A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 3.9 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,000+ total posts
The details of this chronological chart/map caught my eye--the genealogy trees look to me very out-of-place or -time, speaking in terms of design, and seem to have a definite mid-20th century feel to them:
They are found in the left section of Jakob Skeen' s 1887 Genealogical Chronological And Geographical Chart. Embracing Biblical And Profane History Of Ancient Times From Adam To Christ, which is part of my friend P.J. Mode's wonderful collection of what he refers to as "Persuasive Maps", now housed at Cornell University. I don't often see chronologies of this detail with embedded maps, which is another odd bit about this display of information; overall, it is unusual to my experience:
Love him or not, there seems to be little middle ground with Salvador Dali. What I find probably-peripherally interesting in Dali's writings are the titles of them...maybe more so than the written piece itself--perhaps that is because I enter such deep shallow pool in them where I become lost or bored or just cleaved up in misunderstanding...it is all a possibility. One thing that is inarguable I think are the titles of some of his works. For example, I wanted to share a few that are found in the Surrealist-laden but not-necessarily-Surrealist art magazine, Minotaure (1933-1939):
"Non-Euclidean Psychology of a Photograph"
"The Spectral Surrealism of Eternal Pre-Raphaelite Femineity"
"First Morphological Law relating to Soft Structure"
"A Paranoiac-Critical Interpretation of the Obsessive Image of Millet's Angelus"
"Concerning the Terrifying and Edible Beauty of Art Nouveau"
"The New Colouras of Spectral Sex-Appeal"
"The Aerodynamic Apparition of Object Beings"
The Guggenheim notice on the Minotaure: http://blogs.guggenheim.org/findings/minotaure-surrealist-magazine-1930s/
Captain Marvel was once upon a time in the 1940's a superhero more popular than Superman, though Superman is the obvious victor over time (and a long time at that). I don't know what Captain Marvel is doing here hawking a paper punch-out flying "buzz bomb", particularly since it seems to have been produced during WWII.1 It does seem unlikely to me that a flying toy modeled on the buzz bomb would be sold to kids during the war. After all, the "buzz bomb" was the German advanced weapon called the V-1, or Vergeltungswaffe 1, (“retaliation”, or “vengeance” weapon), or Fieseler Fi 103, or Doodlebug, and was a flying bomb (on the order of a very primitive cruise missile guided by a gyroscope autopilot) launched against population centers in England by the Nazis during the June 1944-January 1945 period. The bomb was about 27’ long and 17’ wide, weighed 4,700 pounds, and reached 400 mph with an 1,800 pound warhead. Thousands of people were killed in the 8,000+ sorties of this foul-sounding beast--there was only a general sense of where it was going and where it might land, so the death and destruction it caused was indiscriminate. Given all of this I'm assuming that the guesses on the year of production of this are wrong, and that it is a post-war bit, which would be in less bad taste than had it been actually produced in wartime. It seems to me that most superhero/action hero types were busy punching Hitler or some such thing, and not selling a toy based on Hitler's weapons when they were actually killing thousands. In any event, I'm sharing this unusual image with its unusual story.
I've written a number of times on this blog on using the "paper microscope" on finding small images hidden in plain sight within larger images in antiquarian prints. The image below is by Giuseppe Zocchi (1711-1767) (commissioned by the Marchise Andre Gerini at mid century to record the greatest of Florentine landmarks) and is entitled "Veduta del Ponte a S. Trinita, della Chiesa di S. Trinita e della colonna inalzata da Cosimo I.." and appears in his Scelta di XXIV Vedute delle principali contrade, piazze, chiese, e palazzi della Città di Firenze in 1757. The print displays the buildings and obelisk just down the way from the bridge whose name occupies the beginning of the image's description, the ponte Santa Trinita, a fabulous renaissance structure built a hundred years earlier. All we see of teh bridge though is is decking, though we do see a huge rise, which gives us a hint of teh bridge's nature--it turns out that this is the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world. While the architecture is beautiful and teh perspective intersting, teh characters populzting the foreground are sometimes even more interesting. In general figures like this were used to take up empty bits of space and to provide perspective, and were depicted in the standard ways in which walking/riding humans are represented. In this case, however, there is a lot of social drama going on amidst the simple space fillers.
For example, in the bottom-left corner, we see doggies doing what doggies do, and also a disabled short person approaching a group of gentlemen in conversation:
Rebecca Onion at Slate Vault surfaced this very interesting image of electric breath on her twitter account (@Slate Vault), showing early robotic creatures alive and well and living in the minds of thousands of young kids, placed their partially by stories like this found in the pulpy pages of Frank Tousey's Pluck and Luck in 1892. The image (from the special collections library at the University of South Florida (here)) shows yet another work of genius/ingenuity by the endlessly adventurous "Jack Wright" a boy inventor, who seemingly went everywhere, did everything, and had the stuff to make it all happen.
I've posted1 many times on this blog about 19th century imaginary robotics, and had not seen this Wright story and his fabulous "electric deers".
This Jack Wright adventure was written by "Noname", who turns out to be by Luis Senarens (1863-1939)2, a very prolific and early sci-fi writer, a Brooklyn boy, who had been referred to as an American version of Jules Verne. Senarens wrote beginning in the 1880's and was no doubt much taken by the new applications of electricity, and Senarens applied it quite liberally. In a quick browse, he introduced electricity inventively, sprinkling it liberally over powered machinery and introducing his own electric ocean liners, submarines, sledge boats, canoes, air-schooners, locomotives, balloon ships, torpedo rams, horses, and no doubt much else. I'm glad to have caught up to Mr. Senarens' robots.
Just search "robot" in the google search box at upper right.
See the Edward T. LeBlanc Memorial Dime Novel Collection for very much expanded info on this and other series: https://dimenovels.org/Series/734/Show
This post is a part of overlapping categories, including:
Duplicate Earths (including Mondo Bizarro, Science Afflictions and the Dubious Mind—Bad Science, Part 1. NYC in Space (?!) here and Extra-Earth Humano-Alien Souls From Outer Space Repopulate Earth-Hell!!(??)here)
And before we get to Mystery in Space I wanted to make an uncommon addition to the "Duplicate Earth" category--I really don't find "Extra Earths" too often and so I feel a certain obligation in reporting them. And so, the Extra Earth of Fletcher Hanks' cover for his very uncommon superhero creation, Stardust:
I don't know if this is an actual Extra Earth that makes an appearance in a Stardust episode, or if it is just a repeated element of design--from what I have seen from Hanks, it could easily be either.
And now on the the rest:
In the eight years or so of collecting information and stories for the odd-bits section of this blog I have never encountered so many choice visual examples in one place for strange/weirdly-imagined/impossible/high-SciFi of the Earth than with the comic book, Mystery in Space. The very dedicated keepers of Coverbrowse.com website have reproduced thousands (?) of covers of pulpily-published science fiction and exotic-thinking comics books, including the home base in which all sixteen-plus years of Mystery in Space live.
This design screams out --yes, the "outside scream"--for attention of some sort. It is a five square inch ad crowded into a crowded 140 square inch page in a supplemental section to Harper's Weekly, August 3, 1872. The circular part is less than two inches in the original but it commands the big page, and is about the only thing your eyes can focus on until the ad is at least acknowledged and/or read.
The ad is for the "Reactionary Lifter", an uninspired and slightly cumbersome name for an exercise apparatus that was made of hydraulics and pull-me devices that used the person's own weight to exercise against. The machine itself doesn't seem that interesting, though the price does. At $100 it would take the average machinist or a similar skilled job probably a year to save a hundred dollars while making $10/week and then removing expenses, so this exercise machine was a significant expense. There is no mention of a price in the Harpers placement, which I guess was a good move so as not not frighten off the casual reader.
The heavens look orderly and generated in this depiction of space-based entertainment. Created by the the fabulist proto-surrealist (etc.) J.J. Grandville in his book Un Autre Monde (“Another World”) in 1844, the "travels of a comet" is a creative interpretation of the functions of a comet, the celestial body anthropomorphized, with a series of stars holding its gown's train, perhaps anchored by the Sun (or not). Beneath the comet is a A Saturn-like conveyance (see here), and to the right of that a star with the initials of the artist ("I.I.G."). Various other arrangements of planets are held in order by a series of stars, connected with some sort of nebulous something--the decorative centerpiece of this allegory bears a strong upside-down resemblance to the design on the title page holding the book's title.
The image appears in the book just after the illustration of the "conjugal kiss" of a lunar eclipse, a phrase even in English with a little ring to it.
[Source: Hathi Trust, full text, here: http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=gri.ark:/13960/t04x89022;view=1up;seq=125]
This also puts me in mind of Mozart's Zauberflaute--not really by much, and not by much that is very concrete, but the mood certainly reminds me of it:
[Image: Stage set for Mozart's Magic Flute, by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1815, gouache, Staatliche Museen, Berlin. via Wikimedia Commons and the University of Georgia, http://www.franklin.uga.edu/chronicles/posts/uga-opera-theatre-presents-mozarts-magic-flute]
This fine illustration with the wonderful helmet does look like some sort of 19th century robot, but seeing the little sign at the pinnacle--"Dr. Aktenstaub"--identifies this as an antiquarian antiquarian being shielded from the dust of accumulated and lonely wisdom. "Aktenstaub" is a wonderful word which identifies the smallest bits of existence: dust. But "dust" is much more poet and involved than that, with this "aktenstaub" relating to the old dust of old books, and so the helmet protects the reader from the weight of dusty ages. The horizon for the idea of dust is far and wide, though, as a walk through the Oxford English Dictionary attests. Describing dust seems more varied than the description of a book itself, or the identities of snow...the dust of organ pipes being different from that of wooden floorboards or corn husks or weary dust of travel on a long duster the dust of the cosmos; it describes a condition of humiliation, cash, disturbances of different sorts, and of course the "mortal frame of man", and seems to have a seat at a very long table of possibility, which is remarkable for such a small and unassuming word. The entry for dust is quite long and involved, and is followed by a longer list of dust-compounds, where things get really interesting. Dust-blister, dust-core, and dust-spawn are good examples of the long road of dust-possibilities. And so far as "aktenstaub" goes, it gives the idea of antiquarian book dust a personality as vibrant as fairy-dust, and so is perfectly fine with me--it is hard to go wrong, sometimes, with definitions of words that enrich the imagination more so than limit it.