this is my favorite Ideas episode. Fascinating approach to history. With this in mind what does today's music forecast? See link for a listen:
It's often been said that WW1 created who we are today: geopolitically and culturally. Robert Harris explains how music -- classical and popular -- both prefigured and reflected the war in the years leading up to the unprecedented destruction and after.
brilliant documentary, impressive editing. Great conversation piece. So much to think about and feel. Heartbreaking and haunting but ultimately uplifting because creativity/ imagination / love win in the end. Most importantly there's a joyous dance scene to Baltimora's Tarzan Boy.
Just got a flashback of this understated documentary I caught back in 2012. It's about 80-year-old Sayyed el-Dawwy, the last living interpreter of the Sira, the most significant Arabian epic poem. He knows all its 5 million verses by heart and performs it around Egypt like a rockstar. The shows he puts on are dazzling to my foreign ears. I wonder if he will succeed in passing on the tradition to his grandson and what it will sound like coming from a generation more influenced by Pop music and soap operas. Sequel please!
Saw Pawn Sacrifice and wish I could have the time back. It was formulaic and two-dimensional. I'd suggest sticking with Liz Garbus' Bobby Fischer Against the World, a far more nuanced and respectful take on the chess sensation who fell from grace due to a toxic combo of worsening mental health and ravenous media . Aside from exploring the external events/influences in Fischer's life it also manages to convey the enchantment of chess itself, e.g. more possible chess games than atoms in the universe., allowing a better understanding of chess fanaticism. Another scene that stands out reveals a historic pattern of mental illness in chess prodigies. I didn't know about this but at a base level I am not surprised. Some of my earliest memories of rage and frustration are from losing chess games. All that tension building up inside the body as the mind tries to reduce infinity.
It was an intense week, watching one episode per night until there were no more.... or so I thought. It got under my skin so much that I keep seeing more parallels over here in the 'real world'. A dark looking glass indeed. There are so many works out there that imagine not-so-distant places based on existing technologies. Of those this show is the best I've seen in a long time. It doesn't shy away from disturbing scenarios, nor does it eschew our stickier/uglier proclivities as humans.
"... in even the most perverse installments, there’s a delicacy, a humane concern at how easily our private desires can be mined in the pursuit of profit. The worlds can be cartoonish, but the characters are not. [...] it works because it’s not cynical about emotion. " - Emily Nussbaum for The New Yorker
Sparse highlights from the great spinning sphere of publication.