Archive for the 'history' Category

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Picks of the Week


The picks of the week from around the web.

  • BBC’s “A History of the World in a Hundred Objects”. For those residing outside Britain, you might be unaware of this brilliant radio programme, in which British Museum director Neil McGregor pieces together a history of human civilisation from individual pieces in the museum’s collection, presented in 15-minute installments, each featuring almost invariably well-informed guests. Beyond the impressive feat of routinely evoking an object the audience cannot see (well, you can see them online), this is simply great radio.
  • James Campbell on Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. I suspect Campbell senses a lot of what’s wrong with contemporary literature right here. Incisive and entertaining.
  • An interview with Bill Gaines. This 1983 Comics Journal interview with the EC comics publisher, conducted by Dwight R. Decker, Gary Groth and Peppy White, is not only a great historical document, but a fantastic read.
  • The Hooded Utilitarian goes archival. The comics blog to which I occasionally contribute has added a new feature: the representation of academic and critical texts of note for the internet audience. Fabrice Neaud’s late 90s review of Aristophane’s Conte Démoniaque is a great example of what comics criticism can be, while Andrei Molotiu’s 2006/2007 essay on the aesthetics of original comic art is a fine scholarly analysis.
  • Image: Ain Sakri Lovers figurine, found near Bethlehem. More here.

    Picks of the Week


    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Li Se on the proposed South African media bill. As good a critical overview as any I’ve read on the ANC’s latest media clampdown in disguise.
  • Sam Lipsyte on Wilson. A fine review of Dan Clowes’ latest comic. One of the few I’ve read that seems to get it.
  • “1000 Years of Pretty Boys”. Guest-blogging for the Hooded Utilitarian, JR Brown provides a great, detailed survey of homosocial depictions of bishounen, beautiful young men, in historical Japan as a framework for understanding especially shoujo and yaoi manga.
  • Picks of the Week

    “the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth”

    – Paul Krugman

    The picks of the week from around the web.

    Busy times, but this week I’ve had a little time to poke around the web. Here’s what rose to the top.

  • The New York Times: “How Did Economists Get it so Wrong?” Economist, columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman offers an analysis of the developments in macroeconomic theory through the 20th Century that led us to a situation where the vast majority of influential economists were unable to predict the recession. Great, lucid writing on a complex issue.
  • The Guardian. This piece, by Rebecca Solnit, on the fourth anniversary of Katrina depressed the hell out of me, but serves as reminder of what should have been a wakeup call to the American mainstream.
  • Wired: “The Good Enough Revolution” interesting analysis of the development, last half a dozen year’s, in consumer behaviour and technology towards a preference for cheap and accessible. Think point-and-shoot digital cameras, MP3s and Predator Drones.
  • David Bordwell on Archie. The great film scholar and discrete comics fan brings his always insightful analysis to bear on the latest developments in one of America’s most resilient comics properties.
  • Bookforum: Jeet Heer on Crumb’s Genesis. Your comics link of the week is one of the best pieces of comics criticism I’ve read lately. Looking forward to that book! (please note: apparently requires registration).
  • Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • The New York Times: “The Making of an Iran Policy”. Roger Cohen on the Obama administration’s Iran policy, its major players and the challenges they face. A fascinating look behind the scenes by an informed observer.
  • Writings of Perry Anderson. I was only vaguely aware of the distinguished historian and sociologist before Jeet Heer recently called attention to some of his writings. Extremely well-informed and widely read, his dissections of modern European history from a leftist point of view carries both epic sweep and richness of detail. Check out, for example, this analysis of the development of German society, politics and economy over the last decade or so, or this compelling and depressing flaying of the Italian left. More can be found at the New Left Review, The Nation and the London Review of Books.
  • The Shat at his Peak. And finally, to offset the frivolity of this post, here’s William Shatner. Surely a reason why the internet was created. Here’s the source material by the way. (Thanks, Richard!)
  • Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • London Review of Books: “The Rome-Tehran Axis”. In his typical perambulatory fashion — segueing from Iran to Berlusconi to Kung Fu Panda — celebrity philosopher Slavoj Žižek makes a somewhat off-the-cuff, but nevertheless compelling and disturbing argument about the current evolution of Western democracy.
  • Comics Comics: Dave Sim/Neal Adams on Color. With permission, Frank Santoro publishes a section of Dave Sim’s mammoth interview from Following Cerebus #9 with fellow cartoonist and comic book legend Neal Adams, in which they discuss the comic book colouring techniques of the 1960s. Fascinating for people interested in the more technical aspects of comics history. (The interview itself is well worth seeking out, if nothing else for the revelatory portrait of Adams it draws).
  • The New York Times: “One Giant Leap to Nowhere”. Marking the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11, Tom Wolfe ponders why the space program subsequently never really took off.
  • Fecalface: interview with Ben Jones. Interviews with the Boston cartoonist and post-pop artist are pretty rare, and it’s a pretty good one, but the real treat here are pictures from a gallery show of his.
  • Picks of the Week


    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • New York Times: Errol Morris — “Bamboozling Ourselves”. Famously, the picture above was sold to Göring as a Vermeer at an astronomical sum in 1943. Hard as it is to believe, it had prominent experts fooled. Read the story behind one of the most high-profile fine arts frauds and the man who painted the picture in this both fascinating and horrific series on the psychology of deception and the Nazi plunder of European art collections. Scroll down and start at the bottom.
  • David Lynch: The Interview Project. This week saw the premiere of the filmmaker’s American road trip through interviews with people encountered along the way. It may turn out somewhat uneven, but especially the first of the two interviews posted this week — with Jess, in Needles, CA — is gripping.
  • Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

    Long time since last picks. Haven’t had as much time to surf as normally. This week, however, I have a bunch of comics stuff on my mind.

  • Du9: “Sibylline retrouvée” & “Le Grand recit fantastique.” Fine two-part article by David Turgeon on the never collected, late Sibylline stories and of the late great Raymond Macherot. Also, Turgeon goes into even more detail on these late stories here. Let’s hope they will eventually be collected.
  • Golden Age Comic Books: “Came the Dawn” — Frank Frazetta’s bootylicious, unfinished adaptation of one of the hokier Al Feldstein/Wally Wood EC shockers. Flawed in so many ways, yet so opulently disarming.
  • Arthur: Interesting interview with Marc-Antoine Mathieu, the author of the mind-bending Julius Corentin-Acquefaques books and the recent Museum Vaults. He is one of the important voices in the New Wave of French-language comics of the 90s but is strangely overlooked today.
  • Bonus: Dette var jo i øvrigt ugen, hvor to medlemmer af Blekingegadebanden leverede deres dybt anakronistiske Blast from the Past. Uden at ofre ét eneste ord på det mord og de mange psykiske traumer de var skyld i. Peter Øvig Knudsen var heller ikke begejstret for denne deprimerende, men ikke uinteressante zombie-manifestation.
  • Picks of the Week

    “…you’re apt to find your thoughts returning again and again to a certain dark box in a certain Hilton half a world and three careers away, to the torture and fear and offer of reprieve and a certain Young Voter named John McCain’s refusal to violate a Code. Because there were no techs’ cameras in that box, no aides or consultants, no paradoxes or gray areas; nothing to sell. There was just one guy and whatever in his character sustained him. This is a huge deal. In your mind, that Hoa Lo box becomes sort of a dressing room with a star on the door, the private place behind the stage where one imagines “the real John McCain” still lives. But the paradox here is that this box that makes McCain “real” is: impenetrable. Nobody gets in or out. That’s why, however many behind-the-scenes pencils get put on the case, be apprised that a “profile” of John McCain is going to be just that: one side, exterior, split and diffracted by so many lenses there’s way more than one man to see. Salesman or leader or neither or both: the final paradox — the really tiny central one, way down deep inside all the other boxes and enigmas that layer McCain — is that whether he’s For Real depends now less on what’s in his heart than on what might be in yours. Try to stay awake.”

    – David Foster Wallace, on McCain 2000.

    The picks of the week from around the web. A little late this time around, due to traveling and such.

  • “The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub”. Remembering David Foster Wallace at his sad death by his own hand on Friday, I’d like to hype this piece from Rolling Stone on the McCain campaign trail in 2000. While perhaps a little overlong, it is not only eloquent, but presents singular moments of empathetic exposition, acute observation and clever analysis. It also depressingly reminds us how McCain 2008 is nothing like its precursor.
  • The Comics Journal enters Deitch World! For what is surely the best issue of the Journal in a long while, Gary Groth talks to the cartooning family of the Deitches: Gene, Kim, Simon and Seth. Only there wasn’t room enough in the magazine to print the entirety of the great interview with Kim, so here’s some more.
  • Berlatsky & Crippen. Two remarkable comics critics expand and join forces. Crippen has signed up with Berlatsky’s blog The Hooded Utilitarian and starts out with his 2007 memoir of fanboydom “True Believer”, while Berlatsky opens his new column at Comixology, A Pundit in Every Panopticon, with an essay on Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ and the transcendence of art. Good stuff.
  • Noboru Ôshiro’s “Train Journey.” Matt Thorn brings us scans of an astonishing work of exploratory sequential art, surely a precursor to Yuichi Yokoyama’s great Travel. Don’t miss it!
  • The Žižek Show

    trokhimeko_stalin.jpgGot my first Žižek experience yesterday. I was simultaneously impressed and underwhelmed. My only exposure to his work until today had been through the plethora of other authors citing him these days, and through a friend who enthusiastically appreciates his iconoclasm and originality, and also does a killer impression of the man. I have been meaning to read something by him for a while, and will probably get around to it sooner rather than later now.

    Anyway, Slavoj Žižek was lecturing at Birkbeck College in London, as is his wont. The theme was “The Uses and Misuses of Violence”. Basically he was tackling the question of why normal people inflict atrocious violence on others when they, by all accounts, are caring and considerate of their comrades and family. He started with former Maoists turned Zionists and ended with Stalin (one of his favourite subjects), and made many entertaining and often enlightening digressions along the way. The basic idea was that idealists are invariably aware of the imperfection or even downright infamy of the people they idealize, in this case Mao, but revere them even more because of that fact, because it lends their aspirations a kind of empyrean air. Had Mao been a benign ruler, he would not have inspired such zealous idolization, but languished in history book obscurity instead, he argued. Continue reading ‘The Žižek Show’

    The Saved

    ng_st_petermartyr.jpgI recently read two very moving books, both classics of World War II-literature. One was Italian chemist Primo Levi’s relentlessly frank first-person account of life in the camps, If This Is A Man (aka. Survival in Auschwitz, 1947), the other was the collected letters and diary entries of young Danish seaman and resistance fighter Kim Malthe-Bruun, Kim (1945). Read together, they chart different parts to survival and salvation and suggest why the two should not be confounded. Continue reading ‘The Saved’