The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founded in 1848 by seven young artists who banded together against what they felt was an artificial and mannered approach to painting taught at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. Inspired by the theories of John Ruskin, who urged artists to ‘go to nature’, they believed in an art of serious subjects treated […]Best Pre-Raphaelites Paintings — Mysterious Art Century
Today I am starting my second read through of this novel in preparation for a review. In my first read through I noted some really high notes amongst a pretty okay book. I do not do bad reviews and would normally ignore this book so in order to keep to my rules I will highlight what Chistina Dalcher does incredibly well.
VOX is a dystopian novel about the take over of the United States of America by a right wing, fundamentalist Christian WASP autocracy. Which is pretty standard, uncontroversial stuff. People who it is approved of and safe to hate. Against them are the usual suspects of feminists, human rights activists, foreigners and other allies. Again not controversial and a good solid base on which to tell a story about oppression and resistance.
Vox is obviously the Latin word for voice. The voice and the mouth were very important in Greek and Roman times because it was your political organ. By your voice you could participate in the forum and in politics. Denied your voice you are “idiotic” meaning an individual unable to effect the body politics. In this novel the autocracy removes (or at least limits) women’s political power by forcing them to wear a wrist band that gives an electric shock if they exceed a hundred words in any twenty four hour period.
What follows is a story about a woman’s conflict in staying safe, keeping her family safe and resisting the state as much as she can. Ms Dalcher, I think, does this very well. The Quisling son betrays his girlfriend, the husband slowly descends into alcoholism, the antagonist finds herself isolated from friends, her work and her family until the situation is resolved by a cataclysmic collapse of the state.
What Ms Dalcher does well is that that she draws very strongly on the existing tropes of dystopian fiction. She then weaves them together and combines them with the terrifying innovation of technology that punishes people, specifically women, from speaking. That is awesome thinking, powerful imagineering and keeps me coming back to this novel. This gimmick is powerful and I would like to see more of it explored in the future.
Magic in the Skys: Lands End Fireworks
Yesterday was the last of this seasons firework display at Lands End. Despite living less than a mile away for the last ten years my mother decided to go and have a look.
She sent me these photos with a cheeky grin. I am all the way in Coventry and have not seen this display. It is just one more reason to move down to that lovely part of the world.
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A Selection of Cats
Cats have featured a lot in my life. They have usually been rescue animals who have been saved. On of the first cats in my life was called Rascle. She was saved from being put down because her owner discovered she was allergic to cats.
In the photographs are Cleo and Zach. Zach was abandoned in a forest and climbed a tree to escape the local wild life. We decided to adopt him from the farm where he was found. When I heard his story I Christened him Zacchaeus after another famous person who climbed a tree. Cleo was a rescue from the Cats Protection League. It has taken four years but now she is beginning to believe that I am not out to kill her and sometimes will sleep on my bed.
One the case is Drucilla who was the rescue cat living at the Lunt Roman Fort. We were told that we would never see the working cats unless they wanted to be fed. You can see from the photograph just how shy she was.
The Fauns Book Shelf
My first disclaimer is that this is not about the book by Mr Starr but only addresses this interview given to Mr O’Flaherty and Dr Waters. I do have some reservations but I am sure they would be cleared up once I have read the book and listened to the pod cast.
As I have written previously I do not give bad reviews and this will be no exception. There are a number of points I would like clarity on and would welcome comments in the comment section. I hope in the actual podcast series Mr Starr will explain ‘mythological and imaginative truth’ and how they are distinct from ‘real’ (sic) truth. I suspect that they are not distinct but rather are made clearer out of reality where they are less clear in, what Screwtape describe as, real life. The charge of Faramir or the sheer bloody mindedness of Sam in Mordor show courage and duty clearly and wonderfully out of ‘reality’ but are less real than but harder to see the virtue of the son caring for his aged parents. I think this is what Mr Starr means, and am willing to be corrected, and I agree. Myth is a powerful way of knowing transcendent truths that are hard or impossible for us to access in this day and age. An example from my own experience is seeing grown men with tears in their eyes hearing that the planet Cadia “broke before the guard did!” Grimly they muttered under their breath that “Cadia stands!” These were not veterans but enthusiasts of Games Workshops Warhammer 40K. Through the mythos and lore of the conflicts of the 41st century they were accessing transcendent truths and realities that fed their souls and made them better men.
In “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” Lewis argues that the philosophy of functionalism of language had disabled for its purpose. I think the purpose he had in mind was to water the vast desert imaginations (see The Abolition of Man) of now a series of generations brought up under materialism. Lewis never attacked science and held the scientist in high regard but the Wellsian and the Sciencism were fare game because they had wandered from their expert field into philosophy. Sciencism, Modernism and Postmodernism not feeding the imagination or the soul and I agree with Mr Starr that myth is the curative which accounts for its vast popularity. Mr Starr draws our attention to Disney and Starwars and it is absolutely true. The success of Starwars lies in its mythos and accounts for the engagement by fans and the productivity of writers, film makers, artists, cosplayers, model makers and collectors. I humbly submit Games Workshop which is Britains biggest manufacturer and more profitable than Google. Since the 1980s I have engaged with the lore of the Warhammer universe and have seen how it has grown out of Tolkien, 2000AD and other influences. Mythos not only is a curative for materialism and her hideous daughters but is profitable.
Oscar Wilde wrote that “we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I think in this context we can all use mythos, from Gilgamesh to Guilliman, to access the transcendent realities that feed what can not be fed by materialism.
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The importance of Cultural Heritage
Last night I was writing about museums and the very real possibility that we are entering a new Dark Age. By this I mean an age when a son can not do what his father can do. I wasn’t taught Latin at school by my father was so I am cut off from my classical heritage. Now I know that this sounds very exosteric and academic with little application to the “real world” but if you think that you are wrong. Consider the two images below.
This is a Hell Drake, a model created and sold by Games Workshop. If you have been living under a bush for the last twenty years you might not know that Games Workshop is more profitable than Google and is Britains biggest manufacturer. It sells models all across the Earth, including the Falkland Isles. I think that the question that people fail to ask about Games Workshop is why is it so successful. I have been playing Warhammer 40K since the end of the last century and have been watching the development of the company from a van selling models at car boot sales to the massive company that it is now. It is not the models, anyone can make models. It is not the clever marketing or the incredibly strong armed (in a velvet glove) marketing tactics but rather it is incredibly well developed intellectual property. In “the hobby” (this is code so that forty year old men do not get embarrassed buying toy soldiers) there is very well developed races, weapons, narratives, in jokes and images. Warhammer, Warhammer 40K and all the spin offs and “Specialist games” (see “the hobby”) have gone through various editions and versions but still retain the same DNA. Parts of the original Rogue Trader universe are now unrecognisable and then images from that rule book appear in the latest version of Necromunda. Warhammer has shown an incredible ability to grow and adapt whilst still retaining its identity and referencing itself.
This intellectual property does not exist in a vacuum. The Hell Drake in my opinion is an indirect descendent of the Goony Bird as seen in this 2000AD story. The earliest versions of 40K sank its roots deep in the existing rich and vibrant popular culture. The grand narrative of Order verses Khaos as seen in the struggle between Torqumada and Nemesis is directly referenced in 40K with the Empire and the Emperor verses the powers of Chaos. In a future blog I will discuss the theology of these narratives but until then it is clear that we have an engaging and fun anti-establishment religious tradition that satires formal Christianity without offending potential customers. Torqumada himself could not be represented in the modern age and the Redemptionists who once were so similar, have lost their KKK style. I think that this is a shame because it is clear that the KKK nature wasn’t being celebrated but made absurd.
Which brings me back to the point of this blog. The most successful company in Britain has been created by people who wasted their education reading comics and Lord of the Rings. Without these people we would not have the lore that has made Warhammer so successful. Without people like them and people like me who are well read in fiction, in fantasy and absurd representations of the worst people who have ever lived there would be no work for lawyers and accountants. There is no judge like the market place and thousands of people like me are out there spending £40 on ten plastic models (please don’t tell my wife) and loving it.
Visit a museum in Strasbourg: Museum of Fine Arts — Strafari
Five centuries of painting in Europe The Museum of Fine Arts is located on the upper level of the Palais Rohan, which also houses the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Archaeology. Designed like a grand Parisian manor – or “hôtel particulier” – the Palais Rohan was built for Cardinal de Rohan-Roubise, Prince-Bishop […]Visit a museum in Strasbourg: Museum of Fine Arts — Strafari
National Book Lovers Day 2021 — A Teacher’s Reflections
National Book Lovers Day 2021National Book Lovers Day 2021 — A Teacher’s Reflections
Övar, ritplatta / Practising the drawing board — Yolanda – “Det här är mitt privata krig”
Hello and welcome to my blog. I am interested in all culture and all mediums. As the Latinists say, in English because its late and I’m not checking, I am human and nothing human is alien to me. My key interests are culture, how that culture is represented and preserved and how it is used.
Culture is the human inheritance. It is what we receive from our parents and ancestors, it is what we pass to our children and descendants. I really dread in the future the 21st century being one of those periods of history where “nothing much really happened” or even worse “a dark age where much was lost”. It is imperative that we preserve and foster the best and give our children the best that we can.
Representation of culture can take many forms from cave art to the Bad Batch. I think that I have got to the point where I realise that the point of art is the ability of the artist to broadcast the best values and sentiments that our age has to offer. Having seen the footlers in galleries and given the technological superiority but moral bankruptcy of Nazi radio in the 1930s I see that the message is more important than the medium and that it is quite acceptable to shoot the messenger.
Finally I quote Alfred the Great when I fear a Dark Age. He wrote about how sad he was that such great learning had departed Britain with the advent of the Dark Ages. I know that the title of the Dark Ages is now contested and that the Anglo-Saxons were a civilisation of energy, skill and power but that doesn’t change the fact that a man was cut off from the classics because unlike his father, he couldn’t read Greek or Latin. The same is true today. My father can read Latin and I can not. We are slipping into the same kind of dark ages that plagued Alfred.
So this little blog of mine is going to be a little light shining in the dark age. Where I can celebrate Hunter doing his duty against the evil empire, where I can talk about Centerparcs and catch people doing good. Join me, join me now and lets scare away the dark.