In the history of Mile High Things I doubt there are many entries for airports--or half-airports. This if not highly questionable structure inverted the horizontal concept of airport into something else, or at least changed the take-off into quite something different while leaving the landing strips the same. (This is the "half-vertical" part of the title to this post; "half-vertical" doesn't mean "horizontal", though I like that idea.) The new method of getting a plane into the air was straightforwardly breathtaking: haul the plane up one mile in an elevator and drop it through one of the "launching chutes". After everything is said and done, this is one idea that really didn't need to be three-dimensional.
There was a ride something like this on Coney Island that was very popular for years, a parachute ride where folks were hoisted skyward in a seat on a parachute and then dropped--a much better idea than this mile-high monster.
Here are a few other examples of Mile-High/Long Bits that are posts in this blog:
Herbert Hoover--perhaps a better classical scholar than president--famously promised "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage". Well, in this example of thrift and austerity, we see a summer cottage offered for sale for $375.00 (disassembled plus freight), with room for a car, and even for a family. A small family.
This pamphlet, Your Car as YOU Would Build It, published by General Motors in 1932, is a partial sales brochure--wish book--planning guide for a variety, bubbled to the top of a box in a series of boxes filled with similar interesting and widely obscure publications. Its main intent was to increase the interest of the reader in the car designs offered by GM, and it certainly piqued my interest if only in memory and hope--looking at the suggestions and offerings and choices, who in their right mind wouldn't enjoying making adecision as the pamphlet offers?
For example, the fender skirt, long gone now but just going nice and strong in 1934:
This six-year-old blog hasn't seen a new series in a few months--today will see the start of something new to go along with the various histories of dots, lines, nothing, memory, boredom, fear, blank things, missing things, imaginary things, and so on, something else a little different by which some information can be discretely categorized and collected and presented.
Itg seems as though every other thing in the history of things and ideas can be resolved into piles of one sort or another, even in the history of mathematics, where piles can get very beautiful and interesting and challenging.
To initiate the series will be a few images found in the pages of the Illustrated London News from the first month or two following the end of World War II. The first: piles of church artifacts, from the ILN issue of 13 October 1945. These bells and other items were most likely ransacked by the Nazis for their precious metals, and the statuary, I guess, were taken for the sake of art and its taking. The caption of this remarkable photo relates that the first shipment of 700 bells was just making its way to repatriation.
And this--an awful picture that reminds me of what these piles created, where were similar piles of wallets and purses and other sorts of identification, and of glasses, and valises, and hair, and teeth, and then, finally, of bodies. (Source: Illustrated London News, 3 November 1945.)
I've seen figures supporting 20 million people being "displaced" in the month following the end of WWII. That figure has always seemed very low to me, considering the destruction and ravage--I thought that there might be half that number in the USSR alone. In any event, "displaced" seems like such a polite word for something that is anything but that. In browsing a volume for the second half of 1945 I found a photograph with a picture within it of something that might characterize what being "displaced" might actually be--and this is a more "civilized" displacement of a man on a train, not one of the hundreds of thousands of concentration camp survivors, who were considered to be "displaced persons" as well. That "DP" tag has always rung wrong with me.
Wow. These are some pretty weighty images--I'm not going to pretend that I know much about the symbolism and O.T. history of them at all, and will just stay with admiring what looks to be serious audacity from the simple design and presentation perspective.
They appear in Frederick W. Childe's Prophecies of Daniel and Revelation Compared (1927), and were "drawn and designed" by Clarence Larkin. They have a strong sense to them, and are at the same time kind of aerodynamic and sweeping, streamlined in a way that would take on design a few years later.
We're talking about JJ's Ulysses, not the older one.
Miles L. Hanley performed an enormous and exacting (!) task of providing a word census for this first-among-the-Modernists novel. Joyce used 250,000-odd words to take Mr. Bloom around Dublin that day, 30,000 or so of them different1.
Hanley's very precise pre-spreadsheet undertaking was done in a year, somehow, and published in 1937.
What he and his team of 20 or so did was this: working from the Randomn House edition (the most democratic of the editions at that time and the most accessible to the largest reading audience), he/they typed out each word on a miniature index card (above) and recorded the page and line in the text in which the word occurred. The cards were specially designed and pre-pasted so that they could be linked together inb long lines and then stored afterwards in six long wooden trays. At the end of the day there were some 220,000 of these little cards, each of which was checked and double-checked and edited and re-edited and then everything proof-read and then so again. There was a LOT of small work in this procedure, but it is in the small work that the greatest of this undertaking happened.
Among many other things that Hanley recorded was the equipment and production expense, which totaled $148 for the project, most of which was spent of 250,000 1.5x2.5" cards (which cost $100). There are two dozen pages of introduction and explanation of process, as well as about the same number in the appendix (which is interesting and useful)--there is basically nothing that is contributed for interpretation, or what any of the word usage/occurrence/frequency/rarity and so on might mean. That was certainly another project.
I must say that this was an extremely sharp operation, well-planned and directed, and done in sort of no time at all. Simply impressive.
The first edition of the work is relatively rare (it went through a number of editions and iterations and reprintings), and the one I have in front of me now is from the Library of Congress via the Copyright Office. It is always troubling to say that something is "rare" and then have two of them, which is the case here--not only that, but both are from the Copyright Office, and (excitingly!) they have their original carbon cards of their LC card catalog cards tucked in. Pretty cool.
1. Word count is complicated, and inlcudes plurals and other variations of the same word. Suffice to say that it is around 30,000. Or 33,000.
This glorious and anonymous photograph features 22 women, 20 of whom appear in U.S. flag dresses in front of a 40-star American flag. The 40-star appeared in 1889 with the entrance of South Dakota into the Union, one of the four new states in that single year.
When I looked though the original, looking for the image-within-the-image, I was surprised by a photobomb by the fellow in the tie and cap.
Here he is:
The outfits/costumes are nothing but stars and stripes, and each woman holds a staff with a small flag.
There is a great experience in this not-so-incidental image.
These remarkable woodcut images come from Charles Estienne's (1501-1564) De Dissectione Partium corporis Humani linri tres,
a 375-page opus illustrated with 62 fantastic full-page woodcuts and
published in 1546 This work is surpassed I think only by the
masterpiece Fabrica by Vesalius (1543)--the great standard of anatomical illustration.
The images are remarkable not only for their superior and significant anatomy, but--for me--also for the placement of dissections with the body from which they were taken.
Artist: La Rivière, Étienne de, d. 1569. Engraver: Jollat, Jean "Mercure," fl. 1530-1545.
Title: De dissectione partium corporis humani libri tres.
Publication: Parisiis: Apud Simonem Colinaeum, 1545.
The entire series of illustrations from the National Library of Medicine, here.
This graphic from Nature magazine (volume 76, page 670, 1908) features a host of early flyers from five years or so following the first Wright powered flight. The diagram, which was also made in the first few years of the Cubist movement (and only a year after Picasso's Demoiselles), has a certain geometrical semi-proto-Cubist feel to it. The slickee, hard-edged approach to depicting the flying machines and placing them on the single sheet gives the work a modernist artistic feel to it in the earliest period of 20th c modernism in the first movement of abstract art.
The other thing is that so far as I can tell no major Cubists used the airplane as a subject matter in a painting in the first few years of the movement--which seems a little odd to me, given that it was such a major technological advance that took place in about the same time period as Cubism. Just a year later another collective.montage appears ina quite different form;
[Source, Nature, volume 81, page 399, 1909. And the detail, below:]
And speaking of precursors, now that I have mentioned the Picasso I should also say something about El Greco's The Opening of the Fifth Seal (or The Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse or The Vision of Saint John), painted three hundred years before the Demoiselles. El Greco (1541 – 7 April 1614) was not of his own time, not really...
I want to thank all Veterans today, all of our Veterans everywhere, for all of your sacrifices.
I particularly want to say to say how much I appreciate the members of our family who have served: Uncle Pete (USMC, WWII), Uncle Ray (RCAF, RAF+USAAF, WWII), Uncle Stan (Navy, WWII), Uncle Alex (Army, WWII), Uncle Joe (Army, Korea), Uncle Jerry (Army, WWII), Uncle Frank (USAAF WWII), Uncle Walter (Navy WWII) and my other Uncle Stanley (Army, WWII), Uncle Francis (Army, WWII), Uncle Vincent (Army, WWII), cousin Billy (USMC, Vietnam) and Grandpa (Army, WWI); Patti's father Melvin Lonnie (Navy, WWII) and stepfather Boyce (Army, 2nd US Cav WWII), Uncle Guy (USMC WWII), Uncle Max (Army WWII) and her four relatives in the CSA. Nearly everyone was in battle, and nearly everyone came home. [Image: Uncle Walter looking at the 5-star Blue Star flag, Housatonic, Mass, 1943.]
The central image in the opening salvo in Thomas Bowles' Geography Epitomiz'd. Of The Stars And Planets. Of The Sun And Moon. Of the Air and Meteors. The Terms of Geography Explain'd (1733) reminds me a great deal of later visionary and outsider works. It is a beautiful way to display and solidify vast chunks of data into a cohesive (and pretty and appealing) whole, an interesting structure that calms the dynamics of divergent information. It's a lovely piece of design and imagination. [Source: New York Public Libraries Digital Collections]
"How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics."--mnemonic device by James Jeans on remembering pi to 15 places, where each word length assoicates a number in pi. Arndt, Jörg; Haenel, Christoph (2006). Pi Unleashed. Springer-Verlag, pp 44-5.
There are simpler ways of remembering something than developing an odd mnemonic for remembering pi, especially when the memory device will get you only 30 places or so...and so it hardly feels worth the effort to remember some posie and then write it down to perform a pi-matic numerical translation. This is especially so when you consider that the man recognized as being the world record holder but not so (Akira Haraguchi) committed the fist 100,000 places of pi and took nearly a day to recite it--megaefforts like this make the smaller accomplishments of remembering pi to 100 places seem fairly insignificant.
Some of the people set to remembering pi (piphilologists) use methods similar to this as memory devices, including an entire book of 10,000 words constructed in just this way--many more, I think, use a memory palace/method of loci method, locating numbers and identifying sub-patterns and placing them in connecting "departments" in the brain. (The Big Book on memory devices is by Frances Yates, The Art of Memory, University of Chicago Press, 1966; also Jonathan Spence, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, Viking Penguin, 1984.)
I'm not sure what the need is for remembering the number to so many places when it seems as though the first seven digits will be sufficient for most (when "most" = "just about everything") things.
On remembering pi, from Nature, volume 72, p 558, 1905:
The molecular chemistry of dots of 1947 is a beautiful thing, worthy of a powers-of-ten episode, though I can only do a gigantically scaled down version of it (a powers-of-two maybe) given pixelation and its dot-defeating and necessary tendency to relieve roundness and introduce squares everywhere.
Well, there's busy and then there's busy. Somehow Dickens and Shakespeare managed to produce dozens of superb works--enough for one great work by dozens of other writers--all in a surprisingly short period of time, like 25 concerted years each, before they gave in to the immortal anti-beloved of eternity. John Ruskin--writer and art historian and critic--wrote a lot of books in his long life, and generally worked on many other things at the same time, all by hand, all hand-written, all stored in wooden files, all data fetched directly from books that he owned or had to make his way to.
I bring up Ruskin because of the letter I found that he wrote to Charles Eliot Norton outlining his activities. It is an impressive list (pp 180-181):