Like a disease that gradually but inexorably blossoms into a pandemic, Alexander’s military band set off a craze that would result in various musicians, orchestras, and nations vying for higher and higher tones, with sharper and sharper notes.

One Book Opens Another

Alchemy runs alongside the traditional narrative of Western thought like a shadow. Long ignored, often discredited as pseudoscience, it has nonetheless had important effects on the cultures of Europe and the Middle East for the past two thousand (or more) years. It’s always been a hermetic field of inquiry, sealed off from mainstream intellectual pursuits, but its traces linger. The phrase “hermetically sealed,” after all, derives from the “Seal of Hermes,” the nickname for the stopper on the long-necked glass jar used in making the Philosopher’s Stone (the substance that would allow for a direct transmutation of an impure metal like lead into the pure silver or gold). We have alchemists to thank for the French name for a double boiler, the bain-marie (bagno-maria in Italian) — a reference toanother apocryphal alchemist, Maria the Jew, and her method of heating slowly using water — and for the fact that we refer to quicksilver as “mercury.”

Read more at LA Review of Books.

Tintype of a guy’s hat. Entitled, “My hat.”

Tintype of a guy’s hat. Entitled, “My hat.”

Mourning tintype.

Mourning tintype.

thenewinquiry:

It falls to literature to venture into dark spaces on the map, where truth is elusive and historians fail, and to approach the endlessly contradictory landscape of Roger Casement’s inner world and textual life.. For years, the only such attempt was W. B. Yeats’ poem, “The Ghost of Roger Casement.” Yeats had blinked during Casement’s actual trial, refusing to sign the petition for clemency, appears to try to make amends some twenty years after the fact. It’s a strident poem, full of brio. It ends:

I poked about a village churchAnd found his family tombAnd copied out what I could readIn that religious gloom;Found many a famous man there;But fame and virtue rot.Draw round, beloved and bitter men,Draw round and raise a shout;
The ghost of Roger CasementIs beating on the door.

- Colin Dickey, “Dark Pages” 

thenewinquiry:

It falls to literature to venture into dark spaces on the map, where truth is elusive and historians fail, and to approach the endlessly contradictory landscape of Roger Casement’s inner world and textual life.. For years, the only such attempt was W. B. Yeats’ poem, “The Ghost of Roger Casement.” Yeats had blinked during Casement’s actual trial, refusing to sign the petition for clemency, appears to try to make amends some twenty years after the fact. It’s a strident poem, full of brio. It ends:

I poked about a village church
And found his family tomb
And copied out what I could read
In that religious gloom;
Found many a famous man there;
But fame and virtue rot.
Draw round, beloved and bitter men,
Draw round and raise a shout;

The ghost of Roger Casement
Is beating on the door.

- Colin Dickey, “Dark Pages” 

Anti Bleak House, ad run during the first serialization of Bleak House, 1852.

Anti Bleak House, ad run during the first serialization of Bleak House, 1852.

laphamsquarterly:

ROUNDTABLE: A Fire in the Belly





Lest one think that the fear of spontaneous human combustion as a result of drink was a fringe phenomenon, one only has to consider the work of the literary greats of the day. Thomas de Quincey confessed to fearing that his addictions might lead to such “anomalous symptoms,” including spontaneous combustion. “Might I not myself take leave of the literary world in that fashion?” he wondered. A drunk explodes in Melville’s Redburn, and Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland also features spontaneous human combustion (though, in a rarity, the victim there is not an alcoholic). And then there is Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, a novel notable not just for being one of the towering masterpieces of Victorian fiction, but because of its thirtieth chapter, in which the minor character—the alcoholic landlord Mr. Krook—spontaneously bursts into flames.”





Colin Dickey on the curious cases of human spontaneous combustion induced by liquor.
Image: Krook spontaneously combusting, from Bleak House. 1853.

laphamsquarterly:

ROUNDTABLE: A Fire in the Belly

Lest one think that the fear of spontaneous human combustion as a result of drink was a fringe phenomenon, one only has to consider the work of the literary greats of the day. Thomas de Quincey confessed to fearing that his addictions might lead to such “anomalous symptoms,” including spontaneous combustion. “Might I not myself take leave of the literary world in that fashion?” he wondered. A drunk explodes in Melville’s Redburn, and Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland also features spontaneous human combustion (though, in a rarity, the victim there is not an alcoholic). And then there is Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, a novel notable not just for being one of the towering masterpieces of Victorian fiction, but because of its thirtieth chapter, in which the minor character—the alcoholic landlord Mr. Krook—spontaneously bursts into flames.”

Colin Dickey on the curious cases of human spontaneous combustion induced by liquor.

Image: Krook spontaneously combusting, from Bleak House. 1853.

Unbridled Books: A writer is not a camera

unbridledbooks:

As we’ve been doing all month long, we posed the question, “What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever given or received?” to one of our Unbridled authors, Colin Dickey. His best advice? Well, as often happens with Colin…he’s completely spun convention on its head… .

“The worst

unbridledbooks:

The Onion’s AV Club called it “fascinating” and “at times laugh-out-loud funny”. Wired.com called it “captivating” and “authentic as hell”.  We like the way they think—and oh, how we love the cover.  It’s The Weekly Read: Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by @colindickey.

unbridledbooks:

The Onion’s AV Club called it “fascinating” and “at times laugh-out-loud funny”. Wired.com called it “captivating” and “authentic as hell”.  We like the way they think—and oh, how we love the cover.  It’s The Weekly Read: Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by @colindickey.