Friday, February 18, 2011

"Dial-A-Muse" Debuts At Yale

By Nancy Mattoon

Barry Sullivan Analyzes Ginger Rogers In Lady In The Dark.
(Image Courtesy of Beinecke Library.)

The latest exhibit from Yale University's Beinecke Library Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Psyche & Muse: Creative Entanglements with the Science of the Soul, "explores the influence of cultural, clinical, and scientific dialogues about human psychology on twentieth-century writers, artists, and thinkers." It sounds like a stretch to give that subject matter a 21st century technological twist: after all, Psyche and the three original Muses have been around since the 2nd century AD, and psychoanalysis is no spring chicken, having been hatched in the 1890's. But leave it to New Haven's inventive librarians to transform the traditional into the post-modern: the show includes an iPad-full of film clips, and a terrific long-distance feature that could be christened, "Dial-A-Muse."

Picasso's Take On Gertrude Stein (1906).
(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

The exhibit's ground floor iPad installation includes archive materials from the Beinecke's film collections, such as home movie footage of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; screen tests for the role of Bigger in Native Son from the Richard Wright Papers; and a recently discovered silent film, Monkey’s Moon, produced in 1929 by Pool Films, the film production company of writers Kenneth Macpherson, Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman), and poet H. D. (Hilda Doolittle).

Additional film clips from sources outside of Yale's collections include Freud family home movies and an interview with C. G. Jung from the Library of Congress, and footage from popular films related to psychoanalysis, such as Sidney Lumet's take on Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962), and director Mitchell Leisen's adaptation of Moss Hart’s musical, Lady in the Dark (1944).

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt, 1921.
(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

For those unable to journey to Connecticut to take a gander at the exhibit, audio clips related to the writers and works featured in Psyche & Muse can be accessed by anyone with a cell phone. To hear the following brief audio files, dial 203.672.4380 followed by the designated number and the pound sign:

F. Scott Fitzgerald reading John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” (1:45 minutes). Press 21 #

F. Scott Fitzgerald reading from John Masefield’s “On Growing Old” (ca. 1 minute). Press 23 #

F. Scott Fitzgerald reading from William Shakespeare’s Othello (2:45 minutes). Press 22 #

Sigmund Freud, BBC Interview, 1938 (ca. 2:00 minutes). Press 18#

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), reading from, Helen in Egypt (1:25 minutes).Press 20 #

Eugene O’Neill, reading from Long Day’s Journey into Night (0:25 seconds). Press 17 #

Jack Spicer, reading “Psychoanalysis, an Elegy” (2:50 minutes). Press 19 #

Gertrude Stein, reading from The Making of Americans (ca. 5:30 minutes). Press 24 #

Excerpt from The Theatre Guild on Air production of Lady in the Dark, by Moss Hart, adapted for radio by Philip Lewis, 1947. Press 25 #

Freud's Psychoanalysis Couch,
Now In London's Freud Museum.

(Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

And lest you think that the Beinecke Library has gone for high-tech electronics over print, rest assured there's plenty on show for the bookish, too. Psyche & Muse features features materials from the Beinecke Library’s twentieth-century collections, including the Modern European Books and Manuscripts Collection, the Yale Collection of American Literature, and the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters; figures represented in the exhibition include: Lou Andreas-Salomé, Antonin Artaud, James Baldwin, Andre Breton, A. A. Brill, Herman Broch, H. D., Mable Dodge Luhan, Max Ernst, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, Moss Hart, Carl Jung, Jacques Lacan, George Platt Lynes, Eugene O’Neill, Jean Toomer, Glenway Wescott, Richard Wright, and Gregory Zilboorg.

Psyche & Muse: Creative Entanglements with the Science of the Soul opened January 28, 2011 and continues through June 13, 2011.

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