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.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

ss gervasius and protasius

Martyred second century twins venerated on this day on the occasion of the translation of their relics to their major shrine of Milan are also the patron saints of haymakers and called upon for the discovery of thieves. Dioscuri like Castor and Pollux (fรชted on 15 July), their iconography and rituals maybe a conflation of the mythological heroes and followed the former in their popularity and the spread of their cult. Church authorities in Milan reject the claim that Friedrich Barbarossa pilfered their remains from the city after its destruction, the feast of Gerasius and Protasius gained a reputation among German harvesters as weather prognostication (see also): “Wenn’s regnet auf Gervasius es veirzig Tage regnen muss,” that is—forty days of rain will follow when it rains on St Gervasius’ Day.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

uovo di colombo

An example of hindsight bias and apocryphally attributed to the Italian navigator—though there’s no evidence that this exchange occurred, the Egg of Columbus is an expression that reduces the extraordinary to the inevitable after the fact but counters that assessment by showing that the solution was not an obvious one. Told by fellow explorers, reportedly, that discovering an oceanic trade route to the Indies was no great accomplishment and ships would have eventually gotten there without him, Columbus challenges his critics to balance an egg on its tip. Once his interlocutors fail to do so, Christopher bluntly demonstrates how its done by tapping the egg until it flattens just enough. The inelegant solution appears in literary references by Mary Shelley in her Frankenstein as well as in War and Peace by Tolstoy and in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is also cited as a heuristic device by Charles Darwin and Nikola Tesla.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

assunta

Dedicated and presented to the public for the first time on this day in 1518, the larger-than-life altarpiece by Renaissance artist Tiziano Vecellio (known mononymically in English as Titian) created for the Venetian Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari established the master as leading painter on par with contemporaries Michelangelo and Raphael (coming to be called “The Sun amidst small stars,” after the last line of Paradiso). This aspect of Marian theology, that the Virgin Mother was taken up into Heaven, was counted among various albeit popular adiaphora in the sixteenth century and not made an article of faith until 1950 and still unsettled whether she was raptured while still alive or assumed after a normal death—a difference of opinion that the artist acknowledges with a barely visible stone sarcophagus at the base of the image that allows parishioners to take it or leave it. Though bold and potentially scandalous for its departure from the conventional artwork of Venice, the work was ultimately well-received and earned him further commissions for the Doge. Though unplanned and a result of the chaos of the plague which killed him, Titian was interred in the same church in 1576, aged eighty-eight.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

hollywood on the tiber

Dedicated on this day in 1937 by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, the sprawling studio complex in Rome, Cinecittร , was built in accordance with the motto ”il cinema รจ l‘arma piรน forte“—that is, movies are the most powerful weapons. Their aims however were not exclusively for propaganda with the primary goal of reviving the country‘s flagging film industry, which had virtually collapsed in the early 1930s. Subject to bombardment during World War II and post-war was host to an encampment for displaced persons. Rebuilt in the early 1950s, the studio site garnered the titular nickname with over three-thousand productions, including Roman Holiday, Quo Vadis, Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, The Agony and the Ecstasy plus numerous films by Franco Zeffirelli and Federico Fellini. More recently the the studios were the set of the BBC/HBO co-production Rome and The Young Pope, a full-scale mock-up of St Peter’s and the Sistine Chapel on site, just a few kilometres away from the actual location.

Monday, 25 April 2022

san marco

Variously identified as the cousin of Barnabas and textually as the anonymous water-bearer of the Last Supper and the Naked Fugitive during Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (see also), the Mark the Evangelist, fรชted on this day, would go on to author one of the gospels—by traditional accounts—and to found the episcopal See of Alexandria, among the most important of early Christianity. Sharing the iconography of the winged lion with the saint, he is venerated in Venice as the city’s and thalassocracy’s patron and in Lithuania, where he is regarded as the guardian of the harvest and there is a general fast prescribed as a well as a prohibition on disturbing the earth as to give the land a rest before the planting season begins. 25 April is a national holiday throughout Italy, but not as Saint Mark’s Day and rather as marking the 1945 anniversary of the liberation of the country by the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation and the puppet government of the fascists.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

stanze della segnatura

Born on this day (or possibly 28 March) in 1483 (†1520—on the same day), the artist mononymously known as Raphael—Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino—would go on to become one of the trinity of Italian High Renaissance art alongside Leonardo and Michelangelo, prolific despite his relatively early death, working in Umbria, Florence and finally in Rome under the patronage of two popes, the majority of his creations on display in the Vatican. Reflecting his Neoplatonic ideals, arguably his best known, commercially duplicated work is The School of Athens (Sculoa di Atene, complemented by The Parnassus and the Disputa on opposite walls), a suite of frescos commissioned between 1509 and 1511 to decorate the rooms of the papal palace with a celebration and revival of the arts and sciences and cameos of philosophers portrayed by contemporaries.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

6x6

un robot quadrupede al servizio dell’archeologia: SPOT to patrol ruins of Pompeii and protect the site from looters—also raising a quandary for future archaeologists 

satanic panic: the full 1993 (!) cult awareness pamphlet (see previously)—via Weird Universe  

dans l’ombre du star wars kid: the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary on the internet phenomenon  

entrรฉe: a family-run Tbilisi-based artisanal bakery expands into East London 

the atlantean: after Dallas (debuting on this day in 1978), Patrick Duffy appeared as a merfolk-hybrid hero

intonarumori: Luigi Russolo’s experimental sound machines

Monday, 21 March 2022

benedictus

Fรชted on this day prior to the calendar reforms of 1970 on the occasion of his passing in 547 (*480), twin brother of Saint Scholastica and patron protector of Officers at Arms, spelunkers, Europe nettles and architects Benedict of Nursia is venerated in all Christian communions as the founder of Western monasticism. After establishing communities in Lazio near Rome, Benedict went to the mountains and founded an order at Monte Cassino that sought balance and moderation with his Rule promulgated in 516 that outlaid a hierarchy in the brotherhood with an abbot in charge. With chapters including both spiritual and administrative guidance, the communities adhered to the golden rule of “Ora et Labora”—prayer and work, with the days quartered and eight hours each allotted for prayer and study, sleep, manual work and charity.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

sant’ansovino

Fรชted on this day, the sainted bishop of Camerino-San Severino Marche in the Apennines refused the high office until could secure personal guarantees from Holy Roman Emperor, Louis II—for who Ansovinus was former confessor—that his congregation would be exempt from military conscription, one of the chief jobs of bishops during that time was as recruiter for the imperial army. Reportedly having the gift of inexhaustibly multiplying stores of wheat in the regional granary in Castel Raimondo and for producing a copious amount of crops from his own meagre plot of land, never refusing to share, this ninth century figure is named the patron of agriculture and the protector of small farmers.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

8x8

catwalk: the home of architect of Vittorio Garatti in Milan—via Messy Nessy Chic  

inktrap: a Japanese typeface design book from 1957—via Present /&/ Correct  

operation danube: the Soviet invasion of Prague (see previously) in pictures—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

east-enders: a retrospective look at women protesting for peace in the 1980s in London  

river antban country club: blindly, an AI tries naming golfing ranges (see previously

carrousel: Logan’s Run plus spin-offs—see previously

bones mccoy: a compilation of Deforest Kelley pronouncing  

not chav: a fresh perspective on London’s council houses

Saturday, 5 March 2022

achtung baby!

We thoroughly enjoyed this episode of The Allusionist podcast that explores the ephemeral nature of warnings obilge and the limits of translation through the lens of the of the cautionary statement—in thirty-four languages—included with the toy prize as small-print pamphlets in Kinder Eggs/Kinder รœberraschung produced on a global scale, though still unavailable in certain jurisdictions in this format, by Italian confectioner Ferrero (as Kinder Sorpresa or Ovetto Kinder) as examined and considered by sociologist and ethnographer Keith Kahn-Harris. What makes the cut internationally as a language for inclusion in one’s corner shop? What counts as correspondence in this regulatory, disclaimer tone? More food for thought below.

Friday, 11 February 2022

7x7

heiti and songti: the typefaces that helped China transition to the digital age 

no soup for you: the Fay-Cutler malapropism (see previously) of the week 

memphis milano: iconic design studio of Ettore Sottsass (previously) acquired by Italian furniture company  

earn it act: controversial bill restricting encryption—presented as an anti-trafficking and child safety initiative (see also) passes committee in the US Senate  

quantitative easing: lampooning practises that exacerbate inflation and speculation, an artist in Kuala Lumpur opens Memebank  

all hail hypnotoad: Futurama (previously) returns for an eighth season—with most of the original talent  

dingbats: a typographic homage to pre-emoji Webdings—see also for one carry-over