The wonderful photo above shows a group of Irish artists from the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin, including Margaret Clarke and Estella Solomons (via BiblioCuriosa).
And let’s start with the usual firing of links and oddities!
- First of all, if you read Italian, you might want to check this in-depth interview with me and Carlo Vannini on our latest book London Mirabilia, and on the background of the collection: the criteria for selecting locations, the writing process, the equipment and photographic techniques used in the field, and much more. In addition, there’s this other interview on The LondoNerD.
- We complain so much about fake news, but as soon as the press was invented, it was already being used for questionable reasons. For example, fomenting the collective psychosis about witches, and the consequent persecutions.
- This is the oldest diving suit in the world. It is on exhibit in the Raahe museum in Finland, and dates back to the eighteenth century. It was used for short walks under water, to repair the keels of ships. Now, instead, “it dives into your nightmares” (as Stefano Castelli put it).
- Rediscovered masterpieces: the Christian comic books of the seventies in which sinners are redeemed by the evangelizing heroes. “The Cross is mightier than the switchblade!” (Thanks, Gigio!)
- On the facade of the Cologne Town Hall there is a statue of Bishop Konrad von Hochstaden. The severity of his ecclesiastical figure is barely surprising; it’s what’s under the pedestal that leaves you stunned.
The figure engaged in an obscene autofellatio is to be reconnected to the classic medieval marginalia, which often included grotesque and bizarre situations placed “in the margin” of the main work — which could be a book, a fresco, a painting or, as in this case, a sculptural complex.
Given that such figures appear on a good number of churches, mainly in France, Spain and Germany, there has been much speculation as to what their purpose and meaning might have been: these were not just echoes of pagan fertility symbols, but complex allegories of salvation, as this book explains (and if you read French, there’s another good one exclusively dedicated to Brittany). Beyond all conjectures, it is clear that the distinction between the sacred and the profane in the Middle Ages was not as clear and unambiguous as we would be led to believe.
- Let’s remain in the Middle Ages. When in 1004 the niece of the Byzantine emperor dared to use a fork for the first time at table, she caused a ruckus and the act was condemned by the clergy as blasphemous. (No doubt the noblewoman had offended the Almighty, since He later made her die of plague.)
- Also dead, for 3230 years, but with all the necessary papers: here is the Egyptian passport issued in 1974 for the mummy of Ramesses II, so that he could fly to Paris without a hitch at the check-in. [EDIT: this is actually an amusing fake, as Gabriel pointed out in the comments]
- Man, I hate it when I order a simple cappuccino, but the bartender just has to show off.
- Alex Eckman-Lawn adds disturbing and concrete “layers” to the human face. (Thanks, Anastasia!)
- Another artist, Arngrímur Sigurðsson, illustrated several traditional figures of Icelandic folklore in a book called Duldýrasafnið, which translated means more or less “The Museum of Hidden Beings”. The volume is practically unobtainable online, but you can see many evocative paintings on the official website and especially in this great article. (Thanks, Luca!)
- Forget Formula One! Here’s the ultimate racing competition!
- A new study of the University of Naples on Herculaneum shows the victims died worse than we thought. Or better, depending on your point of view. Blood instantly evaporating and heads exploding — it’s hard to think of a quicker way to go.
- Mad Magazine revisits Gorey’s cruel Alphabet, in a chilling version about school shootings.
- Marco Meucci (here’s his Facebook page) deals with reprints of ancient books and artistic ligatures. He also creates miniature ossuaries and crypts, complete with tiny mummies. Look at this creation of his (which takes inspiration from both the Catacombs of Palermo and the Crypt of Via Veneto) and tell me if it isn’t adorable.
- Several distinguished professors of philosophy, jurisprudence, ethics and informatics answer the question about the future that, let’s face it, is tormenting all of us: would a kinky robot, specifically designed to handcuff us to the bed and whip our butts, violate Asimov’s first law? (via Ayzad)
- Great British comedian Ricky Gervais uses Twitter to post selfies from his bathtub. And to remind us that we must die, ergo nothing should be taken seriously.
- In Chestnut Ridge Park, NY, an “eternal flame” burns inside a waterfall. (Thanks, Bruno!)
- If you love videogames and hate Mondays (sorry, I meant capitalism), do not miss this piece by Mariano Tomatis (Italian only).
- Remember my old post on death masks? Pia Interlandi is an artist who still makes them today.
- And finally, let’s dive into the weird side of porn for some videos of beautiful girls stuck in super glue — well, ok, they pretend to be. You can find dozens of them, and for a good reason: this is a peculiar immobilization fetishism (as this short article perfectly summarizes) combining classic female foot worship, the lusciousness of glue (huh?), and a little sadistic excitement in seeing the victim’s useless attempts to free herself. The big plus is it doesn’t violate YouTube adult content guidelines.