Commentaries - December 2009

Lucie Brock-Broido (left) and Alice Quinn discuss the letters of Emily Dickinson at the annual ED birthday tribute at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC last night. [Photo by Lawrence Schwartzwald.]

With the increased ease of making and distributing short videos, and with the ubiquity of the Mac's camera mounted atop its screen, it's no surprise that many ordinary folks are organizing diary-like images of themselves across time - sped-up stills, one per day, of the human face, changing and unchanging. Go to YouTube and search under "photo himself (or herself) every day (or daily)". In the best of these personal/ordinary hypermontages, the expression remains the same--to me, the more the same, the better. The very best is Noah, who took a photo of himself in virtually the same position and context every day for six years. His mouth remains precisely the same while his eyes darken and his hair flows upward and downward like a tide between haircuts.

The Modernism Lab at Yale provides links and source materials and chronologies for the study of the early years of modernism. It seems to be set up to support a growing cluster of courses on modernism at Yale. It's not clear yet how much of interest and use it'll be to others, but at least there are a number of links to the full texts of modernist works of that period, and good (if so far partial) chronologies.

I've long used the video archive of Holocaust testimony at Yale (housed in Sterling Library there in New Haven). For years a sampling of testimonies has been available for borrowing - first on VHS, then on DVD. Now the folks at Yale (Joanne Rudof and her staff) have made a selection of these testimonies available on YouTube. I urge readers of this commentary to watch Paul D. — to hear about his recurring dream; and Helen K. to hear about her brother dying “in mein arms” on the train to Treblinka; and the remarkable Menachem S., who passed as a non-Jewish street waif for years and literally didn’t recognize his parents when reunited with them in 1945.

Above at left: Paul D.