1. “Iran and the Obama Doctrine.” For the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman chats with President Obama about our nuclear deal with Iran.
“Since President Obama has had more direct and indirect dealings with Iran’s leadership—including an exchange of numerous letters with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—than any of his predecessors since Iran’s revolution in 1979, I asked what he has learned from the back and forth. ’I think that it’s important to recognize that Iran is a complicated country—just like we’re a complicated country,’ the president said. ’There is no doubt that, given the history between our two countries, that there is deep mistrust that is not going to fade away immediately. The activities that they engage in, the rhetoric, both anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, is deeply disturbing. There are deep trends in the country that are contrary to not only our own national security interests and views but those of our allies and friends in the region, and those divisions are real.’”
2. “The Mind of the Photo.” For The New York Review of Books, J. Hoberman on the family photo albums of Frankfurt School theorist Siegfried Kracauer and his wife Lili.
“The pictures in this new book may be of limited visual interest, yet they have a certain fascination. In his writing about photography, Kracauer, unlike self-conscious camera artists like Alfred Stieglitz or Edward Steichen, was less concerned with the intention of the photographer than with the logic of the medium—a radical view that prized the unforeseen correspondences and inadvertent revelations that may be found in dated news photos or old family portraits, photographs where initial associations fade and vanish so that the image ’necessarily disintegrates into its particulars.’ Part of the pleasure of this new book is finding these very sorts of revelations in the Kracauers’ generally artless photos.”
3. “You Like What You See.” Matt Zoller Seitz recaps last night’s midseason premiere of Mad Men.
“One of the episode’s finest moments, and evidence of Mad Men’s control over language, comes when Peggy offers to trade meals with Stevie. She says: ’I love veal.’ The first time I watched this episode I thought Peggy blurted out, ’I love you.’ Bizarrely and wonderfully, if you say ’I love veal’ out loud it’s easy to lean on that V and turn the sentence into ’I love you.’ There are a lot of lines like this on Mad Men, in which the careful arrangement of consonants and vowels almost expresses an unconscious wish by one of the characters. They take a rain check on Paris. Will Stevie be back? I hope so. He’s about as nice as a character can be, without seeming like an idealization or a secret con artist.”
4. “Drivin’ and Cryin’: Old Ridiculousness and New Emotion Converge in Furious 7.” For Grantland, Wesley Morris reviews the mega-blockbuster.
“...And in the seventh part, they refused to die. Still. It’s true that two early scenes in Furious 7 occur at cemeteries. But by the second trip, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) makes everyone in his government-sponsored car club promise that this is it for graveyards, and it is. Two characters go tumbling down a mountain in an armored car, and a couple of scenes later are chatting on a beach. When one speeding car needs to deposit its hotly pursued passenger into another speeding car, the transfer requires each vehicle to swerve into a parallel formation so that the body can slip from one window through the other. (It took longer to type that than it did to watch.) A physicist might say of the deposited, ’See you at the morgue.’ But physics are to the Fast & Furious movies what term limits are to dictators: something to be flouted. That transfer is but one of the dozen or so incidents in this movie that drop your jaw, steal your breath, and make you want to say ’I do.’”
5. “Review: The Temple of Perfection: A History of the Gym.” For The Irish Times, Rob Doyle’s review of Eric Chaline’s exhaustive history of the gym, which went from ancient Greece to a global business.
“The gym’s resurgence was abetted by a major technological innovation: the medium of photography. The newfound ability to see ourselves as others see us caused a momentous shift in human self-image. One of the first to shrewdly capitalise on this was the Prussian entrepreneur and Vaudeville strongman, Eugen Sandow. He carefully employed photographs of his impressive physique in his self-promotional campaigns. Aided by a rise in the number of potential gym members with leisure time and disposable income, Sandow founded ’the world’s first health-and-fitness business empire’. His flagship gymnasium, the Institute of Physical Culture, was located in the heart of fashionable London. The 20th century was, of course, the American century. With the nation’s dream-machine producing ripped, square-jawed superheroes to project American military, economic and political might, a new aspirational body-image emerged: the Superman. As Chaline notes, modern American and ancient Greek culture have a certain amount in common, not least their individualistic ethos and its attendant competitiveness.”
Video of the Day: Insidious: Chapter 3 gets a final international trailer:
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