Here’s another plate of fresh links and random weirdness to swallow in one bite, like the above frog did with a little snake.
- In Madagascar there is a kind of double burial called famadihana: somewhat similar to the more famous Sulawesi tradition, famadihana consists in exhuming the bodies of the departed, equipping them with a new and clean shroud, and then burying them again. But not before having enjoyed one last, happy dance with the dead relative.
- Whining about your writer’s block? Francis van Helmont, alchemist and close friend of famed philosopher Leibniz, was imprisoned by the Inquisition and wrote a book in between torture sessions. Besides obviously being a tough guy, he also had quite original ideas: according to his theory, ancient Hebrew letters were actually diagrams showing how lips and mouth should be positioned in order to pronounce the same letters. God, in other words, might have “printed” the Hebrew alphabet inside our very anatomy.
- Reason #4178 to love Japan: giant rice straw sculptures.
- At the beginning of the last century, it was legal to send babies through the mail in the US. (Do we have a picture? Of course we do.)
- In France, on the other hand, around the year 1657 children were eager to play a nice little game called Fart-In-The-Face (“Back in my day, we had one toy, and it was our…“).
- If you think waax museums are a bit creepy, here’s the story of Madame Tussaud, a woman who made her fortune thanks to the guillotine.
- Ok, time to grab your tissue: a female chimp, about to die of old age, recognizes an old friend who came to bid her farewell.
- Speaking of primates: in an Italian natural park a female macaque held her dead baby for 25 days, cradling and hugging it. When the little body was unrecognizable, she ate the remains (warning: heartbreaking photos).
- Wood carver artist Caspicara, who lived in Ecuador in the 1700s, is believed to be the autghor of this spectacular work which represents Death, Paradise, Purgatory and Hell. I don’t know about you, but the one on the right looks like Keith Richards to me.
- What was it like to go to the doctor in 1600? Spoiler: more or less like having your horoscope done by an astrologist.
- The latest issue of the wonderful Godfrey’s Almanack is entirely dedicated to Naples, be sure not to miss it.
- “Hey, still got some spare food coloring down at the shop? Yes, it’s for my transparents ants again.”
- A woman walks alone in a cemetery: a sexually transgressive act? Friend Romany Reagan explores the idea in a post I find incredibly fertile and thought-provoking.
- Scientists have reconstructed the face of Mary Magdalene in 3D. All very impressive, except it’s probably not her face.
- A quick recap for death nerds:
- James Ballard was passionate for what he called “invisible literature”: sales recepits, grocery lists, autopsy reports, assembly instructions, and so on. I find a similar thrill in seeking 19th-century embalming handbooks: such technical, professional publications, if read today, always have a certain surreal je ne sais quoi. And sometimes they also come with exceptional photographs, like these taken from a 1897 book.
- In closing, I would like to remind you of two forthcoming appointments: on October 29, at 7pm, I will be in Rome at Giufà Libreria Caffe’ to present Tabula Esmeraldina, the latest visionary work by my Chilean friend Claudio Romo.
On November 3-5, you will find me at Lucca Comics & Games, stand NAP201, signing copies of Paris Mirabilia and chatting with readers of Bizzarro Bazar. See you there!