Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: An Animated Video Explaining Key Ideas in Ray Dalio’s New Bestselling Book

Over the past five years, Ray Dalio, one of Amer­i­ca’s most suc­cess­ful investors, has pub­lished a series of books, each meant to impart wis­dom to a younger gen­er­a­tion. The first book, Prin­ci­ples: Life and Work, shared the uncon­ven­tion­al prin­ci­ples that have guid­ed his life and career. It became a best­seller, sell­ing well over one mil­lion copies. Next came Big Debt Crises, a study of finan­cial crises and how nations nav­i­gate them. Final­ly, he has just pub­lished his lat­est best­seller, Prin­ci­ples for Deal­ing with the Chang­ing World: Why Nations Suc­ceed and Fail. A his­to­ry of the rise and fall of empires over the last 500 years, the book uses the past to con­tem­plate the future, par­tic­u­lar­ly the fate of the Unit­ed States and Chi­na. As was the case with Prin­ci­ples, Dalio has pro­duced an ani­mat­ed video that explains key ideas in the book. Released in ear­ly March, the video has already been viewed 8.6 mil­lion times. Watch it above, and con­sid­er pair­ing it with his oth­er ani­mat­ed video, How the Eco­nom­ic Machine Works.

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Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Prin­ci­ples for Suc­cess by Entre­pre­neur & Investor Ray Dalio: A 30-Minute Ani­mat­ed Primer

Eco­nom­ics 101: Hedge Fund Investor Ray Dalio Explains How the Econ­o­my Works in a 30-Minute Ani­mat­ed Video

Ray Dalio & Adam Grant Launch Free Online Per­son­al­i­ty Assess­ment to Help You Under­stand Your­self (and Oth­ers Under­stand You)

A Gallery of Fantastical Alchemical Drawings

I once had to tell a ten-year-old that the Har­ry Pot­ter book series was not a his­tor­i­cal lit­er­ary clas­sic but a recent pub­lish­ing phe­nom­e­non that occurred in my life­time. She was amazed, but she was­n’t sil­ly for think­ing that the books might date from a far­away past. They do, after all, make fre­quent ref­er­ence to fig­ures from cen­turies when alche­my flour­ished in Europe, and magi­cians like Paracel­sus and Nicholas Flamel (both of whom appear in Pot­ter books and spin-offs) plied their soli­tary craft, such as it was. Should we call it mag­ic, ear­ly sci­ence, occult reli­gion, out­sider art, or some admix­ture of the above?

We can call it “black mag­ic,” but the term was not, as the Chris­tians thought, a ref­er­ence to the dev­il, but to the soil of the Nile. “Derived from the Ara­bic root ‘kimia,’” writes the Pub­lic Domain Review, “from the Cop­tic ‘khem’ (refer­ring to the fer­tile black soil of the Nile delta), the word ‘alche­my’ alludes to the dark mys­tery of the pri­mor­dial or First Mat­ter (the Khem).”

Find­ing this first sub­stance con­sti­tutes “the alchemist’s cen­tral goal – along with the dis­cov­ery of the Stone of Knowl­edge (The Philosopher’s Stone) and the key to Eter­nal Youth.”

In the descrip­tion above, we can see the roots of Rowling’s fic­tions and the ori­gins of many a world-shap­ing mod­ern myth. Alchemists study and change mat­ter to pro­duce cer­tain effects – just as ear­ly sci­en­tists did – and it may sur­prise us to learn just how fer­vent­ly some well-known ear­ly sci­en­tists, most espe­cial­ly Isaac New­ton, pur­sued the alchem­i­cal course. But the essence of alche­my was imag­i­na­tion, and the artists who depict­ed alchem­i­cal rit­u­als, mag­i­cal crea­tures, mys­ti­cal sym­bols, etc. had no short­age of it, as we see in the images here, drawn from Well­come Images and the Man­ley Palmer Hall col­lec­tion at the Inter­net Archive.

The images are strange, sur­re­al, cryp­tic, and seem to ref­er­ence no known real­i­ty. They are the inspi­ra­tion for cen­turies of occult art and eso­teric lit­er­a­ture. But each one also had prac­ti­cal intent — to illus­trate mys­te­ri­ous, often secre­tive process­es for dis­cov­er­ing the foun­da­tions of the uni­verse, and prof­it­ing from them. If these tech­niques look noth­ing like our mod­ern meth­ods for doing the same, that’s for good rea­son, but it does­n’t mean that alche­my has noth­ing to do with sci­ence. It is, rather, sci­ence’s weird dis­tant ances­tor. See more alchem­i­cal images at the Pub­lic Domain Review.

via Pub­lic Domain Review

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How the Bril­liant Col­ors of Medieval Illu­mi­nat­ed Man­u­scripts Were Made with Alche­my

Videos Recre­ate Isaac Newton’s Neat Alche­my Exper­i­ments: Watch Sil­ver Get Turned Into Gold

Isaac Newton’s Recipe for the Myth­i­cal ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ Is Being Dig­i­tized & Put Online (Along with His Oth­er Alche­my Man­u­scripts)

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

How To Build a 13th-Century Castle, Using Only Authentic Medieval Tools & Techniques

It’s the rare Eng­lish­man who will read­i­ly defer to a French­man — except, of course, in the field of cas­tle-build­ing. This was true after the Nor­man Con­quest of 1066, which intro­duced French cas­tles to Britain, and it remains so today, espe­cial­ly under the demands of peri­od accu­ra­cy. In order to learn first-hand just what mate­ri­als and tech­ni­cal skills went into those might­i­est struc­tures of the Mid­dle Ages, the BBC Two series Secrets of the Cas­tle had to go all the way to Bur­gundy. There Château de Guéde­lon has been under con­struc­tion for the past 25 years, with its builders adher­ing as close­ly as pos­si­ble to the way they would have done the job back in the thir­teenth cen­tu­ry, the “gold­en age of cas­tle-build­ing.”

Host­ed by his­to­ri­an Ruth Good­man along with archae­ol­o­gists Peter Ginn and Tom Pin­fold, Secrets of the Cas­tle com­pris­es five episodes that cov­er a vari­ety of aspects of the medieval cas­tle: its tools, its defense, its archi­tec­ture, its stone­ma­son­ry, and its con­nec­tions to the rest of the world.

The work of “exper­i­men­tal archae­ol­o­gy” that is Guéde­lon demands mas­tery of near­ly mil­len­nia-old build­ing meth­ods, the sim­ple inge­nious­ness of some of which remains impres­sive today. So, in our increas­ing­ly dis­em­bod­ied age, does their sheer phys­i­cal­i­ty of it all: apart from the hors­es cart­ing stone in from the quar­ry (itself a strong deter­mi­nant in the sit­ing of a cas­tle), every­thing was accom­plished with sheer human mus­cle.

Much of that man­pow­er was lever­aged with machines, often elab­o­rate and some­times amus­ing: take, for exam­ple, the pair of human-sized ham­ster wheels in which Gill and Pin­fold run in order to oper­ate a crane. Such a hard day’s work can only be fueled by a hearty meal, and so Good­man learns how to cook a sim­ple veg­etable stew. Same with how to clean and indeed craft the cook­ing pots need­ed to do so. For a cas­tle was­n’t just a for­ti­fied sym­bol of a king­dom’s strength, but a place where all man­ner of life went on, as well as a stone embod­i­ment of human knowl­edge in the Mid­dle Ages. Secrets of the Cas­tle orig­i­nal­ly aired in 2014, and since then a great deal more peri­od-accu­rate work has gone into Guéde­lon. Sched­uled for com­ple­tion next year, the cas­tle will pre­sum­ably — as long as the skills of its builders prove equal to those of their fore­bears — still be stand­ing in the 29th cen­tu­ry.

Relat­ed con­tent:

A Vir­tu­al Time-Lapse Recre­ation of the Build­ing of Notre Dame (1160)

An Ani­mat­ed Video Shows the Build­ing of a Medieval Bridge: 45 Years of Con­struc­tion in 3 Min­utes

What Did Peo­ple Eat in Medieval Times? A Video Series and New Cook­book Explain

A 13th-Cen­tu­ry Cook­book Fea­tur­ing 475 Recipes from Moor­ish Spain Gets Pub­lished in a New Trans­lat­ed Edi­tion

How Women Got Dressed in the 14th & 18th Cen­turies: Watch the Very Painstak­ing Process Get Cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly Recre­at­ed

A is for Archi­tec­ture: 1960 Doc­u­men­tary on Why We Build, from the Ancient Greeks to Mod­ern Times

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.

Exploring the Greatest of Italy’s 6,000 Ghost Towns: Take a Tour of Craco, Italy

When Amer­i­cans think of ghost towns, we think tum­ble­weeds and crum­bling Old West saloons. These aban­doned set­tle­ments are mere babies com­pared to Italy’s ancient necrop­olis­es. We know, of course, the famous dead cities and towns of antiq­ui­ty – Pom­peii, the ruins of Rome, etcetera. Such famous sites are only the most obvi­ous haunt­ed ruins on any itin­er­ary through the ven­er­a­ble boot-shaped coun­try. Can they be con­sid­ered ghost towns? The first fell prey to a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter that encased its res­i­dents in ash before they had the time to leave; the sec­ond thrives as the eighth-most pop­u­lous city in Europe. It may be full of ghosts, but it’s hard to catch them in the throngs, traf­fic, and noise.

That said, there are no short­age of towns that fit the bill. Italy con­tains “more than 6,000 aban­doned vil­lages,” the video above explains, and “accord­ing to con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mates, anoth­er 15,000 have lost more than 95 per­cent of their res­i­dents.” That’s an awful lot of aban­don­ment. In the video tour above, we get to explore the “Cap­i­tal of all Ghost Towns,” Cra­co, a tow­er­ing vil­lage on the high cliffs of a region known as Basil­i­ca­ta in South­ern Italy, nes­tled in the instep of the boot. Found­ed in the 8th cen­tu­ry AD by Greek set­tlers, the vil­lage sur­vived Black Plague, “bands of maraud­ing thieves,” writes Atlas Obscu­ra, and the usu­al polit­i­cal insta­bil­i­ty and internecine con­flict of Ital­ian towns, duchies, city states, etc. before the coun­try’s 19th cen­tu­ry uni­fi­ca­tion. In the end, “a land­slide final­ly forced res­i­dents from Cra­co in 1991.”

The very loca­tion that kept the town safe for cen­turies from those who would sack it also exposed it to the ele­ments. “Once a monas­tic cen­ter, a feu­dal town and cen­ter of edu­ca­tion with a uni­ver­si­ty, cas­tle, church, and plazas,” Ancient Ori­gins writes, Cra­co has now become a des­ti­na­tion for adven­tur­ers and a set for sev­er­al films, “includ­ing Sav­ing Grace, James Bond’s Quan­tum of Solace and the hang­ing of Judas scene in Mel Gib­son’s The Pas­sion of the Christ.” Charm­ing, no? While such towns are hard­ly found in the usu­al his­to­ry text or guide­book, ancient Ital­ian ghost towns and aban­doned cas­tles have inspired actu­al ghost sto­ries for hun­dreds of years and are the very ori­gin of the goth­ic as a lit­er­ary genre, via Horace Walpole’s haunt­ed cas­tle nov­el, The Cas­tle of Otran­to.

Wal­pole might just as well have writ­ten about the cas­tle of Cra­co, which you can explore above with Mar­co, Till, Tobi, and Sam, hosts and pro­duc­ers of Aban­doned Italy, a web series devot­ed to exact­ly that. In sev­er­al sea­sons online, they trav­el to oth­er ghost­ly towns, vil­lages, and islands, ask­ing ques­tions like, “what if humans go extinct?” Answer­ing that one is a bit like pon­der­ing the tree-falling-in-the-for­est ques­tion. If no one’s there to see it.… ?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Data Visu­al­iza­tion of Every Ital­ian City & Town Found­ed in the BC Era

High-Res­o­lu­tion Walk­ing Tours of Italy’s Most His­toric Places: The Colos­se­um, Pom­peii, St. Peter’s Basil­i­ca & More

The Chang­ing Land­scape of Ancient Rome: A Free Online Course from Sapien­za Uni­ver­si­ty of Rome 

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

How Previous Decades Predicted the Future: The 21st Century as Imagined in the 1900s, 1950s, 1980s, and Other Eras

All of us alive today per­ceive recent his­to­ry as a series of decades. There exists, as far as we know, no qual­i­ty of real­i­ty dic­tat­ing that every­thing must rec­og­niz­ably change every ten years. But through­out the 21st cen­tu­ry, it seems to have been thus: even if we weren’t alive at the time, we can tell at a glance the cul­tur­al arti­facts of the nine­teen-thir­ties from the nine­teen-for­ties, for exam­ple, or those of the nine­teen-eight­ies from the nine­teen-nineties. Each decade has its own dis­tinct fash­ions, which arose from its dis­tinct world­view; that world­view arose from a vision of the future; and that vision of the future arose from changes in tech­nol­o­gy.

Back in the nine­teen-tens, says his­to­ry Youtu­ber Hochela­ga in the video above, “the inven­tion of the first air­plane opened mas­sive poten­tial in trans­porta­tion, and sparked the imag­i­na­tion of the pub­lic.” The devel­op­ment of avi­a­tion encour­aged pre­dic­tions that one day “the world would go air­borne; peo­ple would take to the skies in their very own per­son­al air­ships and glid­ers.” Pop­u­lar artists dreamed of  a kind of “steam­punk genre: a future vision and aes­thet­ic, but stuck in vic­to­ri­an tech­nolo­gies like steam pow­er and indus­tri­al machin­ery, as well as gog­gles and top hats.” By the twen­ties, this opti­mistic vision would be dis­placed by dark­er but more styl­ish ones, such as the Art-Deco dystopia of Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis.

It was the nine­teen-fifties, specif­i­cal­ly the tri­umphant and abun­dant Amer­i­can nine­teen-fifties, that intro­duced the idea that “the future will be one of con­ve­nience and lux­u­ry.” As the Space Race pro­gressed, this notion­al world of pic­ture-phones and fly­ing cars evolved into the one of inter­stel­lar free­ways, robot maids, and Goo­gie archi­tec­ture exem­pli­fied by The Jet­sons. But as far as per­son­al tech­nol­o­gy was con­cerned, the real world had seen noth­ing yet. The rapid pop­u­lar­iza­tion of the per­son­al com­put­er in the eight­ies brought with it a vast expan­sion of ideas of what com­put­ers could do. Accord­ing to the Ter­mi­na­tor films, we were sup­posed to have an arti­fi­cial­ly intel­li­gent defense net­work that attained self-aware­ness by 1997 — though our hav­ing blown past the dead­line is prob­a­bly for the best.

Here in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry — an impos­si­bly dis­tant future in most of the decades dis­cussed here — very few ele­ments of these futures have been ful­ly real­ized. For that mat­ter, few of the tech­nolo­gies we actu­al­ly do use in our every­day lives were accu­rate­ly pre­dict­ed in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. (Imag­ine how social media would have looked on a col­or post­card from 1915.) “Each present moment imag­ines a future with them­selves clear­ly in it, tak­ing advan­tage of the newest tech­nol­o­gy of the day to its fur­thest lim­its,” says Hochela­ga. In oth­er words, each of these decades regards the future as an extreme ver­sion of itself. In this view, how many of us today think of the future as dull, grim, and even nonex­is­tent tells us noth­ing about what will actu­al­ly hap­pen in decades ahead. It does, how­ev­er, tell us a great deal about the twen­ty-twen­ties.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Jules Verne Accu­rate­ly Pre­dicts What the 20th Cen­tu­ry Will Look Like in His Lost Nov­el, Paris in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry (1863)

How French Artists in 1899 Envi­sioned Life in the Year 2000: Draw­ing the Future

In 1900, Ladies’ Home Jour­nal Pub­lish­es 28 Pre­dic­tions for the Year 2000

1930s Fash­ion Design­ers Pre­dict How Peo­ple Would Dress in the Year 2000

Arthur C. Clarke Pre­dicts the Future in 1964 … and Kind of Nails It

Wal­ter Cronkite Imag­ines the Home of the 21st Cen­tu­ry … Back in 1967

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.

Francis Ford Coppola Breaks Down His Most Iconic Films: The Godfather, Apocalypse Now & More

Fifty years after its the­atri­cal release, The God­fa­ther remains a sub­ject of live­ly cinephile con­ver­sa­tion. What, as any of us might ask after a fresh semi-cen­ten­ni­al view­ing of Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la’s mafia mas­ter­piece, is this movie about? We need only ask Cop­po­la him­self, who has our answer in one word: suc­ces­sion. In the recent GQ inter­view above, he also explains the themes of oth­er major works with sim­i­lar suc­cinct­ness: Apoc­a­lypse Now is about moral­i­ty; The Con­ver­sa­tion is about pri­va­cy. Such clean and sim­ple encap­su­la­tions belie the nature of the film pro­duc­tion process, and espe­cial­ly that of Cop­po­la’s nine­teen-sev­en­ties pic­tures, with their large scale, seri­ous­ness of pur­pose, and prone­ness to severe dif­fi­cul­ty.

“What we con­sid­er real art is a movie that does not have a safe­ty net,” Cop­po­la says, and that applies with­out a doubt to movies like The God­fa­ther and Apoc­a­lypse Now. Much as Orson Welles once said of his own expe­ri­ence mak­ing Cit­i­zen Kane, the young Cop­po­la went into The God­fa­ther igno­rant of more or less every­thing involved in its con­tent but life in an Ital­ian-Amer­i­can fam­i­ly. But he had, in the­ater school, learned the tech­niques of “out­wit­ting the fac­ul­ty,” and deal­ing with the high­er-ups at Hol­ly­wood stu­dios turned out to require that same skill set. He thus found a way to include every ele­ment ruled insis­tent­ly out by the exec­u­tives, from New York loca­tions and a peri­od set­ting to per­form­ers like the then-unknown Al Paci­no and then-washed-up Mar­lon Bran­do.

Bran­do did­n’t take part in The God­fa­ther Part II, but he did show up at the end of Apoc­a­lypse Now for a vivid­ly mem­o­rable turn as the pow­er-mad Colonel Kurtz. As Cop­po­la remem­bers it, “when Bran­do arrived, he looked at me — he’s so smart — and he said, ‘You paint­ed your­self in a cor­ner, did­n’t you?” The actor meant that the sur­re­al qual­i­ties of the film had reached such an inten­si­ty that no con­ven­tion­al form of res­o­lu­tion could pos­si­bly suf­fice. This was the result of the fact that, as Cop­po­la puts it, “one of the things that make a movie is the movie: it con­tributes to mak­ing itself.” In oth­er words, as Cop­po­la and his col­lab­o­ra­tors shot each scene (a process that famous­ly result­ed in over one mil­lion feet of footage), the very film tak­ing shape before them sug­gest­ed its own direc­tion — in the case of Apoc­a­lypse Now, toward the ever dark­er and stranger.

Always can­did about his pro­fes­sion­al strug­gles, Cop­po­la has also been gen­er­ous with tech­ni­cal and artis­tic expla­na­tions of just how his pic­tures have come togeth­er. God­fa­ther fans will delight in his direc­tor’s-com­men­tary tracks on the first and sec­ond parts of that tril­o­gy; as for The God­fa­ther Part III, Cop­po­la released a new edit (in the man­ner of Apoc­a­lypse Now’s Redux and Final Cut) called The God­fa­ther Coda: The Death of Michael Cor­leone in 2020. He dis­cuss­es that project in the GQ inter­view, and also his work-in-progress Mega­lopo­lis. Hav­ing described The God­fa­ther as essen­tial­ly a Shake­speare­an tale, he’s now reach­ing fur­ther back in time: “Would­n’t it be inter­est­ing if you made a Roman epic but did­n’t set it in ancient Rome — set it in mod­ern New York?” He also lets us in on Mega­lopo­lis’ sur­pris­ing key word: not mega­lo­ma­nia, nor ambi­tion, nor pow­er, but sin­cer­i­ty.

Relat­ed con­tent:

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Cast­ing of The God­fa­ther with Cop­po­la, Paci­no, De Niro & Caan

Fran­cis Ford Coppola’s Hand­writ­ten Cast­ing Notes for The God­fa­ther

What Is Apoc­a­lypse Now Real­ly About? An Hour-Long Video Analy­sis of Fran­cis Ford Coppola’s Viet­nam Mas­ter­piece

How Wal­ter Murch Rev­o­lu­tion­ized the Sound of Mod­ern Cin­e­ma: A New Video Essay Explores His Inno­va­tions in Amer­i­can Graf­fi­ti, The God­fa­ther & More

Great Film­mak­ers Offer Advice to Young Direc­tors: Taran­ti­no, Her­zog, Cop­po­la, Scors­ese, Ander­son, Felli­ni & More

Orson Welles Explains Why Igno­rance Was His Major “Gift” to Cit­i­zen Kane

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.

When Stalin Starved Ukraine

Since its launch last month, Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine has sent observers around the world scram­bling for con­text. It is a fact, for exam­ple, that Rus­sia and Ukraine were once “togeth­er” in the com­mu­nist mega-state that was the Union of Sovi­et Social­ist Republics. But it is also a fact that such Sovi­et togeth­er­ness hard­ly ensured warm feel­ings between the two lands. An espe­cial­ly rel­e­vant chap­ter of their his­to­ry is known in Ukraine as the Holodomor, or “death by star­va­tion.” Span­ning the years 1932 and 1933, this peri­od of famine result­ed in three to six mil­lion lives lost — and that accord­ing to the low­er accept­ed esti­mates.

“It was geno­cide,” says the nar­ra­tor of the Vox “Miss­ing Chap­ter’ video above, “car­ried out by a dic­ta­tor who want­ed to keep Ukraine under his con­trol, and would do every­thing in his pow­er to cov­er it up for decades. That dic­ta­tor was, of course, Joseph Stal­in, who accom­pa­nied bru­tal meth­ods of rule with tight con­trol of infor­ma­tion. “In 1917, after the fall of the Russ­ian Empire, Ukraine briefly gained free­dom,” the video explains. “But by 1922, it was forcibly inte­grat­ed into the new­ly formed Sovi­et Union.” A rur­al and high­ly fer­tile land, Ukraine was known as “the bread­bas­ket of the Sovi­et Union” — hence Stal­in’s desire to nip any poten­tial rev­o­lu­tion there in the bud.

First came a “wide­spread, vio­lent purge of Ukrain­ian intel­lec­tu­als along with priests and reli­gious struc­tures.” At the same time as they advanced this attempt­ed dis­man­tling of Ukrain­ian cul­ture, Sovi­et high­er-ups were also imple­ment­ing Stal­in’s five-year plan of indus­tri­al­iza­tion, con­sol­i­da­tion, and col­lec­tiviza­tion, includ­ing that of all agri­cul­ture. This was the time of the kulak, or “wealthy peas­ant,” the label invent­ed to dis­grace any­one resis­tant to this process. Any kulaks known to Stal­in faced a ter­ri­ble fate indeed, includ­ing exile, impris­on­ment, and even exe­cu­tion; those farm­ers who remained then fell vic­tim to the dic­ta­tor’s engi­neered famine.

Under the pre­text of enforc­ing delib­er­ate­ly unre­al­is­tic grain-pro­duc­tion quo­tas, Stal­in’s enforcers seized farms across Ukraine in order to sell their prod­ucts to the West. Before long, “Sovi­et police began seiz­ing not just grain, but any­thing edi­ble.” Farm­ers were stopped from leav­ing their home­land, where Stal­in intend­ed them to starve, “but even in this unimag­in­able suf­fer­ing, Ukraini­ans fought for their lives and each oth­er.” This video incor­po­rates inter­views with a grand­son and grand­daugh­ter of two such Ukraini­ans who left behind per­son­al records of the Holodomor. A sto­ry of endurance and sur­vival under the very worst cir­cum­stances, and ulti­mate­ly a return to nation­al inde­pen­dence, it goes some way to explain­ing how and why Ukraine con­tin­ues to put up such a valiant fight against the forces that have descend­ed upon it.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Putin’s War on Ukraine Explained in 8 Min­utes

Why Rus­sia Invad­ed Ukraine: A Use­ful Primer

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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 Field Guide to Strange Medieval Monsters

What should you do if you come across a man­ti­core? Would you even know how to iden­ti­fy it? An unlike­ly occur­rence, you say? Per­haps. But if you lived in Europe in the Mid­dle Ages – and you were the type to believe such tales – you might expect to see one some­day. Wouldn’t it be use­ful to have a field guide? You’d want it on paper (or parch­ment): no one’s car­ry­ing smart­phones in misty 13th cen­tu­ry York or over the rocky high­lands of 15th cen­tu­ry Lom­bardy. You could con­sult a reign­ing expert of the time, such as Sir John Man­dev­ille, who either saw such things as blem­myae (head­less humans with faces in their chests) near Ethiopia, or made them up. But this didn’t mat­ter much. Truth and fic­tion did­n’t have such rigid bound­aries. Yet books were rare, and any­way, few peo­ple could read. If only there were YouTube.…

“Medieval zool­o­gy is bizarre,” says the nar­ra­tor of the video above — a brief “Field Guide to Bizarre Medieval Mon­sters” — “because half the crea­tures don’t even exist, and those that do look very, very strange.” Your aver­age medieval Euro­pean could­n’t vis­it zoos full of exot­ic ani­mals (rare excep­tions like the Tow­er of Lon­don Menagerie notwith­stand­ing), nor could they trav­el the world and see what crea­tures thrived in oth­er climes.

They were forced to rely on the gar­bled accounts, or out­right lies, of sailors, mer­chants, and oth­er trav­el­ers, and the odd illus­tra­tions found in illu­mi­nat­ed man­u­scripts. These blend­ed trav­el­ogue, native folk ele­ments, the weird imag­in­ings of alche­my and demonolo­gy, and the myths and leg­ends of medieval romance to cre­ate “a world where mythol­o­gy and biol­o­gy blend togeth­er.”

Drag­ons, uni­corns, dog-head­ed saints.… You’ll find these and many more in the video field guide at the top and oth­ers online from the Cleve­land Muse­um of Art and, which describes our friend the man­ti­core as a crea­ture “hav­ing the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the tail of a scor­pi­on.”

Many ancient and medieval mon­sters were hybrids of dif­fer­ent ani­mals, such as the Tarasque, which our field guide nar­ra­tor explains lies “some­where between a drag­on and a tor­toise.”

To find out its ori­gins, you’ll have to keep watch­ing. To read the orig­i­nal sources of this bizarre medieval zool­o­gy, see the British Library’s Medieval Mon­ster’s col­lec­tion, which includes aviaries, bes­tiaries, mis­cel­la­nies, books of hours, and psalters, like the big page above from the Lut­trell Psalter, a strik­ing exam­ple of mon­strous illus­tra­tion. While we may nev­er expect to see any of these crea­tures in the flesh, we can see more of them on the page (or screen) than any­one who lived in medieval Europe.

via Twist­ed Sifter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

1,000-Year-Old Illus­trat­ed Guide to the Med­i­c­i­nal Use of Plants Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online

Won­der­ful­ly Weird & Inge­nious Medieval Books

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

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