King for a Day
by Ned Beauman br>
Every king, on the day of his coronation, probably assumes he’ll rule for a hundred years like the great Emperor Sunin of Japan. But some kings don’t quite manage it. Luis Filipe of Portugal, for instance, ruled for about 20 minutes: that was how long he managed to outlive his father before bleeding to death when the royal family were attacked by terrorists. Louis XIV of France also ruled for about 20 minutes: that was how long he dithered about signing a document of abdication that he was supposed to sign at the same time as his father. Even a slightly longer stint can be a real kick in the teeth if, like Milan Obrenovic II of Serbia, you spend all 26 days of it in a coma and you never even find out you’re the king. Ned Beauman talks about the special fascination he has for these sad, pointless, truncated “reigns”.
Librarians, Nazis and the Return of the Repressed by R.H. Lossin br>
Why are librarians obsessed with Nazis? Could it be that Nazis burned books and are thus the archenemies of librarians? Or could it be almost the opposite? A big part of being a librarian is actually discarding and destroying books. Usually this destruction is in the name of preservation–the practice of “destroying to preserve” has been promoted by the Library of Congress since the 1950s. But does destroying a book and turning it into say, microfiche actually preserve it? Or does destroying a book just destroy it? From the library of Alexandria to a retrofitted space simulation chamber, this talk looks at various ways that books have been kept and not kept throughout history and the strange and complicated psychology of librarianship in the digital age.
What Is Deadpan? Portraits of The Neutral Face by Jonah Corne br>
In the photography of governmental identification—passports, driver’s licences, mugshots—the subject is instructed to pose “with a neutral facial expression.” But is this mandate a fantasy? Does the face have a default position? How exactly does one express an absence of expression? Jonah Corne explores these questions by pooling some thoughts on Duchenne’s electrophysiological studies of facial expression in nineteenth-century France, the “Kuleshov Experiment” of Soviet montage theory, the “zero-degree” fascinations of Roland Barthes, and several film actors famous for moments or whole modes of blank-face comportment, including Sessue Hayakawa, Buster Keaton, Greta Garbo, and Elia Suleiman.
R.H. Lossin is a librarian and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She has written for The Nation, The Brooklyn Rail, and New York Arts Magazine.
Jonah Corne teaches film studies at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. His most recent essay, “Gods and Nobodies: The Extra, The October Jubilee, and Josef von Sternberg’s The Last Command,” appears in a special issue of Film International devoted to late Hollywood silent film melodrama.
Kelly Pratt (Bright Moments) is best known for his brass work with Beirut, Arcade Fire, and LCD Soundsystem, among others. He can currently be heard busking about with his new band Bright Moments, who recently released their debut Natives on the Luaka Bop label.