Life isolated on islands adapts differently than those on continents. From Carlquist's Island Life.
Widely known to have beat the west into space, the Soviets could also claim another first: movies. Though buried from view during the cold-war, the first feature film on Earth about space travel is the U.S.S.R.'s Aelita: Queen of Mars. Filled with tools invented by Griffith, Aelita cross-cuts between planetary infidelity and socio-political contrasts. Clever touches are legion. A shimmering capitalist Martian city is reigned over by Aelita and ruled by elders who demand the refrigeration of one-third of their workers (they tell her: "you reign but we rule"). This Mars is a constructivist fantasy version of the west, its sets and costumes are an astounding series of vortexes and skeletal extensions. There's no doubt Aelita influenced Lang's Metropolis. Back home in a newly formed U.S.S.R., a scientist plans his trip to space with blueprints of a pod-shaped vessel. The film opens with a mysterious three word message heard round-the-world, and our communist hero plots his escape velocity. To hold court in the revolutionary atmosphere of Moscow, the film intercuts fidelity problems, secret balls of oligarchs in hiding, returning soldiers from the revolution and a police procedeural sub-plot to ensnare first an abuser of rationed sugar, then the murder of the heroine. Both ahead of its time and behind, weakened by needless but fascinating propaganda. Rarely projected, part of the Berlin Film Festival 2012 and MoMA's series built around the Soviet's first film studio: Mezhrabpom. A must-see for any student of sci-fi. Last showing is Friday April 20th at 7pm. Museum admission and films are free Fridays after 5.
Stare at it for a long, long time.
"The United States is the only developed nation without a visual literacy curriculum in its public education program."
paraphrased from Douglas Rushkoff's Coercion
A typical 18-24 year old week...
8 Hours: Visiting social networking sites.
8 Hours: Listening to music
7 Hours: Watching full-length television shows.
4 Hours: Watching full-length movies.
4 Hours: Watching video clips (e.g. YouTube)
4 Hours: Instant messaging
An excerpt from the New York Review of Books's We're more unequal than you think:
Using US Census reports, I estimate that since 1985, the lower 60 percent of households have lost $4 trillion, most of which has ascended to the top 5 percent, including a growing tier now taking in $1 million or more each year.1 Some of our founders foresaw this happening. “Society naturally divides itself,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, “into the very few and the many.” His coauthor, James Madison, identified the cause. “Unequal faculties of acquiring property,” he said, inhere in every human grouping. If affluence results from inner aptitudes, it might seem futile to try reining in the rich.
This revealing, staccato biography of the sometimes mythic retaker of Jerusalem and uniter at times of the Eastern, Arabic and Persian worlds, Anne-Marie Eddé tackles the subject in several phases: dry history, military strategies, religious aspects, myths of both the demonizing and lionizing kind. Oblique at times, Saladin cannot be perceived as a complete narrative biography (events like the siege of Acre are only partly described, stories of places like Tyre are left unfinished) but it searches for deeper meaning with a variety of views. For a time, Saladin's realpolitik empire spanned deep Egypt to beyond Syria and Beirut, and it required an as yet unseen mastery of both diplomacy and risk. Many gestures divided enemies and allies, deftly. Aspects of duty, taxation, customs, even seasonal challenges like winter storms halting sea-trade are laced with personality and conflicts. Poetry, diaries, contracts are all cited to great effect. Several oft repeated tales drive the effects home, including the determinism to die poor: at death he had only a few dinars left. Nuances like short histories of the sultan/Seljuk title, interspersed, are amazing. At times a travelogue tragedy. An ocean of desert at night for a knife at throat bedouin raid, the march of entire cities leaving every valuable behind while others are left untouched. In between slaughter is chivalry, common good will, suicidal assasin sects, wholesale ransoming, pilgrimages, somehow proof humans achieve their sense of greatness only on a vast scale. And in human cost. Extensive quotes from William of Tyre. The cover above is from the french original. Translated. Harvard-Belknap Press.
Saladin's Palace, Syria