Friday, August 18, 2017

A Floral Fantasy

Featured on East of the Sun, West of the Moon: A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden, Illustrated by Walter Crane, 1899. Available to read online for free


Next: Banning Our Founding Fathers?

From The Federalist Papers:
This is an incredibly slippery slope. All of America’s Founding Fathers were imperfect men. Most were slave-owners, and I have no doubt others were genuine scoundrels. But we owe them a debt of gratitude no matter what sins they may have committed. As Jay Cost writes: “If I contract somebody to paint my house, and I find out later that he is an adulterer, does that excuse me from paying what I owe? Of course not. By the same token, my debt for the painting does not oblige me to act as though he did not wrong his spouse.”
So it goes with the Founders who owned slaves: We should appreciate them for their endeavors, for our lives are manifestly better because of their struggles, but honoring them does not require us to ignore or excuse their errors. Madison’s home Montpelier, for example, just opened an exhibition, “The Mere Distinction of Colour,” exploring slavery at the plantation.
Wiping out America’s history because there are parts of it that are unsettling or unappealing is a leftist way of trying to re-write what this country was founded upon. If you can depict America’s founders as malevolent, evil men, you can paint the entire nation that way. (Read more.)

Elimination of the "Unfit"

From Herman Cain:
You want to denounce Nazis? Here you go, America. Don't tell me again about the moral imperative to denounce Nazis if you're going to let this slide. As Rob mentioned to me when we were discussing who would write this up, the essence of Hitler's eugenics program was to filter out children who didn't have the traits deemed optimal for the Aryan race. Horrifying? Obviously. You'd have a fit if they started aborting babies for having brown skin, or - if there was some way you could tell - for being gay.

And you should have that fit.

But you don't need to wait. You can have the fit right now, because Iceland is well down this road. There, expectant mothers are given blood tests to determine if there's a likelihood their baby will have Down Syndrome. And if it looks that way? Well, the mothers are informed that most abort under these circumstances. No one wants a child who doesn't have the perfect designer genes, you understand, so Iceland is now to the point where almost 100 percent of mothers who are told their babies will probably have Down Syndrome go ahead and have said babies killed. (Read more.)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bouquet of Flowers in an Urn

From your friendly neighborhood art historian:
Today’s artwork is Jan van Huysum’s Bouquet of Flowers in an Urn, which was painted in 1724. This clever composition juxtaposes a variety of flowers, all of which appear to be in full bloom, with a number of insects such as different kinds of butterflies and ants.

Although the composition looks as if the flowers were placed aimlessly in a bouquet, in reality they weren’t. In fact, the different kinds of flowers shown here, normally bloom in different seasons throughout the year. Thus, it would have been impossible for Van Huysum to have painted this work in one go. Rather, each flower was painted as it became available, arranged within the composition according to the artist’s wishes.

Jan van Huysum’s interest in nature is evident here. Flower painters often had an interest in botanical studies and would spend hours upon hours studying, classifying and drawing each individual flower. Look at this detail! (Read more.)

A Warning from Cardinal Burke

From Life Site:
To treat every word uttered by the Pope as if it were official Church teaching would be to fall into an “idolatry of the papacy,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke in a recent address at a Catholic conference in Kentucky.  The Cardinal, who spoke at the July 22 “Church Teaches Forum” in Louisville, said that Catholics seeking to remain true to Christ and the Church he founded must learn to discern between the “words of the man who is Pope and the words of the Pope as Vicar of Christ on earth.”

“Pope Francis has chosen to speak often in his first body, the body of the man who is Pope. In fact, even in documents which, in the past, have represented more solemn teaching, he states clearly that he is not offering magisterial teaching but his own thinking,” the Cardinal said. “But those who are accustomed to a different manner of Papal speaking want to make his every statement somehow part of the Magisterium. To do so is contrary to reason and to what the Church has always understood,” he continued. 

“It is simply wrong and harmful to the Church to receive every declaration of the Holy Father as an expression of papal teaching or magisterium,” he added. (Read more.)

"My lot walked, my lot starved"

From The Guardian:
The teenage McGann, who would grow up to play Dr Turner in Call the Midwife, was immediately overcome with what he describes as a “weird passion” for genealogy. He solemnly promised his ancestors he would find out more about the history of the McGanns.

Fast-forward 37 years and we are discussing Flesh and Blood, the 300-odd page book that finally fulfils that solemn promise. In it, McGann, who at 54 is the youngest of the four McGann actor brothers, looks back at the history of his family through the lens of seven maladies: hunger, pestilence, exposure, trauma, breathlessness, heart problems and necrosis. He discusses how health and education – or a lack of them – have driven medical progress and social change in Britain, and how these changes have dramatically altered the fortunes of the McGanns.

“My family’s story is intimately related to the progress of this nation, because of the relationship between social history, public health and physical medical health. Until the welfare state, my family subsisted. After the welfare state, they thrived. I feel, in my family, the burden of the legacy of history very keenly.”

McGann, who has an MA in science communications, explains that genealogy is detective work: “You see these wonderful antiquated Latin terms on death certificates and very quickly realise that to understand the cause of death, you have to understand those medical terms in their wider sense. The purpose of genealogy – to gain self-knowledge, to answer questions like who am I? Where do I come from? – has to expand to embrace what a particular medical term means in that time, in that place, right there. I focus on health as an antagonist in the book because that’s the beat that drives the central characters on.” (Read more.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Voynich Manuscript

Recently, I found an interesting site on the mysterious Voynich manuscript, which I have blogged on before. (Via PrWeb.) It is the theory of one scholar that the medieval manuscript, written in an unknown language or code, was the work of the surviving Cathars, who he believes had managed to escape to South America (like the Nazis). The drawings of the plants and animals certainly resemble those which can still be found in South America. Why many of the inhabitants are shown as naked white women with blond curly hair is a yet unsolved question. Also, the Cathars despised the traditional Christian cross and would never have drawn one. It is, however, a fascinating theory. The castle depicted does possibly resemble Montségur, the castle in the South of France where the Cathars made their last stand. According to the Voynich Manuscript site:
 Note those frontal defenses known as M-shaped merlons. Such merlons have been found on castles in northern Italy. I checked them out myself: only two of them predate the fall of Montségur in 1244, but at one point or another those castles were destroyed and rebuilt or construction was expanded later on. In brief, so far, I have found no proof that any Italian M-shaped merlon predates the fall of Montségur.
The Cathars lived in both southern France and northern Italy. Catharism in France came to an abrupt end in the 13th century but continued to live on in northern Italy until the early 14th century. I suspect that the Italian Cathars introduced the M-shaped merlons into Italy in remembrance of those who died at Montségur. (Read more.)
A sunflower

The Rise of the Violent Left

From The Atlantic:
Antifa traces its roots to the 1920s and ’30s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. When fascism withered after World War II, antifa did too. But in the ’70s and ’80s, neo-Nazi skinheads began to infiltrate Britain’s punk scene. After the Berlin Wall fell, neo-Nazism also gained prominence in Germany. In response, a cadre of young leftists, including many anarchists and punk fans, revived the tradition of street-level antifascism.In the late ’80s, left-wing punk fans in the United States began following suit, though they initially called their groups Anti-Racist Action, on the theory that Americans would be more familiar with fighting racism than fascism. According to Mark Bray, the author of the forthcoming Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, these activists toured with popular alternative bands in the ’90s, trying to ensure that neo-Nazis did not recruit their fans. In 2002, they disrupted a speech by the head of the World Church of the Creator, a white-supremacist group in Pennsylvania; 25 people were arrested in the resulting brawl.

By the 2000s, as the internet facilitated more transatlantic dialogue, some American activists had adopted the name antifa. But even on the militant left, the movement didn’t occupy the spotlight. To most left-wing activists during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama years, deregulated global capitalism seemed like a greater threat than fascism.

Trump has changed that. For antifa, the result has been explosive growth. According to NYC Antifa, the group’s Twitter following nearly quadrupled in the first three weeks of January alone. (By summer, it exceeded 15,000.) Trump’s rise has also bred a new sympathy for antifa among some on the mainstream left. “Suddenly,” noted the antifa-aligned journal It’s Going Down, “anarchists and antifa, who have been demonized and sidelined by the wider Left have been hearing from liberals and Leftists, ‘you’ve been right all along.’ ” An article in The Nation argued that “to call Trumpism fascist” is to realize that it is “not well combated or contained by standard liberal appeals to reason.” The radical left, it said, offers “practical and serious responses in this political moment.” (Read more.)
More from The Atlantic, on an old film:
When it first debuted, Don’t Be a Sucker would have played in movie theaters. Now it has made its 21st-century premiere thanks to a network of smaller screens and the Internet Archive, where it is available in full. Almost 75 years after it was first shown, Don’t Be a Sucker lives again as a public object in a new and strange context. (Read more.)