Sunday, August 07, 2022

Samizdat: How a near-death experience could change the way you live

Just as samizdat, Yoga is like a gateway drug. At least it was for me. One day I was opening my arms and the next thing I knew I was opening my mind…

How a near-death experience could change the way you live NPR. News you can use!

It is said that writers are people who, as children, did not receive sufficient rejection either from adults or peers and so are compelled to seek it relentlessly in later life. Jozef Imrich has written the War and Peace of escapes. Havel tackled free will, Tolstoy the meaning of life, Imrich practiced what they preached ... Citizen journalist's job is like a baker's work -- his rolls are tasty as long as they're fresh; after two days they're stale; after a week, they're covered with mould and fit only to be thrown out

Take me to the Velvetish Cold War River  

Samizdat explores how these seemingly small acts of opposition played a crucial role in resisting the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia, which was eventually displaced by the leaders of underground culture-including such producers of samizdat as writer and first president of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel.

Cover of the samizdat edition of Pokouseni. Hra o deseti obrazech (1985). Awaiting shelfmark

 When I hold the Havel-Karlik copy of Pokouseni in my hand, I am taken back to this place of hope once occupied by those who wanted to change the world by the sheer power of words and art.

There are many special books in the British Library collections. However, for me there is one which evokes the very feeling of joy I felt as a child visiting a bookshop or a library. It is Vaclav Havel’s Pokouseni (‘Temptation’). Havel, Czech writer, dissident and former president, who passed away ten years ago this month, wrote this play inspired by the story of Dr Faust…

Eda Kriseova in her authorised biography of the Czech writer describes the creative process that lead to the birth of Temptation. It took Havel ten nights to finish the work. He was physically and mentally exhausted and ended up falling down the stairs and hurting his head. He was staying in his country house in Hradecko at the time. Feverish, hurt, trembling the playwright was cut from the world by a sudden snow storm without any food and no way out. Once Havel came back to the world he felt like he had got away from the devil himself. This strenuous yet cathartic creation process resulted in a play that many found disturbing. Presenting the clash of a metaphysical view of the world with a rational one – inflated to surreal and absurd – the play reflected a contemporary Czechoslovakian existence…

It is actually fitting that the literary work whose conception took such a toll on Havel’s body and mind was published as samizdat. The physicality of the copy we are lucky to have almost mirrors the process the writer went through to create it. It is not the clinical, perfectly cut and immaculately bound product of a mass manufacturer, but rather a raw body of paper turned with love and care into an artefact testifying to the tender effort of a craftsman. Every little detail adds to the story. Were it not for it, the book would look like a plain, boring file folder. Original and unique tape binding has the author’s name typed directly into the fabric before it was closed. What makes this edition exceptional is a collage on the cover and hand-printed linocut illustrations by another Czech dissident Viktor Karlik

Samizdat: Vaclav Havel’s Pokouseni - Temptation of a bibliophile

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done,” Sydney Carton thinks on his way to the guillotine. That far better thing is dying tragically, for many reasons: to save an innocent man, to fulfill his own redemption, and—of course—to make us cry at the end of A Tale of Two Cities. The death scene is one of the sharpest tools in a writer’s toolbox, as likely to wound the writer themself as the reader—for if a well-written death scene can be thrilling, terrifying, or filled with despair, so can a poorly written one be bathetic, stupid, and eye-rolling.

What makes a great death scene? And can 2,500 years of them be distilled into a top 50 list? Dan Kois  gives it a shot 

Our Best Writers Challenge And Discomfit Us

Our best writers can unfreeze us. They override the notion that we’re helpless, and sometimes they do it paradoxically, by depicting people who are paralyzed and stuck. - Tablet

So What, Exactly, Is Culture?

To fully understand a culture it’s necessary to get to know the specific patterns of life within it, and these can’t be captured by abstractions or generalisations. You might, for example, say that culture X is Christian but that doesn’t actually tell you very much about how life is...

The Trap Of Being Over-Informed

New UK Study Documents How Tough It Is For Musicians To Make A Living

The Washington Post – “Experiments indicate that bees have surprisingly rich inner worlds…And now we are learning just how smart insects can be. As I show in my new book, “The Mind of a Bee,” the latest research indicates that even tiny-brained bees are profoundly intelligent creatures that can memorize not only flowers but also human faces, solve problems by thinking rather than by trial and error, and learn to use tools by observing skilled bees. 
They even appear to experience basic emotions, or at least something like optimism and pessimism. The possibility of sentience in these animals raises important ethicalquestions for their ecological conservation, as well as their treatment in the crop pollination industry and in research laboratories. 
Social insects are traditionally thought to be wholly governed by instinct: They can build complex nests and efficiently divide up their labor through innate behaviors, but are considered stupid as individuals, with complexity emerging only at the group level. But there is significant evidence that bees have an inner world of thought — that they are not responding to stimuli only with hard-wired responses…” [h/t Barclay Walsh]

After Nearly 40 Years, One Of The Most Beloved Soap Operas In The English Language Is Ending

"The final episode (of Neighbours) airs in Australia on Thursday and in Britain on Friday. It will be the swan song for a show that has lasted nearly 9,000 episodes over 38 seasons, and became appointment viewing every weekday for many Australians and Britons." - The New York Times

Meet actor and playwright Daniel K. Isaac

You may know Daniel K. Isaac as Ben Kim from the television series “Billions,” but he’s also a committed and talented actor in...

Moral Panics Come and Go. Sex Bracelet Hysteria Is Forever. The Ringer

Artemis is with us London Review of Books