It took him a year and a half to create the film:
Ramsell expressed his reimagining of the film through the medium of Aquarelle, a type of drawing done with transparent watercolors. He created 12,597 tiny paintings by hand and strung them together into a dreamy 35-minute video that manages to capture both the despair and beauty of the subject matter. The washed-out setting the process creates is mesmerizing to watch as the scenes flow together. The characters are impressionistic hints of themselves, but still completely recognizable. Because Ramsell edited the film down to 35 minutes, he calls it a “paraphrase” rather than a remake. “It was never my intent to make an exact version of the movie; that would fill no purpose,” he wrote. “Instead I wanted to create something different and never before seen.”
Amanda Kooser is astounded:
The original dialogue from the film plays over the scenes like a ghost. It builds up to the haunting final scene and leaves you with the feeling you just dreamed your way through the movie. It may be one of the most spectacular works of fan art ever created.
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“It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.
Since then I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being). It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person,” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago.
Piercarlo Valdesolo reviews research into the psychological and behavioral consequences of a belief in “pure evil” (BPE):
According to this research, one of the central features of BPE is evil’s perceived immutability. Evil people are born evil – they cannot change. Two judgments follow from this perspective: 1) evil people cannot be rehabilitated, and 2) the eradication of evil requires only the eradication of all the evil people. Following this logic, the researchers tested the hypothesis that there would be a relationship between BPE and the desire to aggress towards and punish wrong-doers.
Researchers have found support for this hypothesis across several papers containing multiple studies, and employing diverse methodologies. BPE predicts such effects as: harsher punishments for crimes (e.g. murder, assault, theft), stronger reported support for the death penalty, and decreased support for criminal rehabilitation. Follow-up studies corroborate these findings, showing that BPE also predicts the degree to which participants perceive the world to be dangerous and vile, the perceived need for preemptive military aggression to solve conflicts, and reported support for torture.
Meanwhile, Father C. John McCloskey reviews an updated version of True or False Possession: How to Distinguish the Demonic from the Demented, a 1960s guide by French neurologist Jean Lhermitte:
Written primarily for health professionals, True or False Possession is nonetheless of interest to any educated Catholic, in that it recounts from a Catholic viewpoint genuine suspected demonic possession and helps the layman, priest, psychiatrist and even family members to distinguish the real thing from mental illness and fakery.
However, when and if it is necessary to bring the victim to an exorcist for treatment, [editor] Dr. [Aaron] Kheriaty points out, “This author knows the permanent limitations of his science: This book does not attempt to detail cases of what may be considered true possession, for these by their nature would be outside the scope of the author’s clinical expertise. In such cases, the physician and priest need to collaborate responsibly and with respect for the insights of both science and theology.”
Not surprisingly, given the profession, the medical emphasis of the book is paramount, yet the author writes as a convinced Catholic and, as such, gives what is almost a short history of diabolical possession from the time of Christ’s exorcisms, as recorded in the Gospels, up to his own time. The author recounts examples of saints to whom the devil appeared, such as doctor of the Church St. Teresa of Avila: “She depicts the evil one as possessing hideous form, with a terrifying mouth and a regular proteus, able to transform and to multiply himself.” …
Many seeming cases of diabolical possession were in fact cases of simple insanity or mental illness, as Lhermitte explains. And many more were simply frauds that, in turn, caused mass hysteria in others who simply suffered from neurological illnesses that produce symptoms having nothing to do with the devil or hidden demons.
(Hat tip: Books, Inq)
In an overview of Judaism and Christianity, Kenan Malik contrasts their understandings of evil and sin:
The story of Adam and Eve, and of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, was, of course, originally a Jewish fable. But Jews read that story differently to Christians. In Judaism, Adam and Eve’s transgression creates a sin against their own souls, but it does not condemn humanity as a whole, and nor does it fundamentally transform either human nature or human beings’ relationship to God. In the Christian tradition, God created humanity to be immortal. In eating the apple, Adam and Eve brought mortality upon themselves. Jews have always seen humans as mortal beings.
In the Garden, Adam and Eve were as children. Having eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they had to take responsibility for themselves, their decisions and their behaviour. This is seen not as a ’fall’ but as a ‘gift’ – the gift of free will. As the Hertz Chumash, the classic Hebrew-English edition of the Pentateuch and Haftorahs, observes, ‘Instead of the Fall of man (in the sense of humanity as a whole), Judaism preaches the Rise of man: and instead of Original Sin, it stresses Original Virtue, the beneficent hereditary influence of righteous ancestors upon their descendants’.
The story of Adam and Eve was initially, then, a fable about the attainment of free will and the embrace of moral responsibility. It became a tale about the corruption of free will and the constraints on moral responsibility. It was in this transformation in the meaning of the Adam and Eve’s transgression that Christianity has perhaps secured its greatest influence. The true legacy of the doctrine of Original Sin is not as an explanation of evil, but rather as a description of human nature, a description that came to dominate Western ethical thinking as Christianity became the crucible in which that thinking took place.
The young Hannah Arendt had written her doctoral dissertation under the great German philosopher Karl Jaspers, and the topic of her work was the concept of love in the writings of Saint Augustine. One of the most significant intellectual breakthroughs of Augustine’s life was the insight that evil is not something substantial, but rather a type of non-being, a lack of some perfection that ought to be present. Thus, a cancer is evil in the measure that it compromises the proper functioning of a bodily organ, and a sin is evil in the measure that it represents a distortion or twisting of a rightly functioning will. Accordingly, evil does not stand over and against the good as a kind of co-equal metaphysical force, as the Manichees would have it. Rather, it is invariably parasitic upon the good, existing only as a sort of shadow.
J.R.R. Tolkien gave visual expression to this Augustinian notion in his portrayal of the Nazgul in The Lord of the Rings. Those terrible and terrifying threats, flying through the air on fearsome beasts, are revealed, once their capes and hoods are pulled away, to be precisely nothing, emptiness. And this is exactly why, to return to Arendt’s description, evil can never be radical. It can never sink down into the roots of being; it can never stand on its own; it has no integrity, no real depth or substance. To be sure, it can be extreme and it can, as Arendt’s image suggests, spread far and wide, doing enormous damage. But it can never truly be.
Alchemists have long sought the keys to eternal life:
The concept of chemicals as medication was innovated and introduced by the sixteenth-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus. Before him, healing remedies in the Western world were primarily plant-based, rather than chemically-derived drugs. An impetuous, pudgy warlock with scalpel eyes and a no-bullshit attitude, Paracelsus argued that alchemy’s aim is medicine rather than gold. His treatise on longevity De Vita Longa outlines ways how to live for a thousand years, even forever. …
[D]uring the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, every major European town had its own “laborer of the fire” toiling away in a shady apothecary. … Capitalizing on the hope that alchemy could find a way around death, countless swindlers rooked the upper classes with bogus medicaments for eternal life. Scoundrels like Alessandro di Cagliostro or the Count of Saint Germain grew rich selling immortality potions to wealthy patrons. One miracle docteur sold a concoction consisting almost entirely of tap water. Living forever was merely a matter of payment.
These hucksters thrived during times not entirely different from our own. “They were received into the centre of a small, skeptical and libertine world that had, in principle, rid itself of prejudice,” explains the Romanian historian of longevity Lucian Boia. “These people who pretended to believe in nothing at all, except, to some extent, in philosophy and science, were ripe to be caught in any trap that a person of speculative intelligence could set. Because they believed in nothing, they were ready to believe anything.”
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
The novelist James McBride explains why he begins his novels by writing with a pencil and yellow legal pad:
When you handwrite, you edit. The first thirty to fifty pages of all my books are handwritten, and I do that because if you work on a computer, you end up going forwards and backwards and end up inserting entire chapters. Writing by hand forces you to edit before you edit – the act of moving a pen or a pencil across the page is a form of editing that cuts the fat from your work. It makes you a lean writer, and you really have to be lean in our time. Nowadays, writing is just covered in fat and icing. Everyone is a blogger writing in the first person, twittering about going to the store — I wouldn’t do that if my life depended on it.
So handwriting, especially today, is precious, and forces you to edit your work immediately. It moves you to clean your characters and content, it pushes your story forward, and it makes you identify what is important right away. Typing at a computer is like going to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. It’s too much. Stay lean.
Previous Dish on the topic here.
1. Upload a frontal face image of yourself to your Google Drive account.
2. Share the image with Albiac via his email address: email@example.com.
3. Wait a couple of days for quality control. If your portrait is suitable, Albiac’s algorithms will merge it with Hubble images to create three different montages that emphasize the cosmic dust from whence we all come. Results will show up in your Google Drive account and on the project’s Flickr page, unless you opt out of the Flickr part.
(Photo by Sergio Albiac)
The Kindle's screensaver is pretty, but useless. If you want to spice it up with relevant information, including weather, time, and more, programmer Pablo Mateo shows you how to do it.
Windows: Those Apple software updates always seem to come at the most annoying time, don't they? Update Freezer manages the update frequency for a number of apps, including Apple, Adobe Acrobat and Flash, Firefox, Skype, and more.
Brian Doyle reflects on becoming a writer:
In almost every class I am asked how I became a writer, and after I make my usual joke about it being a benign neurosis, as my late friend George Higgins once told me, I usually talk about my dad. My dad was a newspaperman, and still is, at age 92, a man of great grace and patience and dignity, and he taught me immensely valuable lessons. If you wish to be a writer, write, he would say. There are people who talk about writing and then there are people who sit down and type. Writing is fast typing. Also you must read like you are starving for ink. Read widely. Read everything. Read the Bible once a year or so, ideally the King James, to be reminded that rhythm and cadence are your friends as a writer. Most religious writing is terrible whereas some spiritual writing is stunning. The New Testament in the King James version, for example.
Note how people get their voices and hearts and stories down on the page. Also get a job; eating is a good habit and you will never make enough of a living as a writer to support a family. Be honest with yourself about the size of your gift. Expect no money but be diligent about sending pieces out for publication. All money is gravy. A piece is not finished until it is off your desk and onto an editor’s desk. Write hard and then edit yourself hard. Look carefully at your verbs to see if they can be energized.
Recent Dish on writing advice here.
An anonymous New Yorker posted the following story on Missed Connections this week:
I saw you on the Manhattan-bound Brooklyn Q train. I was wearing a blue-striped t-shirt and a pair of maroon pants. You were wearing a vintage red skirt and a smart white blouse. We both wore glasses. I guess we still do.
You got on at DeKalb and sat across from me and we made eye contact, briefly. I fell in love with you a little bit, in that stupid way where you completely make up a fictional version of the person you’re looking at and fall in love with that person. But still I think there was something there.
Several times we looked at each other and then looked away. I tried to think of something to say to you — maybe pretend I didn’t know where I was going and ask you for directions or say something nice about your boot-shaped earrings, or just say, “Hot day.” It all seemed so stupid.
At one point, I caught you staring at me and you immediately averted your eyes. You pulled a book out of your bag and started reading it — a biography of Lyndon Johnson — but I noticed you never once turned a page.
My stop was Union Square, but at Union Square I decided to stay on, rationalizing that I could just as easily transfer to the 7 at 42nd Street, but then I didn’t get off at 42nd Street either. You must have missed your stop as well, because when we got all the way to the end of the line at Ditmars, we both just sat there in the car, waiting.
I cocked my head at you inquisitively. You shrugged and held up your book as if that was the reason.
Still I said nothing.
We took the train all the way back down — down through Astoria, across the East River, weaving through midtown, from Times Square to Herald Square to Union Square, under SoHo and Chinatown, up across the bridge back into Brooklyn, past Barclays and Prospect Park, past Flatbush and Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, all the way to Coney Island. And when we got to Coney Island, I knew I had to say something.
Still I said nothing.
And so we went back up. Up and down the Q line, over and over. We caught the rush hour crowds and then saw them thin out again. We watched the sun set over Manhattan as we crossed the East River. I gave myself deadlines: I’ll talk to her before Newkirk; I’ll talk to her before Canal. Still I remained silent.
For months we sat on the train saying nothing to each other. We survived on bags of skittles sold to us by kids raising money for their basketball teams. We must have heard a million mariachi bands, had our faces nearly kicked in by a hundred thousand break dancers. I gave money to the beggars until I ran out of singles. When the train went above ground I’d get text messages and voicemails (“Where are you? What happened? Are you okay?”) until my phone ran out of battery.
I’ll talk to her before daybreak; I’ll talk to her before Tuesday. The longer I waited, the harder it got. What could I possibly say to you now, now that we’ve passed this same station for the hundredth time? Maybe if I could go back to the first time the Q switched over to the local R line for the weekend, I could have said, “Well, this is inconvenient,” but I couldn’t very well say it now, could I? I would kick myself for days after every time you sneezed — why hadn’t I said “Bless You”? That tiny gesture could have been enough to pivot us into a conversation, but here in stupid silence still we sat.
There were nights when we were the only two souls in the car, perhaps even on the whole train, and even then I felt self-conscious about bothering you. She’s reading her book, I thought, she doesn’t want to talk to me. Still, there were moments when I felt a connection. Someone would shout something crazy about Jesus and we’d immediately look at each other to register our reactions. A couple of teenagers would exit, holding hands, and we’d both think: Young Love.
For sixty years, we sat in that car, just barely pretending not to notice each other. I got to know you so well, if only peripherally. I memorized the folds of your body, the contours of your face, the patterns of your breath. I saw you cry once after you’d glanced at a neighbor’s newspaper. I wondered if you were crying about something specific, or just the general passage of time, so unnoticeable until suddenly noticeable. I wanted to comfort you, wrap my arms around you, assure you I knew everything would be fine, but it felt too familiar; I stayed glued to my seat.
One day, in the middle of the afternoon, you stood up as the train pulled into Queensboro Plaza. It was difficult for you, this simple task of standing up, you hadn’t done it in sixty years. Holding onto the rails, you managed to get yourself to the door. You hesitated briefly there, perhaps waiting for me to say something, giving me one last chance to stop you, but rather than spit out a lifetime of suppressed almost-conversations I said nothing, and I watched you slip out between the closing sliding doors.
It took me a few more stops before I realized you were really gone. I kept waiting for you to reenter the subway car, sit down next to me, rest your head on my shoulder. Nothing would be said. Nothing would need to be said.
When the train returned to Queensboro Plaza, I craned my neck as we entered the station. Perhaps you were there, on the platform, still waiting. Perhaps I would see you, smiling and bright, your long gray hair waving in the wind from the oncoming train.
But no, you were gone. And I realized most likely I would never see you again. And I thought about how amazing it is that you can know somebody for sixty years and yet still not really know that person at all.
That’s the question Amber Frost thinks is posed by the short film above:
In this beautiful, unsettling short film, “The Flying Man,” a powerful Übermensch actually takes it upon himself to be judge, jury, and executioner. Unlike the usual underdog superheroes of comics, where the audience is meant to casually rationalize their operation outside the rule of law, we are left completely chilled as he drops people from dizzying heights to their terrifying deaths with a sadistic resolve. He is in no way the protagonist, or even an anti-hero: he’s a terrorist.
Despite the fact that the Census predicts that the white majority in the US will be gone by 2043, Jamelle Bouie expresses skepticism that we’ll ever really be “a country where most Americans have nonwhite heritage”:
The fastest growing group of Americans—by far—fall under the “multiracial category.” If past research is any indication, these Americans are likely the product of intermarriage betweens whites and Hispanics (the most common interracial pairing) or whites and Asians (the next most common one). While we identify them as nonwhite, we don’t know how they’ll identify themselves in the future. My hunch is that—as (certain groups of) Latinos and Asians integrate themselves into American life—a good number will identify themselves as white, with Hispanic or Asian heritage, in the same way that many white Americans point to their Irish or Italian backgrounds. …
While there’s no doubt the United States will become a place where people of Asian and Hispanic heritage are common, that’s not the same as saying it will become a “majority-minority” country. Given our history, and continued assimilation, intermarriage, and upward mobility among Latino and Asian Americans as a whole, there’s a good chance the United States will remain a “white” country, where “white” includes people of Hispanic and Asian heritage.
However, Josh Marshall argues that, with the white vote getting smaller, inciting racial panic has become less and less politically effective:
Let’s just talk about the 1990s or really any other time up to the last few years. It’s not that any of this stuff is new. It’s that until pretty recently we had this stuff and on balance it was successful. That’s the key. And now, though it’s a very close run thing, it tends not to be successful. And by successful I mean in a purely electoral sense. Does it get you more votes than it loses you. And at a certain level that’s all that matters.
Republicans invested heavily in voter suppression for the 2012 cycle. And while it is very important to note that a big reason why it didn’t ‘work’ was that courts struck down a lot of the most egregious laws (and huge kudos to the myriad civil rights and voting rights lawyers who made that possible), it also didn’t work because the attempt itself massively energized the growing non-white electorate. So every time a little Mexican-American kid dares to sing the national anthem at a basketball game wearing a mariachi suit and freaks start telling him on Twitter to go back to Mexico, it’s gross and it’s a bummer, but you also realize that it’s probably marginalizing the white racist freakshow vote more than it’s empowering it.
In the Art of Loving Fromm argued that the phrase “falling in love” was a dangerous misnomer. We did not fall into anything; what we did, once attraction had allowed a relationship to form, was recognize ourselves in the other and then—through affection, respect, and responsibility—work hard to teach ourselves how to honor that recognition. “Once one had discovered how to listen to, appreciate, and indeed love oneself,” Friedman paraphrases The Art of Loving, “it would be possible to love somebody else . . . to fathom the loved one’s inner core as one listened to one’s own core.” In short, the dynamic would induce an emotional generosity that allowed each of us to be ourselves in honor of the other. Once one had achieved this admittedly ideal state, Fromm declared, as he did in every single book he wrote, one could extend that love to all mankind.
want this relationship
Love like this