How the 1968 Psychedelic Film Head Destroyed the Monkees & Became a Cult Classic

The 1960s moved very fast. The Bea­t­les start­ed 1963 as four fresh­ly scrubbed mop­tops from Liv­er­pool. By 1968 they were hairy hip­pies dab­bling in drugs and mys­ti­cism. (And writ­ing some of the best music of all time, don’t get me wrong!). Then there were the Mon­kees. Cre­at­ed by Bob Rafel­son and Bert Schnei­der in 1966 as a lov­ing homage to the Bea­t­les 1964–65 Richard Lester films, it too quick­ly changed. By 1968, the show and the band had run its course. There was already no cul­tur­al space for four lov­able…any­things. And while many ele­ments killed the opti­mism and rad­i­cal hope of the 1960s–Vietnam, bad acid, Man­son, Alta­mont–hats off to Head, the cult movie that anni­hi­lat­ed The Mon­kees as a band, the band movie as a con­cept, and the con­cept of light enter­tain­ment as being on the side of the view­er. Obscen­i­ty, who real­ly cares? asked Dylan a few years before. Pro­pa­gan­da, all is pho­ny. That’s Head.

What’s inter­est­ing about the Head sto­ry is try­ing to fig­ure out the moti­va­tions of sev­er­al of the play­ers. The Mon­kees them­selves were tired of being seen as an ersatz band, although by all accounts they were. Rafel­son and com­pa­ny audi­tioned young actors and musi­cians and assem­bled the top four into the band/TV show. Most of the songs were writ­ten by Tin Pan Alley stal­warts like Neil Dia­mond or Car­ole King, or up and com­ing artists like Har­ry Nils­son. By being a fake band for two sea­sons of their show, how­ev­er, the Mon­kees had turned into a real band. But what they were turn­ing into was not the Mon­kees that the teens loved. Who had the appetite for destruc­tion first? The mon­ster? Or the mad sci­en­tists?

Hav­ing con­quered tele­vi­sion and the radio—-the Mon­kees had kept the Bea­t­les and the Stones out of the Num­ber One posi­tion in 1966-—Rafelson sought to con­quer film, and by doing so, offer up a mea cul­pa of sorts: yes, this group was a pre­fab­ri­ca­tion. Yes, we’re going to tear it all down. Inspired by exper­i­men­tal film­mak­ers like Stan Brakhage and Ken­neth Anger, Rafel­son, the band, and up-and-com­ing actor Jack Nichol­son decamped in ear­ly 1968 to a resort motel in Ojai, CA. There they smoked a lot of weed, and record­ed hours of con­ver­sa­tions. Nichol­son and Rafel­son lat­er dosed LSD and fash­ioned the tapes into a script.

Head is con­struct­ed in vignettes, jump­ing thru gen­res like a per­son with an itchy remote con­trol fin­ger. Vin­tage movie clips and crass com­mer­cials inter­rupt the action. The television—-which both sold hap­py pro­pa­gan­da along­side har­row­ing clips from Viet­nam to Amer­i­cans every night—-is not to be trust­ed.

“The band is con­stant­ly being chased, attacked, torn apart, caged, sucked up in a giant vac­u­um and impris­oned in a big black box that reap­pears through­out the movie,” crit­ic Petra May­er wrote in 2018, look­ing back at the cult film. “They can’t escape — not with phi­los­o­phy, not with force. They nev­er escape.”

A year ear­li­er the Bea­t­les had real­ized their own trap, and escaped thru the pos­i­tive mag­ic of Sgt. Pepper’s Lone­ly Hearts Club Band. In 1968, the Mon­kees didn’t get the lux­u­ry. Self-aware­ness and self-destruc­tion con­tin­ues as an occa­sion­al career move by unhap­py pop artists-—Pink Floyd, Prince, Garth Brooks, David Bowie-—but the Mon­kees destroyed them­selves first, and most spec­tac­u­lar­ly. Head cost $750,000 to make, and made $16,000 back.

“Most of our fans could­n’t get in because there was an age restric­tion and the intel­li­gentsia would­n’t go to see it any­way because they hat­ed the Mon­kees,” said Dolenz. Rafel­son and Nichol­son made out okay. They would go on to Easy Rid­er and estab­lish their film careers. The Mon­kees? Not as much.

Sur­pris­ing­ly, the one Mon­kee who spoke well of the film’s cult lega­cy was their most crit­i­cal mem­ber, Michael Nesmith.

“It has a life that comes from lit­er­a­ture,” he told inter­view­er Doug Gor­don. “It has a life that comes from fic­tion. It has a life that comes from fan­ta­sy and the deep troves of mak­ing up sto­ries and nar­ra­tive. But it was telling a nar­ra­tive, but the nar­ra­tive that it was telling was very, very dif­fer­ent than the one the tele­vi­sion show was.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Frank Zap­pa Play Michael Nesmith (RIP) on The Monkees–and Vice Ver­sa (1967)

Jimi Hen­drix Opens for The Mon­kees on a 1967 Tour; Then After 8 Shows, Flips Off the Crowd and Quits

Watch the Last Time Peter Tork (RIP) & The Mon­kees Played Togeth­er Dur­ing Their 1960s Hey­day: It’s a Psy­che­del­ic Freak­out

How a Fake Car­toon Band Made “Sug­ar Sug­ar” the Biggest Sell­ing Hit Sin­gle of 1969

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.

“When The Levee Breaks” Performed by John Paul Jones & Musicians Around the World

From Play­ing for Change comes this: “When The Lev­ee Breaks is a pow­er­ful, thought-pro­vok­ing and emo­tion­al­ly-charged clas­sic by Led Zep­pelin, from their Led Zep­pelin IV album. The song is a rework of the 1929 release by Kansas Joe McCoy and Mem­phis Min­nie about the Great Mis­sis­sip­pi Flood of 1927; the most destruc­tive riv­er flood­ing in U.S. his­to­ry.” In the accom­pa­ny­ing video above, we can see pow­er­ful scenes from the Kat­ri­na Flood of 2005–and Jones get­ting accom­pa­nied by “Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addic­tion, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and over 20 musi­cians and dancers from sev­en dif­fer­ent coun­tries.”

Find more Play­ing for Change per­for­mances in the Relat­eds below.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

“Stand By Me” Sung By Musi­cians Around the World

The Grate­ful Dead’s “Rip­ple” Played By Musi­cians Around the World (with Cameos by David Cros­by, Jim­my Buf­fett & Bill Kreutz­mann)

Musi­cians Around the World Play The Band’s Clas­sic Song, “The Weight,” with Help from Rob­bie Robert­son and Ringo Starr

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How to Actually Cook Salvador Dali’s Surrealist Recipes: Crayfish, Prawns, and Spitted Eggs

The sen­su­al intel­li­gence housed in the taber­na­cle of my palate beck­ons me to pay the great­est atten­tion to food. — Sal­vador Dali

Look­ing for an easy, low-cost recipe for a quick week­night sup­per?

Sal­vador Dali’s Bush of Cray­fish in Viking Herb is not that recipe.

It’s pre­sen­ta­tion may be Sur­re­al, but it’s not an entire­ly unre­al­is­tic thing to pre­pare as The Art Assign­men­t’s Sarah Urist Green dis­cov­ers, above.

The recipe, pub­lished in Les Din­ers de Gala, Dali’s over-the-top cult cook­ery book from 1973, has pedi­gree.

Dali got it off a chef at Paris’ fabled Tour d’Argent, who lat­er had sec­ond thoughts about giv­ing away trade secrets, and balked at shar­ing exact mea­sure­ments for the dish:

Bush of Craw­fish in Viking Herbs

In order to real­ize this dish, it is nec­es­sary to have craw­fish of 2 ounces each. Pre­pare the fol­low­ing ingre­di­ents for a broth: ‘fumet’ (scent­ed reduced bul­lion) of fish, of con­som­mé, of white wine, Ver­mouth, Cognac, salt, pep­per, sug­ar and dill (aro­mat­ic herb). Poach the craw­fish in this broth for 20 min­utes. Let it cool for 24 hours and arrange the craw­fish in a dome. Strain the broth and serve in cups.

Green, the Indi­anapo­lis Muse­um of Art’s for­mer cura­tor of con­tem­po­rary art, sol­diers ahead with  a Sty­ro­foam top­i­ary cone and a box­ful of Fed-Ex’ed Louisiana cray­fish, mask­ing their demise with insets of Dali works such as 1929’s Some­times I Spit with Plea­sure on the Por­trait of my Moth­er (The Sacred Heart).

Green, well aware that some view­ers may have trou­ble with the “bru­tal real­i­ties” of cook­ing live crus­taceans, namechecks Con­sid­er the Lob­ster, the heav­i­ly foot­not­ed essay where­in author David Fos­ter Wal­lace rumi­nates over ethics at the Maine Lob­ster Fes­ti­val.

Green may seek repen­tance for the sin of poach­ing lob­sters’ fresh­wa­ter cousins, but Dali, who blamed his sex-relat­ed guilt on his Catholic upbring­ing, was uncon­flict­ed about enjoy­ing the “deli­cious lit­tle mar­tyrs”:

If I hate that detestable degrad­ing veg­etable called spinach, it is because it is shape­less, like Lib­er­ty. I attribute cap­i­tal esthet­ic and moral val­ues to food in gen­er­al, and to spinach in par­tic­u­lar. The oppo­site of shape­less spinach, is armor. I love eat­ing suits of arms, in fact I love all shell fish… food that only a bat­tle to peel makes it vul­ner­a­ble to the con­quest of our palate.

If your scru­ples, sched­ule or sav­ings keep you from attempt­ing Dal­i’s Sur­re­al shell­fish tow­er, you might try enliven­ing a less aspi­ra­tional dish with Green’s whole­some, home­made fish stock:

Devin Lytle and Jared Nunn, test dri­ving Dali’s Cas­sano­va cock­tail and Eggs on a Spit for His­to­ry Bites on Buz­zfeed’s Tasty chan­nel, seem less sure­foot­ed than Green in both the kitchen and the realm of art his­to­ry, but they’re total­ly down to spec­u­late as to whether or not Dali and his wife, Gala, had a “healthy rela­tion­ship.”

If you can stom­ach their snarky, self-ref­er­en­tial asides, you might get a bang out of hear­ing them dish on Dali’s revul­sion at being touched, Gala’s alleged pen­chant for bed­ding younger artists, and their high­ly uncon­ven­tion­al mar­riage.

Despite some squea­mish­ness about the eggs’ vis­cous­ness and some reser­va­tions about the sur­re­al amount of but­ter required, Lytle and Nun­n’s reac­tion upon tast­ing their Dali recre­ation sug­gest that it was worth the effort:

Cas­sano­va cock­tail

• The juice of 1 orange
• 1 table­spoon bit­ters (Cam­pari)
• 1 tea­spoon gin­ger
• 4 table­spoons brandy
• 2 table­spoons old brandy (Vielle Cure)
• 1 pinch Cayenne pep­per

This is quite appro­pri­ate when cir­cum­stances such as exhaus­tion, over­work or sim­ply excess of sobri­ety are call­ing for a pick-me-up.

Here is a well-test­ed recipe to fit the bill.

Let us stress anoth­er advan­tage of this par­tic­u­lar pep-up con­coc­tion is that one doesn’t have to make the sour face that usu­al­ly accom­pa­nies the absorp­tion of a rem­e­dy.

At the bot­tom of a glass, com­bine pep­per and gin­ger. Pour the bit­ters on top, then brandy and “Vielle Cure.” Refrig­er­ate or even put in the freez­er.

Thir­ty min­utes lat­er, remove from the freez­er and stir the juice of the orange into the chilled glass.

Drink… and wait for the effect. 

It is rather speedy.

Your best bet for prepar­ing Eggs on a Spit, which Lytle com­pares to “an her­by, scram­bled frit­ta­ta that looks like a brain”, are con­tained in artist Rosan­na Shal­loe’s mod­ern adap­tion.

What would you do if you dis­cov­ered an orig­i­nal, auto­graphed copy of Les Din­ers de Gala in the attic of your new home?

A young man named Bran­don takes it to Rick Harrison’s Gold & Sil­ver Pawn Shop, hop­ing it will fetch $2500.

Har­ri­son, star of the His­to­ry Channel’s Pawn Stars, gives Bran­don a quick primer on the Per­sis­tence of Mem­o­ry, Dali’s famous “melt­ing clocks” paint­ing (fail­ing to men­tion that the artist insist­ed the clocks should be inter­pret­ed as “the Camem­bert of time.”)

Bran­don walks with some­thing less than the hoped for sum, and Har­ri­son takes the book home to attempt some of the dish­es. (Not, how­ev­er, Bush of Cray­fish in Viking Herb, which he declares, “a lit­tle creepy, even for Dali.”)

Alas, his younger rel­a­tives are wary of Oasis Leek Pie’s star ingre­di­ent and refuse to enter­tain a sin­gle mouth­ful of whole fish, baked with guts and eyes.

They’re not alone. The below news­reel sug­gests that come­di­an Bob Hope had some reser­va­tions about Dalin­ian Gas­tro Esthet­ics, too.

We intend to ignore those charts and tables in which chem­istry takes the place of gas­tron­o­my. If you are a dis­ci­ple of one of those calo­rie-coun­ters who turn the joys of eat­ing into a form of pun­ish­ment, close this book at once; it is too live­ly, too aggres­sive, and far too imper­ti­nent for you. — Sal­vador Dali

You can pur­chase a copy of Taschen’s recent reis­sue of Les Din­ers de Gala online

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Sal­vador Dalí’s 1973 Cook­book Gets Reis­sued: Sur­re­al­ist Art Meets Haute Cui­sine

What Makes Sal­vador Dalí’s Icon­ic Sur­re­al­ist Paint­ing “The Per­sis­tence of Mem­o­ry” a Great Work of Art

Walk Inside a Sur­re­al­ist Sal­vador Dalí Paint­ing with This 360º Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty Video

The Most Com­plete Col­lec­tion of Sal­vador Dalí’s Paint­ings Pub­lished in a Beau­ti­ful New Book by Taschen: Includes Nev­er-Seen-Before Works

Sal­vador Dalí’s Tarot Cards, Cook­book & Wine Guide Re-Issued as Beau­ti­ful Art Books

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

How Quentin Tarantino Remixes History: A Brief Study of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

For more than two hours, Quentin Taran­ti­no’s Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood builds up to the Man­son mur­ders. Or rather, it seems to be build­ing up to the Man­son mur­ders, but then takes a sharp turn on Cielo Dri­ve; when the cred­its roll, the real-life killers are dead and the real-life vic­tims alive. Such revi­sion­ist revenge is of a piece with oth­er recent Taran­ti­no pic­tures like Inglou­ri­ous Bas­ter­ds, which ends with the mas­sacre of Hitler and Goebbels, among oth­er Nazis, and Djan­go Unchained, where­in the tit­u­lar slave lays waste to the house of the mas­ter. Long well known for bor­row­ing from oth­er movies, Taran­ti­no seems to have found just as rich a source of mate­r­i­al in his­to­ry books.

Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood “cre­ates a new sto­ry using exist­ing char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions, and many of them just hap­pen to be real.” So says Kir­by Fer­gu­son in the video essay above, “Taran­ti­no’s Copy­ing: Then Vs. Now.” The film’s large cast of sec­ondary char­ac­ters includes such 1960s celebri­ties as Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee, as well as count­less oth­er fig­ures rec­og­niz­able main­ly to the direc­tor’s fel­low pop-cul­ture obses­sives.

Also por­trayed is Charles Man­son and the ragged young mem­bers of the “Man­son Fam­i­ly” recruit­ed to do his bid­ding, as well as are their intend­ed vic­tims of the night of August 8, 1969, most promi­nent­ly the actress Sharon Tate. It is she, Fer­gu­son argues, who ties togeth­er Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood’s var­i­ous threads of fact and fic­tion.

Leonar­do DiCapri­o’s washed-up actor Rick Dal­ton and Brad Pit­t’s black­list­ed stunt­man Cliff Booth, the film’s main char­ac­ters, are whol­ly Taran­tin­ian cre­ations. 26 years old and preg­nant with the child of her hus­band Roman Polan­s­ki (a ver­sion of whom also shows up in one scene), the ris­ing Tate shares a méti­er with Dal­ton, and when the Man­son fam­i­ly come for her in the film, they end up face-to-face with Booth (much to their mis­for­tune), “but unlike both of them, she is a real per­son, and what is depict­ed of her is, broad­ly speak­ing, true.” Using these char­ac­ters real and imag­ined, Taran­ti­no “takes a dark, fright­en­ing, and just crush­ing­ly sad real­i­ty and gives it a hap­py end­ing with bru­tal ret­ri­bu­tion.” For all the post­mod­ern bor­row­ing and shuf­fled sto­ry­telling that launched him into Hol­ly­wood, the man knows how to give audi­ences just what they want — and some­how to sur­prise them even as he does it.

Relat­ed con­tent:

A Deep Study of the Open­ing Scene of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglou­ri­ous Bas­ter­ds

How Quentin Taran­ti­no Steals from Oth­er Movies: A Video Essay

Quentin Tarantino’s Copy­cat Cin­e­ma: How the Post­mod­ern Film­mak­er Per­fect­ed the Art of the Steal

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hol­ly­wood Exam­ined on Pret­ty Much Pop #12

Quentin Taran­ti­no Releas­es His First Nov­el: A Pulpy Nov­el­iza­tion of Once Upon a Time… in Hol­ly­wood

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.

The Enduring Appeal of Schulz’s Peanuts — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #116

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Animator/musician David Heat­ley, come­di­an Daniel Lobell, and academic/3anuts author Daniel Leonard join your Pret­ty Much Pop host Mark Lin­sen­may­er to dis­cuss Char­lie Brown and his author Charles Schulz from Peanuts’ 1950 incep­tion through the clas­sic TV spe­cials through to the var­i­ous post-mortem prod­ucts still emerg­ing.

What’s the endur­ing appeal, and is it strict­ly for kids? We talk about the chal­lenges of the strip for­mat, the char­ac­ters as arche­types, Schulz as depressed exis­ten­tial­ist, reli­gion in Peanuts, and whether the strip is actu­al­ly sup­posed to be fun­ny.

Some arti­cles we used for the dis­cus­sion include:

Also, RIP Peter Rob­bins (the day before we record­ed this). Here’s the 1982 Rerun com­ic Daniel Leonard reads us near the begin­ning. The biog­ra­phy that we keep refer­ring to is David Michaelis’ Schulz and Peanuts: A Biog­ra­phy. Yes, Don­di was a real (bad) com­ic strip.

Check out David’s new album and oth­er projects at davidheatley.com. Fol­low him @heatleycomics on Twit­ter and @davidheatley on Inst­gram.

Get Daniel Lobel­l’s Fair Enough com­ic at fairenoughcomic.com and read about the rest of his activ­i­ties at dannylobell.com. Fol­low him @DanielLobell on Twit­ter and @daniellobell on Insta­gram.

Read Daniel Leonard’s 3anuts, and buy Peanuts and Phi­los­o­phy, which con­tains one of his essays. Fol­low on Twit­ter @3anuts.

Here’s a 3eanuts exam­ple. Leav­ing off the last pan­el leaves us in despair!

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

3,200-Year-Old Egyptian Tablet Records Excuses for Why People Missed Work: “The Scorpion Bit Him,” “Brewing Beer” & More

Image via The British Muse­um 

We mar­vel today at what we con­sid­er the won­ders of ancient Egypt, but at some point, they all had to have been built by peo­ple more or less like our­selves. (This pre­sumes, of course, that you’ve ruled out all the myr­i­ad the­o­ries involv­ing super­nat­ur­al beings or aliens from out­er space.) Safe to say that, when­ev­er in human his­to­ry work has been done, work has been skipped, espe­cial­ly when that work is per­formed by large groups. It would’ve tak­en great num­bers indeed to build the pyra­mids, but even less colos­sal­ly scaled tombs could­n’t have been built alone. And when a tomb-builder took the day off, he need­ed an excuse suit­able to be writ­ten in stone — on at any rate, on stone.

“Ancient Egypt­ian employ­ers kept track of employ­ee days off in reg­is­ters writ­ten on tablets,” writes Madeleine Muz­dakis at My Mod­ern Met. One such arti­fact “held by the British Muse­um and dat­ing to 1250 BCE is an incred­i­ble win­dow into ancient work-life bal­ance.” Called ostra­ca, these tablets were made of “flakes of lime­stone that were used as ‘notepads’ for pri­vate let­ters, laun­dry lists, records of pur­chas­es, and copies of lit­er­ary works,” accord­ing to Egyp­tol­o­gist Jen­nifer Bab­cock.

Dis­cov­ered along with thou­sands of oth­ers in the tomb builder’s vil­lage of Deir el-Med­i­na, this par­tic­u­lar ostra­con, on view at the British Muse­um’s web site, offers a rich glimpse into the lives of that trade’s prac­ti­tion­ers. Over the 280-day peri­od cov­ered by this 3,200-year-old ostra­con, com­mon excus­es for absence include “brew­ing beer” and “his wife was bleed­ing.”

Beer, Muz­dakis explains, “was a dai­ly for­ti­fy­ing drink in Egypt and was even asso­ci­at­ed with gods such as Hathor. As such, brew­ing beer was a very impor­tant activ­i­ty.” And alarm­ing though that “bleed­ing” may sound, the ref­er­ence is to men­stru­a­tion: “Clear­ly men were need­ed on the home front to pick up some slack dur­ing this time. While one’s wife men­stru­at­ing is not an excuse one hears nowa­days, cer­tain­ly the ancients seem to have had a sim­i­lar work-life jug­gling act to per­form.” Most of us today pre­sum­ably have it eas­i­er than did the aver­age ancient Egypt­ian labor­er, or even arti­san. Depend­ing on where you live, maybe you, too, could call in sick to work with the excuse of hav­ing been bit­ten by a scor­pi­on. But how well would it fly if you were to plead the need to feast, to embalm your broth­er, or to make an offer­ing to a god?

via My Mod­ern Met

Relat­ed con­tent:

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

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

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

A 3,000-Year-Old Painter’s Palette from Ancient Egypt, with Traces of the Orig­i­nal Col­ors Still In It

The Turin Erot­ic Papyrus: The Old­est Known Depic­tion of Human Sex­u­al­i­ty (Cir­ca 1150 B.C.E.)

Won­ders of Ancient Egypt: A Free Online Course from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia

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.

Watch “Pass the Ball,” a Collaborative Animation Made by 40 Animators Across the Globe

Over 40 months, 40 ani­ma­tors con­tributed to mak­ing a short ani­ma­tion. The process went some­thing like this: An ani­ma­tor cre­at­ed a three sec­ond seg­ment, then passed it to anoth­er ani­ma­tor in a dif­fer­ent coun­try. Then, that next ani­ma­tor made a new con­tri­bu­tion, inch­ing things for­ward.

Above you can watch the final prod­uct. It’s the brain­child of Nathan Boey. Enjoy.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via The Kids Should See This

Jane Austen Used Pins to Edit Her Manuscripts: Before the Word Processor & Wite-Out

Before the word proces­sor, before White-Out, before Post It Notes, there were straight pins. Or, at least that’s what Jane Austen used to make edits in one of her rare man­u­scripts. In 2011, Oxford’s Bodleian Library acquired the man­u­script of Austen’s aban­doned nov­el, The Wat­sons. In announc­ing the acqui­si­tion, the Bodleian wrote:

The Wat­sons is Jane Austen’s first extant draft of a nov­el in process of devel­op­ment and one of the ear­li­est exam­ples of an Eng­lish nov­el to sur­vive in its for­ma­tive state. Only sev­en man­u­scripts of fic­tion by Austen are known to sur­vive. The Wat­sons man­u­script is exten­sive­ly revised and cor­rect­ed through­out, with cross­ings out and inter­lin­ear addi­tions.

Janeausten.ac.uk (the web site where Austen’s man­u­scripts have been dig­i­tized) takes a deep­er dive into the curi­ous qual­i­ty of The Wat­sons man­u­script, not­ing:

The man­u­script is writ­ten and cor­rect­ed through­out in brown iron-gall ink. The pages are filled in a neat, even hand with signs of con­cur­rent writ­ing, era­sure, and revi­sion, inter­rupt­ed by occa­sion­al pas­sages of heavy inter­lin­ear cor­rec­tion.… The man­u­script is with­out chap­ter divi­sions, though not with­out infor­mal divi­sion by wider spac­ing and ruled lines. The full pages sug­gest that Jane Austen did not antic­i­pate a pro­tract­ed process of redraft­ing. With no cal­cu­lat­ed blank spaces and no obvi­ous way of incor­po­rat­ing large revi­sion or expan­sion she had to find oth­er strate­gies – the three patch­es, small pieces of paper, each of which was filled close­ly and neat­ly with the new mate­r­i­al, attached with straight pins to the pre­cise spot where erased mate­r­i­al was to be cov­ered or where an inser­tion was required to expand the text.

Accord­ing to Christo­pher Fletch­er, Keep­er of Spe­cial Col­lec­tions at the Bodleian Library, this prick­ly method of edit­ing was­n’t exact­ly new. Archivists at the library can trace pins being used as edit­ing tools back to 1617.

You can find The Wat­sons online here:

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

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Did Jane Austen Real­ly Look Like? New Wax Sculp­ture, Cre­at­ed by Foren­sic Spe­cial­ists, Shows Us

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Jane Austen’s Library

The Jane Austen Fic­tion Man­u­script Archive Is Online: Explore Hand­writ­ten Drafts of Per­sua­sion, The Wat­sons & More

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s Music Col­lec­tion, Now Dig­i­tized and Avail­able Online

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.