John Wyver writes: … and we’re back, if somewhat late in the day. I’ve finally submitted a draft of my article, and have only one further piece promised. Quite soon, really very soon, I can spend some more time with my books, and I can try to contribute bulging batches of links each week. In the meantime, here’s today’s selection of stuff that has interested me in the past few days (with some more to be added in a while), with my usual expression of gratitude for recommendations from those I follow on Twitter…
• Inside the Capitol riot – an exclusive video investigation: this really is remarkable – a 40-minute documentary from The New York Times forensically examining thousands of videos shot on 6 January; much of the material was shot by the rioters but there’s also police bodycam footage, lots of social media elements and more. It’s brilliantly compiled, and there are really interesting uses (above) of the visual language of split-screens (which is a current obsession of mine). An appropriate Independence Day watch.
• The mermaid in the fishbowl – the rise of optical illusions and magical effects: I very much enjoyed this oddball OUPblog post by Stephen R. Wilk, drawn from his forthcoming collection Sandbows and Black Lights: Reflections on Optics.
• Magic lanterns and ‘magic’ imperialism: Brian Wallace for the Ryland blog on the lantern slides in the collection of John Ryland Research Institute and Library of the Victorian missionary David Livingstone.
• Revealed – the world’s first ‘3-D’ film show (Part 2): more from The Optilogue about Theodore Brown’s stereoscopic projections at the start of the twentieth century.
• Bearing witness and burning illusions – Menelik Shabazz, 1954-2021: courtesy of Sight&Sound, this is a 1989 Monthly Film Bulletin piece by the pioneering Black British filmmaker who died last week.
• Learn to watch a film, while watching a film: David Bordwell in sparkling form on how a movie teaches us how to watch it.
• The Deuce Notebook – Paul Morrissey’s duo of diabolical debauchery: on the making of Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula (both 1974), from Mubi.com.
• Jill Craigie – the woman who did: Lilian Crawford via Sight&Sound on the documentary maker who also directed the Welsh mining drama Blue Scar (1949).
• Observing the observers: valuable reflections on the state of contemporary documentaries by Alexandra Juhasz for Point of View.
• The real urban jungle – how ancient societies reimagined what cities could be: extracted from Patrick Roberts’ new book Jungle: How Tropical Forests Shaped the World – and Us, this is a fascinating account of how Lidar research techniques have helped archaeologists re-imagine population centres such as Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
• Cézanne on paper: there’s a new show of Cézanne’s exquisite drawings at MoMA (until 25 September), which is truly tempting to book a transatlantic flight for, but here are some of the works courtesy of The Paris Review…
• The beauty and life of materiality – on Cézanne’s drawings: … and here is an excerpt from Jodi Hauptman’s catalogue essay…
• My struggle with Cézanne: … and this is Peter Schjeldahl’s somewhat anguished but deeply thoughtful response for The New Yorker…
… and here is Still Life with Carafe, Bottle, and Fruit (La Bouteille de cognac). 1906:
• The mad, bad business of railroad tycoons: a terrific New Yorker essay by Adam Gopnik about the building of the transcontinental railroad.
• The imperial editor goes the way of the dodo: Vanessa Friedman, Elizabeth Paton and Jessica Testa for The New York Times on fundamental changes in the world of style magazines.
• Cricket is having its Moneyball moment: so, so interesting – Mike Jakeman for Wired on how a team of data evangelists at CricViz ‘are taking the sport to the next level’.
• Ahead in the cloud – a virtual reading room manifesto: lots of common sense about archives and access from Jo Pugh at The National Archives UK.
• The whitewashing of Rome: at Aeon, Jamie Mackay on ancient Rome, Mussolini and white supremacy.
• A man of his time, and ours: Priya Satia, author of Time’s Monster: History, Conscience and Britain’s Empire, on how we remember Churchill…
• H-Diplo Essay 352- Priya Satia on learning the scholar’s craft: … and on how and why she became a historian; strongly recommended.
• Brexit five years on – how Britain fell to right-wing identity politics: you may not have the stomach for this, but Ian Dunt is really very good here…
• Brexit at five – where are we now?: … as is Chris Grey for Prospect.
• The untold story of the big boat that broke the world: Alex Christian for Wired on the tale of the Suez-stranded Ever Given and the fragility of global supply chains.
• The most corrupt idea of modern times [£ but limited free access]: prepare to feel angry as you read Tom Stevenson’s LRB review of Simon Akam’s The Changing of the Guard: The British Army Since 9/11; this is how it ends:
The UK remains a country in which the phrase ‘east of Suez’ is used without irony. A country that claims having soldiers in 46 countries is necessary to keep its citizens safe. A country where professing a willingness to use nuclear weapons is considered a precondition for political office. A country that passes legislation to protect itself from prosecution for torture and war crimes… A country that has an undercover domestic police force to spy on and interfere with anti-war activists. It’s not enough to say that British society has learned nothing from the way its distorted view of itself and of its relationship with the US contributed to the horrors of Iraq. After that debacle the UK was a leading advocate for destroying a state and half-heartedly instituting a new regime in Libya. There is no reason to think it won’t happen again.