Thursday, 19 May 2022

riches & poverty, a tree of misery

Previsioning zines and other aspects of cut-up culture, William Blake’s (previously) incredible acumen for printing and engraving as compliment to his prose are best illustrated and enabled by his 1827 engraving and etched print of Laocoรถn—replete with tags touching all aspects of day-to-day life, both the sacred and the mundane and an earnest attempt at finding syncretion. More at Open Culture at the link above. All is not Sin that Satan calls so.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

7x7

homo loquax: Futility Closet refers us to an expanded listing for the taxonomical name sapient human with some choice Latinate adjectives to describe us 

crate-digging: Jimmy Carter’s grandson is exploring the White House’s surprisingly hip vinyl collection—via Messy Nessy Chic  

le bestiaire fabuleux: a 1948 artists’ collaboration of a surreal and abstract menagerie—see also  

sabbatical: Jason Kottke takes a break from blogging and poses the questions that probably haunt everyone in this community—come back soon  

mรถrkrets makter: the very different (though retaining the epistolary format) unauthorised translation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula familiar to Icelanders  

stratification: exploring the historic map layers of London—via Things Magazine  

word-horde: daily vocabulary lessons in Anglo-Saxon words

Monday, 9 May 2022

dmsmh

Celebrated as Dianetics Day in the Church of Scientology (previously), today marks the 1950 anniversary of the first sales of the foundational book by L Ron Hubbard subtitled The Modern Science of Mental Health. Colloquially and canonically referred to as “Book One,” it outlines the system developed by the author out of personal experience, his understanding of some tenants of Eastern philosophy and the psychoanalytic traditions of Sigmund Freud. Despite outright rejection by the community of medical and mental health professions and most critics who compared the repetitious and immature tautologies to the works of Wilhelm Reich, it was a best-seller and found an audience as well as an attendant religious movement, which number their years relative to its publication—this year being 72 AD—that is, after Dianetics.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

rapunzelstiltskin


Though off-the-shelf as it were an under-nuanced in my hands, we are finding this text-to-image generator inexhaustibly engrossing (previously), especially once we were able to get a better feel of how it operated and could choose an accessible subject and prompt equally familiar thematic variations. We selected a coquetry of “Disney Princesses” with each panel filtered through the style of commercially popular, ideally mononymous, artist. Here is an assortment of some of the better and less nightmare-addled results, and mouse over the images to see the influencing painter. I think Rembrandt is my favourite.  Give Latent Diffusion a try yourself and be sure to share the outcome. 


 

 

 

Sunday, 24 April 2022

never look a gift horse in the mouth

Though this kind of exact date for something semi-legendary, laden with cultural baggage and millennia hence is notoriously hard to pin down, the attestation by among others Eratosthenes, polymath and librarian of Alexandria who calculated the circumference and axial tilt of Earth to a remarkable degree of accuracy (thanks in part to his access to extensive geological data at the library), traditionally places the Fall of Troy, the end of the decade-long siege of the impenetrable city by the Achaean armies when they were let into the gates, hiding inside a wooden horse, a ruse thought up by Odysseus—a creature sacred to the Trojans, on this day in 1183 BCE. Left on the beach as an offering for their return home, the Greeks had apparently decamped. Many were suspicious, including Cassandra and Laocoรถn—with of course no one listening to the former and the latter being devoured by a sea serpent along with his sons sent by Athena to keep the priest’s mouth shut but they ultimately decided to keep the horse and celebrated the end of their long blockade with an evening of drunken revelry. Most of the population was massacred in their sleep as the Greeks sacked the city—save for Aeneas who went on to found Rome in some traditions, with most of the Greeks also denied a safe homecoming by the gods for their atrocious behaviour as victors and for their desecration of temples and holy sites and were doomed to wrack and ruin.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

8x8

trebizond: explore this detailed map of Eurasia in the year 1444—via the always interesting Nag on the Lake  

gotham nocture: a Batman gothic opera  in pre-production

arrowdreams: an anthology of Canadian speculative histories—via Strange Company  

passion project: former store worker curating every last Gap in-store playlist  

out of black ponds, water lilies: an Easter Sunday poem from Better Living through Beowulf  

crisis on infinite earths: Marvel’s inspired splintered dimensions and alternate timelines  

neoliberal pieties: the organised religion of social media is vulnerable to same corruptions and is no substitute for a public good  

latent diffusion: an AI generates maps (plus other artifice) from a text-prompt, via Maps Mania

Friday, 15 April 2022

universal day of culture under the banner of peace

Observed annually on the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments—or short-form the Roerich Pact after its chief sponsor Saint Petersburg painter and philosopher Nicholas Roerich—in Washington, DC on this day in 1935 (incidentally the first international treaty to be signed in the Oval Office, Roerich I think is seated to the left of FDR) with the underpinning idea and legal standing that the defence of cultural heritage and artefacts is above their exploitation as nationalistic or propaganda purposes or wanton destruction and that the protection and preservation of cultural is always more important than military necessity. Lightly influenced by the Neo-Theosophical movement, the signatories’ wish was that this day would be “consecrated to the full appreciation of national and universal treasures” and hoped that it would become a secular catechism to remind us all of “creative heroic enthusiasm, of improvement and enhancement of life” through the edifying arts. The icon is of the artist’s design and has been flown at the poles and the world’s highest peaks and incorporated into the coat of arms of many institutions working towards world peace and conserving the culture of all humanity.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

the forbidden zone was once a paradise—your breed made a desert of it ages ago

Opening to critical acclaim and considered an instant sci-fi classic, Planet of the Apes with screenplay by Rod Serling (previously) and starring Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Charlton Heston went into general release in cinemas in the United States on this day in 1968. The original franchise spanning four sequels before the reboots, the film was based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel La Planรจte des Singes about an Earth crew of astronauts who crash-land on a strange world where simians are the dominant species.

Friday, 1 April 2022

7x7

health officials warn of “second wave” of immersive van gogh exhibitions: symptoms to be on the look out for include a flattening of the artist’s legacy and an intense desire to watch Emily in Paris  

a book by its cover: the absurdist collages of Paperback Paradise  

match game: flawless digital recreations of classic TV game show sets  

111 west 57th street: super tall, slender residential tower tapering from Steinway Hall is an homage to the piano-maker  

earendel: the Hubble space telescope images the oldest, most distant star  

old dutch master: a series of fifteenth century Flemish style portraits recreated in an airport lavatory—see also—via Things Magazine  

achieve hover status—everyone else will want to hover but can’t: an AI (see previously) comes up with pranks to play on the user

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

8x8

plotto: the prolific, formulaic writing of William Wallace Cook—see also  

harry lime: a Third Man tour of Vienna—see previously  

pinscreen: Claire Parker and Alexander Alexeieff animate Nikolai Gogol’s short story The Nose (1963)

anti-social media: Facebook organised a smear campaign against TikTok through a GOP shill—via Waxy 

zone: Dyson to offer noise-cancelling headphones that also creates a pocket of purified air  

the fauvist: the art of Marguerite Zorach, an early proponent of Modernism in America—via Messy Nessy Chic 

love me, feed me, don’t leave me: the strange saga of a Garfield-themed restaurant  

floriography: cryptological communication by means of floral arrangement through their symbolic and emblematic meaning

Monday, 28 March 2022

for my military knowledge, though i’m plucky and adventury has only been brought down to the beginning of the century

Caveats against drawing parallels respected, we quite enjoyed this lyrical military assessment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at a month on, which not only highlights how the aggressor is doing a reverse of what they did to Napoleon—as expounded by history and Tolstoy, but as one commentator finds, the rank inexperience and hubris of the Gilbert and Sullivan character (see previously). Here’s a couple of stanzas for an excerpt:

I am the very model of a Russian Major General

My standing in the battlefield is growing quite untenable

My forces, though equipped and given orders unequivocal

Did not expect the fight to be remotely this reciprocal

I used to have a tank brigade but now I have lost several

My fresh assaults are faltering with battle plans extemporal

I can’t recover vehicles but farmers in a tractor can

It’s all becoming rather reminiscent of Afghanistan

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

8x8

many years later, as he faced the firing squad, colonel aureliano buendia was to remember that weird folgers commercial where it implied the brother and sister were hooking up: first drafts of the greatest first lines in literature 

stories and studies of strange things: the life and legacy of Lafcadio Hearn (ฮ ฮฑฯ„ฯฮฏฮบฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮ›ฮตฯ…ฮบฮฌฮดฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮงฮตฯฮฝ / ๅฐๆณ‰ ๅ…ซ้›ฒ) itinerant author and journalist who introduced the Western world to Japan 

censored: people in Russia are frantically downloading Wikipedia in the wake of the threat of Roskomnadzor to ban it 

haunted art: an exhibition of the lingering possession in US museum collections 

the rites of spring: an arboreal celebration  

frozen chosen: unusual Antarctic ergot 

uncanny valley: AI rendered stories read by humans  

no set back: great authors on rejection

Sunday, 20 March 2022

oral traditions

First championed by networks of storytellers in Sweden and Australia in the early nineties before being organised as a global observance in 2004 and held on or near the March equinox World Storytelling Day is a convention of sorts for audience and authors to connect, inspire and synthesise diverse folklore and myth (see previously here, here and here). Acknowledging the craft as a form of art and our own penchant for and appear to narrative, each annual gathering has had themes, like 2018’s Wise Fools, 2020’s Voyages and for 2022, Lost and Found. See if you can come up with a tall tale to share today.

Saturday, 19 March 2022

infringement

Via the always engaging Things Magazine, we are acquainted with the press portal Plagiarism Today that not only reports on cases of academic dishonesty, cheating and failure to attribute or credit but also the broader, related phenomena of patent trolls, walled-gardens, rentier economics, ransom and extortion and what resources we have to combat instances of kidnapping—as the literal Latin has come to denote. Imitation maybe the greatest form of flattery and the internet may be built on the foundation of counterfeit and copycats, the reprise and retake is something reprehensible if there’s no appeal to the source.

6x6

letters of marque and reprisal: US congress—which has displayed some rare moments of unity lately with abolishing Day Light Saving time and agreeing on a budget—looks also poised to commission piracy and the seizure of oligarchs’ assets  

unit patches: an assortment of mission badges from the US Space Force—see also here and here  

redacted: Sunshine Week and the least forthcoming US government agencies  

ambassador, the thane of cawdor / dialect so def, it’ll rip up the floor: notes on rap and language  

album amicorum: revisiting the seventh century friend book, das GroรŸe Stammbuch, of diplomat and influencer Philipp Hainhofer  

uncle vanya’s: after mass exodus of Western companies, Russia seems poised to appropriate and nationalise franchises

Friday, 11 March 2022

you had a temper like my jealousy, too hot, too greedy

The debut single from Kate Bush “Wuthering Heights”—arranged aged nineteen and inspired by the Emily Brontรซ novel (see previously here and here) began a four week run on the top of UK charts on this day in 1978. The record company had wanted instead to lead with the single “James and the Cold Gun” from the album, but at the artist’s insistence, her signature, phenomenal composition won out. Much more—including the music video plus cos-play—at the links above.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

earthship ark

Our gratitude to the aptly recursive and veteran podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself (previously) for the viewing recommendation in the ambitious and acclaimed Canadian sci-fi series from author Harlan Ellison (as Cordwainer Bird) and featuring the adaptions of stories of Ursula K Le Guin, Arthur Heinemann and others which despite the trappings of low production-value is genuinely intriguing and compels one to watch more. Starring Keir Dullea from 2001: A Space Odyssey and only lasting for a single season in 1973, the sixteen episode arc of The Starlost is set in a multigenerational colonial ship of dozens of connected biospheres in the late twenty-fourth century of Earthling refugees seeking a new home after the destruction of their own.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

the shape of things to come

Via our faithful chronicler, we are informed that on this day in 1936, the adaptation of the H.G. Wells’ dialectical novel Things to Come had its cinematic debut, outlining the social and political predictions set forth by his 1933 work from the perspective of a twenty-second century diplomat examining the consequences of a nascent second world war continuing well into the 1960s with belligerents having well forgotten what’s at stake and what they are fighting for. With civilisation exhausted and entering a new Dark Age (with zombie plague included, a generational feud of the Passworthys versus the Cabals), a technocracy of fighter pilots struggle to preserve and advance human knowledge, leaving the confines of this globe for the wider Cosmos.

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

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

the tavistock letter

We learn that aided by machine learning, researchers have been able to finally decipher the “savage stenographic mystery” (see previously) of the brachygraphy of Charles Dickens, a shorthand he learned during his first career as a court reporter and developed into an idiosyncratic script of his own design for taking notes on his working manuscripts during his later literary career. Though select correspondence and marginalia has been cracked, there is quite a huge corpus of drafts left to decode. Much more at Open Culture at the link above.