Tuesday, 1 June 2021

stultifera navis

A Latin, international edition translated by his pupil Jakob Locher in Strasbourg and published by printer Hans Grรผninger of Sebastian Brant’s 1494 German-language Das Narrenschiff (The Ship of Fools) on this day in 1497 made the late medieval moral allegory a success all over the continent, prompting several more translations, sanctioned and otherwise. The humanist and theologian compiled an anthology of one hundred and twelve brief satires, illustrated with woodcuts (originally issued in Basel), as commentary and condemnation of the human condition, developing the character of Saint Grobian, a patron for the crude, clumsy and gluttonous and is singled out as the best treatment of the trope taken from Plato’s Republic about a dysfunctional crew unable to pilot the ship of state. Locher (*1471 – †1528), the student who translated the work, went by the Latin name Philomusus and became a professor of Humanism and a dramatist himself and published a multivolume study on comparative religion. Though an artefact of medieval sensibilities sharpened with the focus of scholasticism, the conceit, tempered with allegory, gave the authors’ license to, writing in the voice of the fool, to legitimately criticise church and court.

Friday, 14 May 2021

fig leaf

Writing for ร†on magazine prehistorian Ian Gilligan from the University of Sydney proffers an interesting alternative theory to the rather labour-intensive and leisure limiting congress of development of agriculture and animal husbandry that it emerged not out of a need for sustenance—hunter-gatherers were happy campers in the above regard (see below) and it was more efficient and less taxing on the environment—but rather out of an urgent need for fibre and pelts with layering and insulation being what brought humans to the other side of the last ice age with an expanded range that would eventually dominate the whole Earth—though the dinosaurs and their highly-achieving avian ancestors might take exception to that claim. Because threads of evidence would quickly fade away, much of this proposal is speculative but rings true and seems like a plausible catalyst to protect our relatively hairless bodies from the harsh elements and lend us to the attendant toil. More at the links above.

Monday, 10 May 2021

a cautionary tale

Though exploitative and terribly, predictably misogynistic, via Super Punch, we enjoyed learning about the popular late medieval trope of the Frankish thirteenth century story le Lai d’Aristote / Aristoteles und Phyllis depicted in numerous media in art and artefacts spanning into the modern era and upheld to a degree in academia. The conceit, with some significant variation depending on the version, is that the seductive can over take the greatest intellect, countering a dominatrix with the great philosophical mind with their attendant gendered roles—see also Socrates and Xanthippe. Caught by the royal retinue undergoing the humiliation of being ridden, Aristotle excuses himself with Amour vainc tot, & tot vaincra / tant com il monde durea—Love conquers all and all shall conquer as long as the world lasts.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

jpeg image, 512x512 pixels

Via Boing Boing, we are afforded a very exclusive peek in a very elite gallery with a inimitable exhibition which you and you (most likely) alone get to experience with This Art Work Does Not Exist—see previously here, here, here and here—created spontaneously through an artificial intelligence using a generative adversarial network. Refresh the screen to get another one-of-a-kind—quite unique but in a different way than a non-fungible token—piece of art, once again begging the question what it means to copy, up-sample, create and own the creative process.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

the kick inside

On this day in 1978, Kate Bush’s titular debut studio album (released in February) featuring the hit song Wuthering Heights first entered the UK charts to spend a total of an astounding seventy weeks and peaking with a high of number three. The album also features the song Them Heavy People about being a theological acolyte and the teachings of Jesus and the Russian mystic Gurdjieff, proponent of awakening one’s consciousness fully and following the “Fourth Way.”

Saturday, 24 April 2021

situationist international

Though better-known by the later stages of the collective’s existence for developing the principles of dรฉrive and psycho-geography, the burgeoning group of avant-garde artists and social revolutionaries formed in the late 1950s garnered public attention and some herostratic fame on this day in 1964 by decapitating the landmark bronze located on a waterside promenade in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid, the first act in a long line of vandalism towards this poort statue motivated by various reasons. Radically left-leaning and convinced that the capitalism that Karl Marx had sought to redress, the Situationists—especially during this formative political period, was becoming more pervasive and all-encompassing and that the estranging forces of commodity fetishism were fast encroaching on every aspect of life and culture, helping limn and inform the summer of unrest and insurrection of Paris in May of 1968.

Saturday, 17 April 2021


cortรจge: the custom Land Rover hearse that will convey Prince Philip on his funeral procession

whiter-than-white: ultra-reflective coating (previously) could help cool the climate—via Slashdot  

eboracia: housing developer Keepmoat Holmes discovers sprawling Roman ruins in North Yorkshire  

elenctic debate: honing one’s critical thinking with the Socratic method 

emojinal rescue: the Unicode subcommittee reconvenes, heralding the coming of new glyphs  

ramshackle: illustrations of antient structures that survived the Great Fire of London before they were ultimately demolished  

pleurants: bright and bold floral urns for cremains

Thursday, 8 April 2021

the principle of plenitude

While there is surely some artistic license for exuberant abundance at work in these Belle ร‰poque parlours, drawing rooms, studies and grand halls, especially if commissioned by the landed-gentry to show off their ostentation in the best light, we quite enjoyed this conspicuously non-minimalist gallery of interiors. It’s quite the look book. The above title could apply to the taste in decorating these room, but is generally used to refer to a cosmological stance that the Universe contains all possible forms of existence, either always and forever in diversity or in a state where the range of miscellany accrues over time. Some houses and collections do the latter.

Monday, 15 March 2021


antikythera mechanism: researchers rebuild a model of the ancient orrery, analogue computer using the latest cutting-edge technology  

uncertain times: learning from pastoral professionals to cope with volatility 

syncopated rhythm: turn your typing to piano jazz—via Swiss Miss 

long ambients: Brian Eno (previously) explains the origins of the genre with the teaching aid of William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops  

cargo cults: blockchain’s open ledger threatens to undermine efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels—see also  

cleopatra’s needles: the strange obsession with Western powers taking trophy Egyptian obelisks and the transportation challenges involved

Friday, 12 March 2021

the anathema of zos

Among the youngest artists to exhibit at the Royal Academy and securing an art scholarship and associated with occult figures like Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare (*1886 – †1956) is virtually unknown despite his contemporary presence—possibly for his departure from other esoterics by turning inward to uncover hidden knowledge by engaging his atavistic subconscious psyche. Accessing his portfolio full of Art Nouveau grotesques and echoing the style of artwork of Aubrey Beardsley through his self-published grimoire Earth Inferno, inspired by Dante’s epic trilogy. Eventually accusing other magicians as only concerned with self-aggrandisement and harshly critical of Nazism’s flirtation with the occult, Spare’s subsequent works articulated the process of automatic writing and mediumistic sketching, a method to produce the sigils that summon spirits, and analysing the output. Modified by later adherents and evangelisers, Spare’s techiques and theories were transferred to a movement broadly called chaos magick. More to explore at the link up top with the content warning that some of the imagery verges on the sexually domineering and violent.

Monday, 8 March 2021


ribbit: frogs use their lungs effectively as noise-cancelling devices—via the new Shelton wet/dry  

oculus: architect envisions Rome’s Pantheon as world’s largest camera obscura (previously) with a conceptual installation 

fetish-free commodities: Existential Comics attempts to demystify Marxist marketplaces—via Nag on the Lake and Memo of the Air 

radiant baby: a brief biography of artist Keith Haring told with drawings and song  

ipa: an iconographic dictionary that corresponds to each phoneme of human language 

marshmallow test: cuttlefish demonstrate self-control and delay gratification, passing a cognitive benchmark designed for human children

Tuesday, 2 February 2021


pitch and pent: the rooftop illusion demonstrated by Kolichi Sugihara of the Meiji Institute for Advanced Mathematics  

making sense of scents: the olfactory capacities are underestimated—via Messy Nessy Chic  

have fun storming the castle: The Princess Bride re-enacted in its entirety as home movies under lock-down  

matinee at the bijou: the Internet Archive (see previously) has digitally curated a massive cinematic history library  

pyrophone: a flame organ that amplifies the tones of vibrating, burning hydrogen  

10100:an individual engineers an analogue, modular calculator (see also) to count up to a googol

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

en attendant godot

The original French version of the play, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot had its premiere performance on this day in 1953 at the Thรฉรขtre de Babylone in Paris, coming in translation to London’s West End two years later. Held as one of the most significant English-language theatrical pieces of the twentieth century, the tragicomedy extolling existential conundrums in the milieu of vaudeville in two acts follows the characters Vladimir and Estragon (see also) as they await the titular Godot, whom never arrives. The author grew weary and distracted by what he felt was over-analysis, declaring he had not imbued the play with deeper meaning, but later Beckett came to embrace these multiple readings and interpretations.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

the medium is the message

Though interest in his work and commentary waned in later years as alarmist or rallying against the inevitable, appreciation for the perspective and insight of philosopher and lecturer Herbert Marshall McLuhan (*1911, dying on this day in 1980 after a long convalescent period from a debilitating stroke) regained their purchase once his predictions started coming true some three decades after he introduced them. Coining his famous aphorism above in his doctoral dissertation expanded to his 1951 The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, McLuhan also championed the idea of a “global village” and defined cool and hot media—the former more demanding with less stimuli for engagement with the latter being more prescriptive and therefore tribal in nature.

Thursday, 17 December 2020

your daily demon: murmur

Infernal duke and earl with thirty legions under his command, before the rebellion this fifty-fourth spirit had the name Matthias but now presents as a vulture or crowned warrior astride a griffin, and can be compelled to mediumship with the departed by invoking his seal, which looks very much like a host of astrological symbols. A master of philosophy, Murmur rules from today until the twenty-first of December and is paired with the angel Nilhael.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

sit, ubu, sit

The surreal and obscene stage play Ubu Roi (see previously) by Alfred Jarry opened and closed to audiences on this day in 1896 at Thรฉรขtre de l'ล’uvre in Paris after the performance incited rioting. A synthesis of Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear through the comic grotesque lens of Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel franchise. Jarry (*1837 – 1907) expounded on the symbolism and allegory behind his controversial play in a novel published two years after its celebrated primier, The Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Fasutroll, Pataphysician that defined the discipline of 'pataphysics, the underpinning theme throughout his writing, as beyond the metaphysical realm and concerned itself with finding imaginary solutions and the study of laws that government exceptions, as a primer to his two sequel—unfornutately never staged in Jarry’s life time. The US television production company founded by Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties, Spin City) has for its mascot the producer’s dog, namesake of the titular character. See more at the links above, including a modern performance at the link up top.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

woke up, fell out of bed

Via Strange Company, we are given a rather insightful, connected glimpse into a day in the life of John Lennon (previously) on what turned out to be his last on this day in 1980. Through these intimate, everyday details, we see the consequence of small, disposable decisions in the gears of what we’d describe as the machinations of the great and the good.

Sunday, 29 November 2020


Invented in 1913 by radical futurist Aleksei Yeliseyevick Kruchyonykh (*1886 – †1968) with literati contemporaries including David Burliuk and Vladimir Mayakovsky (see previously), the non-referential linguistic experiment zaum was to be a demonstration that language is indefinite and indeterminate, spontaneous and non-codified—something that the listener or interlocutor would give form to and thus revealing something about the universal undercurrents of communication. Though transrational in nature, the Russian prefix and noun are meant to convey “beyondsense” and adherents are referred to as zaumiks. Listen to examples recited at Weird Universe at the link above, including Kruchyonykh’s poem here pictured—ะ”ั‹ั€ ะฑัƒะป ั‰ั‹ะป, transliterated as Dyr bul shchyl, which the author claimed was more patriotic and nationally insightful than the entire canon of Alexander Pushkin.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

this x does not exist

A catchall snowclone for all the passingly convincing artifices that artificial intelligence can generate, this website—via the always interesting and authentic Things Magazine—aggregates various platforms specialising in showcasing one synthetic feline, real estate, memes, business start-up, equine, etc.—a few we’ve encountered beforehand (see previously here, here and here) and were responsible for creating a few virtual non-beings. 


Saturday, 21 November 2020

la chamber d’รฉcoute

Born this day in 1898 (†1967) and pictured here posing with his painting The Pilgrim, Renรฉ Franรงois Ghislain Magritte, son of a haberdasher and milliner, would go on to become an influential surrealist artist, informing pop, minimalist and conception art through a long and prolific career. Classically trained at the Acadรฉmie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels, Magritte found instruction in traditional impressionism to be uninteresting and quickly thereafter discovered cubism and futurism as a point of departure, his signature style cemented once exposed to the metaphysical, juxtaposition of Le chant d’amour (1914) by artist Giorgio de Chirico.

After a failed first exhibition in the capital in the early 1920s, Magritte relocated to Paris where his work was better received and shown in galleries alongside Salvador Dalรญ (previously), Pablo Picasso, Yves Tanguy and Joan Mirรณ (see also). During the war and living in Nazi-occupied Belgium, Magritte went through a painterly transition, called his “Renoir Period,” an interlude that expressed his feelings of abandonment and besiegement, though would later renounce that darker spell and committed with fellow artists to use surrealism to promote peace and reconciliation immediately after fighting ceased. Provisionally, Magritte supported himself and his family through forging Picassos and counterfeiting bank notes (he appeared on the genuine five-hundred-franc bill until it was replaced by the euro) until the arts sector was able to get back on its feet and by 1948 was returning to his pre-war style with Golconda (the raining men in bowler hats), The Lost Jockey, The Son of Man (a pop culture homage), The Balcony, The Empire of Light series, and The Listening Room (colossal green apple taking up a whole room).