And check out this.
'the world of alchemical symbols does not belong to the rubbish heap of the past, but stands in a very real and living relationship to our most recent discoveries concerning the psychology of the unconscious' c.g. jung
I had never heard of this work until I came across this rather wacky book cover-it piqued my curiosity and I went on a search to discover more about it. Mysterium Coniunctionis was Jung's last full length work, in it he presented his research on alchemy and its contribution to psychology and human self-understanding. Alchemy, a sort of protoscience that contributed to the emergence of modern chemistry and science, had/s three major goals: the transmutation of base metals into gold; the creation of a panacea-elixir of life; and was committed to the discovery of a universal solvent,
"Alchemy is the art of liberating parts of the Cosmos from temporal existence and achieving perfection which, for metals is gold, and for man, longevity, then immortality and, finally, redemption. Material perfection was sought through the action of a preparation (Philosopher's Stone for metals; Elixir of Life for humans), while spiritual ennoblement resulted from some form of inner revelation or other enlightenment," H.J. Shepherd.
Alchemy has obviously been around a long time and was very integral to the development of Western civilization and culture. I have noticed lately that it appears to be making a comeback of sorts. Writer Erik Davis notes that 'many of the earliest books on electricity described the force in distinctly alchemical terms, dubbing it the "ethereal fire," the "quintessential fire," or the "desideratum," the long-sought universal panacea,' in his book, Techgnosis. Damon Albarn's opera project Dr. Dee (well worth a listen in my opinion) was about the great alchemist Dr. John Dee, adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, whose secret moniker for private communication with the Queen was appropriated by writer Ian Fleming (yes, that's where 007 came from). Old ideas and influences don't go away, they are eclipsed and ignored for a time, then often picked back up and rejiggered for a new time and a new perspective.
I don't have much of a point here, other than to note, that alchemy, rooted as it is, in a pre-modern view of how the world works, remains a source of influence in small and often unnoticed ways in our world, and I find that interesting. Jung was not willing to dismiss the symbolism of alchemy but sort to understand its influence, meaning and contribution to the emerging world of psychology, and somewhere along the way someone designer put together a particularly cheesy book cover that piqued my curiosity enough to get me exploring the field a little more.
I'm a sucker for flowers, faced with a choice between a meal and a bunch of flowers I'd spend my last dime on the flowers, I am contstantly and continually capitivated by flowers of all kinds--arranged, wild, obscure, familiar. I still remember the breath-taking sigh tof fields of tulips when I moved to Holland when I was so much younger. Andreas Verheijen calls himself a 'flower engineer' and one look at this website will tell you why, amazing, absolutely amazing.
Zizek is back. Available today via iTunes and on Netflix I think, is the latest documentary from Zizek, The Perverts Guide to Ideology, directed by Sophie Fiennes, an exploration of cinema and "the mechanisms that shape what we believe and how we behave." It's pretty much the same format as the earlier PG to Cinema, but this time the focus is more on ideology itself. You know what you are going to get with Zizek, a marxist philosophical view of everything, but I find the man perhaps at his most insightful when he tackles what is going on in culture via cinema, coca-cols and chocolate eggs and much more. Any philosopher who tackles The Sound of Music, casually mentions religion as a means of harnessing sexual desire and then takes the film as an important ideological treatise and notes that Climb Every Mountain was censored for its Catholic propagandist tendencies in his native Yugoslavia when he first saw the film, is worth listening to as far as I am concerned. Complexity and the unseen depths of things are what I always take away from Zizek's cultural critique and that is always more than enough.
I'm a big fan of the School of Life and of its founder (or one of), Alain de Botton. The latest venture in their attempt to bring smart-thinking to the world is called The Philosophers Mail, an online news service with a twist. Using the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, as a model, the PM is approaching celebrity gossip and global issues as teachable moments--a genius idea if you ask me. It is run exclusively by philosophers, whose stated goals are
So you get images of celebrity couples with philosophical quotes on love, or its futility. There 'imagines' interviews and all kinds of quirky but insightful engagements with 'news' which also happens to be the topic of de Botton's latest book. Definitely worth a regular look and a thoughtful way of turning things upside down and helping people find meaning in the midst of what many would reagrd as little but the detritus of life.
The National Portrait Gallery in Washington has launched an exhibition called American Cool, which features 100 Americans who fit the criteria. The curators took five years to pull the exhibition together and defined cool by four chief characteristics--originality of artistic vision, and especially of a signature style; cultural rebellion, or transgression in given historical moment; iconicity, or a certain level of high-profile recognition; recognized cultural legacy (lasting more than a decade). each of those included had to fit at least three of those categorizations. Walt Whitman, described as a guiding light of American Bohemia, kicks it off. Australian Kim Sajet, who is the Director of the Gallery said that "Cool is America's greatest cultural export," a bold statement. Like many of America's cultural exports, cool, as we understand it today, was born in African-American culture specifically jazz culture in the early 1940s. As usual, a debt is owed to an often marginalized community whose contribution to American cultural life cannot be over-estimated.
Reading through some blogs this morning and came across a reference to a 1938 movie called Sex Madness, which like the perhaps more familiar, Reefer Madness, is a quasi-documentary film pointing out the dangers of unbridled sexual activity and the dangers of STDs particularly Syphillis. Its a moral prescriptive story about new values, or lack of values and morality around sexual activity and the young, and features a 'concerned citizen,' Paul Lorenz, who is on a one-person crusade against immorality. Of course the protagonists are up for any kind of sexual activity regardless of the cost and consequences--'wild' parties, lesbianism and premarital sex all follow.
The form of the film, which was 'educational' allowed things to be shown that were forbidden by the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930. It's less than an hour long, but it is an insightful peak into a period in history where new moralities were challenging old ways--it's after the giddy and dizzying heights of the Jazz Age, when new attitudes to gender, class, sex and sexuality and social norms were pushing the world into directions many felt uncomfortable with the direction things were going and reduced everything down to a simple moral equation rather than wrestling with the complexities of new social relations and finding ways to address both the opportunities and challenges of such shifts. Funny how not much has changed in that regard. One of my favourite 'pick-up lines in the film comes courtsey of a suave 'cowboy/flamenco' guy who is preying on a naive young girl swept up in the idea of an independent life and career, "lets seal our friendship with wine-sparkling, bright...it rids the mind of worry, fills the soul with hope..." very smooth--this first drink leads to champagne a wild party and then... it happened, a life ruined. Unfortunately, of course, nasty things can and do happen to people when their minds are blurred and their eyes are blinded by things they desire, but the films heavy-handed and one-sided treatment of the issues is what makes it worth watching.
Morality and moral choices are so simple for some people, it's just a case of always knowing right from wrong--I find it usually much more complex, especially in times of change, when we find ourselves at the frontier of new human orderings and what is emerging has yet to be named and defined. You can watch the whole film here.
I find maps quite fascinatng, they are documents of our limitations, the boundaries and borders of our perceptions as well as the charting of our knowledge. Maps aren't always necessarily geographic and in recent years as we have shifted our horizons toward the digital, cartographers have emerged with charts and maps of the new geography. Works by Martin Vargic, executed by hand in his spare time using Photoshop were some of the earliest attempts, and now comes a new piece by him and another artist, Jay Simon. Together they have created a map with an old world feel to it, but it is anything but old, hundreds of net ventures are charted and mapped, fascinating. You can buy a copy here.
You can also check this link out for another, and ongoing, approach to mapping digital space.