The Fawlty Towers star rails against the government, the BBC and British newspapers in an platform appearance for Hacked Off
It was hard to know what to expect of a solo show by John Cleese, organised by the campaign group. On 29 June, the comedian tweeted that it would be a “speech” but, by 5 July, he was calling it a “new one-hour comedy show”.
Cleese has experimented with standup as crowd-funding before. The audience helped to pay for his third divorce. The £30 ticket for this event (including an entry in a draw for a dinner with Cleese) was bankrolling Hacked Off’s campaign to seek judicial review of the government’s decision to leave the planned second phase of the Leveson probe into journalistic ethics, which would investigate the relationship between the press and police.
On Sunday at 7.30pm, there were 250 people in the at London’s Royal Geographic Society, which seems popular with former members of Monty Python: Michael Palin has been the society’s president for three years.
Above the stage hung a vast black and white photograph of Cleese looking gloomy, next to the words, “Why There Is No Hope”. It soon became clear that anyone drawn in by the love of would get only the intemperate manner, as Cleese read a 45-minute lecture from a large Autocue screen about how culture has been engulfed by stupidity.
Every artist explores dimensions of space and place, orienting themselves and their works in the world, and orienting their viewers. Then there are artists like Vincent van Gogh, who make space and place a primary subject. In his early paintings of peasant homes and fields, his figures’ muscular shoulders and hands interact with solid walls and knotted trees. Later country scenes—whether curling and delicate, like Wheatfield with a Reaper, or heavy and ominous, like Wheatfield with Crows (both below)—give us the sense of the landscape as a single living entity, pulsating, writhing, blazing in brilliant yellows, reds, greens, and blues.
Van Gogh painted interior scenes, such as his famous The Bedroom, at the top (the first of three versions), with an eye toward using color as the means of making space purposeful: “It’s just simply my bedroom,” he wrote to Paul Gauguin of the 1888 painting, “only here color is to do everything… to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In a word, looking at the picture ought to rest the brain, or rather the imagination.”
When Jean-Paul Sartre Had a Bad Mescaline Trip and Then Hallucinated, for Years, That He Was Being Followed by Crabs
Sometimes when confronted with strange new ideas, people will whoop “you must be on drugs!”—a charge often obtruded at philosophers by those who would rather dismiss their ideas as hallucinations than take them seriously. But, then, to be fair, sometimes philosophers are on drugs. Take Jean-Paul Sartre. “Before Hunter S. Thompson was driving around in cabriolet stocked full of acid, cocaine, mescaline and tequila,” notes Critical Theory, Sartre almost approached the gonzo journalist’s habitual intake.
According to Annie Cohen-Solal, who wrote a biography of Sartre, his daily drug consumption was thus: two packs of cigarettes, several tobacco pipes, over a quart of alcohol (wine, beer, vodka, whisky etc.), two hundred milligrams of amphetamines, fifteen grams of aspirin, a boat load of barbiturates, some coffee, tea, and a few “heavy” meals (whatever those might have been).
The film-maker weighs in on the disagreement surrounding BBC comedy chief Shane Allen’s comment about ‘six Oxbridge white blokes’
Terry Gilliam has responded to the BBC diversity debate which referenced Monty Python by saying: “I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian.”
Gilliam was commenting on the line over diversity triggered by the BBC’s unveiling of its new comedy programming, offered in June, at which the BBC’s controller of comedy commissioning Shane Allen emphasised the corporation’s commitment to “the stories that haven’t been told and the voices we haven’t yet heard”. In response to a question about Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Allen said: “If you’re going to assemble a team now, it’s not going to be six Oxbridge white blokes. It’s going to be a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world.”
Speaking at a press conference at the Karlovy Vary film festival, where he was presenting his new film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Gilliam said: “It made me cry: the idea that ... no longer six white Oxbridge men can make a comedy show. Now we need one of this, one of that, everybody pleaded... this is bullshit. I no longer want to be a white male, I don’t want to be blamed for everything wrong in the world: I tell the world now I’m a black lesbian... My name is Loretta and I’m a BLT, a black lesbian in transition.”
There’s no denying that Ingmar Bergman made a lasting impression on so many great filmmakers. But it’s often hard to wrap our heads around the fact that Bergman changed the whole course of cinematic history and helped to shape the landscape of filmmaking today.
There’s something wonderful about seeing the likes of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Claire Denis, and Wes Craven, going out of their way to make the journey to visit Bergman’s humble residence on the remote island of Faro. And seeing their reactions as they first step inside the house. Their gleeful, awestruck expressions show us a human side to this highly acclaimed and talented directors. It feels like we are witnessing something deeply personal, and we feel worshipful to be along for the journey. This is a rare event, very few have stepped inside the house of Bergman.
Directors Jane Magnusson and Hynek Pallas’ decision to use previously unseen behind-the-scenes footage from the making of Bergman’s films, along with candid conversations with other filmmakers, help to weave the story of the great director. Detailing his early days, to his peak in the 50s and 60s, to his slump in the 70s and the return to his form in the 80s.
The feature came out of a six-part 2012 TV series titled “Bergman’s Video.” with each episode centering with a central topic from Bergman’s films (for example, “Death,” “Fear,” “Silence”) and how that theme played out in the interviewed filmmakers’ work. For Trespassing Bergman, the directors decided to focus on the effect and impression that Bergman’s work had on the likes of great directors such as Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Michael Haneke, Ang Lee and Zhang Yimou.
Exchanging their shoes for slippers at the door, the Bergman property guests explore the carefully preserved building, which, which after Bergman’s death in 2007, was turned into a museum (everything left how it was when the man died, a bedside table complete with his scribblings reveals something pedantic about the director). Most of the guest often sit down into comfy chairs in the TV room to talk. The room has an extensive, carefully alphabetized collection of VHS tapes, (we discover that Bergman had a copy of Die Hard, it seems surreal to think of him sitting down to watch the 80s action flick).
According to Ted Morgan, author of William S. Burroughs biography Literary Outlaw (which Burroughs hated), the hard-living Beat writer added “teacher” to the list of jobs he did not like after an unhappy semester teaching creative writing at the City College of New York. He complained about dimwitted students, and disliked the job—arranged for him by Allen Ginsberg—so much that he later turned down a position at the University of Buffalo that paid $15,000 a semester, even though he desperately needed the money. That Burroughs had recently kicked heroin may have contributed to his unease with the prosaic regularities of college life. Whatever the story, he later remarked that the “teaching gig was a lesson in never again.”
Making friends with similar interests can be a challenge for anyone. But imagine you are the founder of an entirely new discipline, with its own peculiar jargon, set of practices, and conceptual categories. Imagine, for example, that you are Sigmund Freud, who in 1896 made his break with medicine to pursue the work of psychoanalysis. Drawing on clinical experience with patients, his own self-analysis, cocaine-induced reveries, and an idiosyncratic reading of Greek mythology, Freud invented his strange psychosexual theories within the confidence of a very small circle of acquaintances and admirers.
One of his close relationships during those productive and turbulent years, with eccentric ear, nose, and throat doctor Wilhelm Fliess—a collaborator, influence, “confessor and moral supporter”—ended badly in 1906. It was in that same year that Freud met the much-younger, Carl Jung. At their first meeting, the two “talked nonstop for 13 hours,” the Aeon video above, animated by Andrew Khosravani, tells us. Thus began the intense and now-legendary six-year friendship between the psychiatrists, a “passionate and surpassingly weird relationship, which, given the people involved, perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise.” Freud settled upon Jung as his protege and successor, the “Joshua to my Moses,” overjoyed to have found a friend who seemed to understand his ideas intimately.
ATHENS (Reuters) - British singer and actor Sting called world leaders “half men and cowards” on Saturday for their incapacity to find a solution for refugee crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already played down the advance of a breakthrough at hastily-arranged talks among EU leaders on Sunday on the migration dispute dividing Europe and threatening her own government.
Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said on Saturday he expects a series reaction across the European Union if Germany closes its borders to refugees.
The line-up for this origin film is getting more stellar and award-worthy by the moment – enter Mr. Robert De Niro! (Picture: Getty, DC Comics)
Who is Murray Franklin?
That is the question we all need to be asking ourselves right now, as according to new reports he is a central supporting character in the standalone Joker film.
Not the newly announced Jared Leto one, but the one which Joaquin Phoenix has been attached to since February.
You know, the one being helmed by Todd Phillip and produced by Martin Scorsese?
Well there’s something interesting about this role in particular, as character Robert De Niro is being pegged for the by an insider.
Quentin Tarantino’s star-studded “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” just landed another legendary actor: Al Pacino.
Pacino will play Marvin Shwarz — Leonardo DiCaprio’s character’s agent in the Sony film — marking his first collaboration with Tarantino. Dating back to his first feature film, 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs,” Tarantino has always cast movie stars he grew up watching, from Robert Forster in “Jackie Brown” to David Carradine in the “Kill Bill” films. Pacino fits that matrix of actors who rose to fame in the 1970s.
Also joining the cast are Damian Lewis, who will play acting icon Steve McQueen, Luke Perry as Scotty Lancer, Emile Hirsch as hairstylist Jay Sebring, Dakota Fanning as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme — a member of the Manson family — Clifton Collins as Ernesto the Mexican Vaquero, Keith Jefferson as Land Pirate Keith, and Nicholas Hammond as executive Sam Wanamaker.
by Steven Craig Hickman
THERE HE WAS, laughing, but in trying to laugh in a more abandoned manner he had become preoccupied with the question of whether there was any difference at all between the burden of futility on the one hand and the burden of scorn on the other as well as with what he was laughing about anyway, because the subject was, uniquely, everything, arising from an everything that was everywhere, and, what was more, if indeed it was everything, arising out of everywhere, it would be difficult enough to decide what it was at, arising out of what, and in any case it wouldn’t be full-hearted laughter, because futility and scorn were what continually oppressed him…
—László Krasznahorkai The Last Wolf & Herman
László Krasznahorkai was born on 5 January 1954, in Gyula, Hungary, to a lawyer and a social security administrator. He studied law and Hungarian language and literature at university, and, after some years as an editor, became a freelance writer. His first novel, Satantango (1985), pushed him to the centre of Hungarian literary life and is still his best known. He didn’t leave Communist Hungary until 1987, when he travelled to West Berlin for a fellowship – and he has lived in a number of countries since, but returning regularly to Hungary.
His main literary hero is, he says, Kafka: “I follow him always.”
Reading Krasznahorkai is like entering one of Kafka’s burrows and realizing there will never be an exit, that the darkness, the bleak walls of dampness, the hollows and interminable false passages leading nowhere is all there is: a labyrinth of endless futility and despair. And, yet, in the midst of this monstrous world of bleakness one begins to laugh, one understands that the deft markers of some strangeness and vision of life within the decay and rottenness harbors an infernal paradise full of something else, an excess: a life unbidden and away. To enter these bleak hollows is to know that life offers no hope, only the power of the mind to challenge itself and explore what is in excess of itself. Even in the most terrible corners of this blasted universe of death we find certain forms of contingent change, moments of clarity and brilliance that catch us off-guard and bring us not hope but rather that surprise we so long for of something new arising out of the pure negativity of all that is. This is what it is like to come upon the works of Krasznahorkai.
His first novel Satantango reviewed in the Guardian. Which it calls “brutal, relentless and so amazingly bleak that it’s often quite funny”. One might be reminded here of Kafka’s Castle where the protagonist wanders around a fortress world that has the flavor of an anti-gnostic gnosis in which nothing is ever revealed yet everything, every object hints at even darker regions below the threshold of our paranoid gaze. If Krasznahorkai is a parodist of strange ideas, a prophet not so much of those hidden recesses of a monstrous universe but of the openness of the human heart to the incompleteness surrounding it, then he is in actuality a gifted martyr of those broken worlds we all inhabit, a guide into the corrupted corridors of our decaying and unraveling universe. Another Stranger in a Strange Land seeking neither solace nor salvation, but rather the powers of mind over the universe of death surrounding it. Crafting words that break the vessels of meaning and bring forth light out of the decay of broken things. Bleak? Only if you do not know how to laugh.
Enter if you dare! His books on Amazon.com: here!
We think of David Lynch as a filmmaker, and rightly so, but the director of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive has long kept a more diverse creative portfolio. He began as a painter, studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and has also tried his hand at photography, music, and comic strips. More recently, writes the AV Club's Randall Colburn, "Lynch has also released his own line of coffee, collaborated on Twin Peaks-themed beer and skateboards, and created his own festival. His latest endeavor? T-shirts, which is wild because it’s hard to imagine the ever-dapper filmmaker ever wearing one."
Perhaps a line of Lynch-approved traditional white shirts, made to be buttoned all the way up even without a tie, remains in development. But for now, fans choose from the 57 T-shirts designs now available at Studio: David Lynch's Amazon store. All suitable for wearing to your local revival house, they include "Turkey Cheese Head," "Cowboy," "Small Dog,""Small Barking Dog,"and "You Gotta Be Kiddin' Me." What kind of life, now solidly into its eighth decade, has both enabled and driven Lynch to make not just so many things, but so many Lynchian things? Perhaps we can find a few answers within the nearly 600 pages of Room to Dream, Lynch's new memoir.
Visualizing Dante’s Hell: See Maps & Drawings of Dante’s Inferno from the Renaissance Through-out Today
The light was departing. The brown air drew down
all the earth’s creatures, calling them to rest
from their day-roving, as I, one man alone,
prepared myself to face the double war
of the journey and the pity, which memory
shall here set down, nor hesitate, nor err.
Reading Dante’s Inferno, and Divine Comedy generally, can seem a daunting task, what with the book’s wealth of allusion to 14th-century Florentine politics and medieval Catholic theology. Much depends upon a good translation. Maybe it’s fitting that the proverb about translators as traitors comes from Italian. The first Dante that came my way—the unabridged Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed English translation—renders the poet’s terza rima in leaden prose, which may well be a written betrayal.
Gone is the rhyme scheme, self-contained stanzas, and poetic compression, replaced by wordiness, antiquated diction, and needless density. I labored through the text and did not much enjoy it. I’m far from an expert by any reach out but was much relieved to later discover John Ciardi’s more faithful English rendering, which immediately impresses upon the senses and the memory, as in the description above in the first stanzas of Canto II.
By focusing on Kahlo’s life and her suffering rather than her art, this memorabilia-stuffed exhibition stifles her burning visionary brilliancy
This feels wrong. I am looking at Frida Kahlo’s prosthetic leg. There is a magical red boot on it. The matching boot is also in the display case, yet the woman who wore the leg and boots is long gone. She died in 1954 when she was 47. Would she want her artificial limb to outlive her like this?
It’s true, she wore it bravely. Everything about Kahlo was courageous. She was a revolutionary, a passionate lover, a bold artist. As a child she survived infantile paralysis, then in 1925, when she was 18, she was in a bus crash that left her with lifelong disability and pain. At the heart of the V&A’s highly unusual and problematic retrospective is a shrine to that pain. There are corsets and body casts on which she painted the communist hammer and sickle; medicines and painkillers, crutches and built-up shoes. However, there are simply not enough of her compelling works of art.
Kahlo was, as this exhibition reveals with sensationalist clarity, someone who suffered. Yet she was also someone who created. She did not endure her life. She transfigured it, into blazing, visionary paintings. These take a back seat at the V&A to Kahlo’s clothes, makeup, and iconic image. I suppose this is what artistic fame looks like in 2018.
Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles, who co-hosted the awards show, booted things off with a piano duet in which they poked fun at the fact that neither of them has won Tony or Grammy Awards.
"Neither one of us has ever won anything. So this is for the people who lose," the hosts sang.
Both have made their Broadway debuts, Groban in 2016's "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812," and Bareilles in 2017's "Waitress."
Andrew Garfield gave a passionate speech while accepting the award for lead actor in a play for his work in "Angels in America. He referenced a recent Supreme Court decision relating to a Colorado baker to who declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
"We are all sacred and we all belong," Garfield said. "So, let's just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked."
Bruce Springsteen won a special Tony Award for his sold-out Broadway show, "Springsteen on Broadway." He also performed "My Hometown" later in the night.
Actor Robert DeNiro caused a stir while introducing Springsteen's performance. The actor cursed twice saying, "f**k Trump." He received a standing ovation.
"First, I wanna say, 'f**k Trump.' It's no longer 'Down with Trump,' it's 'f**k Trump.'"
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Broadway star, Chita Rivera both received lifetime achievement awards.
An emotional moment came when the drama students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas sang "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway musical "Rent."
The Happy Prince, the admired biopic of Oscar Wilde, is more than a career-reviving film for the actor and director, it is an avowal of an enduring literary love
Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde in his film The Happy Prince, which premiered in the UK on 5 June. Photograph: Allstar/Lionsgate
The surprised delight that met Rupert Everett’s second volume of memoir, Vanished Years, six years ago was a hint of what might be to come. The calibre of the writing matched any living diarist, according to a broad cross-section of reviewers, from Julie Burchill in the Guardian to the Telegraph’s Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, who awarded five stars and revelled in the way the author “repeatedly slips the gears of genre, moving between scenes of farce, elegy and melodrama”. He predicted more “seriously good books” ahead, if only Everett would take himself “seriously enough”.
Well, now we know exactly what Rupert wrote next – a screenplay. And his new film biography of Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince, has wowed film critics in much the same way. To add to his triumph, Everett also produces, stars and directs, appearing alongside Colin Firth and Julian Wadham, two of his oldest theatrical buddies. “I loved working with me as an actor,” Everett quipped to red carpet reporters at the film’s London premiere last Tuesday.
Yet the real love affair here is not between Everett and himself, as he regularly teases. The truly enduring relationship is with Wilde, whose plays Everett has now appeared in on stage and whom he has played in productions, and whose tragic personal story the actor has struggled for years to bring to the screen.
The history of philosophy conceived as the elaboration of a programme for artificial general intelligence; intelligence understood as the impersonal and collective evolution of a thought that realizes itself according to a view from nowhere and nowhen.
In Intelligence and Spirit Reza Negarestani formulates the ultimate form of intelligence as a theoretical and practical thought unfettered by the temporal order of things, a real movement capable of overcoming any state of affairs that, from the perspective of the present, may appear to be the complete totality of history. Intelligence pierces through what seems to be the totality or the inevitable outcome of its history, be it the manifest portrait of the human or technocapitalism as the alleged pilot of history.
Building on Hegel’s account of geist as a multi-agent conception of mind and Kant’s transcendental psychology as a functional analysis of the conditions of possibility of mind, Negarestani provides a critique of both classical humanism and dominant trends in posthumanism. The assumptions of the former are exposed by way of a critique of the transcendental structure of experience as a tissue of subjective or psychological dogmas, the claims of the latter regarding the ubiquity of mind or the inevitable advent of an unconstrained superintelligence are challenged as no more than ideological fixations which do not stand the test of systematic scrutiny.
This remarkable fusion of continental philosophy in the form of a renewal of the speculative ambitions of German Idealism, and analytic philosophy in the form of extended thought-experiments and a philosophy of artificial languages, opens up new perspectives on the meaning of human intelligence, and explores the real potential of posthuman intelligence and what it means for us to live in its prehistory.
Starring Julian Barratt and admire by Paul Thomas Anderson, Flowers is grotesque, surreal – and part of a new wave of TV exploring mental health
In the very first minutes of the sitcom Flowers, Julian Barratt’s character, Maurice, a depressed children’s author, ties a noose to a tree, slips it around his neck and jumps from a chair. The branch snaps almost immediately. “Fuck’s sake,” he grumbles and trudges back inside.
That first series, broadcast two years ago, was bolstered by an extraordinary cast including Olivia Colman (soon to play Elizabeth II in The Crown) and Daniel Rigby, who won a Bafta playing Eric Morecambe. Bold and grotesque, it had the feel of a grown-up fairytale, a strange, sad and often very funny story of depression and family dysfunction.
“I signed up having read the scripts and finding them brilliant,” says Barratt, who spends much of the second series dealing with the aftermath of the first – and wearing running shorts. “It’s not a standard sitcom.”
The prize-winning writer on prophecy, political pessimism and her love of London
When Kamila Shamsie started her novel Home Fire in 2015, Sadiq Khan had yet to launch his campaign to become London’s mayor and the idea of a Muslim home secretary would have been dismissed as a futuristic fantasy. As she stepped up to get, the Women’s award for fiction this week, both had come to pass, along with several more chilling scenarios in her updating of the classical tragedy Antigone to multicultural Britain today.
After the banker-turned-Conservative MP Sajid Javid was promoted to the Home Office, a supporter went so far as to create a twitter hashtag, #nostrashamsie. But to those who tell her that the vibrancy of the novel has grown exponentially since it was published last year, Shamsie briskly responds: “I’m not a soothsayer – these things were in the water.”
The Pakistani-born daughter of a businessman and a leading critic and literary historian, Shamsie has lived in London since the mid-noughties. Two years before starting work on the novel, she became a British citizen, “so I was very aware of what was going on around citizenship and how easy it was to fall between the cracks. Until then, each time I signed a form for residency renovation I was incredibly tense: what would have happened if I had ticked one box wrongly?”
“We need to invent the future” – Mark Fisher
Edited by Darren Ambrose and with a foreword by Simon Reynolds, this comprehensive collection brings together the work of an acclaimed blogger, writer, political activist and lecturer Mark Fisher (aka k-punk). Covering the period 2004 – 2016, the collection will include some of the best writings from his seminal blog k-punk; a selection of his brilliantly insightful film, television and music reviews; his key writings on politics, activism, precarity, hauntology, mental health and popular modernism for numerous websites and magazines; his final unfinished introduction to his planned work on “Acid Communism”; and a number of main interviews from the last decade.
'The Directors Series' Offering Free Immersive Studies of Stanley Kubrick, the Coen Brothers, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson & Christopher Nolan
Humorist and movie reviewer Joe Queenan once stood outside a theatre after a screening of Jurassic Park and asked each to leave the viewer if they knew who directed the film they'd just seen. Only five out of the men who talked to him, he reported, could name Steven Spielberg. (Not just one but two of those who couldn't be said, inexplicably, that the Michael Crichton adaptation had been directed by Stephen King.)
Queenan pulled this inhibit as an informal test of "auteur theory," which holds that the director, despite the inherently collaborative character of the medium, is ultimately the "author" of a motion picture. But what does it say about auteur theory that half of his sample of viewers couldn't come up with the name of quite possibly the most famous filmmaker alive? Does the identity of a film's director matter as much as those of us who subscribe to auteur theory believe it does?
A lyric, sick-humoured and immoral morass of a novel told through reportage from the least-illuminated angles of the human condition, Warewolff! is a lexicon-in-pieces; a novel blasted into fragments.
Amalgamating nuclear warfare, Paris Vogue, and ‘lavish deformities’, it merges a bold experimentation with a literary sensibility and a pitch black, plague-bearing playfulness.
Taken as an entirety, the fragments of the novel gradually congeal to form an image of a hidden, numinous ‘other’ that lies behind the facade of the text – too terrifying to comprehend but in its facets: a being that learns to talk by shaping the stories of its victims. Warewolff! is at once the summary of those encounters, their metamorphosis, and the corrupted, deprived imago that it forces them to be.
PRAISE FOR WAREWOLFF!
Memoir from a Parallel Universe
Applied Ballardianism is an astonishing book, part fictionalized hallucinatory memoir, part essential Ballard primer, all written in the style of the great man himself. Whether you’re new to JG Ballard or a lifelong fan, this is a thrilling read, cut through with equal parts black humor, cultural insight, and existential horror.
–Tim Maughan, author of Paintwork and Infinite Detail
In Applied Ballardianism, Simon Sellars has invented a genre all his own. But what is it, exactly? Postmodern autopathography? Rough Guide to the Desert of the Real? Notes toward a mental breakdown? The missing link between Ballard and Virilio, psychogeography and edgeland studies, Mad Max and Videodrome? One thing is certain: Applied Ballardianism is the only book you’ll need when you’re marooned on a concrete island, barricaded in a high rise that’s descending into anarchy, or cast away on some Enewetak of the unconscious.
–Mark Dery, author of I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts: Drive-By Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
At first, Simon Sellars appears to be a character in a JG Ballard novel. Then Ballard appears to be a character in a Simon Sellars novel. Then not just the characters but the whole setting and ambience appear to be at once Ballardian and Sellarsian. Then you finish the book and you seem to be a character in a novel the two of them conspired to write. And your perception of the world is never the same again.
–McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto, Gamer Theory, and Telesthesia
The Mother of All Maps of the “Father of Waters”: Behold the 11-Foot Traveler’s Map of the Mississippi River (1866)
Everybody knows a fact or two about the United States of America, even those who've never set foot there. At the very least, they know the US is a big country, but it's one thing to know that and another to truly understand the scale involved. Today we offer you an artifact from cartographic history that illustrates it vividly: a 19th-century traveler's map of the Mississippi River that, in order to display the length of that mighty 2,320-mile waterway, extends to a full eleven feet. (Or, for those especially unfamiliar with how things are in America, displays the river's full 3,734-kilometer length at a full 3.35 meters.)
With a width of only three inches (or 7.62 centimeters), the Ribbon Map of the Father of Waters came on a spool the reader could use to unroll it to the relevant section of the river anywhere between the Gulf of Mexico and northern Minnesota. First published in 1866, just a year after the end of the Civil War, the map "was marketed toward tourists, who were flocking to the Mississippi to see the sights and ride the steamboats." So writes Atlas Obscura's Cara Giamo, who quotes art historian Nenette Luarca-Shoaf as describing the river as “a source of great awe. That kind of length, that kind of spaciousness was incomprehensible to a lot of folks who were coming from the East Coast."
A 2016 trip to Mumbai resulted in what would be Howard Hodgkin’s final paintings. Knocking with color and feeling, they are a vivid and furious epitaph
Last burst … A Green Thought in a Green Shade by Howard Hodgkin – now on show at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill. Photograph: Prudence Cuming Associates/Howard Hodgkin Estate, courtesy Gagosian
Howard Hodgkin would sometimes lose heart and his partner Antony Peattie would say: “Shall I get the scissors?” They both knew what he meant, says Peattie, as we look at Hodgkin’s final paintings in a back room at the Gagosian gallery in London. It was a joke about the great colourist Henri Matisse, who started snipping paper cutouts when illness and age left him too weak to paint.
In fact, although he used a wheelchair in his final years, Hodgkin never needed the scissors. He was to die practically brush in hand. In 2014, sitting in his skylit studio close to the British Museum, the painter told me: “I know that once I can’t paint any more, they should start measuring for my coffin.” An exhibition of his final, powerful paintings at the Gagosian shows how true those words were. Even as his health failed, Hodgkin found a way to paint. When he stopped, it was to go to hospital for the last time.
Hodgkin painted his very last works in the winter of 2016-17 in Mumbai, a city that always filled this remarkable artist with renewed energy. It was not a holiday, though, but a carefully planned painting trip. “We got there in December and he just wanted to work,” says Peattie. “I think all the pictures were in his head. He just wanted to get to Mumbai to paint them out.”