Saturday, August 27, 2016

Stefan Zweig’s last address book

There’s a website devoted to Stefan Zweig’s last address book, with details on the names therein and facsimile pages.

The address book was published in facsimile form in A rede de amigos de Stefan Zweig: sua última agenda, 1940-1942 , or A Network of Friends: Stefan Zweig, His Last Address Book, 1940-1942 , ed. Israel Beloch (Petrópolis: Casa Stefan Zweig, 2014). That work appears to have been published in Portuguese and in English translation, but the
Portuguese text seems to be the only version available. A bargain too.

Other Zweig posts
Happy people, poor psychologists : Little world : School v. city : “A tremendous desire for order” : Urban pastoral, with stationery

Friday, August 26, 2016

Life with Oliver Sacks

Two memories from his partner Bill Hayes: “Out Late with Oliver Sacks.” Late: that is, late in life.

Related reading
All OCA Oliver Sacks posts (Pinboard)

Handwriting, pro and con

Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, in a contrarian review of Anne Trubek’s forthcoming book The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting :

Though one technology often supplants another, that doesn’t necessitate concession. Considering its rich significance, instead of hustling handwriting off to the graveyard, perhaps what’s called for is resurrection.
Reading Trubek’s recent New York Times piece “Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter” made me dubious about investing time in the book. Two sentences from the Times piece:
People talk about the decline of handwriting as if it’s proof of the decline of civilization. But if the goal of public education is to prepare students to become successful, employable adults, typing is inarguably more useful than handwriting.
Notice how the first sentence stacks the deck by characterizing those who value the practice of writing by hand as fuddy-duddy doomsayers. As for the second sentence: is the goal of public education to produce “successful, employable adults”? And what does “successful” mean? Here, from John Churchill of Phi Beta Kappa, is another perspective on the purpose of education.

And what about all those people writing in pocket notebooks and journals?

Related reading
All OCA handwriting posts (Pinboard)
On “On the New Literacy”

Pencils in school

At the City and Country School, the eight-year-olds ran a school-supplies store and learned about the things they sold:

They wrote letters to pencil factories asking permission to visit, and were disappointed and at the same time curious when permission was refused because of trade secrets, a mysterious phrase into which they immediately inquired. The manufacturers did send them samples of pencils in various stages of manufacture, and leaflets telling about the graphite mines on Lake Champlain and the Florida cedar wood. Maps were again consulted; some of the children made what they called “pencil maps,” showing the sources of materials and the routes by which they were brought to the factories.
Caroline Pratt, I Learn from Children: An Adventure in Progressive Education . 1948. (New York: Grove, 2014).

Recent photographs in this edition show nine-year-olds running the supplies store, called Pencil Plus. Sign me up.

Also from Caroline Pratt
Art criticism : Caroline Pratt on waste in education : Snow in the city in the school

Other states

In The New York Times , a state-by-state analysis of how many students leave their home states to attend public universities elsewhere: “How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State”.

Illinois — no surprise — is a big loser: 2,117 students coming to the state to attend a public university, and 16,461 leaving the state to go elsewhere.

Related reading
All OCA Illinois budget crisis posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rudy Van Gelder (1924–2016)

The recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder has died at the age of ninety-one. Contra this obituary’s headline, he wasn’t a “New Jersey jazz giant.” He was a giant in the world of music who happened to live and work in New Jersey. Consider the Van Gelder Studio’s discography.

As I get older, I find it impossible to say, Well, he was ninety-one , or whatever ripe old age it may be. Yes, he was. But now he’s not. There will never be another Rudy Van Gelder.


August 26: The New York Times has an obituary.

Teleprompter glitch

On the news, Donald Trump, reading from a teleprompter a few minutes ago:

“She is against school choice. You need your education is a disaster.”
What he must have meant to say, or what someone must have meant for him to say:
“She is against [the?] school choice you need. Your education is a disaster.”
Fascinating to see him switch from the teleprompter to ad libbing and back to the teleprompter. The move back involves not a smidgen of continuity.

Tony Bennett’s pencil

In The Zen of Bennett (dir. Unjoo Moon, 2012), Tony Bennett tells his granddaughter about the mechanical pencil he’s using to sketch:

“David Hockney told me to use these pencils. They’re really like, really like stationery stores for cheap. They’re great, they’re great — it has a great eraser, great eraser. It just works great, you know?”

We later see him sketching at a rehearsal and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

[All images from The Zen of Bennett (dir. Unjoo Moon, 2012). Click any image for a larger view.]

But what kind of pencil is he using? It’s a yellow-barreled mechanical pencil, black or grey eraser, black at the point, black print on the barrel. Except for the black accents (and the silver sticker (?) in the third image), it looks like a Paper Mate Sharpwriter. Identification might be easier were it not for the tricks with focus that run through the film.

Any guesses about Tony Bennett’s pencil?

Related reading
All OCA pencil posts (Pinboard)
Tony Bennett at ninety

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reinventing philanthropy

Donna Shalala, president of the Clinton Foundation, on the PBS NewsHour tonight, speaking of Bill Clinton:

“The president has reinvented philanthropy in this country.”
And how.

“A tremendous desire for order”

Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday . 1943. Trans. Benjamin W. Huebsch and Helmut Ripperger (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964).

I don’t need to tell you whom Stefan Zweig is writing about. It’s enough to say that the parallel between the world Zweig writes of and our own is unmistakable.

Other Zweig posts
Happy people, poor psychologists : Little world : School v. city : Urban pastoral, with stationery

[I do not endorse Zweig’s generalization about “the German people.” Nor would I endorse a generalization about “the American people” or any other “people.” People are too various.]