Jupiter’s northern lights are beautiful, and this image combines an image taken with Hubble Space Telescope in the optical (taken in spring 2014) and observations of its auroras in the ultraviolet, taken in 2016. (via Hubble Space Telescope, via Gizmodo)

Jupiter’s northern lights are beautiful, and this image combines one taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in spring 2014 and observations of its auroras in ultraviolet, taken in 2016. (via Hubble Space Telescope, via Gizmodo)

This week, the lie in Gay Talese’s new book, Jupiter’s northern lights, socially engaged art in Tunisia, Angels in America as great art, and more.

 When Jörg Colberg writes about photography, you should always read it. His latest essay looks at photojournalist Steve McCurry’s work and accusations of manipulation (it’s a complicated case so I don’t want to simplify it). Colberg writes:

The reality is that manipulation is very common in the world of the media, and photographs play a large part of that. Most of the manipulation comes not through the photographs per se, but through how they’re used and presented.

… In the context of the news, this basic property of the medium photography becomes a problem. Well, I need to be more precise: it becomes a problem if (and only if) you’re interested in what has been established as good, traditional journalism. If, in contrast, you are interested in journalism along the lines of Heat Street, then those pesky rules and restrictions disappear. I personally want to think that ultimately, the rules of traditional journalism will prevail, especially given how toxic bad journalism can be (just look at the Brexit campaign).

 The Washington Post discovered there are some issues with the truth in Gay Talese’s new book, which was supposed to be a nonfiction account of an Aurora, Colo., man named Gerald Foos, who says he bought a motel in order to spy on the sexual lives of his guests. The author disavowed it, and then disavowed his disavowal. The Post writes:

But Talese overlooked a key fact in his book: Foos sold the motel, located in Aurora, Colo., in 1980 and didn’t reacquire it until eight years later, according to local property records. His absence from the motel raises doubt about some of the things Foos told Talese he saw — enough that the author himself now has deep reservations about the truth of some material he presents.

“I should not have believed a word he said,” the 84-year-old author said after The Washington Post informed him of property records that showed Foos did not own the motel from 1980 to 1988.

“I’m not going to promote this book,” the writer said. “How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?”

And the disavowal of the disavowal:

Over the course of decades, Foos apparently kept detailed notes on his guests, whom he watched from behind fake vents in the ceilings at his Manor House Motel. If they piqued his interest and lived nearby, he followed them home to continue observing. Much of the book is made up of direct quotes from Foos’ detailed journal of his voyeurism (enough of it, in fact, that Foos will receive payment for the book), and Talese’s narrative relies heavily on interviews with Foos.

But Foos’ deception may extend past fake vents: Some of the events he claimed to have witnessed happened during a period when — as it turns out — he no longer owned the motel.

 Writing about socially engaged art in Tunisia:

Tunisian artists and other cultural players have gradually learned to be a mouthpiece for society. They observe the developments in the new state and protest against human rights violations. Today, there are close binds between art and sociopolitical engagement. ‘The political aspect in this engagement cannot be separated from artistic engagement. Art thus becomes a state affair’, writes the artist and art critic Selima Karoui in her article that investigates the place of art in the public space of Tunisia.

It is a necessity that this artistic activism leaves the protected space of the studio and conventional exhibition venues and to invest in new sites and places for art. Now more than ever, art requires public attention in order to be effective. For the first time the artists dare to address former taboo subjects like violations of human rights, social inequality and corruption and wish to create highest possible awareness within the Tunisian population but also in the international public eye.

 Two writers make the case that Tony Kushner’s Angels in America play has become the defining work of American art of the past 25 years:

Frank RichIt’s a history play, in the sense that it transcends what AIDS means in our culture now, or what it meant when the epidemic first hit, but it puts it in the context of America in general, not just the Cold War. Not just even in terms of Roy Cohn and certain kind of overlaps with the McCarthy era. But also the Mormon church, the most American creation among religions. And the sense of the sweep of the country over roughly a century, going back to immigration in the 19th century. It’s all there.

 The death of the English language by emojis is greatly exaggerated, says Gretchen McCulloch, who goes on to point out that the language’s dominance in the world has nothing to do with the language itself, but:

Thing is, languages don’t live or die on their grammatical merits. I too, enjoy learning about the history of English and the unique quirks of Englishes ’round the world and all the stuff we’ve borrowed from other languages. But there’s nothing about our sounds or our words or our spelling system or our grammar that makes English particularly fit to be a global language. English is a global language because English speakers have been global conquerors. It’s not about the quality of English nouns and verbs, it’s about the quality of English guns and money.

There are, of course, gun and money emoji. But there hasn’t been physical violence inflicted on people who refuse to use them. We can’t say the same for English nouns and verbs.

This gets us finally to the most troubling part — the idea that emoji might cause the death of English is a severe mischaracterization of what it actually looks like when a language dies.

 Carolina Miranda writes about the problems plaguing the MFA program at USC’s Roski School of Art:

Last year’s highly publicized student and staff defections have already halted the rise for Roski’s MFA program in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, which had gone from No. 54 in 2003 to No. 36 in 2012 among fine arts graduate programs, with up to 600 students applying for one of eight MFA openings. In the fall, only Kwon accepted admission to the MFA program. (Eight incoming students will form a new MFA class in August.) And in spring, Roski’s U.S. News & World Report ranking for the MFA program plummeted to No. 69.

 A look at the Negro Motorist Green Book, which guided the life of many African Americans and revealed the lie of US equality:

Part of what makes The Green Book compelling is that its existence can be used to bolster both the the idea that America is and isn’t currently a racist place. This may explain our current interest: for some, the book is a relief, a reminder of precisely how far we’ve come. We can pat ourselves on the back, confident that our country is no longer dangerous to a significant portion of the citizenry. For others, the book evokes different feelings. Recognition. Maybe even longing. We think about the fear we’ve felt when traveling in unknown parts, even in recent years. We remember long, lampless highways and Confederate flags glowering at us from the backs of trucks. We remember the feeling of loneliness. We know what it’s like to feel afraid of the sunset. And we know that even now in 2016, we have no guarantee of safe passage.

There’s also a great episode of 99% Invisible on this topic.

 The realities of white rage and how they impact the United States are the subject of a new book:

In White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, Carol Anderson compellingly does just that. In this slim but persuasive volume, she catalogues white Americans’ centuries-long efforts to derail African American progress. She cites the venomous response to Obama alongside a litany of setbacks that have followed African American strides stretching back to the Civil War and emancipation.

Anderson, a professor of African American history at Emory University, traces the thread of white rebellion from anti-emancipation revolts through post-Reconstruction racial terror and the enactment of Black Codes and peonage, to the extraordinary legal and extralegal efforts by Southern officials to block African Americans from fleeing repression during the Great Migration. She continues connecting the dots to contemporary legislative and judicial actions across the country that have disproportionately criminalized blacks and suppressed their voting rights.

Anderson argues that this pattern of advancement followed by retreat has effectively eroded, if not scuttled, every modicum of progress made by African Americans since the Emancipation Proclamation.

 Turkey has become a battlefield of West Asian wars:

For Turkey, the attack marked a new watershed for violence in a year that has turned a country once known for its thriving economy into a logistics hub and battlefield for all the Middle East’s wars — driven by politics, tinged with sectarian and ethnic animosities — as well as a magnet for terrorism. In the last year, at least 671 people were killed and 1,719 people were wounded in 434 terrorist attacks by Kurdish separatist and Islamist extremists, according to statistics compiled by Verisk Maplecroft, a risk management consultancy.

 Is the UK the most corrupt nation in the world? Italian investigative journalist Roberto Saviano thinks so. He says:

He said: “If I asked what is the most corrupt place on Earth, you might say it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the south of Italy. I would say it is the UK. It’s not UK bureaucracy, police, or politics, but what is corrupt is the financial capital. Ninety per cent of the owners of capital in London have their headquarters offshore.

“Jersey and the Caymans are the access gates to criminal capital in Europe and the UK is the country that allows it. That is why it is important, why it is so crucial for me to talk to you because I want to say: this is about you, this is about your life, this is about your government.”

 The US government wants us to believe that only 116 civilians were killed in drone strikes since 2009, but anyone following the issue knows that’s a lie. As Josh Begley points out, here are 212 civilians killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan alone:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.