Links for 3/18/2021


Throwback from 2012

Fun little find from the EPI archives: Nipper Runs Amok

Fast forward many decades and a strange spool of such photos was unearthed in one of EMI’s offices. Not of a dancing lady but of “Nipper”, the famous dog featured in Francis Barraud’s iconic painting “His Master’s Voice”, to which we will return in future blogs. Of course, the dog featured wasn’t Nipper – he’d died even before Mr Barraud painted him! – but seemingly The Gramophone Company in Germany, for totally unexplained reasons, chose to make the mutoscope with a dog and a gramophone. What their intentions were and what they expected to happen remain two of life’s many mysteries, but we can only assume it was not what actually happened! Why was it made; where did the mutoscope reside- not on a seaside pier, that’s for sure – the Germans aren’t renowned for their beach holidays!

Lou Ottens, the inventor of the cassette tape and pioneer of the CD, passed away this month at the age of 94.

The cassette tape’s success stemmed from its simplicity, Ottens said in an interview published by the Philips Museum.

“It was a breakthrough because it was foolproof,” he said, adding that players and recorders also could run on batteries, making them very user-friendly and, ultimately, portable.

“Everybody could put music in their pocket,” Ottens said.

This year I made my wife a legit old-school mix tape for Valentine’s Day. A throwback to simpler times. All made possible by Mr. Ottens. RIP, sir.

Maybe I’m not reading into it deep enough, but I like the simplicity of Hemingway. Colin Dickey rips it, saying “Hemingway’s prose is the prose of ugly-hearted men afraid of their own emotions,” which, ok. But here comes Joan Didion to the rescue.

What an uncomfortable recognition, to face how much the ever-beloved Didion saw in the perpetually loathed Hemingway’s style and how much she strove to emulate it in her own writing. She opens the essay with the first paragraph of A Farewell to Arms, then proceeds to break down the magic of those 126 words, and confess her longstanding attempts to imitate it. “I first read them, at twelve or thirteen, and imagined that if I studied them closely enough and practiced hard enough I might one day arrange 126 such words myself.”

But beyond this youthful ardor, reading Didion on Hemingway makes clear how much his style influenced hers. “The very grammar of a Hemingway sentence,” she writes at one point, “dictated, or was dictated by, a certain way of looking at the world, a way of looking but not joining, a way of moving through but not attaching, a kind of romantic individualism distinctly adapted to its time and source.”

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