The small monastic church of St John at Kaneo sits perched atop a rocky precipice overlooking Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, Yugoslavia, April 1982.Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic
Adrienne Raphel writes about why Atlantic City casinos have lost much of their pull: http://nyr.kr/1aO5jsp
“Since 2006, Atlantic City casino revenue has fallen by more than forty-one per cent, from more than five billion dollars to three billion last year. With gambling legalized in the surrounding states, Atlantic City casinos have lost much of their pull: Why travel an hour and a half if you can lose money in your own backyard?”
Photograph by Michael Perez for The Washington Post via Getty
Exploitation and Abuse, Qatar 2022
“I have not seen a single slave in Qatar. I don’t know where those reports come from. I have been to Qatar many times and therefore have a different view, which, I believe, is more realistic." - Franz Beckenbaurer
Franz, it might be time to rethink that position. The ongoing exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar is an established fact at this point, and a recent report by Amnesty International further confirms what we already knew: Qatar is a nation whose explosive growth has been based on the systemic exploitation of migrant workers. Whether it’s the latest hotel in Doha, a man-made luxury island, or a stadium fit for a World Cup Final, odds are, it’s been built on the back of a maltreated and underpaid slave workforce.
Here are some highlights from Amnesty International’s report:
- There are 1.35 million foreign nationals working in Qatar
- Migrant workers now make up some 94 per cent of the total workforce in the country
- 90% had their passports held by their employers
- 56% did not have a government health card, essential to access public hospitals
- 21% “sometimes, rarely or never” received their salary on time
- 20% got a different salary than had been promised
- 15% worked in a different job to the one promised
And that’s just scratching the surface.
Kierkegaard was a crucial influence on the Arcade Fire’s new record, Reflektor, bandleader Win Butler explains in Rolling Stone and other places.
Exactly what by Søren Kierkegaard, the author of several million published words under half a dozen pseudonyms (my favorite: Johannes Climacus) as well as his own name?
Butler singles out the 1846 essay “The Present Age”:
"… it sounds like he’s talking about modern times. He’s talking about the press and alienation, and you kind of read it and you’re like, `Dude, you have no idea how insane it’s gonna get.’ [Laughs.]
"What about Kierkegaard’s essay did you find relevant?
"It reads like it was written here, basically. He basically compares the reflective age to a passionate age. Like, if there was a piece of gold out on thin ice, in a passionate age, if someone went to try and get the gold, everyone would cheer them on and be like, `Go for it! Yeah you can do it!’ And in a reflective age, if someone tried to walk out on the thin ice, everyone would criticize them and say, `What an idiot! I can’t believe you’re going out on the ice to try and risk something.’ So it would kind of paralyze you to even act basically, and it just kind of resonated with me — wanting to try and make something in the world instead of just talking about things."
Butler’s not exaggerating. Here’s a piece of the essay — which dates from 1846, remember:
"A Revolutionary Age is an age of action; the present age is an age of advertisement, or an age of publicity: nothing happens, but there is instant publicity about it. A revolt in the present age is the most unthinkable act of all; such a display of strength would confuse the calculating cleverness of the times. Nevertheless, some political virtuoso might achieve something nearly as great. He would write some manifesto or other which calls for a General Assembly in order to decide on a revolution, and he would write it so carefully that even the Censor himself would pass on it; and at the General Assembly he would manage to bring it about that the audience believed that it had actually rebelled, and then everyone would placidly go home—after they had spent a very nice evening out. ”
The band played the title track on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. The official video is zany — or is it Kierkegaardian?
Medieval book gadget
This image shows the famous Italian scholar and writer Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) at work, pen in hand. Damaged as it may be, the full-page miniature provides a unique sneak peek into the study of a scholar around 1400. There are books with colourful bindings all around: in cupboards, on his desk, on the floor, and, most strikingly, on a book wheel. The latter is the centre piece of the drawing: the author’s eyes are fixed on the wheel, which is placed in the centre of the image. It is one of the oldest images of such a device that I have seen. A little book lays open on the wheel and parts of its contents are copied down by Petrarch into his own text - plagiarizing others was the thing to in his day. How fascinating: Petrarch’s sources spinning in front of his and our eyes, thanks to this depiction of his study.
Pic: Darmstadt, Universität- und Landesbibliothek, MS 101 (Petrarch, De viris illustribus, c. 1400). Here is another, younger book wheel I tumbled a while ago.
“Please try to understand these instructions. They’re given knowing your goodwill in working hard to shop and cook well. If there’s something that you don’t understand or some problem, explain it to me and not to Mr. Hemingway, who has enough problems of his own in his work as a writer.”
"Poetry is always slightly mysterious, and you wonder what is your relationship to it"
I loved this photo of Patti Smith meeting Pope Francis back in April. Thanks to John Fugelsang for reminding me of it.
Photo by Agence France-Presse.
Richard Brody on Alfred Hitchcock’s influence: http://nyr.kr/17nlZTp
“What’s inspiring about Hitchcock is that, to begin with, his films are marked, throughout—in image and sound, in performance, décor, and costume—with his own artistic personality, a style that is entirely his own.”
Photograph by Fred Palumbo/Library of Congress.
A fire hydrant refreshes youngsters on a hot day in Harlem, New York, 1977.Photograph by Leroy H. Woodson, National Geographic
Doolin Church and Cemetery
Photograph by Andrew Leahy, My Shot
Celtic crosses mark graves outside a church in Doolin, a seaside town in County Clare. A number of crumbling churches dot the ancient town, which draws world-class musicians—and music lovers—to its pubs.
“You see the world through your own time—which means that some values disappear, and some values come into closer focus.”
In the New York Review of Books, Martin Scorsese on reading the language of cinema.
Pictured: Robert Donat in The Magic Box, 1951
Deciphering medieval handwriting
In the project I am directing at Leiden University we study medieval books and their readers. As you can see from my presence on Tumblr and Twitter, we like to show non-experts what we do and why we are passionate about those “stinky old books” (as one five-year old once referred to my research subject). We therefore share our findings on a variety of social platforms (our website lists them all). In the latest entry of our project blog you can read about medieval script and some of the challenges that come with reading a book before the introduction of print. Read about why not even seasoned paleographers (experts of medieval handwriting) are necessarily able to read medieval text quickly or at first glance.
Pic: London, British Library, Arundel MS 490 (12th century).