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The Secret of Life and Love, According to Ray Bradbury (1968)

2 hours 44 min ago

“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.” This—writes Sam Weller in his introduction to a 2010 interview with sci-fi and fantasy luminary Ray Bradbury—was the author’s “lifelong credo.” Weller writes of discovering an unpublished Paris Review interview from the 1970s in Bradbury’s garage, with a note from editor George Plimpton that read “a bit informal in places, maybe overly enthusiastic.” The irony of this judgment is that it is Bradbury’s enthusiasm, his lack of formality, which make him so compelling and so copious a writer and speaker. Bradbury didn’t self-edit or second guess much—his approach is best characterized as fearless and passionate, just as he describes his writing process:

I type my first draft quickly, impulsively even. A few days later I retype the whole thing and my subconscious, as I retype, gives me new words. Maybe it’ll take retyping it many times until it is done. Sometimes it takes very little revision.

It’s that unfettered expression of his subconscious that Bradbury discusses in the short clip above, in which he re-invigorates all the sort of carpe diem clichés one hears so often by framing them not as self-help suggestions but as imperatives for a full and healthy life. Responding in the moment, says Bradbury, refusing to “put off till tomorrow… what I must do, right now,” allows him to “find out what my secret self needs, wants, desires with all its heart.” For Bradbury, writing is much more than a formal exercise or a specialized craft—it is a vital expression of his full humanity and a means of “cleansing the stream” of his mind: “We belong only by doing,” he says, “and we own only by doing, and we love only by doing…. If you want an interpretation of life and love, that would be the closest thing I could come to.”

Bradbury doesn’t limit his philosophy to the writing life; he advocates for everyone an unabashed emotional engagement with the world. For him, the man (and woman, we might presume), who cannot “laugh freely,” cry, or “be violent”—which he defines in sublimating terms as any physical or creative activity—is a “sick man.” Bradbury’s “overly enthusiastic” explorations of creative passion were almost as much a part of his output as his fiction. His interviews, televised and in print, are inspiring for this reason: he is never coy or pretentious but pushes others to aspire to the same kind of authentic joy he seemed to take in everything he did.

By the way, the first person we see above is legendary Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones (as one Youtube commenter says, we get in this clip “two visionaries for the price of one”). Bradbury’s “vitality,” says Jones, “rubs off on the people who work with him.” And, he might have added, all of the people who read and listen to him, too.

Related Content:

Ray Bradbury: “The Things That You Love Should Be Things That You Do.” “Books Teach Us That”

Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer 1963 Film Captures the Paradoxical Late Sci-Fi Author

Ray Bradbury Gives 12 Pieces of Writing Advice to Young Authors (2001)

Ray Bradbury: Literature is the Safety Valve of Civilization

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

The Secret of Life and Love, According to Ray Bradbury (1968) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post The Secret of Life and Love, According to Ray Bradbury (1968) appeared first on Open Culture.

The Science of Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug

5 hours 44 min ago

Here’s a quick shot of science to start your day. The American Chemical Society, an organization representing chemists across the US, has released the latest in a series of Reactions videos. Attempting to explain the science of everyday things, previous Reactions videos have demystified the chemistry of Sriracha, LovePepper and more. This latest video breaks down the world’s most widely used stimulant, caffeine. If you haven’t had your morning cup of coffee, you may need to watch this video twice.

On a side note, if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, consider spending Saturday, May 3rd at Stanford’s one-day coffee symposium. Organized by Stanford Continuing Studies, the symposium – Coffee: From Tree to Beans to Brew and Everything in Between – will feature guest speakers (historians, scientists, the CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee, etc.) talking about what goes into making this great beverage of ours. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in coffee tasting and evaluation sessions. In full disclosure, I helped put the program together. It promises to be a great day. So I had to give a plug. You can learn more and sign up here.

The Science of Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Take Free Online Courses at Hogwarts: Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts & More

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 - 4:35 pm

A group of dedicated Harry Potter fans have created a new educational website called Hogwarts is Here. The site is free — you only have to spend fake Galleons on the site — and it lets users enroll at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and work through a seven-year curriculum, taking the same courses that Harry, Ron and Hermione did in the great Harry Potter series. The first year consists of courses that will sound familiar to any Harry Potter reader: Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Herbology, History of Magic, and Transfiguration. The 9-week online courses feature homework assignment and quizzes. Students can also read digital textbooks, such as A Standard Book of Spells and A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration. We have yet to enroll in a course, so we would be curious get your feedback.

Fans of fantasy literature will also want to check out the Tolkien courses listed in our collection of 900 Free Online Courses. Also see this complete reading of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, found in our collection of Free Audio Books.

Take Free Online Courses at Hogwarts: Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts & More is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Watch Film, Samuel Beckett’s Only Movie, Starring Buster Keaton

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 - 12:06 pm

Fresh off the international success of his play Waiting For Godot, Samuel Beckett made a film, called aptly enough Film. It came out in 1965 and proved to be the only motion picture the soon-to-be Nobel Prize winner would ever make. As you might expect, it is enigmatic, bleakly funny and very, very odd. You can check it out above.

The 17-minute silent short is essentially a chase movie between the camera and the main character O  – as in object. Film opens with O cowering from the gaze of a couple he passes on the street. Meanwhile, the camera looms just behind his head. At his stark, typically Beckettesque flat, O covers the mirror, throws his cat and his chihuahua outside and even trashes a picture — the only piece of decoration in the flat — that seems to be staring back at him. Yet try as he might, O ultimately can’t quite evade being observed by the gaze of the camera.

Barney Rosset, editor of Grove Press, commissioned the movie and regular Beckett collaborator Alan Schneider was tapped to direct. As Schneider recalled, the first draft of the screenplay was unorthodox.

The script appeared in the spring of 1963 as a fairly baffling when not downright inscrutable six-page outline. Along with pages of addenda in Sam’s inimitable informal style: explanatory notes, a philosophical supplement, modest production suggestions, a series of hand-drawn diagrams.

It took almost a year of discussion to bring the movie’s themes and story into focus.

For the lead character Beckett wanted to hire Charlie Chaplin until he was informed by an officious secretary that Chaplin doesn’t read scripts. Beckett then suggested Buster Keaton. The playwright was a longtime fan of the silent film legend. Keaton was even offered the role of Lucky on the original American production of Godot, though the actor declined. This time around, though, Keaton signed on, even if he couldn’t make heads or tales of the script.

And he wasn’t the only one. Ever since it came out, critics have been puzzling what Film is really about. Is it a statement on voyeurism in cinema? On human consciousness? On death? Beckett gave his take on the movie to the New Yorker: “It’s a movie about the perceiving eye, about the perceived and the perceiver — two aspects of the same man. The perceiver desires like mad to perceive and the perceived tries desperately to hide. Then, in the end, one wins.”

Keaton himself defined the movie even more succinctly, “A man may keep away from everybody but he can’t get away from himself.”

Related Content:

Samuel Beckett Speaks

Samuel Beckett Directs His Absurdist Play Waiting for Godot (1985)

Rare Audio: Samuel Beckett Reads Two Poems From His Novel Watt

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

Watch Film, Samuel Beckett’s Only Movie, Starring Buster Keaton is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Hear Patti Smith Read 12 Poems From Seventh Heaven, Her First Collection (1972)

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 - 8:45 am

So it’s National Poetry Month, and the Academy of American Poets recommends 30 Ways to Celebrate, including some old standbys like memorizing a poem, reading a poem a day, and attending a reading. All sensible, if somewhat staid, suggestions (I myself have been re-reading all of Wallace Stevens’ work—make of that what you will). Here’s a suggestion that didn’t make the list: spend some time digging the poetry of Patti Smith.

A living breathing legend, Smith doesn’t appear in many academic anthologies, and that’s just fine. What she offers are bridges from the Beats to the sixties New York art scene to seventies punk poetry and beyond, with spandrels made from French surrealist leanings and rock and roll obsessions. A 1977 Oxford Literary Review article aptly describes Smith in her heyday:

In the late sixties and early seventies Patti Smith was a member of Warhol’s androgynous beauties living under the fluorescent lights of New York City’s Chelsea Hotel…Her performances were sexual bruisings with the spasms of Jagger and the off-key of Dylan. Her musical poems often came from her poetical fantasies of Rimbaud.

Smith’s work is sensual and wildly kinetic, as is her process, which she once described as “a real physical act.”

When I’m home writing on the typewriter, I go crazy
I move like a monkey
I’ve wet myself, I’ve come in my pants writing

Emily Dickenson she ain’t, but Smith also has an abiding love and respect for her literary forebears, whether now-almost-establishment figures like Virginia Woolf or still-somewhat-outré characters like Antonin Artaud and Jean Genet.

Smith’s first published collection of poetry, Seventh Heaven, appeared in 1972 and included tributes to Edie Sedgwick and Marianne Faithfull. She dedicated the book to gangster writer Mickey Spillane and Rolling Stones’ muse, and partner of both Brian Jones and Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg.

The book has not been reissued, and print copies are rare. Yet, as the afore-quoted article notes, Patti Smith’s is an “oral poetics” that “uses much of her voice rhythms.” The line between her work as a punk singer and performance poet is ephemeral, perhaps nonexistent—Patti Smith on the page is great, but Patti Smith on stage is greater. Hear for yourself, above, in a 1972 recording of Smith reading twelve poems from her first collection at St. Mark’s Church in New York City. She sounds almost exactly like Linda Manz from Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, a streetwise kid with a romantic streak a mile wide.

Over three decades and many more publications later, Smith is now a National Book Award winner and a considerably mellower presence, but she has never strayed far from her roots. Above, see her at back at St. Marks in 2011, reading her poem “Oath,” first written in 1966, whose famous first line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” became the unforgettable opening to her equally unforgettable “Gloria.” For contrast, hear her read the same poem below, in 1973, over squalling guitar feedback (and with the famous line beginning “Christ died…”). Classic, classic stuff.

See and hear many more of her readings on Youtube, and see this site for a partial Patti Smith bibliography, publication history, and selected archive of poems, essays, and reviews.

Smith’s readings of Seventh Heaven will be added to our collection of Free Audio Books.

via Flavorwire

Related Content:

Watch Patti Smith Read from Virginia Woolf, and Hear the Only Surviving Recording of Woolf’s Voice

See Patti Smith Give Two Dramatic Readings of Allen Ginsberg’s “Footnote to Howl”

Patti Smith Plays Songs by The Ramones, Rolling Stones, Lou Reed & More on CBGB’s Closing Night (2006)

Patti Smith Documentary Dream of Life Beautifully Captures the Author’s Life and Long Career (2008)

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

Hear Patti Smith Read 12 Poems From Seventh Heaven, Her First Collection (1972) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Hear Patti Smith Read 12 Poems From Seventh Heaven, Her First Collection (1972) appeared first on Open Culture.

Science & Cooking: Harvard’s Free Course on Making Cakes, Paella & Other Delicious Food

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 - 5:00 am

I can hardly think of a more appealing nexus of the sciences, for most of us and for obvious (and delicious) reasons, than food. Add a kind of engineering to the mix, and you get the study of cooking. Back in 2012, we featured the first few lectures from Harvard University’s course Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft MatterTheir collection of rigorous and entertaining presentations of that which we love to prepare and, even more so, to eat has since expanded to include one- to two-hour lectures delivered by sharp professors in cooperation with respected chefs and other food luminaries on culinary subjects like the science of sweets (featuring Flour Bakery’s Joanne Chang), how to do cutting-edge modernist cuisine at home (featuring Nathan Myhrvold, who wrote an enormous book on it), and the relevance of microbes, misos, and olives (featuring David Chang of Momofuku fame). You can watch all of the lectures, in order, with the playlist embedded at the top of this post.

Alternatively, you can pick and choose from the complete list of Harvard’s Science and Cooking lectures on Youtube or on iTunes. Some get deep into the natural workings of specific dishes, ingredients and preparation methods; others, like “The Science of Good Cooking” with a couple of editors from Cook’s Illustrated, take a broader view. That lecture and others will certainly help build an intellectual framework for those of us who want to improve our cooking — and even those of us who can already cook decently, or at least reliably follow a recipe — but can’t quite attain the next level without understanding exactly what happens when we flick on the heat. One school of thought holds that, to come off as reasonably skilled in the kitchen, you need only master one or two showcase meals. When asked to cook something, I, for instance, have tended to make paella almost every time, almost out of sheer habit. But now that I’ve found Raül Balam Ruscalleda’s talk on the science of that traditional Spanish dish, I can see that I must now, on several levels, raise my game. View it below, and feel free to take notes alongside me. You can find Science and Cooking in our collection of 900 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Related Content:

Science & Cooking: Harvard Profs Meet World-Class Chefs in Unique Online Course

MIT Teaches You How to Speak Italian & Cook Italian Cuisine All at Once (Free Online Course)

How Cooking Can Change Your Life: A Short Animated Film Featuring the Wisdom of Michael Pollan

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Science & Cooking: Harvard’s Free Course on Making Cakes, Paella & Other Delicious Food is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Oxford University Press Gives You Free Access to Books, Dictionaries & More During National Library Week

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 - 1:05 am

It’s National Library Week, and to celebrate Oxford University Press is making many of its online resources free for users in the U.S. and Canada this week. Access will be open until the end of Saturday, the 19th. You will be able to read Oxford’s online dictionaries, online scholarly editions, extensive reference materials, and the popular series of Very Short Introductions, which “offer concise introductions to a diverse range of subject areas from Climate to ConsciousnessGame Theory to Ancient WarfarePrivacy to Islamic HistoryEconomics to Literary Theory.” (To access the texts, type “libraryweek” as the username and password in the Subscriber Login area. It appears halfway down the page, on the left.)

The open access period excludes Oxford University Press scholarly journals. This is unfortunate. As you probably know, most of the research published by university presses resides behind prohibitive paywalls that make it difficult for independent scholars and laypeople to read current scholarship. It would be nice to see Oxford and other presses make such grace periods more frequent and inclusive in the future. But for now, OUP’s open access week is a great way to entice non-professionals into academic scholarship and temporarily ease the burden on those without regular access to their databases. Visit Oxford’s site and sign in with username and password “libraryweek” to begin reading.

Related Content:

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix

Read All of Shakespeare’s Plays Free Online, Courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library

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

Oxford University Press Gives You Free Access to Books, Dictionaries & More During National Library Week is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Free Online: Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 - 4:56 pm

Last week, we revisited Johnny Depp’s reading of the famous “wave speech” from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Wouldn’t you know it, a week later, we’ve discovered that you can read the entire text of the original novel, online, for free.  The Gonzo journalism classic first appeared as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine in November 1971, complete with illustrations from Ralph Steadman, before being published as a book in 1972.  Rolling Stone has posted the original version on its web site. The 23,000 word manuscript famously begins:

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. …” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”

Down the line, you can find this text permanently listed in our collection of Free eBooks, as well as in our List of 10 Free Articles by Hunter S. Thompson That Span His Gonzo Journalist Career (1965-2005). Enjoy.

via @SteveSilberman

Free Online: Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Vintage Audio: William Faulkner Reads From As I Lay Dying

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 - 12:00 pm

William Faulkner wrote his seventh novel As I Lay Dying in the last months of 1929, almost immediately after another stream-of-consciousness masterpiece, The Sound and the Fury. Like the Shakespearean title of that work, As I Lay Dying’s title, which comes from Homer’s Odyssey, indicates the literary ambitions of its author. Only thirty-two at the time of its writing, Faulkner composed the novel in eight weeks (six by his accounting) while working nights at the University of Mississippi’s power plant, deciding in advance that he would stake his entire reputation as a writer on the book: “Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first words, I knew what the last word would be… Before I began I said, I am going to write a book by which, at a pinch, I can stand or fall if I never touch ink again.” His passionate conviction is evident in the original manuscript—the first and only draft—which reveals “an ease in creation unlike his other novels.”

Perhaps the most narratively straightforward of William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha novels—set in a fictional Mississippi region based on his own home county of Lafayette— As I Lay Dying tells the story of the Bundrens, a poor white family on a perilous journey to honor their matriarch Addie’s request for a burial in the town of Jefferson. Despite the seeming simplicity of its plot, the book’s style is incredibly complex, told from the perspective of fifteen different characters in rough-hewn country dialect and arresting lyrical fugues. It is the novel’s “coarse language and dialect,” that is “exactly Faulkner’s project,” writes Tin House editor Rob Spillman: “Faulkner, a Mississippi high school dropout, made it his mission to capture the emotional lives of the rural poor, unflinchingly writing about race, gender, sexuality, and power.” Through the power of his language and—in the words of Robert Penn Warren—the “range of effect, philosophical weight, originality of style, variety of characterization, humor, and tragic intensity,” the Southern novelist elevated his humble subjects to truly mythic status.

Thanks to HarperCollins, you can listen to Faulkner himself read from his masterpiece: .au file (4.4 Mb), .gsm file (0.9 Mb), .ra file (0.5 Mb). You’ll have to listen carefully to hear the author’s soft southern drawl, which gets lost at times in the poor quality recording. As you do, follow along with the text in Google Books. Faulkner reads from the twelfth chapter, told by Darl, Addie’s second oldest son, a sensitive, poetic thinker who narrates nineteen of the novel’s 59 chapters (and who James Franco plays in his film adaptation of the book). In this passage, Darl observes his mother’s death, and each family member’s immediate reaction, from sister Dewey Dell’s dramatic expressions of grief, to older brother Cash’s taciturn response and father Anse’s tragic-comic insensitivity: “God’s will be done…. Now I can get them teeth.”

To hear much more of Faulkner’s voice, visit Faulkner at Virginia: An Audio Archive, which catalogs and stores digital audio of the author’s lectures, readings, and question and answer sessions during his tenure as writer in residence at the University of Virginia in 1957-58. In one particular session with a group of engineering school students, Faulkner gives us a clue for how we might approach his work, which can seem so strange to those unfamiliar with the history, customs, and speech patterns of the American Deep South. Each of us, he says, “reads into the—the books, things the writer didn’t put in there, in the terms that—that his and the writer’s experience could not possibly be identical. That there are things the writer might think is in that book, which the reader doesn’t find for the same reason that—that no two experiences can be identical, but everyone reads according to—to his own—own lights, his own experience, his own observation, imagination, and experience.” For all of their provincial peculiarities, the Bundren’s epic struggle with the grief and pain of loss has universal reach and resonance.

Related Content:

William Faulkner Names His Best Novel, And the First Faulkner Novel You Should Read

William Faulkner Reads His Nobel Prize Speech

Seven Tips From William Faulkner on How to Write Fiction

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

Vintage Audio: William Faulkner Reads From As I Lay Dying is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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David Brooks: Should You Live for Your Résumé … Or Your Eulogy?

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 - 10:50 am

David Brooks’ short talk at last month’s TED conference is quintessential David Brooks. If you read his column in the Times, you’ll recognize his themes and concerns right away. It’s a bit preachy, sure. But it will get you thinking, maybe for a few minutes, about which self is winning out in your life — the self who craves success, builds a great résumé, and almost invariably bruises others — family, friends and strangers — along the way. Or the self “who seeks connection, community, love — the values that make for a great eulogy.” Just a little food for thought.

David Brooks: Should You Live for Your Résumé … Or Your Eulogy? is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Rare Audio: Albert Einstein Explains “Why I Am an American” on Day He Passes Citizenship Test (1940)

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 - 4:45 am

Most Americans by birth, myself included, have little reason to think about the process of attaining our highly sought-after nationality. But it only takes a moment’s reflection on the millions upon millions of immigrants who came to the United States in the twentieth century alone to get us pondering not just the how but the why of American citizenship. It’s become more relevant than ever today, when we need not look far to notice how many trans-national projects, careers, couples, and families have sprung up around us. Not only do a wider variety of people come to America today, but more Americans base themselves elsewhere than ever before. For some serious thoughts on changing nations, have a listen to the radio clip above, a brief interview with German-born theoretical physicist (and internationally known icon of science and intelligence) Albert Einstein. Last year, we featured footage of Einstein’s 1933 speech in praise of individual liberty at London’s Royal Albert Hall. He gave it not long after the Nazis took power in his homeland;  just four days later, he set sail for America and never looked back.

This broadcast went out in 1940, not long before the United States joined the Second World War, as part of I’m An American, a joint effort of the NBC network and the Immigration and Nationalization Service to invite “a number of naturalized citizens to talk about the American citizenship which they have recently acquired, a possession which we ourselves take for granted, but which is still new and thrilling to them.” Einstein, an articulate if still thickly accented speaker of English, calls this rare media appearance a “self-evident duty,” and praises the egalitarianism and cooperative spirit that inclines America toward ”the development of the individual and his creative power.” The famed scientist’s interlocutor, Second Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor Marshall E. Dimock, asks him about the reasons he appreciates his new citizenship, why he prefers to live in America given his “international outlook,” and whether he feels America still lives up to its grand promise of liberty. Whether you believe America has improved or gone downhill since that era, I think you’ll find in Einstein’s proud responses a reminder that it often takes a former outsider to clearly see the qualities that have given the country its place in history.

Related Content:

Albert Einstein on Individual Liberty, Without Which There Would Be ‘No Shakespeare, No Goethe, No Newton’

Albert Einstein Called Racism “A Disease of White People” in His Little-Known Fight for Civil Rights

Listen as Albert Einstein Reads ‘The Common Language of Science’ (1941)

Einstein for the Masses: Yale Presents a Primer on the Great Physicist’s Thinking

Albert Einstein Holding an Albert Einstein Puppet (Circa 1931)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Rare Audio: Albert Einstein Explains “Why I Am an American” on Day He Passes Citizenship Test (1940) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Rare Audio: Albert Einstein Explains “Why I Am an American” on Day He Passes Citizenship Test (1940) appeared first on Open Culture.

The Rise of the Patent Troll: An Animated Primer by Kirby Ferguson

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 - 12:01 am

Recently, I’ve been spending time investigating copyrights, keen to find out if it’s cricket for me to impose my vision on certain authors’ long ago work. An author myself, I freely admit, I might not cotton to it were some stranger to have her way with my work, without permission, on a stage, for all to see! Either way, I’d prefer things to be settled without a lawsuit.

My head was so full of copyright implications and loopholes, I was unaware that a parallel situation was blowing up beyond all reason in the world of patents. Such ignorance is a luxury unavailable to legions of small software designers, podcasters, and small business owners, as artist and filmmaker Kirby Ferguson of “Everything is a Remix“ fame makes clear in his animated primer, “Rise of the Patent Troll.”

The problem, he says, owes to a gap between centuries old patent law and a new technology that yields “inventions” whose parts can’t be attributed as easily as your average sewing machine’s or cotton gin’s.

Depicted here as hairy, pointy-eared storybook figures, the real life baddies are much more scary—newly formed corporate entities opportunistically seeking to enforce patents for digital innovations they don’t really own. Not surprisingly, they’re targeting the little guys, individuals who don’t have the resources to defend themselves when attacked. Yes, in this context, a fairly renowned comedian can be considered a little guy.

Ferguson joined forces with digital watchdogs Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and Engine to make the film, but the problem proves too slippery to fully explore in three animated minutes. I think the cartoon is actually bait, to get viewers like me to sit still for the next three minutes, in which the artist turns the camera on himself, to enumerate what citizens can do to make a proposed patent reform bill stick. If it all feels rather urgent, I’m guessing there’s a reason.

For more background on what patent trolls are all about, don’t miss this episode of This American Life.

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Ayun Halliday would freak worse than a goat if one of these trolls came after her. Follow her @AyunHalliday

The Rise of the Patent Troll: An Animated Primer by Kirby Ferguson is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Download 35,000 Works of Art from the National Gallery, Including Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rembrandt & More

Sat, 12 Apr 2014 - 1:00 pm

As a young amateur painter and future art school dropout, I frequently found myself haunted by the faces of two artists, that famously odd couple from my favorite art history novelization—and Kirk Douglas role and Iggy Pop song—Lust for Life. Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, above and below respectively, the tormented Dutch fanatic and burly French bully—how, I still wonder, could such a pair have ever co-existed, however briefly? How could such beautifully skewed visions of life have existed at all?

Van Gogh and Gaugin’s several self-portraits still inspire wonder. My younger self had the luxury of seeing these particular two up close and in person at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC: Van Gogh’s gaunt and piercing visage, Gauguin’s sneering self-parody. Now, thanks to the wonders of digital technology, my older self, and yours, can view and download high-resolution photos of both paintings, and over 35,000 more from the museum’s vast holdings, through NGA Images, “a repository of digital images of the collections of the National Gallery of Art.”

There you’ll find works by another obsessive Dutch self-portraitist, Rembrandt van Rijn, such as the lush 1659 painting below. You’ll find paintings from the heroes of the various Renaissances and French Impressionism, from movements modern and colonial, pastoral and urban. The collection is dizzying, and a lover of art could easily lose hours sorting through it, saving “open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each […] available free of charge for download and use.” The purpose of NGA Images is “to facilitate learning, enrichment, enjoyment, and exploration,” and there’s no doubt that it satisfies all of those goals and then some. You can peruse the Gallery’s most requested images here.

Browse the various collections, including one devoted to self-portraits. Conduct advanced searches, if you’ve more knowledge of the Gallery’s many treasures. Use the “lightbox arranger” to sort, store, annotate, and save your own personalized collections for future viewing. You are the curator! And the lucky beneficiary of the National Gallery’s beneficence. While I can tell you from experience that it’s nothing like standing face to face with these paintings in their in-real-life dimensions, textures, lines, and colors—despite the throngs of disinterested tourists—it’s at least a close second. And for students and educators of the visual arts, NGA Images offers an opportunity like no other to view and share great works of art often hidden away from even the museum’s visitors. Enjoy!

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

Download 35,000 Works of Art from the National Gallery, Including Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rembrandt & More is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Download 35,000 Works of Art from the National Gallery, Including Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rembrandt & More appeared first on Open Culture.

Watch Episode 1 of Years of Living Dangerously, The New Showtime Series on Climate Change

Sat, 12 Apr 2014 - 5:00 am

Ever since Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth came out to critical accolades, Conservative scorn and a handful of Oscars, there has been no shortage of well meaning documentaries about the perils of climate change. Most feature a Hollywood celebrity or two, a liberal amount of liberal guilt, and a distinct sense of preaching to the converted.

The new Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously might have plenty of those first two elements but none of the third. In the first episode of the series –which has been released for free on YouTube (above) – Don Cheadle asks, “Is there a way to discuss climate change without politics or religion getting in the way?” Producers James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Weintraub try valiantly to answer that question in the affirmative.

The series features a variety of celebrities — Schwarzenegger, Matt Damon, Jessica Alba – and celebrity reporters – Lesley Stahl, Chris Hayes, Mark Bittman – who investigate different facets of the topic.

In Cheadle’s segment, he tracks down an unusual figure in the heated, tiresome climate change debate – an Evangelical climate scientist. In a fascinating scene, she talks to the devout denizens of Plainview TX, trying to convince them that the drought that caused the closing of the local meatpacking plant – the town’s biggest employer – was the result of something other than divine will.

Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman traces the origins of the Syrian civil war to – you guessed it – climate change. He crosses into that war torn country (briefly) to discover that the seeds of the conflict were sown by the government’s indifferent response to a long-running drought.

But the most entertaining segment is Harrison Ford exploring the causes of Indonesia’s rapid deforestation. Apparently, palm oil – that anonymous ingredient in everything from cookies to chocolate bars – is such big business that it’s turning Borneo into a burn-scared moonscape. Who knew?

Ford’s charisma and gravelly baritone can turn the most inane line — “That’s a lot of cars” – into something with almost Talmudic profundity. It makes for some riveting viewing. The show ends with Ford chomping at the bit to interview Indonesia’s utterly corrupt Forestry Minister. That meeting, which occurs in a later episode, promises to be a 60 Minutes-style smackdown. You think Mike Wallace was daunting? Try Indiana Jones.

Years of Living Dangerously premieres on Showtime on April 13.

For a more academic introduction to this subject, see Global Warming: A Free Course from UChicago.

via Kottke

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

Watch Episode 1 of Years of Living Dangerously, The New Showtime Series on Climate Change is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Your Body During Adolescence: A Nakedly Unashamed Sex Ed Film from 1955

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 - 9:00 am

A straight shooting sex ed film from 1955? That’s hard to imagine. In my experience, the films of that period tend to beat around the bush.

The reticence of those sharing its playing field makes Your Body During Adolescence all the more remarkable. It doesn’t seem so at first. The first minute is devoted to observing a group of coed, clean cut, and unsurprisingly Caucasian teens, posing for a yearbook photo. The narrator seems destined to soft peddle things, mildly taking note of differences in height and weight.

I freely admit that I underestimated him. The teens in whose classrooms this work was screened may have audibly squirmed at the mention of certain words, but our narrator is undaunted by penises, scrota and labia… Shout out to the educational consultants, Dr. Harold S. Diehl, Dean of the University of Minnesota’s Medical School and Anita Laton, an author and professor of Health and Hygiene at San Jose State. Alfred Kinsey would’ve approved.

The diagrams are less straightforward, but I kind of liked that. They look like Mid Century Dinnerware patterns, which is to say, a lot sexier than most of the sex organs one can find on the Internet.

For fun and comparison, have a look at Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide to You Know What, the Simpsons’ infamous “sex eductation” film.

I’d say they both get it right.

via The Atlantic

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Ayun Halliday is the author of seven books, and creator of the award winning East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Your Body During Adolescence: A Nakedly Unashamed Sex Ed Film from 1955 is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Philosophize This!: The Popular, Entertaining Philosophy Podcast from an Unconventional Teacher

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 - 1:00 am

Podcasting has treated few fields of human inquiry as well as it has philosophy. You’ll already know that if you’ve subscribed to the philosophy podcasts we’ve featured before, like Philosophy BitesThe History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, and The Partially Examined Life. Perhaps we can chalk this up to what anyone who has taken a course under an astute philosophy professor has felt (see our list of 100 Free Philosophy Courses): the subject simply lends itself better to conveyance through the spoken words of living, breathing people, especially those with an enthusiasm for the subject. And those who’ve dedicated their lives to philosophy, given the field’s famously persistent lack of both financial rewards and concrete answers, tend to have more pure enthusiasm for their subject itself than do many other intellectual professionals. Stephen West, host of the newer Philosophize This! podcast [iTunes - Web - RSS - Libsyn), doesn't move among intellectual professionals. He never even took a philosophy course himself, with an astute professor or without one. Yet he can teach you about philosophy with greater clarity and engagement than most podcasters can muster even about their favorite television shows.

West begins the series, which has come to eighteen episodes since last June, with a two-part talk on the very origins of philosophy (Ionian and Italian), telling us what, exactly, the so-called "presocratic" thinkers thought about the human race and whether it had developed sufficiently advanced survival mechanics to begin thinking about things at all. He then continues through history and across the globe, explaining the ideas of the best-known philosophers from Socrates to Aristotle (a two-parter) to the Buddha to (most recently) Avicenna, breaking down how they came to those ideas, and connecting them to the broader philosophical experience in their historical context and ours today (which means references to, among other touchstones of modern life, The Walking Dead). And lest you doubt the un-degree'd West's qualifications, do read his brief autobiography, which tells the story of how he rose from the worst childhood I've read about in quite some time, guided during his all-day shifts driving a pallet jack by the great philosophers: "Hume, Kant, Hegel — these men were my fathers. They were the people who made me ask questions and strive to constantly improve myself." You might place West in the tradition, now somewhat withered, of the robust "blue-collar" thinking man, drawing his needed strength from ideas. But given the way he's harnessed our era's technology to become a philosophy teacher to thousands — hundreds of whom have left five-star reviews on iTunes, leading to an astonishing #32 ranking in its Top 100 podcast chart — I'd say he embodies a brand new type of homo philosophicus altogether.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/philosophizethis/presocratic_philosophy_-_ionian.mp3

You can listen to the first first episode of Philosophize This! above.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Philosophize This!: The Popular, Entertaining Philosophy Podcast from an Unconventional Teacher is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Very First Published Stories, Free as an eBook

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 - 11:19 am

“I like the early stuff”: the classic masculine comment to make about the work of a well-known creator, demonstrating as it does the cultural consumer’s dedication, purism, judgmental rigor, and even endurance (given the relative accessibility, in the intellectual as well as the collector’s senses, of most “early stuff”). Now you have a chance to say it about that most ostensibly masculine of all 20th-century American writers, Ernest Hemingway. Above, see the cover of a coveted edition of the then-young “Papa”‘s very first book, 1923′s Three Stories & Ten Poems. The print run numbered only “300 copies, put out by friend and fellow expatriate, the writer- publisher Robert McAlmon,” writes Steve King at Today in Literature. ”Both had arrived in Paris in 1921, Hemingway an unpublished twenty-two-year-old journalist with a recent bride, a handful of letters of introduction provided by Sherwood Anderson, and a clear imperative: ‘All you have to do is write one true sentence.’”

Instead of shelling out to a rare-book dealer for Three Stories & Ten Poems — admire the sacrifice involved though a true Hemingwayite may — you can read even more of the Old Man and the Sea author’s early stuff in the free e-book embedded just above: 1946′s The First Forty Nine Stories. It contains not just “Up in Michigan,” “Out of Season,” and “My Old Man,” those three stories of Hemingway’s bound debut, but, yes, 46 more of his earliest published pieces of short-form fiction. Today in Literature quotes one notable contemporary reaction to Three Stories & Ten Poems, from a time before Hemingway had become Hemingway, much less Papa: ”I should say that Hemingway should stick to poetry and intelligence and eschew the hotter emotions and the more turgid vision. Intelligence and a great deal of it is a good thing to use when you have it, it’s all for the best.” And who could have written such an astute early assessment of the ultimate literary man’s man? A certain Gertrude Stein.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Ernest Hemingway’s Very First Published Stories, Free as an eBook is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Ernest Hemingway’s Very First Published Stories, Free as an eBook appeared first on Open Culture.

Before The Simpsons, Matt Groening Illustrated a “Student’s Guide” for Apple Computers (1989)

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 - 8:30 am

A friend once told me of his older cousin who, for the freakish act of installing a computer in his college dorm room, found himself immediately and irrevocably dubbed “computer Jon.” This happened in the early 1980s, and boy, have times changed. They’d even changed by the late 1980s, by which time Apple’s college marketing efforts had become sufficiently advanced to require the talents of Matt Groening, best known as the man who created The Simpsons. But that prime-time animated sitcom wouldn’t begin its record-breaking run (still without an end in sight) until Christmas 1989, while the Groening-illustrated Who Needs a Computer Anyway? (which you can flip through above) appeared earlier that year. Back then, readers might well have known him first and foremost as the creator of the satirical alternative-weekly comic strip Life in Hell, which had debuted in 1977. One of its stars, the hapless but good-hearted young one-eared rabbit Bongo, even made his way to Apple brochure’s cover. Though computers themselves had long since come to dominate America’s campuses by the time I entered college, he and Groening’s other now-lesser-known characters did do their part to prepare me for academia.

I refer, of course, to School is Hell, his 1987 Life in Hell book offering sardonic primers on each and every phase of modern education from kindergarten to grad school (“when you haven’t had enough punishment”). Groening’s pages in Who Needs a Computer Anyway? read like a less sharp-edged version of those cartoons, following Life in Hell’s signature “The 9 Types of…” format to present the reader with their nine types of future college classmates, from “the stressed” to “the technoid” to “the unemployed.” Between these, you can read Apple’s pitch for why you’ll find a piece of equipment still somewhat outlandish and expensive so essential to every aspect of your college career. Though dated technically — the text mentions nothing of the internet, for instance, which this generation of college students would sooner drop out than do without — it nevertheless underscores the design virtues of Apple computers — an intuitive interface, application interoperability, “everything you need in one small, transportable case” — that remain design virtues today. It also displays an impressive prescience of the personal computer’s coming indispensability, a confident prediction that, if not for the slacker’s levity lent by Groening’s hand, might, at the time, actually have sounded implausible.

via Retronaut/Dangerous Minds

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Before The Simpsons, Matt Groening Illustrated a “Student’s Guide” for Apple Computers (1989) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Before The Simpsons, Matt Groening Illustrated a “Student’s Guide” for Apple Computers (1989) appeared first on Open Culture.

Gustave Doré’s Splendid Illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884)

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 - 5:00 am

One of the busiest, most in-demand artists of the 19th century, Gustave Doré made his name illustrating works by such authors as Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, and Dante. In the 1860s, he created one of the most memorable and popular illustrated editions of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, while at the same time completing a set of engravings for an 1866 English Bible. He probably could have stopped there and assured his place in posterity, but he would go on to illustrate a 1972 guide to London, a new edition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and several more hugely popular works.

In 1884, Doré produced 26 steel engravings for an illustrated edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s gloomy classic “The Raven.” Like all of his illustrations, the images are rich with detail, yet in contrast to his earlier work, particularly the fine lines of his Quixote, these engravings are softer, characterized by a deep chiaroscuro appropriate to the mood of the poem. Above see the plate depicting the first lines of the poem, the haunted speaker, “weak and weary,” slumped over one of his many “quaint and curious volume[s] of forgotten lore.” Below, see the raven tapping, “louder than before,” at the window lattice.

By the time Doré’s edition saw publication, Poe’s most famous work had already achieved recognition as one of the greatest of American poems. Its author, however, had died over thirty years previous in near-poverty. A catalog description from a Penn State Library holding of one of Doré’s “Raven” editions compares the two artists:

The careers of these two men are fraught with both popular success and unmitigated disappointment. Doré enjoyed phenomenal monetary success as an illustrator in his life-time, however his true desire, to be acknowledged as a fine artist, was never realized. The critics of his day derided his abilities as an artist even as his popularity soared.

One might say that Poe suffered the opposite fate—recognized as a great artist in his lifetime, he never achieved financial stability. We learn from the Penn State Rare Collections library that Doré received the rough equivalent of $140,000 for his illustrated edition of “The Raven.” Poe, on the other hand, was paid approximately nine dollars for his most famous poem.

Project Gutenberg has digital editions of the complete Doré edition of “The Raven.” For more high-quality images like that above of the “stately raven, of the saintly days of yore,” see this site.

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

Gustave Doré’s Splendid Illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post Gustave Doré’s Splendid Illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884) appeared first on Open Culture.