An Animated Introduction to Cynicism, the Anti Conformist Philosophy That Originated in Ancient Greece

The word “cyn­i­cal,” like “sto­ic,” has come to have a very spe­cif­ic mean­ing in Eng­lish, one that bears only a par­tial resem­blance to the ancient Greek phi­los­o­phy from which it came. “Cyn­ics,” writes psy­chi­a­trist Neel Bur­ton, “often come across as con­temp­tu­ous, irri­tat­ing, and dispir­it­ing.” They are bit­ter, unhap­py peo­ple, defined by thor­ough­go­ing pes­simism, summed up in the Oscar Wilde quote about those who “know the price of every­thing and the val­ue of noth­ing.” This char­ac­ter­i­za­tion is part­ly the result of ancient slan­der.

As with many move­ments of the past, the first Cyn­ics were named by their ene­mies. Dio­genes of Sinope, often cred­it­ed as the first Cyn­ic (though there were oth­ers before him), was “an indi­vid­ual well known for dog-like behav­ior,” notes Emory Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor Julie Pier­ing at the Inter­net Ency­clo­pe­dia of Phi­los­o­phy. “As such, the term [Cyn­ic, from kunikos, or “dog-like”] may have begun as an insult refer­ring to Dio­genes’ style of life, espe­cial­ly his pro­cliv­i­ty to per­form all of his activ­i­ties in pub­lic.” His shame­less­ness and exile from Greek civ­il soci­ety for the crime of coun­ter­feit­ing made him unwel­come in polite com­pa­ny.

But Dio­genes turned his pub­lic humil­i­a­tion into exper­i­men­tal phi­los­o­phy. Like many who have insults hurled at them reg­u­lar­ly, the ear­ly Cyn­ics “embraced their title: they barked at those who dis­pleased them, spurned Athen­ian eti­quette, and lived from nature…. What may have orig­i­nat­ed as a dis­parag­ing label became the des­ig­na­tion of a philo­soph­i­cal voca­tion.” Of what did their phi­los­o­phy con­sist? In the TED-Ed video above, script­ed by Maynooth Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor of Ancient Clas­sics William Desmond, we learn the basics.

Like the Sto­ics who came after them, Cyn­ics val­ued sim­plic­i­ty and self-suf­fi­cien­cy. But unlike many a famed Sto­ic philosopher—such as Nero’s advi­sor Seneca or the Emper­or Mar­cus Aurelius—Diogenes and his dis­ci­ples cared noth­ing for mate­r­i­al com­forts or polit­i­cal pow­er. The Cyn­ics were vagrant exhi­bi­tion­ists by choice. Dio­genes “did not go about his new exis­tence qui­et­ly but is said to have teased passers­by and mocked the pow­er­ful, eat­ing, uri­nat­ing, and even mas­tur­bat­ing in pub­lic.”

If the philoso­pher lived like a dog, this does not mean that he had aban­doned all human val­ues, only rede­fined them. Dogs aren’t bit­ter, angry pes­simists. “They’re hap­py crea­tures,” Desmond’s les­son points out, “free from abstrac­tions like wealth and rep­u­ta­tion.” The “dog philoso­phers” were a seri­ous irri­ta­tion, liv­ing exam­ples of a social alter­na­tive in which mon­ey, fame, and pow­er meant noth­ing. Their con­tent­ment posed a chal­lenge to the estab­lished order of things.

Cyn­ics fol­lowed Dio­genes’ exam­ple for almost a thou­sand years after his death—and even far longer, we might argue, if we con­sid­er them fore­run­ners of hobos, hip­pies, and every inten­tion­al­ly home­less wan­der­er who decides to rid them­selves of prop­er­ty and soci­ety and live ful­ly on their own terms.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Sto­icism, the Ancient Greek Phi­los­o­phy That Lets You Lead a Hap­py, Ful­fill­ing Life

Watch Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tions to 35 Philoso­phers by The School of Life: From Pla­to to Kant and Fou­cault

A Short Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Hypa­tia, Ancient Alexandria’s Great Female Philoso­pher

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

Roman Statues Weren’t White; They Were Once Painted in Vivid, Bright Colors

The idea of the clas­si­cal period—the time of ancient Greece and Rome—as an ele­gant­ly uni­fied col­lec­tion of supe­ri­or aes­thet­ic and philo­soph­i­cal cul­tur­al traits has its own his­to­ry, one that comes in large part from the era of the Neo­clas­si­cal. The redis­cov­ery of antiq­ui­ty took some time to reach the pitch it would dur­ing the 18th cen­tu­ry, when ref­er­ences to Greek and Latin rhetoric, archi­tec­ture, and sculp­ture were inescapable. But from the Renais­sance onward, the clas­si­cal achieved the sta­tus of cul­tur­al dog­ma.

One ten­ant of clas­si­cal ide­al­ism is the idea that Roman and Greek stat­u­ary embod­ied an ide­al of pure whiteness—a mis­con­cep­tion mod­ern sculp­tors per­pet­u­at­ed for hun­dreds of years by mak­ing busts and stat­ues in pol­ished white mar­ble. But the truth is that both Greek stat­ues and their Roman counterparts—as you’ll learn in the Vox video above—were orig­i­nal­ly bright­ly paint­ed in riotous col­or.

This includes the 1st cen­tu­ry A.D. Augus­tus of Pri­ma Por­ta, the famous fig­ure of the Emper­or stand­ing tri­umphant­ly with one hand raised. Rather than left as blank white mar­ble, the stat­ue would have had bronzed skin, brown hair, and a fire-engine red toga. “Ancient Greece and Rome were real­ly col­or­ful,” we learn. So how did every­one come to believe oth­er­wise?

It’s part­ly an hon­est mis­take. After the fall of Rome, ancient sculp­tures were buried or left out in the open air for hun­dreds of years. By the time the Renais­sance began in the 1300s, their paint had fad­ed away. As a result, the artists unearthing, and copy­ing ancient art didn’t real­ize how col­or­ful it was sup­posed to be.

But white mar­ble couldn’t have become the norm with­out some will­ful igno­rance. Even though there was a bunch of evi­dence that ancient sculp­ture was paint­ed, artists, art his­to­ri­ans and the gen­er­al pub­lic chose to dis­re­gard it. West­ern cul­ture seemed to col­lec­tive­ly accept that white mar­ble was sim­ply pret­ti­er.

White stat­u­ary sym­bol­ized a clas­si­cal ide­al that “depends high­ly on the great­est pos­si­ble decon­tex­tu­al­iza­tion,” writes James I. Porter, pro­fes­sor of Rhetoric and Clas­sics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley. “Only so can the val­ues it cher­ish­es be iso­lat­ed: sim­plic­i­ty, tran­quil­i­ty, bal­anced pro­por­tions, restraint, puri­ty of form… all of these are fea­tures that under­score the time­less qual­i­ty of the high­est pos­si­ble expres­sion of art, like a breath held indef­i­nite­ly.” These ideals became insep­a­ra­ble from the devel­op­ment of racial the­o­ry.

Learn­ing to see the past as it was requires us to put aside his­tor­i­cal­ly acquired blind­ers. This can be exceed­ing­ly dif­fi­cult when our ideas about the past come from hun­dreds of years of inher­it­ed tra­di­tion, from every peri­od of art his­to­ry since the time of Michelan­ge­lo. But we must acknowl­edge this tra­di­tion as fab­ri­cat­ed. Influ­en­tial art his­to­ri­an Johann Joachim Winck­el­mann, for exam­ple, extolled the val­ue of clas­si­cal sculp­ture because, in his opin­ion, “the whiter the body is, the more beau­ti­ful it is.”

Winck­el­mann also, Vox notes, “went out of his way to ignore obvi­ous evi­dence of col­ored mar­ble, and there was a lot of it.” He dis­missed fres­cos of col­ored stat­u­ary found in Pom­peii and judged one paint­ed sculp­ture dis­cov­ered there as “too prim­i­tive” to have been made by ancient Romans. “Evi­dence wasn’t just ignored, some of it may have been destroyed” to enforce an ide­al of white­ness. While many stat­ues were denud­ed by the ele­ments over hun­dreds of years, the first archae­ol­o­gists to dis­cov­er the Augus­tus of Pri­ma Por­ta in the 1860s described its col­or scheme in detail.

Cri­tiques of clas­si­cal ide­al­ism don’t orig­i­nate in a polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect present. As Porter shows at length in his arti­cle “What Is ‘Clas­si­cal’ About Clas­si­cal Antiq­ui­ty?,” they date back at least to 19th cen­tu­ry philoso­pher Lud­wig Feuer­bach, who called Winckelmann’s ideas about Roman stat­ues “an emp­ty fig­ment of the imag­i­na­tion.” But these ideas are “for the most part tak­en for grant­ed rather than ques­tioned,” Porter argues, “or else clung to for fear of los­ing a pow­er­ful cachet that, even in the belea­guered present, con­tin­ues to trans­late into cul­tur­al pres­tige, author­i­ty, elit­ist sat­is­fac­tions, and eco­nom­ic pow­er.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Ancient Greek Stat­ues Real­ly Looked: Research Reveals Their Bold, Bright Col­ors and Pat­terns

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

Watch Art on Ancient Greek Vas­es Come to Life with 21st Cen­tu­ry Ani­ma­tion

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

Download Beautiful Free Posters Celebrating the Achievements of Living Female STEM Leaders

Remem­ber the posters that dec­o­rat­ed your child­hood or teenaged bed­room?

Of course you do.

Whether aspi­ra­tional or inspi­ra­tional, these images are amaz­ing­ly potent.

I’m a bit embar­rassed to admit what hung over my bed, espe­cial­ly in light of a cer­tain CGI adap­ta­tion…

No such wor­ries with a set of eight free down­load­able posters hon­or­ing eight female trail­blaz­ers in the fields of sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, and math.

These should prove ever­green.

Com­mis­sioned by Nev­er­the­less, a pod­cast that cel­e­brates women whose advance­ments in STEM fields have shaped—and con­tin­ue to shape—education and learn­ing, each poster is accom­pa­nied with a brief bio­graph­i­cal sketch of the sub­ject.

Nev­er­the­less has tak­en care that the fea­tured achiev­ers are drawn from a wide cul­tur­al and racial pool.

No shame if you’re unfa­mil­iar with some of these extra­or­di­nary women. Their names may not pos­sess the same degree of house­hold recog­ni­tion as Marie Curie, but they will once they’re hang­ing over your daughter’s (or son’s) bed.

It’s worth not­ing that with the excep­tion of the under­sung moth­er of DNA Helix Ros­alind Franklin, these are liv­ing role mod­els. They are:

Astro­naut Dr. Mae Jemi­son

Robot­ics pio­neer Dr. Cyn­thia Breazeal

Math­e­mati­cian Gladys West

Tech inno­va­tor Juliana Rotich

Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal chemist Tu Youy­ou

Bio­phar­ma­cist and women rights advo­cate Maria da Pen­ha

Biotech­nol­o­gist Dr. Hay­at Sin­di

Kudos, too, to Nev­er­the­less for includ­ing biogra­phies of the eight female illus­tra­tors charged with bring­ing the STEM lumi­nar­ies to aes­thet­i­cal­ly cohe­sive graph­ic life: Lidia Toma­shevskaya,Thandi­we Tsha­bal­alaCami­la RosaXu HuiKari­na PerezJoana NevesGene­va B, and Juli­ette Bro­cal

Lis­ten to Nev­er­the­less’ episode on STEM Role Mod­els here.

Down­load Nev­er­the­less’ free posters in Eng­lish here. You can also down­load zipped fold­ers con­tain­ing all eight posters trans­lat­ed into Brazil­ian Por­tugueseFrenchFrench Cana­di­anGer­manItal­ianSpan­ish, and Sim­pli­fied Chi­nese.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pop Art Posters Cel­e­brate Pio­neer­ing Women Sci­en­tists: Down­load Free Posters of Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace & More

Women Sci­en­tists Launch a Data­base Fea­tur­ing the Work of 9,000 Women Work­ing in the Sci­ences

“The Matil­da Effect”: How Pio­neer­ing Women Sci­en­tists Have Been Denied Recog­ni­tion and Writ­ten Out of Sci­ence His­to­ry

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 6 when her month­ly book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domaincel­e­brates Cape-Cod­di­ties (1920) by Roger Liv­ingston Scaife. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Watch Annie Leibovitz Photograph and Get Scolded by Queen Elizabeth: “What Do You Think This Is?”

No mat­ter how many cul­tur­al icons you’ve met, Annie Lei­bovitz has almost cer­tain­ly met more of them. Not only has she met them, she’s talked with them, spent long stretch­es of time with them, told them what to do, and even looked into the nature of their very being — which is to say, she’s pho­tographed them. Hav­ing put in her crosshairs the likes of John Lennon, Michael Jack­son, Christo­pher Hitchens, and Barack Oba­ma, one would assume Lei­bovitz has lost entire­ly the abil­i­ty to be intim­i­dat­ed by any per­son­age, no mat­ter how august. But then, she did­n’t have to address any of the afore­men­tioned fig­ures as “Your Majesty.”

“Back in 2007, Lei­bovitz was hired to shoot a set of por­traits of the Queen at Buck­ing­ham Palace in prepa­ra­tion for a state vis­it to the Unit­ed States,” writes Petapix­el’s Michael Zhang. “The pho­tog­ra­ph­er and her 11 assis­tants spent 3 weeks prepar­ing for the 30-minute pho­to shoot.” For the Queen’s part, prepa­ra­tion includ­ed “the full regalia of the ancient Order of the Garter, com­plete with tiara,” putting on all of which took 15 min­utes longer than planned.

But when she got the Queen seat­ed, Lei­bovitz — per­haps fig­ur­ing that, if a casu­al man­ner works with pop stars and pres­i­dents, it might work even bet­ter with roy­al­ty — sug­gest­ed that “it will look bet­ter with­out the crown.” It would look bet­ter, she sug­gest­ed, “less dressy.” “Less dressy?” the Queen snaps back in a kind of irri­tat­ed aston­ish­ment. “What do you think this is?”

Lei­bovitz, to her cred­it, remains unfazed, even when informed that the tiara can’t go back on once it’s been tak­en off. You can see it hap­pen in the Dutch TV clip above, which takes its footage from the BBC doc­u­men­tary A Year with the Queen. Despite the pres­sure, the por­traits came out well, as did the sec­ond series Lei­bovitz shot of the Queen in 2016. These more recent pho­tographs were tak­en under less strict con­di­tions. “I was told how relaxed she was at Wind­sor, and it was real­ly true,” says Lei­bovitz in the accom­pa­ny­ing Van­i­ty Fair sto­ry. “You get the sense of how at peace she was with her­self, and very much enthralled with her fam­i­ly.” At the Queen’s request, the pic­tures includ­ed her fam­i­ly mem­bers both human and cor­gi, all arranged accord­ing to her own ideas. If she tires of her cur­rent job, she may have a promis­ing future in por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy ahead of her.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Annie Lei­bovitz Teach­es Pho­tog­ra­phy in Her First Online Course

NASA Enlists Andy Warhol, Annie Lei­bovitz, Nor­man Rock­well & 350 Oth­er Artists to Visu­al­ly Doc­u­ment America’s Space Pro­gram

A Very Brief His­to­ry of Roy­al Wed­dings

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.

Hear Every Sample on the Beastie Boys’ Acclaimed Album, Paul’s Boutique–and Discover Where They Came From

How would the Beast­ie Boys fol­low their debut, Licensed to Ill, won­dered crit­ics when the album rose to num­ber one after its 1986 release. The cross-over appeal of their hip hop/frat rock solid­i­fied a fan base whose devo­tion often mir­rored their par­ents’ revul­sion. Like many of their lat­er imi­ta­tors, the Beast­ie Boys could have played over­grown delin­quents till their fans aged out of the act.

Few crit­ics expect­ed more from them. “Rolling Stone enti­tled their review ‘Three Idiots Cre­ate a Mas­ter­piece’ and gave more cred­it to pro­duc­er Rick Rubin,” writes Colleen Mur­phy at Clas­sic Album Sun­days. Three years lat­er, they far sur­passed expec­ta­tions with their exper­i­men­tal sec­ond album, 1989’s Paul’s Bou­tique, though it took a lit­tle while for the fans to catch up.

It’s a record so dense with allu­sions both musi­cal and lyri­cal, so orig­i­nal in its ver­bal inter­play and com­ic sto­ry­telling, that the Beast­ie Boys were sud­den­ly hailed as seri­ous artists. As Mur­phy puts it:

Paul’s Bou­tique gave the Beast­ie Boys the crit­i­cal acclaim they des­per­ate­ly desired. Rolling Stone maneu­vered a U‑turn and brazen­ly called it, “the Pet Sounds / The Dark Side of the Moon of hip hop.” But more impor­tant­ly, it also earned the group respect with their peers and idols. Miles Davis claimed he nev­er got tired of lis­ten­ing to it, and Pub­lic Enemy’s Chuck D even said, ‘The dirty secret among the Black hip hop com­mu­ni­ty at the time of the release was that Paul’s Bou­tique had the best beats.”

They spat absurd­ly hilar­i­ous rhymes by the dozen in mock epic nar­ra­tives brim­ming with rhyth­mic and melod­ic com­plex­i­ty, thanks to the high-con­cept pro­duc­tion by the Dust Broth­ers. The two pro­duc­ers pieced the album’s sound­scape togeth­er from an esti­mat­ed 150-odd sam­ples, a method that “would be pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive if not impos­si­ble” today, notes Kot­tke. In the video above, you can hear every sam­ple on the album, “from the sound­track to Car Wash to the Sug­arhill Gang to the Eagles to the Ramones to the Bea­t­les.”

For legal and cre­ative rea­sons, noth­ing has ever sound­ed quite like Paul’s Bou­tique (except, per­haps, De La Soul’s Three-Feet High and Ris­ing, a sim­i­lar­ly ground­break­ing, sam­ple-heavy album released the same year). Thir­ty years after it came out, “it’s still not out of the ordi­nary to dis­cov­er some­thing you nev­er heard before across this 15-track odyssey into a thrift sto­ry rack full of weird vinyl,” Bill­board points out in a list of 10 deep cuts sam­pled on the record.

Like every clas­sic album, Paul’s Bou­tique repays end­less re-lis­tens, both for its sur­re­al lyri­cal play­ful­ness and library of musi­cal ref­er­ences. Hear­ing the breadth of sam­ples that built the album dri­ves home how much those two fea­tures are inter­wo­ven. Head over to Kot­tke for more Paul’s Bou­tique good­ies, includ­ing a remix with source tracks and audio com­men­tary and a Spo­ti­fy playlist of all the sam­pled songs.

via Laugh­ing Squid/Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Beast­ie Boys Release a New Free­wheel­ing Mem­oir, and a Star-Stud­ded 13-Hour Audio­book Fea­tur­ing Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costel­lo, Bette Midler, John Stew­art & Dozens More

Look How Young They Are!: The Beast­ie Boys Per­form­ing Live Their Very First Hit, “Cooky Puss” (1983)

‘Beast­ie Boys on Being Stu­pid’: An Ani­mat­ed Inter­view From 1985

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

A Simple, Down-to-Earth Christmas Card from the Great Depression (1933)

The Smith­son­ian sets the scene for this Christ­mas card sent in 1933, a few years into the Great Depres­sion. They write:

Despite the glum eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion, the Pinero fam­i­ly used a brown paper bag to fash­ion an inex­pen­sive hol­i­day greet­ing card. They penned a clever rhyme and added some charm­ing line draw­ings of Mom, Dad, and the kids with the mes­sage: “Oh, well—in spite of it all—here’s a Mer­ry Christ­mas from the Pineros.” On Decem­ber 19, 1933, they mailed it from Chica­go to friends in Mass­a­chu­setts, using a one-and-a-half-cent stamp. For a min­i­mal out­lay of cash, they were able to keep in touch with friends and com­ment on their reduced cir­cum­stances with wit and humor.

This hand-let­tered poem is a delight­ful exam­ple of light verse, a whim­si­cal form of poet­ry intend­ed to enter­tain or amuse, even if treat­ing a seri­ous sub­ject in a humor­ous man­ner. In the poem, the Pineros sug­gest that they had strug­gled eco­nom­i­cal­ly for some time, but now, due to the con­tin­u­ing Depres­sion, oth­ers shared their finan­cial plight, which enabled them to be more open and can­did about their sit­u­a­tion.

Like many fam­i­lies, the Pineros prob­a­bly had lots of bills for neces­si­ties includ­ing rent, gro­ceries, util­i­ties, milk, and ice. Because not every fam­i­ly had elec­tric refrig­er­a­tion in 1933, many relied on reg­u­lar deliv­er­ies of ice to keep their per­ish­able foods cold. These bills for milk and ice were sep­a­rate; they were not part of the gro­cery account. Local dairies sup­plied milk and oth­er prod­ucts on a dai­ly basis. Both the Ice Man and the Milk Man would cometh, as long as they were paid!

It’s a his­tor­i­cal case of when less is indeed more…

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via The Smith­son­ian

Relat­ed Con­tent:

When Sal­vador Dalí Cre­at­ed Christ­mas Cards That Were Too Avant Garde for Hall­mark (1960)

John Waters Makes Hand­made Christ­mas Cards, Says the “Whole Pur­pose of Life is Christ­mas”

Watch Ter­ry Gilliam’s Ani­mat­ed Short, The Christ­mas Card (1968)

Andy Warhol’s Christ­mas Art

Hear Neil Gaiman Read A Christmas Carol Just as Dickens Read It

gaiman dickens

Image by New York Pub­lic Library

Last Christ­mas, we fea­tured Charles Dick­ens’ hand-edit­ed copy of his beloved 1843 novel­la A Christ­mas Car­ol. He did that hand edit­ing for the pur­pos­es of giv­ing pub­lic read­ings, a prac­tice that, in his time, “was con­sid­ered a des­e­cra­tion of one’s art and a low­er­ing of one’s dig­ni­ty.” That time, how­ev­er, has gone, and many of the most pres­ti­gious writ­ers alive today take the read­ing aloud of their own work to the lev­el of art, or at least high enter­tain­ment, that Dick­ens must have sus­pect­ed one could. Some writ­ers even do a bang-up job of read­ing oth­er writ­ers’ work: mod­ern mas­ter sto­ry­teller Neil Gaiman gave us a dose of that on Mon­day when we fea­tured his recita­tion of Lewis Car­rol­l’s “Jab­ber­wocky” from mem­o­ry. Today, how­ev­er, comes the full meal: Gaiman’s telling of A Christ­mas Car­ol straight from that very Dick­ens-edit­ed read­ing copy.

Gaiman read to a full house at the New York Pub­lic Library, an insti­tu­tion known for its stim­u­lat­ing events, hol­i­day-themed or oth­er­wise. But he did­n’t have to hold up the after­noon him­self; tak­ing the stage before him, BBC researcher and The Secret Muse­um author Mol­ly Old­field talked about her two years spent seek­ing out fas­ci­nat­ing cul­tur­al arti­facts the world over, includ­ing but not lim­it­ed to the NYPL’s own col­lec­tion of things Dick­en­sian. You can hear both Old­field and Gaiman in the record­ing above. But per­haps the great­est gift of all came in the form of the lat­ter’s attire for his read­ing: not only did he go ful­ly Vic­to­ri­an, he even went to the length of repli­cat­ing the 19th-cen­tu­ry lit­er­ary super­star’s own severe hair part and long goa­tee. And School Library Jour­nal has pic­tures.

The sto­ry real­ly gets start­ed around the 11:25 mark. Gaiman’s read­ing will be added to our list of Free Audio Books. You can find the text of Dick­ens’ clas­sic in our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Neil Gaiman Teach­es the Art of Sto­ry­telling in His New Online Course

Hear Neil Gaiman Read Aloud 15 of His Own Works, and Works by 6 Oth­er Great Writ­ers: From The Grave­yard Book & Cora­line, to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven & Dick­ens’ A Christ­mas Car­ol

A Christ­mas Car­ol Pre­sent­ed in a Thomas Edi­son Film (1910)

O Frab­jous Day! Neil Gaiman Recites Lewis Carroll’s “Jab­ber­wocky” from Mem­o­ry

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.

Bob Ross’ Christmas Special: Celebrate, Relax, Nod Off

I don’t know if you got every­thing you want­ed on Christ­mas, but we here at Open Cul­ture have what you need. And that’s a very spe­cial Bob Ross Christ­mas Spe­cial. No spe­cial guests, no musi­cal num­bers. Just Bob, his palette filled with phtha­lo blue, Van dyke Brown, and oth­er favorite paints, and a sol­id black can­vas which Bob turns into a Christ­mas Eve snow scene. (In 2018, Ross’ offi­cial YouTube Chan­nel post­ed all 31 sea­sons of The Joy of Paint­ing online, a total of 403 episodes.)

While watch­ing (and maybe fol­low­ing along at home), con­sid­er that Bob Ross acci­den­tal­ly invent­ed ASMR with his shows, all those years ago. His pleas­ant, slight­ly gruff south­ern accent com­ple­ments the sound of the swish­ing brush and scrap­ing knife on can­vas. Con­sid­er also the per­cent­age of peo­ple who watch these not to paint, but to med­i­tate or go to sleep. (There’s an app for that.)

Bob Ross *is* the sound of a Christ­mas Eve noc­turne, a moment when the air is crisp and clean, a lit­tle bit of peace falls over the world, and there’s a chance to reflect. It’s time to start a new can­vas. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less, and you can always change as you go. Heed Ross’ famous words: “We don’t make mis­takes. We have hap­py acci­dents.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mr. Rogers Goes to Con­gress and Saves PBS: Heart­warm­ing Video from 1969

Pup­pet Mak­ing with Jim Hen­son: A Price­less Primer from 1969

A Big List of Free Art Lessons on YouTube

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.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.