Instead of ushering in 2008 with a peevish list of "things I can do without", I'll leave 2007 with a couple of musical finds:

Ross & Laura

look: he, Paul Giamatti-ish and endearing, she, cute.
sound: Charming, low-fi pop noodlings. I cant stop thinking about "where did i meet u."
found: entertainment at local cynosure's
enchanting party...

Vampire Weekend
Love the name
look: white boys
sound: low-fi hipster afro-beat? Neo garage Paul Simon?
found: the dazzlingly erudite and eclectic Northern stylings of Finn at mavo


Highlights from the Collection (part 6)

Postcards of questionable merit. (Not to be confused with a previous Highlight of generic landscape postcards.)
Of course I'm being completely disingenuous– each of these has its own rare charm, and merits closer inspection...

At top, a View of the Electrification on the N. & W. RY., Bluefield, W. VA. Stupefyingly dull and suffering from too many needless abbreviations, this postcard could prompt snide comments about West Virginia.

U.S.O. Building, Lawton, Okla. The USO (United Service Organizations) is cemented in my mind with brief film clips of Bob Hope entertaining the troops but evidently USO clubs and community centers were the GI's "Home away from Home" and quite cherished. I'm impressed with this card's fine artistic tinting, which expertly enlivens the row of cars at front. Note that most of the cars are of the bulbous ca. late-1940s vintage except for one model T and a woody station wagon. Also note the wonderful, slightly Bauhuasian lines of the building.

Lower Manhattan Skyline, New York City. Color Photo by Milt Price It is the genius of Milt Price that he can take the dynamic New York skyline and render it a grey, static backdrop for shipping containers. On the reverse is a tourist slogan I'd never heard before: Visit New York– The Wonder City. The scalloped edge, a vestigial throw-back to older photographic prints, is particularly nice. [Does anyone know why the scallop edge photograph came about and why it ended? It's still so iconic that evidently there are products out there to mimic it on your own photos.]

Gordon's Crab & Oyster House /America's Largest Crab Steaming Plant/ One Whole Block/ Baltimore Md.
This is my favorite card– where to begin? The surreal purgatorial limbo this building seems to inhabit is fascinating. It also appears amazingly small for the Largest Crab Steaming Plant in America, no? It is possible, I suppose, that the place is One Whole Block deep and about 12 feet wide. The building (and sidewalk) teeters downward to the left but is shored up with a sprightly yellow band at bottom, which appears to be what is called "artistic license."
One would think, artistically speaking, it might have been nice to highlight the logo of the restaurant rather than covering it over in the same "wood tint" of the facade, but one would be wrong. Finally, the outrageously miniaturized evergreens grandly flanking the entrance are superb.


greetings from Pink Bemis

"and many of 'em

Perhaps you remember
a little song that goes
something like this–

Pink Bemis"

Letterpress card, c. 1930s. A little Googling tells us that Pink was Cornell, Class of 1909.


American nervousness

If the Eskimos, as the old saw goes, have a hundred words for "snow," I must have nearly as many for "tired." I'm weary, enervated, blah. So it was no coincidence that I finally got around to reading American Nervousness 1903 which had been stalled in my mental books-to-read cue for quite a while. An exploration of neurasthenia, an affliction that took on epidemic proportions at the end of the 19th and turn of the 20th centuries, the book inspired my visual collection of ennui, above.

Neurasthenia was a nebulous mental and physical diagnosis that covered a lot of territory from hysteria, anhedonia, and "brain collapse" to premature baldness, fatigue and hot flashes. There was a whole constellation of debilitating symptoms for which fainting couches, air baths, nerve tonics, electric trusses and the like purported to relieve. The concept of nerve disease was introduced as a medical condition in 1869 but became more prevalent as the 19th century drew to a close. George M Beard published one of first full-length studies of neurasthenia in 1881 and called it “American Nervousness.” He and other neurologists of the time developed theories of health and disease which were based on folk beliefs of bodily energy, and were expressed 'economic' terms.
“The idea of “dissipation” thus is based on a notion of dispersed rather then directed nerve force, spent without any possible return on the investment. Dissipation eventually led to “decadence,” the death and decay of nerve centers in the individual, and the death and decay of civilization at the social level.” The end result of processes of dissipation, or of any unwise nervous investment, was disease.
Conversely if patients were sensitive and refined enough to begin with, neurasthenia could be brought on by simple exposure to the hectic pace and excessive stimuli of modern life. Paradoxically, the disease could thus be a sign of moral laxity–or extreme moral sensitivity. It was seen as a particularly American syndrome, made manifest in this country as it roared into the 20th century-- straining at the continental frontiers, overrun by waves of immigration, stretched by imperialist expansion and bristling with industrial might. But certainly any thinking man (or woman) of the Mauve Decade could be struck by taedium vitae or acedie. I always saw it as the purview of European aristocratic families in decline, or Europeans anyway– from the relative vigor of Wilde's jaded drawing room wits, through Huysmans' languid decadents, to Egon Scheile's stricken husks...

Some saw it as practically the natural given state for women. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's famous short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, portrays the worsening mental state of the narrator as she endures the "rest cure," enforced inactivity and seclusion based on real-life prescriptions of the well-known 19th century physician, S. Weir Mitchell. Gilman theorized that a proscribed daily existence made women feel their own backwardness–cramped and useless. "Confined to the home," Gilman says, "she begins to fill and overfill it with the effort of individual expression... and overfilling the house, like the overspending of energy is unhealthy." Hmmm. Interior decorating as neurotic displacement...

Next up in my mental book cue:
the intriguingly titled "Philosophy of Disenchantment" by decadent wit and aesthete, Edgar Saltus.

Images: Ennui, 1914 Walter Sickert; The Lute, 1903 Thomas Wilmer Dewing; CMS Reading by Gaslight, 1879 William Stott; Woman in Plaid Shawl, 1872 Susan MacDowell Eakins; Yellow Scale, 1907 František Kupka; Tree of Nervous Illness, 1881 George Beard.


"the confidant of my thoughts"

I just finished a book on neurasthenia, that wonderfully evocative nervous disorder of tremulous aesthetes, profligates, and women (more next post), and decided to peruse some first-hand accounts. I started rereading the Goncourt Journals. The brothers Goncourt, Edmond (1822–96) and Jules (1830–70), lived together, wrote essays, plays and novels together (though little of that made it into the 20th let alone the 21st century) and, most notably, kept a journal together. Part of the Parisian Bohemian literary set, the brothers– sensitive, rarefied, and ultimately, rather spinsterish–recorded comings and goings with their friends (May 11, 1859– A ring at the door. It was Flaubert...), their insecurities about fame and the lack thereof, and most deliciously, a running social commentary (January 2, 1867– Dined at the princess's with Gautier, Feuillet and Amedee Achard, a wilted man of fashion, a mind without emphasis... the archetype of nonentity).

The brothers began their journal on what was to have been a momentous occasion–the publication of their novel. Unfortunately, day of all days, Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, called Napoleon III, chose that December 2nd to seize power and make himself dictator of France. The boys were positively apoplectic with annoyance:
In swept our cousin Blamount... full of asthma and peevishness. "By God," he panted; "It's done!"
"What? What's done?"
"The coup d'etat!"
"The Devil you say! And they're bringing out our novel today!"
The journal is filled with breathtakingly misogynistic pronouncements, pithy characterizations of social grandees, much self pity and hand-wringing, hilariously astute asides, and gluckschmerz. Sort of like Lord Whimsy meets Gawker.

A random sampling:

no date 1856—These past day a vague melancholy, discouragement, indolence, lethargy of mind and body. Feeling more than ever this despondency of my return [from Italy], which is like some great disappointment. We come back to find out life stagnating just where it was... I am bored by the few monotonous and repeatedly scrutinized ideas that trot back and forth through my head.And other people to whom I looked forward in the expectancy of entertainment, bore me as much as myself....Nothing has happened to them either; they have simply gone on existing... No one has even died amongst the people I know I am not actually unhappy: it is something worse than that.

April 24, 1858—Between the chocolate soufflé and the chartreuse Maria loosened her corsets and began the story of her life.

May 27, 1858–... After so many skinny graces, so many sad little faces, careworn and with the clouds of eviction on their foreheads, forever scheming to gouge something out of you... after all these shopworn gabbling creatures, these squawking parakeets with there miserable slang picked up in workshops and in the clattering cafes...what a satisfaction lies in Maria's peasant health... in her peasant speech, her strength... the heart that is evident in her with its lack of breeding...as if I've found myself eating simple and solid food in a farmhouse after a vile dinner in a filthy pothouse.

March 3 1864—At a ball, at Michelet's, the ladies were costumed as the oppressed nations– Poland Hungary, Venice, and so on. It was like watching the future revolutions of Europe dance.

December 14, 1868—Our admirer Zola came to lunch today... He talked about how hard his life was...He wants to do"big things" and not "those squalid, ignoble articles I have to write for the Tribune for people whose idiotic opinions I am forced to take..."

The brothers themselves noted that they attempted to sketch from nature, to "record those swiftly passing moments of emotion in which personality reveals itself." Their mission: to observe and document "le vrai." They could find meaning– divine character– in the ephemeral, telling, details of the day-to-day. Describing the journals in an author's preface Edmond announces, "... this work hastily set down on paper and sometimes not reread, the reader will find our syntax of the moment and our occasional passportless word, just as they came to us."

Never having been separated for much more than a day (30 hours to be exact) in their entire lives, their intense bond was broken only when Jules died of syphilis. Edmond considered the journals over at that point. However, before long he was compelled to continue (for 26 more years in fact) and decribed the diaries as "the confidant of my thoughts."

My copy of the Goncourt journals, Doubleday 1958, cover by Phillipe Jullian, typography by Edward Gorey.
Photograph of the brothers by Nadar, c mid-1860s.

This English edition, originally published 1937, is, unfortunately, quite abridged ("[this volume] translates the most informing and agreeable passages... the reader has been spared most of the pages where they bemoaned their lot or recorded their ills.") although the translation itself seems superb.


How Did I Get Here (part 2)

I transcribe verbatim
Google searches that have led people to this blog,
as found on our sitemeter:

Andy Warhol peach slices

morgue slab
sentimental christmas card phrases
naked negresses
impalement eyewitness
rowdy Roman youths
printers aprons
empty Times Square
how a book impressed me
street scenes gossamer
what is olfactory
pictures of inbred people
Every now and then I find people have used Google like some kind of oracle.
My favorite example thus far: "what did Karl Blossfeldt do as a child"

• • • • || • • • • || • • • • || • • • •

Poetics of
The Beaufort Wind Scale
(an empirical measure for describing wind velocity, developed in 1805
by Sir Francis Beaufort)
with a nod to Matthew Weingarden
nb: there are many variations in the force descriptions;
I am taking these from several different sources

Sea like a mirror.
Small wavelets, crests glassy,
no breaking
Wind felt on face, leaves rustle
Flags extended
Small waves becoming longer, frequent white horses.
Dust, leaves, and loose paper
Small trees in leaf begin to sway
whistling in telegraph wires, umbrellas are difficult to control.
Wave crests topple,
and roll over.
chimney pots and slates removed. Surface generally white.
Widespread damage.
Widespread damage.

• • • • || • • • • || • • • • || • • • •

A tantalizing roster of "psychometrics"
available on the Educational Testing Service web site.
Unfortunately these are accessible only with payment.

Achenbach Lewis Symptom Checklist

Alienation Scale

Awareness of Consequences Scale

Barratt Impulsiveness Scale

Daydreaming Inventory for Married Women

Fetler Self Rating Test

Illinois Index of Self Derogation (Form 3)
Kit of Selected Distraction Tests
Lemire Androgyny Scale

Moral Orientation Device
Rydell-Rosen Ambiguity Tolerance Scale

Self Actualizing Tendencies Test

Style of Mind Inventory Trait Value and Belief Patterns in Greek Roman
and Hebrew Perspectives

Ways of Looking at People Scale

image: kiddie ride, Brooklyn, 2005


a few words about the Haughwout Building

I've always liked the Haughwout Building. I remember in the early '90s when it was ghostly and blackened and the clock face stood out sharply; I had sort of liked it that way. The original color of the building, as described in a contemporary account, was "Turkish drab" though now its a brilliant warm ecru. Today I went and took a few photos.

The store, numbers 488-492 Broadway, was built at the corner of Broome Street in 1856 for retailer Eder Vreeland Haughwout (evidently pronouned "HOW-out"). It was designed by John Plant Gaynor, who was inspired by the Sansovino Library in Venice, although if I'd read he'd been inspired by French pastry I would believe that, too. The facade,
one of two of the earliest surviving examples of cast iron architecture, is constructed from components fabricated by Daniel Badger's Architectural Iron Works and it is completely self-supporting. With 5 floors above ground, and 2 below, the building featured the first safely viable passenger elevator, by Otis. The elevator has long since been removed.

Like many of the retail "palaces" lining Broadway in the 19th century the store not only displayed and sold luxury items, it manufactured them as well. Haughwout's offered silver, antiques, bronzes, Parian statuettes and other goods on the main floor, glass, mirrors and china on the second , chandeliers on the third. Upper floors housed part of the manufactory with scores of women gilding and painting china, and men working on metalware. According to this site, Mary Todd Lincoln shopped at Haughwout's in 1861 and bought a set of custom china for the White House– an American eagle surrounded by a wide mauve border.

Saved from the path of Robert Moses' Lower Manhattan Expressway nightmare, the building was landmarked (surprising early) in 1965.

Top two illustrations from
Art and the Empire City, New York 1825-1861, Yale University Press and Metropolitan Museum; b/w images from Tom Fletcher's NYC architecture


the joy for things

I've been bogged down. I've been thinking about what it is, exactly, I want to say about collecting. Rather, about living with, and amongst, clutter, stuff, things. Historically, I have not been a collector so much as a diffuse acquirer– flea market paintings? of course, 19th century paper ephemera?, yes! pottery? green please, antique shoe lasts, why not, mysterious wooden tools, pieces of bone and horn, hotel silver... and on and on. Each item, at time of purchase or discovery, feeling like an imperative. Each item inspiring a sense, too, of self-important grandiosity: This must come home with someone who understands the significance! someone who appreciates the singular peculiarity! This, this, is the possession of someone who rejects decor from a catalog!

Yet lately I've had to confront increasingly ambivalent feelings about these acquisitions and my life amongst them. What do these things say about me? What does it mean to live in... a display?

Meanwhile, I had a wonderful visit from my friend Robert, collage artist, Master Printer at Bowne & Co., and quasi-magical personage (that's R, above, who came calling armed with scissors, a bone folder and a large bag). "Oh, your apartment! It's like a Joseph Cornell box!" he exclaimed and part of me was overjoyed. Robert, I should explain, is the King of Things. He has a hidden studio in the West Village where he works, amidst piles of oddments, on his collages. A stop there, as described in a previous post:

A highlight of the evening was a chance to see Robert Warner's basement workshop in the Village. Though there was a little hesitation on his part-- too many people? delicate sensibilities likely to be offended? embarrassing things left in view? rat poison? -- we prevailed. Down the stairs, through a door, along a narrow dilapidated corridor, right, through another door, out into a small rear courtyard and to the left, by the wooden stairs. We all crowded into the workshop past jars of lamp black and springs, boxes marked "marbles" or "better photographs", piles of papers, Howdy Doody heads, books, toy eyeglasses, drawers open and quietly exploding, and an ample sprinkling of glitter.
During his visit with me Robert extracted from his bag, one by one, some of his recent works-in-progress and we proceeded to discuss:
"Oh, chandelier crystals?"
"Yes, glitter is perfect there."
"Perhaps a postcard, instead?"
"I'm not sure about Myopia"
He pointed to virtually every detail of my apartment, obvious and not so, that had thrilled me when back I first saw it (way too many) years ago. He picked out, without prompt, each of the prized objets that I had framed, hung, piled, leaned or fussed over. Then he brought out a box for me filled with antique bits, collage pieces and inspiration. Right then, and for a while after, I felt an unequivocal joy for things.


now and then

Devotion to the past [is] one of the more disastrous forms of unrequited love.
Susan Sontag "Unguided Tour," quoted in The Past is a Foreign Country David Lowenthal

I was rereading an article from the April 16th New Yorker about an Amazonian tribe living in virtual isolation for thousands of years. Their language is, in certain respects, bafflingly "simple" and does not seem to adhere to current linguistic paradigms. They have no numbers beyond 2 or 3, no fixed color terms, no abstract ideas, no descriptive clauses, no perfect tense, no deep memory. That's what caught my attention:
Everett pointed to the word xibipío as a clue to how the Pirahã perceive reality solely according to what exists within the boundaries of their direct experience...“When someone walks around a bend in the river, the Pirahã say that the person has not simply gone away but xibipío—‘gone out of experience,’ ” Everett said. “They use the same phrase when a candle flame flickers. The light ‘goes in and out of experience.’ ” ...Everett...called it the “immediacy-of-experience principle.”
Essentially, they live eternally in the present. If something goes out of vision, it is out of experience and no longer of concern. This strikes me as humorously appealing only because, well, I need a little of that. It's very self-help and Power of Now, no?

In my endless preparation/procrastination for another post I've been lightly trying my hand at some Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History, on recommendation from the frighteningly erudite Dylan Trigg of side effects. Although the reading is for my next post, this seemed particularly apt for me, right now:
The person who cannot set himself down on the crest of the moment, forgetting everything from the past, who is not capable of standing on a single point, like a goddess of victory, without dizziness or fear, will never know what happiness is.
The more reading I do, the more my once-discreet ideas
on collecting, on the nature of the "museum", and on the past--personal, psychical--are now collapsing inwards and piling up. How ridiculous: to be caught in a stasis formulating ideas about the Past for some time in the future...

The incredible portraits of
Pirahã, at top, by Martin Schoeller seemed so 'timeless' they, ironically, reminded me of the inscrutable 2500 year old "archaic smile" of Ancient Greek art (kouros, and a figure from Ephesus)


"the beautiful arts"

Truly Exceptional! Without Peer!
rarely greeting the light of day in
over 150 years!
Eye-Entrancing Discoveries
assembled during recent hours of idleness
from the
Cavernous Electro-Telegraphic Stores
of that
Unparalleled Repository
The Library of Congress.

From the collections of Ephemera and Advertising.
School of design, 1859; Phrenology chart; sheet music, 1880, 1863, 1873, c.1880s; "Soft Ones a Specialty", 1907; from the pamphlet "8 United Mastodon Shows by Maybury, Pullman & Hamilton", 1882.


a gorey specimen

I recently retrieved all three of my Amphigoreys from storage and in poring over them page by page, I have been struck once again by his hand-lettering. Here, a selection of his titles and lettering (Romans, tuscans, rustics!). Directly above are three of his book jackets from the 1950s from a good selection found here. All the text is obsessively– ingeniously– hand-lettered. (I had never been quite sure and used to study and compare "s"s or "n"s.)

I got the first Amphigorey collection when I was about 10 years old and it made such an impression– I loved it so much– I didn't know what to do with myself. Has anyone else ever had this? When there is something that leaves you so awe-struck, so full of wonder– something that feels so perfect in every respect, so exactly what you, yourself, would want to do if only you could–that you want to live in it, be it. I was wholly enveloped by the flamboyant peculiarity, the play of image and word, the morbid density (see horror vacui) followed by a radical graphic spareness. And of course there was Gorey's consummate parceling of story, line by line, epigrammatic, often non sequitur, that was particularly appealing to me. Much later I learned that Gorey modeled his visual style,
somewhat, on 19th century engravings (though his characters appear to drift perpetually in a 30 year time period roughly between 1890s high Victorian through Edwardian and occasionally showing up in Flapper regalia). His prose style somehow conflated the portentous air of 19th century schoolbooks and comically bleak children's religious instruction primers with a sly voluptuary's wit.

I find myself still not quite sure how to process my emotional mix of envy and worship.


furniture and fantabulism

I was not aware of Carlo Bugatti when I saw (a version of) this desk (top) at the Art+Design Show at the Armory this past Thursday. The name was vaguely familiar–race cars wasn't it?* or motorcycles? But not furniture. Certainly not this slightly disturbing crenellated fantasy in walnut, copper, vellum, and mother of pearl. Why disturbing? because it was almost animalistic. And I couldn't place it– definitely Arts and Crafts-ish, sort of Eastlakean, but as though interpreted by an alien. Japanese? Indian Raj? Moorish? Arab? Yes!

Bugatti was born in Milan in 1856. He studied at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts and began making furniture in the 1880s. The earlier furniture's rectilinear asymmetry and exotic materials--encrusted and embellished--recalled the Orientalism of the time; the later sinuous
forms were influenced by Art Nouveau. But the aggressively hybrid vision was truly, singularly his. Gaudi is the only other designer of the time I can think of who was as profoundly bizarre.

Bugatti gained international attention at the Exposition of Decorative Arts in Turin in 1902 with his "Snail Room." The tantalizing but maddeningly indistinct photo directly above is all I could find of the exhibit. His "Cobra chairs" (above the Snail image, right), created for the Turin exhibit, are entirely covered in vellum-- as was much of his later furniture. At some point his furniture also graced the Waldorf Astoria’s Turkish Salon, where, it is said, coffee was served by an actual Turk complete with a boy attendant...

Extravagant, daring, bewildering, excessive and fascinating, Bugatti's work was renowned for meticulous craftsmanship and eccentricity but was
never truly popular. Perhaps because, as the Cleveland Museum of Art notes, it was extremely "challenging."

His design star was occluded by the time he died, in relative obscurity, in 1940.

*His son Ettore went on to found the automobile company.
Bugatti's designs are like ceremonial furnishings for some alien royal court. Something about the spikey "tribal" regalia draping many of Bugatti's pieces reminds me of Frank Frazetta.


Brewer's Feast

Corposant-- the ball of fire which is sometimes seen playing around the masts of ships in a storm, from Italian corpo santo-- holy body. St. Elmo's Fire.
Dying Sayings --... Archimedes to the Roman soldier: "Wait til I've finished my problem." ...
Voltaire : "Do let me die in peace." ...
Tartarus-- infernal regions of classical mythology, used as the equivalent of Hades but Homer places Tartarus as far beneath Hades as Hades is beneath the Earth

Dr. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer
described his Dictionary of Phrase and Fable as "a treasury of literary bric-a-brac." I think of it as a rollicking pageant of erudition, flinging out tidbits of wisdom and rightly forgotten obscuranta alike, from "the Aeolian mode" and "baton sinister" to "whipping boy" and "zingari." I found my pitifully dog-eared copy of the 1981 edition at the library sale on Shelter Island and pedant and avid pursuer of trivia that I am, I use it as bedtime reading. And it's great fun.

A bit of background: Brewer graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1836 and was ordained two years later. Ultimately a failed academic, he proceeded to fill his days compiling dictionaries and surveys, and regimenting a popular children's education series with astonishing speed. He wrote or edited such weighty tomes as
An Entire New System of Book-keeping (1853), A Guide to Roman History (1853), Sound and Its Phenomena (1854) and Dr. Brewer's Guide to Science to which is added Poisons and Accidents, their antidotes and remedies (1859) among many, many others.

"What a fussy old gentleman Dr. Brewer is," complained an editorial colleague, although Brewer was just 54 at the time. "He is so insufferably inquisitive and such a gossip!" Dr. Brewer's grandson, in a late memoir, depicted him as far more genial and entertaining, but loony never the less: "The walls of his room were papered in a plain white paper upon which he used to write in pencil stray memoranda and the names of an particularly interesting visitors...."

Grammarian, Classicist, scientific dabbler–Brewer belonged to an era of moral uplift and self-betterment. And it was in that grand spirit of inquiry that
Brewer catalogued folkways, classical references, linguistic anomalies, Latin phrases, and popular trifles and issued his Dictionary, in 1870, for his countrymen's, and posterity's, edification. Although his publishers remarked tartly that they were "doubtful whether the book would pay the expense of printing" the Dictionary recently enjoyed a 17th edition just last year...

image from Amphigorey Also, Edward Gorey.


The Book of Life

Here, some fantastical illustrations from The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man by Dr. Alesha Sivartha. Sivartha was the assumed name of one Arthur Merton, MD (1834-1915), purported to be the illegitimate son of Raja Ram Mohun Roy Bahadoor, an Indian scholar, activist and Brahmin, and an unknown English Unitarian woman who dallied with the Raja on his tour of England. Merton began his quasi-scientific Biblico-Evolutionist parsing in 1859, evidently self-publishing several volumes. His son published a thorough updated tome in 1912. From what I can see the pages are filled with a hybrid of spiritual intensity, Hegelian determinism, economic dabblings and obsessive hand lettering. Let the good doctor speak for himself:
science and history both answer that man has advanced step by step from the ignorant and selfish rule of his lower brain organs up toward the beneficent dominion of his higher brain faculties. The laws that have controlled that vast upward movement are still in force...And they are of supreme importance for they determine what new institutions and what social changes are now required to meet that higher growth of nations.
The many many illustrations are what set my pulse racing of course: part phrenological, a lot outsider art. The hand-drawn type is particularly masterful. I was enveloped by the density and the obsessional zeal in the same way I was with the drawings of Adolf Wolfli
whose mad genius I discovered at the Folk Art Museum a few years ago.

Charts, diagrams and hierarchies of obscure or dubious content are also a fascination of mine...

I found the good doctor by way of No Relevance on a random late night net ramble (more on late nights in a coming post). The Book of Life site is sensitively written and minutely presented by Sivartha's great great grandson, who unfortunately lost a bit of my scholarly confidence when he recounts how he "did meth and fried my brain."


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