Sunday links

2nd August 2020

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.

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