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August 08 2016

Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche sofarsoShawn gave 4 stars to Beyond Good and Evil (Paperback) by Friedrich Nietzsche
This was the last of Nietzsche's oeuvre that I had to read, I saved it for last because it’s so hustled as Nietzsche at his most incredible so it was something I could look forward to slogging through the swamps of his more mundane works. Nietzsche is hyped as this great subterranean immoralist, I suppose I was expecting too much, or maybe I'd just been thoroughly inducted into Nietzsche's thought, that by this last read, he had already worn through me. Genealogy is better; and if you're going personal, Gay Science, is where he's at his best.

Nietzsche's writing is so scattered and aphoristic, it's almost impossible to summarize, so I kept putting off writing this review until I stumbled across Leo Strauss's Note on the Plan of Beyond(1); and then I didn't know what to write until I noticed, in true Straussian style, what Strauss didn't write. Considering who Strauss is and his expertise as a Platonic medievalist, he never mentions aphorism 195, where the great slave revolt in morals begins. However, he does give a precise and shocking interpretation of the will to power: as a vindication of God! The philosophers of the future as the apotheosis of 'natural' man. Plato versus Homer indeed.

(1) https://archive.org/stream/LeoStrauss...

June 08 2016

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges sofarsoShawn gave 5 stars to Ficciones (Paperback) by Jorge Luis Borges
I came to reading Borges by way of Baudrillard, the reason should be self-evident (Exactitude in Science), but I suppose nothing really is, and any relation of "the how" would sound like a Borges tale in itself and we'd be back right where we started. But goddamn what a ride it is! Forking paths and revolutions like a tilt-a-whirl at the amusement park, where has Borges been all my life? Upon reading these circuitous locutions on fake books all the dubious meanders of history become resolved, everything awry gets set right and placed exactly in the place it should be placed, like the after-the-fact Lascaux caves. Stories of note:
1. Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
2. The Babylonian Lottery
3. Three Versions of Judas

May 24 2016

Collected Papers, Vol 2 by Sigmund Freud sofarsoShawn gave 5 stars to Collected Papers, Vol 2: Clinical Papers, Papers on technique (Hardcover) by Sigmund Freud
These are the papers which are the subject of Lacan's infamous first Seminar* and is actually how I came to read them. After this work up, how could I not?

"If we are under the impression that we are here to stand back in admiration of the Freudian texts and marvel at them, we will certainly be well satisfied. The freshness and vivacity of these papers is not surpassed by any of Freud’s other writings. At times his personality is revealed in them in so direct a manner that one cannot fail to remark it. The simplicity and frankness of tone are in and of themselves a kind of education."

I wasn't disappointed. Now after that interpolation on to the rest of the seminar.

*This isn't the particular edition of Freud's papers I read (full title of teh works: Zur Technik der Psychoanalyse und zur Metapsychologie // On the Technique of Psychoanalysis and Metapsychology). As it wasn't listed on GoodReads, I was in want of a place holder.
13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff sofarsoShawn gave 4 stars to 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi (Hardcover) by Mitchell Zuckoff
A thrilling read, yes - when the ambassador's compound is burning, but the GRS team is stuck at the annex because of a recalcitrant CIA boss - that movie trope of the stuck-up captain, "but this isn't procedure!" comes into into life. And a sad read... yes? Two ex-military GRS operators die, Tyrone 'Rone' Woods on his last mission and a father of two with one on the way, and everyone's best friend Glen 'Bub' Doherty. Reading this, I asked myself, is that how those towards the further end of left would respond? Is it sad? Or do they take a secret delight and find identification with the terrorists? When the towers came down did they react, "how dare they"? Or though some convolutions, searchingly found they did in fact deserve it?

I saw that one of the Bernie Bros (Irony Bros) bought a ticket to see this and I wonder what his response was. He's into MMA so he still has some of the brute about him; he's not a complete neuter like so much of the left. Leftists frevel in the destruction of traditional hierarchies, so what could be more left than cheering on the destruction of American military might? Did his sympathy lie with the dead Americans or more ambivalent, turned round into hate - the punishment wasn't enough - and, perhaps, more should have died?
New comment on sofarsoShawn's review of Ficciones
by Jorge Luis Borges

Jenny wrote: "Cool review, bruh. ;)"

haha thanks Jenny!

April 25 2016

Submission by Michel Houellebecq sofarsoShawn gave 5 stars to Submission (Hardcover) by Michel Houellebecq
What most struck me when finished this book was how sanguine Francois' whole transition was, from unconvinced atheist having banal internet hookups to Muslim polygamist. The political backdrop, France electing the Muslim Brotherhood to power, was secondary, but hung like a shadow to Francois. There was barely a struggle, both politically and personally, French Socialists and the UMP aligning like they so often do to stop Marine Le Pen in the presidential run-off and Francois convinced of the own emptiness of his life (and the Republic), converting to Islam as a career move, and further enticed by the prospect of his own connubial teenager. Though the Jews go through a sort of soft expulsion, or make Aliyah, as they say - thank G_d for that Jewish state - the benign ease in which it all happens is terrifying; because why not? The Socialists have already capitulated, it cannot survive without the support of the Muslim vote, the UMP is bleeding support to the benefit of Le Pen, and the atheist humanism of the secular West is an empty vessel crying to be filled. So why not Islam? This is the terrifying trajectory Houellebecq sets out in Submission.
Simulations by Jean Baudrillard sofarsoShawn gave 4 stars to Simulations (Hardcover) by Jean Baudrillard
"Simulations" is the precursor to "Simulacra and Simulations" and you can tell it is much less established as a written work. There are some forays into the post-modernism which are hard to swallow, like his explanation of the duality of why there was two WTC towers: something to do with a binary system of logic - yeah I know. However, because Baudrillard's theory on the procession of simulacra is his preeminent hypothesis on dealing with reality/hyperreality this precursor to "S &S" may be minuscule, but also substantial book for its understanding.

April 04 2016

Human, All Too Human by Friedrich Nietzsche sofarsoShawn gave 4 stars to Human, All Too Human (paperback) by Friedrich Nietzsche
I'm find it a little strange nowadays to finish a book without some sort of ceremony... A Goodreads paragraph or two should do it :) Thus:

So MANY aphorisms! My preference is weighted: Volume I, as I found it much more enjoyable, you could tell what period of life Nietzsche wrote. Volume II also pretty good but so many aphorisms started to drag, by The Wanderer and His Shadow I was dying for a complete book. By their nature, I found the litany of aphorisms jarring; because they can each potentially contain holistically different ideas, you have to gain your bearings for each one. Volume I I found the most cohesive, which may have been why I liked it the most. From the outset he takes a strange (for the authour) and disappointing swerve towards science and the men of theory; strange and disappointing because I like my Nietzsche when he's at his most "irrational".

June 10 2015


November 12 2014

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Hellenistic Gold Griffin Pendant, c. 3rd-1st Century BC

The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.The lion is traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of the birds. The griffin, a combination of those two animals was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. In antiquity, the griffin was a symbol of divine power.

Originally, this gold griffin applique would be attached to a cloth through the three openings on its base. A suspension ring and a bail were recently attached to make the griffin a wearable pendant.

The hollow gold griffin is made from two die-stamped halves soldered together. The collar and tail are made of applied gold beads. The lower part of the body is decorated with two granulation clusters. Two ribbed gold pendants are hanging from the griffin’s beak.

November 10 2014

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Animated Alphabet

This exploratory alphabet is by Parisian designer, Louis Mallart.

While he stresses the experimental nature of the work, it definitely stands up with some other well executed animated type examples that I’ve posted about recenlty, here and here.

November 04 2014

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Electrum Hekte from Mytilene, Lesbos, c. 375-326 BC

This is the finest of only 4 known examples of this coin. It shows a female head facing right, her hair bound up with ribbons and on the reverse is a Panathenaic amphora with a pointed lid, a filleted palm branch to left; all within a linear frame.

The Panathenaic amphora is so named on account of its being given as a prize to victors at the Panathenaic Games held every four years at Athens. The amphora would have been filled with oil from the sacred olive groves in Attica, and its design is perhaps the best example of a vase shape made to serve an official function. The presence of a palm branch with a fillet tied around it to the left of the amphora further confirms that this is indeed a victor’s prize amphora. Each Panathenaic amphora was made according to a standardized shape and capacity of one metretes (approximately 42 quarts), and was decorated in black-figure technique. The principle decoration is always found in the panels of the body of the amphora, with an armed Athena typically on the front and an illustration of the featured competition on the back. (example)

Ancient Mytilene (map) is on Lesbos, a Greek island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea. It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait. The city was famous for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid-4th centuries BC. According to Homer, Mytilene has been an organized city since 1054 BC.

November 03 2014

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Jean-Siméon Chardin was listening impatiently to another artist, whose work was distinguished by mere technical facility, go on about the craft of mixing colors.

“So you say one paints with colors?,” asked Chardin impatiently.

"With what else then?" replied the other artist, taken aback.

"One uses colors,” retorted Chardin, “but one paints with feelings.”

—Larousse, Dictionnaire de la peinture

Still Life with Fish, Vegetables, Gougères, Pots, and Cruets on a Table (1769), Still Life with Peaches, a Silver Goblet, Grapes, and Walnuts (about 1759–60), The J. Paul Getty Museum

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November 01 2014

Suppose that a person writes what she must. That is only the first step of becoming a writer. The work must survive the moment of creation. It must get out to an audience. She or he must dare to show the work. She must risk ridicule, misunderstanding, scandal, condemnation, & what’s often worse, none of the above: silence. No attention at all.
— Marge Piercy (via writingquotes)

October 31 2014

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Satan and his skeleton minions enjoying the afterlife.

Playfully staged, the series seems purely humorous—until you learn when and why they were made. These skeletons’ rowdy antics were a clever form of political satire.

—Curator Mazie Harris on Skeletons Carousing in Hell

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Great Grey Shrike - Lanius excubitor

"Sentinel Butcher"

Shrikes are Passerines (the “songbirds”, or perching birds), but are far from the pretty little finches and industrious sparrows most people associate with their order.

Their scientific name, Lanius excubitor, the “sentinel butcher”, comes from the “sentinel” (lookout) behaviors that this species is known for. Well, that’s where the “sentinel” part comes from. The “butcher” part…well, that’s another matter. These birds impale their prey on thorny bushes (and barbed-wire fences).

The vernacular names for these birds are just as colorful; the direct translations of “strangling angel”, "choking bird”, “greater butcher-bird”, and “murdering [mag]pie" show how well-known this little bird was for its shriek and butchery. 

While this method of butchery is quite effective for killing everything from large insects to lizards, mice, and young ermines, it also serves as a handy way to “age” some of their more toxic food sources. When exposed to the sun and heat for several days, the toxins in big, fat, nutritious beetles are neutralized. The habit of aging or storing uneaten prey gave the Great Grey Shrike its German vernacular name: Neuntöter - killer of nine”.

Curiously, this is one of the few passerines that currently does not have any cuckoo (Cuculus spp.) that’s able to parasitize their nest sites. Until the mid-1970s, there were several populations that were affected by brood parasites, but in the late 1970s, they appear to have out-evolved the cuckoos, at least for the time being.

Natural History of the Birds of Central Europe. Johann Frederich Naumann, 1905.

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Cursed Ancient Statue: The Goddess of Death, c. 3500 BC

This curious limestone statue was unearthed at Lemb (Lempa), Cyprus in 1878. It has earned the nickname ‘Goddess of Death’ but its actual name is the ‘Women from Lemb’. Dating from 3500 BC, its real purpose is unknown but it may have been a fertility statue or a representation of a goddess whose name has been lost to time. This little innocuous looking statue has become famous for the deadly effect it has had on each of its owners.

The statue has belonged to at least four different families and each one has suffered a great amount of tragedy after acquiring the piece. Lord Elphont was the first owner. Within six years of buying the statue, all seven of his family members passed away. The second owner, Ivor Menucci and his whole family died within four years of attaining the statue. The third owner, Lord Thompson-Noel,  suffered the death of his whole family also within 4 years. The statue eventually ended up the as property of Sir Alan Biverbrook and he, his wife, and their two daughters were the next to die.

To try and stop the curse from harming anyone else, Biverbrook’s two surviving sons donated the statue to the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. After that, the the museum curator who handled the statue died within a year. Today, the Women from Lemb statue remains tucked away safely behind glass at the museum where it can’t cause any more harm…hopefully.

The village of Lempa (map) is one of the most ancient in Cyprus. It is believed to have been first settled in the Chalcolithic Period (c. 3800–2500 BC), and a number of cruciform female figurines like this one, have been found from this era.

October 30 2014

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Halloween (1978)

Directed by John Carpenter

October 27 2014

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The Unsettling Sculptures of Tristan Schane

”I was born in New York City in 1968 where I grew up and have spent nearly my entire life. I have been a full time professional artist since I was 18 years old.
My art career began when I was in my teens doing professional comic book illustration. Soon I was doing work for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, First Comics, and Continuity Comics. Then my work turned toward fully painted illustrations in watercolor, gouache, acrylics, and oils. I produced paintings for promotional art, covers, posters, and various comic books and horror-related published merchandise for these companies as well as Eclipse Publishing and horror writer Clive Barker. In this industry it was necessary to be adept at painting almost anything and everything, from the most imaginative and fantastic to the very prosaic: from landscapes and cityscapes to people, animals, monsters, weird settings, vehicles and machinery of all kinds.
I have shifted from illustration work to the pursuit of my own imagery and vision in fine art. I paint now exclusively in oils in medium-to-large format. Since 1998 I also began to produce life-size sculpture, working free-hand in oil clay and then casting from rubber molds in various materials, principally Ultracal gypsum cement and plastic resins.

Tristan’s Site seems to be down http://www.tristanschane.com/

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