757 Episodes of the Classic TV Game Show What’s My Line?: Watch Eleanor Roosevelt, Louis Armstrong, Salvador Dali & More

What would the host and pan­elists of the clas­sic prime­time tele­vi­sion game show What’s My Line? have made of The Masked Singera more recent offer­ing in which pan­elists attempt to iden­ti­fy celebri­ty con­tes­tants who are con­cealed by elab­o­rate head-to-toe cos­tumes and elec­tron­i­cal­ly altered voiceovers.

One expects such shenani­gans might have struck them as a bit uncouth.

Host John Charles Daly was will­ing to keep the ball up in the air by answer­ing the panel’s ini­tial ques­tions for a Mys­tery Guest with a wide­ly rec­og­niz­able voice, but it’s hard to imag­ine any­one stuff­ing for­mer First Lady Eleanor Roo­sev­elt into the full body steam­punk bee suit the (SPOILER) Empress of Soul wore on The Masked Singer’s first sea­son.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Oct 18, 1953 appear­ance is a delight, espe­cial­ly her pan­tomimed dis­gust at the 17:29 mark, above, when blind­fold­ed pan­elist Arlene Fran­cis asks if she’s asso­ci­at­ed with pol­i­tics, and Daly jumps in to reply yes on her behalf.

Lat­er on, you get a sense of what play­ing a jol­ly par­lor game with Mrs. Roo­sevelt would have been like. She’s not above fudg­ing her answers a bit, and very near­ly wrig­gles with antic­i­pa­tion as anoth­er pan­elist, jour­nal­ist Dorothy Kil­gallen, begins to home in on the truth.

While the ros­ter of Mys­tery Guests over the show’s orig­i­nal 17-year broad­cast is impres­sive — Cab Cal­lowayJudy Gar­land, and Edward R. Mur­row to name a few — every episode also boast­ed two or three civil­ians hop­ing to stump the sophis­ti­cat­ed pan­el with their pro­fes­sion.

Mrs. Roo­sevelt was pre­ced­ed by a bath­tub sales­man and a fel­low involved in the man­u­fac­ture of Blood­hound Chew­ing Tobac­co, after which there was just enough time for a woman who wrote tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials.

Non-celebri­ty guests stood to earn up to $50 (over $500 today) by pro­long­ing the rev­e­la­tion of their pro­fes­sions, as com­pared to the Mys­tery Guests who received an appear­ance fee of ten times that, win or lose. (Pre­sum­ably, Mrs. Roo­sevelt was one of those to donate her hon­o­rar­i­um.)

The reg­u­lar pan­elists were paid “scan­dalous amounts of mon­ey” as per pub­lish­er Ben­nett Cerf, whose “rep­u­ta­tion as a nim­ble-wit­ted gen­tle­man-about-town was rein­forced by his tenure on What’s My Line?”, accord­ing to Colum­bia University’s Oral His­to­ry Research Office.

The unscript­ed urbane ban­ter kept view­ers tun­ing in. Broad­way actor Fran­cis recalled: “I got so much plea­sure out of ‘What’s My Line?’ There were no rehearsals. You’d just sit there and be your­self and do the best you could.”

Pan­elist Steve Allen is cred­it­ed with spon­ta­neous­ly alight­ing on a bread­box as a unit of com­par­a­tive mea­sure­ment while ques­tion­ing a man­hole cov­er sales­man in an episode that fea­tured June Hav­oc, leg­end of stage and screen as the Mys­tery Guest (at at 23:57, below).

“Want to show us your bread­box, Steve?” one of the female pan­elists fires back off-cam­era.

The phrase “is it big­ger than a bread­box” went on to become a run­ning joke, fur­ther con­tribut­ing to the illu­sion that view­ers had been invit­ed to a fash­ion­able cock­tail par­ty where glam­orous New York scene­mak­ers dressed up to play 21 Pro­fes­sion­al Ques­tions with ordi­nary mor­tals and a celebri­ty guest.

Jazz great Louis Arm­strong appeared on the show twice, in 1954 and then again in 1964, when he employed a suc­cess­ful tech­nique of light mono­syl­lab­ic respons­es to trick the same pan­elists who had iden­ti­fied him quick­ly on his ini­tial out­ing.

“Are you relat­ed to any­body that has any­thing to do with What’s My Line?” Cerf asks, caus­ing Arm­strong, host Daly, and the stu­dio audi­ence to dis­solve with laugh­ter.

“What hap­pened?” Arlene Fran­cis cries from under her pearl-trimmed mask, not want­i­ng to miss the joke.

Tele­vi­sion — and Amer­i­ca itself — was a long way off from acknowl­edg­ing the exis­tence of inter­ra­cial fam­i­lies.

“It’s not Van Clyburn, is it?” Fran­cis ven­tures a cou­ple of min­utes lat­er.…

Expect the usu­al gen­der-based assump­tions of the peri­od, but also appear­ances by Mary G. Ross, a Chero­kee aero­space engi­neer, and physi­cist Helen P. Mann, a data ana­lyst at Cape Canaver­al.

If you find the con­vivial atmos­phere of this sem­i­nal Good­son-Tod­man game show absorb­ing, there are 757 episodes avail­able for view­ing on What’s My Line?’YouTube chan­nel.

Allow us to kick things off on a Sur­re­al Note with Mys­tery Guest Sal­vador Dali, after which you can browse chrono­log­i­cal playlists as you see fit:




1961 ‑63


Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Sal­vador Dalí Gets Sur­re­al with 1950s Amer­i­ca: Watch His Appear­ances on What’s My Line? (1952) and The Mike Wal­lace Inter­view (1958)

How Amer­i­can Band­stand Changed Amer­i­can Cul­ture: Revis­it Scenes from the Icon­ic Music Show

How Dick Cavett Brought Sophis­ti­ca­tion to Late Night Talk Shows: Watch 270 Clas­sic Inter­views Online

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Don Felder Plays “Hotel California” at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a Double-Neck Guitar

Pete Town­shend played one. Jim­my Page famous­ly bran­dished one. John McLaugh­lin basi­cal­ly start­ed his own post-Miles Davis jazz group based around one. But the dou­ble-neck gui­tar played by Don Felder on The Eagles “Hotel Cal­i­for­nia” may be the best known to all the chil­dren of the 1970s. The white gui­tar went on dis­play in 2019 for the exhi­bi­tion “Play It Loud” at New York’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, which also fea­tured such his­tor­i­cal instru­ments as the hum­ble Mar­tin acoustic that Elvis Pres­ley played on the Sun Ses­sions, to Eddie Van Halen’s Franken­stein gui­tar. (And in a bit of DADA sculp­ture, the Met also dis­played the remains of a drum set that Kei­th Moon destroyed dur­ing a live gig.)

As part of the exhibit’s pro­mo­tion­al tour, Don Felder, long since out of the Eagles and with a law­suit behind him, picked up the gui­tar for a few min­utes on CBS This Morn­ing and played both the intro acoustic pick­ing part and the famous solo from “Hotel Cal­i­for­nia.’ Even though he isn’t mic’d up, you can still hear him singing along. He gives a cheek­i­ly sat­is­fied laugh at the end.

“Hotel Cal­i­for­nia”, the music at least, is all Don Felder. It began life as one of many demos and sketch­es he’d record while liv­ing in a Mal­ibu rental and look­ing after his one-year-old daugh­ter. This one was giv­en the short­hand title “Mex­i­can Reg­gae” as it com­bined a lit­tle bit of each. Don Hen­ley and Glenn Frey spot­ted its poten­tial imme­di­ate­ly, and wrote some of their best lyrics, both very spe­cif­ic (“Her mind is Tiffany twist­ed” is about Henley’s jew­el­ry design­er ex-girl­friend) and universal—-California, the state of mind, the fame machine, is the Isle of the Lotus Eaters, seduc­tive and destruc­tive.

The demo and the stu­dio record­ing did not use the Gib­son EDS-1275, but Felder pur­chased the gui­tar to use on tour.

Felder told The Sound NZ:

“When I got to the sound­stage to rehearse how we were going to go out and play the ‘Hotel Cal­i­for­nia’ tour, I said, ‘How am I going to play all these gui­tars with dif­fer­ent sounds?’ So I sent a gui­tar tech out to a music store and said, ‘Just buy a dou­ble neck with a 12-string and a six-string on it, I’ll see if I can make it work. So he brought it back, he brought back this white gui­tar, and I said, ‘Why did you get a white one? Why did­n’t you get a black one or a red one? Why so girly look­ing?’. He said, ‘That’s all they had.’ So I took a drill, drilled a hole at the top of it, wired it, so it was real­ly two sep­a­rate gui­tars,”

“Girly” or not—-sigh, Mr. Felder, sighhh—-that gui­tar still sounds pret­ty damn good.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What the Eagles’ “Hotel Cal­i­for­nia” Real­ly Means

The Hor­rors of Bull Island, “the Worst Music Fes­ti­val of All Time” (1972)

Watch The Band Play “The Weight,” “Up On Crip­ple Creek” and More in Rare 1970 Con­cert Footage

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

Watch the Live TV Adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Most Controversial TV Drama of Its Time (1954)

“Wife Dies as She Watch­es,” announced a Dai­ly Express head­line after the broad­cast of Nine­teen Eighty-Four, a BBC adap­ta­tion of George Orwell’s nov­el. The arti­cle seems to have attrib­uted the sud­den col­lapse and death of a 42-year-old Herne Bay Woman to the pro­duc­tion’s shock­ing con­tent. That was the most dra­mat­ic of the many accu­sa­tions lev­eled against the BBC of inflict­ing dis­tress on the view­ing pub­lic with Orwell’s bleak and har­row­ing vision of a total­i­tar­i­an future. Yet that same pub­lic also want­ed more, demand­ing a sec­ond broad­cast that drew sev­en mil­lion view­ers, the largest tele­vi­sion audi­ence in Britain since the Coro­na­tion of Eliz­a­beth II, which had hap­pened the pre­vi­ous year; Orwell’s book had been pub­lished just four years before that.

This was the mid-1950s, a time when stan­dards of tele­vi­su­al decen­cy remained almost whol­ly up for debate — and when most of what aired on tele­vi­sion was broad­cast live, not pro­duced in advance. Dar­ing not just in its con­tent but its tech­ni­cal and artis­tic com­plex­i­ty, a project like Nine­teen Eighty-Four pushed the lim­its of the medi­um, with a live orches­tral score as well as four­teen pre-filmed seg­ments meant to estab­lish the unre­lent­ing­ly grim sur­round­ing real­i­ty (and to pro­vide time for scene changes back in the stu­dio).

“This unusu­al free­dom,” says the British Film Insti­tute, “helped make Nine­teen Eighty-Four the most expen­sive TV dra­ma of its day,” though the pro­duc­tion’s effec­tive­ness owes to much more than its bud­get.

“The care­ful use of close-ups, accom­pa­nied by record­ed voice-over, allows us a win­dow into Win­ston’s inner tor­ment” as he “strug­gles to dis­guise his ‘thought­crimes’, while effec­tive­ly rep­re­sent­ing Big Broth­er’s fright­en­ing omni­science.” It also demon­strates star Peter Cush­ing’s “grasp of small screen per­for­mance,” though he would go on to greater renown on the big screen in Ham­mer Hor­ror pic­tures, and lat­er as Star Wars’ Grand Moff Tarkin. (Wil­frid Bram­bell, who plays two minor parts, would for his part be immor­tal­ized as Paul McCart­ney’s very clean grand­fa­ther in A Hard Day’s Night.) Though it got pro­duc­er-direc­tor Rudolph Carti­er death threats at the time — per­haps because Orwell’s implic­it indict­ment of a grub­by, dimin­ished post­war Britain hit too close to home — this adap­ta­tion of  Nine­teen Eighty-Four holds its own along­side the many made before and since. That’s true even now that its tit­u­lar year is decades behind us rather than decades ahead.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear the Very First Adap­ta­tion of George Orwell’s 1984 in a Radio Play Star­ring David Niv­en (1949)

Hear George Orwell’s 1984 Adapt­ed as a Radio Play at the Height of McCarthy­ism & The Red Scare (1953)

Hear a Radio Dra­ma of George Orwell’s 1984, Star­ring Patrick Troughton, of Doc­tor Who Fame (1965)

A Com­plete Read­ing of George Orwell’s 1984: Aired on Paci­fi­ca Radio, 1975

Rick Wakeman’s Prog-Rock Opera Adap­ta­tion of George Orwell’s 1984

David Bowie Dreamed of Turn­ing George Orwell’s 1984 Into a Musi­cal: Hear the Songs That Sur­vived the Aban­doned Project

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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 Gallery of 1,800 Gigapixel Images of Classic Paintings: See Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring, Van Gogh’s Starry Night & Other Masterpieces in Close Detail

Far be it from me, or any­one, to know the future, but sev­er­al signs point toward anoth­er sea­son or two of stay­ing indoors — and maybe putting trav­el plans on hold again. If, like me, you find your­self itch­ing to get away, maybe to final­ly make the jour­ney to see the art you’ve only seen in small-scale repro­duc­tions, don’t despair just yet. The art is com­ing to you, in ultra-high res­o­lu­tion, gigapix­el images from Google Cul­tur­al Insti­tute.

See extra­or­di­nary lev­els of detail in famous works of art like Ver­meer’s Girl with the Pearl Ear­ring and Van Gogh’s Star­ry Night. “So much of the beau­ty and pow­er of art lives in the details,” writes Google Cul­tur­al Insti­tute Engi­neer Ben St. John.

“You can only ful­ly appre­ci­ate the genius of artists like Mon­et or Van Gogh when you stand so close to a mas­ter­piece that your nose almost touch­es it.” This kind of inti­ma­cy is near­ly impos­si­ble to achieve in a crowd­ed gallery.

Google’s enor­mous art pho­tographs are, in some ways, supe­ri­or to obser­va­tion with the eye: “Zoom­ing into these images is the clos­est thing to walk­ing up to the real thing with a mag­ni­fy­ing glass.” Even when paint­ed on flat can­vas­es, works of art exist in three dimen­sions, and there’s still the mat­ter of col­or repro­duc­tion on your screen…. Yet the point remains: there’s no way you’d be able to get as close to Mon­et or Van Gogh’s work in per­son unless you were a con­ser­va­tor or maybe a muse­um guard.

Cre­at­ing these images has hith­er­to been an extreme­ly time-con­sum­ing affair that required the expert know-how of tech­ni­cians, a process that has ham­pered the wide adop­tion of gigapix­el images for the study of art. “In the first five years of the Google Cul­tur­al Insti­tute,” Google admits, “we’ve only been able to share about 200 gigapix­el images.” The process can now be auto­mat­ed, how­ev­er, expand­ing the gallery to 1800+ images and count­ing, with the inven­tion of a sophis­ti­cat­ed machine called the Art Cam­era:

A robot­ic sys­tem steers the cam­era auto­mat­i­cal­ly from detail to detail, tak­ing hun­dreds of high res­o­lu­tion close-ups of the paint­ing. To make sure the focus is right on each brush stroke, it’s equipped with a laser and a sonar that—much like a bat—uses high fre­quen­cy sound to mea­sure the dis­tance of the art­work. Once each detail is cap­tured, our soft­ware takes the thou­sands of close-up shots and, like a jig­saw, stitch­es the pieces togeth­er into one sin­gle image.

The tech­no­log­i­cal break­through inar­guably enhances our expe­ri­ence of art, whether we ever get to see these works in per­son, and it pre­serves a cul­tur­al lega­cy for pos­ter­i­ty. “Many of the works of our great­est artists are frag­ile and sen­si­tive to light and humid­i­ty,” Google Arts & Cul­ture notes. “With the Art Cam­era, muse­ums can share these price­less works with the glob­al pub­lic while they’re ensur­ing they’re pre­served for future gen­er­a­tions.”

They are pre­served in mul­ti­ple views that give the illu­sion of a three-dimen­sion­al expe­ri­ence, includ­ing a “street view” option that places view­ers inside the gallery and an aug­ment­ed real­i­ty app called Art Pro­jec­tor that “lets you see how art­works look in real size in front of you.” View­ing art this way goes miles beyond my art his­to­ry edu­ca­tion spent star­ing at the pages of Janson’s His­to­ry of Art, try­ing to imag­ine what it would be like if I could actu­al­ly see what was hap­pen­ing on the can­vas.

Projects like Google Arts & Cul­ture offer an entire­ly new kind of art edu­ca­tion by dig­i­tal­ly con­serv­ing hun­dreds of art­works that don’t tend to appear in text­books, sur­veys, or muse­um gift shops. Works, for exam­ple, like Joos van Craes­beeck­’s Hierony­mus Bosch-influ­enced The Temp­ta­tion of Saint Antho­ny, which show how seri­ous­ly Bosch’s con­tem­po­raries and fol­low­ers took his medieval “dia­b­leries”; and Kris­t­ian Zahrt­man­n’s 1894 paint­ing The Mys­te­ri­ous Wed­ding in Pis­toia. “Idolised” in his time, Zahrt­mann “man­aged to reju­ve­nate Dan­ish paint­ing in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry” then sank into obscu­ri­ty. His work is now “the object of renewed inter­est — at the dawn of anoth­er new cen­tu­ry.”

While I hope our expe­ri­ence of art does not become pri­mar­i­ly vir­tu­al, we can be grate­ful for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to see — in ways we nev­er could before — the up-close hand­i­work of artists who can feel so far away from us even in the best of times. Enter the col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Google Puts Over 57,000 Works of Art on the Web

The Art Insti­tute of Chica­go Puts 44,000+ Works of Art Online: View Them in High Res­o­lu­tion

Down­load 586 Free Art Books from The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

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

An Animated History of Writing: From Ancient Egypt to Modern Writing Systems

He would be a very sim­ple per­son, and quite a stranger to the ora­cles of Thamus or Ammon, who should leave in writ­ing or receive in writ­ing any art under the idea that the writ­ten word would be intel­li­gi­ble or cer­tain. — Socrates

The trans­mis­sion of truth was at one time a face-to-face busi­ness that took place direct­ly between teacher and stu­dent. We find ancient sages around the world who dis­cour­aged writ­ing and priv­i­leged spo­ken dia­logue as the best way to com­mu­ni­cate. Why is that? Socrates him­self explained it in Plato’s Phae­drus, with a myth about the ori­gin of writ­ing. In his sto­ry, the Egypt­ian god Thoth devis­es the var­i­ous means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion by signs and presents them to the Egypt­ian god-king Thamus, also known as Ammon. Thamus exam­ines them, prais­ing or dis­parag­ing each in turn. When he gets to writ­ing, he is espe­cial­ly put out.

“O most inge­nious Theuth,” says Thamus (in Ben­jamin Jowett’s trans­la­tion), “you who are the father of let­ters, from a pater­nal love of your own chil­dren have been led to attribute to them a qual­i­ty which they can­not have; for this dis­cov­ery of yours will cre­ate for­get­ful­ness in the learn­ers’ souls, because they will not use their mem­o­ries; they will trust to the exter­nal writ­ten char­ac­ters and not remem­ber of them­selves. The spe­cif­ic which you have dis­cov­ered is an aid not to mem­o­ry, but to rem­i­nis­cence, and you give your dis­ci­ples not truth, but only the sem­blance of truth.”

Oth­er tech­nolo­gies of com­mu­ni­ca­tion like Incan khipu have the qual­i­ty of “embed­ded­ness,” says YouTu­ber Native­Lang above, in an ani­mat­ed his­to­ry of writ­ing that begins with the myth of “Thoth’s Pill.” That is to say, such forms are insep­a­ra­ble from the mate­r­i­al con­text of their ori­gins. Writ­ing is unique, fun­gi­ble, alien­able, and alien­at­ing. Its great­est strength — the abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate across dis­tances of time and space — is also its weak­ness since it sep­a­rates us from each oth­er, requir­ing us to mem­o­rize com­plex sys­tems of signs and inter­pret an author’s mean­ing in their absence. Socrates crit­i­cizes writ­ing because “it will de-embed you.”

The irony of Socrates’ cri­tique (via Pla­to) is that “it comes to us via text,” notes Bear Skin Dig­i­tal. “We enjoy it and think about it pure­ly because it is record­ed in writ­ing.” What’s more, as Phae­drus says in response, Socrates’ sto­ry is only a sto­ry. “You can eas­i­ly invent tales of Egypt, or of any oth­er coun­try.” To which Socrates replies that a truth is a truth, no mat­ter who says it, or how we hap­pen to hear it. Is it so with writ­ing? Does its ambi­gu­i­ty ren­der it use­less? Are writ­ten works like orphans, as Socrates char­ac­ter­izes them? “If they are mal­treat­ed or abused, they have no par­ents to pro­tect them; and they can­not pro­tect or defend them­selves….”

It’s a lit­tle too late to decide if we’re bet­ter off with­out the writ­ten word, so many mil­len­nia after writ­ing grew out of pic­tographs, or “pro­to-writ­ing” and into ideo­graphs, logographs, rebus­es, pho­net­ic alpha­bets, and more. Watch the full ani­mat­ed his­to­ry of writ­ing above and, then, by all means, close your brows­er and go have a long con­ver­sa­tion with some­one face-to-face.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How to Write in Cuneiform, the Old­est Writ­ing Sys­tem in the World: A Short, Charm­ing Intro­duc­tion

40,000-Year-Old Sym­bols Found in Caves World­wide May Be the Ear­li­est Writ­ten Lan­guage

A 4,000-Year-Old Stu­dent ‘Writ­ing Board’ from Ancient Egypt (with Teacher’s Cor­rec­tions in Red)

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

The Sounds of Space: An Interplanetary Sonic Journey

There are those of us who, when pre­sent­ed with duel­ing star­ships in a movie or tele­vi­sion show, always make the same objec­tion: there’s no sound in out­er space. In the short film above, this valid if aggra­vat­ing­ly pedan­tic charge is con­firmed by Lori Glaze, Direc­tor of NASA’s Sci­ence Mis­sion Direc­torate’s Plan­e­tary Sci­ence Divi­sion. “Sound requires mol­e­cules,” she says. “You have to be able to move mol­e­cules with the sound waves, and with­out the mol­e­cules, the sound just does­n’t move.” Space has as few as ten atoms per cubic meter; our atmos­phere, by con­trast, has more ten tril­lion tril­lion — that’s “tril­lion tril­lion” with two Ts.

No won­der Earth can be such an infer­nal rack­et. But as every school­child knows, the rest of solar sys­tem as a whole is hard­ly emp­ty. In twen­ty min­utes, the The Sounds of Space takes us on a tour of the plan­ets from Mer­cury out to Plu­to and even Sat­urn’s moon of Titan, not just visu­al­iz­ing their sights but, if you like, aural­iz­ing their sounds.

These include real record­ings, like those of Venu­sian winds cap­tured by the Sovi­et lan­der Ven­era 14 in 1981. Most, how­ev­er, are sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly informed con­struc­tions of more spec­u­la­tive phe­nom­e­non: a “Mer­curyquake,” for instance, or a “Methanofall” on Titan.

A col­lab­o­ra­tion between film­mak­er John D. Boswell (also known as Melodysheep) and Twen­ty Thou­sand Hertz, a pod­cast about “the sto­ries behind the world’s most rec­og­niz­able and inter­est­ing sounds,” The Sounds of Space was recent­ly fea­tured at Aeon. That site rec­om­mends view­ing the film “as an explo­ration of the physics of sound, and the sci­ence of how we’ve evolved to receive sound waves right here on Earth.” How­ev­er you frame it, you’ll hear plen­ty of sounds the likes of which you’ve nev­er heard before, as well as the voic­es of Earth­lings high­ly knowl­edgable in these mat­ters: Glaze’s, but also those of NASA Plan­e­tary Astronomer Kei­th Noll and Research Astro­physi­cist Scott Guzewich. And as a bonus, you’ll be pre­pared to cri­tique the son­ic real­ism of the next bat­tle you see staged on the sur­face of Mars.

via Aeon

Relat­ed Con­tent:

NASA Puts Online a Big Col­lec­tion of Space Sounds, and They’re Free to Down­load and Use

Sun Ra Applies to NASA’s Art Pro­gram: When the Inven­tor of Space Jazz Applied to Make Space Art

42 Hours of Ambi­ent Sounds from Blade Run­ner, Alien, Star Trek and Doc­tor Who Will Help You Relax & Sleep

Plants Emit High-Pitched Sounds When They Get Cut, or Stressed by Drought, a New Study Shows

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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.

Are We All Getting More Depressed?: A New Study Analyzing 14 Million Books, Written Over 160 Years, Finds the Language of Depression Steadily Rising

The rela­tions between thought, lan­guage, and mood have become sub­jects of study for sev­er­al sci­en­tif­ic fields of late. Some of the con­clu­sions seem to echo reli­gious notions from mil­len­nia ago. “As a man thin­keth, so he is,” for exam­ple, pro­claims a famous verse in Proverbs (one that helped spawn a self-help move­ment in 1903). Pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy might agree. “All that we are is the result of what we have thought,” says one trans­la­tion of the Bud­dhist Dhamma­pa­da, a sen­ti­ment that cog­ni­tive behav­ioral ther­a­py might endorse.

But the insights of these tra­di­tions — and of social psy­chol­o­gy — also show that we’re embed­ded in webs of con­nec­tion: we don’t only think alone; we think — and talk and write and read — with oth­ers. Exter­nal cir­cum­stances influ­ence mood as well as inter­nal states of mind. Approach­ing these ques­tions dif­fer­ent­ly, researchers at the Lud­dy School of Infor­mat­ics, Com­put­ing, and Engi­neer­ing at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty asked, “Can entire soci­eties become more or less depressed over time?,” and is it pos­si­ble to read col­lec­tive changes in mood in the writ­ten lan­guages of the past cen­tu­ry or so?

The team of sci­en­tists, led by Johan Bollen, Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor of infor­mat­ics and com­put­ing, took a nov­el approach that brings togeth­er tools from at least two fields: large-scale data analy­sis and cog­ni­tive-behav­ioral ther­a­py (CBT). Since diag­nos­tic cri­te­ria for mea­sur­ing depres­sion have only been around for the past 40 years, the ques­tion seemed to resist lon­gi­tu­di­nal study. But CBT pro­vid­ed a means of ana­lyz­ing lan­guage for mark­ers of “cog­ni­tive dis­tor­tions” — think­ing that skews in over­ly neg­a­tive ways. “Lan­guage is close­ly inter­twined with this dynam­ic” of thought and mood, the researchers write in their study, “His­tor­i­cal lan­guage records reveal a surge of cog­ni­tive dis­tor­tions in recent decades,” pub­lished just last month in PNAS.

Choos­ing three lan­guages, Eng­lish (US), Ger­man, and Span­ish, the team looked for “short sequences of one to five words (n‑grams), labeled cog­ni­tive dis­tor­tion schema­ta (CDS).” These words and phras­es express neg­a­tive thought process­es like “cat­a­stro­phiz­ing,” “dichoto­mous rea­son­ing,” “dis­qual­i­fy­ing the pos­i­tive,” etc. Then, the researchers iden­ti­fied the preva­lence of such lan­guage in a col­lec­tion of over 14 mil­lion books pub­lished between 1855 and 2019 and uploaded to Google Books. The study con­trolled for lan­guage and syn­tax changes dur­ing that time and account­ed for the increase in tech­ni­cal and non-fic­tion books pub­lished (though it did not dis­tin­guish between lit­er­ary gen­res).

What the sci­en­tists found in all three lan­guages was a dis­tinc­tive “‘hock­ey stick’ pat­tern” — a sharp uptick in the lan­guage of depres­sion after 1980 and into the present time. The only spikes that come close on the time­line occur in Eng­lish lan­guage books dur­ing the Gild­ed Age and books pub­lished in Ger­man dur­ing and imme­di­ate­ly after World War II. (High­ly inter­est­ing, if unsur­pris­ing, find­ings.) Why the sud­den, steep climb in lan­guage sig­ni­fy­ing depres­sive think­ing? Does it actu­al­ly mark a col­lec­tive shift in mood, or show how his­tor­i­cal­ly oppressed groups have had more access to pub­lish­ing in the past forty years, and have expressed less sat­is­fac­tion with the sta­tus quo?

While they are care­ful to empha­size that they “make no causal claims” in the study, the researchers have some ideas about what’s hap­pened, observ­ing for exam­ple:

The US surge in CDS preva­lence coin­cides with the late 1970s when wages stopped track­ing increas­ing work pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. This trend was asso­ci­at­ed with ris­es in income inequal­i­ty to recent lev­els not seen since the 1930s. This phe­nom­e­non has been observed for most devel­oped economies, includ­ing Ger­many, Spain and Latin Amer­i­ca.

Oth­er fac­tors cit­ed include the devel­op­ment of the World Wide Web and its facil­i­ta­tion of polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion, “in par­tic­u­lar us-vs.-them think­ing… dichoto­mous rea­son­ing,” and oth­er mal­adap­tive thought pat­terns that accom­pa­ny depres­sion. The scale of these devel­op­ments might be enough to explain a major col­lec­tive rise in depres­sion, but one com­menter offers an addi­tion­al gloss:

The globe is *Lit­er­al­ly* on fire, or his­tor­i­cal­ly flood­ing — Mul­ti­ple eco­nom­ic crash­es bare­ly decades apart — a ghost town of a hous­ing mar­ket — a mul­ti-year glob­al pan­dem­ic — wealth con­cen­tra­tion at the .01% lev­el — ter­ri­ble pay/COL equa­tions — block­ing unionization/workers rights — abu­sive mil­i­ta­rized police, with­out the restraint or train­ing of actu­al mil­i­tary —  You can’t afford X for a month­ly mort­gage pay­ment!  Pay 1.5x for rent instead! — end­less wars for the last… 30…years? 50 if we include stuff like Korea, Cold War, Viet­nam… How far has the IMC been milk­ing the gov for funds to make the rich rich­er? Oh, and a bil­lion­aire 3‑way space race to deter­mine who’s got the biggest “rock­et”

These sound like rea­sons for glob­al depres­sion indeed, but the arrow could also go the oth­er way: maybe cat­a­stroph­ic rea­son­ing pro­duced actu­al cat­a­stro­phes; black and white think­ing led to end­less wars, etc…. More study is need­ed, says Bollen and his col­leagues, yet it seems prob­a­ble, giv­en the data, that “large pop­u­la­tions are increas­ing­ly stressed by per­va­sive cul­tur­al, eco­nom­ic, and social changes” — changes occur­ring more rapid­ly, fre­quent­ly, and with greater impact on our dai­ly lives than ever before. Read the full study at PNAS

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Stanford’s Robert Sapol­sky Demys­ti­fies Depres­sion, Which, Like Dia­betes, Is Root­ed in Biol­o­gy

A Uni­fied The­o­ry of Men­tal Ill­ness: How Every­thing from Addic­tion to Depres­sion Can Be Explained by the Con­cept of “Cap­ture”

Charles Bukows­ki Explains How to Beat Depres­sion: Spend 3–4 Days in Bed and You’ll Get the Juices Flow­ing Again (NSFW)

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

Discover the Stettheimer Dollhouse: The 12-Room Dollhouse Featuring Miniature, Original Modernist Art by Marcel Duchamp

The Stet­theimer Doll­house has been wow­ing young New York­ers since it entered the Muse­um of the City of New York’s col­lec­tion in 1944.

The lux­u­ri­ous­ly appoint­ed, two-sto­ry, twelve-room house fea­tures tiny crys­tal chan­de­liers, trompe l’oeil pan­els, an itty bit­ty mah-jongg set, and a deli­cious-look­ing dessert assort­ment that would have dri­ven Beat­rix Potter’s Two Bad Mice wild.

Its most aston­ish­ing fea­ture, how­ev­er, tends to go over its youngest fans’ heads — an art gallery filled with orig­i­nal mod­ernist paint­ings, draw­ings, and sculp­tures by the likes of Mar­cel DuchampGeorge Bel­lowsGas­ton Lachaise, and Mar­guerite Zorach.

The house’s cre­ator, Car­rie Wal­ter Stet­theimer, drew on her family’s close per­son­al ties to the avant-garde art world to secure these con­tri­bu­tions.

The art deal­er Paul Rosen­berg described the affin­i­ty between these artists and the three wealthy Stet­theimer sis­ters, one of whom, Florine, was her­self a mod­ernist painter:

Artists… went there and not at all mere­ly because of the indi­vid­u­al­i­ties of the trio of women and their taste­ful hos­pi­tal­i­ty. They went for the rea­son that they felt them­selves entire­ly at home with the Stetties—so the trio was called—and the Stet­ties seemed to feel them­selves entire­ly at home in their com­pa­ny. Art was an indis­pens­able com­po­nent of the mod­ern, open intel­lec­tu­al life of the place. The sis­ters felt it as a liv­ing issue. Sin­cere­ly they lived it.

Art is def­i­nite­ly part of the dollhouse’s life.

Duchamp recre­at­ed Nude Descend­ing a Stair­case, inscrib­ing the back “Pour la col­lec­tion de la poupée de Car­rie Stet­theimer à l’occasion de sa fête en bon sou­venir. Mar­cel Duchamp 23 juil­let 1918 N.Y.”

Mar­guerite Thomp­son ZorachAlexan­der Archipenko, and Paul Theve­naz also felt no com­punc­tion about fur­nish­ing a doll­house with nudes.

Louis Bouché — the “bad boy of Amer­i­can art” as per the Stet­theimers’ friend, writer and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Carl Van Vecht­en, made a tiny ver­sion of his paint­ing, Mama’s Boy.

Car­rie wrote to Gas­ton Lachaise, to thank him for two minia­ture nude draw­ings and an alabaster Venus:

My dolls and I thank you most sin­cere­ly for the love­ly draw­ings that are to grace their art gallery. I think that the dolls—after they are born, which they are not, yet—ought to be the hap­pi­est and proud­est dolls in the world as own­ers of the draw­ings and the beau­ti­ful stat­ue. I am now hop­ing that they will nev­er be born, so that I can keep them [the art works] for­ev­er in cus­tody, and enjoy them myself, while await­ing their arrival.

Car­rie worked on the doll­house from from 1916 to 1935. Her sis­ter Ettie donat­ed it to the muse­um and took it upon her­self to arrange the art­work. As Johan­na Fate­man writes in 4Columns:

Twen­ty-eight of the artists’ gifts were stored sep­a­rate­ly; Ettie select­ed thir­teen from the col­lec­tion, and her grace­ful arrange­ment became per­ma­nent, though it’s like­ly that the pieces were meant to be shown in rota­tion.

The Muse­um of the City of New York’s cur­rent exhi­bi­tion, The Stet­theimer Doll­house: Up Close, includes pho­tos of the art­works that Ettie did not choose to install.

The works that have always been on view are Mar­cel Duchamp’s Nude Descend­ing a Stair­case, Alexan­der Archipenko’s Nude, Louis Bouche’s Mama’s Boy, Gas­ton Lachaise’s Venus and two nudesCarl Sprinchorn’s Dancers, Albert Gleizes’ Seat­ed Fig­ure and Bermu­da Land­scape, Paul Thevenaz’s L’Ombre and Nude with Flow­ing Hair, Mar­guerite Zorach’s Bather and Bathers, William Zorach’s Moth­er and Child, and a paint­ing of a ship by an unknown artist.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Grue­some Doll­house Death Scenes That Rein­vent­ed Mur­der Inves­ti­ga­tions

A Record Store Designed for Mice in Swe­den, Fea­tur­ing Albums by Mouse Davis, Destiny’s Cheese, Dol­ly Pars­ley & More

An Art Gallery for Ger­bils: Two Quar­an­tined Lon­don­ers Cre­ate a Mini Muse­um Com­plete with Ger­bil-Themed Art

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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