Contributor

">

Beca Bruder

The Chief of Mystics at the Met

Minding my own business in Manhattan, I met a time-travelling saint.

READ

More From This Contributor

The Eye Chart and the King Actor

Mal Evans’s diaryWWhat’s been going on at Ye Olde Blogge? More Babylon Should academics be rewarded for generativity? Wendell Berry one and two A bunch of quotes — head over and see! Eskerrik asko for Euskara: “In retrospect, Franco’s attempt to destroy Euskara helped...

Silence, Minuets, Gold

AA pocket medicine chest, with the Rod of Asclepius on its cover; copied from an original found at Pompeii.I’m still blogging about Babylon, among other things.David Bordwell, in The Way Hollywood Tells It:Far from being a noisy free-for-all, moreover, the industry’s...

Physicists, Poets, and Other Stock Characters

II’ve just returned from a wonderfully restorative week at Laity Lodge, the kind sponsor of this newsletter and my home away from home. My tummy is full of Chef Ryan’s good food and my heart is full of love.An exhibition at the Cloisters: “This exhibition examines the...

I Am Inquisitive in the Lord

WWhat a gorgeous edition of Christopher Smart’s weirdly wonderful poem Jubilate Agno. One of my first published essays — an excerpt from my dissertation — was on Smart, one of the eighteenth century’s most prominent “mad poets.” Samuel Johnson loved Smart, as this...

The Way the Cards Are Dealt

TThe breeder from whom we bought Angus would like to have a portrait of him now that he’s a big boy. The above is what happened when I tried to take that portrait.Recently on my blog: My one piece of advice about personal-organization systems; some thoughts about John...

Presidents, Aunties, and Hexagonal Rooms

W WSJ: “After me, there won’t be any others,” says Roland Reisley, absorbing what it means to be the last original occupant in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Reisley is sitting in his hexagonal living room on a rocky hill near Pleasantville, N.Y. The most famous...

Pray for Rain

TThis site identifies the photographer here as Ilaria Miani, but evidence is lacking. Great Cartier-Bressonesque shot, though, taken at Inle Lake in Myanmar. These fishermen are quite photogenic: see for instance this photo by Rachel Mary Prout. These are the Intha...

Cities and Ruins

How Stephen Heller lost his heart at the Olivetti store I I’ve finished (for now anyway) my blog-through of Augustine’s City of God, focusing on his treatment of “the two cities.” I’ve given them all the tag CD23 – CD for Civitas Dei. I’m thinking about doing this...

Art Out of Time

Early Computer Art in the 50’S & 60’S (Des)Ordres (1974), Vera MolnarCCatfish and spaghetti:Depending on whom you ask, this combination is either as congenial as shrimp and grits or as regrettable as a bad marriage. The food writer Adrian Miller once noted, “It...

Tiger, Cathedral, Atlas

The art of Tony SargAA brief preview of my forthcoming edition of Auden’s collection The Shield of Achilles. “I just bought the only physical encyclopedia still in print, and I regret nothing.” The roof of Notre Dame de Paris is being rebuilt using medieval carpentry...

En Passant

CClay mastiffs, found in the excavated ruins of a palace in Nineveh, were meant to protect the property from demons. They have cuneiform inscriptions on them, one of which reads ē tamtallik epuš pāka – or, “Don’t think, bite!” Who’s a good boy?No proper newsletter...

The Comfort of Friends

TThere have been many tributes to Tim Keller since his death last week; I could only add a few words. This from Russell Moore does much to capture the Tim I knew. And I love this from Tish Harrison Warren:In my early 20s, I attended an event where Tim Keller, an...

Tree and Leaf

Photographs of the American West by Wim Wenders.JJohn Muir, from “A Wind-Storm in the Forests” (1894):Toward midday, after a long, tingling scramble through copses of hazel and ceanothus, I gained the summit of the highest ridge in the neighborhood; and then it...

Archbishop of Banterbury

Melissa Cormican’s animal portraitsKKieran Healy, responding to the news that Great Britain will have a Free Speech Tsar:As an alternative to ‘Free Speech Tsar’, consider one or more of the following: The Duke of Discourse. Warden of All Chit-Chat. Equerry of...

A Bell That Rings True

Photograph by Tony CearnsWWhen the robot revolution comes, this lady will be in big trouble. I eagerly co-sign my buddy Austin Kleon’s desire to become a professional human loser. Stanley Cavell, writing in 1994 about the Marx Brothers: “I have been aggrieved to hear...

Begone About Your Business

PPreston Singletary, Crest Hat (2021). Blown and sand-carved glass. 5½ x 21¾ x 21¾ inches. Photo by Russell Johnson. See a smart and sensitive essay on Singletary’s art by my friend (and former student!) Mischa Willett here.Annie Murphy Paul:Three-dimensional space...

Scott Joplin

S Scott Joplin was born in 1868 or thereabouts. Probably in Texarkana, probably on the Arkansas side. His father was a railway worker and for a while he was one also, though eventually he was able to begin making a career he preferred as a music teacher. Then he...

Sameness and Difference

A Abraham, from Dream Big, Laugh Often: And More Great Advice from the Bible, by Hanoch Piven and Shira Hecht-Koller.Lately I’ve found a bit of a rhythm with my online writing: I am blogging less often at my big blog, though the posts are longer, and am moving...

Sedentary and Unsedentary Persons

LLectionarily speaking, it’s a week late to be posting Sebastiano del Piombo’s The Raising of Lazarus. But here it is anyway. On the National Gallery website there’s a cool video of how such a painting is moved.Two weeks ago I wrote about how David Hume explains...

Heaven Words

From the Folio Society edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Tombs of Atuan. I’m teaching the Earthsea books right now; what a joy. JJudging a book by its cover:Perfect to hold in the hand, [the book] was neither too heavy nor large to deter handling, nor too light to...

Images and Architectures

Photography by Henri PrestesWWhile my big blog is on hiatus, I’m posting more – and more experimentally – on my micro.blog. Just a reminder that you can subscribe to a digest of those posts here. It goes out every Friday.Y’all know how much I love to see the cool...

Planless

Colin HayesII wrote about going to the canyon and letting go of my plan. With a pencil in hand, I read Roger Deakin on having a pencil in hand. I wrote about mercy in the Lord of the Rings.Sam Bulleit, The Tsushima CyanotypesThe webpage for the Mars Reconnaissance...

Comedy This Morning

Holly Astle.WW. H. Auden:Comedy … is not only possible within a Christian society, but capable of a much greater breadth and depth than classical comedy. Greater in breadth because classical comedy is based upon a division of mankind into two classes, those who have...

Mudlarkers and Drinking Fountains

The Sussex Downs in Winter by Eric Ravilious (1935).From an exhibition by the Society of Technotextnicians.JJohn Ruskin, from The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849):God has lent us the earth for our life; it is a great entail. It belongs as much to those who are to...

Crocodiles and Thesauri

Tirzah Garwood, “The Crocodile” (1929) – otherwise known as a “walking bus,” but I love the word “crocodile” in this context.LLooking at maps of Mars like this one, I just want to go back and read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy again. Since writing this books,...

System, Sequence, Mystery

Eric Ravilious, “Vicarage in Winter” (1935).SSearching for the mystery of flowers. The joys of Blackletter type. I love this wall-mounted unfolding desk.My Man Godfrey – a truly great movie with a truly great title sequence.I’ve been listening to the newest entry in...

The Quality of Mercy

Paper sculpture by Layla May Arthur.SSo much wonderful music coming from my friend and former colleague Shawn Okpebholo, whose “Songs in Flight” – featuring the great Rhiannon Giddens with other brilliant singers – recently premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art...

Ain’t Got Time for the Small Stuff

Johan Hybschmann, Book of Space (2009).Henri Cartier Bresson’s first Leica.Cartier-Bresson was rarely photographed, but somebody got him here.I’ve been listening often to the Emerson Quartet’s performance of Bach’s Art of Fugue. I think the string quartet version of...

Highways of Empire

Johann David Steingruber’s Architectonisches Alphabeth (1773)MMatt Crawford’s Why We Drive is full of wonderful reflections, like this one:Americans noisily claim the idea of liberty as their own, but the more you see of the world, the more comical this becomes. A...

Here’s What’s Next

I’m calling this the question for 2023.CCassiodorus, writing in the sixth century about Psalm 91:This psalm has marvelous power, and routs impure spirits. The Devil retires vanquished from us through the very means by which he sought to tempt us, for that wicked...

Christmas Epiphany

Shakespeare’s Snow-Globe.Illustration by John Austen.JJohn Donne, from a sermon preached at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas Day 1626:The life of Christ was a continual Passion; others die Martyrs, but Christ was born a Martyr. He found a Golgotha (where he was...

The Winter Storm of Advent

TThis year London’s St. Pancras Station “Christmas Tree” deserves those scare quotes, because it isn’t a tree and isn’t Christmassy. But it’s kinda cool! – a 3D vertical compilation of London’s architectural landmarks. Here is a much larger image.“The stampmaking...

Picture-boxes in the stars

Bethlehem in Germany,Glitter on the sloping roofs,Breadcrumbs on the windowsills,Candles in the Christmas trees,Hearths with pairs of empty shoes:Panels of NativityOpen paper scenes where doorsOpen into other scenes,Some recounted, some foretold.Blizzard-sprinkled...

Harvest Time

Harold Burdekin, photograph from London Night (1934)AA very different image from London: Piero della Francesca’s Nativity has been restored and is back on view at the National Gallery:What a family learns from caring for a vineyard and its surrounding land for...

Madnesses, Gentle and Otherwise

Edna Andrade.MMaybe scholars and collectors of manuscripts are afflicted by an ungentle madness:Frederic Madden had his own neuroses. He maintained a lifelong rivalry of near-deranged intensity with Anthony Panizzi, the British Museum’s keeper of printed books and...

The Idea You Have

Bill Myers.LLove to see Frederick Wiseman picking out some Criterion videos. I almost said I want to be that sharp when I’m 92, but I guess I should first hope to make it to 92. I tell myself that when I’m 92 I’m gonna be dropping truth-bombs left and right, but (my...

Welcome to the Working Week

John Baeder I I always have time for another story about why Stradivari violins sound so good. Tree of the year! And if you don’t know my coffee-table website Gospel of the Trees, here it is. Chiraag Shah on pseudo-iconoclasm: Compared to such acts of iconoclasm, the...

Truthier Truthiness

The abandoned village of Craco.Re: my entry last week on “forest bathing,” the Economist weighs in on a certain linguistic habit:When TED, a conference, staged several talks on the concept [of ikigai or “reason for being”], a tweet by a baffled Japanese observer went...

Yo!

The American Kestrel, AKA Sparrowhawk. The English calligrapher Irene Wellington giving thanks for the gift of a turkey: One of the participants in my recent Laity Lodge retreat said that when she remembered the retreat she would think of vampires and donkeys –...

Illuminations and Retreats

More here.AAn illustration by Sam Weber from a Folio Society edition of Frank Herbert’s Dune:See this 2017 story about the Folio Society’s design process.Norbert Wiener, from The Human Use of Human Beings:Messages are themselves a form of pattern and organization....

Long-haulers and Loafers

French signageT The bean man brought his beans to market every weekend – week after week, year after year, decade after decade – until one morning he was found dead at his house. He was 86 and just beginning to talk of retirement. He was, Ann Finkbeiner says, one of...

Patient, Skilled, Peaceful, Goal-Oriented

OOdd monuments of Westminster Abbey:The abbey held writers to a higher moral standard than the rich. Stanley cheered that Aphra Behn, writer and all-round hussy, hadn’t managed to get closer to Poets’ Corner than ‘beyond the east Cloister’. (Her stone carries one of...

Eccentricity

TTwo weeks ago, I failed in my duty to my readers: I forgot to remind you all of the coming of an Ember Week. I am sorry. But you may remember them in the future this way:Fasting days and Emberings be Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.Obituaries of the odd:Take the...

Of Dust and Disks and Music for Animals

TThis amazes me:The customers that are the easiest to provide for are the hobbyists – people who want to buy ten, 20, or maybe 50 floppy disks. However, my biggest customers — and the place where most of the money comes from — are the industrial users. These are...

Revisiting, Restoring, Recomposing

David Frum’s long report on the past, present, and future of the Benin Bronzes is fascinating, though I have some serious doubts about his arguments. All of this reminds me of a visit I made 31 years ago to the Sacred Grove of Ọṣun. The Feminine Power exhibition at...

Storyboards

A storyboard by Wiard B. Ihnen for Fritz Lang’s Man Hunt (1941). Also: storyboards from Hitchcock’s The Birds. I love storyboards, and wish they were easier to find. Here are some from John Huston’s Moby Dick:Huston was a fine artist and may have done these himself –...

Hoarded Links

Our Native Birds of Song and Beauty Jon Day on Hoardiculture:My father has always denied that he’s a hoarder, but that’s what all hoarders say. When I emailed him a picture of the CIR [Clutter Image Rating] and asked him to rate his study, he said he thought it was...

A Brief Message from the Sickbed

The headline says, “How medieval carpenters are rebuilding Notre Dame”, which is dumb, because no medieval carpenters are alive today – people don’t live 700 years, duh. The the story is fascinating, about how (let’s get this right) craftsmen trained in medieval...