Some bits from the history of scissors

Quote, “The obvious is so commonplace that when waved in front of our noses we often don’t give it a moment’s thought or even realize it’s there. We take certain objects so for granted that we probably never stop to ask ourselves how they first figured in the life of man. This is the case with scissors: do they date back one century, two centuries or twenty? Our stainless steel kitchen scissors were probably bought from a market stall around the corner, but when did the first scissors come into the world? Attempting to track down the name of a crackpot inventor would certainly be of no avail; as in many similar cases, scissors were not invented in a flash of creative genius, but rather evolved, step by step, alongside many other tools destined to cut, separate and pierce, undergoing modifications of design, material and decoration from the first, primitive examples — or at least from the first examples revealed by archeology and literature — to the scissors of today.” - From Scissors by Massimiliano Mandel.

12.16. filed under: !. books. design. history. 1

I am about a third of the way through Jeff Vandermeer’s newest novel Shriek: An Afterword and am enjoying it immensely. I’ve been a fan of Jeff’s works since first getting a whiff of City of Saints and Madmen way back when. Shriek is an incredibly satisfying book thus far, with a unique structure that fractures time, as so many contemporary “post-modern” narratives do, but in an altogether more intimate and rewarding way. I won’t say anymore since this isn’t a review, I haven’t even finished the book yet after all, but anyone interested in more in depth reviews can see the following: SFCrowsnest, Shaken & Stirred, or Infinity Plus. What I wanted to share with you tonight was something entirely more specific, a short section that might very well represent the greatest book rejection ever put in print. With Jeff’s kind permission I will reprint it for you below.

The two vintage postcards above express in image more concisely than I ever could in words just exactly how I’m feeling today. They sum-up nicely the faces that I would be making at you right now if this site were, well, my face. They come from a book put out sometime around 1975 called Fantasy Postcards which reproduce a selection of vintage, turn of the century, specimens from the author, William Ouellette’s, personal collection. Since I have nothing to say today (and would rather make ugly faces at each and every one of you if only I could) I’ve decided to simply offer unto you, oh slavering maw of the internet, a few of the wacky cards which caught my eye. Enjoy.

09.17. filed under: art. !. books. play.

Been reading the 1968 book Camp Concentration by Tomash M. Disch and have been enjoying it very much, more, in truth, than I expected to. It sat in my to-read pile for a long while before I actually got up the interest to crack it open. Perhaps it was the ‘72 cover illustration? The cracked spine? I don’t know. In any case, having never heard of Disch, I figured perhaps you had not either, and thought I’d share a few paragraphs to get you acquainted. The following is a snippet from a conversation between the protagonist, Louis Sacchetti (a poet, and conscientious objector to some conflict or other who has been sent, as an objective chronicler, to a military instillation where patients are injected with a modified strain of syphilis which makes them brilliant before eating away their brain and killing them) and Dr. Aimee Busk (an icey doctor at said military instillation.) Hope you enjoy.

09.10. filed under: books. ideas. 3

Ahimsa is a religious concept which advocates non-violence and a respect for all life. Ahinsa is Sanskrit for avoidance of himsa, or injury. It is interpreted most often as meaning peace and reverence toward all sentient beings. Ahimsa is an important doctrine of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism (pdf). I think if it has made any inroads into the modern westerner’s mind they have likely been through its connection to yoga. I will not comment on the concept itself here, becuase in truth I am by no means sure of my own opinion toward the “do not swat a fly” brand of radical pacism, but rather will offer up a few images from an interesting book I picked up a long while ago called Chinese Poems and Pictures on Ahimsa by Raghu Vira, published in 1954. As for the sentiment they express, well, decide for yourself the value.

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