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Get back to where—?

The news that Peter Jackson will be assembling a new version of the Beatles' Get Back-Let It Be footage is interesting and exciting. Jackson says he will undo the "myth" of the sessions, that they were snarky and unproductive and no one wanted to be there. But it was the Let It Be album and film, and the Beatles' own words ever since—along with the fact that they all appeared dirty and depressed—that made us think those things. So what Jackson means, even if he doesn't say it, is that he will labor to undo the myth they themselves made, and allowed to be fostered on their behalf by Phil Spector and Michael Lindsay-Hogg. This sounds like Apple Corps apple-polishing and image-burnishing, appl

Rabbit hole redux

Hawthorne's The Celestial Railroad, comprising stories published between 1832 and 1851, is recommended for the well-known items, which remain frightening, ambiguous, many-sided, and in some essential way deranged ("Young Goodman Brown," "The Minister's Black Veil," "The Maypole of Merry Mount," "Rappaccini's Daughter," "Ethan Brand"), but mostly, this particular day, for the odd, unassuming, enigmatic story-sketch called "Wakefield," which has never been assigned in any high school on earth but is a longtime fetish of over-thinkers like myself. Sitting in the library yesterday, researching my book, to which "Wakefield" is somewhat important, I learned that a writer named Daniel Stern in 199

Red and black

Red-Color News Soldier is a book of text and photographs by Li Zhensheng, who between 1966 and 1980, throughout Mao's Cultural Revolution, took pictures for a provincial Chinese newspaper. First published in 2003, it is now appearing for the first time in China, along with a traveling exhibition. I was introduced to the book several years ago, in library school: we were talking about political imagery, censorship, and the subterfuge that has so often been required to rescue historical documentation from the flames of autocrats and mobs. I still have my copy, with its slick and shiny red plastic covers, looking like a 1920s Futurist phone book. Inside are pictures of direct physical violence


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