Happy Holidays To You

Though I didn’t find the time this year to continue my tradition of Nonist holiday cards I just wanted to carve a moment out of the hectic schedule to wish all of you, my astoundingly attractive, astute, and aesthetically-advanced audience, a very happy holiday season. Here’s to the terrifically unlikely proposition that we, all of us, come out of it feeling even a smidgeon more rested than we did going in, that even one among us manages to give a gift that will actually be enjoyed by its recipient, that our travels are relatively painless, and that none of us are forced, through the sheer frustration of contact with the inevitable massive and milling crowds, to elbow anyone in the neck! Joy, then, be to all. I hope to return to action before the new year. See you then.

Love- Jaime

12.23. filed under: announcements. personal. 11

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

In case you’ve been gnashing your teeth at the silence here and cursing me under your breath, let it be known I’ve been a bit under the weather and will return when I’ve finished sweating. Hopefully the “miraculous and splendiferous radium pills” I picked up on ebay (for a song!) will do the trick.

12.10. filed under: personal. 7

It’s perhaps not well known that for a short period after Sherlock Holmes’ death in 1915, amidst the confusion and grief, a ne’re-do-well calling himself Jonathan Holmes, and claiming to be Sherlock’s estranged brother, sought and was granted legal control of the Holmes estate, and (more to the point) the Holmes name. It seems that for the 8 short months Jonathan Holmes held the rights to the famous name, before being discovered, he attempted most vigilantly to cash in on its renown. At some time in early 1916 receipts reveal that he employed the services of an American printer by the name of Stanley Wieden to create a group of broadsides in the hopes of enticing the public to part with some coin to learn for themselves the “recondite practices” of the beloved master detective. Above we see the only surviving example of Weiden’s efforts. (click here for larger version) How effective this vague (yet vaguely familiar) tack proved remains unknown.

12.05. filed under: design. lies. 1

Shadow Play

Though the term “shadow play” might bring to mind some sort of salacious fetish practiced by overzealous goths and pre-teen wickans, it is, of course, no such thing. Shadow play refers instead to one of the more ancient forms of theater, one whose roots are so old as to be, beyond a certain point, seemingly untraceable, whose practice can be found, in varying incarnations and distinct traditions, all across the world, and whose contrivances account for some of the most gorgeous puppets to ever to cavort, skulk, vault, or swoon across a stage.

12.05. filed under: art. design. history. play. 4

La Bouche

Quote: “The mouth is the beginning or, if one prefers, the prow of animals; in the most characteristic cases, it is the most living part, in other words, the most terrifying for neighbouring animals. But man does not have a simple architecture like the beasts, and it is not even possible to say where he begins. In a strict sense, he starts at the top of the skull, but the top of the skull is an insignificant part, incapable of attracting attention and it is the eyes or the forehead the play the significatory role of an animal’s jaws.”

12.03. filed under: art. humanity. ideas. 1

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

Minotaure (1933 - 1939)

In 1933 Albert Skira, a young publisher of elegant art books, released the first two issues of a periodical which, though it would only last for 6 years, remains to this day one of the most impressive publications of its kind ever produced. It was called Minotaure and the reasons it is damned near legendary are simple– lavish production values of a quality unseen previously, and contributors who, from the editors to the essayists to the artists, went on to storm the hallowed annals of history.

12.01. filed under: art. history. people. 9

Quote: “The Chinese philosopher Zhang Hêng invented the earliest known seismoscope in 132 A.D. The instrument was said to resemble a wine jar of diameter six feet. On the outside of the vessel there were eight dragon-heads, facing the eight principal directions of the compass. Below each of the dragon-heads was a toad, with its mouth opened toward the dragon. The mouth of each dragon held a ball. At the occurrence of an earthquake, one of the eight dragon-mouths would release a ball into the open mouth of the toad situated below. The direction of the shaking determined which of the dragons released its ball. The instrument is reported to have detected a four-hundred-mile distant earthquake which was not felt at the location of the seismoscope.” Neat.

11.30. filed under: history. people. science.

If you are anything like me good reader (and since you are here at all I must assume that, in some small way at least, you are) you look at the image above, and you read the caption, and you wonder, “what does that mean?” It seems simple enough. A quirky drawing; a short caption. You can’t help but run through possibilities– A comic strip? A children’s book? An illustration from an exposé on the secrets of magic? A rejected New Yorker Cartoon? And yet… it remains opaque somehow doesn’t it?. I mean “M. Ivorde’s little man?” That seems odd. And what’s with the space helmet? And what’s that he’s holding? A metal detector? A street sweeper’s dust-pan? Just what exactly is happening here?

I came across this image accidentally, much as you have, and if you’re anything like me you’re a curious sort and would like nothing better than to just click a link real quick, satisfy that curiosity, and move on. Well, having been down that road I have to ask you, in all seriousness, is that really what you want? I mean, couldn’t you just let it go?

11.28. filed under: ideas. misc. play. wtf. 11

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