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.

Friday, 6 January 2023

9x9 (10. 389)

varvuole: resides of Grado collect at Porto Mandracchio to watch the battle against the sea witches—see also—every Epiphany via Miss Cellania  

jet-set: the heyday of air travel and the factors that led to its downfall and disgrace  

missing link: the curious case of the Nebraska Man—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links 

the doors of mcmurdo: the barriers, corridors and dividers of the Antarctic research station—see previously—via Kottke  

foulbrood disease: a vaccine developed to prevent the spread of infections for honeybee hives  

serial fabricator: the life and lies of New York Congressman-elect George Santos

piltdown man: one of anthropology’s greatest and enduring hoaxes

the settle-carlisle line: scenic railway route built out of spite  

lately he’s been overheard in mayfair: a disco impression of An American Werewolf in London, considered for inclusion on the film soundtrack, by Meco—see previously

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.

Monday, 12 December 2022

brion sanctuary (10. 379)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, final resting place for the commissioning widow, her late husband, founder of an Italian consumer electronics company called Brionvega noted for their futuristic design and the designer himself, Carlo Scarpa—never officially credentialed as an architect as he refused to sit before the state board of examiners—the monumental extension to an adjacent municipal cemetery is considered to be a masterpiece of Modernism. Completed in 1978 after a decade of construction, the chapel and sacrophagi outside of Treviso is a mediation in concrete that evokes the cross-cultural influence of nearby Venice, incorporating Byzantine tiles and mosaics and the signature motif of vesica piscis or mandorla—the lens formed by the intersection of two circles, suggesting in Latin, the bladder of a fish or in the Italian, an almond. Restored last year, it was a filming location of the second part of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune shot over the summer.  More at the links above, including many pre-conservation photos and more projects by Scarpa.

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

dei delitti e delle pene (10. 346)

Though preceded by periods of temporary abolishment in Japan, China and the Kievan Rus’, the first modern and permanent ban on the capital punishment was enacted on this day in 1769 by Pietro Leopoldo, ruler of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (later Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II), directly influenced by the writing of Enlightenment author Cesare Beccaria in his 1764 Of Crimes and Punishment (antiporta, frontispiece, frontespizio pictured)—widely translated and well read all over Europe—the first study of the discipline of penology and championing reform of the criminal law system. The Florentine state did away with torture and the death penalty and this anniversary is commemorated annual as “Cities for Life Day” with thousands of towns and dozens of capitals lobbying for stays in executions and restructuring incarceration.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

salient factor (10. 331)

Whereas the American term panhandle or bootheel might be more prevalent in certain contexts, salient is the universal descriptor for the elongated, peninsular protrusion of a national or sub-national jurisdiction into another—in turn taken from the strategic lingo of otherwise a bulge that projects into enemy territory. While falling short of the imposition of exclaves and enclaves, notable European examples include the province of Trieste, Schaffhausen in Germany and Inn, Lugano and Mendriso in Switzerland as well as on a state or department level the Gironde and Lower Franconia with many other places vying to extend their influence.

Saturday, 19 November 2022

rose island (10. 316)

Via ibฤซdem, we are directed towards a companion website to complement a documentary which affords us a chance to revisit the Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj, a short-lived micronation just outside of Italian territorial waters off the coast of Rimini, an artificial pylon engineered by the soi sont president Giorgio Rosa, a property developer with ties to the puppet government of the World War II Republic of Salรฒ with hopes of establishing a self-funding enterprise through an independent regime of taxation, philately and sovereign citizenship. Much more to explore at the links above.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

san casciano dei bagni (10. 287)

Heralded as a find as significant as the Riace Bronzes—discovered fifty years ago nearly to the day—a cache of statues depicting Greco-Roman gods have been uncovered in the muddy ruins of an ancient bathhouse in a hilltop village in Siena whose natural springs have been a draw for the Roman elite and modern tourists alike. A horde of coins also found during the excavation helped to date the figures to two millennia along with other inscribed, votive offerings (with some interesting ones in the likeness of vegetables) in Roman and Estrucan. Archaelogists believe that the pantheon of two dozen, including Apollo and Hygieia, the goddess of health and cleanliness, was submerged in the thermal waters that helped preserve them in an exquisite state as part of a ritual of thanksgiving. The spa was in operation from the third century BC to the fifth century AD when Christian conservatism forbade public bathing with the chambers sealed off by heavy pillars. After cleaning and restoration, the community plans to display the finds in situ.

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, 30 October 2022

8x8 (10. 258)

♄iii: a 1980 Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett sci-fi vehicle about colonising Triton by Star Wars set designer John Barry  

le forme variabili: a comprehensive guide to pasta selection  

christ stopped at eboli: an abandoned village in Basilicata—via Things Magazine  

the consent of the governed: as a platform, Twitter is a train wreck despite itself 

sessile by nature: Charles Darwin documents movement in plants—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Linkssee previously  

here an anteater that also appears to be some sort of quail in a sweater: an AI virtually, humanely dresses up cats in costumes for Halloween—see previously  

dead man’s body buffet: spaghetti is the creepiest food  

earth minus zero: a 1996 “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” with Sam Jones, Pat Morita and Joey Travolta

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.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

san giuseppe da copertino (10. 145)

Patron of the town in Apulia and we suppose by extension, Apple headquarters in California, as well aviators and astronauts, Joseph of Cupertino, fรชted on this day on the occasion of his death in 1663 (*1603), was considered to be rather a dullard but was given to bouts of ecstatic visions and levitation. After years working as a stableboy at a Franciscan friary in his hometown and demonstrating his devotion and work ethic, the brothers who had previously rejected Joseph due to his lack of education admitted him into the Order. After taking his vows, Joseph’s visions increased significantly to the point where his floating (which may have been a demonstration of gymnastic skills rather or ergot-poisoning actual levitation) about during Mass became quite disruptive and lest his miraculous powers be taken for witchcraft, Joseph was confined to a small cell and ordered to avoid the public. Joseph lived a life of quiet aestheticism after briefly being quite a showman and a draw for the next thirty-five years before being readmitted back in as a part of worship services shortly before expiring.

Monday, 22 August 2022

7x7 (10. 078)

ultima generazione: climate activist glue themselves to the Vatican’s Laocoรถn  

little gold statue special: MST3K’s take on the 1995 Oscars 

larder and pantry: photographer Richard Johnson’s compelling series on root cellars–via Everlasting Blรถrt 

a garbler of spices: an eighteenth century specialised position 

canting arms: heraldic rebuses to puzzle 

biblioclasm: to combat book bans and censorship, the Brooklyn Public Library is issuing free cards to all US adolescents  

yangtze: drought in China reveals ancient statues of the Buddha normally submerged–see also here and here–and is also causing shortages in hydroelectric production

Monday, 15 August 2022

ferragosto (10. 062)

Originating from the Roman holiday Feriae Augusti instigated by Caesar Augustus, Octavian, to reward

agricultural workers (inclusive of beasts of burden) after a long, hot summer of toil at the head of the month and to commemorate his victory over Mark Antony in the Battle of Actium, the Church later shifted the festivity to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption. Observed also by the residents of San Marino, the canton of Ticino and for political reasons the Vatican rather than the day of holy obligation, the holiday became associated with an extended vacation weekend during the fascist era when Mussolini directed the National Afterwork Club (Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro—see also) to arrange hospitality and the “People’s Trains of Ferragosto” (nothing to do with ferrocarril) at heavily discounted prices that allowed working class families to visit the mountains or the seaside. This tradition continues commercially, the date signaling the start of the holiday season in Italy and businesses shutter operations for the next couple of weeks. Chiuso per ferie.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

℣ / ℟ (10. 057)

Fra Benedetto Sinigardi di Arezzo, fรชted as a saint on this day, was a thirteenth century Franciscan friar who was send on religious missions in Greece, Romania, Tukey and the Holy Land and is credited with composing the Angelus prayer, the short-form name derived from its incipit—the first line of the devotion, Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariรฆ, traditionally recited thrice daily, morning, noon and night, accompanied by a bell and delivered in the form of a call (versicle) and response—notation above—that covers the mysteries of Mariology and her place in the so called Economy of Salvation in three Bible verses.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

vertrag von verdun (10. 049)

Agreed on this day in 843, the Treaty of Verdun divided the Frankish Empire of Ludwig I, son and successor of Charlemagne, into three kingdoms to be ruled by the emperor’s three sons. The outcome of a succession crisis, civil war and palace intrigues, the negotiations were the first of a series of partition arrangements that to a large extend correspond with the borders of modern Europe. Though the peace was not destined to last long, the brothers agreed to recognise the suzerainty of their father, Lothair (already created king of Italy) was given Francia Media (Middle Franconia—stretching from the northern half of the Italian peninsula and up the corridor of the Rhein river valley to the Low Countries), Louis the German (of Bavaria) received Francia Orientalis—eastern Franconia, comprising the largest, unified constituent realm of the Holy Roman Empire, and Karl II, Francia Occidentalis, Burgundy and Aquitaine, most modern France with the exception of Bretagne. The provisioning—which reflected the custom of partible inheritance (see above) rather than leaving property to the most senior offspring—saw centuries of border swapping especially for the middle kingdom, with few natural defences for territorial integrity and communication was curtailed by the Alps, and a legacy of disunity and division for Italy.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

9x9 (10. 032)

iron monger: a preserved Victoria shopping alley hidden underneath an Edwardian arcade in Yorkshire  

u1ke: a constrained coding experiment from Frank Force (previously) lets you strum on a 1024 byte ukulele—via Waxy  

put a tiger in your tank: a brilliant, bizarre vintage ESSO filling-station commercial from Italy  

white-washing: researchers develop a highly radiative paint that cools the ambient air—see also  

call me ishmael: imagining a multinational coffee purveyor as other characters from Moby Dick  

carbon-negative: biogenic limestone grown by algae as a concrete substitute 

future farming: an exploration of sustainable, incidental agriculture  

transcorporeality: bug-swallowing in fiction  

spectacular vernacular ii: more architectural quirks, including witch-windows

Monday, 11 July 2022

avogadro’s number

First outlined in his treatise on the molecular content of gases published on this day in 1811, Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Avogadro, Count of Quaregna and Cerreto, posited that the volume of a gas—at a given temperature and pressure—is proportional to the number of atoms or molecules in that volume whatever the kind of gas. The law or value named in his honour was first presented in a public forum by fellow scientist Stanislao Cannizzaro at the Karlsruhe Congress on Atomic Weights, four years after Avogadro’s death—with later developments and refinements from Josef Loschimdt and Jean Baptiste Jean Perrin. Defined initially as the number of molecules in sixteen grams of oxygen (the molar mass, SI unit the Mole from the German Molekรผl as a measure of substance, a count of particles), corresponding to the inverse of its relative atomic mass, and derives the constant N = 6,022 140 76 × 1023. This led to insights in fluid dynamics, ideal gases and the concept of absolute zero in terms of temperature and atomic excitement.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

campi phlegraei

Envoy Extraordinary to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies based in Naples, diplomat, antiquarian and keen vulcanologist William Hamilton spent the majority of his consular career (spanning from 1764 until 1800) in the shadows of Mount Etna and Mount Vesuvius and witnessed multiple eruptions, engaging illustrator Pietro Fabris to bring to life his recorded observations of this Field of Fire. Hamilton was also a noted collector of vases and one Roman glass piece acquired from the Barberini family and during a leave of absence in 1884 sold to the Duchess of Portland was an exquisite example of cameo work—inspiring Josiah Wedgwood’s jasperware.  Much more at Public Domain Review at the link up top.