ber of online Cre­ative Writ­ing cours­es, cov­er­ing the Nov­el, the Mem­oir, Cre­ative Non­fic­tion, Trav­el Writ­ing, Poet­ry and more. For the pro­fes­sion­al, the pro­gram offers online busi­ness cours­es in sub­jects like Entre­pre­neur­ship: From Ideas to Fund­ingAn Intro­duc­tion to Project Man­age­ment: The Basics for Suc­cess and Find­ing Product/Market Fit: Using Design Research for New Prod­uct Suc­cess.

And there’s a grow­ing num­ber of online Lib­er­al Arts cours­es too. Take for exam­ple Con­sti­tu­tion­al Law, An Intro­duc­tion to Jane Austen and Diet and Gene Expres­sion: You Are What You Eat.

If you live in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area, check out the larg­er cat­a­logue. Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies has 140 cours­es get­ting start­ed this Spring quar­ter (next week), most tak­ing place in Stan­ford’s class­rooms. The two flag­ship cours­es of the quar­ter include: The Genius of Leonar­do da Vin­ci: A 500th Anniver­sary Cel­e­bra­tion and 20th-Cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: An Intel­lec­tu­al Bus Tour with Michael Kras­ny, the host of KQED’s Forum.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free: A Crash Course in Design Think­ing from Stanford’s Design School

How Walk­ing Fos­ters Cre­ativ­i­ty: Stan­ford Researchers Con­firm What Philoso­phers and Writ­ers Have Always Known

How to Start a Start-Up: A Free Course from Y Com­bi­na­tor Taught at Stan­ford

130,000 Pho­tographs by Andy Warhol Are Now Avail­able Online, Cour­tesy of Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty

Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible: A Witty, Erudite Atheist’s Guide to the World’s Most Famous Book

Paint­ing of Asi­mov on his throne by Rowe­na Morill, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Every­one should read the Bible, and—I’d argue—should read it with a sharply crit­i­cal eye and the guid­ance of rep­utable crit­ics and his­to­ri­ans, though this may be too much to ask for those steeped in lit­er­al belief. Yet few­er and few­er peo­ple do read it, includ­ing those who pro­fess faith in a sect of Chris­tian­i­ty. Even famous athe­ists like Christo­pher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Melvyn Bragg have argued for teach­ing the Bible in schools—not in a faith-based con­text, obvi­ous­ly, but as an essen­tial his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment, much of whose lan­guage, in the King James, at least, has made major con­tri­bu­tions to lit­er­ary cul­ture. (Curiously—or not—atheists and agnos­tics tend to score far high­er than believ­ers on sur­veys of reli­gious knowl­edge.)

There is a prac­ti­cal prob­lem of sep­a­rat­ing teach­ing from preach­ing in sec­u­lar schools, but the fact remains that so-called “bib­li­cal illit­er­a­cy” is a seri­ous prob­lem edu­ca­tors have sought to rem­e­dy for decades. Promi­nent Shake­speare schol­ar G.B. Har­ri­son lament­ed it in the intro­duc­tion to his 1964 edit­ed edi­tion, The Bible for Stu­dents of Lit­er­a­ture and Art. “Today most stu­dents of lit­er­a­ture lack this kind of edu­ca­tion,” he wrote, “and have only the hazi­est knowl­edge of the book or of its con­tents, with the result that they inevitably miss much of the mean­ing and sig­nif­i­cance of many works of past gen­er­a­tions. Sim­i­lar­ly, stu­dents of art will miss some of the mean­ing of the pic­tures and sculp­tures of the past.”

Though a devout Catholic him­self, Harrison’s aim was not to pros­e­ly­tize but to do right by his stu­dents. His edit­ed Bible is an excel­lent resource, but it’s not the only book of its kind out there. In fact, no less a lumi­nary, and no less a crit­ic of reli­gion, than sci­en­tist and sci-fi giant Isaac Asi­mov pub­lished his own guide to the Bible, writ­ing in his intro­duc­tion:

The most influ­en­tial, the most pub­lished, the most wide­ly read book in the his­to­ry of the world is the Bible. No oth­er book has been so stud­ied and so ana­lyzed and it is a trib­ute to the com­plex­i­ty of the Bible and eager­ness of its stu­dents that after thou­sands of years of study there are still end­less books that can be writ­ten about it.

Of those books, the vast major­i­ty are devo­tion­al or the­o­log­i­cal in nature. “Most peo­ple who read the Bible,” Asi­mov writes, “do so in order to get the ben­e­fit of its eth­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al teach­ings.” But the ancient col­lec­tion of texts “has a sec­u­lar side, too,” he says. It is a “his­to­ry book,” though not in the sense that we think of the term, since his­to­ry as an evi­dence-based aca­d­e­m­ic dis­ci­pline did not exist until rel­a­tive­ly mod­ern times. Ancient his­to­ry includ­ed all sorts of myths, won­ders, and mar­vels, side-by-side with leg­endary and apoc­ryphal events as well as the mun­dane and ver­i­fi­able.

Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in two vol­umes in 1968–69, then reprint­ed as one in 1981, seeks to demys­ti­fy the text. It also assumes a lev­el of famil­iar­i­ty that Har­ri­son did not expect from his read­ers (and did not find among his stu­dents). The Bible may not be as wide­ly-read as Asi­mov thought, even if sales sug­gest oth­er­wise. Yet he does not expect that his read­ers will know “ancient his­to­ry out­side the Bible,” the sort of crit­i­cal con­text nec­es­sary for under­stand­ing what its writ­ings meant to con­tem­po­rary read­ers, for whom the “places and peo­ple” men­tioned “were well known.”

“I am try­ing,” Asi­mov writes in his intro­duc­tion, “to bring in the out­side world, illu­mi­nate it in terms of the Bib­li­cal sto­ry and, in return, illu­mi­nate the events of the Bible by adding to it the non-Bib­li­cal aspects of his­to­ry, biog­ra­phy, and geog­ra­phy.” This describes the gen­er­al method­ol­o­gy of crit­i­cal Bib­li­cal schol­ars. Yet Asimov’s book has a dis­tinct advan­tage over most of those writ­ten by, and for, aca­d­e­mics. Its tone, as one read­er com­ments, is “quick and fun, chat­ty, non-aca­d­e­m­ic.” It’s approach­able and high­ly read­able, that is, yet still seri­ous and eru­dite.

Asimov’s approach in his guide is not hos­tile or “anti-reli­gious,” as anoth­er read­er observes, but he was not him­self friend­ly to reli­gious beliefs, or super­sti­tions, or irra­tional what-have-yous. In the inter­view above from 1988, he explains that while humans are inher­ent­ly irra­tional crea­tures, he nonethe­less felt a duty “to be a skep­tic, to insist on evi­dence, to want things to make sense.” It is, he says, akin to the call­ing believ­ers feel to “spread God’s word.” Part of that duty, for Asi­mov, includ­ed mak­ing the Bible make sense for those who appre­ci­ate how deeply embed­ded it is in world cul­ture and his­to­ry, but who may not be inter­est­ed in just tak­ing it on faith. Find an old copy of Asimov’s Guide to the Bible at Ama­zon.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Isaac Asi­mov Pre­dicts in 1983 What the World Will Look Like in 2019: Com­put­er­i­za­tion, Glob­al Co-oper­a­tion, Leisure Time & Moon Min­ing

Intro­duc­tion to the Old Tes­ta­ment: A Free Yale Course 

Chris­tian­i­ty Through Its Scrip­tures: A Free Course from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty 

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

Download Original Bauhaus Books & Journals for Free: A Digital Celebration of the Founding of the Bauhaus School 100 Years Ago


In 1919, Ger­man archi­tect Wal­ter Gropius found­ed Bauhaus, the most influ­en­tial art school of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Bauhaus defined mod­ernist design and rad­i­cal­ly changed our rela­tion­ship with every­day objects. Gropius wrote in his man­i­festo Pro­gramm des Staatlichen Bauhaus­es Weimar that “There is no essen­tial dif­fer­ence between the artist and the arti­san.” His new school, which fea­tured fac­ul­ty that includ­ed the likes of Paul Klee, Lás­zló Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers and Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky, did indeed erase the cen­turies-old line between applied arts and fine arts.

Bauhaus archi­tec­ture sand­blast­ed away the ornate flour­ish­es com­mon with ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry build­ings, favor­ing instead the clean, sleek lines of indus­tri­al fac­to­ries. Design­er Mar­cel Breuer reimag­ined the com­mon chair by strip­ping it down to its most ele­men­tal form.

Her­bert Bay­er rein­vent­ed and mod­ern­ized graph­ic design by focus­ing on visu­al clar­i­ty. Gun­ta Stöl­zl, Mar­i­anne Brandt and Chris­t­ian Dell rad­i­cal­ly remade such diverse objects as fab­rics and tea ket­tles.


Nowa­days, of course, get­ting one of those Bauhaus tea ket­tles, or even an orig­i­nal copy of Gropius’s man­i­festo, would cost a small for­tune. For­tu­nate­ly for design nerds, typog­ra­phy mavens and archi­tec­ture enthu­si­asts every­where, the good folks over at Mono­skop have post­ed online a whole set of beau­ti­ful­ly designed pub­li­ca­tions from the sto­ried school.


Click here to pick out indi­vid­ual works or here to just get all of them. Sad­ly, though, you can’t down­load a teaket­tle.

The list of Books in the Mono­skop Bauhaus archive includes:

And here are some key Bauhaus jour­nals:

  1. bauhaus 1 (1926). 5 pages, 42 cm. Down­load (23 MB).
  2. bauhaus: zeitschrift für bau und gestal­tung 2:1 (Feb 1928). Down­load (17 MB).
  3. bauhaus: zeitschrift für gestal­tung 3:1 (Jan 1929). Down­load (17 MB).
  4. bauhaus: zeitschrift für gestal­tung 3:2 (Apr-Jun 1929). Down­load (15 MB).
  5. bauhaus: zeitschrift für gestal­tung 3:3 (Jul-Sep 1929). Down­load (16 MB).
  6. bauhaus: zeitschrift für gestal­tung 2 (Jul 1931). Down­load (15 MB).

Get more in the Mono­skop Bauhaus archive.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2015. We’re bring­ing it back to cel­e­brate the found­ing of the Bauhaus school 100 years ago–on April 1, 1919.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Bauhaus World, a Free Doc­u­men­tary That Cel­e­brates the 100th Anniver­sary of Germany’s Leg­endary Art, Archi­tec­ture & Design School

An Oral His­to­ry of the Bauhaus: Hear Rare Inter­views (in Eng­lish) with Wal­ter Gropius, Lud­wig Mies van der Rohe & More

Watch an Avant-Garde Bauhaus Bal­let in Bril­liant Col­or, the Tri­adic Bal­let, First Staged by Oskar Schlem­mer in 1922 

Har­vard Puts Online a Huge Col­lec­tion of Bauhaus Art Objects

How the Rad­i­cal Build­ings of the Bauhaus Rev­o­lu­tion­ized Archi­tec­ture: A Short Intro­duc­tion

The Female Pio­neers of the Bauhaus Art Move­ment: Dis­cov­er Gertrud Arndt, Mar­i­anne Brandt, Anni Albers & Oth­er For­got­ten Inno­va­tors

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

The Amazing Isolated Drums of Dennis Davis, David Bowie’s Master Drummer, Revisited by Producer Tony Visconti

“Look Back in Anger” is an under­rat­ed Bowie song on an under­rat­ed Bowie album (Lodger) but it’s always been a favorite because of the fury and thun­der of the back­ing band. And the MVP of that six per­son group is drum­mer Den­nis Davis. A mem­ber of Roy Ayers’ jazz-funk group at first, he joined Bowie’s session/touring band dur­ing the Young Amer­i­cans ses­sions and stayed through Scary Mon­sters. He’s that most per­fect of drum­mers too: end­less­ly inven­tive, yet nev­er gets in the way of the funk.

But this track might be one of his crown­ing achieve­ments. A ner­vous, propul­sive rhythm on the drums car­ries the song, dou­bled on congas/percussion, but pro­duc­er Tony Vis­con­ti buries it in the mix a bit so it doesn’t over­whelm the oper­at­ic arc of the song.

Recent­ly, Davis’ young son Hikaru has been mak­ing a video explor­ing his father’s lega­cy, after Den­nis passed away in 2016. Which means that this adorable ele­men­tary school stu­dent has been sit­ting down with the likes of Bowie side­men Ster­ling Camp­bell, Car­los Alo­mar, Jan Michael Ale­jan­dro, Emir Ksasan, and George Mur­ray, along with Roy Ayers and the mem­bers of his band.

In the above video, Hikaru inter­views Tony Vis­con­ti about the afore­men­tioned track (the producer’s favorite) and we get to hear for the first time ever Davis’ iso­lat­ed drum and con­ga tracks.
“He’s play­ing so many things at once…and yet it nev­er sounds busy,” Vis­con­ti says.

Davis incor­po­rat­ed a lot of Latin influ­ences and loved triplets wher­ev­er he could drop them in.
Vis­con­ti doesn’t real­ly add much more. They, like most of you will prob­a­bly do, just sit there and lis­ten, jaws hang­ing open.

Because Davis is on pret­ty much every post-Spi­ders Bowie album of the ‘70s he real­ly should be men­tioned in the same breath as the Bon­hams and Kei­th Moons of the world, but in the mean­time here’s a few more clas­sic Davis moments:

Although slathered with Bri­an Eno’s noise-gate treat­ments, Davis’ beat is sol­id and promi­nent on “Sound and Vision”

This live ver­sion of “Sta­tion to Sta­tion” from 1978 show­cas­es what an unstop­pable force Davis was live. Adri­an Belew (King Crim­son, Talk­ing Heads) pro­vides sear­ing gui­tar work. Tran­scen­dent.

A clas­sic track from Roy Ayers Ubiq­ui­ty, heavy in the Afro-Cuban groove, and Davis is front and cen­ter.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Makes John Bon­ham Such a Good Drum­mer? A New Video Essay Breaks Down His Inim­itable Style

How Drums & Bass Make the Song: Iso­lat­ed Tracks from Led Zep­pelin, Rush, The Pix­ies, The Bea­t­les to Roy­al Blood

Iso­lat­ed Drum Tracks From Six of Rock’s Great­est: Bon­ham, Moon, Peart, Copeland, Grohl & Starr

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 and/or watch his films here.

Newly Discovered Shipwreck Proves Herodotus, the “Father of History,” Correct 2500 Years Later

The truth, they say, is stranger than fic­tion — or at least it is in the work of Herodotus, the ancient Greek writer and trav­el­er often described as “the Father of His­to­ry” (and a favorite writer of none oth­er than Jorge Luis Borges). But go back far enough in his­to­ry itself, and the bound­ary between truth and fic­tion grows much blur­ri­er than it is even today: men­tion Herodotus in mixed com­pa­ny, and some­one will sure­ly bring up the phoenix­es, horned ser­pents, winged snakes, gold-dig­ging giant ants, and every­thing else for whose exis­tence he implau­si­bly vouch­es in The His­to­ries (440 BC). And what of the baris, a boat made of “thorny aca­cia,” in Herodotus’ words, that “can­not sail up the riv­er unless there be a very fresh wind blow­ing, but are towed from the shore?”

Images cour­tesy of Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foun­da­tion

“They have a door-shaped crate made of tamarisk wood and reed mats sewn togeth­er,” Herodotus’ descrip­tion of the baris con­tin­ues, “and also a stone of about two tal­ents weight bored with a hole.” Despite the detail he went into, one trans­la­tion of which you can read here, no archae­o­log­i­cal find­ings ever con­firmed the exis­tence of such a boat — or at least, they did­n’t until very recent­ly.

Accord­ing to the Guardian’s Dalya Alberge, “a ‘fab­u­lous­ly pre­served’ wreck in the waters around the sunken port city of Tho­nis-Her­a­cleion has revealed just how accu­rate the his­to­ri­an was.” The sunken Ship 17, as it has been named, has “a vast cres­cent-shaped hull and a pre­vi­ous­ly undoc­u­ment­ed type of con­struc­tion involv­ing thick planks assem­bled with tenons – just as Herodotus observed, in describ­ing a slight­ly small­er ves­sel.”

“Pri­or to Ship 17’s dis­cov­ery,” writes’s Meilan Sol­ly, “con­tem­po­rary archae­ol­o­gists had nev­er encoun­tered this archi­tec­tur­al style. But upon exam­in­ing the hull’s well-pre­served remains, which con­sti­tute some 70 per­cent of the orig­i­nal struc­ture, researchers found a sin­gu­lar feat of design.” Though Herodotus may have indulged in exag­ger­a­tion now and again, Ship 17 turns out to be more impres­sive than the boat in The His­to­ries: “At the peak of its mar­itime career, Ship 17 like­ly mea­sured up to 92 feet — sig­nif­i­cant­ly longer than the baris described by Herodotus.” You can learn more about Ship 17 and its his­tor­i­cal impli­ca­tions from the Ancient Archi­tects video at the top, as well as from arti­cles at Atlas Obscu­, and Sci­ence Alert. All this makes the engi­neer­ing skills of the ancient Egyp­tians, as well as the record­ing skills of Herodotus, look that much more impres­sive. But it does raise an impor­tant ques­tion: should we now start think­ing about how best to hide our gold from the ants?

The images above come from

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Did the Egyp­tians Make Mum­mies? An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the Ancient Art of Mum­mi­fi­ca­tion

Try the Old­est Known Recipe For Tooth­paste: From Ancient Egypt, Cir­ca the 4th Cen­tu­ry BC

The Met Dig­i­tal­ly Restores the Col­ors of an Ancient Egypt­ian Tem­ple, Using Pro­jec­tion Map­ping Tech­nol­o­gy

The Ancient Egyp­tians Wore Fash­ion­able Striped Socks, New Pio­neer­ing Imag­ing Tech­nol­o­gy Imag­ing Reveals

An Ancient Egypt­ian Home­work Assign­ment from 1800 Years Ago: Some Things Are Tru­ly Time­less

Jorge Luis Borges Selects 74 Books for Your Per­son­al Library

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.

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