Book of the day
Robert Bresson’s Notes on the Cinematograph are working memos which the great French director made for his own use. In all of them, Bresson reflects with a craftsman’s insight on techniques and their philosophical and aesthetic implications. Not surprisingly, these acute reflections will not only sharpen a filmmaker’s sensibility but that of any artist in any medium. Bresson makes some quite radical distinctions between what he terms ‘cinematography’ and something quite different: ‘cinema’, which is for him nothing but an attempt to photograph theater and use it for the screen.
The director of The Trial of Joan of Arc, Pickpocket, A Prisoner Escapes, Diary of a Country Priest, Money, and many other classic films, Bresson is, quite simply, one of the most brilliant cinematographers in the history of film.
Facts of the day
1800 Washington, DC, is established as the capital city of the United States of America
During the months of June and July, Iceland has days with a full 24 hours of precious, beautiful sunlight. While you might think of a variety of things you could do with 24 hours of light in a day, a lot of people in Iceland look at it as a splendid time to catch up on their golf.
Some people who have played golf in Iceland during the midnight sun described the experience as both surreal and sublime. While golfers do not encounter many trees on a typical Icelandic golf course, they may have to deal with unique challenges, such as lava beds and the fury of angry birds having had their nests disturbed.
First Yule Lad
In Iceland, the first of the 13 Yule Lads pays a visit to every household this evening. Tonight, Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod) will come to town! Have you been naughty or nice? Will you get candy or a potato in your Christmas stocking?
The biggest influence on Santa Claus’s modern look and demeanour came more from a popular group of writers who drew inspiration from an Episcopalian saint celebrated in the Netherlands.
The Knickerbockers of New York wanted to reintroduce Saint Nicholas to society to provide a ‘cultural counterweight for the commercial bustle and democratic misrule of early 19th-century New York.’
Contributors to the Saint Nicholas project included The Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving, who wrote a Christmas story about giving and generosity for his fictional ‘Bracebridge Hall’ series, in which he described Santa as a large man in a red suit smoking his favorite pipe.
Clement Clarke Moore, a contemporary of Irving’s, was inspired by this depiction of Santa for his ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ poem, in which he also described the traditional Santa we know today.
The M6 toll road motorway in Central England was built on 2.5 million copies of pulped Mills & Boon novels.
1660 Pieter Rabus (The Netherlands)
1821 Gustave Flaubert (France)
1859 Maurice Donnay (France)
1864 Paul Elmer More (USA)
1874 Volter Kilpi (Finland)
1875 Desiderius Stracke (Belgium)
1896 Eslanda Goode (USA)
1901 Howard E Koch (USA)
1905 Manès Sperber (Austria)
1909 Armand H F Boni (The Netherlands)
1925 Ahmad Shamlou (Iran)
1928 Chinghiz Aitmatov (Kyrgyzstan)
1929 John Osborne (UK)
1931 Ali-Akbar Sa’idi Sirjani (Iran)
1945 Karl Edward Wagner (USA)
1957 Robert Lepage (Canada)
Jokes of the day
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.
Cartoons: David Sipress, Books and films, Condé Nast Collection
Quote of the day
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars, ‘Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.‘