The Exhibition Stare

When Somerset House opened to the public in 1780 the main staircase which lead to “the Great Room” quickly became one of London’s famous attractions. This fact is often attributed to its terrifying steepness and narrowness, the climbing of which was viewed as an “aesthetic experience” which people of the time would have referred to as “sublime.” Evidently there was another, and one must assume equally exhilarating, reason for it’s popularity. 

12.03. filed under: art. history. humanity. 6


Psychopathia Sexualis, by Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing M.D. is a fascinating historical document. First published in Germany in 1886 the book attempts to catalogue and illuminate every manner of “sexual perversion” bubbling just under the surface of the 19th century. On the one hand reading through its pages is a melancholy sort of affair. This was a time when masturbation was a dirt path straight to the lake of fire, a time when if your own tastes stretched beyond monogamous “missionary work” you would likely be viewed as a tainted psycopath begotten by maniacs; if you also happen to be a woman… well, head directly to the assylum, do not pass go, do not even think about sexual fullfilment. On the other hand because of this rather narrow view of human sexuality much of what is characterized as sexual deviancy in the book seems downright cuddly and sweet in our filthy 21st century world, where a shampoo commercial might present more outwardly explicit sexuality than a 19th century woman’s entire adult existence.

Below the fold you will find 8 case studies which I’ve culled from the hundreds, presented for your education, possible discomfiting recognition, and, of course, your smug amusement (yeah, like you don’t have some, uh, “problematic” shit going on in the sex centers of your noggin.) Enjoy.

11.24. filed under: books. history. humanity. life. 5


Patented for Your Pleasure

What are the things we as a species enjoy? I’m going to go out on a limb and pick two- We enjoy sexual pleasure, and we enjoy tinkering with stuff. The confluence of these two interests have lead, over time, to more sexual gadgetry than you could shake an electrode covered phallus at, and it’s amusing for a couple of reasons. For one, I don’t think with all our noodling we’ve ever actually improved on good ol’ sloppy biology. Secondly, and this is the mouth of the comedy gold mine, all these endless inventions of ours must, if they are to ever to hit the market and enter the orifices at large, pass through the patent office. Can you think of a more incongruous pairing than brute sexuality and government forms? Or of the mysterious workings of human arousal and technical diagrams?

11.13. filed under: bits&bytes. humanity. science. wtf. 14


Bored kids will do just about anything to get a high right? Smoke banana peels. Lick toads. Sniff glue. Whatever. I don’t begrudge them their brain destroying fun, but this… this is simply the ultimate of the jonesin genre. Quote: Jenkem is a homemade substance which consists of fecal matter and urine. The fecal matter and urine are placed in a bottle or jar and covered, most commonly with a balloon. The container is then placed in a sunny area for several hours or days or until fermented. The contents of the container will separate and release a gas, which is captured in the balloon. Inhaling the gas is said to give a euphoric high similar to ingesting cocaine but with strong hallucinations.” The down side? The taste of sewage in your mouth which lasts for “several days.”

Sure, it may well be a hoax. But I sincerely hope not. I love the thought of bored kids purposely huffing super-farts just to get a high. Why should junkies and crack-heads be the only ones who get to have that “holy shit, man, I can’t possibly sink any lower than this” moment? Why should adult users be the only ones to have a complete dissolution of dignity and self respect? Plus, the slang for Jenkem is priceless: Butthash. Hahaha. Yes indeed the children truly are the future.

11.08. filed under: headlines. humanity. wtf. 4


Quote: Beginning in the early 1860s, Plains Indian men adapted their representational style of painting to paper in the form of accountants ledger books. Traditional paints and bone and stick brushes used to paint on hide gave way to new implements such as colored pencils, crayon, and occasionally water color paints. Plains artists acquired paper and new drawing materials in trade, or as booty after a military engagement, or from a raid. Initially, the content of ledger drawings continued the tradition of depicting of military exploits and important acts of personal heroism already established in representational painting on buffalo hides and animal skins. As the US government implemented the forced relocation of the Plains peoples to reservations, for all practical purposes completed by the end of the 1870s, Plains artists added scenes of ceremony and daily life from before the reservation to the repertoire of their artwork, reflecting the social and cultural changes brought by life on the reservation within the larger context of forced assimilation. – Enjoy the 1021 plates spanning 15 ledgers at Plaines Indian Ledger Art.

For more see: Tribal Arts, Kiowa Drawings, Fort Marion Artists, and Picturing Change.

10.22. filed under: art. history. humanity.


Quote, “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces, than make another trip over the Falls.” So said the impoverished 63 year old widow Annie Edson Taylor, who ought to know of what she spoke, being the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The clever kitten pictured with her here, not hearing the word “food” in the pronouncement, had no opinion.

More on her and the long line of Niagara Falls daredevils: Extraordinary Voyages, A History of Stunting at Niagara, Daredevils of Niagara Falls, How Going Over Niagara Works, Stunters and Daredevils, Niagara Falls Daredevils Ephemera, Anna Edson Taylor, Niagara Falls Daredevil Postcards, Stereoscopic Views of Niagara Falls, Stunts and Stunters, Watercolors of Stunts and Stunters, The Complete Guide to Niagara Falls

10.20. filed under: history. humanity. wtf. 2


I was lucky enough to get my grubby hands on a 1931 book titled, as seen above, Sins of America, by Edward Van Every, and my my are they many. It was a follow-up to a book he put out a year earlier titled, Sins of New York. Both books are collections of stories and illustrations which originally appeared in The National Police Gazette and they are fantastic. The Gazette was a sensationalistic tabloid aimed at the “sporting” single men of the 19th Century. It was sold through barber shops and saloons. It was chock full of dramatic woodcuts of sporting events, brutal crimes, female burlesque performers, actresses in racy poses, and the scandals of the day. During it’s peak it had a readership of over 200,000 and was the most successful such publication of it’s time. More than that it can be credited with the invention of the sports page and the gossip column. Pretty much everything we associate with tabloid journalism, as well as men’s magazines, had a start in the Gazette.

10.06. filed under: books. headlines. history. humanity. 2


Eugenics- It’s too broad and prickly a subject to tackle in any meaningful way in the short strokes of a blog post frankly. Debatable issues, movements, historical consequences, ethical quandaries, scientific disciplines, philosophical attitudes all stem from or tangle with it like branches of a gnarled millennia old tree. One thing I can say for certain is that as with all Ideologies seeking to convert themselves into some dispassionate, quantifiable (and hence reputable) Science, Eugenics relied heavily on statistics. It follows that, as with all such endeavors, one of the chief concerns was how best to present said statistics in an affecting way. The Eugenics movement, being focussed as it was on issues of race, class, breeding, and illness (all sources of viscerally opinionated reaction in the annals of human discourse) was able to produce some doozies.

09.30. filed under: design. history. humanity. theory. 6


Description: A late 19th Century quarter repeating Swiss lever in a gold full hunter case. Gilt three quarter plate keyless movement with going barrel, four armed cam above the plate to actuate the automaton. Plain cock with polished steel regulator, compensation balance with blue steel overcoil hairspring. Club foot lever escapement. Slide quarter repeating on two gongs. Engine turned 18 carat gold full hunter case, slide in the band, etcetera.

Wow. Pretty fancy! And what is all that high presision Swiss mechanical dodaddery in the service of? What does it all lead to? 

 

09.18. filed under: history. humanity. play. wtf. 4


Scorched rock floating through empty space beholden to cold dispassionate forces for near eternity.

Observations of the star “V 391 Pegasi b” have revealed that a planet circling close to its star, like say, Earth, is not necessarily doomed to being swallowed whole when its star expands and goes “red-giant” in old age.

Quote: “Stars such as our own expand into red giants in their old age, engulfing nearby planets. Now a planet has been sighted circling close to V 391 Pegasi, a star that has gone through the red-giant phase to become what is known as a hot B-type subdwarf. The planet, it seems, survived this process.”

09.18. filed under: humanity. observations. space. 1


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