"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
The Dancing Saints
is "a 3,000 square foot icon wrapping around the entire church rotunda, showing ninety larger-than life saints; four animals; stars, moons, suns and a twelve-foot dancing Christ." Among the icons are traditional saints like Francis of Assisi
and Mary Magdalene
, but most of them are non-traditional saints, like Florence Nightingale
, John Coltrane
and Lady Godiva's Horse
. The Dancing Saints Icon is inside the St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church
in San Francisco. You can watch a video tour of the church's architecture
, read an interview with iconographer Mark Dukes
, and a short essay on the Dancing Saints Icon by Richard Fabian
posted by Kattullus
on May 31, 2013 -
Craig Ferguson seems to have a special liking for conversation with Stephen Fry. Previously
. On Wednesday night, Stephen was back on the Late Late Show as the only guest. The naturally wide-ranging discussion includes Arthur Conan Doyle, America, mortality, religion, philosophy, science, homosexuality, Wagner, and more. Enjoy. [more inside]
posted by lazaruslong
on May 25, 2013 -
To say that Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus (Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus) is a masterpiece is a gross understatement. Over sixty years after its composition, it has rightfully earned the recognition of being one of the most important piano works of the 20th century. ... [It] is one of the most personal and intimate pieces Messiaen ever wrote, and it gives the listener a close look at Messiaen the person. Messiaen was a deeply religious person, and although his faith influenced every single piece he wrote, the Vingt Regards is almost like his own personal spiritual diary.
- Keith Kerchoff [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Dec 13, 2012 -
Some lives are exemplary, others not; and of exemplary lives, there are those which invite us to imitate them, and those which we regard from a distance with a mixture of revulsion, pity, and reverence. It is, roughly, the difference between the hero and the saint (if one may use the latter term in an aesthetic, rather than a religious sense). Such a life, absurd in its exaggerations and degree of self-mutilation — like Kleist’s, like Kierkegaard’s — was Simone Weil’s.
- Susan Sontag [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Dec 19, 2011 -
(MAJOR SPOILERS EVERYWHERE) [Michael Tolkin's The Rapture] is one of the most radical, infuriating, engrossing, challenging movies I've ever seen. There are people who love it and many who hate it, but few who can remain on the sidelines. ... Movies are often so timid. They try so little, and are content with small achievements. "The Rapture" is an imperfect and sometimes enraging film, but it challenges us with the biggest idea it can think of, the notion that our individual human lives do have actual meaning on the plane of the infinite.
- Roger Ebert
posted by Trurl
on Dec 8, 2011 -
is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe
(later The Cartoon History of the Modern World
), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies
) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit
. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn
chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States
, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides
to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment
, and (yes!) Sex
. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention
, assorted math comics
), the Muse magazine
mainstay Kokopelli & Co.
(featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"
), and more
. See also these lengthy interview snippets
, linked previously
. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 6, 2011 -
(some NSWF images) has made controversial art for decades, with his piece Piss Christ
causing controversy shortly after it was created in 1987. In 1989, the photograph initiated outrage against the National Endowment for the Arts because of "anti-Christian bigotry"
. Then the piece was physically attacked two times in one weekend
, when it was first shown in the National Gallery of Victoria
in 1997. In December 2010, the Collection Lambert museum of contemporary art
in Avignon, France opened a show called "I Believe in Miracles"
that includes pieces of minimal art, conceptual art and land art, and includes Piss Christ
. The photograph had been shown in France before without disturbance, and had been shown without incident in Collection Lambert for four months, but around 1,000 protesters marched to the museum on Saturday, and on Sunday vandals succeeded in attacking the picture
, breaking the plexiglass shield and slashing the photograph. The museum is open again, and the damaged work is still on display
. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Apr 19, 2011 -
- written by Alan Moore in December 2002 to appear in KAOS #15, which never appeared. Published here for the first time.
posted by MetaMonkey
on Oct 24, 2010 -
"All of which is a long way of saying that, to construct a new church of anatomical horror and to do so out of stone, as Al-Mehdari seems to be suggesting, is a fascinating idea. " - Body Baroque
posted by Artw
on Sep 23, 2009 -
is a global project for people around the world to share their innermost hopes - and fears - through prayer. Some photos NSFW.
posted by ColdChef
on Apr 13, 2008 -
Fate, Absolute Life and Death, the Aleph, the Zeitgeist, the sinking of the Atlantis, the World Trade Center
, the formation of the universe...what more could you want from art? There's probably already been a been a post on this guy, Paul Laffoley, but I should hope more people could get a glance at some of this man's work
. Crazy or brilliant, you make your decision. A video
from his website.
posted by moonbizcut
on Aug 31, 2007 -
against MF Husain
have been stayed
in India's Supreme Court. A painting
by the celebrated Muslim artist, apparently depicting Mother India as a nude, led Hindus to bring an obscenity case and proceedings to seize his Mumbai property were initiated. However his lawyers moved swiftly to frustrate
the action, transferring the property into his son's name and then seeking the High Court ruling. Hindus have taken offense
at previous paintings
by Husain, depicting Hindu deities in allegedly obscene ways. Others disagree.
posted by Phanx
on May 8, 2007 -
(arguably better known as 'The Dreamtime') is more than just the story of how the world was created as told by Aboriginal Australians. It is also the basis for their way of life and death, their source of power in life and it tells of the life and influence of their ancestors on their culture. It was so important to Aboriginal Australians in the time before the white invasion of Australia that it was the one commonly held belief amongst a culture that consisted of over 500 different tribes (discussion of Dreamtime beliefs here
). Thought to be the oldest continuously maintained cultural history on Earth, it is often presented as a series of inter-related stories explaining Aboriginal Australian origins and culture, such as how the Australian landscape was created or how the Mimi spirits taught them how to paint these stories on the walls of caves more than 40,000 years ago
And what better way to learn of several of the many different Dreamtime stories than to listen and watch them being told by Aboriginal Australians elders themselves
? And if that isn't enough Dreamtime mythology for you, here's some links to various sites
which allow you to view Aboriginal rock art to see how these stories were translated into a form of artistic expression which is now five times older than the Egyptian Pyramids themselves.
posted by Effigy2000
on Dec 23, 2006 -
The astronomical clock in the French city of Besancon
is quite a mechanical marvel. Built in 1860, its inner workings are comprised of more than 30,000 interoperating pieces, driving 37 separate clockface gauges. It is one of the finest intersections between art & mechanics that I've ever come across.
posted by jonson
on Jul 4, 2006 -
The Benedictine Vivarium "
In the Benedictine tradition of reverence for human thought and creativity, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library preserves manuscripts, printed books and art at Saint John's University and undertakes photographic projects in regions throughout the world." --
Nearly half of HMML's holdings derive from libraries in Austria and Germany, but HMML also houses significant collections from Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, England, and Ethiopia. It holds archival materials, and of particular importance are the Archives of the Knights of Malta, housed in the National Library in Valletta, and the Archives of the Roman Inquisition, located at the Cathedral Museum in Mdina." EXAMPLE PAGES --
and more - if this kind of thing interests you, then search around - I've only begun scratching the surface. Nb. See browser setup info at bottom of page in main link
posted by peacay
on Aug 28, 2005 -
concept of the sacred
phallus in spirituality
, and culture (that is, before moralistic taboos attempted to mute phallic representations with fig leaves for the geniality of civilization).
posted by moonbird
on Dec 13, 2004 -