In the last two days, I have gotten several emails alerting me to an article in the New York Times about the David Kammerer murder by Lucien Carr. All these alerts were sent via email with links to the internet version of the article in the New York Times.
This is all well and good. But there is something to be said about the physical newspaper. Now I am not going to lie, I only read the newspaper when somebody leaves it behind on the MARC train or on the Metro. It turns out that tonight the Lucien Carr article was on the train. And thank godness, as it was an experience to read this edition of the paper.
The Friday April 6, 2012 edition of the Weekend Arts - Fine Arts and Leisure section features a great article on Rembrant, which mentions his mistress Hendrickje Stoffels. So we constrast Rembrandt's "whore" with the dead wife of an Anne Tyler novel, The Beginner's Goodbye. To say nothing of Joan Vollmer, the murdered wife of William Burroughs, lurking behind the Lucien Carr story. And then let's go to the bottom of the page, with the ad for the In the Company of Animals exhibit at the Morgan Library. The featured painting is Jacob Hoefnagel's Orpheus Charming the Animals. We descend to the underworld with Orpheus and Eurydice amongst a page depicting a number of other doomed relationships.
And then there is the kicker. In the small print, it is revealed that the Hoefnagel painting was donated to the Morgan by Sunny Crawford von Bulow in 1978. Two years later Sunny would lapse into a coma and remain so for 28 years. The resulting murder trial involving her husband Claus would captivate the nation and Hollywood.
This is the power of the printed newspaper. All the emailed links would never generate all the connections and associations made possible by the physical newspaper. What a vibrant entity. This was a newpaper left behind and forgetten in a MARC train. This is a newspaper declared dead or dying by pundits everywhere. There is life in the old girl yet. Unlike Orpheus, to give the newspaper another look is not a bad thing.