John Wyver writes: Regular readers of the blog might have noticed that tomorrow night, Monday 12 October, our documentary Drama Out of a Crisis: A Celebration of Play for Today is premiered on BBC Four. Preparations for that have been all-involving, so forgive me if this week’s Links is a little less extensive than usual; as for the header image, see this CNN story and go to And finally… below.
• The Tories’ culture war is a reminder that the right isn’t as fearless as it seems: a further valuable contribution to the Guardian’s contextualising of the Tories’ culture war tactics, from Andy Beckett.
• Britain at the end of history: Robert Saunders is excellent on Margaret Thatcher’s failed attempt to prevent the reunification of Germany 30 years ago:
This left her weakened internationally and isolated at home. It contributed to her downfall in 1990 and had lasting consequences for Britain’s relations with the European Union. Thirty years on, it offers a cautionary tale for British diplomacy after Brexit: not least in its tendency to exaggerate British influence; to vest too much in displays of ‘strength’ and ‘resolve’; and to blame others for its mistakes.
• The 1619 Chronicles: a truly remarkable column from Bret Stephens at The New York Times about history, truth, transparency, honesty, slavery and, centrally, The New York Times.
• Inside the Lincoln Project’s war against Trump: great writing by Paige Williams for The New Yorker on the former Republicans fighting with videos and more for truth, justice and the American way – including this week’s brilliant ‘Covita’:
• Vancouver envoi: What happens in movies happens between your ears: discussing three works presented at the festival, David Bordwell reflects on a spectator’s thinking as they watch films, and on surprise.
• When Hollywood was a writers’ town – a conversation with Philippe Garnier: for Criterion’s The Current, Imogen Sara Smith questions the former cultural correspondent for Liberation about his book Scoundrels & Spitballers: Writers and Hollywood in the 1930s, which has finally been translated into English; see also the fascinating supplemental notes, People and places of Scoundrels & Spitballers.
• The National Gallery and London Philharmonic Orchestra concert – July 2020: I love this project which brought together music and paintings, together with a nod to the legendary Dame Myra Hess’s concerts at the National Gallery during World War Two; here’s a how-we-did-it-video, and the first performance, of Dvořák’s Terzetto in C, is online also:
• Strange apprentice – T.J. Clark on Pissarro and Cézanne: a new essay via LRB [£] from the great, intellectually demanding critic – few writers look as intensely as Clark does, or at least manage to translate that looking into words.
• Why Philip Guston can still provoke such furor, and passion: further welcome context of the dangerously short-sighted ‘postponement’ by Tate and others from Martha Schwendener at The New York Times:
The critic Harold Rosenberg called [Guston’s] later work ‘a liberation from detachment’ — which is to say, it was unafraid to address messy politics, the body, failure, or the changes an artist goes through in his lifetime. And this is why artists have rallied behind Guston: They see an ally in his work, a dedication to craft and self-reflection — but also a model of courage and liberation in the face of oppression, whether in the art world or beyond.
• The photography of Gregory Crewdson—and why Cate Blanchett is here for it: a terrific exchange for Vanity Fair, written by Britt Hennemuth, and genuinely stunning images from Crewdson’s current virtual show at Gagosian, Beverly Hills, An Eclipse of Moths (until 21 November), which can also be explored virtually.
• Studying the collection: Hannah Brignell on the in-depth review that the Science Museum has been conducting on its collection of 7.3 million objects, photographs and archive documents.
• Top ten underrated Agatha Christie novels: I’m really interested in Christie’s writing, and this is a very useful guide to ‘some unfairly neglected and underrated gems’ by Sophie Hannah, author of a new strand of Poirot novels.
• Rebellious history: for New York Review of Books, Annette Gordon-Reed reviews Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals, which she describes as ‘an attempt to battle erasure, a determined strike against the archives’ purported silence regarding the lives of African-American women living in the direct shadow of slavery.’
• The biggest threat to the BBC’s independence is the corporation itself: I don’t agree with everything in this Guardian piece by George Monbiot but, as always, he needs to be read.
• Netflix 30 Q&A Index: media scholar Amanda Lotz has rounded out her exceptional and essential series of posts about Netflix, and each one is linked here.
• How are audiences adapting to the age of virtual theatre: for The New Yorker Vinson Cunningham argues that…
… we are undergoing a worldwide reconstrual of what it means to be a member of the crowd.
• And finally…