Thursday, 21 April 2022

red baron or what do you want on your tombstone?

Vaunted as the ace-of-aces of the Great War, Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was shot down and killed on this day in 1918 after scoring his seventy-ninth and eightieth air combat victories the day prior. Previously we had poked about Wiesbaden’s Sรผdfriedhof in search of the Red Baron’s resting place and thought it appropriate to visit today. Already elevated to legendary stature in life and subject to hero-worship that Richthofen was wont to indulge as well as respected by his enemies, the circumstances surrounding his death are a matter of controversy and speculation, coming to the aid of his cousin, another member of the elite Flying Circus (see above), Lieutenant Wolfram von Richthofen, who was taking enemy fire. The source of the fatal bullet is uncertain with several vectors entertained. As was
customary, the commanding officer of the Royal Airforce combatant squandron accorded the Baron a military funeral with full-honours, near the spot where the fighter pilot fell in Bertangles in the Somme—and had a more active than usual career in death, disinterred and reburied in the German Military Cemetery at Fricourt in Picardie, brought to Berlin by his brother Lothar (a site that was later relegated to a no man’s land on the boundary of the Soviet zone of occupation and often pelted with stray bullets in attempts to stop people from fleeing for the West—his brother’s gravesite in their hometown of ลšwidnica too was levelled once Silesia was restored to Poland after World War II) and finally in 1975 transferred to the family plot in Wiesbaden.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

narkotyki

We thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to the artist, novelist and political theorist of the inter-war period in Europe Stanisล‚aw Ignacy Witkiewicz (*1885 - †1939, known professionally as Witkacy), witness to quite a bit of history, through the lens of his portrait factory, with many of his commissions documenting his drug intake—even if just the dregs of caffeine from a cup of coffee—with coded annotations whist painting, usually under a course of self-medication of synthesised mescaline, cocaine, nicotine and alcohol, aggressively marketed to the masses at the time, despite addiction and substance abuse being acknowledged problems, as relief for those broken by World War I. Wikiewicz died by intentional overdose after fleeing to eastern Poland after learning of the Nazi invasion on the western border when he heard reports of the Soviets approaching from the opposite flank. More from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

6x6

choose your own adventure: the character-driven photography of Grzegorz Kurzejamski invites the viewer to create a narrative for them  

warp and werf: the Scottish Register of Tartans welcomes a new Ukrainian pattern  

(oh what a night): reaching number one on American charts on this day in 1976, the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons hit was originally called “Fifth December 1933” and about the end of Prohibition 

cat naps: Hosei University researches what humans can glean from feline sleep patterns  

toad town: an exhaustive collection of level maps from many video game franchises—via Things Magazine  

photovoltaics: the photographic portfolio of Catherine Canac-Marquis

Monday, 28 February 2022

horodecki house

Via the always excellent Everlasting Blรถrt, we learn about the remarkable Art Nouveau structure that has been the backdrop of President Zelenskyy’s latest dispatches to the nation and the world, opposite his office at № 10 Bankova Street in Kyiv. Also known as the House with Chimaeras, it was created by architect Wล‚adysล‚aw Horodecki in 1902 as a luxury apartment block and features a number of ornate decorative elements of rhinoceros, elephants, lotuses, giant catfish grotesques and frog battlements by sculptor Emilio Sala, earning the collaboration high praise and comparison to Anton Gaudรญ. With occupants including a safari club, sugar baron and exclusive clinic for party elite, it is presently used as a governmental residence and conference centre. More at the links above.

Friday, 18 February 2022

7x7

pigeon fancy: Emil Schachtzabel illustrates unnatural selection in prize breeds  

act local, think global: a twenty-question quiz about one’s bioregion, immediate surroundings and a challenge for low-scorers 

onomastic terminology: petrichor, overmorrow, interrobangs and other proper orthonyms  

wysiwyg: Jane Austen used straight pins to edit the rough drafts of her manuscripts before word processors and correction-liquid  

device orchestra: various peripherals, gadgets and appliances perform “Seven Nation Army”  

pandemic cartograms: our unvaccinated world  

hodowla goล‚ฤ™bi: profiling Poland’s pigeon keepers, moving up in the pecking-order

Monday, 24 January 2022

mล‚oda polska

Via Calvert Journal, we are introduced to the movement that has parallels with the near contemporary Arts and Crafts in England, owing as much to independence and freedom from foreign influence as it does to synergistic aesthetic opposition against Positivism in Young Poland discovered in the country’s sanatoria, Zakopane, high altitude and remote and relatively free from the intrigues that had despoiled the cities that became a focus of these restored values. Questioning the emphasis on progress, adherents sought to bring beauty and wonder into the daily dialogue of every individual regardless of their station or circumstance and a rebuffing of industry and occupation.

Monday, 17 January 2022

die sternjรคgerin

Born this day in the City of Gdaล„sk in 1647 (†1693), Elisabeth Catherina Hevelius (nรฉe Koopmann) is considered to be one of the first women astronomers and significantly contributed to observational knowledge of the skies, publishing Prodromus astronomiรฆ in 1690, a catalogue of over fifteen hundred stars. Sharing the same professional passion as her husband, Johannes Hevelius (Jan Heweliusz), the two—both from a wealthy merchant background, moved around the various cities of the Hanseatic League before returning Danzig and constructing a complex of buildings which was at the time among the best observatories in the world (Stellรฆburgum—Star Castle) and garnered quite an international reputation with extensive joint research on sunspots and selenography (charting the features of the lunar surface) and hosting visiting dignitaries and scientists like Edmond Halley—greatly impressed by the couple’s calculations that articulated how comets orbit the Sun in parabolic paths.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

7x7

2020—too…: the moment it hits you 

the colours of motion: spectral analysis of contemporary film classics  

the timekeepers of eternity: a printed, pagination interpretation of Steven King’s novella The Langoliers  

forefather time: on the trial of the masqueraded, marauding Jukace that herald the New Year for one Polish city  

visual vernacular: Jayme Odgers—one of the montage artists behind California’s New Wave aesthetic, creates a legacy repository of his works 

ham and banana hollandaise: a cursed collection of dishes from McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection 

those we’ve lost: a more comprehensive compilation of celebrity obituaries from the past year from Bob Canada’s Blogworld

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

summa doctrinรฆ christianรฆ

Venerated on this day on the occasion of his death in 1597, Dutch-born Jesuit priest Saint Pieter Kanis is regarded as a Doctor of the Church and a major figure of the counter-Reformation and successor to Saint Boniface as apostle to the Germans. Falling in with the Society of Jesus during college in Kรถln, Canisius became an influential preacher and writer, touring the university circuit through Austria, Moravia, Bohemia, Poland and Switzerland, at a pivotal time in church politics. Many intellectuals championed Protestantism throughout Europe, reducing the esteem of Catholic doctrines and making it seem to be the faith of the unenlightened and ignorant, but Canisus’ persuasive arguments (widely translated and propagated) reinforced beliefs that Catholicism was reasoned and rational and won back lapsed converts in Bavaria and other enclaves. Adopted in the official catechism during the Council of Trent, among Canisius’ contributions include adding the invocation “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners” to the Ave Maria prayer.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

sopรฒt

Once the weather seemed to stabilise, H and I took a short train journey to the seaside resort city on the Bay of Gdaล„sk to take in the sights and learn about the history of the place, first meeting the home army mascot Wojtek the Bear (more here) memorialised in the churchyard visited by John Paul II in 1999. Among the first spots in the modern era to cultivate thermal cures and health-tourism, Sopot / Zoppot recovered quickly from the war with enduring institutions on balneotherapy and reoccurring music festivals—from Wagner to jazz. The main, pedestrianised thoroughfare is dedicated to the memory of the Battle of Monte Cassino, the costly and destructive stand-off to break the Winter Line with the regrouped Polish II Corps joining Allied forces against Nazi Germany to advance into Rome—the tumult and violence later inspiring American bomber who participated in the razing of the ancient monastery to pen A Canticle for Leibowitz, and whose heroes counted among their ranks our above ursine friend. The main street includes several shopping arcades and Krzywy Domek (the Crooked House), a fairy tale-inspired mall and terminates with the lighthouse and similarly constructed Church of the Holy Saviour and Grand Hotel on the beach, yet extends over half a kilometre further out over the sea with the longest wooden pier in Europe and among the longest in the world.

 


Friday, 19 November 2021

gdaล„sk



Arriving in the historic city late at night, we took in a quick view of the iconic row of Hanseatic buildings lit up over the Motล‚awa where the Vistula empties into the Baltic before getting an early start the next morning to take in the sites and learn as much as we complex and storied trade and ship-building port, principal entry point of commerce for Pomerania and greater Poland.


Walking the length and breadth of the main city and old town behind the riverfront promenade of granaries, ancient cranes and accounting bureaus and toured among other places the fifteenth century Saint Mary’s Basilica, the one of the largest brick churches in the world and containing priceless works of art (The Last Judgment by Hans Memling) as well as an astrological clock from the early fourteen hundreds by Hans Dรผringer along the Royal Route (Ulica Dล‚uga) between the Golden and Green Gates—the latter originally housing the Gdaล„sk residence of the kings, then presidential office suite of Poland outside the capital.



With mazes of canals and waterways criss-crossing the port and a preponderance of warehouses and retrofitted store fronts, the place reminded us to an extent a combination of Hamburg and Amsterdam. The mannerist Green Gate was designed in the style of Antwerp City Hall.  The chief meeting house for the merchants of the Hanseatic League was in Arthur’s Court (Dwรณr Artusa)  positioned directly behind Neptune’s Fountain, a mastepiece by sculptor Abraham van den Blocke. 

The final image speaks again to the city’s complex history, strategically located on the Polish Baltic Corridor, it was controlled over the centuries by Polish, Prussian and German powers, lately mandated under the League of Nations as the autonomous Free City of Danzig (incorporating Gdynia and Sopot) according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Poland was to retain access to the sea but as ethnic Germans comprised the majority of the populace at the time, they were able to lobby for this state of quasi-neutrality though largely aligned to Poland for trade and external affairs, reserving the right to maintain a garrison in Westerplattle, use of the seaport and establishing a postal union, the Polish Post Office in the background with the monument to its defenders in front. Through the 1920s and 1930s, efforts were made to keep the city as German as possible, with refusing to teach Polish language in schools and making employment by Poles difficult and by late summer 1939 (see above) had finalised a false-flag operation to legitimise invasion and annexation. The outnumbered garrison holding out against a battleship entering the harbour, the post office (considered extraterritorial and sovereign under Poland) staff resisted for fifteen hours and refused to surrender.

  In August of 1980, the Gdaล„sk shipyard became the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement, whose opposition to the Communist regime under leader (and future president) Lech Waล‚ศฉsa sparked and sustained a series of protest movements that eventually destablised the Warsaw Bloc.

Monday, 15 November 2021

nec temere, nec timide

With the above motto meaning “Neither rather nor timidly,” the Free City of Danzig / Wolne Miasto Gdaล„sk was established on this day in 1920 under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles following the peace of World War I. Created as separate from the post-war German republic (populated with the overwhelming number of residence and sandwiched in between Kรถnigsburg, Kaliningrad) and the Republic of Poland as a League of Nations protectorate—with limited self-autonomy and bound with Polish customs, the city council was infiltrated by 1936 with representatives pushing to rejoin Germany, having been granted independence once under Napoleon Bonaparte and recaptured by Prussia after the Battle of Leipzig in 1814—the most recent declaration of self-determination being a compromise between territory was annexed as Reichsgau Danzig-WestpreuรŸen, mirroring status quo ante bellum, to exist as a contested land until the end of conflict.

Sunday, 14 November 2021

landshuter hochzeit

Recreated every four years by the city of Landshut in celebration of one of the largest historical processions and pageants of medieval times, the so-called Landshut Wedding between Duke George of Bavaria (Herzog Georg, called the Rich) and Princess Hedwig (Jagwiga) Jagiellon, daughter of King Casimir IV of Poland, the lavish, sumptuous ceremony and feast, took place on this day in 1475. Though the couple continued in happy for over a quarter of a century until George’s death, because all male heirs pre-deceased their father and Salic laws at the time in the kingdom prevented their capable and savvy daughters Elisabeth or Margaret from inheritance and the power-vacuum and counter-claims led to a succession crisis that split the duchy into four.

Friday, 27 August 2021

baล‚agan

Though this other Persia etonym that reveals the origin of antidote was a bit too stomach-churning to expand upon, we were reminded with this encounter of another ultimately Persia term that in Yiddish, Polish and Arabic has come to mean chaos. An excellent example of a round trip word, balagan (ุจุงู„ุงุฌุงู†, ื‘ืœื’ืืŸ) originally meant an upper chamber, passing via Tartar to Russian where it came to signify a temporary platform constructed for a circus performance, exporting the sense of disorder and associations with buffoonery, applied to everything from the state of one’s car interior to geopolitics. More from Language Hat at the link above.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

quo vadis?

First screened on this day in 1951, the cinematic adaptation (one of several) of Nobel Laureate author Henryk Sienkiewicz 1896 eponymous novel, the title, Latin for “Where are you going?” is from the non-canonical Acts of Peter—the apocryphal gospel first relating the account that the Apostle requested to be crucified upside-down (see previously)—was produced by Sam Zimbalist and starred Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov and Robert Taylor. Future stars Bud Spencer and Sophia Loren both appear as extras—though uncredited. The film went into general release in theatres on 8 November of the same year. A commercial success and critically acclaimed, the film helped rescue Metro-Goldwyn Mayer from insolvency, Quo Vadis portrays the final years of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the treatment of Christians that eventually disrupts the Empire’s social order.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

early adopters

We thoroughly enjoyed this review and overview of how new media and technological innovation influenced and informed Eastern Europe through the lens of the last years of the Polish People’s Republic

The efforts on the part of the authorities could not outpace and eventually lagged far behind ever more ingenious and widespread means of implementation that circumvented attempts of censorship or suppression (see also), eventually conceding to the inevitable. Considering the role of John Paul II in social and civic reforms, the account of young priests using new media as teaching aids and for screening—cassette cinemas—films that were banned in the theatres and helping to carve out a refuge from the state regime. The image is a still from a 1988 adaptation of Pan Kleks (Mister Inkblot) and his magical academy. More from the Calvert Journal at the link above.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

zamenhofa tago

Observed on this day—the birthday of the constructed language’s inventor L. L. Zamenhof in Biaล‚ystok in 1859 (Old Style, 3 December, †1917)—esperantists from around the world celebrate Zamenhof Day by holding information sessions, workshops and conduct other outreach programmes to promote and raise awareness of Esperanto media (see previously) and the cultural imprint of a universal language.

Friday, 4 December 2020

barbara of heliopolis

Venerated on this day as a saint and martyr, Barbara was a third century Greek maiden, a steadfast convent and affiliated with the Fourteen Holy Helpers and enjoys an extensive and varied patronage. Barbara was, according to her hagiographer and the Golden Legend, the daughter of a wealthy and prominent pagan whom was seeking to strengthen local allegiances through strategically marrying her off, keeping her locked away in a tower to spare her from outside influence, though in this splendid isolation, Barbara yet became a Christian and rejected the betrothal her father had arranged. Suspecting it was one of her attendants that introduced his daughter to the gospel, her father ordered an adjoining private bath house be added to the tower. The final straw for her father was Barbara’s architectural input to her new quarters, installing three windows to represent the Holy Trinity instead of the two that her father originally designed. Flying into a rage, the father drew his sword, but through the power of prayer, Barbara created a rift in spacetime and opened a portal in the wall of the tower that led her to a remote mountain gorge. There one shepherd betrayed Barbara’s act of teleportation to her father’s men, transformed into stone and his flock of sheep into locusts for divulging her whereabouts. Barbara was captured a brought before the prefect for sentencing brutally tortured though refusing to relent. Daily for some weeks, Barbara would be nightly bathed in a miraculous, healing light and emerge from her prison cell with no wounds or signs of the previous beatings. Burning her failed as well so her father undertook to carry out the punishment of the condemned by beheading Barbara himself. This finally worked but in retribution, Barbara’s father was struck by lightning afterwards and consumed by flames. Due to circumstances surrounding her death, Barbara is invoked against flame and lightning and by extension is the patron saint of dynamiters, pyrotechnicians, artillery and mining—that is any professional who face the danger of sudden and violent death in discharge of their duties, and might not have the change to repent their sins or receive extreme unction at the moment of expiring. According to some sources, the barbiturate family of drugs synthesised first by chemist Adolf von Baeyer (not to be company that was originally a dyestuffs factory founded by Fredrich Bayer) in 1864 on her feast day and are so called in her honour.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

6x6

globus polski: an uncanny geopolitical representation 

hollands venetiรซ: revisiting the enchanting village of Giethoorn—previously here and here  

youtube enthusiast: Ruben Bolling (previously) illustrates a day in the life of Trump’s America  

the colour of pomegranates: Lady Gaga’s visual homage to the Armenian filmmarker Sergei Parajanov

kirie: artist Lito experiments with the ancient Japanese art ofๅˆ‡ใ‚Š็ตต, cut pictures  

flattening out: an illustration of how map projections distort our view of the world—see previously

Monday, 21 September 2020

order uล›miechu

Distinguished from other knighthood and foreign honours, the Order of the Smile is conferred on recipients after being nominated and voted on by children in recognition of their love, care and aid.  Bestowed biannually from ลšwidnica outside of Warsaw since 1968, laureates—knights and dames, though the right to use the title is restricted to only those decorated with an official ceremony at one of the organisation’s chapters—include Astrid Lindgren—author of Pippi Longstocking, Saudi pediatrician Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Steve Spielberg, German singer Peter Maffay, Pope Francis, Nelson Mandela, Peter Ustinov, Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa and Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins.