Open Culture


 

How Does the Rorschach Inkblot Test Work?: An Animated Primer

A frightening monster? Two friendly bears? Say what!? As anybody with half a brain and the gift of sight knows, the black and red inkblot below resembles nothing so much as a pair of gnomes, gavotting so hard their knees bleed. ...or perhaps it’s open to interpretation. Back in 2013, when Open Culture celebrated psychologist Hermann Rorschach’s birthday by posting the ten blots that form the basis of his famous personality test, readers reported seeing all sorts of things in Card 2: A u...
Tags: Psychology, Google, College, Nazis, New York City, Neuroscience, Lewis Carroll, Alice, Yale University, Facebook Twitter, Searls, Hermann Rorschach, Rorschach, Ayun Halliday, Damion Searls, Rorshach


Take a Journey Inside Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings with a New Digital Exhibition

Vincent van Gogh died in 1890, long before the emergence of any of the visual technologies that impress us here in the 21st century. But the distinctive vision of reality expressed through paintings still captivates us, and perhaps captivates us more than ever: the latest of the many tributes we continue to pay to van Gogh's art takes the form Van Gogh, Starry Night, a "digital exhibition" at the Atelier des Lumières, a disused foundry turned projector- and sound system-laden multimedia space i...
Tags: Google, Art, Japan, Technology, College, Paris, Seoul, Arles, Van Gogh, Facebook Twitter, Vincent Van Gogh, Gogh, Auvers, Colin Marshall, Van Gogh Starry Night, 21st Century Los Angeles


An Animated Introduction to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Life & Thought

There’s no shame if you’ve never known how to pronounce Friedrich Nietzsche’s name correctly. Even less if you never remember how to spell it. If these happen to be the case, you may be less than familiar with his philosophy. Let Alain de Botton’s animated School of Life video briefly introduce you, and you’ll never forget how to say it: “Knee Cha.” (As for remembering the spelling, you’re on your own.) You’ll also get a short biography of the disgruntled, dyspeptic German philosophe...
Tags: Google, College, Nazis, Philosophy, Alain De Botton, Elizabeth, Facebook Twitter, Josh Jones, Friedrich Nietzsche, University of Basel, Nietzsche, Babich, de Botton, Durham NC Follow, Dionysus, Arthur Schopenhauer Richard


The CIA’s Rectal Tool Kit for Spies–Created for Truly Desperate Situations During The Cold War

Though global espionage remains a going concern in the 21st century, somehow the popular stories we tell about it return again and again to the Cold War. Maybe it has to do with the demand those mostly pre-digital decades made upon the physical ingenuity of spies as well as the tools of spycraft. Take, for instance, one particularly ingenious CIA-issued tool kit on display at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. "Filled with escape tools," says the Spy Museum's web site, "thi...
Tags: Google, Facebook, Technology, College, Washington, History, Britain, Cia, John Le Carre, Seoul, Facebook Twitter, International Spy Museum, Colin Marshall, 21st Century Los Angeles, Spy Museum, Atlas Obscura Related Content


Leonard Bernstein Awkwardly Turns the Screws on Tenor Jose Carreras While Recording West Side Story (1984)

What have we here? Evidence that the Maestro is a monster? Or a behind the scenes reminder that Arrested Development’s wannabe actor Tobias Fünke is not too far off base when he says that to make it in “this business of show, you have to have the heart of an angel and the hide... of an elephant.” Both? Neither? Any way you slice it, the recording session above is not for your typical cast album. West Side Story, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics b...
Tags: Google, Music, New York, College, New York City, Theatre, Vienna, Stephen Sondheim, Broadway, Opera, Verona, Maria, Public Domain, Bernstein, Tony, Natalie Wood


Natalie Portman Teaches a MasterClass in Acting

This week, MasterClass rolled out its latest course--Natalie Portman teaching a 20-lesson class on acting. The upstart educational venture writes: One of her generation’s most versatile performers, Academy Award-winning actor Natalie Portman has been captivating audiences for decades. Since her on-screen debut at age 12, she’s worked with some of cinema’s most celebrated directors and showcased her skills through unforgettable roles in Black Swan, Jackie, and the Star Wars franchise. Hav...
Tags: Google, Film, College, Robin Williams, Bob Dylan, Online Courses, Jamie Foxx, Natalie Portman, Jackie, Facebook Twitter, Portman, Natalie, Ray Charles Natalie Portman, Jackie Kennedy Cate Blanchett, Jodie Foster Samuel L Jackson


When William Faulkner Set the World Record for Writing the Longest Sentence in Literature: Read the 1,288-Word Sentence from Absalom, Absalom!

Image by Carl Van Vechten, via Wikimedia Commons “How did Faulkner pull it off?” is a question many a fledgling writer has asked themselves while struggling through a period of apprenticeship like that novelist John Barth describes in his 1999 talk "My Faulkner." Barth “reorchestrated” his literary heroes, he says, “in search of my writerly self... downloading my innumerable predecessors as only an insatiable green apprentice can.” Surely a great many writers can relate when Barth says, “it was...
Tags: Google, Europe, Books, Maryland, Writing, College, Washington, Literature, Guinness Book of World Records, Lincoln, Sherman, Jonathan Coe, Jones, William Styron, Facebook Twitter, Beckett


Watch an Animated Score for Steve Reich’s Minimalist Piece “Clapping Music“–and Try Your Hardest to Follow Along

Steve Reich’s Clapping Music is one of the simplest scores of modern classical music, and as you might soon find out, one of the most difficult to perform. Written in 1972 while on a European tour and after a night of mediocre flamenco, Clapping Music is for two players. One claps a steady rhythm (technically an African Bell Rhythm). A second performer claps in unison in the same pattern for eight bars. At the end of the eighth bar, the second performer goes out of sync for one eighth no...
Tags: Google, Music, College, Steve Reich, Reich, Facebook Twitter, KCRW, Ted Mills, London Sinfonietta, Anne Teresa, Reed Phase, Keersmaeker Asked


When William Faulkner Set the World Record for Writing the Longest Sentence in Literature: 1,288 Words from Absalom, Absalom!

Image by Carl Van Vechten, via Wikimedia Commons “How did Faulkner pull it off?” is a question many a fledgling writer has asked themselves while struggling through a period of apprenticeship like that novelist John Barth describes in his 1999 talk "My Faulkner." Barth “reorchestrated” his literary heroes, he says, “in search of my writerly self... downloading my innumerable predecessors as only an insatiable green apprentice can.” Surely a great many writers can relate when Barth says, “it was...
Tags: Google, Europe, Books, Maryland, Writing, College, Washington, Literature, Guinness Book of World Records, Lincoln, Sherman, Jonathan Coe, Jones, William Styron, Facebook Twitter, Beckett


Jack Kerouac’s “Beat Paintings:” Now Gathered in One Book and Exhibition for the First Time

Most of us enter Jack Kerouac's world through his 1959 novel On the Road. Those of us who explore it more deeply thereafter may find much more than we expected to: Kerouac's inner life came out not just in his formidable body of written work, but in spoken-word jazz albums, fantasy baseball materials, and even paintings. Though Kerouac has now been gone for nearly half a century, it wasn't until just last year that his works of visual art were brought together: Kerouac: Beat Painting did it in ...
Tags: Google, Art, Milan, College, Literature, Road, Jack Kerouac, Kerouac, Seoul, Truman Capote, First Time, Facebook Twitter, Bandera, Colin Marshall, David Barnett, Pope Paul VI


The Band Everyone Thought Was The Beatles: Revisit the Klaatu Conspiracy of 1976

In 1976, hundreds of diehard Beatles fans became convinced that the mysterious album 3:47 EST by the band Klaatu was actually a new release from The Beatles in disguise, after a DJ in Providence, Rhode Island played one of its songs on the radio. Shortly afterward, Steve Smith discovered the album at the newspaper he worked for, Rhode Island’s The Providence Journal, listened to it, and became immediately intrigued. The album contained no photographs, no identifying information at all, a...
Tags: Google, Music, California, College, Toronto, Paul Mccartney, Smith, Steve Smith, Rhode Island, Ringo Starr, Beatles, Starr, Mccartney, Lennon, Cbc, Facebook Twitter


William Faulkner’s Review of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

Images via Wikimedia Commons In the mid-20th century, the two big dogs in the American literary scene were William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. Both were internationally revered, both were masters of the novel and the short story, and both won Nobel Prizes. Born in Mississippi, Faulkner wrote allegorical histories of the South in a style that is both elliptical and challenging. His works were marked by uses of stream-of-consciousness and shifting points of view. He also favored titanically lo...
Tags: Google, Books, Mississippi, Yahoo, College, Washington, Time, Los Angeles, New York Times, Paris, Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway, Facebook Twitter, Hollywood Reporter, Lee University, FAULKNER


Buckminster Fuller Rails Against the “Nonsense of Earning a Living”: Why Work Useless Jobs When Technology & Automation Can Let Us Live More Meaningful Lives

We are a haunted species: haunted by the specter of climate change, of economic collapse, and of automation making our lives redundant. When Marx used the specter metaphor in his manifesto, he was ironically invoking Gothic tropes. But Communism was not a boogeyman. It was a coming reality, for a time at least. Likewise, we face very real and substantial coming realities. But in far too many instances, they are also manufactured, under ideologies that insist there is no alternative. But let’s a...
Tags: Google, Art, Politics, Technology, Education, College, Economics, Creativity, Sxsw, Marx, Facebook Twitter, Josh Jones, Bill Black, Kottke, Fuller, Buckminster Fuller


An Animated Introduction to the Famous Thought Experiment, the “Trolley Problem,” Narrated by Harry Shearer

You don't have to get too deep into the study of ethics before you run across the trolley problem. It comes up so readily that it hardly needs an introduction: a runaway train is on course to collide with and kill five people working on the tracks, but you can pull a lever that will switch it to another section of track on which stands only one person. Do you pull it? According to a purely utilitarian interpretation, you should, since one life lost surely beats five lives lost. But faced...
Tags: Google, College, Animation, Philosophy, Seoul, Aristotle, Harry Shearer, Facebook Twitter, BBC Radio, Philippa Foot, Nelsen, Colin Marshall, 21st Century Los Angeles, Facebook An Animated Introduction, Eleanor Nelsen, Sartre Oxford


Discover the Great Medieval Manuscript, the Book of Kells, in a Free Online Course

Last week, we called your attention to the digitization of the Book of Kells, one of the great manuscripts from the medieval period. The digitized manuscript, we should note, comes accompanied by another great resource--a free online course on the Book of Kells. Both digital initiatives are made possible by Trinity College Dublin. The six-week course covers the following topics: Where and how the manuscript was made The social context from which the manuscript emerged, including early me...
Tags: Google, Art, Facebook, College, History, Ireland, Online Courses, Facebook Twitter, Trinity College Dublin, Kells, Bibliothèque Nationale de France


Why Should We Read Sylvia Plath? An Animated Video Makes the Case

In “Morning Song,” from Sylvia Plath’s posthumous 1965 collection Ariel, published two years after her suicide, a newborn infant is a “fat gold watch.” Among the incessant lists of adjectives in both her work, “fat” is one that stands out, appearing often, in several synonyms, as a celebration of abundance and real anxiety over weight gain and a general too-muchness. In the same poem, the baby is a work of art, a “new statue.” Its mother, on the other hand, is in one stanza a cloud effac...
Tags: Google, UK, London, College, Poetry, Literature, Time Magazine, Ariel, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell, Facebook Twitter, Hughes, Durham NC, Josh Jones, Plath


A Stunning Live Concert Film of Queen Performing in Montreal, Digitally Restored to Perfection (1981)

The legend of Queen is immortal. It needs no further burnishing, not even, some might argue, by the most recent Oscar-winning biopic. The film may gamely recreate the stagecraft of Britain’s most operatic export. But once you’ve seen the real thing, what need of a substitute? For the millions who loved them before Wayne’s World brought them back to global consciousness, and the millions who came to love them afterward, the only thing that could be better than watching live Queen is watch...
Tags: Google, Music, Usa, Film, College, George Harrison, Nasa, Britain, Bangladesh, Montreal, Brian May, Wayne, Facebook Twitter, Josh Jones, Durham NC Follow, Apple Mac G5


The Roman Roads of Spain & Portugal Visualized as a Subway Map: Ancient History Meets Modern Graphic Design

Between the first century BC and the fourth century AD, Rome displayed what we might call an impressive ambition. In his project illustrating those chapters of history in a way no one has before, statistics student Sasha Trubetskoy has shown increasingly Roman-grade ambitions himself, at least in the realm of historical graphic design. We've previously featured his modern subway-style maps of as well as  here on Open Culture. Today, we have , the region today occupied mainly by Spain and Po...
Tags: Google, Facebook, Design, College, Spain, History, Rome, Portugal, Seoul, Iberia, Facebook Twitter, Roman Empire, Colin Marshall, Antoninus, Sasha Trubetskoy, Trubetskoy


Bill Murray Explains How a 19th-Century Painting Saved His Life

You don't understand prewar 20th-century America unless you understand a particular 19th-century French painting: Jules Breton's The Song of the Lark. "In this evocative work, a young peasant woman stands silently in the flat fields of the artist's native Normandy as the sun rises, listening to the song of a distant lark," says a post from the Art Institute of Chicago. Apart from being selected as America's favorite painting in 1934, it was also Eleanor Roosevelt's favorite work of art, ...
Tags: Google, Art, Facebook, UK, College, America, Chicago, Normandy, Bill Murray, Seoul, Thompson, Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, Facebook Twitter, Willa Cather, John Prine


The Amazing Franz Kafka Workout!: Discover the 15-Minute Exercise Routine That Swept the World in 1904

Does your spare tire show no signs of deflating as bikini season looms? Is the fear of bullies kicking sand in your face beginning to outstrip the horror of transforming into a giant bug overnight? Do you long to experience lasting health benefits along with an impressively fit appearance? Friends, we make you this promise: The Amazing Franz Kafka Workout will transform your life along with your physique in just 15 minutes a day. That's right, just 15 minutes of daily calisthenics (and some ...
Tags: Health, Google, College, New York City, Sports, Literature, Kafka, Facebook Twitter, Müller, Walt Whitman, Franz Kafka, Sarah Wildman, Ayun Halliday, Unearthed Health Manual, Jørgen Peter Müller, Franz Kafka Workout


Alan Watts Presents a 15-Minute Guided Meditation: A Time-Tested Way to Stop Thinking About Thinking

The concept of emptiness—sh?nyat?—in Mahayana Buddhism is perhaps a subject best avoided in casual conversation. It so vexes everyone not least because of issues of translation: "emptiness," many scholars think, hardly suffices as a substitute. In English it has a more distinctly nihilist flavor than was intended. Yet emptiness is so indispensable that it can hardly go unmentioned when the practice and purpose of meditation come up in Buddhist thought. Leave it to Zen to put things in su...
Tags: Google, Japan, Zen, California, College, Religion, San Francisco, Britain, Philosophy, Buddhist, Watts, Facebook Twitter, Josh Jones, Suzuki, Mahayana, Alan Watts


The Big Pond: Stream 50 Audio Stories from the Goethe-Institut, Available Free Online

  Who doesn’t love a good podcast? Don’t tell me you’ve never binged Serial or laughed out loud with Marc Maron. Over the last few years, podcasts have become a cultural phenomenon–they help us endure our daily commutes and then lull us back to sleep at night. Listening culture isn’t new, though–talk radio has been filling the silence with anecdotes, news, and drama since the early 1900s. The Goethe-Institut’s new radio and podcast series THE BIG POND. A US-German Listening Series is a perfect ...
Tags: Google, Utah, College, Washington, Germany, Berlin, John Lennon, US, United States, Npr, Goethe Institut, Facebook Twitter, Marc Maron, Big Pond, Podcast Articles and Resources, Katie Davis


Here’s John Steinbeck Asking Marilyn Monroe for Her Autograph (1955)

When asking a celebrity for a special favor, it helps to be a bit of a celebrity yourself. As Keith Ferrell details in his biography, John Steinbeck: The Voice of the Land, the Nobel laureate had little patience for autograph seekers, pushy young writers seeking help getting published, and “people who never read books but enjoyed meeting authors.” The shoe went on the other foot when Mrs. Steinbeck let slip to her nephew that Uncle John had met the boy’s movie star crush, Marilyn Monroe. Sudden...
Tags: Google, Film, College, Life, New York City, Marilyn Monroe, Literature, John F Kennedy, Letters, Public Domain, Facebook Twitter, Jon, Julien, John Steinbeck, Steinbeck, Monroe


Artificial Intelligence Identifies the Six Main Arcs in Storytelling: Welcome to the Brave New World of Literary Criticism

Is the singularity upon us? AI seems poised to replace everyone, even artists whose work can seem like an inviolably human industry. Or maybe not. Nick Cave’s poignant answer to a fan question might persuade you a machine will never write a great song, though it might master all the moves to write a good one. An AI-written novel did almost win a Japanese literary award. A suitably impressive feat, even if much of the authorship should be attributed to the program’s human designers. But what abo...
Tags: Google, Technology, College, Atlantic, Literature, Harry Potter, University Of Chicago, Cinderella, Computer Science, Nick Cave, University Of Vermont, Kurt Vonnegut, Facebook Twitter, Adrienne LaFrance, Joseph Campbell, Josh Jones


The Cringe-Inducing Humor of The Office Explained with Philosophical Theories of Mind

"I'm a friend first and a boss second," says David Brent, middle manager at the Slough branch of paper company Wernham-Hogg. "Probably an entertainer third." Those of us who've watched the original British run of The Office — and especially those of us who still watch it regularly — will remember that and many other of Brent's pitiable declarations besides. As portrayed by the show's co-creator Ricky Gervais, Brent constitutes both The Office's comedic and emotional core, at once a fully...
Tags: Google, Photography, Comedy, Television, College, Office, Neuroscience, Bill Murray, Ricky Gervais, Brent, Seoul, David Brent, Slough, Facebook Twitter, Evan Puschak, Colin Marshall


Hear Patti Smith’s New Work With The Soundwalk Collective, a Tribute to the Avant-Garde Poet Antonin Artaud

The Soundwalk Collective has made music art out of found sounds since 2004. They recorded 2012’s Medea while traversing the Black Sea and fishing for sounds using a scanner and high powered aerial antennas; 2014’s Last Beat used contact microphones on the architecture of a music club to collect vibrations instead of music; 2017’s Before Music There Is Blood collaged deep echoing recordings of classical music played in various halls. This time, in their upcoming The Peyote Dance, they hav...
Tags: Google, Music, College, Mexico, France, Russia, India, Paris, Ethiopia, Patti Smith, Smith, Black Sea, Ibiza, Eastern Europe, French Guiana, Nico


“Stay Free: The Story of the Clash” Narrated by Public Enemy’s Chuck D: A New Spotify Podcast

FYI: Spotify, in partnership with the BBC, has launched “Stay Free: The Story of the Clash," an eight-part podcast on the iconic punk band, narrated by Public Enemy front man, Chuck D. It might seem like an unexpected pairing. And yet Spotify explains: "Like The Clash, Public Enemy openly challenged the status quo in a completely original way—this parallel and Chuck D’s personal experiences bring a surprising new dimension to the story of The Clash." Reviewing the production in The New Y...
Tags: Google, Facebook, Spotify, Chuck, Music, London, College, Bbc, Tokyo, Public Enemy, Def Jam, Facebook Twitter, West London, Chuck D, Mick Jones, Joe Strummer


Sleep or Die: Neuroscientist Matthew Walker Explains How Sleep Can Restore or Imperil Our Health

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could fix the work/life thing by chucking out the difference? At home, you're in the office, at the office, you're at home, always on and never off—sleep, optional. Two-four hours per 24-hour cycle should be enough, right? Wrong. We need proper sleep like we need good food, low stress, engaging pursuits, etc.—to thrive and live a long and happy life. If you wait until you’re dead to sleep, you’ll be dead sooner than you think. “Short sleep predicts a shorter lif...
Tags: Health, Google, Japan, College, Neuroscience, The Guardian, World Health Organisation, Rsa, Brian Eno, Facebook Twitter, Walker, Cooke, Josh Jones, Rachel Cooke, Terry Gross, Matthew Walker


Van Gogh’s Ugliest Masterpiece: A Break Down of His Late, Great Painting, The Night Café (1888)

Ask passersby to name a Vincent van Gogh painting off the top of their heads, and most will come up with works like The Starry Night, The Potato Eaters, one of his self-portraits (probably with his ear bandaged), or maybe the one with the smoking skeleton David Sedaris used for a book cover. How many will mention 1888's The Night Café, an interior, van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo from Arles (the town in the south of France where he had come in search of Japan-like surroundings), "of t...
Tags: Google, Art, Japan, College, France, Seoul, Arles, Van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Vincent, Facebook Twitter, Vincent Van Gogh, Gogh, David Sedaris, Evan Puschak, Theo


The Medieval Masterpiece, the Book of Kells, Is Now Digitized & Put Online

If you know nothing else about medieval European illuminated manuscripts, you surely know the Book of Kells. “One of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures” comments Medievalists.net, “it is set apart from other manuscripts of the same period by the quality of its artwork and the sheer number of illustrations that run throughout the 680 pages of the book.” The work not only attracts scholars, but almost a million visitors to Dublin every year. “You simply can’t travel to the capital of Ireland,”...
Tags: Google, Art, Europe, Books, College, History, Ireland, Middle East, Dublin, Iona, County Meath, North Africa, Moss, Facebook Twitter, Ryan, Trinity College Dublin