Tag Archives | Books

The True Practice of Binding Books in Human Skin

book fleshEarlier posts have verified that Harvard University’s library contains books bound in human skin, but in case you missed it Rob Velella has summarized what you need to know about the somewhat bizarre practice, at Atlas Obscura:

There are a few urban legends that poke up here and there that certain libraries — usually dusty, private, or academic ones which are not easily accessible by the public — hold books bound in human skin. Few of these stories turn out to be true: the “human” skin is often proven to be lamb, sheep, or deer. But Harvard University’s Houghton Library was recently surprised — and somewhat taken aback — to find one of its books was absolutely an example of the practice known as anthropodermic bibliopegy.

The book in question (pictured here courtesy Houghton Library, Harvard University), a French volume titled Des destinées de l’ameby Arsène Houssaye, is also relatively recent, dating only to the 1880s.

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How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll

Peter Bebergal, disinformation friend and contributor, has a fascinating new book out called Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll. We recently caught up with Peter and asked him some questions in this exclusive interview:

Disinformation: You seem to struggle somewhat to define “occult.” Is it a loaded term?

Bebergal: For a word with such a simple definition, the “occult” has lost almost all meaning, as when you say a word over and over again until it sounds made-up. When I told people I was working on this book, the responses were wildly different, and extremely prejudicial. Some folks assumed I was writing only about the devil and rock music, others—believing the occult to be nothing more than base superstitions—thought the project had no merit, and then there were those that assumed, and hoped, I was going to be making metaphysical claims. I’m sure there were others who worried about my soul.… Read the rest

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Frank Schaeffer on Religion, Skepticism, Community, and Connecting as People

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From the Indie Bohemians Morning Show: One of the few independent morning shows left on the airwaves, IBMS is a morning show for people who hate morning shows.

From his website: Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books. Frank is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as “pretty terrible.” He is also an acclaimed author of both fiction and nonfiction and an artist with a loyal following of international collectors who own many of his oil paintings. Frank has been a frequent guest on the Rachel Maddow Show on NBC, has appeared on Oprah, been interviewed by Terri Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air and appeared on the Today Show, BBC News and many other media outlets.Read the rest

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There Are No Muggles. We Are All Wizards Now.

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via Techpinions:

I read the first three Harry Potter novels to my son. It’s a fond memory strengthened by the fact the books were quite good. In each, the young Harry Potter straddles two very distinct worlds, the magical world of wizards and the familiar world of non-magical folk, Muggles. Us. Except, this is not true, not anymore.

There are no Muggles. We are all wizards.

I realized this while texting my son baseball playoff updates — as I was flying across the country, 30,000 feet above the ground.

Think of it. Nearly 2 billion of us carry wands. We call them smartphones. These semi-magical devices enable us to connect with nearly anyone at any time from any place. We can instantly access the world’s knowledge. Always in hand, always at the ready, we use these “wands” for work, for play, to protect us, to make our lives better.

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The Physicality of Reality

Maria Elena (CC BY 2.0)

Maria Elena (CC BY 2.0)

via The Bismarck Tribune:

There’s an interesting article in the current issue of New Scientist about the impact of digital technology on the way we read and write in the 21st century (http://bit.ly/10FgQJ0).

In essence, the article suggests we’re not comprehending much of what we read or write, in part because we have too many visual distractions offered by digital devices in their efforts to help enhance and extend what we’re reading and writing.

In other words, the digital world today is more about reach and less about substance.

It’s more about volumes of data and less about nuggets of knowledge.

It’s more about aggregating and less about synthesizing.

It’s about the triumph of quantity over quality.

This ties in with something I’ve written about often in this column.

I love the digital revolution. I like the fact that the Internet has given me access to multimedia materials that, even a decade ago, were beyond my reach.

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Ever Rethinking the Lord’s Prayer: Buckminster Fuller Revises Scripture with Science

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via Brain Pickings:

A secular definition of divinity as a curiosity-driven love of truth bent through the prism of our subjective experience.

“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science,” Einstein wrote to a little girl who asked him whether scientists pray, “becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man.” “The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive,” Carl Sagan seconded, “does a disservice to both.” And yet the oppression of religious doctrine over scientific thought has persisted for centuries, fromGalileo to some of today’s most celebrated minds.

In his 1981 classic Critical Path (public library), legendary architect, designer, inventor, theorist and futurist Buckminster Fuller (July 12, 1895–July 1, 1983) explores the subject with his singular blend of philosophical fringe-think, love of science, and cosmic poetics.… Read the rest

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What Happens To Your Brain When You’re Lost In A Book?

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Photo: B.Davis2003 (CC)

Entitled “The Neuroscience of Harry Potter,” this Fast Company story investigates what happens to your brain when you’re truly lost in a book:

Let’s do a casual experiment. Here’s a brief passage from the first book in some obscure fiction series called Harry Potter:

A bush on the edge of the clearing quivered. … Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came crawling across the ground like some stalking beast. Harry, Malfoy, and Fang stood transfixed. The cloaked figure reached the unicorn, lowered its head over the wound in the animal’s side, and began to drink its blood.

And here’s another passage from the final book of the series:

He got up off the floor, stretched and moved across to his desk. Hedwig made no movement as he began to flick through the newspapers, throwing them on to the rubbish pile one by one; the owl was asleep, or else faking; she was angry with Harry about the limited amount of time she was allowed out of her cage at the moment.

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Consciousness in the Cosmos

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The Immortal Mind is now available.

via Reality Sandwich:

Your consciousness is not your consciousness.

It is the manifestation of the longing of the cosmos for itself.

It comes to you through you but not from you.*

*A paraphrase of Khalil Gibran’s words about children in The Prophet:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

The beyond-the-brain consciousness—the consciousness we encountered in our review of near-death experiences, after-death communication, medium-conveyed and instrumental transcommunication, past-life recollections, and in experiences suggestive of reincarnation—is not a material entity in the manifest world. It is an intrinsic element in the Akasha, the deep dimension of the cosmos.

The idea that consciousness belongs to a deeper dimension of reality is a perennial intuition. The great spiritual masters, poets, and even scientists have been telling us that consciousness is not “in” the brain and is not part of the world in which the brain exists.

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Long Live the Old Flesh: David Cronenberg’s ‘Consumed’

71luh+wAwxL._SL1500_via Pop Matters:

I took a film studies course during my undergraduate program that was focused on the works of Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, probably the most visible Canadian filmmaker after James Cameron. I remember that the professor introduced Cronenberg by saying that he actually never originally set out to be a director. Rather, he wanted to be a novelist. It was just happenstance that he started making films.

Well, here we are more than four decades into Cronenberg’s career (I’m counting early works such as Stereo and Crimes of the Future), a period that includes films such as Scanners,Videodrome, The Fly, A History of Violence and countless, countless others, and Cronenberg has finally gotten around to fulfilling his early dream. At the age of 71, he has finally published his debut novel, Consumed. And, pardon the pun, there’s a lot to chew on here.

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