Top links 42 Blue two ways, Marx's cigars, the secret history of Monopoly, Eric Dolphy playing Ellington & the bitter legacy of Battleship Island
From ‘Blue’ (1993), Derek Jarman’s swan song
""Blue, made in 1993 when Aids was rendering Jarman blind, was his shocking, exquisite swan song. It has no images at all: just a still, blue screen through which Jarman intones an elegy for all that has been lost, loved and fought for. “I am in a blue funk . . . flashes of blue in my eyes. Blue of my dreams, slow blue hours, delphinium days.” Lovely essay this by Rachel Spence in the FT.
“The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural” ~ Wassily Kandinsky H/T @HOLDENGRABER
The great acceleration of the Anthropocene meme:
Karl Marx’s cigar case
Marx was once reported as saying that the money he earned from his most famous work Capital would “not even pay for the cigars I smoked writing it”. A lovely little piece this, from the FT.
How Monopoly was flipped.
”Another instructive example is Monopoly, which today scans to many as a capitalist fantasy but was created by Elizabeth Magie in 1903 as a criticism of concentrating land in private monopolies. The bitter irony came in 1932, when Charles Darrow came across the game and decided to recast its themes in a positive light. His version was bought by the Parker Brothers and became an international money-spinner.” This from the FT.
For more on Monopoly, this by @marypilon in the Guardian is fascinating. Magie was a radical who used her game, known as the Landlord’s Game, to spread the word. Pilon’s book looks fascinating.
Eric Dolphy - Iron Man
The arrangement of “Come Sunday” by Ellington, that starts around 14.05 is remarkable.
In 1964 Dolphy signed with Blue Note and recorded the legendary Out to Lunch (1964). He then traveled to Berlin on 27 June 1964 to perform at the opening of the Tangent Jazz Club. By the time he got there he was barely able to perform. On 29 June he collapsed and was taken to hospital. The doctors assumed that as a black Jazz musician he must have overdosed on heroine and treated him accordingly. In fact, Dolphy was teetotal. He had undiagnosed diabetes. He never recovered consciousness and died that day.
Columbia’s Dunning School
“In December 1913, the American Historical Association (AHA) held its annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. It was celebrated as one of the first “southern” meetings of the AHA. The association’s president that year was William Archibald Dunning, professor at Columbia University and advisor of a wide cohort of graduate students who were in the process of professionalizing the writing of southern history. This meeting of the AHA occurred at the height of Lost Cause commemoration and a national reconciliation between North and South. The summer of 1913 had seen a famous Civil War veterans’ reunion for the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, where veterans in blue and grey shook each other’s hands in renewed national brotherhood.” The keynote speaker at this event was President Woodrow Wilson.
Strong piece this by Bradley D. Proctor.
I came for the library
But got curious about Ryōtarō Shiba (司馬 遼太郎, Shiba Ryōtarō), born Teiichi Fukuda (福田 定一, Fukuda Teiichi, August 7, 1923 – February 12, 1996), was a Japanese author best known for his novels about historical events in Japan and on the Northeast Asian sub-continent, as well as his historical and cultural essays pertaining to Japan and its relationship to the rest of the world.
So I guess this is a memorial to Japan’s historical memory. On the subject of which …
“Battleship Island” is the main “battlefield” of the ongoing “memory war” for and against Japanese forced labor history. This is a fascinating short piece on its contested politics.
Hashima island is commonly known as “Battleship Island (Gunkanjima)” because from the sea its appearance resembles the shape of a battleship. It is popular with tourists not because it represents Meiji Era industrial modernization or wartime history, but because of its unique dystopian visual appearance, resulting from its concentration of abandoned and deteriorating Taishō and Shōwa-Era buildings.15 The small, rocky island, located a short ferry-ride from Nagasaki harbor, was bought by Mitsubishi in 1890 for its coal deposits and mining continued until the island’s abandonment in 1974.
Hashima island, although not opened for tourism until 2009, was rediscovered in the 1980’s and has since featured in Japanese popular entertainment for its atmospheric landscape of urban ruins.16 The island is also becoming iconic in the West, especially after featuring in the James Bond movie Skyfall in 2012.17 Its iconic status is reflected in the fact that 15 of the first 30 pictures produced by a Google image search in English for the term “abandoned island” depict Hashima (as of October 2021). Presenting historical narratives of Hashima in the IHIC gives Katō and Japan a convenient excuse to leave Hashima in its popularized condition as the ever deteriorating “Battleship Island.” In this way, it can continue as a tourism playground, void of explanatory signs that might deter tourists enticed by the visual appeal of a picturesque ghost island reclaimed by nature.18
Hashima, or rather “Battleship Island,” is actively promoted as a World Heritage site by the Japanese tourism industry19 as well as in Japanese mass media. In actuality, it is only the Hashima coal mine, not the island itself, that has been inscribed as World Heritage. The iconic urban ruins making the island resemble a battleship are from buildings constructed after the end of the Meiji Era, and are thus not recognized as part of the Meiji Industrial Sites. No promotion seeks to draw tourists to see the small, blocked entrance to the Hashima coal mine.
The return of the ashes (Napoleon’s that is):
A truly beautiful website to go with the book. H/t Albert Pinto and I have said this before but I will say it again, you all have to follow him on twitter.
NO …. seriously, just watch. It is hilarious
Can't help but imagine that "Battleship Island" also inspired the setting for Wes Anderson's "Isle of Dogs"
My favorite of all meditations on blue is Maggie Nelson's collection of meditations/essays "Bluets."