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JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 477 In the history of questions, this ("Is the dance dangerous?") certainly must rank in the bottom tenth percentile. Or at least I hope it does. The question is the title of this small pamphlet, written by Porter Bailes (of the First Baptist Church of Tyler, Texas) in 1947, a work which is part of my Naive Surreal collection. "If it's doubtful, it's dirty" is the major maxim that floats it way through this work, and proceeds to attacks it subject of "the"dance on its unholy, immoral, unnatural, imprudent, prayer-defeating nature.
"Can any one stretch the imagination as to think of Jesus as being congenial and at ease in the atmosphere that the dance creates? No! Dancing is not to the glory of god. It never made anyone feel the nearness of god. It robs us of the desire to pray. A dancing foot and a praying knee are not found long on the same limb."
"There are many fine people who dance. They are fine not because they dance, but in spite of the dance."
"The dance does not involve any moral requirements. The more lewd the people are, the more proficient they may become. The gestures of the dance demand lewdness."
Lastly: "the tine of the dance makes it dangerous. Its hours are unearthly and abnormal"
And lastly last: " The position of the dance make it dangerous. For two normal people to place their bodies in the close personal contact that the modern dance demands and not have impure thoughts and unholy emotions stirred, would be very unnatural. In truth, it is against all the known laws of human nature."
This is last just for my examples: there are 20 pages of this. It is remarkable that, in this highly restrictive and judgmental work, the paper is allowed to bend.
And not to be outdone, the author tells us that 97% of professional gamblers "attribute their habit to the practice of playing cards at home". "The risk is too great, young people" Pastor Bailes tells us, "for you to start gambling--even at home". He began to warm to this subject but I guess was saving this subject for later.
Perhaps this is more the Alpher and Omeger of the concept of 40, but, then, one never knows about these things, even when they're pronounced in the manner of Mr. Eugene Krabs (a Spongebob reference; Mr. Krabs tends to put "er" at the end of words ending in "a", like "spatuler").
The warnings of death AND light beginning at 40 seems to be a little contradictory, a little bit of singularity happening at a place that I left behind 12 years ago. But all these beautifully designed pamphlets are yelling about is traffic speed and life insurance: traffic deaths start piling up at 40 m.p.h. and men (not women) should start buying life insurance then because their big earnings years "come to light".
These pamphlets are both part of my Naive Surreal Collection--works that seem commonplace and standard when they were published but whose context is decidedly antiquarian and semi-existent in 2009. Often the best part of these pamphlets are their covers, though they can all be mined for the forgotten social ephemera that lurks just beneath their surface. But in these cases it is really just the incredibly arcane messages in the artwork that I find most interesting.
Is it possible that James Steveson's Paddington : report on the necessity of latrine accommodation for women in the Metropolis, published in 1879, is the first book published in English to use the word "latrine" in the title?! Well, in a lightly interesting and perhaps stupefying way, the answer is "yes". And this just to get to this very obscure graphic.cartoon book, Smoe, the Latrine Orderly, by H.E. Swinney, published by the Ledger Company in Fort Worth, Texas. According to WorldCat/OCLC, the massive cataloging tool used by librarians everywhere, there aren't any copies of this book in any library anywhere in the world. I'm both surprised and underwhelmed. The cartoons all appeared in the Fort Worth Army Air Field's newspaper "Lone Star Scanner", which is also a publication that doesn't seem to have survived anywhere. H.E. Swinney may be Sergeant H.E. Swinney, who was present at Pearl Harbor on 7 December and who fought his way through WWII, though I'm not sure.
The pamphlet's jokes and cartoons I can appreciate as having been funny once upon a time, making people laugh as they snapped their newspapers over their eggs at the PX. Maybe they made people laugh for a few years, but probably not much more. It makes me think for just a little about the average age for how long jokes are "funny". I'd say that the Smoe funny lasted about 2 years 5 months and 5 days. More or less.
The word "latrine" is from the French and from the Latin before that, and appears fairly early in English (1642 according to my 1933 OED), but for whatever reason, it just doesn't find its way into the title of any English books for more than two hundred years.
The reason I'm spending any time at all on this little pamphlet is because its title is so entirely unexpected. And that, as the man said, is all I have to say about that.
Below are 31 titles relating to witches and witchcraft, printed in the 16th through 18th century--they all share some absolutely fabulous title constructions, elements and phrases. For example, the great work by Reginald Scot (listed first, below) contains the following phrasing IN ITS TITLE:
"lewde dealing of witches and witchmongers
knaverie of conjurors impietie of inchanters follie of soothsaiers impudent falsehood of cousenors infidelitie of atheiststs pestilent practises of Pythonists curiositie of figurecasters vanitie of dreamers beggerlie art of Alcumystrie abomination of idolatrie, the horrible art of poisoning vertue and power of naturall magicke, conveiances of legierdemaine and juggling are deciphered..."
Laurent.Bordelon's title includes the following spectacular efforts: "Ridiculous Extravagancies of...Magick, the Black-Art, Daemoniacks, Conjurers, Witches, Hobgoblins, Incubus's, Succubus's and the Diabolical-Sabbath,Elves, Fairies, Wanton Spirits, Genius's, Spectres and Ghosts, Dreams, the Philosopher's-Stone, Judicial Astrology, Horoscopes,Talismans, Lucky and Unlucky Days, Eclipses, Comets, and all sorts of Apparitions, Divinations, Charms, Enchantments..."
And on and on. In my experience the titles of books on witchcraft and demonology are among the most creative and imaginatively flouncy. Enjoy.
Scot, Reginald. The Discoverie of Witchcraft, Wherein the lewd dealing of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knaverie of conjurors, the impietie of inchanters, the follie of soothsaiers, the impudent falsehood of cousenors, the infidelity of atheists, the pestilent practises of Pythonists, the curiositie of figurecasters, the vanitie of dreamers, the beggerlie art of Alcumystrie, The abomination of idolatrie, the horrible art of poisoning, the vertue and power of naturall magicke, and all the conveiances of legierdemaine and juggling are deciphered: and many other things opened, which have long been hidden, howbeit verie necessarie to be known, 1584. Imprinted at London, by William Brome.
Bordelon, L. A History of the Ridiculous Extravagancies of Monsieur Oufle; Occasion'd by his reading Books treating of Magick, the Black-Art, Daemoniacks, Conjurers, Witches, Hobgoblins, Incubus's, Succubus's and the Diabolical-Sabbath; of Elves, Fairies, Wanton Spirits, Genius's, Spectres and Ghosts; of Dreams, the Philosopher's-Stone, Judicial Astrology, Horoscopes, Talismans, Lucky and Unlucky Days, Eclipses, Comets,sorts of Apparitions, Divinations, Charms, Enchantments and other Superstitious Practices. With Notes containing a multitude of Quotations out of those Books, which have either Caused such Extravagant Imaginations, or may serve to Cure them. Written originally in French, by the Abbot B--; and now translated into English. London, Printed for J. Morphew near Stationer's Hill, 1711.
Some years ago I purchased a rather large collection from the Library of Congress unimaginatively called "The Pamphlet Collection". It was not very distinguished, and for the most part, not terribly interesting on the face of it--but it was LARGE and, as it turns out, most of the material in the collection just isn't anywhere else (for good or for ill). After trying to make sense of the purchase--which was categorized and boxed but I couldn't really figure out what the principle of division was--there was one pile that refused identification because the subject matter was so inescapably unusual, so unexpected, so logic-challenging, that they formed their own genre: they became the Outsider Logic collection. There are at least 500 of them, maybe more. They are differentiated from the Naive Surreal collection, which is associated but just happen to look incredibly odd because they are not only way out of context but also their context largely doesn't exist anymore.
The sample today is a religious tract of some sort--very scream-y, lots of quotation marks, exclamation points, and is thick and stubbily printed, and which really doesn't have a title per se, the front cover simply starting "Behold I Make All Things New. This work by V.T. Houteff.It is too long to get an idea of what is really going on, but I happened upon this diagram, which, shall we say, is a little on the outsider side, as the author explains that the Earth "lives" in an atmosphere surrounded by a bubble wall of water. I like the arrow pointing to "water".
On the next page to this attractive image was a longish rant on the number 144,000. It turns out that 144,000 represents the total number of people allowed into heaven.
If this is so, where is everyone else? That doesn’t leave much room for pets, or other animals, or insects. DO plants go to heaven? What about amoebic life? When a person “goes” to heaven, what goes with them? Are all life forms—microscopic and not—that are always present on a person/body given a free ride? There’s a lot of life going on oh the surface of the skin and of course inside the body…I guess that would be a "no”, as I imagine Heaven would be ultimately clean.
I assume that people still have bodies because of the belief—exhibited in this pamphlet of outsider logic and by perhaps millions of other people who are adherents of other faiths and belief systems---that there are 144,000 people allowed into heaven. Wouldn’t there be infinite room for your spirit, which I would imagine to be infinitely small? Something that has no mass and is not calculable on any level couldn’t ever fill anything up.
The 144,000 figure is something like 7/100’s of one percent of all people who have lived and are living, which is something like having a one-in-five million chance of getting into heaven right now—that is IF we allowed that heaven could be filled up right this instant. If there was wiggle room involved—say if g wanted to include the possibilities that there might be a ultimate human population of 1 trillion or something like that, then, well, there are two more zeroes that would go in front of the percentage number (.0007%), to provide for the prospect of heaven not getting filled up until some point in the next 100,000 years.
What if there were 124,000 people already in heaven? Suddenly competition gets gigantically fierce, allowing 20,000 places for the current 6 billion, which means that .001% of everyone living gets into heaven and then fill it up. What would it be like to be the last person in? Do you shut the door? Are there people behind you on line?
And then how good do you have to be to get in? Better than a baby who dies in childbirth? That happens about 50 times an hour, worldwide, so far as I can tell. I’d expect a person like that could get into heaven as they certainly didn’t have much of a chance to do anything to interfere with g_d or its plan. Once you start throwing in children who die who are under the age where they could commit a foul act, say 5, and then toss in aborted fetuses (which for these cases I’m sure would be called “babies”), that figure of 50-an-hour would jump, probably, two orders of magnitude. 500 deserving babies an hour for thousands of years adds up to a heck of a lot more than 144,000. Actually the 144,000 total would be hit in less than three weeks. Which in the course of tens of thousands of years of human civilization and 10,000’s of thousands more to come, that would mean that 99%++++ of all babies and children who die before the age of 5 would go to not-heaven. It is also hugely
problematic because humans may be around on earth for another million
years, which cuts the chances of slipping into heaven to seven (or
twelve) places to the right of the decimal point. Those are not good
That, friends, doesn’t sound very fair.
I guess that means that hell doesn’t have a bottom line. Hell never gets full.
I don’t mean to stomp on any belief systems here, but, well, the numbers sorta speak for themselves. They also mean that for all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses alive right now—a religion that distinctly shares this 144k belief—that basically none of them alive right now stand any sort of chance of going to heaven. That is a hard sell.
A statement in fairness to the ancients:
Historically, speaking for the folks thinking about this 2000 or whatever years ago, 144,000 does loom larger than it looks today, of course. Not only was the population of the world much smaller (by almost two orders of magnitude) but there was also almost no way for anyone living then to accurately guess the global population. Given a population of 100 million, if everyone alive in the year 1 were to be considered for a filled-up heaven, then about one-tenth of one percent would make it. Now, if you were an ancient and thinking about the population of the world in general, my best guess is that you’d be thinking in terms of maybe tens of millions. Maybe. That means the 144k figure would be something believable, sort of, being 1% of the population. Say we grant the 1% as a given; and that it was a given that the ancients thought in “low” numbers for populations; it is also a given, I think, that they did think in long terms of time, in the thousands of years, at least. That means if they gave room for heaven to be :”filled up” in a thousand years, and the population of the world didn’t change, it would mean that of everyone on earth as known to the ancients that 144 people a year for a thousand years would go to heaven. And frankly, those figures don’t look very promising either.
"Words are prophetic in themselves and the tea leaves open the avenues of imaginative thought." Your Fortune in the Tea Cup
"This was our paradox: no course of action could be determined by a
rule, because every course of action can be made out to accord with the
rule. The answer was: if everything can be made out to accord with the
rule, then it can also be made out to conflict with it. And so there
would be neither accord nor conflict here."--Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations §201
"Are you certain that you understand my language?" J.L. Borges, The Library of Babel, (the final query)
"The always wandering meaning of all literary representation, according to which meaning wanders, like human tribulations, like error, from text to text, and within the text, from figure to figure." Harold Bloom, Kabbalah and Criticism.
Written, incised and drawn messages come to us in many forms, presented in clay, chipped into stone, painted on rock, drawn on paper, tied into chords, all to be appreciated by our sweaty eye. These varied elements have many different uses, from telling us what is going on, to what is happening now, and also about what might happen in the future. Sometimes the future is a tale written in letters, and sometimes in numbers, prediction rates of success varying sorta by the ratio of letters to numbers. Or not. Sometimes it takes the forms of sticks and lines, telling us how to move in dance (as with labanotation, below-right).
Messages can be quite clear, as in the presentation of an arithmetic progression, and can also be made to seem like nothing but gibberish. The final bit of a lettered segment in Jules Verne's Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon, for example, looks like this: "...KSPPSUVJHD", and is preceded by 264 other letters, looking much like a page from one of the books in our friend Borges' library at Babel. A cryptogram whose message could determine whether the main character lives or dies. (Even assuming a monoalphabetic substitution, its a tough little bugger to figure out--even when you start counting the appearances of the nonsense letters to try and figure what might stand for "E" and "A", you still have to work it against whatever language the cryptogram might've been done for. Once you toss in the polyalphabetic possibilities in, the room gets a little spinny.)
There is of course a identification of the source code for DNA, and then further to the sequencing of those elusive bits to determine and make sense of the order of the nucleotide basis, producing what on first blush looks like a laborious repetition of four basic letters interspersed with lots of other junk. With the key to this cypher, the letters and raw glyphs look less like an automated music box cylinder and more like the music of life that it represents.
Once you throw naturally-occurring glyphs into the fray the information pool becomes terrifically wide. Geological strata, the course of a lightning strike, the height of a cloud, the depth of a cave, all tell us enormous, almost incomprehensible stories, while things like stellar spectra hold the key to what stuff in the universe is made of, how old it is and where it is going.
The world is nothing but a collection of what has been written-on, and I would be terrifically remiss if I didn't mention the stories of animals left by their tracks, as full and interesting in their ticks and glyphs telling as striking a story as the geometrical marks scene on your monitor.
All of this leads us to the delightful pamphlet that provided us with the semi-secret image at the top of this post. The work engages the shadows of an ancient rite in an amused, amusing manner, not taking itself too terribly seriously, though does not abandon the possibility that fortune telling via the leavings in a tea cup is not impossible. The image at top left, which might look like one of those Eric van Daniken drunken "alien findings"scooped out of a Mayan lintel, is the bottom of an empty teacup, the bits representing the varied exuda freed from the drunken tea. And according to this pamphlet and another 2000 years or whatever of Asian history, these bits are as much a representation of reality as the English alphabet; and according to my very quick reading of the thing, it is also open as much to interpretation as it is to creative misinterpretation, which I guess is where the poetry must be. The geography of the items of the teacup are as important it seems as the things left behind: stalks, leaf bits, grounds are appraised for their wetness or dryness, their mobility or not, their position on the cup and their positions relative to one another, and on and on, dancing betwixt themselves in a changeable choreography of meaning and non-meaning, a closely gathered world of indefinite possibility.
In a world filled with religions and superstitions and mythologies and hopes and dreams and fears, I have no problem at all with elevating tea-leaf-reading to a marble altar.. None whatsoever-- so long as the ultimately satisfactory Mr. Claus is received as well, or at least not bothered.
I've reprinted the entire pamphlet below. Somehow it is a very satisfying read.
If you enjoyed this, check out the following earlier posts:
This interesting and semi-bizarre image shows a doctor of magnetism (and necrologer and astrologer and several other things) conspiring at the edge of science and the heart of all things dark to adjust the dreams of the formerly sleeping man. The patient is awakening and the doctor is doing, well, things that I don't understand: suffice to say that he was trying to assuage good dreams for the other man via the secrets of magnetism.
The mysteries of sleep and the dreamworld were hotbeds of investigation from all sides, and there is a fairly deep publication record on the subject for the 1550-1700 period. This image comes from Le Palais du Prince du Sommeil, ou est enseignee l'Onriomancie autrement l'Art de Deviner par les Songes, printed in Lyon by Jean Pavhlhe in 1670, and written by the spectre-like M. Mirbel, whose history and biography are just about non-existent.
The idea of approaching sleep and dreams via magnetism is unusual even in the very unusual history of unusual ways of adjusting dreams--the interpretation of dreams is evidently closely related in mysterious and bendy ways, almost as convoluted and soft as the physical means used to induce them.
The history of big dreams and dreaming in general is far bigger than the issue of fixing them, and much paler, considering the vast range of imagery. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections), Havelock Ellis (World of Dreams), Freud (oy vey), Shakespeare ("we are such stuff..."), Leonardo, Joseph (and the Pharohs), William Blake, Solomon and of course Daniel, and then on and on into the night.
dreams (as in The Book of Daniel) were gigantic and full, and there
have been many others who have recorded their dreams in the history of
literature and religion. I must say though that the dream of King
Prasenajit (the ruler of Kosala, located on the northeast of modern
Uttar Pradesh, India), a disciple of Buddha, had a dream in ten parts
which troubled him greatly, and when you look at its elements you can
-Three jugs set in a row, one put against the other.
The first and the last of the jugs are mutually exchanging the vapours
of the liquids that are contained in them, vapours which never descend
in the empty jug situated in the midst. -A horse that swallows the food concomitantly through the mouth and through the anus. -A tree full of flowers. -A tree full of fruits. -A man who is knitting a rope. Behind the man there is a sheep. The owner of the sheep eats the rope knitted by the first man. -A fox lying down on a bed made of gold, and eating out of golden vessels. -A cow suckling her own calf, against the law of nature. -Four
oxen that arrive, bellowing, from the four corners of the horizon. They
are rushing upon each other, in order to start fighting, but all of a
sudden they vanish, right before clashing their horns together. -A pond surrounded by slopes. Its water is turbid in the offing, but clear near the shore. -A huge torrent, entirely red.
This would give anyone pause, even more so if you were a disciple of the Buddha. None of these images fit into my dream dictionary (especially the horse one), but perhaps they are deeply related to the times and not transferable over the centuries. Which is an interesting way of looking at a particular time and understanding a bit of it that doesn't normally sink into the public record--the expression of dreams might tell a little more about the time and place than about the person. This sort of made-up historiographic (?) approach reminds me a little of snooping around old Domesday books and business/city directories, looking at the sorts of jobs that were common once upon a time and now slipped away into the tar pit. So to with dream imagery? Perhaps like just about everything else, dream images may well have a shelf life. (I was going to reference Twinkies as an example contrary to this, but I understand that a new something-or-other has been added to it/them to make it so that these fine products will actually go bad after a while, rather than like before, when it could be counted on the cockroaches nibbling on them into eternity following the death of Dr. Strangelove. Perhaps a former-chemist/librarian out there knows what this ingredient is and will share the knowledge?)
For example, this 18th century directory for what dream images may
"mean" are mostly foreign to the general experience, I would say. On the other hand, to attach meaning to the importance of dreaming about stealing pepper may be a little quixotic, but much less so than interpreting it as a harbinger f melancholy. I know that to even mention the business of pepper theft in 1650 tells us a lot about its importance and why it would've been stealable and can tell us something about the foods of the time, trade, commodities and such. Thinking about it in terms of a predictive element may not be as fruitful...
Oscar Lowry attempts to answer the question in the subject line of this post in a very red book of 46 shouty pages. What he's really concerned with, in Where are the Dead (1930), and what he maintains is of "universal interest to the saved and unsaved, the hearers and nonhearers", is what happens to people after they die; more particularly though, Mr. Lowry is interested in differentiations in eternal damnations versus eternal doom. And there is evidently a very wide difference here, as people in Hades are just in "prison", waiting for their final judgment which will fling them into Mr. Cash's ring of fire (well,"lake" of fire, actually). There's also little chance that the snakey charms of Orpheus' poetry will ever change anyone's mind at the gates of Sheol-Hades, leading anyone away from the firey pit. The discussion of Hades and Hell and Sheol is interesting if not scary in Mr. Lowry's hands, describing "Sheol-Hades" as a "prison", its occupants waiting for final disposition to Hell. Strong's Hebrew opens the possibilities of definition with a number of translations for Sheol: the underworld, the abode of the dead, place of no return; without praise of God; wicked sent there for punishment; righteous not abandoned to it; of the place of exile; of extreme degradation in sin. The most troubling of these in my book is the definition of what it is not, as in "when the righteous are not abandoned to it", which seems both reassuring and really terrifying..
Millions now Living May Never Die (1939) is a great title which leads ultimately to a not terribly interesting pamphlet about The Rapture. Its also very badly timed for such a title--1939--as 20 or 30 million extra people would die who shouldn't've by 1945. I'm not sure why capitalization is required for the rapture, as it will probably not be confused with Another Rapture, or the Pseudo Rapture or even the Pre-Rapture--I must admit though that the mechanics of the rapture are not obvious to me, coming as it does after the Advent and Second Advent (which comes after seven years of Tribulation, or something like that). The author, another Lowry , this one a Cecil from the Southwestern Bible School of Enid, Oklahoma, writes with an abundance of capitalization about the impending "return of Jesus for His Bride", and how the rapture will take you where you are, leaving the righteous to live on the earth, and others, well, not. The word "doom" appears more often than a semi-colon. "Because the world is round, it will be night on one side of the earth and day on the other. So many will be translated [i.e. "terminated"] that the great newspapers of the earth will carry in their headlines words similar to these: 'Millions have mysteriously disappeared from the earth'. I am told that a certain large newspaper already have their type for for that event." The rapture will take you from "Satan's slime pits" wherever they are, "at beach bathing and beer parlors " to name a few, though I think that one can stop reading at being sucked into oblivion for sitting in the sand at Tybee Island, particularly if you're five years old. Be that as it may, probably everyone who read these the works when they were first published are now probably dead, enraptured or not.
This is the great promise of this remarkably mundane and
contemporarily-wholly-removed pamphlet, which promises rewards and
riches to be made in even the simplest backyard frog ranch, and all done with water, cement and no secret decoder ring. I mean, good night! I really had no idea whatsoever about such frog-goings-on in the depths of our country, even if the "depths" was Ridgewood, New Jersey, and it was the Depression (this pamphlet published in 1936). I don't have too much else to say about this remark effort except that--for all I know and I am not going to research it--this may well be the earliest Frog Ranch Plan published in the U.S. There. I said it (though my "key words" section says it all: "Frog farm, frog ranch, frog raising, frog map").
I'd like to say that this was a class-of-its-own sort of work, but as it goes this is hardly the case. If I cared a little I guess I could establish a collecting sub-category in the nuclear fission--atomic--nuclear weapon collection for the popular belief that god ordained and transmitted the atomic bomb. There are at least five other pamphlets like this floating around in the store, and I am certain that there must've been dozens of other grabby little publications like this proclaiming Almighty Influence in the creation of the atomic bomb. I can understand the reasoning behind the power grab: the bomb ended the war a week after its second use, sparing the lives, perhaps, of a million soldiers (American and Japanese) and years of societal/infrastructure rehabilitation by eliminating the need of an American invasion of the Empire. So the denominator was simply the "saved (American) lives" part.
Again, I can understand how this felt in 1945/6, but I still feel that getting the suspected creator of the universe involved in the making and use of the bomb was ill-advised. The author of the first pamphlet reached back into history and credited god with simple solutions to complex situations: employing the more modern political technique of controlling language in the Tower of Babel case (wher he also said that since Babel was only 105 years after the flood that Noah was still alive, and that certainly Noah "would've voted 'No'" for the building of the tower); and using "Johnny Snowflake" to stop the "non-satanic" Napoleon from reaching "Britain's doorstep (and obviousy not the Soviet Reds). Bennet also credits god with giving "Dr. Currie" (sic) the genius to "split atoms" in 1896.
The second pamphlet uses the atomic weapon a little more figuratively. The author, Mel Morris, published this in 1945, which means he must've worked a little feverishly to pump up his bible prophesy and history to include the new atomic weapon to replace whatever else he had been using as a prophecy for end of times. (As it turns out, "God's Atomic Bomb" was more tempest and disaster in the bible, and not (whew!) the bomb itself. Though as we've learned from scientologists and the sort-of creative mind of Ron Hubbard, a civilization came to the earth thousands of years ago and pummeled it with "atomic bombs" and other nastiness, polluting humans for milennia to come. But that's another story--suffice to say that Morris found many dozens of examples of "God's Atomic Bomb" being used in the deep biblical past, and that the use of the real atomic bomb in 1945 was pre-ordained, and not without its figurative historical counterparts. I'm not sure why any of this was necessary outside of proving to some small minority that these preachers could at least be contemporary and topical.
This is an example of a quiet, naive masterpiece, and is a perfect companion to a fantastic pamphlet that I wrote about earlier this month on flagpole painting. This tall (11x8 inch) 35-page 1945 work with an impossible title has everything that you would need to know--as its title promises and delivers--to repair a zipper. Not replace a zipper--repair it. It is so beautiful as to want to make every engineer residing in the deepness of everyones' soul just simply weep. The pamphlet is simply but well illustrated and addresses 50-odd contingencies for zipper malfunction and failure, and speaks to a particular WWII mindset that that addresses problems in this very fashion. Repair rather than replace. The bottom line here is that this is as good as any book of the history of fluxions or the making of the atomic bomb or cooking up a virus, given the parameters and limitations of its subject.
(I have a pamphlet somewhere that was published by Dupont that
would've been a great cross-purpose reference, only I cannot find it.
It was called Stump Blasting. And, yes, since it was published by the
DuPont Chemical Corporation it heavily sold the idea to farmers of how
useful dynamite can be for just about any job. And I don't disagree
outright, but the approach to the philosophies of problem-solving
couldn't be more different, especially contrasting the Stump Blasting pamphlet with the Stump Removal one produced by a chain manufacturer.
And so how does it come to pass that someone ostensibly trying to
write a history of science blog that has been changed to a history of
ideas blog finds himself at almost-midnight on a Sunday plugging away
on a post about zipper repair and stump blasting? (And how often to do
those five words come together in a sentence? ) Simple: its about the
methodology and the approach to figuring out a problem. On the one
hand, you have a circumstance where the problem is addressed, solved
and eradicated; on the other, the problem is simply eradicated without
the "solved" part. (Zippers really shouldn't fail all that often--the
guy who patented the modern zipper in 1906 said that the zipper should
work 200,000 times.) Personally I think that it is better in the long
run to solve the problem rather than just replace it or blow it up.
Perhaps we're just living in a BIU ("blow it up") kind of world, but I
think we could use more zipper-repair approaches to thinking.
JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 212 This pamphlet comes from our extensive Naïve Surreal collection, which is composed of (a) pamphlets that were concerned with commonplace ephemera in the past that today looks implausible or impossible, and (b) pamphlets that addressed issues of, shall we, a mostly-internal, very personal, High Imagination that may or may not have been part of the visual world.
This pamphlet, written in 1936 by Arthur Russell Groves, calls for nothing short of the reorganization of the social structure of the United States via systematic adherence to the “Coming Sun Plumbline Standard Hone via the National Constitution”--an idea which came in several parts to Mr. Groves through dreams. The philosophy of the Sun Plumbline etc. is so spectacularly odd that it nearly defies description. (For example, “sun plumbline” is “the absolute perfection of the Standard Home Measure Sunspascc (not misspelled) Trip”, where “Sunspascc” was “the second name of the Tentative Standard Home Amendment, a two-fold meaning of unquestionable perfection and of the journey of life in perpetual sunlight, and consists of the first letter of the following eight words—standard, universal, normal, perpetual, abundant, self-supporting, cooperating, and creating…” Oh dear.
As irresistible as this document seems, its unconnectedness is just far too demanding to allow understanding. One good measure of this: it defies memorization. The pieces and bits that form this work are so logically fractured that quoting from memory would be exceptionally difficult, or hopefully so.
Another interesting bit about this pamphlet is that no matter where you may lose your place when reading it (and which happens often as your eyes easily slide off of the page) you have no idea of where you are, and you can pick up the reading anywhere at all. It is a perfect example of a very interesting sub-set of books: books whose words disappear while being read. You can also read it backwards with little observable difference.
Mr. Groves was definitely, deeply engrossed in this philosophy--my guess is that he was pretty well consumed by it. In his defense I’ve got to point out that he lovingly dedicated his work to his daughters. He undoubtedly had little doubt in his own doubtful visions (one of which was about the letter “S”), and was certainly proud enough and sure enough to honor his daughters with the publication of his work. So, as far out and as deeply removed as his ideas were, the bottom line was that he was still someone’s daddy.
JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 162 So, in a collection of thousands of odd pamphlets with categories and sub-categories which are in themselves odd (“History of Biological Transformation”) there occasionally springs from the well a particularly singular effort that doesn’t fit anywhere: when I can’t find a place to put something in a collection (read “assemblage”) that has a place for everything, I know its really weird.
And so we have the singular tale of “Prof.” Walter Martin, author of Astrasophy, the Little Giant, by Recent Explorations in Chicago Uncovers the Great Pre-Historic Mich.—Wis.—Ill.—Ind. Sea Enabling Astrasophy to Explode a Glacier Moraine (so-called) inside that City, landing the Glacier 1500 miles west in the Glacier Park, Montana.
Sometimes you have to read something to find out what its all about; other times, like here, the whole thing gets pretty much told in the title. Once inside, there’s no trail of words to describe exactly what Prof. Martin had in mind with the exploding Chicago glacier; the trail picks up and disappears all over the place, leading even the best tracker to stand and scratch, lost. (I should point out, too, that the glacier is not only “exploded”, but it is placed “whole”, somehow, in Montana from Chicago. That’s really not a lot of ‘sploding, if you ask me.). There’s talk about stars, and the “future Chicago”, the tilting of the continents, “slipping earth”, and disappeared “drift piles of ice”, punctuated with wonderful non sequitors like “Yes with my heart all gone I had to eat two glaciers and put one in my pocket”, and then right back into star control, earth miasmas, solar system electricity, and other cloudy things.
Only eleven pages long, the pamphlet reads as though it were several pages shorter. On pages 7-11 is a “University Short Course in Astrasoph”, and seems to explain all things in seven quick points. In #2, we read “space is matter in its utmost expansion”, which is a tricky statement (in that we usually think of matter “taking up” space, but never mind), which we can get by quickly with #3: “matter is the result produced by creation pressure upon the Eotonic Sea of space, condensing to the fifth form”. This somehow forms the “four nebulas”, the fourth of which “when enlarged, is a divine message to inform us of the existence of other universes” In this part I think he’s dealing with the idea of the powers-of-ten type, where, Zeno paradox-like, the greater the detail the more is revealed in that youi never actually get "there". I do like though that he gets into alternative universes back there in 1921 I know that “astrasophy” has an astrological sumpin’ sumpin’ going on nowadays, but that is a slow boat with a fast terminal leak that I have no desire to board. Mr. Martin got his hands on the term pretty early from what I can tell, and made it his own. I’d like to celebrate him a little for his singular, spectacular view of the world, but I don’t quite know how, except to say that he came up with a unique set of ideas, and if you squint hard he looks a little like Leonardo, if you pixilate him some. The picture of Mr. Martin seems to show him sitting on the street in a folding chair, evidently selling newspapers (“Foch Smashes…” reads the headline, relating to WWI.) I hope that he had the chance to proselytize as he dispensed the other worldly news. In those wily pre-mega-treatment days, Mr. Martin found voice for his dreams and put them in print, and so they exist to this day, if only here—and now he belongs to the web.
JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 159 I was initially drawn to this small collection of pamphlets because of the very provocative assertion that candy is food (but is food candy?) which, I guess, it is, technically speaking. (Maybe we should determine what food is on a sliding scale of what we would take to a deserted island somewhere and have to depend on those foods for survival. I don’t think that I’d have a trunk full of Mounds bars with me. Evidently if you had to choose one food product (and one product only) to survive on for a year it looks like the best thing to select is dry dog food.)
The Candy is Delicious Food pamphlet was published in 1939 with the intent of instructing the grocer how to better sell candyFood—expressing the ease, storage and profit margin. Curiously, the thing was published in September 1939, a few months into the war—I wonder if the publisher (saved for naming below to more effect) was prescient in determining the coming problems with food, and that candy would certainly not have those issues during a global conflict?
The Post-War Food Dollar was also the product of the same publisher. Published in 1943, this pamphlet exhorted the grocer to prepare for the coming peace, explaining where the new dollars might be spent once the war (and the supply and ration problems) was won.
As it turns out these pamphlets were mostly about display and merchandising, and finding the goods that looked best on the shelves—and evidently that which looked best was that which the product could be seen. And the way that the product could be seen was with the use of the “new”packaging filament, cellophane, produced in the United States (almost exclusively) by du Pont (E.I. du Pont de Nempours & Co. with their chemist William Hale Charch figuring out how to make cellophane moisture –proof, which led to very large-scale good packaging using the product.) Another very big bit which turns up unmentioned but illustrated in this pamhlet is seen in this The Future is Now! scene of a modern supermarket--the "SERVE YOURSELF" butcher/meat section, which was a new idea in the early 1940's, and one that was not at all common in the consuming world. This idea wasn't as big a deal as the invention of mass produced sliced bread (or, as Squidward Tentacles encountered in one episode of SpongeBob, "Bread in a Can--the best Thing Since Sliced Bread"), but it was a very important de3velopm,ent in marketing--and also another gargantuanly consumptive venue for the sale of the packaging element, cellophane.
It was DuPont who published this series of pamphlets for the sole purpose of marketing foods and ideas to grocers that were almost entirely dependent upon cellophane, and DuPont manufactured 75% of all cellophane made in the U.S. So, to me, it seems as thought all of this business about Food being Candy and the Post-War food spending dollar was really just about selling cellophane—the food was incidental, which is why the cellophane-encased candy was called “food” to begin with. (It was Whitman Candies who first used cellophane in the U.S. , in 1912, to package their goods for retail.)
As an aside it is interesting to note that du Pont was brought to court in 1947 over their alleged monopolization of cellophane manufacturing in the United States. Thus was the U. S. v. DUPONT (THE CELLOPHANE CASE) filed December 13, 1947, which “charged Du Pont with monopolizing, attempting to monopolize and conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in cellophane and cellulosic caps and bands in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act”. DuPont successfully defended themselves in this case.
The other, minor, thing here that really caught my attention was on page 10 of the Candy is Delicious Food pamphlet—an innocent picture of the grocer tallying up the customer’s purchases, sure enough, but if you look at the detail you can see the grocer writing it all down on the bag that he’d use bag up the purchases. I have a dim memory of seeing this done in the across-the-street-from-the-A&P Mom & Pop grocery sawdust-strewn store (on Main Street, of course) in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, when I was a kid in the early 1960’s. I
don’t recall this being done after that, what with real cash registers and then, much later on, with more sophisticated inventory control hardware. I’m sure that I recall this being done in hardware shops (almost all gone), and my Mother recalls this more recently—in the 1970’s—in butcher shops, but I think this recording practice was pretty much extinct by the mid 1960’s. I know that this means nothing, but the picture of this guy writing on the bag was so sharp in my memory that I needed to record the emotion.
JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 153 This book review on the use of narcotics in treating the insane appeared in the New York Journal of Medicine for 1846. The book, “An Essay on the Use of Narcotics, and other remedial Agents calculated to produce Sleep in the Treatment of Insanity….”, by Joseph Williams, M.D., and published in London in 1845. The theory behind the sleep treatment was that the basic mechanism of insanity was “cerebral inflammation” or “excessive vascular action” in the brain—inducing deep sleep, evidently, was a good way to combat the over-active brain.
The article itself comes at an odd time in the history of the treatment of the insane. It came almost 40 years after the establishment of McLean Hospital (first known as the "Asylum for the Insane," a division of the Massachusetts General Hospital), which opened on Oct. 1, 1818, and was the first hospital dedicated to the treatment of the insane in the U.S. It came 70 years after the great advances of Benjamin Rush, who elevated the “Mental Patient” from chains on the floor to the status of medical or nervous illness or disease. The use of narcotics over this period seems to have surged and waned. In 1879, in an article in the New York Times, the reputation of the Asylum for the Insane on Ward’s Island in NYC was considered—and one of the high points was that it had (largely) discontinued the use of narcotics. (There were still problems, of course, what with the asylum being overcrowded, housing 1100 in an institution meant to house 700, and where the chores and even nursing positions were staffed by the inmates, who were feed on 32 cents a day.) As late as 1921, though, Jacob Alter Goldberg notes in his Social Aspects of the Treatment of the Insane, that there was a new, sharp increase in “toxic narcotic” treatments of the insane. Of course, I guess one could replace “narcotic” with some sort of other misplaced treatment, like shock therapy, or Freudian mélanges, or something. Each age must necessarily have their entry in the encyclopedia of embarrassments
In this article we find sleep assaulted by the use of the following: purgatives (“to subdue vascular action when the propriety of bleeding is doubtful’), emetics, opium (to be used “in cases of high nervous excitability and in puerperal mania”), morphia (“the most valuable remedy for calming excitement”), hyosciamus (“to produce sleep, tranquilizing the irritability of the insane”). It is weird to see that the last sentence in the description of hyosciamus reads “some fatal cases have occurred from exhibiting henbane as an enema”. A narcotic enema? Still to come in the review is conium (“I have used it frequently and in large doses…it is chiefly valuable as a deobstruent and alternative”, followed by camphor, Belladonna, hydrocyanic acid, colchirum, stramonium aconite, and others. “Warm baths’ makes an appearance (“90 degrees may be considered to be the best temperature for a warm bath for the insane”), as do cold baths, and the applications of ice caps.
I’m not so sure about what to make of it all, the sleep treatment of insanity I mean—after all, Joseph Lister only makes his epochal pronouncements on cleanliness in the operating theatre 15 or so years after this paper, which seems today to be the most rudimentary thing that one could do in treatment in the surgical room, so treating extra blood in the brain through drug-induced sleep doesn’t seem all that far away from the realm of possibility back there in early Victorian England.
I don’t think I’ll forget the toxic narcotic enema any time soon, though. Or the word “deobstruent”.