Tuesday, 31 January 2023

7x7 (10. 513)

nothing, forever: an endless AI generated episode of Seinfeld, livestreamed—via Waxy 

construction spree: an annual survey of China’s Ugliest Buildings  


fictive flyover: still photographs of the Red Planet captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter transformed into a stunning video  

word of the day: eleemosynary—that which is supported by charity—and gives us the derived term alms  

he gets us: the billion dollar rebranding of Jesus—mostly financed through dark money, via Super Punch  

35f no pmh, p/w cp: OpenAI gives a correct diagnosis but can’t show its work, fabricating a fake citation for its conclusion—via the new shelton wet/dry  

yeldard: a forgotten British television oddity rediscovered in Paul Bradley

Saturday, 28 January 2023

gang nach kanossa (10. 505)

Absolved and seeing his excommunication overturned, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV completed his ritual submission with his long journey from Speyer on the Road to Canossa on this day in 1077, humbling himself before Pope Gregory VII at a villa in Tuscany where the papal entourage was staying as guests. <Supplicating on his hands and knees while a blizzard raged for three days and nights before the Pope relented, Henry arrived with precious little time to spare as the Pope had deposed him during a Lenten synod in 1076 and vouchsafed that one year from that day, his loss of kingships would become irrevocable. Henry’s excommunication and forced abdication stemmed from the ongoing Investiture Controversy, a dispute over the precedence in civil and ecclesiastical authorities in appointing bishops and local clergy, whose loyalties could potentially either church or state, exacerbated after the suppression of the Saxon Uprising and the unilateral elevation of the bishopric of Milan with obedience to secular power—Henry being the Italian monarchy as well. In modern parlance, “going to Canossa” has become an idiom for mission of contrition—usually of the coerced kind, and though a colourful moment, it did not achieve political goals for either party, a rebellion stoked by the archbishops of Salzburg, Mainz and Magdeburg over loss of confidence in his leadership sparked a civil war within the Empire despite the Pope vows for support led to Gregory excommunicating Henry a second time, who having won the conflict, invaded Rome and replaced the fleeing Gregory with Antipope Clement III.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

living in love and faith (10. 480)

Concluding an extended period of consultation following the 2013 legal recognition of same-sex marriages in England and Wales, a council of Anglican bishops have announced their intent that the Church of England’s stance on sexuality should not be subject to change. The matter to be debated at a General Synod in February, the Church—which was established expressly to question authority on the sanctity of matrimony when the Pope refused to grant Henry XIII an annulment—is stopping short of performing itself gay marriages though significantly drops a 1991 rule that clergy members in same-sex relationships must remain celibate, issued a blanket apology for its behaviour towards the LGBTQ+ community and retains blessing for civil marriages of gay couples. Though not yet amenable to the ceremony, it does represent progress.

Friday, 13 January 2023

saint mungo (10. 412)

Also known as Kentigern or the Welsh name Cyndeyrn Garthwys, the missionary to the the Kingdom of Strathclyde, fรชted on this day, the anniversary of his death in 614 (*518), Mungo is the patron-protector of the City of Glasgow, salmon, champion of those accused of infidelity and invoked against bullies. In his Vita, four miracles are recorded, remembered in the verse:
 

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam 

As reflected in his iconography, Mungo restored life to a robin that had been killed by some cruel students, feel asleep and let a fire go out—but kindled it with a hazel branch, the bell brought from Rome to mourn the dead, with the fish referring to a story about Queen Languoreth who was accused of cheating by her husband King Riderch, claiming the philandering consort had given away her wedding ring to a lover, when in reality the king had purloined it and tossed it into the River Clyde—faced with execution, the queen appealed the the saint for help, who in turn had an orderly fetch a fish, miraculously containing the missing ring in question.

Sunday, 25 December 2022

away in a manger (10. 361)

On Christmas Day in 1223, inspired himself by a pilgrimage undertaken in somewhat safer times years earlier to Bethlehem and to discourage the faithful from making the arduous trip after the fall of the Crusader Kingdoms in the Holy Land by offering a local alternative, St Francis of Assisi arranged the first Nativity Scene (Presepe) in a grotto—sanctuary—in the village of Greccio in Lazio. Francis arranged for a human baby to be lain in hay and attended by an ox and donkey. Word spread and parishioners came from all over the valley, bearing torches and candles to witness the display. Attending friars celebrated Mass and Francis recited the gospel. The scene, reflected in the village coat of arms, is recreated annually.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

concilium tridentinum (10. 359)

The final session of the Council of Trent concluding on this day in 1563, the ecumenical session convened by Pope Paul III in response to the spreading Reformation-movement, with decrees issued before the last adjournment (under Julian III) addressing the rather heady topics of the cult of saints, relics, icons and the indulgences that sparked the revolt of Martin Luther in the first place. With the papal bull, Benedictus Deus, the decrees, definitions, dogma and scope of duties—including the Librorum Prohibitorum from a prior round—were ratified by Pius IV the following January.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

8x8 (10. 347)

da ba dee: a bardcore version of Eiffel 65’s ‘Blue’  


palace intrigue
: a cracked encoded missive sent by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to his French ambassador—via Language Log  

correctional facility: unearthed cache of photographs of San Quentin prison taken by inmates—via tmn  

circumnavigation: a recreation to explore Ferdinand Magellan’s trip around the world—via Pasa Bon!  

antidisestablishmentarianism: the UK is demographically no longer a majority Christian country 

still-life: a study of meta-trolling—see also  

eadburg: eight century individual scribbles in a medieval manuscript  

boards of canada: psychedelic ‘Aquarius’ remixed with Deforum Stable Diffusion

Friday, 25 November 2022

le mont-saint-michel au pรฉril de la mer (10. 332)

Always grateful for the chance to revisit Mont Saint-Michel (previously here, here and here), we enjoyed this artistic observation from Atlas Obscura of the abbey and the bay from the painterly perspective of a satellite (see also) under the low angle of the winter sun, with the spires of the monastery casting a shadow on the quicksands and tidal waters. More about the history of the eleventh century religious retreat and place of pilgrimage and its environs at the links above.

Friday, 11 November 2022

menas of egypt (10. 293)

Early third century wonder-worker and Coptic soldier in the Roman army martyred for refusing to recant his Christian faith, Menas (โฒ€โฒƒโฒƒโฒ โฒ˜โฒโฒ›โฒ—Amen), is commemorated on this day, corresponding to 15 Hathor on the Egyptian calendar. Garnering a posthumous reputation for intercession on any number on ailments, Abu Mina, the site where his body was buried (according to legend, the camels bearing his corpse stopped twice in this exact location and refused to move further) after being dismembered by fellow soldiers became a popular pilgrimage—following Constantine I (previously) sending his ill daughter, Flavia Valeria Constantina—later known as Saint Constance, destination with terracotta flasks with the saint’s iconography taken as souvenirs and found from Heidelberg to Cheshire and all points in between. Protector of the falsely accused, peddlers and travelling salespersons, Menas is the patron of the city of Heraklion, Koblenz and many Swiss villages in the north Alps.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

cathedral of the pope (10. 286)

While outside of Vatican City proper, the archbasilica and other properties of the Holy See are accorded extraterritorial status within Italy pursuant to the Lateran Treaty of 1929, the Major Papal, Patriarchal and Roman Archbasilica Cathedral of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in Lateran, Mother and Head of All Churches in Rome and in the World (Archibasilica Sanctissimi Salvatoris ac Sanctorum Ioannis Baptistae et Ioannis Evangelistae ad Lateranum) is fรชted on this day on the anniversary of its dedication in a tradition dating back to at least the twelfth century. The oldest public Christian church in the Western world, St John in Lateran, Emperor Constantine I donated the edifice to Pope Sylvester I (previously a palace for the empress) in 324, and in addition to many works of art, papal tombs also house the Scala Sancta, the Holy Steps, relics that comprised the staircase of the praetorium of Pontius Pilate and sanctified with the footsteps of Jesus, retrieved by Constantine’s mother Helen. In a tradition going back to sixteenth century and the reign of Henry IV of France, Emmanuel Macron is ex officio the first and only canon of the archbasilica.

Sunday, 6 November 2022

7x7 (10. 276)

aeiou—red, green, yellow, purple, blue: the virtuosity of polymath Francis Galton and his 1883 work on synaesthesia—see previously  

toots, blorts and kerflunks: alternate social media network Mastodon grows a pace—via Language Log

wwjd: struggling corporations should look to the Jesuits as models of stability and longevity  

tragedy of the commons: a look ahead to COP27—more here  

momentum i: a 1983 synth compilation for runners by Matt Sullivan—see also  

kant generator: programmer Giacomo Miceli’s Infinite Conversation between interlocutors Werner Herzog and Slavoj ลฝiลพek   

sensory world: crossed-wires result in great art

Saturday, 5 November 2022

in quintum novembris (10. 272)

Whilst not the mastermind behind the failed regicide and plan to blow up the House of Lords during the opening ceremonies of Parliament on this day in 1605 and restore the Catholic monarchy, Guy Fawkes has become the most well-known of the plotters—having been caught red-handed as it were guarding thirty-six barrels of gunpowder stored in a rented sub-cellar below Westminster, after authorities were tipped off by an anonymous letter sent to the Catholic member William Parker, Baron Monteagle, warning him not to attend and retire himself to the countryside that day. Gruesomely tortured the following day after his capture for the names of his co-conspirators, whom had all fled for Europe, Fawkes, who employed the nom-de-guerre of Guido while fighting as a mercenary for Spain during the Eighty Years War and now preferred to be called John Johnson, became the focus of pubic rage with Londoners encouraged to observe a thanksgiving for the “joyful day of deliverance” when the king escaped assassination by lighting bonfires—provided that “this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder”—and the burning of effigies, or Guys as the ragged strawmen came to be called. This Wanderwort was used in the American colonies but lost its proppish and pejorative and even specifically male sense, and reimported was a general way to refer to people. In contemporary times, other figures are subject to being burned in effigy and Fawkes is reformed and adopted as a figure of activism, anarchy and anonymity.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

hubertustag (10. 268)

Fรชted on this day as the Apostle of the Ardennes and patron protector of hunters, opticians, metalworkers, mathematicians and chicken roasters, the sainted eighth century bishop of Liรจge (see previously here and here) is regarded as the originator of ethical deer stalking and preached compassion for animals as God’s creations—Hubertus himself converted whilst pursuing quarry in the woods and had the vision of a Crucifix floating suspended between the antlers of a stag—and is credited with formulating a set of rules and tactics to follow. Until very recent times, the saint was invoked as a cure for rabies (see also) through the use of a sacramental metal nail worked into the form of a cross called a St Hubert’s Key (Hubertusschlรผssel, Clef de Saint-Hubert), heated in fire and branded at the site of an animal bite, possibly with the effect of cauterising the wound.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

friรฐuswฤซรพ (10. 237)

Princess and abbess and credited with founding a priory later incorporated into the College of Christ Church, Frithuswith is fรชted on this day, marking her death in 727, as patron saint of the university, city and shire of Oxford (see also). Daughter of Didan, sub-king of Mercia, Frithuswith was compelled to flee the advances of ร†thebald of Leicester (in order to preserve her vow of celibacy) and was transported to the hamlet of Weald with some divine intervention. With a host of miracles attributed to her, including the remission of maladies and the summoning up an enchanted well, Frithuswith cult grew and following its destruction in the eleventh century during the St Brice’s Day Massacre, the pilgrimage destination weathered the turmoil of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and vandalism during the Reformation mostly intact. Intent on subduing her popularity, a Calvinist canon of the church had her remains disinterred and comingled with those of an recently deceased ex-nun called Catherine Dammartin, the wife of another priest which for the towns people was considered rather scandalous, to put an end to this idolatry of relics. Despite all this, Frithuswith is still embraced by the community and her feast day is also celebrated as Oxfordshire Day to promote local cultural institutions.

Sunday, 9 October 2022

to sprinkle, especially with holy water (10. 208)

Freighted already as commonly defined as above, asperge—from the same root as disperse and sparse, the tear-stained terms, as in casting aspersions, is a slander against another’s good reputation. An asperger itself refers to the implement for scattering holy water or those whom held the office, like the Dutch-orgin of the namesake for the former syndrome now referred to as the autism spectrum. According to one commentator (who is a fount of knowledge) baptism can be accomplished by immersion, affusion (anointing with water) or aspersion, according to different traditions.

Saturday, 8 October 2022

santa reparata (10. 205)

Venerated on this day in celebration of her intercession that freed Florence from Ostrogoth dominance in 406, the third century maiden martyr from Caesarea Maritima is the co-patron of the Tuscan city (along with Zenobio, its first bishop) as well as sole patron of Nice. Arrested and tortured under the reign of Decius, Reparata was first saved by a miraculous rain shower from being burnt at the stake for refusing to apostatise and later decapitated with a dove’s appearance coinciding with her death to symbolise her soul ascendant, coming to be associated with Nice through the further elaboration that her body was put in a boat on borne on the breath of angles to Baie des Anges on the French Rivera. Similar traditions of posthumous relocation are associated with Torpes of Pisa—Saint-Tropez where his headless body arrived with a rooster and a dog in the boat—and Devota, patron of Monaco and Corisca with similar iconography and source of the flag, whose remains were ordered by Diocletian to be burnt to prevent veneration but was rescued from the flames and put on a boat bound for Africa but was diverted by a storm to the present day principality.

Friday, 7 October 2022

sergius & bacchus (10. 202)

Among the most popular paired saints with a cult going back to the fifth century, the Syrian Roman soldiers were, according to their hagiography, favoured officers in the army of Galerius (successor to Emperor Diocletian, toning down his persecutions but still strongly opposed to Christianity) until their secret adherence was exposed, they are venerated on this day in the Western Church to mark their martyrdom and the hands of their superiors, tortured (Bacchus went first and his ghost returned to encourage his compatriot to be steadfast and not disavow his faith) and beheaded. Tradition emphasises their closeness and inseparability, which has caused the couple to be embraced by the Catholic gay community—most accepting that their relationship had a romantic element to it and points to the rite, suggestive of a form of same-sex union, called แผ€ฮดฮตฮปฯ†ฮฟฯ€ฮฟฮฏฮทฯƒฮนฯ‚ (adelphopoiesis, fraternisation or brother-making). Their patronage includes Arabs, Syria and army soldiers and their home church built in Constantinople—now known as the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque—is the among the city’s most splendid examples of Byzantine architecture, second only to its namesake.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

medieval woman (10. 175)

Fรชted on this day on the occasion of her death in retirement on an estate in Schornsheim near Mainz in 782 (*710), Saint Leoba was a Anglo-Saxon nun (originally from Dorset), missionary and companion of Boniface in his quest to proselytise to the German people. Credited with multiple miracles and intercession through prayer, Leoba founded nunneries in Ochsenfurt and Kitzingen and was entrusted with a leading role in evangelizing in Franconia by Boniface and his apostles, first as abbess in Tauberbischofsheim and putting Leoba in charge in his absence whilst sojourning in Frisia (see above) and was the sole woman allowed to enter the monasteries in Fulda, where she was eventually entombed near Boniface. St Peter on the Petersberg contains her crypt, known as the Liobakirche, is a landmark rising above a relatively flat plain I pass on my weekly commute and will make a priority to visit soon.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

sub tuum praesidium (10. 163)

The veneration of the subject of art in late medieval Europe and other personalised in the form of a votive portrait—that is, when donors or patrons are included in the painting as with this work by Francisco de Zurbarรกn commissioned by a fraternity of monks, depicting a group of people sheltering under the outspread pallium of Mary, mother of Jesus (previously) is observed on this day in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Our Lady of Mercy is known as Madonna della Misericordia in Italian, Virgen de la Merced in Spanish, Notre-Dame de la Merci in French and Schutzmantelmadonna in German with various local customs.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

septembertestament (10. 153)

Composed during his stay at the Wartburg, Martin Luther’s translation of the Greek bible into Early High German, published without attribution under the title Newe Testament Deลฏtzsch in a first printing of three thousand folio copies by a print-shop in Wittenberg, when on sale to the public on this day in 1522. Taking extensive liberties with the prose and heavily relying on Latin glosses as his Greek was not that strong, the original manuscript (later proofed and edited by scholars) is lost but ready for typesetting by July and illustrated, illuminated with woodcuts by Lucas Cranach out in time to for the Leipziger Herbstmesse (the Leipzig Autumn Fair) to achieve maximum exposure. Despite its relatively high cost—a half a guilder the weekly wage of a journeyman—and being banned in the Duchy of Saxony, it quickly sold out and a second edition (with corrections) came out in December. To counter the book’s popularity, Duke Georg commissioned a more orthodox translation rushed to publication, but it was soon apparent that it was highly plagiarised, repeating Luther’s errors and tone.