John Wyver writes: another weekend, another bunch of stuff that I have found interesting, illuminating and helpful; my thanks as always to those who point me to good things via Twitter and in other ways.
• Looking back – what was important?: a truly remarkable reflection by the educator and scholar Jan Blommaert in response to his diagnosis of cancer stage 4 in March.
• The end of the world as we know it: a wonderful essay for TLS by the great Bill McKibben about Covid-19, climate catastrophe — and hope. [£, but you get a limited number of articles free each month]
• My near-death experience on a Covid-19 ward: moving words from John Burnside for New Statesman.
• Disinformed to death: Jonathan Freedland for New York Review of Books on how we might respond to the dangers of fake news and the perils of a post-truth world.
• The sociologist who could save us from Coronavirus: Adam Tooze (who I am reading more and more) on Ulrich Beck, author of Risk Society published in 1986, the year of Chernobyl:
Beck’s contribution in Risk Society was to offer a compelling sociological interpretation of th[e] pervasive sense of undefined but omnipresent threat, both as a matter of personal and collective experience and as a historical epoch. But more than that, Risk Society is a manifesto of sorts, proposing a novel attitude toward and politics for contemporary reality.
• Beyoncé’s Black is King – let’s discuss: very fine cultural criticism from six New York Times writers about the new Disney+ release (above); so interesting.
• Still hanging on: Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell look back delightfully on the occasion of their 1000th post.
• Kitchen-sink noir – in praise of heist drama The Good Die Young: Alex Ramon is very good on the recently restored 1954 film directed by Lewis Gilbert, newly available from BFI – I watched it last week and thoroughly enjoyed it.
• The shock of the old – the ‘documentary’ fiction film moment with COVID-19: a note by Djoymi Baker in Senses of Cinema 95:
The viewing experience with COVID-19 has the potential to render any film both newly strange and disturbingly familiar. The pre-pandemic world – of our memories and of our films – sits uncomfortably with our present. This gives a historically specific tension to the fiction/non-fiction spectatorship dynamic that is always potentially at play.
• ‘For more than a thousand years this area has been the burial place of the great and the good of Cairo’: an understandably anonymous Apollo report about the scandal of demolition of tombs in ‘Cairo’s so-called City of the Dead, the great cemetery that stretches for nearly ten kilometres along the foothills of the desert plateau to the east of the city’.
• Projects for an open city: a rich online essay from MoMA by Evangelos Kotsioris about modernism and ‘architecture’s potential to participate in the creation of more open, accessible, and ultimately equitable cities’.
• The 1964 Olympics certified a new Japan, in steel and on the screen: Jason Farago for The New York Times on Tokyo ’64 and Kon Ichikawa’s remarkable documentary about the games, Tokyo Olympiad; thrillingly this is currently free to stream (in the UK at least) via the Olympic Channel.
• Alex Alex – ‘Alone Together’: this will cheer you up, a video written, edited and directed by Illuminations’ very own Todd MacDonald, with the help of a lot of friends…
• An elegy for the landline in literature: for The New Yorker, Sophie Haigney on phone calls in the writings of Nabokov, Kafka, Muriel Spark, Henry Green and more.
• The future of true crime will have to be different: Sarah Weinman for Buzzfeed on writing and podcasts after Covid-19 and the resurgence of #BlackLivesMatter.
• A chronological list of available Royal Shakespeare Company productions and where to watch them: an invaluable index of streams, DVDs and audio recordings compiled by Ian Stuart Burns from 1959’s Othello to four 2019 productions.
• You Can’t Stop Us / Nike: you’ll have seen this of course, but it’s no less awesome the tenth time as the first…
Header image: from Black is King © Parkwood Entertainment.