Monday, 29 March 2021


disaster capitalism: paintings of banks alight and other artworks by Alex Schaefer (previously) via Everlasting Blรถrt  

convergent evolution: sea life becomes the plastic that is polluting it 

do geese see god: a documentary about the world palindrome championship  

full-stop: punctuation can really set a tone—see also  

№ 2 pencil: a fantastic Eberhard-Faber catalogue from 1915 

r.u.r.: online sci-fi dictionary (see previously) sources the term robot to 1920

living with the consequences: government austerity raises COVID deaths

Wednesday, 24 February 2021


street legal: these stunning automobile illustration are from a 1930 Soviet children’s book by Vladimir Tabi—via Present /&/ Correct 

conferment ceremony: Finnish PhD students receive a Doctoral Sword and Hat on graduation 

a coney island of the mind: Beat Poet and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti passes away, aged 101 

train ร  grande vitesse: Roman roads of Gaul presented in the style TGV routes across France, Belgium and Switzerland—see previously  

epilogue: French electronic music duo Daft Punk disband after twenty-eight years  

usps: design proposals for the next generation US mail truck

Saturday, 23 January 2021


Via Kottke we are treated to a rousing recitation and call to action that poet Amanda Gorman composed in 2018 for the Climate Reality Project inspired by the awesome, humbling image of the Earth dawning over the lunar surface by the crew of Apollo 8. Riffing on the climate emergency, one stanza of Gorman’s words: 

Where despite disparities
We all care to protect this world,
The riddled blue marble, this little true marvel
To muster the verve and the nerve
To see how we can serve
Our planet. You don’t need to be a politician
To make it your mission to conserve, to protect,
To preserve that one and only home
That is ours
To use your unique power
To give next generations the planet they deserve. 

More to explore at the links above. So, Earth, Pale Blue Dot. We will fail you not.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021


From our infinitely engrossing antiquarian, JF Ptak Science Bookstore, not only do we learn the image for demonstrating the formation and oscillation of drops is the above titled optical toy or tool “wonder turner” that gives the illusion of motion and progression (see also here and here), moreover there is accidental poetry is addressing the airy gravity of the nature of bubbles and membranes. An excerpt from an early Nature article speaks to this: “He has studied the behaviour of big bubbles and of little ones, of bubbles in large and small tubes, of bubbles of air in a liquid, and of one liquid in another, of bubbles in heavy land in light liquids, of bubbles in liquids of various degrees of viscosity and with various degrees of surface tension at the surfaces.” Much more to explore at the link up top.

Monday, 7 December 2020


Predawn birdsong for some reason seems to peal with far more volume in the city than at home in the forest, and was noticing this fact on this dark December morn, also recalling how I’d read somewhere that more animals were becoming nocturnal to avoid human, so perhaps in the woods, our feathered friends aren’t compelled to be such early-risers, nor have they taken to our bird-feeders. So this latter sentiment from Victorian poet Oliver Herford (*1860 – †1935, born on the day that the referring article was published) coupled with the fact that ornithologists do not really know why birds sing during the winter with mating season so far off—both courtesy of Better Living through Beowulf—resonated with us as a reminder that the cold, dim days don’t last forever: 

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember. 

“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

bonnet, or tout, or mump and gag

Via Everlasting Blรถrt, we directed to another old friend’s find in this menacingly brilliant rhythmic rendition of the Villon Song by Stick in the Wheel, a recitation of the late Victorian poet and literary critic William Ernest Henley’s—best-known for his 1875 “Invictus” and being the peg-legged inspiration for the character Long John Silver of Treasure Island—translation, interpretation of fifteenth century Franรงoise Villon “Tout aux taverns et aux filles”—Villon’s Straight Tip to All Cross Coves. Henley is here represented by a bronze bust of him executed by sculptor August Rodin in 1868.

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, 18 November 2020

twinkle, twinkle

We are treated to an albeit abridged but nonetheless thoroughgoing history of the asterisk from Keith Houston’s Shady Characters, beginning with a frustrated librarian of Alexandria called Zenodotus who was determined to make a version of the epics of Homer as close to their original form as possible before centuries of editing, commentary and poetic license had turned the text into the unruly document that Zenodotus and colleagues were now heir to. In order to pare down the Iliad and the Odyssey, Zenodotus devised tracked-changes and version control, first introducing a range of proofreading or editor’s marks, to begin with a dash (—) in the margins to indicate a line to be excised, later named the obelos—that is, a roasting-spit. 

Having left us the literary legacy of dividing the poems into books, glosses of unusual words, a form of labelling and alphabetical indexing so scrolls did not need enrolling to know the contents, many duplicate verses obelised and a calculation of the time that passes in the course of the war and homecoming, a century later, grammarian Aristarchus of Samothrace took up the mantle of Homeric scholarship and stewardship and expanded the vocabulary of the critical symbols, with his asteriskos—little star and not to be confused with the asterism, to signal duplicate lines or something appearing elsewhere. With the conditional, footnoted sense developing over the millennia, the subtext was that for a a line with an * attached, there was more to the story. Other marks in the system which also indicated punctuation, breath and pronunciation, the sigma and antisigma (ฯน, ฯฝ) for what’s interchangeable, a dotted diple (>·) or an asteriskos/obelos combination to indicate an editorial disagreement and spurious authenticity. Our comic Gallic heroes are of course named in reference to these annotations. Much more to explore at the link up top.

Monday, 9 November 2020

ultima thule

Via Strange Company, we learn that on this in 1848, Edgar Allen Poe sat for a daguerreotype portrait with the vernacular caption above in a studio in Providence in the state of Rhode Island. From the Latin designation for the extreme limits of exploration and travel, the term comes from Poe’s poem Dream-Land: 

I have reached these lands but newly 

From an ultimate dim Thule— 

From a wild, weird clime that lieth, sublime 

Out of Space—out of Time 

This title was coined by spiritualist and romantic interest of Poe, Sarah Helen Whitman, whom had met three years prior through shared interests.

Friday, 23 October 2020

woad and madder

Courtesy of The Morning News and having only dared to ventured out to where the freshly-turned fields begin to remark on these colour-coordinated trees and their turning leaves, we quite appreciated this reflection on russet—the colour of peasants, foxes pelts and penance. 

In addition to the earthy and autumnal hues, in this thorough-going essay that explores the emergent colour—where the reds of blood, fire and ochre of the Caves of Lascaux and here in the dark ruddy-orange tinge of it—through fashion, poetry and sentiment—Biron from Love’s Labour’s Lost yearning for expression “in russet yeas and honest kersey [course woollen cloth] noes” and even Oliver Cromwell preferring a “plain, russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows over that which you call a gentleman and is nothing else.” And if the author’s column rings familiar in hue and cry—it’s the happy continuation of these previous instalments of colour stories.

Friday, 9 October 2020


like a version: a brilliant cover of the 1998 Massive Attack hit Teardrop 

the goldilocks paradox: a preliminary survey of superhabitable exoplanets understood to be far more stable and conduscive to life as we know it  

smudge, sharpen, blur: an exhibit that encourages visitors to adjust levels for masterpieces 

 travis touchdown: paparazzi in Croatia snapped a few pictures of Nicolas Cage in costume filming his upcoming The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent  

all mimsy were yแต‰ borogoves: an animated reading of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky—illustrating how the reader makes meaning for nonsense words  

sign o’ the times: a review of the Super Deluxe release of Prince’s (previously) 1987 masterpiece

Monday, 24 August 2020

to live alone in the bee-loud glade

Via Kottke, these superlative entries in the macro category for International Garden Photographer of the Year commended us to one recent snapshot that brought to mind William Butler Yeats’ The Lake Isle of Innisfree. What pictures from your garden are you keen to share? Explore an expansive gallery of many more superb and patient, intimate snapshots at the links up top. 

Saturday, 22 August 2020


As our artificial intelligencer Janelle Shane (previously) recalls to mind, circa 2016 there was a genre of verse introduced by Sam Garland on observing a cow licking loaves of bread in an unattended bakery and framing the poem from the frame of said cow that enjoyed a memetic moment:

my name is Cow,
and wen its nite,
or wen the moon is shiyning brite,
and all the men haf gon to bed – I stay up late.
I lik the bred.

We had forgotten but just as well as Shane was waiting for the internet attention the style was getting had virtually faded away before training her neural network on the subject to see what it would expound on in the same meter (and the same non-standard Middle English spelling) without undue outside influence. Seeding it with three word prompts (e.g., cow, lick, bread), the neural network created some noble rhymes.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

you’re not supposed to hear me—that’s a soliloquy

Delightfully LitHub delivers forty adaptations of Hamlet, ranging from anthropomorphic Christian produce, a Monsterpiece Theatre production to Maximilian Schell’s 1961 eponymous presentation spoofed by MST3K in 1999 or Derek Jacobi in the title role on Frasier and Ethan Hawke in Hamlet 2000, ranked for your consideration.  We especially liked the unique performance of Fleabag priest Andrew Scott, clocking in at number eight.  Which tropes and interpretations do you think have particularly aged well?

Thursday, 13 August 2020

barrister, broker, billiard-maker

The classic of ostensibly children’s literature that contained the imaginative, nonsensical poetic interlude The Hunting of the Snark was original penned by Lewis Carroll in 1876 but was not in print in Russia until 1991—authorities having perhaps detected a subversive undertone to the rich allegory—
and is presently receiving a new treatment by Berlin-based illustrator Igor Oleinikov to project the “Agony in Eight Fits” through the lens of despotism and disaster with uniformed and besuited men leading the expedition. The illustrator that Carroll commissioned himself, Henry Holiday (*1839 – †1927, back cover shown, the Boojum, being highly dangerous and another made-up word, is the Snark’s true nature and will make the hunter “softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met again”), for his initial publication also considered the poem a tragedy and full of existential angst and has been the topic of much academic analysis, deconstruction and debate, inspiring a great deal of other homages despite the author’s warning not read too much into it.

Monday, 10 August 2020

clientes com distรบrbios e atrasos na fala

The latest instalment of This American Life had a particular resonant first act that really lingered and prodded in ways that I was not quite expecting.  Composer and musician Jerome Ellis became a joyful rule-breaker for a captivated audience and gave with his performance piece a real object lesson on the reasonable accommodation of time and pacing that most of us don’t spare a thought for lest we’re able to indulge our impatience and cast aspersions on others for being too slow.
Introduced by way of a Brazilian law that provides a half-price relief for mobile subscribers who are diagnosed with a speech impediment—a severe stutter like Ellis has, the state government tried to make allowances for the normalised and preferred fluency that none of us has by degrees. While I don’t exactly stammer and don’t pretend to come from the same place experientially, I felt I could relate by getting annoyed when one supplies (or tries to) the elusive word too quickly or finishes my sentences for me—and I know it’s just meant as a kindness whether in English or in my non-native German when I struggle, which is usually—and then not knowing if it’s worth the effort to finish one’s thought and growing by degrees a bit more taciturn. Our temporal expectations can be impositions just like any other but also an opportunity for exchange.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

artistique apparu

Having later significant influence on contemporaries like Edward Hopper, born this day in 1881 (†1946) Lรฉon Spilliaert, graphic artist and Symbolist painter, spent his formative years sketching the Belgian countryside. The autodidact was able to ply his talents as a career and was commissioned to illustrate anthologies of short-fiction in a Brussels journal that published writers in the same genre, which channelled the gothic components from Romanticism and Impressionism to form a distinct visual and poetic movement in France, Belgium and Russia. Before moving on to executing his own works with studies in landscapes, coastal scenes and brooding dreamscapes Spilliaert especially enjoyed illustrating the works of the representative writers of the movement, Paul Verlaine and Edgar Allan Poe.

Sunday, 26 July 2020


you gotta eat them plums: an arcade version of William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say” (see previously)—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links

op art: more on the Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely (see previously, born Gyล‘zล‘ Vรกsรกrhelyi, *1906 – †1997) whose work informed the movement

earth for scale: ESA solar probe finds new “campfire” phenomena on the Sun

manhatta: a 1921 short considered America’s first avant-garde experiment set to the verse of Walt Whitman

slob serif: awful typefaces (not this one) for awful protests—via Memo of the Air

primary pigments: more colour stories (see also) from Public Domain Review

hasta la pasta: the history behind linguini, fusilli and every variety in between

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

the inauguration of the pleasure dome

Via Weird Universe we are acquainted with the portfolio and curriculum vitรฆ thus far of underground filmmaker and author Kenneth Anger (*1923) whose anthology of short works explore Thelema and its adherents through his eponymous 1954 (remastered in 1966 for 1978 for wider audiences as Anger’s original concept included projecting the action on three screens simultaneously) through the cinematic filters of surrealism, the occult and homoeroticism.
Playing the goddess of magic Hecate himself, the short also stars Anaรฏs Nin as Astarte (Ishtar) and fellow director and pioneer of New Queer Cinema Curtis Harrington (*1926 – †2007, whose credits include numerous television series—Baretta, Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels and also Orson Welles’ unfinished The Other Side of the Wind) was in the role of Cesare, the somnambulist from The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and was inspired by the ritual fancy-dress parties that founder Aleister Crowley would host that invited guests to come as their madness and a recitation of the Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s atmospheric poem. More to explore at the links above.

Friday, 5 June 2020

someday i’ll have a disappearing hairline, someday i’ll wear pajamas in the daytime

Released this month in 1994, Crash Test Dummies’ “Afternoons and Coffeespoons,” the third single from the album God Shuffled His Feet (the cover art is Titian’s 1523 Bacchus and Ariadne with band members faces on the figures) considered to be the most popular song according to the alternative rock band’s fanbase and was among the highest charting in their repetoire references the 1915 T. S. Eliot verse “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”—I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. This interior monologue of reflection and lament on estrangement, isolation and disillusioning realisation of morality resounding in both works takes on an especially resonant meaning in the latter musical tribute in these times.

Maybe if I could do a play-by-playback
I could change the test results that
I will get back
I’ve watched the summer evenings pass by
I’ve heard the rattle in my bronchi…