Let’s start with some quick updates.
Just three days left till the end of the Bizzarro Bazar Contest. I received so many fantastic entries, which you will discover next week when the winners are announced. So if you’re among the procrastinators, hurry up and don’t forget to review the guidelines: this blog has to be explicitly mentioned/portrayed within your work.
On October 1st I will be at Teatro Bonci in Cesena for the CICAP Fest 2017 [CICAP is a skeptical educational organization.]
As this year’s edition will focus on fake news, hoaxes and post-truth, I was asked to bring along some wonders from my wunderkammer — particularly a bunch of objects that lie between truth and lies, between reality and imagination. And, just to be a bit of a rebel, I will talk about creative hoaxes and fruitful conspiracies.
As we are mentioning my collection, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for one of the last arrivals: this extraordinary work of art.
I hear you say “Well, what’s so special about it?“. Oh, you really don’t understand modern art, do you?
This picture, dated 2008, was painted by the famous artist Jomo.
Here’s Jomo as a bronze statuette, acquired along with the painting.
Exactly, you guessed it: from now on I will be able to pull the good old Pierre Brassau prank on my house guests.
I was also glad the auction proceeds for the gorilla painting went to the Toronto Zoo personnel, who daily look after these wonderful primates. By the way, the Toronto Zoo is an active member of the North American Gorilla Species Survival Plan and also works in Africa to save endangered gorillas (who I was surprised to find are facing extinction because of our cellphones).
And now let’s start with our usual selection of goodies:
- This is a poem by Igino Ugo Tarchetti, one of the leading figures in the Scapigliatura, the most bizarre, gothic and “maudit” of all Italian literary movements. (My new upcoming book for the Bizzarro Bazar Collection will also deal, although marginally, with the Scapigliati.)
- And let’s move onto shrikes, these adorable little birds of the order of the Passeriformes.
Adorable, yet carnivore: their family name, Laniidae, comes from the Latin word for “butcher” and as a matter of fact, being so small, they need to resort to a rather cruel ploy. After attacking a prey (insects but also small vertebrates), a shrike proceeds to impale it on thorns, small branches, brambles or barbed wire, in order to immobilize it and then comfortably tear it to pieces, little by little, while often still alive — making Vlad Tepes look like a newbie.
- Talking about animals, whales (like many other mammals) mourn their dead. Here’s a National Geographic article on cetacean grief.
- Let’s change the subject and talk a bit about sex toys. Sexpert Ayzad compiled the definitive list of erotic novelties you should definitely NOT buy: these ultra-kitsch, completely demented and even disturbing accessories are so many that he had to break them into three articles, one, two and three. Buckle up for a descent into the most schizoid and abnormal part of sexual consumerism (obviously some pics are NSFW).
- Up next, culture fetishists: people who describe themselves as “sapiosexuals”, sexually attracted by intelligence and erudition, are every nerd’s dream, every introverted bookworm’s mirage.
But, as this article suggests, choosing an intelligent partner is not really such a new idea: it has been a part of evolution strategies for millions of years. Therefore those who label themselves as sapiosexual on social networks just seem pretentious and eventually end up looking stupid. Thus chasing away anyone with even a modicum of intelligence. Ah, the irony.
- The two greatest anatomists of the 17th Century, Govert Bidloo and Frederik Ruysch, hated each other to death: but the most fascinating aspect is that their dispute was, ultimately, a conflict between realism and the use of symbol.
- One who surely sees no problem whatsoever in playing with symbolic aesthetics is the most famous contemporary anatomist, Gunther Von Hagens, who in 2014 posed for a series of really remarkable portraits by photographer Marco Sanges. (Discovered via remains2beseen)
- Meanwhile The LondoNerD, the Italian blog on London’s secrets, has discovered a small, eccentric museum dedicated to Sir Richard Francis Burton, the adventurer whose life would be enough to fill a dozen Indiana Jones movies. [Sorry, the post is in Italian only]
- These are some of Martin Tomsky’s incredible wookcuts. (Discovered via Caitlin Doughty)
- Remember my post about the woman who built crime dioramas? Today the “Nutshell Studies” are being refurbished for an upcoming exhibit at Smithsonian, in which they will finally be visible to the public.
- Paul Koudounaris (author of the spectacular trilogy Empire of Death, Heavenly Bodies & Memento Mori) recounts the one ill-fated attempt at building a charnel house in New York City at the end of 19th Century.
- Even Malta once had its bone-decorated crypt, the optagonal Nibbia Chapel. Below you can see how the chapel looked like during the 1910s; unfortunately World World II bombings destroyed the entrance to the charnel house, and now all that remains is a bunch of ruins.
But many are convinced that the underground chapel might still be intact, perfectly preserved in the environs of the Evans Building, and just waiting to be rediscovered.