Sunday, April 24, 2005

Golden tears from trees


What became of the Amber Room? Among the art treasures of Europe stolen by the Nazis in their conquest of the continent during World War 2, the Amber Room’s fate is most mysterious. Some believe that it was permanently lost in a fire at the end of the war, and some believe that it is waiting to be discovered.

But the Russians haven’t waited and are currently nearing the end of their restoration work at the Catherine Palace. Golden memories indeed. Via MetaFilter.

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Big cock metaphor of the week

That is one big gun. And that’s another. The largest big cock symbols ever, courtesy of Adolf Hitler.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mini-rail Torpedo

This is a guy who's very talented in House Gymnastics, an exciting new sport involving a house, its fixtures and fittings, and personal defiance of gravity. Great stuff. Found at the excellent Tofu Hut.

Monday, April 18, 2005

That's a hell of a lot of Cardinals


And so it begins. By night they will be locked in a modern Cardinals-only hotel in the Vatican; by day they will be locked in the sublime Sistine Chapel. They won’t move freely again until they have elected one of their own to the Papacy. The Catholic Church is the Catholic Church, and as such I guess it has to have a Pope. And as such, I guess it has to be one of a number of aged, religious men. Yes, maybe it’s because I’m in my twenties and gay and don’t like religion that I find this so disturbing, but the fact that the current favourites for the post are all conservatives of an ultra-conservative church worries me no end. See the previous post on this issue earlier this month.

Getting to more wholesome things, Jonathan emerges from a blog hiatus to write dreamily about art, life and feeling sorry for oneself. He muses on the elegant notion that “people who think art and depression go hand in hand are dead wrong. Dead as in metaphorically, not dead as in Vincent van Gogh rotting in his suicidal grave.”

I reckon that’s accurate enough. For, with only some notable exceptions in hundreds upon hundreds of years of art, depression is to the production of art what pasteurised milk is to the production of Camembert: it produces an unsavoury mess at best, and a squalid, forced little diarrhoeaic accident at worst.

I know because I’ve been there. And other writers, and musicians, and sculptors and I daresay even pop artists have, too. It’s a dark, misaligned place filled with distorted misunderstandings and self-righteous beliefs in the unique shittiness of your own situation.

One of the things I’ve learned in well over 10 years of more-or-less serious art appreciation is that if the artist didn’t have at least one clear, unwarped idea at the heart of a piece of work, the observer won’t get a clear idea of what the hell (s)he was on about at the end of it. But feeling disillusioned or bitter or grumpy as hell about something: oh yes. Now that can produce satisfying art. You only have to look at Bacon or Larkin or, dare I say it, Damien Rice, to see that.

And irony? Oh yes. During their deliberations, the Cardinals may care to gaze up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, jewel of the home of the Roman Catholic Church on earth, to see perfect, erotic, lustfully rendered male figures of God and the Saints — all painted by one of the greatest male artists Christendom has ever known.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

No electricity. Fighting, hunger and death?

This article scares the shit out of me:

These are daunting and even dreadful prospects. The Long Emergency is going to be a tremendous trauma for the human race. We will not believe that this is happening to us, that 200 years of modernity can be brought to its knees by a world?wide power shortage. The survivors will have to cultivate a religion of hope ? that is, a deep and comprehensive belief that humanity is worth carrying on.

Yes, the article really scares the shit out of me. So much will go to wrack and ruin, seriously. Let’s see, things I take for granted: the ability to go hear organ recitals in a concert hall. Concert halls will have closed ? and / or have been swept aside for farmland where possible. The ability to use my bank cards in a cash machine. What cash machine? Listen to music? On / through / with what, exactly? Surf the net? What net?

*whimpers, thinks of buying cyanide capsules just in case*

But actually, since stuff I care about like arts and culture and sciences and things will go on, I’m encouraged: think of how much printing will cost, think of the return to hot metal, even just think of how amazing books are going to be when writers must be carefully chosen again and today’s designers learn about actual metal typesetting. But jesus, everything will be so scary. Think of medicine without electrically?mass?produced medicines and therapies, for example.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pope still dead

His last word was “Rosebud”, but he was probably talking about his first altar boy.
notmydesk, MetaFilter

In a shocking new development, it recently emerged from the Vatican that Pope John Paul II, who died a few hours ago, is still dead.

Heh, look, sorry for that. I feel a sense of great occasion about this death in particular, as I’m sure many others do, religious or not. However, I think a lot of it is overblown and I cannot bring myself to feel sad. I didn’t know the man, and I have my own (on balance, negative) opinions about how the Catholic Church he led influences individuals and the world.

Which is why I can’t help feeling that all the crying and so on is rather… misplaced somehow; this is one old man, an 86–year–old virgin, who has died, not a whole town or villageful of people during a war. Undoubtedly the person of the Pope — that is, the Papal office — has ceased to exist for a while, and that is why many Catholics and others will feel disturbed and rootless.

The arcane and purposeful procedures now to be set in place, however, will soon set people’s emotions to rights. I’ve always been interested in what happens when a Pope or someone equally important dies: to meditate for a second, it’s just very interesting to see loads of homo sapiens clustering round a more important homo sapiens in its life or after its death, to see what happens…

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