By Deb A.
One can wring one's hands at its near-obsolescence or, instead, gratefully caress one's MacBook. One can mentally summon up the sounds of a fine nib scratching across a paper, or marvel at the gentle rhythm of tapping at keys. We prefer not to judge, but also, we prefer not to forget.
Albert Einstein's "E=mc² The Most Urgent Problem Of Our Time"
Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures Under Ground
Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby
Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
The precursor to Alice In Wonderland manuscript has been in the possession of The British Library since 1948 and they have now made it available for all to browse on their website: http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/alices-adventures-under-ground-the-original-manuscript-version-of-alices-adventures-in-wonderland
To browse classic handwritten manuscripts to your heart's content, this is quite a wonderful Tumblr.
Photography: Finn Beales
By Deb A.
Somewhere in a tiny town in Wales lives a pig named Snuff.
With 30 bookstores and a population of around 1,500, Hay-on-Wye lays claim to the title of world's largest secondhand and antiquarian book centre. And around this time each year, lovers of literature pack their tents, their paperbacks and their sunglasses and descend on the Wales-England border for the Hay Festival, famously dubbed 'the Woodstock of the mind' by Bill Clinton.
From May 23rd to June 2nd the Hay Festival will celebrate great writing and the power of ideas. From the first public interview with the winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize (awarded in London the day before the festival begins) to a conversation about religion and imagery with former Archbishop Rowan Williams and the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, the programme spans the realms of literature, art, science, comedy, economics, music, food, world affairs and more. Hay Fever, the programme for children and teenagers, ensures that there truly is something for everyone. No wonder that the number of attendees has grown over the last three decades from 1,000 to around a quarter of a million.
Sir Terry Pratchett with Snuff
Photography: Jeff Morgan
And old Snuff? He's part of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction; each year a pig is named after the winning novel.
In case you can't make it this year, don't fret: you can catch up for 2014 on the Hay Festival online archive.
By Deb A.Dorotea Saykaly
What happens when an abandoned building slowly gives itself over to the power of nature? PAINTED is a beautiful exploration of the tension between civilization and wilderness. We spoke with Compagnie Marie Chouinard dancer Dorotea Saykaly, the film's dancer and choreographer, about the her experience creating the Best Dance Film of the 2012 Fastnet Film Festival.
Photo courtesy of
AGAVE: What motivated you to do this piece?
DOROTEA: The director, Duncan McDowall, who is also my partner, suggested that we work together and combine architecture and dance. He always had a fascination and interest in abandoned spaces, and more importantly the theme of the tug-of-war between nature and civilization. When he suggested that we work together, him on the directing, and myself on the choreography and performance, I was honored and jumped at the occasion. I also wanted to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone of performing on stage.
Tell us about your character in PAINTED.
The character is a lonely one, yet she keeps on dancing and is trying to find breath even though she knows her candle is burning out. It's her struggle and the struggle of that immense structure around her. They are both trying to survive. I think that is for me was the essence of the choreography and motor of the film.
Did any of your choreography arise from the moment, or was it all carefully scripted beforehand?
The choreography was all set for simplicity of shooting. It was extremely hard for me to set choreography, since I normally work with improvisational systems, but the fact that 95% of the choreography in PAINTED was precisely set to the music made the shoot a lot easier. However, I did keep a little room for improvisation and we see this in the scene where I'm dancing up against a coloured wall and the flakes of paint fall off I as I brush them. I knew the feeling that I wanted to convey in that section and the movement that I envisioned, so when it came time to shoot, I could allow myself to float through the dance and not think so much about recreating exactly the same moves from take to take. It's actually my favorite part of the film.
How does being on camera compare to being on stage?
The shoot took place over only one day. That's intense! I learned very quickly that when the camera is rolling, it isn't time to be shy. It's very different, being on stage versus being in front of the camera. The stage is so visceral, in the moment, ephemeral. The memory lasts, but the physical trace vanishes. With film, you have more variants to think of: time, what the end result will look like, angles. It's a whole other art form that I'm looking forward to exploring more.
Brief Candle, the second part of the trilogy, is due to be released this summer.
By Deb A.
"People, in our time, because of so much knowledge, have forgotten what it means to exist."
Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Born 200 years ago today, Søren Kierkegaard is often considered to be the first modern existentialist, despite having lived a good century or so before the literary and philosophical movement emerged after World War II. For many, existentialism conjures up images of Jean-Paul Sartre holding a smoldering cigarette, not the profile of a young Christian man from Copenhagen.
In honour of Kierkegaard's 200th birthday, let's take a brief look at the one thing most people tend to associate with him: the leap of faith.
As many philosophy students will be itching to tell you, Kierkegaard did not actually use this term in any of his work, but he did have something to say about the need for a leap. He rejected what he perceived to be an over-reliance on intellect and reason at the expense of our passion. Our intellectual reflection alone, he believed, could not bring us to make the choices that determine our identity. Simply thinking would lead to more thinking; it is our passion that tells us it is time to make a decision. Without it, we run the risk of pondering and researching and debating and justifying ourselves into circles... and missing out on being.
That said, for the thinkers out there, Clare Carlisle offers a wonderful introduction into Kierkegaard's ideas in her series in the Guardian's 'How to believe' section that is definitely worth a read.
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