The 100 Greatest Children’s Books of All Time, According to 177 Books Experts from 56 Countries

Giv­en the size and demo­graph­ic pro­file of J. R. R. Tolkien’s fan base today, it’s easy to for­get that he orig­i­nal­ly wrote The Hob­bit for chil­dren. For gen­er­a­tions of young read­ers, that nov­el has stood as the gate­way into Tolkien’s much more com­plex and ambi­tious Lord of the Rings tril­o­gy — also writ­ten for chil­dren, at least accord­ing to the new poll of 177 experts around the world con­duct­ed by the BBC to deter­mine the 100 great­est chil­dren’s books of all time. In its results, The Lord of the Rings comes in around the mid­dle, but The Hob­bit takes fifth place, behind only the near-uni­ver­sal­ly beloved titles The Lit­tle Prince, Pip­pi Long­stock­ing, Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land, and — at num­ber one — Where the Wild Things Are.

Any read­er who was a child in the past six­ty years will know all of those books; any read­er alive will know most of them. Through­out this top-100 list appear clas­sics that have been in the chil­dren’s canon longer than any of us have been alive, like Anne of Green Gables, Trea­sure Island, and Lit­tle Women.

A great many works, from Good­night Moon and The Cat in the Hat to A Wrin­kle in Time and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweil­er — joined it in the mid­dle of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. “Books pub­lished between the 1950s and 1970s were most preva­lent,” says the BBC’s accom­pa­ny­ing notes, “which may be relat­ed to the age pro­file of vot­ers, the major­i­ty of whom were born in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Indeed, a glance through these results can hard­ly fail to bring back any of the ear­li­est read­ing mem­o­ries of any Gen­er­a­tion Xer or mil­len­ni­al. Wit­ness the preva­lence of books by Roald Dahl: Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­to­ry, The BFG, The Witch­es, Matil­da. Even Dan­ny, the Cham­pi­on of the World, which I remem­ber as rel­a­tive­ly lack­lus­ter, just makes the cut. Of course, “the furor over the rewrit­ing of Roald Dahl’s nov­els for mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties” has late­ly brought his work back into pub­lic dis­course; that and oth­er unre­lat­ed con­tro­ver­sies over what books ought to be made avail­able in school libraries have giv­en us rea­son to con­sid­er once again what chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture is, or what it could and should be — a range of ques­tions that kids them­selves seem rather bet­ter equipped to address than many grown-ups. See the BBC’s com­plete list here.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed con­tent:

Dis­cov­er J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lit­tle-Known and Hand-Illus­trat­ed Children’s Book Mr. Bliss

Hayao Miyaza­ki Selects His 50 Favorite Children’s Books

Read a Nev­er Pub­lished, “Sub­ver­sive” Chap­ter from Roald Dahl’s Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­to­ry

Enter an Archive of 6,000 His­tor­i­cal Children’s Books, All Dig­i­tized and Free to Read Online

Mau­rice Sendak Ani­mat­ed; James Gan­dolfi­ni Reads from Sendak’s Sto­ry “In The Night Kitchen”

A Dig­i­tal Archive of Sovi­et Children’s Books Goes Online: Browse the Artis­tic, Ide­o­log­i­cal Col­lec­tion (1917–1953)

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.

Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” Performed by German 1st Graders in Cute Cardboard Robot Costumes

“Teach your chil­dren well” sang Cros­by, Stills and Nash once upon a long ago, and that adage could be para­phrased as “make sure your stu­dents don’t grow up learn­ing sub­stan­dard pop songs. Give them a real edu­ca­tion.” An enter­pris­ing ele­men­tary school teacher in Mom­bach, a dis­trict of the Rhineland city of Mainz, did so in 2015, dress­ing up his stu­dents from Lemm­chen Ele­men­tary in their own hand­made robot out­fits and teach­ing them to sing the clas­sic 1978 Kraftwerk hit “The Robots” (or “Robot­er” if you own the Ger­man ver­sion, which you can hear below).

While the orig­i­nal prog-rock­ers turned elec­tron­ic demigods tried to strip away as much of their human­i­ty when play­ing live, you just can’t do it with kids. They’re just too cute, and their wob­bly, shuf­fling attempts to be machines only warms the heart more. (Could their par­ents tell who was who, I won­der?) Their ver­sion of the music is sim­i­lar­ly charm­ing and pret­ty faith­ful, though it’s pos­si­bly played by instruc­tor Lars Reimer. (An old­er class shows their faces and plays instru­ments in a more recent video, a cov­er of “Tanz” by Stop­pok.) So yes, Mr. Reimer, you’re pass­ing on some good musi­cal taste.

Though Kraftwerk was often thought of as cold and arti­fi­cial when they first arrived on the inter­na­tion­al music scene, the inter­ven­ing years have only empha­sized the roman­tic beau­ty of their (most­ly major key) melodies. (See for exam­ple the Bal­anes­cu Quartet’s ren­di­tion of the same song below.)

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2016.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ele­men­tary School Kids Sing David Bowie’s “Space Odd­i­ty” & Oth­er Rock Hits: A Cult Clas­sic Record­ed in 1976

Kraftwerk’s First Con­cert: The Begin­ning of the End­less­ly Influ­en­tial Band (1970)

One Man Shows You How to Play Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” with Just One Syn­the­siz­er

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

The 1920s Lie Detector That Forced Suspected Criminals to Confess to a Skeleton

“In the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” the ever­green Law & Orders open­ing cred­its remind us, “the peo­ple are rep­re­sent­ed by two sep­a­rate, yet equal­ly impor­tant, groups: the police, who inves­ti­gate crime; and the dis­trict attor­neys, who pros­e­cute the offend­ers.”

They fail to men­tion the life-sized skele­ton with ghast­ly glow­ing eyes and a cam­era tucked away inside its skull.

That’s because no police depart­ment ever saw fit to put Helene Ade­laide Shelby’s 1930 patent for a high­ly unusu­al “appa­ra­tus for obtain­ing crim­i­nal con­fes­sions and pho­to­graph­i­cal­ly record­ing them” into prac­tice.

Ms. Shelby’s vision sought to trans­form the police inter­ro­ga­tion room into a haunt­ed house where the sud­den appear­ance of the afore­men­tioned skele­ton would shock a guilty sus­pect into con­fes­sion.

(Pre­sum­ably an inno­cent per­son would have noth­ing to fear, oth­er than sit­ting in a pitch black cham­ber where a truth-seek­ing skele­ton was soon to man­i­fest before their very eyes.)

The idea may have seemed slight­ly less far-fetched imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing a decade when belief in Spir­i­tu­al­ism flour­ished.

False medi­ums used sophis­ti­cat­ed stage­craft to con­vince mem­bers of a gullible pub­lic that they were in the pres­ence of the super­nat­ur­al.

Per­haps Ms. Shel­by took inspi­ra­tion from Mys­ter­ies of the Seance and Tricks and Traps of Bogus Medi­ums: A Plea for Hon­est Medi­ums and Clean Work by “life­long spir­i­tu­al­ist” Edward D. Lunt. The sec­tion on “form mate­ri­al­iza­tion” pro­vides plen­ty of con­crete ideas for enact­ing such trick­ery.

Ms. Shelby’s pro­posed appa­ra­tus con­sist­ed of a “struc­ture divid­ed into two cham­bers:”

…one cham­ber of which is dark­ened to pro­vide quar­ters in which the sus­pect is con­fined while being sub­ject­ed to exam­i­na­tion, the oth­er cham­ber being pro­vid­ed for the exam­in­er, the two cham­bers being sep­a­rat­ed from each oth­er by a par­ti­tion which is pro­vid­ed with a pan­el upon one side of which is mount­ed a fig­ure in the form of a skele­ton, the said skele­ton hav­ing the rear J por­tion of the skull removed and the record­ing appa­ra­tus insert­ed there­in.

The exam­in­er was also tasked with voic­ing the skele­ton, using appro­pri­ate­ly spooky tones and a well-posi­tioned mega­phone.

As sil­ly as Ms. Shel­by’s inven­tion seems near­ly a hun­dred years after the patent was filed, it’s impres­sive for its robust embrace of tech­nol­o­gy, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it per­tains to cap­tur­ing the pre­sum­ably spooked suspect’s reac­tion:

The rear por­tion of the skull of the skele­ton is removed and a cam­era cas­ing is mount­ed in the pan­el extend­ing into the skull, said cam­era being prefer­able of the con­tin­u­ous­ly-mov­ing film-type an hav­ing pro­vi­sions for simul­ta­ne­ous­ly record­ing pic­tures and sound waves, or repro­duc­ing these, as may be desired or required, the said cam­era impres­sion upon the hav­ing an objec­tive adapt­ed to reg­is­ter with the nose, or oth­er open­ing, in the skull. The eye-sock­ets are pro­vid­ed with bulbs adapt­ed to impress dif­fer­ent light inten­si­ties on the mar­gins
 of the film, the cen­tral sec­tion of the film being arranged to receive the pic­tures, the vari­a­tions in the light inten­si­ties of the bulbs being gov­erned by means of the micro­phones, and sele­ni­um cells (not shown), which are includ­ed in the light cir­cuit and tend to cause the fluc­tu­a­tions of the cur­rent to vary the inten­si­ty of the light for sound record­ing pur­pos­es, the den­si­ty of the light film vary­ing with the inten­si­ty of the light thus trans­mit­ted.

Ms. Shel­by believed that a sus­pect whose con­fes­sion had been record­ed by the skele­ton would have dif­fi­cul­ty mak­ing a retrac­tion stick, espe­cial­ly if pho­tographs tak­en dur­ing the big reveal caught them with a guilty-look­ing coun­te­nance.

Writ­ing on, Jonathan Kozlows­ki applauds Ms. Shelby’s impulse to inno­vate, even as he ques­tions if “scar­ing a con­fes­sion out of a guy by being real­ly real­ly creepy (should) be con­sid­ered coer­cion:”

Shel­by does­n’t seem to have got­ten any cred­it for it and nor am I sure that Shel­by was even the first to think of the idea, BUT if you remove the skele­ton fig­ure and the red light­bulbs star­ing into the crim­i­nal’s soul was this the inspi­ra­tion of a mount­ed sur­veil­lance cam­era? 

Allow me to push it even fur­ther … imag­ine your depart­men­t’s inter­view room. If you’ve got the cam­era in the cor­ner (or mul­ti­ple) let that be. Instead of the skele­ton fig­ure just put an offi­cer stand­ing in the cor­ner with a record­ing body cam­era. The offi­cer is just stand­ing there. Star­ing. Sure that’s a MASSIVE waste of time and mon­ey — of course. I may be wrong, but if I’m being hon­est this seems like intim­i­da­tion.

It also strikes us that the ele­ment of sur­prise would be a chal­lenge to keep under wraps. All it would take is one freaked-out crook (inno­cent or guilty) blab­bing to an under­world con­nec­tion, “You wouldn’t believe the crazy thing that hap­pened when they hauled me down to the sta­tion the oth­er night…”

What sort of hor­rif­ic spe­cial effect could force a guilty par­ty to con­fess in the 21st cen­tu­ry? Some­thing way more dread­ful than a skele­ton with glow­ing red eyes, come­di­an Tom Scott’s exper­i­ment below sug­gests.

Hav­ing enlist­ed cre­ative tech­nol­o­gist Charles Yarnold to build Ms. Shelby’s appa­ra­tus, he invit­ed fel­low YouTu­bers Chloe Dun­gate, Tom Ridgewell, and Daniel J Lay­ton to step inside one at a time, hop­ing to iden­ti­fy which of them had nicked the cook­ie with which he had bait­ed his crime-catch­ing hook.

The par­tic­i­pants’ reac­tions at the crit­i­cal moment ranged from delight­ed gig­gles to a sat­is­fy­ing yelp, but the results were utter­ly incon­clu­sive. Nobody ‘fessed up to steal­ing the cook­ies.

That’s not to say the appa­ra­tus couldn’t work with a sub­set of crim­i­nals on the low­er end of ele­men­tary school age. Did they or didn’t they? Why not scar ‘em for life and find out?

via Atlas Obscu­ra

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detec­tion Kit”: A Toolk­it That Can Help You Sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly Sep­a­rate Sense from Non­sense

The Poly­graph: The Pro­to-Pho­to­copy Machine Machine Invent­ed in 1803 That Changed Thomas Jefferson’s Life

The Strange Sto­ry of Won­der Woman’s Cre­ator William Moul­ton Marston: Polyamorous Fem­i­nist, Psy­chol­o­gist & Inven­tor of the Lie Detec­tor

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

Why French Sounds So Unlike Spanish, Italian & Other Romance Languages, Even Though They All Evolved from Latin

French is known as the lan­guage of romance, a rep­u­ta­tion that, what­ev­er cul­tur­al sup­port it enjoys, would be dif­fi­cult to defend on pure­ly lin­guis­tic grounds. But it would­n’t be con­tro­ver­sial in the least to call it a Romance lan­guage, which sim­ply refers to its descent from the Latin spo­ken across the Roman Empire. In that cat­e­go­ry, how­ev­er, French does­n’t come out on top: its 77 mil­lion speak­ers put it above Roman­ian (24 mil­lion) and Ital­ian (67 mil­lion), but below Span­ish (489 mil­lion) and Por­tuguese (283 mil­lion). If you know any one of these lan­guages, you can under­stand at least a lit­tle of all the oth­ers, but French stands out for its rel­a­tive lack of fam­i­ly resem­blance.

“Why is acqua just eau?” asks Joshua Rud­der, cre­ator of the Youtube chan­nel NativLang. “How are cam­biar and casa relat­ed to change and chez?” He address­es the caus­es of these dif­fer­ences between mod­ern-day French, Span­ish, and Ital­ian in the video above, which presents the his­tor­i­cal-lin­guis­tic expla­na­tion in the form of a long and tricky recipe.

“Start prepar­ing your ingre­di­ents 2000 years ago. Take a base of Latin,” ide­al­ly at least three cen­turies old. “Com­bine traces of Gaul­ish, because Celtic words will become sources of change.” Then, “grad­u­al­ly incor­po­rate sound shifts, not uni­form­ly: work them in to form a nice con­tin­u­um, where the edges look dis­tinct, but local­ly, it’s sim­i­lar from place to place.”

This cook­ing ses­sion soon becomes a din­ner par­ty. Its most impor­tant atten­dees are the Franks next door, who come not emp­ty-hand­ed but bear­ing a few hun­dred Ger­man­ic words. In the full­ness of time, “you might think that the sound of French would come from a sin­gle dialect in Paris. Instead, observe as it aris­es from social changes and urban­iza­tion, bring­ing togeth­er peo­ple who speak many vari­eties of oïl” — an old word for what Fran­coph­o­nes now know as oui, and which now refers to the dialects spo­ken in the north of the coun­try (as opposed to oc in the south) back then. Even this far into the process, we’ve come only to the point of mak­ing Mid­dle French.

Mod­ern French involves “a thick ganache of king­dom and col­o­niza­tion” spread far and wide. Sub­se­quent “peri­ods of rev­o­lu­tion and Napoleon” put more touch­es on the lan­guages, none of them fin­ish­ing. Stu­dents of French today find them­selves seat­ed at an elab­o­rate feast of unfa­mil­iar sounds and rules gov­ern­ing those sounds, many of which may at first seem unpalat­able or even indi­gestible. Yet some of those stu­dents will devel­op a taste for such lin­guis­tic fare, and even come to pre­fer it to the oth­er Romance lan­guages that go down eas­i­er. French con­tin­ues to change in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, not least through its incor­po­ra­tion of askew angli­cisms, yet some­how con­tin­ues to remain a lan­guage apart. There­in, per­haps, lies the true mean­ing of vive la dif­fer­ence.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Free French Lessons

What Shakespeare’s Eng­lish Sound­ed Like, and How We Know It

What Ancient Latin Sound­ed Like, And How We Know It

Watch Ta-Nehisi Coates Speak French Before & After Attend­ing Middlebury’s Immer­sion Pro­gram

Wern­er Her­zog Lists All the Lan­guages He Knows–and Why He Only Speaks French If (Lit­er­al­ly) a Gun’s Point­ed at His Head

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 Art Collection of David Bowie: An Introduction

Today, it hard­ly sur­pris­es us when a suc­cess­ful, wealthy, and influ­en­tial rock star has a large art col­lec­tion. But David Bowie, ahead of the cul­ture even at the out­set of his career, began accru­ing art well before suc­cess, wealth, or influ­ence. He put out his debut album when he was twen­ty years old, in 1967, and did­n’t hes­i­tate to cre­ate a “rock star” lifestyle as soon as pos­si­ble there­after. As the world now knows, how­ev­er, rock star­dom meant some­thing dif­fer­ent to Bowie than it did to the aver­age man­sion-hop­ping, hotel room-trash­ing Con­corde habitué. When he bought art, he did so not pri­mar­i­ly as a finan­cial invest­ment, nor as a bid for high-soci­ety respectabil­i­ty, but as a way of con­struct­ing his per­son­al aes­thet­ic and intel­lec­tu­al real­i­ty.

Bowie kept that project going until the end, and it was only in 2016, the year he died, that the pub­lic got to see just what his art col­lec­tion includ­ed. The occa­sion was Bowie/Collector, a three-part auc­tion at Sothe­by’s, who also pro­duced the new video above. It exam­ines Bowie’s col­lec­tion through five of its works that were par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant to the man him­self, begin­ning with Head of Ger­da Boehm by Frank Auer­bach, about which he often said — accord­ing to his art buy­er and cura­tor Beth Greenacre — “I want to sound like that paint­ing looks.” Then comes Por­trait of a Man by Erich Heck­el, whose paint­ings inspired the record­ings of Bowie’s acclaimed “Berlin peri­od”: Low, “Heroes,” Lodger, and even Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, which Bowie pro­duced.

As we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, Bowie also loved fur­ni­ture, none more so than the work of the Ital­ian design col­lec­tive known as Mem­phis. This video high­lights his red Valen­tine type­writer, a pre-Mem­phis 1969 cre­ation of the group’s co-founder Ettore Sottsass. “I typed up many of my lyrics on that,” Bowie once said. “The pure gor­geous­ness of it made me type.” Much lat­er, he and Bri­an Eno were look­ing for ideas for the album that would become Out­side, a jour­ney that took them to the Gug­ging Insti­tute, a Vien­na psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal that encour­aged its patients to cre­ate art. He end­ed up pur­chas­ing sev­er­al pieces by one patient in par­tic­u­lar, a for­mer pris­on­er of war named Johann Fis­ch­er, enchant­ed by “the sense of explo­ration and the lack of self-judg­ment” in those and oth­er works of “out­sider” art.

The video ends with a mask titled Alexan­dra by Beni­nese artist Romuald Hazoum, whom Bowie encoun­tered on a trip to Johan­nes­burg with his wife Iman. Like many of the artists whose work Bowie bought, Hazoumè is now quite well known, but was­n’t when Bowie first took an inter­est in him. Made of found objects such as what looks like a tele­phone hand­set and a vinyl record, Alexan­dra is one of a series of works that “play on expec­ta­tions and stereo­types of African art, and are now high­ly sought after.” Bowieol­o­gists can hard­ly fail to note that the piece also shares its name with the daugh­ter Bowie and Iman would bring into the world a few years lat­er. That could, of course, be just a coin­ci­dence, but as Bowie’s col­lec­tion sug­gests, his life and his art — the art he acquired as well as the art he made — were one and the same.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Behold the Paint­ings of David Bowie: Neo-Expres­sion­ist Self Por­traits, Illus­tra­tions of Iggy Pop, and Much More

96 Draw­ings of David Bowie by the “World’s Best Com­ic Artists”: Michel Gondry, Kate Beat­on & More

Bowie’s Book­shelf: A New Essay Col­lec­tion on The 100 Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life

How Aladdin Sane Became the Most Expen­sive Album Cov­er Ever — and David Bowie’s Defin­ing Image

“David Bowie Is” — The First Major Exhib­it Ded­i­cat­ed to Bowie Spans 50 Years & Fea­tures 300 Great Objects

Meet the Mem­phis Group, the Bob Dylan-Inspired Design­ers of David Bowie’s Favorite Fur­ni­ture

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.

Behold the Bridges in India Made of Living Tree Roots

Liv­ing green walls and upcy­cled build­ing mate­ri­als are wel­come envi­ron­men­tal­ly-con­scious design trends, but when it comes to sus­tain­able archi­tec­ture, the liv­ing root bridges made by indige­nous Khasi and Jain­tia peo­ple in the north-east­ern Indi­an state of Megha­laya have them beat by cen­turies.

These tra­di­tion­al plant-based sus­pen­sion bridges make it much eas­i­er for vil­lagers to trav­el to neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ties, mar­kets and out­ly­ing farms by span­ning the dense trop­i­cal rainforest’s many gorges and rivers.

Their con­struc­tion requires patience, as builders train the aer­i­al roots of well-sit­u­at­ed, mature rub­ber fig trees into posi­tion using bam­boo, old tree trunks, and wire for sup­port, weav­ing more roots in as they become avail­able.

This mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional con­struc­tion project can take up to 30 years to com­plete. The care­ful­ly-tend­ed bridges become stur­dier with age, as the roots that form the deck and handrails thick­en.

The vil­lage of Non­gri­at has one bridge that has been in place for 200-some years. An upper bridge, sus­pend­ed direct­ly over­head, is a hun­dred years younger.

As vil­lage head and life­long res­i­dent Wis­ton Miwa told Great Big Sto­ry, above, when he was a child, peo­ple were leery of using the new­er bridge, wor­ried that it was not yet strong enough to be safe. Six decades lat­er, vil­lagers (and tourists) tra­verse it reg­u­lar­ly.

Archi­tect San­jeev Shankar, in a study of 11 liv­ing root bridges, learned that new struc­tures are loaded with stones, planks, and soil to test their weight bear­ing capac­i­ty. Some of the old­est can han­dle 50 pedes­tri­ans at once.

Humans are not the only crea­tures mak­ing the cross­ing. Bark deer and cloud­ed leop­ards are also known trav­el­ers. Squir­rels, birds, and insects set­tle in for per­ma­nent stays.

The Khasi peo­ple fol­low an oral tra­di­tion, and have lit­tle writ­ten doc­u­men­ta­tion regard­ing their his­to­ry and cus­toms, includ­ing the con­struc­tion of liv­ing root bridges.

Archi­tect Fer­di­nand Lud­wig, a cham­pi­on of Baub­otanik — or liv­ing plant con­struc­tion — notes that there is no set design being fol­lowed. Both nature and the vil­lagers tend­ing to the grow­ing struc­tures can be con­sid­ered the archi­tects here:

When we con­struct a bridge or a build­ing, we have a plan – we know what it’s going to look like. But this isn’t pos­si­ble with liv­ing archi­tec­ture. Khasi peo­ple know this; they are extreme­ly clever in how they con­stant­ly ana­lyze and inter­act with tree growth, and accord­ing­ly adapt to the conditions…How these roots are pulled, tied and woven togeth­er dif­fer from builder to builder. None of the bridges looks sim­i­lar.

The bridges, while remote, are becom­ing a buck­et list des­ti­na­tion for adven­tur­ers and eco­tourists, Nongriat’s dou­ble bridge in par­tic­u­lar.

The BBC’s Zinara Rath­nayake reports that such out­side inter­est has pro­vid­ed vil­lagers with an addi­tion­al source of income, as well as some pre­dictable headaches — lit­ter, inap­pro­pri­ate behav­ior, and over­crowd­ing:

Some root bridges see crowds of hun­dreds at a time as tourists clam­ber for self­ies, poten­tial­ly over­bur­den­ing the trees.

The Liv­ing Bridge Foun­da­tion, which works to pre­serve the liv­ing root bridges while pro­mot­ing respon­si­ble eco­tourism is seek­ing to have the area des­ig­nat­ed as a UNESCO World Her­itage Site.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

1,100 Del­i­cate Draw­ings of Root Sys­tems Reveals the Hid­den World of Plants

The Secret Lan­guage of Trees: A Charm­ing Ani­mat­ed Les­son Explains How Trees Share Infor­ma­tion with Each Oth­er

Daisu­gi, the 600-Year-Old Japan­ese Tech­nique of Grow­ing Trees Out of Oth­er Trees, Cre­at­ing Per­fect­ly Straight Lum­ber

The Tree of Lan­guages Illus­trat­ed in a Big, Beau­ti­ful Info­graph­ic

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

Jonathan Demme Turns the Kurt Vonnegut Story, “Who Am I This Time?,” Into a TV Movie, with Susan Sarandon & Christopher Walken in Starring Roles (1982)

Back in 1982, the PBS Amer­i­can Play­house series aired Jonathan Dem­me’s made-for-TV film based on the Kurt Von­negut sto­ry, “Who Am I This Time?” Now, thanks to the YouTube chan­nel Chick­en Soup for the Soul TV, you can watch the rarely-seen film online. The chan­nel writes:

Mix togeth­er a small town com­mu­ni­ty the­atre’s shy lead­ing man and the love­ly tele­phone work­er who moves into town and you have a per­fect recipe for a delight­ful roman­tic com­e­dy. Acad­e­my Award-win­ners Susan Saran­don and Christo­pher Walken star as the cou­ple who dis­cov­er that affairs of the heart on the stage may be a bit less com­pli­cat­ed than con­tin­u­ing the romance off the stage. Direc­tor Jonathan Demme, an Acad­e­my Award-win­ner, deft­ly weaves this endear­ing tale of love in bloom from Kurt Von­negut, Jr.‘s sto­ry.

While the video qual­i­ty is grainy, the movie is still sig­nif­i­cant for serv­ing as an ear­ly career vehi­cle for Saran­don, Walken and direc­tor Demme. This isn’t exact­ly ‘Before They Were Stars’ — after all, by 1982, Walken had already won an Oscar for “The Deer Hunter,”
Saran­don had already starred in “Rocky Hor­ror” and been nom­i­nat­ed for an Oscar for Atlantic City, and Demme, although still a decade away from his biggest work, had already direct­ed the acclaimed “Melvin & Howard.”

Watch oth­er com­plete films on the Chick­en Soup for the Soul TV Youtube Channel, or on their free-stand­ing web­site. Enjoy.

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via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent 

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

Watch the New Trail­er for a Kurt Von­negut Doc­u­men­tary 40 Years In the Mak­ing

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Sto­ry

Hear Christo­pher Walken’s Won­der­ful Read­ing of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

Susan Saran­don Reads an Ani­mat­ed Ver­sion of Good Night Moon … With­out Cry­ing

How John Keats Writes a Poem: A Line-by-Line Breakdown of “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

The Greek term ekphra­sis sounds rather exot­ic if you sel­dom come across it, but it refers to an act in which we’ve all engaged at one time or anoth­er: that is, describ­ing a work of art. The best ekphras­es make that descrip­tion as vivid as pos­si­ble, to the point where it becomes a work of art in itself. The Eng­lish lan­guage offers no bet­ter-known exam­ple of ekphras­tic poet­ry than John Keats’ “Ode on a Gre­cian Urn,” from 1819, which pulls off the neat trick of tak­ing both its sub­ject and its genre from the same ancient cul­ture — among oth­er virtues, of course, sev­er­al of which are explained by Evan Puschak, bet­ter known as the Nerd­writer, in his new video above, “How John Keats Writes a Poem.”

Puschak calls “Ode on a Gre­cian Urn” “arguably the best poem from arguably the best roman­tic poet,” then launch­es into a line-by-line exe­ge­sis, iden­ti­fy­ing the tech­niques Keats employs in its con­struc­tion. “The speak­er craves the ide­al, ever­last­ing love depict­ed on and sym­bol­ized by the urn,” he says. “But the way he express­es him­self — well, it’s almost embar­rass­ing, even hys­ter­i­cal, fever­ish.”

Keats uses com­pul­sive-sound­ing rep­e­ti­tion of words like hap­py and for­ev­er to “com­mu­ni­cate some­thing about the speak­er that runs counter to his words. It reminds me of those times when you hear some­one insist on how hap­py they are, but you know they’re just try­ing to will that fact into exis­tence by speak­ing it.”

In the course of the poem, “the speak­er begins to doubt his own crav­ings for the per­ma­nence of art. Is it real­ly as per­fect as he imag­ines?” Through­out, “he’s looked to the urn, to art, to assuage his despair about life,” a task to which it final­ly proves not quite equal. “In life, things change and fade, but they’re real. In art, things may be eter­nal, but they’re life­less.” The famous final lines of “Ode on a Gre­cian Urn” arrive at the con­clu­sion that “beau­ty is truth, truth beau­ty,” and how lit­er­al an inter­pre­ta­tion to grant it remains a mat­ter of debate. It may not real­ly be all we know on Earth, nor even all we need to know, but the fact that we’re still argu­ing about it two cen­turies lat­er speaks to the pow­er of art — as well as art about art.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hear Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch Read John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightin­gale” and Oth­er Great Works by Shake­speare, Dante & Coleridge

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

F. Scott Fitzger­ald Reads Shakespeare’s Oth­el­lo and Keats’ “Ode to a Nightin­gale” (1940)

Learn to Write Through a Video Game Inspired by the Roman­tic Poets: Shel­ley, Byron, Keats

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

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.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.