Category Archives: Uncategorized

At the Existentialist Café – Sarah Bakewell

1960s: Days of Rage


“Three young  and brilliant philosophers — the good-hearted Jean-Paul Sartre, the elegant Simone de Beauvoir, and the debonair Raymond Aron — sat in a bar on Paris’s rue du Montparnasse sometime around 1932. As they sipped apricot cocktails, they discussed how philosophy could be about everyday things, like apricot cocktails. Galvanized by the tipsy banter, Sartre had an epiphany: ‘Finally there is philosophy.’ So recounts Sarah Bakewell in her new book, At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, throwing her reader into a world of dazzlingly brilliant and revolutionary 20th-century philosophers, including the aforementioned threesome, as well as Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Karl Jaspers, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The ‘cast of characters’ also includes cameo appearances by Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Iris Murdoch, and about 68 others. Bakewell, author of three other books, most recently How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question…

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Mythologies – Roland Barthes (1957 )

1960s: Days of Rage


Mythologies is a 1957 book by Roland Barthes. It is a collection of essays taken from Les Lettres nouvelles, examining the tendency of contemporary social value systems to create modern myths. Barthes also looks at the semiology of the process of myth creation, updating Ferdinand de Saussure‘s system of sign analysis by adding a second level where signs are elevated to the level of myth. Mythologies is split into two: Mythologies and Myth Today, the first section consisting of a collection of essays on selected modern myths and the second further and general analysis of the concept. The first section of Mythologies describes a selection of modern cultural phenomena, chosen for their status as modern myths and for the added meaning that has been conferred upon them. Each short chapter analyses one such myth, ranging from Einstein’s Brain to Soap Powders and Detergents. They…

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Samizdat

1960s: Days of Rage

Russian samizdat and photo negatives of unofficial literature

Samizdat (Russian: самиздат, lit.‘self-publishing’) was a form of dissident activity across the socialist Eastern Bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground makeshift publications, often by hand, and passed the documents from reader to reader. The practice of manual reproduction was widespread, because most typewriters and printing devices required official registration and permission to access. This was a grassroots practice used to evade official Soviet censorship. Etymologically, the word samizdat derives from sam (сам, ‘self, by oneself’) and izdat (издат, an abbreviation of издательство, izdatel’stvo, ‘publishing house’), and thus means ‘self-published’. The Ukrainian language has a similar term: samvydav (самвидав), from sam, “self”, and vydavnytstvo, ‘publishing house’. … The techniques used to reproduce these forbidden texts varied. Several copies might be made using carbon paper, either by hand or…

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After Black Power, Women’s Liberation By Gloria Steinem (April 1969)

1960s: Days of Rage


“Once upon a time—say, ten or even five years ago—a Liberated Woman was somebody who had sex before marriage and a job afterward. Once upon the same time, a Liberated Zone was any foreign place lucky enough to have an American army in it. Both ideas seem antiquated now, and for pretty much the same reason: Liberation isn’t exposure to the American values of Mom-and-apple-pie anymore (not even if Mom is allowed to work in an office and vote once in a while); it’s the escape from them. For instance: Barnard girls move quietly, unlasciviously into the men’s dorms at Columbia; a student sleep-in to protest the absence of ‘rational communities’—co-ed dorms like those already springing up at other universities. Wives and mothers march around the Hudson Street alimony jail with posters announcing they don’t want alimony. A coven of 13 members of WITCH (The Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from…

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The dark legacy of Carlos Castaneda

1960s: Days of Rage


“For fans of the literary con, it’s been a great few years. Currently, we have Richard Gere starring as Clifford Irving in ‘The Hoax,’ a film about the ’70s novelist who penned a faux autobiography of Howard Hughes. … Much has been written about the slippery boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, the publishing industry’s responsibility for distinguishing between the two, and the potential damage to readers. There’s been, however, hardly a mention of the 20th century’s most successful literary trickster: Carlos Castaneda. If this name draws a blank for readers under 30, all they have to do is ask their parents. Deemed by Time magazine the ‘Godfather of the New Age,’ Castaneda was the literary embodiment of the Woodstock era. His 12 books, supposedly based on meetings with a mysterious Indian shaman, don Juan, made the author, a graduate student in anthropology, a worldwide celebrity. Admirers included John Lennon, William…

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Samuel Beckett: Film (1965), Notfilm (2015)

1960s: Days of Rage


“In 1964, the great playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett began his only venture into cinema. The twenty-two-minute Film, as it was eventually titled, was a collaborative effort of formidable talents. Directed by Alan Schneider, the premiere American interpreter of Beckett’s plays, it starred silent comedian Buster Keaton, was photographed by On the Waterfront (1954) cinematographer Boris Kaufman, and produced by Barney Rosset, legendary founder of Grove Press, the first US publisher of Beckett and such other figures of the European avant-garde as Genet and Ionesco. … Problems with conception and execution aside, the great comic himself is utterly out of his element—and I don’t mean that philosophically. The world of Film, its restless moving camera and play with point-of-view notwithstanding, is curiously static—in fact, not filmic, the only realm in which Keaton’s poker face and physical dynamics work. But if Film’s reputation has not improved with time…

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