The Recumbent Supper

If I accosted you on the street, grabbed you by the shoulders, and blurted, “The Last Supper!” involuntarily (and to spite your fear of being pawed and shouted at by a lunatic) an image would form in your head. We all know what that image is without any need of my describing it because its roughly the same image we all conjure up. It would seem that Western depictions of the last supper, most notably Leonardo Da Vinci’s incredibly iconic version, have dominated the popular imagination in regard to this biblical event to such a degree that we’ve been left with an unshakeable mental image. As it happens, however, it’s an image which deviates considerably not only from scriptural description but from historical reality.

07.20. filed under: art. belief. books. history. 4

The Spectre of Brocken

Soiling Lederhosen Since There Were Lederhosen To Soil

Quote: “On stepping out to the terrace, I was very agreeably surprised to see my shadow some 200 feet high, s thrown on the mist by a strong lamp, rise up to the zenith! It was a very curious spectacle indeed. every movement of the hand or head was faithfully reproduced by the phantasm. But only the head and shoulders of the figure were neatly delineated. The remainder of the body was exceedingly indistinct. Giant rays of colour radiated from the head in all directions.” –E.M. Antoniadai, 1896.

What was for the astronomer Antoniadai “very agreeable” was for generation upon generation before him, understandably, a shock, an anxious source of folkloric speculation, and a bit of a horror.

07.19. filed under: belief. history. science. 3

On The Magic Island

By W.B. Seabrook with illustrations by Alexander King.

In 1929 a travelogue was released that would, through the chain reaction it set off, have a profound effect on American popular culture and by extension the American collective consciousness. It was written by a fellow with a questionable resume of personal traits said to include alcoholism, occultism, sensory deprivation, and sadism, who would ultimately commit suicide by pill-overdose. His is not a household name, and is rarely spoken, yet it is through the continued fascinated invocation of another name altogether that we unknowingly evoke his legacy: Zombie! Zombie!! Zombie!!!

06.29. filed under: belief. books. death. film. history. people. 4

Mincing Our Oaths

Thoughts on being a potty-mouthed atheist in a world of Religious profanity.

As a bona-fide + atheist I find myself curiously conscious about the oaths I speak. Every time, in a moment of anger, I inadvertently begin barking “Jesus!” or “Christ!” or “God Damn it!” I feel slightly embarrassed afterward, as if my thoughtless reliance on these oaths, and others like them, were a betrayal of my own ideals. + It is almost as though the involuntary use of these words, signifiers of Ideas I reject, reveals some sort of personal weakness. + What it reveals, however, is the simplest of dumb-dumb facts. Namely that the English language is so brim-full of Religious oaths, that to remove them from one’s vocabulary would effectively render you, in your anger, red-faced and vein-popped but mute. 

06.18. filed under: belief. ideas. life. observations. 4

Abracadabra!

Can you begin to imagine the amount of time spent by the human race in pursuit of magic? I am not speaking metaphorically here. I mean can you imagine the sum total man-hours devoted to actively invoking, incanting, intoning, beseeching, divining, scrying, summoning, chanting, conjuring, and casting? And though, so far as we know, not a single minute of all that feverish sorcery yielded the intentional result with greater efficiency than chance, magic continues, and will continue, probably forever. And do you know why? Well, setting aside the fact that the whole endeavor is damn poetic specifically because of its futility, fascinating because of its baroquely fanciful trappings, pathos-packed because of its provenance, and let’s face it, pretty hilarious on the whole, there is another, simpler reason; one which I believe will be self-evident if you take a gander at what I’ve set out for you below…

06.11. filed under: belief. history. humanity. play. 7

A spring day. A holiday. A beautiful day for origins laid bare. The question arises from within and without, from mischievous children and coots embittered by a lifetime in minority, “what do bunnies and eggs have to do with anything?” And there might be a squirm, and their might be a laugh, and there might even be an answer which deigns to include the word “Goddess” or “fertility” or “birth.” It’s a beautiful day for the survival of annexed symbols and the bright light of incongruousness that they shine. There is an implicit acknowledgment of lineage in those symbols that a hundred generations of voices crying “ultimate Truth” can’t drown out; a moon which won’t be eclipsed.

Across the northern hemisphere bodies are goaded and throb, independent of mind and careless of culture, as they always have. Biology, the great uniter, offering every animal their undeniable cues. Today, in the spring light, warm and feminine in its promise of fecundity, we’re presented a beautiful day for clarity. Feeling that light on our face, its winks and hints at comfort, we might ask, “Why should this light be refracted through a lens of bloody beatings and spear tips and torture? What has this light to do with the adventures of a murdered man’s corpse?” Or, “Have we moved the movable feast too far?” Perhaps today is the best day in the year to feel plainly the qualitative difference between healthy biological realities and the dark, gnarled festoons and embellishments of human abstraction.

Note: The image is a detail of Hans Baldung Grien’s Death and the Woman c.1517.

03.23. filed under: belief. humanity. observations. 5

She wasn’t a religious woman. There was no denying that. She hadn’t given Heaven much thought at all, so to say her expectations had been confounded would not be quite accurate. And yet, moving along there on that seemingly endless escalator, she felt confounded anyhow. Not that Heaven ought to exist you understand. Not at all. People on Earth brow-beat one another about its dress code and management and admittance policies continuously, treating the whole of the world like one giant, chaotic, waiting-line, jostling and elbowing and murdering one another to get a bit closer to the velvet rope. That it existed, though admittedly surprising, did not in fact seem strange to her. It was the escalator itself which was perplexing. The thing creaked, and groaned, and was rusted to such an extent it seemed miraculous that it functioned at all.

She was afraid of heights so she didn’t look around, just straight ahead, eyes glued to the stretch of escalator directly in front of her, and staring at it with its flaking paint and leaking sealant and crumbling surfaces she began to get nervous. Alone there, high above the Earth, she said out loud, “It’s almost as though… it has been completely ignored since the day of its creation… or forgotten.”

(Note: the image, which is not actually of an escalator to heaven, was found here.)

03.02. filed under: belief. fiction. misc. 4

Skullduggery And Numbskullery

Dear friends, the unknown is vast. Yea, I say to you there are things on our world, in our universe, and within our minds which we have not even begun to understand. There are things forgotten deep in humanity’s past. There are phenomena and objects and events in the present day of which we are quite simply ignorant. Yea, good readers, there are mysteries to be sure. Things unexplained, and in as much, things fascinating. Unfortunately, “Crystal Skulls,” like the one pictured above from the collection of the British Museum are not among them. These are items whose story have a beginning and end. If you are of the mind to you may coax it out from the following:

Origin of the Crystal Skulls. Unmuseum. British Museum’s Skull. Wikipedia. Mitchell-Hedges story. A Crystal Skull. World Mysteries. Smithsonian’s research. Empire Museum. Skepdic.com. A Crystal Skull?. Messengers of light. Seraphim Institute. Crane Cristal (vids). Everything2. Skepticwiki. How Crystal Skulls Work. Crystal’s Skull. Joky’s 9 Crystal Skulls. Odd and Unusual. Prismatic Skull. 13 crystal Maya skulls will save the world. The amazing Crystal Skulls. Cult and fringe archeology. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Skeptical Inguirer.

 

02.17. filed under: belief. history. link dump. wtf. 2

Relics of Temperance

It is said that in America, prior to the Revolution and prior to urbanization, alcohol consumption, as a general rule, was kept to what was then considered acceptable levels through informal social control in the home and in the community. After the Revolution and urbanization the country saw an increase in poverty, unemployment, and crime, much of which was blamed on the relaxation of social control over alcohol, and the corresponding rise of drunkenness. In hopes of reasserting that social control over the “demon rum” temperance societies began popping up across the Northeast. By 1830 there were 2,220 such temperance societies in the United States, each wielding an arsenal of tracts, leaflets, broadsides, pledges, songs, plays, and illustrations meant to scare, guilt, and bully men back into sobriety…. and that’s a lot of printed matter.

12.17. filed under: art. belief. design. history. 14

The Lucky Horseshoe

“Throughout Germany the belief obtains that a horseshoe found on the road, and nailed on the threshold of a house with the points directed outward, is a mighty protection not only against hags and fiends, but also against fire and lightning; but, reversed, it brings misfortune. In eastern Pennsylvania, however, even in recent times, the horse-shoe is often placed with the prongs pointing inward, so that the luck may be spilled into the house. The horse-shoe retains its potency as a charm on the sea as well as on land, and it has long been a practice among sailors to nail this favorite amulet against the mast of a vessel, whether fishing-boat or large sea-going craft, as a protection against the Evil One.” - Robert Means Lawrence, M.D. from The Magic of the Horse-Shoe 1899.

10.20. filed under: belief. history. observations. 6

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