This unusual promotional featured the perentially unsmiling and striking face of TAD (Thomas A. Drogan, 1877-1928), a cartoonist and sports writer and major contributor to the American slang vernacular.
[Source: advertisement in Moving Picture World, January 1919]
His contriubtions included such words/expressions as "appelsauce" (as an expression of hearing nonesense), "cake-eater", "cat's meow/pajamas (expressing high praise), "cheaters" (for eyeglasses), "dogs" (for feet),"dumbbell" (an unkind and slippy word for a not-smart person), "dumb Dora", "drugstore cowboy" (for a do-nothing/loafer), "finale hopper", "hard boiled" (for a street- and ordinary-tough, or detective), "nickel nurse" (a great nickname for a miser/cheap person), "skimmer" (for a hat), and of course the immortal phrases "Yes, we have no bananas" and "You tell 'em!"
James Joyce painted with words like perhaps no other--words created and words already created, thousands of them. What struck me particularly though while looking through Miles Hanley's Word Index to James Joyce Ulysses, winding my way somehow to the "U" section was the master's rich un-use use of "un-" words, words prefixed with "un". It seems surprising to me that there were so many, but that was just a flash reaction, not compared to Shakespeare or Dickens or anyone else.
There are about 400 entries for words beginning with "un". The following are some examples:
In the history of blank, empty, and missing things in maps there can be maps with large expanses of nothingness (as in the case seen here with the Bellman's map from Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony in Eight Fits), maps with mostly everything that was to be expected to be expected but intentionally wrong (as with these propaganda maps of the Polish and Czech "threats" to Germany), maps with large expanses of nothing because there was simply so data to be displayed, and so on. And then there are the cases of perfectly good maps that are accurate and secure, but do not display what was thought to be there on the map but wasn't because it really wasn't there.
In the store that I maintained in downtown Asheville, North Carolina, I was often asked about what sort of Civil War action occurred around those parts. It is the sort of question that jumps out from maps showing troop movements during the war that you see on maps--maps without contour lines, or anything else that might show elevation. The answer to that question about Civil War battles here in the southern reaches of the Appalachians is that there was very little official action--and for the most part the reason for that is because there are in fact the Southern Highlands, and in the mid-19th century this very large region was just too bloody difficult to fight in or fight for.
This all becomes cartographically apparent when you look at the region with maps that give you an idea of the terrain.
There is an amazing map that shows you the extent to which this land was inhospitable for combat. The Military map of the marches of the United States forces under command of Maj. Gen. W.T. Sherman, U.S.A. during the years 1863, 1864, 18651...., which was originally published in 1865 but more widely known for its inclusion in the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies2 (full text here) in 1895. As the map graphically shows, there are plenty of blu and gray lines depicting troop movements of the armies, though nearly all swarm around our mountainous region.
Apart from the difficult terrain, the mountains, and general inaccessibilty, there wasn't all that much to fight for up here--and so, aside from some regional skirmishes and a lot of political and social conflict, they didn't.
At least not until the very end of the war, in the Battle of Asheville, April 6, 1865, where about 1500 soldiers met each other about 750 feet away from where we used to live, three days before Appomattox. The action there was indecisive, though Asheville was not taken by Union forces.
"When I imagine a triangle, even though such a figure may exist nowhere in the world except in my thought, indeed may never have existed, there is nonetheless a certain nature or form, or particular essence, of this figure that is immutable and eternal, which I did not invent, and which in no way depends on my mind.--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) tr. John Cottingham, Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy (1986)
This is the lovely response by the great mathematician J.J, Sylvester to Thomas Huxley's muckety comment on the lack of imnagination in the mathematical sciences. Huxley's remarks were made at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, stating that (Mathematics) "is that study which knows nothing of observation, nothing of induction, nothing of experiment, nothing of causation"1 This quote is taken from Sylvester's quick and elegant responses in two articles in Nature, December 30, 1869 (231-3) and January 6, 1870 (pp 261-3), as "A Plea for the Mathematician" and "A Plea for the Mathematician II".
"For Sylvester, the ability to be able to imagine what the experience of space would be like in dimensions other than three is sufficient to establish the empirical basis of geometry--the three-dimensional Euclidean is not the science of space in general, but the science of the space of our experience."--Fact and Feeling: Baconian Science and the Nineteenth-Century Literary ...by Jonathan Smith, pp 181-182
Ex nihilo nihil fit/Nothing comes out of nothing.--R Descartes, Principia philosophiae, Part I, Article 49
In what could be a very long thread, this installment in the Just Because You're Smart Doesn't Make You Smart series takes place on the ethically/morally suspect creator of the single-wire electrical telegraph, Samuel F.B. Morse.
Some of this could have been learned at a young age via his "militant" Congregationalist minister father, who created "a household temper...of the deepest animosity against other faiths"1. And then again, perhaps not--but even weighing the spirit of the times in which he lived (1791-1872), Morse had a particularly long-lived, deep, and very public hatred of the Catholic Church and "Popery", finding it a creeping abomination that was setting out to destroy the United States via the churches propagandist agents in the Jesuits and through mass immigration.
Morse's book on this subject, Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States (1835), became a much-reprinted guidebook for Catholic-haters and immigration conspiracy types, curling itself around the impending priest-ridden despotism of the Vatican and (whatever was left of) the Holy Alliance.
“Surely American Protestants, freemen, have discernment enough to discover beneath them the cloven foot of this subtle foreign heresy. They will see that Popery is now, what it has ever been, a system of the darkest political intrigue and despotism, cloaking itself to avoid attack under the sacred name of religion. They will be deeply impressed with the truth, that Popery is a political as well as a religious system; that in this respect it differs totally from all other sects, from all other forms of religion in the country."2
Morse also found slavery to be an ordained right and a creation of God for right, wise, benevolent and disciplinary purposes,3 writing about it publicly in his pamphlet An Argument on the Ethical Position of Slavery in the Social System, and its relation to the Politics of the Day4 in the middle of the Civil War, 1863.
"Slavery or the servile relation is proved to be one of the indispensable regulators of the social system, divinely ordained for the discipline of the human race in this world, and that it is in perfect harmony ... with the great declared object of the Savior's mission to earth." (Morse, Ethical Position of Slavery, 1863, page 10.)
"My creed on the subject of slavery is short. Slavery per se is not sin. It is a social condition ordained from the beginning of the world for the wisest purposes, benevolent and disciplinary, by Divine Wisdom. The mere holding of slaves, therefore, is a condition having per se nothing of moral character in it, any more than the being a parent, or employer, or ruler." (Morse, Ethical..., page 13.)
The Yale website also goes on to point out that Morse thought it sacrilegious to oppose slavery and support Abolition (citing Samuel F.B. Morse, Letters and Journals, ed. E. L. Morse, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1914, 2:416):
"Conscience in this matter has moved some Christians quite as strongly to view Abolitionism as a sin of the deepest dye, as it has other Christian minds to view Slavery as a sin . . . Who is to decide in a conflict of consciences? If the Bible is to be the umpire, as I hold it to be, then it is the Abolitionist that is denounced as worthy of excommunication; it is the Abolitionist from whom we are commanded to withdraw ourselves, while not a syllable of reproof do I find in the sacred volume administered to those who maintain, in the spirit of the gospel, the relation of Masters and Slaves"
This goes on and on, a distribe with Scriptural and distanced-moral support, on into a cold dark night of extraordinary egotism and ethical despotism. And it is a fine example of people with some great abilities and high intelligence could be correct in some things and wrong in so many others.
1.Gustavus Myers, A History of Bigotry in the United States, Random House, 1943, p. 160.
3.. Edward Lind Morse, editor, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, His Letters and Journals, vol 2, pp 19, 46-8, 531.
4. An Argument on the Ethical Position of Slavery in the Social System, and its relation to the Politics of the Day (New York, Papers from the Society for the Diffusion of Political Knowledge, no. 12, 1863)
One of the great powerhouse collaborations in the history of earlyish modernism came on 8 May 1917, in the performance of the 15-minute operette, Parade. Spearheaded by Jean Cocteau, the piece used stage and costume designs by Picasso, was scored by Erik Satie, and performed by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. (It was not received indifferently--there was a major upset in the world of the critics and many hated negative response from the audience, evidently much like that received by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring at its premier seven years earlier, also featuring Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.)
The image below is a maquette of the stage by Picasso:
A quick note here adding to a growing collection of "deep black" antiquarian images--this one, oddly enough, a simple black sky. As it turns out, there are not that many old images of black skies, night skies...nor are there any great numbers showing dark room interiors, or inside of caves. So when I come across an interesting old engraving/woodcut with a lot of black, it gains my attention. And so with the following, which is the title page from the Spanish astronomer Bernardus de Granollachs, Lunarium: in quo reperiuntur Coniunctiones & Oppositiones Lunae..., which was a small pamphlet of 16 pages printed in Rome in 1516. The booklet contained tables of conjunctions and oppositions of the Moon, as well as this gorgeous title page.
"As soone as the doore creekt, I spied a certaine Mathematitian, which till then had bene busied to finde, to deride, to detrude Ptolomey; and now with an erect countenance, and setled pace, came to the gates, and with hands and feet (scarce respecting Lucifer himselfe) beat the dores, and cried; "Are these shut against me, to whom all the Heavens were ever open, who was a Soule to the Earth, and gave it motion?" "By this I knew it was Copernicus. For though I had never heard ill of his life, and therefore might wonder to find him there; yet when I remembered, that the Papists have extended the name, & the punishment of Heresie, almost to every thing, and that as yet I used Gregories and Bedes spectacles, by which one saw Origen, who deserved so well of the Christian Church, burning in Hell, I doubted no longer, but assured my selfe that it was Copernicus which I saw." --John Donne, Ignatius his Conclave... (The full title: Ignatius his conclave : or, his inthronisation in a late election in hell: wherin many things are mingled by way of satyr. Concerning the disposition of Iesuites, the creation of a new hell, the establishing of a church in the moone. There is also added an apology for Iesuites. All dedicated to the two adversary angels, which are protectors of the Papall Consistory, and of the Colledge of Sorbon. By Iohn Donne, Doctor of Divinitie, and late Deane of Saint Pauls.)
The poem is a wide attack on the Jesuits and Ignatius of Loyola,depicting them/him int eh deep lake of fire--Copernicus may also be found there in the Devil's regions, though he wouldn't stay for long, as he was released from his torment by Mr. Donne. While there though Donne makes an interesting observation on the Devil itself, thinking that it might be from outer space, an alien from another place, "I thought thee of the race of the starre":
"To whome Lucifer sayd; "Who are you? For though even by this boldnesse you seeme worthy to enter, and have attempted a new faction even in Hell, yet you must first satisfie those which stand about you, and which expect the same fortune as you do."
"Except, O Lucifer," answered Copernicus, "I thought thee of the race of the starre Lucifer, with which I am so well acquainted, I should not vouchsafe thee this discourse. I am he, which pitying thee who wert thrust into the Center of the world, raysed both thee, and thy prison, the Earth, up into the Heavens; so as by my meanes God doth not enjoy his revenge upon thee. The Sunne, which was an officious spy, and a betrayer of faults, and so thine enemy, I have appointed to go into the lowest part of the world. Shall these gates be open to such as have innovated in small matters? and shall they be shut against me, who have turned the whole frame of the world, and am thereby almost a new Creator?"
Ignatius is also released from the confines of Hell, but--as it is stated right there in the title of the work--he is sent on to the Moon to establish himself, in a place where he would do less than than had he remained with the Devil.
I own this series of stereoviews but they have yet to surface in our recent move--I did bump into them online at the beautiful University of Heidelberg site, nicely reproduced, though without the the rich glossy blacker-than-black finish in the originals--but these will work nicely.
Max Wolf, Stereoskopbilder vom Sternhimmel (1. Serie), Leipzig, 1913.
In this blog's series on the History of Blank, Empty, and Missing Things there have been I think no contributions to nothingness in the political sphere--which is odd, given how much of the time politics is about just that, staffed by people of that same quality. The experience of seeing nothing portrayed in a political caricature as seen below was such that it struck me how little I have seen any images quite like it. The "zero" appears in J. Grand-Carteret's Les Moeurs et la Caricature en France, a thick book published in 1888 detailing the history of caricature and satiric expression in France. The image appears in chapter eight, on the political situation in France between 1816 and 1848 (Louis XVIII, Charles X, and Louis-Philippe). (Two years after abdication of Napoleon and right up to the revolutions of 1848. I wonder what it was like for Napoleon's mother, outliving her son by 15 years?)
And the full image:
It is a overt play on the missing color of the tricolor--the flag and the colors of the flag that came into existence in France beginning with the revolution of 1789, and became the flag of the new republic. The color of course are red, white and blue (liberty, equality, and fraternity, or perhaps the colors of Paris (red and blue) and the white of the House of Bourbon, or something else. In any event, the "white" as the artist/commentator saw it, the leader filling that space, was not yet present.
The entire book is located at the University of Heidelberg site, here. The book is very highly illustrated, and it also has an appendix with a very useful list of caricature journals (pp 554-620) and biographies of artists (pp 620-675).