Saturday 31 October 2020

The Book of Delightful and Strange Designs (1893)


HERE is a copy of The book of delightful and strange designs; being one hundred facsimile illustrations of the art of the Japanese stencil-cutter, to which the gentle reader is introduced by Andrew White Tuer (1838-1900). 

For details of the Kata-game stencil printing technique see Kata-game; Japanese Stencils in the Collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum by Elaine Evans Dee (HERE)

Friday 30 October 2020

The Mullaghmore monster wave (2020)

Some years ago, whilst en route from Coleraine to Galway, I had a small scale car crash on the outskirts of Bundoran in County Donegal in Ulster. The damage wasn't extensive, but the car wasn't fit to be driven any further. I had to get to Galway that day, which meant I had two long (and expensive) taxi rides to get there. 

I left the hire car at the side of the road, and three days later it still hadn't been picked up. This didn't really surprise me, as I assumed that Bundoran was a typically quiet west coast town. 

Little did I know that Bundoran is a world-renowned surfing area. This week a few kilometres down the road, in Mullaghmore County Sligo, a local surfer Conor Maguire has surfed an enormous wave - and has claimed that it is the biggest Irish wave ever surfed.

More in The Guardian HERE.

Photo copyright Conor Flanagan.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Tokaidochu hizakurige (1802 - 1822)


The image above is from an edition of Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige (東海道中膝栗毛) published in 1907 (the title is usually translated into English as Shank's Mare). The Hizakurige is a picaresque novel that was written by Jippensha Ikku (十返舎一九, 1765–1831), and published in 12 parts between 1802 and 1822.  It describes the comic (mis)adventures of two travelers, Yaji and Kita, as they make their way between Kyoto and Edo on the Tōkaidō, the main road joining the two cities. More HERE.

Friday 23 October 2020

The selflessness of quotation (2020)


HERE is a long interview with James Wood by Becca Rothfeld on how book reviewing and literary criticism work. Wood is a US resident British critic who is Professor of Literary Practice at Harvard, a staff writer at The New Yorker, and the author of two novels and six books of criticism. 

Q: You’re known for being an enthusiastic quoter. What role do you think quotation plays or should play in good criticism?

I like what Stanley Cavell says is the critic’s job – to point at the thing and say, 'do you see/hear/feel that?' The quoting is the pointing. Of course, it’s an essential element of the re-imagining or re-telling that brings the work alive: you plunge the reader into the text via quotation. But it’s also an essential part of making a rational argument. Indeed, I’d say that precisely because the critic’s task isn’t quite propositional – because we don’t deal in proofs – our rhetorical or persuasive argumentation has to be as scrupulously quote-heavy as the reader can bear. Just because there is wide latitude in what can be plausibly said about a text, doesn’t mean that the forms of rationality are suspended: on the contrary, we make arguments, and we adduce evidence (i.e., quotes) to support those arguments. That’s a rational procedure, if not the movement of a scientific argument beyond doubt.

There’s something more, perhaps, something almost ethical: I like the selflessness of quotation, the modesty, the absurdly beautiful, almost-tautological ideal that the work of criticism (as Walter Benjamin apparently dreamed) might be made up only of quotation and would thus just be the entire original text, written out word for word, or rather re-written word for word. We have that quasi-tautological experience sometimes, don’t we, when we are copying out a long quotation, and following the syntax of someone else’s prose like a car following a road. I suppose memorization is the same gesture: the move away from self toward someone else, the 'humanism of the other.'



Thursday 22 October 2020

Monday 5 October 2020

Lectures on Ventilation (1869)

Some illustrations from - Lectures on ventilation: being a course delivered in the Franklin Institute, of Philadelphia, during the winter of 1866-67. By Lewis W Leeds, special agent of the Quartermaster-General for the Ventilation of Government Hospitals during the war; and Consulting Engineer of Ventilation and Heating for the US Treasury Department.

The sub-title tells you something about the author's view on the issue: Man's own breath is his greatest enemy.

Published in New York John Wiley & Son  1869.

The full book is available HERE.


Friday 2 October 2020

Inspiration Information


Inspiration Information is an album by Shuggie Otis (b. 1953). It was released in 1974 on Epic Records, and it featured a single with the same title as the album. For a long time I thought it would be difficult, or impossible, to create a cover version that did justice to this original. But the version of Inspiration Information by Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, recorded in 2011, is superb. In its own way, it is every bit as magnificent as the original.