- Sacred Carnality
- The Lost Photographs – Rarely Seen Images of Marilyn Monroe Shot by Her Personal Makeup Artist
- 27 Images That Prove That We Are In Danger
- Why we fall in love, the psychology of why frustration is essential for satisfaction, how relationships affect our immune system, why we work and more
- 13 Things I Found on the Internet
- Danny Lyon’s Conversations with the Dead: A 14-month look into the Texas penitentiary system in the 1960s (PHOTOS).
- Newfound gene linked to amyloid beta plaque buildup in Alzheimer’s disease
Author Archives: postroad
This essay is drawn from “The Art of Memoir,” by MaryKarr, published by HarperCollins.
— My holy of holies is the human body
—Anton Chekhov, May, 1888
—Carnality sits at the root of the show-don’t-tell edict that every writing teacher harps on all the time, because it works. By carnal, I mean, Can you apprehend it through the five senses? In writing a scene, you must help the reader employ smell and taste and touch as well as image and noise. The more carnal a writer’s nature, the better she’ll be at this, and there are subcategories according to the senses. A great glutton can evoke the salty bite of pastrami on black rye; the sex addict will excel at smooth flesh; the one with a painterly eye visual beauty, etc. Every memoir should brim over with the physical experiences that once streamed in—the smell of garlicky gumbo, your hand in an animal’s fur, the ocean’s phosphor lighting up bodies underwater all acid green. Of all memoir’s five elements, carnality is the most primary and necessary and—luckily for me as a teacher—the most easy to master.
The photographs of Monroe previously belonged to the estate of Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, Monroe’s personal makeup artist for 15 years.
Why we fall in love, the psychology of why frustration is essential for satisfaction, how relationships affect our immune system, why we work and more
Adrienne Rich, in contemplating how love refines our truths, wrote: “An honorable human relationship – that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.” But among the dualities that lend love both its electricity and its exasperation – the interplay of thrill and terror, desire and disappointment, longing and anticipatory loss – is also the fact that our pathway to this mutually refining truth must pass through a necessary fiction: We fall in love not just with a person wholly external to us but with a fantasy of how that person can fill what is missing from our interior lives.Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips addresses this central paradox with uncommon clarity and elegance in Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life (public library).
1. Haussmanhattan: Vintage Paris X New York Architect Luis Fernandes sent me his awesome Tumblr, Haussmanhattan mixing New York and Paris in the 1900-30’s. You can follow his mash-ups on […]
Danny Lyon’s Conversations with the Dead: A 14-month look into the Texas penitentiary system in the 1960s (PHOTOS).
In 1967, Danny Lyon drove from his home in New York to Huntsville, Texas, where, over the course of 14 months, he visited and photographed seven penitentiaries.The director of the Texas Department of Corrections granted Lyon full access to the prisons, which housed a range of inmates: Some, like the Walls and Ramsey, were for the general population. Others, like Ellis, were where the most dangerous inmates lived. The resulting images, a poignant, personal look at the daily lives of the inmates, resulted in a book, Conversations With the Dead, that was first published in 1971; after nearly 45 years out of print, last month Phaidon published a new edition of the book.
In a newly published study, a multi-institutional team led by scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered an immune system gene associated with higher rates of amyloid plaque buildup in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and older adults at risk for the disease.
The research, reported in the journal Brain, found that a variant in the IL1RAP gene was associated with greater amyloid plaque accumulation over two years and had an even stronger effect than the well-known APOE e4 allele which is notorious for its association with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
The author of “Van Halen Rising” talks David Lee Roth, the band’s early years — and what made them so magical
Redheads’ blazing, fiery locks always make them stand out in a crowd, and it is this element of their appearance that Maja Topčagić, a photographer in Bosnia-Herzegovina, focuses on in her beautiful redhead portraits. The vivid colors and bright flowers make the girls in Topčagić’s photos seem like mystical summer spirits.
—Red hair is the rarest natural hair color in the world (1-2% of the human population has read hair), so it’s understandable why they can seem so striking to some of us. The genetic mutation that causes red hair also causes a host of other changes as well – redheads have a higher pain tolerance, are more difficult to anaesthetize, and are more susceptible to ultraviolet light.
—Topčagić’s redhead portraits are eye-catching, but she doesn’t just take photos of redheads – she is an accomplished beauty photographer who has photos of all sorts on her 500px account. Check out the rest of her work below!
ok. dress like a clown and you will always eat alone…but… READ
Female comic and video game characters often engage in combat while wearing outfits that are very revealing, particularly around the breast area. This is because the scientific properties of breasts mean they’re formidable weapons which shouldn’t be concealed
Columbia University’s commencement in 2005. Asian-Americans have higher educational attainment than any other group in the United States, including whites. Credit Peter Turnley/Corbis
—THIS is an awkward question, but here goes: Why are Asian-Americans so successful in America?
—It’s no secret that Asian-Americans are disproportionately stars in American schools, and even in American society as a whole. Census data show that Americans of Asian heritage earn more than other groups, including whites. Asian-Americans also have higher educational attainment than any other group.
Francisco Goya’sCasa de Locos. Image via Wikimedia
When most people finish university, they either get a job or go traveling. Unfortunately, I’m not most people. Since the age of 18, I’ve suffered from social anxiety disorder, a mental illness characterized by severe shyness and a fear of social situations. I could have gone traveling, but sitting in the corner not saying anything in a far-off land would have been very similar to doing the same thing in the UK. As for entering the world of work, that was never going to happen—I felt as if I was physically unable to speak whenever I had to talk to anyone I didn’t know, and not many employers will give a position to a candidate who doesn’t answer any of the interview questions. Instead, I started taking drugs to give me the confidence to socialize, and then became involved in petty crime to get the money to buy them.
My condition was both the thing that led me into crime and an extra punishment on top of my jail sentence.
Rachel Papo’s Homeschooled: A series about children in Upstate New York getting an education at home (PHOTOS).
Unidentified Photographer, [Che Guevara riding a tractor on a dirt road], 1950s,
Jane Goodall spent years observing chimpanzees in the wild. She discovered that the animals can commit murder and wage war. As an environmentalist, the British activist now spends more time observing humans — and says she still has hope for humanity.
by Jennifer Mittelstadt
From the Going Home of the Yankees (American Landscape) series. Photo by Yeon J Yue
Long in retreat in the US, the welfare state found a haven in an unlikely place – the military, where it thrived for decades
—Over the past four decades in the United States, as the country has slashed its welfare state and employers gutted traditional job benefits, growing numbers of people, especially from the working class, grasped for a new safety net – the military. Everyone recognises that the US armed forces have become a global colossus. But few know that, along with bases and bombs, the US military constructed its own massive welfare state. In the waning decades of the 20th century, with US prosperity in decline, more than 10 million active‑duty personnel and their tens of millions of family members turned to the military for economic and social security.
As his secretary Frances Kroll Ring told it, Fitzgerald displayed a great deal of curiosity about Jewishness, pestering her about Jewish characteristics and customs.
As his secretary Frances Kroll Ring told it, Fitzgerald displayed a great deal of curiosity about Jewishness, pestering her about Jewish characteristics and customs. Credit PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY ULLSTEIN BILD VIA GETTY
—People evidently liked to touch Frances Kroll Ring. As secretary and assistant to F. Scott Fitzgerald toward the end of his life, Mrs. Ring, who died on June 18th, at the age of ninety-nine, might well have been the last person alive to have touched him. To shake her hand or look her in the eye was our last chance to commune physically with the writer who personified the Jazz Age and the Paris of the nineteen-twenties. Fitzgerald died in December, 1940, and it’s strange to think that until last month someone was around who had cooked and typed for him, run his errands, and cleaned up his messes. It’s strange also to think that she was a nice Jewish girl from the Bronx.
The new bomb is the B61-12. On its surface, the bomb does not appear to be as dangerous as other weapons in the US arsenal. Although the B61-12 is nuclear-armed, it has a yield of 50 kilotons — tiny compared to the largest nuclear bomb that the US possesses, which has a yield of 1,200 kilotons.
It’s difficult to tell, exactly, which gunman pushed America past a milestone of violence in the early hours of Saturday morning this past weekend. Was it the unknown man who opened fire at a house party in Charlotte, injuring four? Or the home invader in Peoria, Ill., who shot a 14-year-old student athlete dead and wounded three other teens? Or the gang members who shot and injured five people at a shopping plaza Memphis?
Some joyful stuff to brighten up your dayMixed images flow: cars, girls, etc.Welcome to the new issue of Dark Roasted Blend’s “Feel-Good” series: mostly bright and sweet collection of images designed to propel you along your day with a smile on your face and a spring in your gait.Here are some color-corrected vintage NASA photographs:
In a first-of-its-kind analysis, ProPublica reveals that the suits are far more common in black communities than white ones.
’ve had most of my life’, says Raymond Tallis, his voice unwavering. ‘Even the most optimistic prognosis says that I’ve had at least two thirds and most probably three quarters, so it’s a pity most of it’s behind me. And that’s the source of a profound sense of melancholy; the sense of having outlived so much, and being, if you like, the survivor of so much, being surrounded by friends who are now running into problems… There’s a strange thing when you look back on anything, even if it’s only last Wednesday – the past has such a sort of privileged appearance. There are two sources of its privilege: the first is that you look at the past simply as a spectator – you can’t do what Wednesday was up to; and the second is that last Wednesday I had more time. I’m struck by a sheer sense of the transience of things.’ And then comes Tallis’s never-to-be-denied impishness, his bolt of humour. ‘Everyone else is sick of Raymond Tallis, but I can’t get enough of him.’
1Flooding around Aberdeen Country Club, on Oct. 6 in Longs. S.C.. The Carolinas saw sunshine Tuesday after days of inundation, but it could take weeks to recover from being pummeled by a historic rainstorm that caused widespread flooding and multiple deaths. (Janet Blackmon Morgan/The Sun News via AP)
In 2013, five years after he co-authored a paper showing that Democratic candidates in the United States could get more votes by moving slightly to the right on economic policy1, Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University in New York City, was chagrined to learn of an error in the data analysis. In trying to replicate the work, an undergraduate student named Yang Yang Hu had discovered that Gelman had got the sign wrong on one of the variables.
—Gelman immediately published a three-sentence correction, declaring that everything in the paper’s crucial section should be considered wrong until proved otherwise.
—Reflecting today on how it happened, Gelman traces his error back to the natural fallibility of the human brain: “The results seemed perfectly reasonable,” he says.
They approach with the fervor of a football fan attacking a keg at a tailgate party. “Which method of meditation do you use?”
—I admit that I don’t meditate, and they are incredulous. It’s as if I’ve just announced that the Earth is flat. “How could you not meditate?!”
===I have nothing against it. I just happen to find it dreadfully boring.
—“But Steve Jobs meditated!”
One of six sentenced to death by a military court for being German collaborators, a young Frenchman is tied to a stake before being shot by a firing squad in Grenoble, France on September 4, 1944.
I often start the school year teaching Plato’s Republic to first-year students at the University of Virginia. We then go on to read Homer, the New Testament, and Confucius and Buddha and Shakespeare. But as we move through the class I always have the option and the pleasure of asking a very smart group of students a revealing question: “What would Plato say?” I thought of this question not long ago when I encountered an inspired riff by the comic Louis C.K. on our current condition.The riff got a lot of attention when it came out and continues to circulate vigorously on the internet. It goes under the title “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.” We have everything, Louis says. We have magnificent cell phones that can dial anywhere in the world in a flash; we have computers that function in midair, when we’re in flight. And flying! Are the seats uncomfortable, are the planes often late? Well okay, but think about it for a moment. You’re doing what people have dreamed of for thousands of years. You’re up in the air. You’re borne aloft heading for the destination you choose, anywhere on the planet. You’re flying!And yet no one is happy, says Louis C.K.
The ostentation is unique to Karachi, says Omar Shahid Hamid, a police officer who specializes in counter-terrorism and criminal networks in the city. While elsewhere in the country, city-dwellers go to their ancestral villages and small towns and organize slaughters there, in Karachi—a city of migrants—people stay put and put on the glitzy cattle shows. “In Karachi it’s a see-and-be-seen kind of game,” Hamid says.
—Pakistan’s largest city is equally known for crime as for cosmopolitanism, and the Eid holiday is just as rife with threats and wrongdoing as any other day of the week. In a place where anything from a goat to an iPhone can be stolen at gunpoint, so too can the skins of the sacrificed animals.
There’s more to speaking than words: conversations affect our bodies, reinforce social order, and reveal the health of relationships
Was Mrs. Smith bringing in the wash when she heard the crash? Circa 1958, more vehicular mayhem in Oakland, California.
Dutch man Sacha Harland lives for a month without consuming sugar or alcohol, documenting the process in a six-minute video. He loses 10lbs and lowers his cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Today’s picture shows Simeon J. Crews of the 7th Texas Cavalry Regiment. He is sporting an impressive Bowie Knife, and also a Colt Pocket revolver.
Märket is a small 3.3-hectare lump of rock located in the passage joining the Gulf of Bothnia to the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland. The island is divided between the two countries since the Treaty of Fredrikshamn of 1809 defined the border between Sweden and the Russian Empire which ruled Finland at the time. When the border was drawn by the treaty’s authors, by sheer coincidence, it ran straight through Market Island.
—The island lies in the middle of the 11-km-wide and 27-km-long Understen–Märket passage, and was probably used as a useful navigation mark, which is why its named Märket or ‘the Mark’ in Swedish. In order to make the island more useful as a navigational aid, the Russians built a lighthouse on the island in 1885. Accidentally, the structure was erected on the Swedish side of the island.
These horror movies are all real.
Frida Kahlo – Self portrait with Braid, 1941.
Patrick Stickles’s band has burned through more than 10 members in 10 years and their last album was a 29-song meditation on his battles with depression. With his band due to play at CMJ, Stickles reflects on his enlightenment
History, which we learn about as a series of ideological abstractions, is lived concretely – in ordinary houses.
By Adam Kirsch
—Recent years have brought a number of popular stories, told about Jews who lost their patrimony during the Nazi period: Edmund de Waal’s book The Hare With Amber Eyes, for example, which focused on a group of netsuke – small Japanese figurines – that was all that remained of his family’s once-vast art collection, and the film Woman in Gold, which tells the story of the descendants of Adele Bloch-Bauer, who successfully sued to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s portrait of her.
—It is no coincidence that these stories are emerging just at the historical moment when the last survivors of the Holocaust are dying. The actual victims of the Holocaust suffered too much to be plausibly recompensed; there is no way to tell their lives except as stories of irrecoverable loss.
It is only for the second and third generations that the restoration of lost property can seem like a form of making whole, or a viable way of reconnecting with a familial past. There is, however, always something a little uncomfortable about such stories, because they seem to suggest that regaining a painting, or a piece of real estate, does something to heal a historical rupture that in reality can never be closed.
The House by the Lake starts out seeming like another one of these stories. In 2013 Thomas Harding travelled from London to the outskirts of Berlin in order to visit a house that had been built by his paternal great-grandfather, a German-Jewish doctor named Alfred Alexander. What he finds is a shambles: “Climbing through, my way illuminated by my iPhone, I was confronted by mounds of dirty clothes and soiled cushions, walls covered in graffiti and crawling with mould, smashed appliances and fragments of furniture, rotting floorboards and empty beer bottles.” The house had been used by squatters as a drug den for years and it was now scheduled for demolition by the local authority. Here is a perfect symbol of a lost estate and the reader half expects Harding triumphantly to restore the house and reclaim it for his family.
Yet The House by the Lake has a more complex and ambiguous story to tell. For one thing, Harding makes clear that his relatives want nothing to do with the house, or with Germany in general. Harding comes from a family of German Jews who emigrated to Britain in the 1930s, starting new lives with a new name (originally they were called Hirschowitz). Understandably, they have no sentimental feelings about the country that drove them out and no interest in rekindling a connection with it. But Harding is an exception. His last book, Hanns and Rudolf, was also an excavation of the family’s past, in which he showed how his great-uncle Hanns Alexander fought in the British army during the Second World War and ended up arresting Rudolf Höss, the infamous commandant of Auschwitz.
Rather than let the house disappear, he sets about recovering its story, in an attempt to convince the German authorities to let it stand as a structure of historical value. In doing so, he broadens his subject from Jewish dispossession to the history of 20th-century Germany, as seen through the lens of a single modest building.
Alfred Alexander built the house in 1927 as a summer home for his family. He was a fashionable Berlin doctor, whose patients included Albert Einstein and Marlene Dietrich, and he joined a number of successful professionals in building second homes in the village of Groß Glienicke, just west of the capital. The village had a long history – it was founded in the 13th century – but the exponential growth of modern Berlin had disrupted its traditions.
The land that Dr Alexander leased to build his house on was part of an estate owned by Otto von Wollank, who sounds like a stern Junker but was a Berlin real-estate developer who bought the estate (and then his title) in the early 20th century. Already Harding shows that the history of Groß Glienicke is bound up with social changes in modern Germany and in particular those in Berlin, whose population exploded in the years before the First World War. This made it more profitable for the von Wollanks to parcel off their land to city-dwellers than to farm it, as its owners had done since time immemorial.
The house that Alfred Alexander built was a modest one: a one-storey wooden structure with nine small rooms and, because it was intended to be used only in the summer, no insulation or central heating. It was a place for leading the simple life, for rowing and swimming and playing tennis, and the children – including Elsie, who later became the grandmother of Thomas Harding – loved to spend time there.
Groß Glienicke was, however, no refuge from rising anti-Semitism: Robert von Schultz, the Alexanders’ landlord and Otto von Wollank’s son-in-law, was a leader in the Stahlhelm, the right-wing paramilitary organisation, and a vocal hater of Jews. After 1933, when Hitler seized power, things became much worse, though the Alexanders attempted to continue living a normal life. Harding quotes a diary entry that the teenage Elsie made in April that year: “Thousands of Jewish employees, doctors, lawyers have been impoverished in the space of a few hours . . . People who during the war fought and bled for their German fatherland . . . now they stand on the brink of the abyss.”
Fortunately, the abyss did not swallow up the Alexander family. By 1936, all its members had escaped to Britain. At first, they tried to keep legal possession of the Groß Glienicke house, renting it out to a tenant named Will Meisel, a successful songwriter and music publisher. (The company he founded, Edition Meisel, still flourishes today.) But Meisel, like so many ordinary Germans under Hitler, was not above profiting from the dispossession of Jews. When the Alexanders’ citizenship was revoked by the Nazi state and their house confiscated, Meisel bought it from the tax office at a bargain price, much as he had previously bought up music publishers abandoned by their Jewish owners. After the war, evidence of this profiteering delayed – but did not prevent – Meisel’s efforts to be “denazified” by the Allied occupying powers.
Meisel won the house by the lake thanks to one political upheaval and lost it thanks to another. The postwar partition of Berlin left Groß Glienicke just outside the city limits; as a result, Meisel’s business in West Berlin was in a different country from his lake house in East Germany. This turned him into another absentee landlord, like the Alexanders before him. Indeed, there is an odd symmetry to what happened next. Just as the Nazis had taken the house from its Jewish owners to give it to an Aryan, now the communists took the house from its capitalist owner and gave it to the workers.
Because of the housing shortage in postwar Germany, the small summer house now had to serve as the year-round residence for two Groß Glienicke families, the Fuhrmanns and the Kühnes. This required a series of alterations that destroyed much of the house’s original character – a typical eastern bloc triumph of the utilitarian over the aesthetic.
In tracing this next phase of the house, Harding shows what life in East Germany was like for some of its typical citizens. Wolfgang Kühne, a bus driver, was recruited by the Stasi (his code name was “Ignition Key”) but was soon booted out for failure to do any actual spying. His son Bernd was a promising athlete who unwittingly participated in the state’s doping programme, before an accident destroyed his sporting career. At the same time, the family benefited from the guaranteed food, jobs and housing offered by the state – perks that Wolfgang would miss after reunification brought capitalism back to Groß Glienicke.
The institution of East German life that the Kühnes could never ignore, however, was the Berlin Wall. Because Groß Glienicker Lake was legally part of West Berlin, a section of the wall ran between the house and the lake shore – a three-metre-high concrete monolith that was literally in the Kühnes’ backyard. They couldn’t have guests over, since they lived in a restricted border zone, which required a special pass to enter. Occasionally, Harding writes, the young Bernd and his classmates would make a game of tossing sticks over the wall, trying to set off the alarm tripwires.
This emblem of tyranny was just another fact of life for those living in its shadow. And that is, perhaps, the most important lesson of Harding’s book. History, which we learn about as a series of ideological abstractions, is lived concretely. This is why an ordinary house can serve so effectively as a symbol of the German experience.
Today, the Alexander Haus, as it is known, is a designated landmark and Harding hopes to turn it into a museum, a fitting new incarnation for our own age of memorialisation. Whether it will be the last stage in the house by the lake’s career is something only time will tell.
Adam Kirsch is a poet and critic. His latest book is “Emblems of the Passing World: Poems After Photographs by August Sander” (Other Press)
The House by the Lake: a Story of Germany by Thomas Harding is published by William Heinemann (£20, 442pp)
A new breed of female-centred websites are crowdsourcing tales of sexual intimacy, in all its gloriously messy forms. Deep down, almost all of us are voyeurs, obsessed with the things that other people get up to when they’re in private. The biggest thing we’re all fascinated by is—of course—sex. I’m not just talking the obvious stuff here, like online porn, cruising Chatroulette, or whatever you own personal poison is.