Sunday links

30th January 2022

John Wyver writes: another round-up of recommendations of articles, audio and video that have engaged and interested me over the past week.

William Friese-Greene – Close-up: Stephen Herbert at The Optilogue begins a series of posts (to which we’ll undoubtedly return) with a great deal of new research about the ‘moving image’ pioneer (and the inverted commas are Herbert’s).

Asta Nielsen, the silent film star who taught Garbo everything: ahead of her hugely welcome BFI season in February and March, curator and film historian Pamela Hutchinson introduces the spectacular Danish actor (above, in A Militant Suffragette (1913)) whose astounding debut, the erotic melodrama The Abyss (1910), can be found here.

Asta Nielsen: A Cosmopolitan Diva is a further fine article by Helle Kannik Haastrup at the essential Danish Film Institute site, which is a model online resource of articles, many fine prints freely accessible, and more.

Free Thinking: Asta Nielsen: an edition of the ever-dependable Radio 3 discussion series was given over to Nielsen, and to fascinating exchanges between Pamela Hutchinson; Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Oxford; Dr Erica Carter, Professor of German and Film at King’s College London; and Lone Britt Christensen, Denmark’s Cultural Attaché. All are warmly recommended.

Working girl – Márta Mészáros: Max Nelson profiles the Hungarian filmmaker for Film Comment; there is also a wonderful selection by Adrian Curry of posters for the films of the 90-year-old auteur at

The prelude of Mr Preview: how André Previn won over Morecambe & Wise: at Comedy Chronicles just before Christmas Graham McCann posted this glorious tale of the background to the classic 1971 sketch.

Under the cover – Rosalind E. Krauss: a 19-minute Artforum video conversation between David Velasco and the influential art writer who talks about Jasper Johns and the subject of her next book, Roland Barthes.

Building of the month – Kensal House, West London: the Twentieth-Century Society and writer Elizabeth Darling focus on the visionary flats designed by Elizabeth Denby and E. Maxwell Fry and completed in 1936.

• Here’s a lovely Twitter thread about Sir Basil Spence’s (lost) Desert Island Discs from 1965 by Neil Gregory at Historic Environment Scotland:

“RIBA upgrading Portland Place is an expensive solution to the wrong problem”: a bit niche perhaps, but there’s a great deal of sense in, and wider resonance from, Phineas Harper’s consideration for de zeen of the problems at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Is old music killing new music?: Ted Gioia for The Atlantic is revelatory about the reasons for new popular music being marginalised by the old and the dead.

We still can’t see American slavery for what it was: a major New York Times essay by Jamelle Bouie about the ethical use of data and the political writing of history:

All of this is to say that with the history of slavery, the quantitative and the qualitative must inform each other. It is important to know the size and scale of the slave trade, of the way it was standardized and institutionalized, of the way it shaped the history of the entire Atlantic world. But as every historian I spoke to for this story emphasized, it is also vital that we have an intimate understanding of the people who were part of this story and specifically of the people who were forced into it. 

1922 – The Birth of Now: BBC Radio is rightly celebrating the centenary of the purported birth of modernism with this engaging Matthew Sweet series, and with…

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: … a delightful new reading by Sian Thomas; and such are the riches of the BBC audio archive, you can also access a 2014 edition of In Our Time about the novel and a 2011 Night Waves discussion.

Deciding Britain’s future – ​​Tom Nairn, Gordon Brown, Marxism and nationalism: at openDemocracy, Anthony Barnett contributes a remarkable and wide-ranging essay taking off from Tom Nairn’s newly re-issued The Break-Up of Britain.

Can science fiction wake us up to our climate reality?: a rich, personal profile by Joshua Rothman for The New Yorker of the great writer Kim Stanley Robinson; along the trail (Robinson and Rothman are hiking in the Sierras) there are nods to Gramsci, Jameson, Latour, Raymond Williams, Svetlana Alexievich and Gérard Genette, as well as a host of science fiction writers and environmentalists.

‘Huge mess of theft and fraud:’ artists sound alarm as NFT crime proliferates: good, clear-eyed reporting by Lois Beckett for the Guardian.

How crypto became the new subprime: economist Paul Krugman, writing for The New York Times, with an important warning:

[C]rypto has been effectively marketed: It manages both to seem futuristic and to appeal to old-style goldbug fears that the government will inflate away your savings, and huge past gains have drawn in investors worried about missing out. So crypto has become a large asset class even though nobody can clearly explain what legitimate purpose it’s for. But now crypto has crashed. Maybe it will recover and soar to new heights, as it has in the past. For now, however, prices are way down. Who are the losers?

The Digital Public Sphere: a cornucopia of important new thinking in this new ISP White Paper Series from Yale Law School in collaboration with the Knight Foundation: ‘The impact of online platforms and new technology on public discourse and the law are among the most pressing and consequential issues democracies face today.’

Every Logan Roy “Fuck Off” in Succession season 1-3: definitely NSFW but both hilarious and cathartic – recommended for the moments when the political sh*tsh*w becomes just too much in the coming week.

People have been adding the ‘F word’ into lines of literature – 19 instant classics: … and while we’re at it, here’s an engaging Twitter listicle from The Poke – I think the Jane Eyre one is my favourite, although Moby Dick runs it close.

Header image: Asta Nielsen as the suffragette Nelly Panburne in Die Suffragette (A Militant Suffragette, dir: Urban Gad, 1913).

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