Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Where the Holy Grail Came to Britain

 From Country Life:

The ancient town of Glastonbury is synonymous without spirituality, mysticism and legend — and it's an unmissable stop-off on our list of places in the 21st century Grand Tour of Britain.

Glastonbury Tor had been a sacred site before the arrival of Christianity. There was a holy well, fed by a spring that never ran dry; in Christian times, this came to be called the Chalice Well.

Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea — the man who took Christ’s body and placed it into the tomb following the Crucifixion — came to Britain, and specifically to the Isle of Avalon, back then an island surrounded by rivers and marsh. He brought two cups that contained drops of Christ’s blood and the chalice used by Him at the Last Supper. The chalice, or Holy Grail, disappeared, and the search for it became a prime object of the Arthurian knights (Arthur is supposed to have been buried at Glastonbury).

What didn’t go missing, at least until the 17th century, was an ancient thorn tree, said to have sprouted from the staff that Joseph stuck into the ground. (It’s said that Puritans who attempted to cut it down found that their axes turned against themselves.) And according to legend, it was Joseph who founded the original wattle-and-daub church on this site, the church around which a glorious abbey would later grow.

If Jospeh really did found the church it would be the earliest in Britain, and unique in that it had been established by a contemporary of Christ — but there are no records, and another account credits it to missionaries who arrived from Rome in the second century.

Either way, its foundation came very early in the history of Christianity in Britain. By the time of the Dissolution, it could vie in scale with Canterbury — only Westminster Abbey was richer. (Read more.)

From Great British Life:

Glastonbury is purportedly the ‘Isle of Avalon’ where Arthur was taken to have wounds tended after his final battle. He was the ‘Once and Future King’, of course, a hero who never truly died but would return in the hour of this nation’s greatest need.

Glastonbury certainly has the presence for Avalon, with Glastonbury Tor adding further evocation and mystery to the one enacted at the abbey.The Glastonbury connection to Arthur, the Grail et al, came suddenly in the late 12th century: There is no evidence that place and person were linked any earlier. It may just have been canny PR on the abbey’s part to attract more visitors. If you want to find some of the real Arthur I’d suggest a clamber at South Cadbury. (Read more.)


The Death Cult of Eco-Feminism

 From Crisis:

The rise of eco-feminism has coincided with the destruction of the family and the emasculation of men (which go together). Why is this the case? What is the spirit behind the death cult of eco-feminism? In Satanic Feminism, historian Per Faxneld examines an often-unstudied fact about leading first-wave feminists from the 19th century: their writings and diaries are filled with references and allusions to Satan and Lucifer as a heroic figure fighting for female liberation; Eve’s choice to eat from the Tree is also praised as the catalyst for female freedom. 

Faxneld is no orthodox Christian. He draws on the genderist theories of Michel Foucault and Julia Kristeva extensively, along with the power theories of Marx, Gramsci, and Foucault. In doing so, however, he reveals how the first-wave feminists often offered blasphemous readings of Genesis 3. 

Faxneld goes on to write, “Nineteenth-century feminists often felt they somehow had to deal with male chauvinists’ use of the story in Genesis 3.” To achieve this, the feminists presented “Eve [as] a heroine and the serpent benevolent.” The intent of the feminist movement was never equal rights, the right to vote, or economic opportunity but the outright destruction of the family with the husband, the father, as the primary target of destruction. 

In the German Ideology, Marx explained the origins of inequality not from economic competition, as generally assumed, but from the sexual division of labor and male headship of the family. Marx famously declares, “there develops the division of labor, which was originally nothing but the division of labor in the sexual act, then that division of labor which develops spontaneously or ‘naturally’ by virtue of natural predisposition.” The family, according to Marx, is the root of inequality and oppression. 

Marx continues by saying, “With the division of labor, in which all these contradictions are implicit, and which in its turn is based on the natural division of labor in the family and the separation of society into individual families opposed to one another, is given simultaneously the distribution, and indeed the unequal distribution…the first form, of which lies in the family, where wife and children are the slaves of the husband. This latent slavery in the family, though still very crude, is the first property, but even at this early stage it corresponds perfectly to the definition of modern economists who call it the power of disposing of the labor-power of others.” (Read more.)


The Case for Teaching ‘The Divine Comedy’

 From Catholicism:

It is becoming increasingly common — to my great dismay — to find one of two scenarios in both Catholic and Public schools in the United States when it comes to its exploration of great literature. The first is that modern educators completely ignore the study of Dante and his Divine Comedy, skirting past the father of the Italian language for the reason of the complexity of his message. The other is perhaps even more egregious and scandalous, which is the tendency for American audiences to be exposed only to Hell, with no hope of Heaven, or even Purgatory. This often leads those who do read Dante’s Inferno to be left with a severe distaste for his work, as well as for the Catholic faith in general, often viewing it as cruel, puritanical, and vengeful. Among modern Dante scholars, Scott Crider of the University of Dallas inveighs against this second scenario trenchantly and eloquently: “Teaching the Inferno alone is such a curricular perversion I hardly know how to be tolerant: no wonder generations of college graduates think of Dante as a cruel tormentor, and Christianity as all judgment and no love.”1 It is not a fitting assessment to give to Dante, whom Pope Benedict XV calls “the most eloquent singer of the Christian idea.”2

Those who have read the Comedy are all-too aware of the distinctly visceral, violent, and dark nature of Dante’s Hell, divided into nine concentric circles of increasing acridity and severity. The kinds of punishment doled out to those in Hell are both ironic and graphic in nature, ranging from the winds in the Second Circle, to the boiling rivers of blood in the Seventh Circle. This imagery remains embedded in the Catholic imagination, and even in the modern imagination of what a Hell might be, consistently replicated in all forms of modern storytelling that involve some sort of afterlife. (Read more.)


Monday, January 30, 2023

The Shirt of Charles I

 The knitted pale green silk vest worn by Charles I at his execution.

It was on display a few years ago. From Smithsonian:

On January 30, 1649, England’s Charles I arose early and dressed for the chilly weather. He asked for a thick shirt, one that would stop him from shivering—and appearing frightened—as he faced the public in his final moments.

The king, convicted of treason for purportedly placing his personal interests above the good of the country, was taken to a scaffold erected in front of the Banqueting House in London. His last words—“I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world”—were swallowed by the frigid air. The executioner’s axe swung. The huge crowd, though it had assembled precisely for this occasion, reeled. (Read more.)

 From Tatler:

The execution of King Charles I is one of the most significant moments in our history, when our former ruler was found guilty of treason and beheaded outside of Banqueting House in London, leading to a decade without any monarch at all under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell.

Now, the history books are set to come alive, with some of the garments that he wore on the day that he died set to go on display at the Museum of London as part of its Executions exhibition later this year.

One of the two vests that he wore to prevent him shivering with cold (that could have been mistaken for fear) as well as his gloves, sash and fragments of his cloak and handkerchief, will make up the display, which will be the first time that they have been seen in 371 years. (Read more.) 


More HERE.



'So Many Lies'

 From Fox News:

Weeks after Prince Harry's highly-anticipated memoir "Spare" hit bookshelves globally, his wife's half-sister, Samantha Markle, is speaking out about what she claims are lies perpetuated by the royal couple. 

"It's been a weird journey for me, seeing the media try to create a disconnect between-- you know, this rift between a normal family, that was never really a rift until fake news came along," Samantha Markle said on Fox Nation's "Tucker Carlson Today."

"[Meghan] is, contrary to rumors, she's not my-- I'm not her stepsister. I'm not some disconnected sibling raised somewhere else, and then brought together later in life. We pretty much grew up as a normal family. My brother and I were older siblings. When she was born, she was brought home from the hospital to our house."

 Much of the drama surrounding the Markle family dates back to 2018. In April, Samantha and her brother, Thomas Markle Jr. revealed they were "baffled" when the royal couple snubbed them from the wedding guest list.

"At issue is not a matter of closeness as more than 1000 complete strangers are invited. Family is family," [Samantha Markle] tweeted after learning her sister was leaving her family out of the event. "I have an uncle I have only seen once but I would never say he is not family because we are not close. Humanitarians move forward with love and kindness especially to Family."

She added, "Smoke and mirrors cannot hide the elephant in the room. Out of respect, tradition, and humanitarianism, the #Markles should be invited if 2000 complete strangers are invited. Our uncle who got her the internship, brother, me, best friend of 30 years Nikki Priddy, nephews. Fact."

The Twitter account she'd used at the time has since been taken down. (Read more.)


An interview of Samantha Markle by Trevor Coult.


Theology of Middle-Earth

 From TGC:

J. R. R. Tolkien attracts readers who share a personality trait with him—one he also shared with the medievals he so loved. In the first chapter of The Discarded Image, C. S. Lewis defines that trait with characteristic precision: “Medieval man was not a dreamer nor a wanderer. He was an organiser, a codifier, a builder of systems. He wanted ‘a place for everything and everything in the right place.’ Distinction, definition, tabulation were his delight.”

From Christopher Tolkien’s massive 12-volume History of Middle-Earth to Humphrey Carpenter’s lovingly, if frustratingly, expurgated Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, from Scull and Hammond’s encyclopedic, three-volume J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide to Karen Fonstad’s magisterial Atlas of Middle-Earth, from Peter Kreeft’s comprehensive Philosophy of Tolkien to Holly Ordway’s meticulously documented Tolkien’s Modern Reading, Tolkien scholars imitate his thoroughness, his love of detail, and his passion for subcreating a secondary world that’s almost as rich and multilayered as the primary world.

In this spirit, Austin Freeman has given a gift to Tolkien scholars and aficionados alike in a work I didn’t think could be written. Tolkien Dogmatics: Theology Through Mythology with the Maker of Middle-Earth painstakingly assembles, collates, and cross-references Tolkien’s legendarium, academic essays, and letters to construct a systematic theology. Though informed by the copious secondary material on Tolkien, Freeman’s work is firmly and faithfully grounded in the depth and breadth of the primary material. (Read more.)


Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Origin of Afternoon Tea


From Wilderness England:

While tea was made popular by Catherine Braganza, it was Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford and lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, who was responsible for the creation of one of the most famous and well-loved British traditions: afternoon tea. Complaining of feeling empty in the long hours of an idle afternoon, the Duchess is said to have solved this ‘sinking feeling’ by taking tea, sandwiches and cake in her private parlour at around 4pm every day. She began inviting friends over to enjoy this ritual with her. It swiftly became an elegant and popular pastime for the upper classes. (Read more.)


Teatime etiquette tips from Victoria:

  1. What are the differences among various types of tea occasions?

Tea is a wonderful opportunity to create a feeling for your guests to enjoy. And there are several types of tea occasions from which one can choose, but the names are not interchangeable. Afternoon tea is served in the late afternoon. High tea is often eaten at higher tables, closer to five o’clock, and typically is served with heavy meats and cheeses. Royal tea features Champagne in addition to the classic tea beverage.

  1. When I’m invited to afternoon tea, what should I wear?

Use the occasion as an opportunity to be your best self. Put on a pretty sweater or blouse that gets you in the spirit of afternoon tea—and even a hat if you so choose! Dresses are often perfect for this occasion, as well. And one can always direct dress code questions to the hostess for more details on the specific gathering. (Read more.)


Pfizer Exec Caught on Tape

 I really like Megyn Kelly's new show. And Michael Knowles is always a delight.



New psychedelic drugs? From TFP

On the outer limits of unreality, some individuals are exploring new frontiers that they hope will take them beyond a fleeting state of drugged ecstasy. These pioneers seek mind-altering experiences that might last for days, using a nascent technology known as extended-state DMT. Things are still not in place, but the day is fast approaching when such trips might happen.

They call themselves “psychonauts” and claim to find value in extended stays in the drug netherworld. The leftist website, The New Republic, reports on the use of the hallucinogenic molecule known as N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which can be coursed through the body via intravenous infusion. Instead of the minutes-long highs caused by smoking DMT-tainted substances, the new system can be regulated to last hours or even days. The psychonauts are launched into not outer but psychedelic space to test the limits of the imagination. (Read more.)


Nazi Sculptures

 From DW:

The Spandau Citadel in Berlin has added two Nazi-era sculptures to its permanent collection of vintage monuments. Nazi artist Josef Thorak created the two "Striding Horses" (known in German as "Schreitende Pferde") for Adolf Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin. Both sculptures are in need of restoration. One of them has already been placed in the permanent exhibition, where visitors can view the statue and witness the restoration process firsthand. 

Commissioned by Hitler at the height of his power, the colossal twin "Striding Horses" had stood in the garden of Hitler's seat of government from 1939 to 1943. They were part of the thousands of bronze works crafted for the Nazi regime in its quest to transform Berlin into the imperial global capital of "Germania."

Josef Thorak was born in Vienna on February 7, 1889 and attended the Vienna Art Academy, eventually moving on to the Berlin Art Academy in 1915. After his studies he established himself as a sculptor of monumental works such as the 4-meter-high (13-foot) gable figure for the Reichsbank building in the western German city of Buer. His style secured him numerous government commissions, and he became known internationally when he worked on, among others, the Security Monument in Ankara, Turkey, in 1934. (Read more.)


A lost Munch painting, hidden by Nazis in the barn. From Artnet:

A 13-foot-long painting by Edvard Munch that survived World War 2 is set to hit the auction block on March 1 at Sotheby’s modern and contemporary art evening sale in London, with a presale estimate of between £12 million to £20 million ($15 million to $25 million). Dance on the Beach was hidden in a barn from the Nazis alongside a version of The Scream, and it has been 89 years since the work last appeared in the market.

The sale of the storied painting was made possible thanks to a restitution settlement agreement between heirs of the artist’s friend, Thomas Olsen, a Norwegian shipping businessman, and heirs of a patron, Curt Glaser, an art historian who was the owner of the painting from 1912 until 1933. When he had to flee the Nazis, Glaser was forced to sell the work, which was then acquired by Olsen in 1934; it has been in the family’s collection since then. It is understood that sale proceeds will be divided by the two families. Both Glaser and Olsen had personal relations with Munch at the time, and the artist painted their wives, Elsa Glaser and Henrietta Olsen.

The journey of Dance on the Beach follows a similar trajectory of Summer Day or Embrace on the Beach (The Linde Frieze), which also changed hands from Glaser to Olsen over the course of history. It sold for more than $22 million (including fees) in a 2021 Sotheby’s sale in London. Currently, Munch’s auction record stands at $119.9 million, which was achieved in 2012 at a Sotheby’s New York auction for the sale of The Scream, a pastel on board from 1895, to American financier Leon Black. It was sold by Petter Olsen, Thomas Olsen’s son. (Read more.)


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Small Towns That Inspired American Novels


Monroeville Court House

Sunnyside in Tarrytown

From Fodor's Travel:

There is nothing like a great book to take you away when you can’t travel. When a great book makes a lasting impression, there is an almost universal desire to visit the place that inspired the author. Being able to walk the same roads as a favorite author or memorable character allows a reader to understand their favorite books in a new, intensely different way. While many great novels are inspired by the lights of big cities like New York City or Los Angeles, small towns across the country have been inspiring authors for centuries. These 12 small towns inspired some of the best and most popular American novels that have stood the test of time.


Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville and drew heavily from her hometown to create Maycomb, the setting for To Kill a Mockingbird. Visitors can tour sites from Lee’s most significant novel. Local actors have been performing the stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird for over 30 years. Devotees of the novel can also see the town’s iconic courtroom where Lee watched her father practice law as a child, which inspired the book’s dramatic courtroom scene. The courthouse has historical photos of Lee and her friend Truman Capote. The town also features a “Birdhouse Trail” lined with birdhouses depicting scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird. (Read more.)



Keeping the Matter Quiet

 From The Post Millennial:

The White House reportedly colluded with the Justice Department to hide the fact that Joe Biden had classified documents in his personal possession. According to the Washington Post, "Early on, Biden's attorneys and Justice Department investigators both thought they had a shared understanding about keeping the matter quiet."

"The White House was hoping for a speedy inquiry that would find no intentional mishandling of the documents, planning to disclose the matter only after Justice issued its all-clear. Federal investigators, for their part, typically try to avoid complicating any probe with a media feeding frenzy," the Post reports. After the discovery of the first batch of documents at Biden's office at UPenn in November of last year, "in a communication that has not previously been reported, a senior official in the Justice Department’s national security division wrote a letter to Bob Bauer, Biden’s personal attorney, asking for his cooperation with the department’s inquiry."

The official from the DOJ asked that Biden's attorneys refrain from reviewing the UPenn documents or any that could be found at further locations. The DOJ further asked for permission to review the UPenn documents and they asked for a list of locations where more documents could be found.

The White House adopted a "strategy of caution and derference" after those communications with the DOJ that included keeping quiet about the documents to better "move in coordination with federal investigators." (Read more.)


 The difference between Biden and Trump in regard to classified documents. From Victor Davis Hanson at American Greatness:

First, a stranger would face a far greater challenge entering a post-presidential Mar-a-Lago than a pre-presidential Joe Biden’s home, office, or garage—or who knows where?  

Secret service agents and private security were stationed at Mar-a-Lago. Prior to the 2020 presidential election they were not at citizen Biden’s various troves for most of 2017-2020 much less prior to 2009. 

Second, we seem to forget that for much of the developing controversy, Joe Biden’s own team was investigating Joe Biden. 

On the other hand, the Biden Administration’s Justice Department and the FBI were not just investigating Trump as an outside party, but as a former president—and possible 2024 presidential candidate and opponent of Biden himself. 

Remember, the narrative of the first Democratic impeachment of Donald Trump was the allegation that Trump had used his powers of the presidency to investigate Joe Biden and his family, a likely 2020 challenger to Trump’s reelection bid.

Third, no one in a position of government authority had passed judgment on Joe Biden’s alleged security violations. 

That was not the case of the still alleged violations of Donald Trump. 

Joe Biden, as president, had weighed in, during his own Justice Department’s ongoing investigations of Trump. Indeed, he proclaimed the former president to be guilty: “How could anyone be that irresponsible?” In contrast, he also dismissed the ongoing investigation of himself with “There is no there, there.” 

Fourth, Trump is certainly right that as president he had a far more substantial claim of declassification rights than did Biden who took the papers out either as a senator or vice president. 

Fifth, the FBI was not merely asymmetrical in melodramatically raiding the Trump home while allowing Biden lawyers to inspect various Biden stashes. The FBI also leaked the purported contents of the subjects of the Trump classified documents (falsely spreading the lie of “nuclear codes” and “nuclear secrets”) in a way it has not with the Biden cache. 

The FBI went so far as to scatter the documents on the floor for a fake news photo-op as if the papers were so messily arrayed when they arrived. 

So far, the FBI has come lightly and belatedly to the Biden case without the SWAT team get-up, and only under pressure from the public and the Republican opposition. 

Six, Biden did not “self-report.” Biden’s team did not call the relevant government authorities the minute they discovered the classified documents in Biden’s office and home and garage. 

In truth, Biden, or someone close to Biden, certainly knew that he or someone close to him had illegally removed classified documents when he left the vice presidency in 2017—or years earlier as a senator. 

For at least the last six years—at least—Biden has felt no compunction to confess to authorities he illegally was in possession of classified documents. 

Indeed, the only reason the current troves are coming to light was apparent White House paranoia that the media, the Biden Justice Department, and the special counsel were so fixated on the Trump documents that they likely feared someone might raise the logical question of whether a hypocritical Biden himself might be guilty of exactly the crime for which they were pursuing Trump. 

Worse, Biden and his staff knew classified documents were in his possession before the midterms, but deliberately suppressed that information until after the elections were over. 

Seventh, Trump’s documents were stored only at one place—Mar-a-Lago, and only for about 19 months. Biden’s were stashed at various locations for nearly seven years—or perhaps over a decade. There were far more opportunities of time and space for those without security clearances to have access to the Biden documents than to the Trump files. 

Eighth, the press has exhaustively speculated, usually wrongly, about how the documents reached Mar-a-Lago and what they contained. In contrast, no one knows or even asks why Biden took classified documents, what they concerned, or who if any in his family circle had access to them. 

Ninth, Trump’s documents did not expose other liabilities of the constantly investigated Trump. The Biden files so far have directed attention to the mysterious tens of millions of dollars in Communist Chinese money that poured into Biden’s think tank at the University of Pennsylvania, the proximity of members of the quid pro quo Biden consortium to these classified papers, and the files’ relevance, if any, to the Biden family’s overseas businesses. Did Hunter Biden ever consult or view classified documents while living in a home with them? Will there be fingerprint or DNA tests on the documents? If Hunter consulted any of these classified documents, then the Biden presidency is finished. (Read more.)

From Red State:

Among the myriad of questions, one is paramount–and its answer is potentially the most revealing:

Who leaked Biden’s documents and why?

The conspiracy theorist keyboard jockeys — God knows the last thing we need is even more conspiracy loons — have been spinning their theories on social media from the outset, but the question remains: Who hung Biden out to dry and for what purpose? Prior to the leak to the media, only a select group of White House and Justice Department officials knew about the document violation and potential security breach.

As The New York Times reported, the original plot — the plot to hide the scandal in the first place — was initially designed by eight of Biden’s closest confidants, with apparent approval from Merrick Garland’s Justice Department. (I know; try to control your shock and amazement.)

The handful of advisors who were aware of the initial discovery on Nov. 2 — just six days before the critical midterm elections — gambled that without going public, they could convince the DOJ that the matter was little more than a “good-faith mistake,” unlike Donald Trump’s “hoarding of documents at his Florida estate.” (Don’t you just love the NYT’s venomous descriptions of all things Trump?)

However, the plot to hide the scandal was abruptly leaked to CBS News, 68 days after Biden’s personal attorney “discovered” the first batch of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center — funded in part by anonymous Chinese donations. Why did it take so long for the documents to be “uncovered” and ultimately leaked? (Read more.)


How to Live a Life of Honor

 From Return to Order:

This understanding of the epoch is what makes A Knight’s Own Book on Chivalry by Geoffroi de Charny, such an important read. Written in 1352, Charny’s recently-republished manuscript could be considered chivalry’s last gasp in a process that has led to the modern world’s complete loss of the notion of honor. Honor is the central tenet of chivalry and therefore a reoccurring theme of the book.

The introduction of this work, which takes up nearly half of its 107 pages, was written by Dr. Richard Kaeuper. While he presents some insightful pearls about Charny and his book on chivalry, he has other perspectives which leave the reader disappointed. One example is the historical fact that Charny was the first known owner of the Shroud of Turin, the famous burial cloth of Christ. Dr. Kaeuper unnecessarily devotes a lengthy paragraph presenting arguments that the Shroud is not the actual burial cloth of our Lord, but rather a piece of cloth which dates to the fourteenth century.

However, the setting of Charny’s thesis as presented by Dr. Kaeuper is most useful. The treatise came about during the turbulent war between French and English armies known as the Hundred Years War. When King John II acceded to the French throne, he noticed the decadence of the chivalric ideal. To counteract this downward trend, the king founded a new order of chivalry called the Company of the Star.

Knights who belonged to this distinguished group wore red mantles adorned with a circular badge on the collar bearing a single white star below a crown. Their motto, Monstrant regibus astra viam (The Kings’ star shows the way), was inscribed on the circumference. This was a reference to the Three Magi Kings who followed the Star of Bethlehem to the manger of the King of Kings. Therefore, the goal for this new order was clearly a quest for a greater union with the ideal man, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Geoffroi de Charny was the best person to write a treatise for the Company of the Star since he was considered a “perfect knight” by medieval standards.

Since Charny was a devout Catholic, he understood that those seeking Christian perfection could reach a high degree of honor if they simply followed the succinct counsel of Our Lord: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”

Self-denial for Charny meant truly denying himself daily. For warriors of the time, this entailed honing military skills in jousts and tournaments in preparation for local and distant wars. Since each step toward armed combat brought a greater degree of honor, he constantly reminds the reader that “he who does more is of greater worth.” (Read more.)


Friday, January 27, 2023

Direct from Paris


From The Greenfield Recorder:

With admission now free until April, through March 12 at Williamstown’s Clark Art Institute you can view Parisian drawings and prints from the 1700s, ranging from colorful views of flowered landscapes to the mysterious and the fantastic. “Promenades on Paper” is the exhibit’s title as well as its companion catalogue (CAI; Yale University; 260 pgs. $50).

Many of the images have never previously been exhibited and several were once in the collection of royals. The show is composed of more than 80 art works and features several drawing devices commonly used in the 18th century. Its creation required the combined work of institute curators in tandem with Bibliotheque nationale de France (BNF) staff over the course of some 18 months. The Parisian institution is a repository of virtually all printed matter in the country, employs 2,500 people and has an annual budget of €254 million.

Clark Curator Sarah Grandin and BNF Deputy Head of Prints and Photographs Corinne Le Bitouze led a press reception through the galleries.

“They really rolled out the red carpet for us and made the work as easy as possible,” Grandin said, referring to the cooperation provided by the BNF through visits, Zoom conferences and emails.

There are some 15 million images of virtually anything in print from the country stored at the Paris site and due to its cavernous accumulation of paper works it’s one of the few places in Paris where smoking is forbidden.

“We don’t know exactly what we have,” Le Bitouze said at one point. “We have too many images. It’s impossible to know what we have.”

Available online is a brief, 1956 documentary about the BNF which filmmaker Alain Resnais titled “All The World’s Memory.” It depicts overwhelming canyons of papers and files. Following a recent 12 year renovation, however, the visual riches of the institution are now available digitally online at Gallica.bnf.fr.


A brilliant botanical example is the work of Madeleine Francoise Besseporte, who in her mid-30s became the first female designated as the King’s official garden painter. She was also influential with the King’s mistress Madame de Pompadour, convincing him as to the importance of horticultural science. Besseporte also decorated porcelain and textiles and would whimsically add spiders and colorful moths to her flower studies.

There are also works by Emilie Bounieu who created virtually photographic depictions of biological and botanical studies. As one catalogue writer noted, one realistic drawing “seems to escape the two-dimensional confines of the page.”

At the time, women were barred from studying human form and the Royal Academy of Sculpture only allowed four women to enroll annually. They were not allowed to attend workshops....

For the privileged, a popular avocation was the promenade. Leisurely walks were taken through park pathways as a way of being seen and seeing. The exercise was so in vogue that many green spaces set aside special hours and days for such frivolity. You were also considered out of the loop if you didn’t carry a long cane.

Sophisticates were also wild about having their portrait created and the semi-automated “physiognotrace,” invented in 1783, was a remarkable aid to artists. It was several steps beyond the technique of tracing a person’s profile in the shadow of candlelight. The device allowed the artist to outline a sitter’s face with a stylus, while the movement was copied, with great detail, on paper nearby with another drawing instrument. There’s a model of this innovative apparatus in the Clark exhibit, alongside a finished product.

A camera obscura device, dating to the late 18th century, is also on view. With simple optics, an artist could trace a scene entirely as it was projected. When stowed, the antique, with flowered borders, simply collapsed into a cabinet no larger than a suitcase. (Read more.)


Conspiracy to Silence Wuhan Lab Leak

 From Becker News:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, once considered America’s ‘top Covid doc,’ conspired with influential scientists around the world, including at the World Health Organization, to quell concerns that SARS-CoV-2 may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, newly unredacted emails show.

The newly released emails raise questions about Dr. Fauci’s motives in dispelling public scrutiny over the potential the novel coronavirus had escaped from the Wuhan laboratory. Fauci had misled Congress over the extent that the National Institutes of Health had funded the Wuhan lab as a subcontractor of EcoHealth Alliance. The Wuhan laboratory was also funded by the Pentagon, contract awards show.

The unredacted NIH emails show how public questioning that SARS-CoV-2 may have escaped from a laboratory was a concern for the group’s scientists lest it become a “conspiracy theory.”

Emails were exchanged among Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief; Sir Jeremy Farrar, a top scientist at the World Health Organization; Kristian Andersen, a leading immunologist and microbiologist with Scripps Research; Professor Edward Holmes, a biologist at the University of Sydney; Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the National Institutes of Health; Chris Elias of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; George Fu Gao of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Viktor J. Dzau of Duke University; and various other influential scientists and philanthropists around the world.

An academic paper, “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2,” published on March 17, 2021, had definitively propped up the rival theory to the lab leak theory that SARS-CoV-2 had natural origins. But the final form of the paper was far afield of its initial stages, as shown by the NIH emails. The influential academic paper evolved from its early stages seriously entertaining three rival hypotheses (the bioengineered theory, the lab leak theory, and the natural origins theory) to one that attempted to close the book on public inquiry into the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 had escaped from the Wuhan laboratory. (Read more.)


A Real Papist Plot

From TLS:
Garnet referred to “King Henries papers [that] I have ready but expect [i.e. await] meanes to send them”. Garnet’s own missive has not survived, but we know of it because another Jesuit, Christopher Grene, made notes in the 1660s from English Jesuit materials for the great historian Daniello Bartoli SJ. Until now no one has remarked that Grene not only jotted down the quoted summary, but also annotated Garnet’s letter as follows – “litterae Henr. VIII ad Annam Bolenam quae nunc sunt in Biblioteca Vaticana”.
In other words Grene identified the “papers” with the collection of love letters written from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, which is now indeed to be found in the Vatican Library. These seventeen letters, written in English and French, have long provided inspiration for popular historians and novelists. Henry’s wish to be soon in the arms of his “sweet-heart” Anne, “whose pretty duckys I trust shortly to kiss”, has proved irresistible.
But it has always been a mystery how the letters ended up in, of all places, the Vatican Library. From the seventeenth century to this day people have speculated about how they got there. Lord Herbert of Cherbury, for example, believed that the luggage of the departing Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio – the papal legate appointed to hear the king’s petition for the annulment of his marriage – was searched in 1529 by royal officials in an attempt to reclaim the letters, but they had already been dispatched to Rome. Lord Herbert gave no source for his story. The modern consensus seems to be that they must have been stolen in the 1530s from Anne herself, but there is no evidence for this.
Grene’s scribbled note may provide the answer. If it is correct, that means the letters were kept somewhere in England for about seventy years after the amorous king put pen to paper, and before they went to Rome. Could they, for example, have been retained in the possession of the Howards (Boleyn’s own family)? Anne Dacre-Howard, countess of Arundel, had Jesuit chaplains. We know that one of them, Robert Southwell, sent some of his political writings abroad before he was arrested in 1592, at which point his own papers appear to have come into Garnet’s possession.
Moreover, this makes sense because we know that at precisely this period Garnet was sending various manuscripts to Parsons in Rome in order to serve the polemical needs of the moment. Parsons was turning out huge quantities of polemic at this time. One of his projects was his “Certamen ecclesiae Anglicanae” – a truly vast projected Latin history of the English Reformation. The extant manuscript volumes go from the time of Henry VIII to that of Edward VI.
Parsons followed the line set out in the salacious account penned by the priest Nicholas Sander in his De origine ac progressu schismatis Anglicani. In certain parts of Catholic Europe Sander’s work provided the basis for the official account of the English branch of the Reformation for centuries. Here, Henry’s depraved lusting after the entirely corrupt and corrupting Anne Boleyn was the immediate cause both for the rupture with Rome and for his descent into tyranny.
Sander portrayed Anne not merely as “full of pride, ambition, envy and impurity”, but also as someone who had “sinned first with her father’s butler and then with his chaplain”. Furthermore, as the offspring of her mother’s affair with Henry, Anne was, in fact, Henry’s daughter, so the Reformation in England under their daughter, Elizabeth, was the product of a vile incestuous union, and Elizabeth herself was doubly illegitimate.
Sander’s scurrilous tell-all book was first published in 1585, and it was later updated and seen through the press again by Parsons himself. Cardinal Allen extended and expanded the Catholic account of the sexual corruption of the Tudors in his tract of 1588, Admonition to the Nobility and People of England, designed to accompany the Armada and to justify the deposition of the queen through a vivid depiction of her sexual depravity and political tyranny.
This was a genre of libellous secret history in which original documents were used in order to reveal what had really gone on at the Tudor court. It is therefore not difficult to imagine what use Parsons would have made of the letters. But his “Certamen” was, for whatever reason, neither completed nor printed, though the surviving manuscript (at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire) informs us that Parsons was anticipating the arrival of the letters from England.
We cannot yet be sure precisely when the letters made their way into the Vatican Library. Nor do we know that they were immediately shown to visitors when they did enter the collection. Nevertheless, various travel accounts – including relations of the journeys made by John Raymond, Lord Willoughby and Lady Catherine Whetenall – suggest that, by the middle decades of the seventeenth century, viewing Henry’s letters in the Vatican was an aspect of the developing grand tour. The letters could still be made to serve polemical ends while being presented to curious travellers, eager to see the treasures of the Vatican. In his published correspondence the Whig churchman Gilbert Burnet described his visit in 1685:
When it appeared that I was come from England, King Henry the VIII’s Book of the Seven Sacraments, with an inscription writ upon it with his own hand to Pope Leo the X, was shewed me; together with a collection of some letters that he writ to Anne Bolen of which some are in English, and some in French. I that knew his hand well saw clearly that they were no forgeries.
Burnet had his own, very different historical agenda. His monumental History of the Reformation was published in three volumes (1679, 1681 and 1715), at least in part, as he said, in response to the “fictions” of Sander. Despite his confessional distance from Garnet and Parsons, Burnet also sought to enlist the love letters, but in order to counter previous “popish” claims about the divorce. Burnet wrote in 1715 that he did not think it “fit” to copy out the letters himself in the Vatican Library. Instead he had prevailed upon his friend James Fall “to do it for me”. Because, Burnet explained, “those at Rome” hailed the letters, in “derision”, as “the true Original of our Reformation”, and actively “encouraged” travellers from England to “look on them”, he could neither suppress nor ignore them. Burnet gave Fall’s copy to the printer and “ordered” the letters to be printed as a separate publication, a more “proper” place for “such stuff” than the august pages of his History.
Love-Letters from King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn was published in 1714 by John Churchill, publisher to both Burnet and John Locke. In the preface to this compact edition the nameless editor worked hard to put a favourable gloss on the letters, placing isolated “indecent expressions” in historical perspective: the “simplicity and unpoliteness” of the Tudor age had “allowed too great liberties of that sort”. Like Burnet the editor emphasized that the letters showed Henry’s “affection” for Anne to have been “altogether upon honourable terms”.
For the cost of a shilling the edition provided a potted version of Burnet’s account of the Henrician divorce to “arm” the “ordinary reader” against the “calumnies of the papists on that subject”. Here the letters are still central to a coherent polemic about the (Long) Reformation. But the edition’s title, Love-Letters from King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, also places them in the flourishing contemporary market for passionate epistolary literature, including Aphra Behn’s much reprinted Love-Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister (1684–87) and Roger L’Estrange’s popular translation of the Lettres portugaises (1669) as Five Love-Letters from a Nun to a Cavalier (1678), an edition of which appeared in the same year as Henry’s letters to Anne.
Love-Letters from King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn suggests an association between a certain sort of text-based historical scholarship and the wider reaches of fictionalized cheap print and sensationalized, sexualized popular history, which the recent fascination with the love lives of the Tudors has continued into the twenty-first century. The urge to engage as wide a public as possible has supplanted the urgent ideological zeal of the priests and Jesuits who first sought to bring the letters to a wider audience. One is reminded of Marx’s dictum about history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. (Read more.)


Thursday, January 26, 2023

Gathering the Book Club

From Victoria:

Much like our initial 2023 book club selection, for our initial book selection of 2021, the Victoria Classics Book Club chose to indulge in not one but two noteworthy titles. Both At Home in Mitford  and Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good are hinge books in Jan Karon’s beloved Mitford series. We celebrated the author as Victoria’s 2021 Writer-in-Residence as we explored the pages of these volumes alongside both newcomers to the series and already dedicated fans, ideally in the presence of a well-brewed cup of tea! An homage to Esther Bolick’s signature dessert in the treasured Mitford series, our Mini Orange Marmalade Cakes feature ribbons of marmalade between layers of fluffy cake crowned with creamy vanilla frosting and fresh begonias. In one of our initial book club selections for 2023, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, a fantastical wintry treat tempts our hearts as it did Edmund’s within the pages of the story. Turkish Delight beckons dreams of Narnia with notes of Chambord, rosewater, and raspberry. (Read more.)


Ten Million Mail-In Ballots 'Unaccounted For'

 From Human Events:

A leading watchdog claims that tens of millions of mail-in ballots in California went unaccounted for after the state implemented a universal mail-in voting program in November's elections. The Public Interest Legal Foundation found in an investigation that "after accounting for polling place votes and rejected ballots in November 2022, there were more than 10 million ballots left outstanding," meaning "election officials do not know what happened to them." 

"It is fair to assume that the bulk of these were ignored or ultimately thrown out by the intended recipients," the group said, adding that universal mail-in voting rules "have an insurmountable information gap." "The public cannot know how many ballots were disregarded, delivered to wrong mailboxes, or even withheld from the proper recipient by someone at the same address," the report stated. The group added that "226,250 mail ballots were rejected by election officials" in the 2022 midterm elections, many as a result of signature problems or late submissions. (Read more.)


Meanwhile, chaos and uncertainty in Arizona due to voting fraud. From The Federalist:

While the GOP and conservative media have largely moved on from Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and the systemic failures that occurred in Maricopa County on Nov. 8, court testimony and eyewitness reports from the Lake trial include allegations that Arizona’s largest county violated state law by failing to implement chain-of-custody documentation for Election Day ballots, resulting in a mysterious 25,000 extra votes added to Maricopa County’s official tally within a 24-hour period — more than the margin of victory between Lake and gubernatorial victor Katie Hobbs.

It was about 10:00 on election night when Maricopa County’s ballot tabulation vendor, Runbeck Election Services, received its first truckload of Election Day drop box ballots. While Runbeck received seven truckloads total (the last was completed about 5 a.m. the following morning), Runbeck staff thought it odd the deliveries did not come earlier throughout the day. But that wasn’t the only glitch. There were no chain-of-custody forms delivered with the ballots, a stark departure from typical procedure. (Read more.)


Procrastination and Poor Health

From The Conversation:

Our study, published in JAMA Network Open, aimed to investigate if students who procrastinate have a higher risk of poor mental and physical health. Of the 3,525 students we recruited, 2,587 answered the follow-up questionnaire nine months later, where several health outcomes were measured.

To understand how procrastination relates to later health outcomes, students with a greater tendency to procrastinate (as scored on a procrastination scale) at the start of the study were compared with students with a lower tendency. The results showed that higher levels of procrastination were associated with somewhat higher symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress nine months later.

Students with higher levels of procrastination were also more likely to report disabling pain in the shoulders or arms (or both), worse sleep quality, more loneliness and more financial difficulties. These associations remained even when we took other factors that could affect the association into consideration, such as age, gender, parents’ level of education, and previous physical and psychiatric diagnoses.

Although no specific health outcome was strongly associated with procrastination, the results suggest that procrastination may be of importance for a wide range of health outcomes, including mental health problems, disabling pain and an unhealthy lifestyle.

As mentioned above, in earlier studies, participants were only assessed at one point in time, making it hard to know which of the conditions came first: procrastination or poor health. By getting students to answer questionnaires at several time points, we could be sure that high procrastination levels were present before we measured their health.

But it is still possible that other factors not accounted for in our analysis could explain the associations between procrastination and subsequent poor health outcomes. Our results are not proof of cause and effect, but they suggest it more strongly than earlier “cross-sectional” studies. (Read more.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Monochromatic Rooms

From Clever:

Never is the impact of color on an interior space more obvious than in a room that dedicates itself to just one hue. Naturally, then, monochromatic rooms are consistently the spaces that inspire us most. Whether they’re simple and white or an unforgettably bright shade of green, monochromatic rooms provide their visitors with an enveloping escape from the everyday. Below, we’ve chosen six of our favorites, from the completely unattainable to the approachably low-key.

The DNA of a Greg Natale project is always there—from an expressive use of rich materials and colors to an incredible execution of layering. For the artfully maximalist interior designer, the greatest result of any project isn’t merely having his signature touches highlighted throughout a space, but rather having his clients challenge him as he simultaneously pushes them into new directions. This dynamic was exactly the case when working with his old friend, her husband, and their three children on their house in Sydney. (Read more.)



Hunter Biden and the Chinese Energy Company

From Breitbart:

Hunter Biden’s monthly rent of $49,910 matches a rental deposit at the House of Sweden related to the Biden family business venture with the infamous CEFC China Energy Co. Hunter’s $49,910 deposit also matches the amount of money he logged on a 2018 background check document unearthed by the New York Post’s Miranda Devine. In an email on October 13, 2017, Cecilia Browning, the general manager of House of Sweden, an office complex in Washington, DC, emailed Hunter about a lease that Hunter and his Chinese business partners were trying to terminate, according to emails unearthed from Hunter’s “Laptop from Hell.” Browning notes the amount of the deposit was $49,910 for the office space and that it would be returned to Hunter upon signing a lease termination document.

“If you are willing to terminate the lease of #507 – the owners are willing to let you out of the lease as of December 31, 2017,” Browning emailed Hunter. “Please note that there is a security deposit paid by you of $49,910 which will be returned within 15 days after the termination of the lease (after inspection of normal wear and tear). (Read more.) 

The New “Green” Comet

 From the Farmers' Almanac:

Newly-discovered Comet ZTF is coming the closest to the Earth in 50,000 years, becoming visible to the naked eye, and making big headlines. Some are calling it a “super rare” and “bright green” comet, but will it live up to the hype? We explain. Comet ZTF was discovered on March 2, 2022 by a robotic camera attached to a telescope known as Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at the Palomar Observatory in Southern California. ZTF scans the entire northern sky every two days and captures hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies in a single shot. Many comets have been found with this instrument. The most recent is catalogued as C/2022 E3 (ZTF), Comet ZTF for short. Comet ZTF has travelled a distance of 2.8 trillion miles and will make its closest approach to the Earth in 50,000 years on February 1, 2023. Orbital computations suggest that Comet ZTF may never return again. (Read more.)


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Beautiful McDonald’s


From Architectural Digest:

“This is a beautiful McDonald’s” is not a line one is used to hearing upon seeing the telltale golden arches. When you visit the popular chain, you’re probably stopping by for a burger and fries, not stunning architecture. However, at some locations around the world, you can get both. As one of the largest fast food chains in the world, the popular eatery has a surprisingly expansive collection of restaurants in interesting, unique, and downright extraordinary buildings. Some get their beauty from ornate architectural details, other from their expressive adaptions that honor a local environment or culture—either way, the results are remarkable. From a modernist outpost in Georgia to a palatial offering in Budapest, below AD surveys the 13 most beautiful McDonald’s in the world(Read more.)


Thoroughly Proven

From Dr. Brunswick's Newsletter:

Here’s the well founded / proven sudden cardiac deaths of almost 1,200 young va xxed Athletes. (According to the Olympic commission is more cardiac deaths than 35 years total.) The "unfounded claims" by factcheck.org and a gazillion other sites burying this well proven article, is that there's "no link" yet proven to the vaccine. Sure like with most drugs it takes about 50 years till they get recalled. However, the open access to research the information and have “informed consent” is the only thing that separates the actions from being a “state coerced medical experiment”.

So they don't want you to make up your own mind, but have censored this article so no one can find anything about the athletes deaths, but say only without any proof that it's FAKE. They bury the story under hundreds of articles without any information, but bold claims.


However, in the link you will find the 100% proven cases of 1,600+ cardiac arrests of athletes. These are well founded proven cases of 1,6000 cardiac arrests (with news clippings for each case) over the last year , also with proof of vaccination. There is a second list of “unproven vaccination status” which is not included in this number which is also quite lengthy, but you can also find it at the link. However it’s proven they are professional athletes etc. https://goodsciencing.com/covid/athletes-suffer-cardiac-arrest-die-after-covid-shot/ (Read more.)

The Human Cost of the Digital Revolution

 From Medium:

Relationship status — it’s complicated.

Stage 1 — Alarm

Stage 2 — Resistance

Stage 3 — Exhaustion