This week, I was going to feature the article, “What Good Is Television?” by Walter Kerr. As I began reading it, though, I realized I’d bitten off a bit more than I’m qualified to chew. The sub: “Mostly it has been a funnel for things that stage or screen do better. But in forms like the visual essay it discovers its own nature. A critic warns the spoiled baby of the art forms to quit playing with borrowed gold and make its own creative way.”
After several paragraphs detailing his first claim, he addresses the second, that the visual essay is television’s best identity.
I think some here will really enjoy this–especially as we see it in the rear-view mirror– so I scanned the three-page essay as a pdf. Imagine what is was like to have a “mobile camera” in 1960?
In addition to the TOC as it appears in the magazine, I’ve listed titles with subtitles, or first few lines, below to give you a better sense of content. As always, please let me know if there are articles you’d like me to scan and post here. It’s very easy for me to post pdfs of text, or jpegs of images.
From the Classic Earth. “Last year two laborers were repairing a sewer in Piraeus, the seaport of Athens, when they stumbled on a hoard of masterpieces of Greek sculpture lost since antiquity….” Mostly photos
Man’s Way with the Wilderness. “He has by turns feared it, disdained it, reveled in it, and despoiled it. His arts reflect his varying attitudes to it. Today he is learning to prize what is left of it.” Text & photos
Start of a Long Day’s Journey; The New London Youth of Eugene O’Neill. Text
Tireless Teutons: An Album. “The German faces on these pages seem to tell of a time long past; yet neither the types they represent nor the individuals themselves are necessarily extinct.” Photos
The Imaginary Audience. “Given the science of modern mass communication, we ought to know whether anyone is there to get The Message from the Media. Yet often we do not: the listeners have either disconnected their hearing-aids or stepped outside.” Text
From Salon to Cellar–and Back? “Few styles have fallen so dar into disrepute as the once-prized academic art of the nineteenth century. Bad as most of it was, there are grounds for recalling some of it from exile.” Text and art (lots)
Life on the Educational Frontier. “While the great debate continues in America over the state of public instruction of the young, some remarkable trails are being blazed by educators with what they regard as the “progressive” ideal.” Text and cartoons [I’ll say.]
The King of Instruments Returns: America’s leading organist describes the victory of a noble voice over technological “improvements.” Text, photos, illustrations
Pilgrim to the Holy Mount. “Almost five hundred year ago Friar Felix Fabri set out on an arduous journey to Sinai that few would undertake even today–and left behind a lively chronicle of adventure by sea and desert.” Text and illustrations
Circle in the Square. “In ten years it has become the most famous off-Broadway theater, its record brilliant with the stars it has launched, its director’s triumph, and the great plays to which it has given their due.” Text and photos
Europe’s Brief Flood Tide of Philo-Semitisam. Convinced that Armageddon was at hand, The God-fearing Christians of the seventeenth century turned to embrace the persecuted Jews–until the dream of the millennium had faded.”
An interview with Isamu Noguchi. “‘What is the point of soft without hard, or weight without lightness?’ asks a sculptor-designer whose art, like his own inheritance, combines the traditions of the West and East.” Third in the Horizon series, “The Artist Speaks for Himself,” edited by George Plimpton.* Text and photos
* I find this hilarious, as I know George Plimpton only as a sports writer.
The Alexandrians of Lawrence Durrell. “When Justine appeared three years and three novels ago, most readers were fascinated but puzzled. Now, with Clea, the author completes his revelation of the minds and mysteries of a cast of characters hardly equaled since the Parisians Marcel Proust.” Text
Sociologists at Work. [The question I asked myself as I am nearing the end of this little journey through the TOC is, “Do I really want to wade through this 4-pg harangue?” It looks to be something of a precursor to our own internet snark written by someone who has a decent vocabulary. I note that the word, “wrongthink” shows up in the first paragraph. So the answer is no.] Text and 9×9 table, “A Map of Culture.” I’ll snap a photo if you want to see it.
The Comic History of England. “The Victorians were greedy about history. When they were’t making it, they were reading it–endlessly and, for the authors, profitably. Did Macaulay’s thunderous prose and majestic perspective occasionally pall? The readers happily dropped his History of England for The Comic History of England. … Both [writer, Gilbert Abbott à Beckett, and illustrator, John Leech] were members of the original staff of Punch.”