Tag Archives | History

A 1969 Visit To The Shoreditch Experimental Music School

Welcome to the Shoreditch Experimental Music School – I would give anything to have had an elementary school experience along these lines. This amazing Peter Fletcher-hosted BBC program from 1969 reveals the cutting edge of experimental art education. Highlights include kids learning about tape loops, a music piece about the concept of heat, and a deeply disturbing masked group performance about cholera death:
Children from infant, secondary modern & comprehensive schools apply methods of contemporary music, including demonstrations of simple tape & electronic techniques. The children discuss with teacher how different sounds may be produced and experiment with electric circuits and loops on the tape recorder.
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Watch a ‘Lost Interview’ With Philosopher Michel Foucault on Madness and History

Courtesy of the always entertaining Open Culture blog (Bookmark it for more awesomeness.) comes what’s being billed as a “lost interview” with philosopher Michel Foucault. Lost or not, we’ve got it to watch.

Via Open Culture:

An introductory shot that might be an outtake from A Clockwork Orange opens this interview with Michel Foucault, “lost,” we’re told by Critical Theory, “for nearly 30 years” before it appeared on Youtube last week. In it, Foucault discusses madness and his interest in psychology and psychopathology, repeating in brief the argument he made in Madness and Civilization, his 1961 work in which—through impressive feats of archival research and leaps of the imagination—Foucault attempted, as he wrote in his preface, “to return, in history, to that zero point in the course of madness at which madness is an undifferentiated experience, a not yet divided experience of division itself.”

 

 

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Vatican Library Begins Digitizing Its Collection Of Ancient Manuscripts

codexBut will some documents be kept secret? The BBC reports:

The Vatican Library has begun digitising its priceless collection of ancient manuscripts dating from the origins of the Church.

The first stage of the project will cover some 3,000 handwritten documents over the next four years. The cost – more than $20m – will be borne by Japan’s NTT Data technology company. Eventually, the library hopes to make available online all its 82,000 manuscripts.

The 3,000 documents to be scanned digitally over the next four years include copies of works of classical Greek and Latin literature and mediaeval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts.

The library, founded by a 15th Century Pope, also contains important works of mathematics and science, law and medicine from earliest times up to the present day.

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How To Think About The Origins Of The American Surveillance State

slaveryMatt Stoller on understanding that the United States was birthed as a surveillance society:

American political surveillance is older than the republic itself.

Think about it this way. Slaves were controlled in a largely totalitarian society, even before the American Revolution, and this lasted until the Civil War. This society involved radical restrictions on peoples’ ability to read, travel, work for pay, trade, own property, marry, and not be physically and mentally abused. At the core of slavery was an aggressive need for control, it was the mother of all totalitarian surveillance cultures. This surveillance didn’t just involve slaves, but surveillance of those who sought to free slaves via such institutions as the Underground Railroad.

After slavery and a brief interlude of Reconstruction, sharecropping and segregation took its place, and sharecropping was enforced by a reign of terror by both legal institutions like local police and commercial monopolies of credit, railroads, and farm supplies, and extra-legal institutions like the KKK.

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The Library of Alexandria and the Martyrdom of Hypatia

hypatia_2via chycho

I first heard about the Library of Alexandria when I was in high school. Unfortunately, being a captive of our current education system I really wasn’t given the opportunity to ponder the implications of the creation of the largest library - at the time - known in human existence or its eventual destruction. I was herded into the next classroom and forced to change my train of thought to whatever subject matter was at hand.

I had intended to look up the history of Alexandria further when I had more time, but youth being what it is, I never got around to it, not until I was reminded to do so through Carl Sagan’s thirteen-part television masterpiece “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”.

“It covered a wide range of scientific subjects including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe…. The series was first broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1980, and was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until [1990]….

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A Guide To Psychoactive Plants In The Bible

burning_bushSuppose Christians took a closer look at what their holy book is truly discussing? NeuroBrainstorm looks at a wide range of biblically-key plants with mind-altering properties:

Holy Anointing Oil – (Leviticus 10:6) Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. (Exodus 29:7) Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head and anoint him.

The holy anointing oil is a potent psychedelic extract…essentially an anxiolytic-hallucinogen. The transdermal application of it led to its absorption and psychoactive effects, even in extremely low doses. The bible suggests anointing with a large amount of oil possibly to ensure a psychedelic response.

Manna – (Exodus 16 14, 31) Behold…there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

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Book Claims Adolph Hitler Escaped To Brazil And Died In 1984

hitlerIs the photo at right of a man known as Adolph Leipzig none other than der Führer? A Brazilian researcher as been granted permission to conduct genetic testing in an effort to prove her theory, the Daily Mail reports:

A startling new book claims Adolf Hitler actually escaped his hideout and died incognito in 1984 in a small town near Brazil’s border with Bolivia – and it can be proved by a picture.

The author believes the Fuhrer fled to Argentina before settling in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso to hunt for buried treasure – with a map given to him by Vatican allies. As part of his elaborate ruse to escape detection, he also had a relationship with a black woman called Cutinga.

Post-graduate student Simoni Renee Guerreiro Dias has outlined her bizarre theory [in her] book, titled ‘Hitler in Brazil – His Life and His Death’.

She claims he may have lived as Adolf Leipzig in the small Brazilian town of Nossa Senhora do Livramento.

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The Forgotten Discoveries Of Alchemy

alchemyIs alchemy not the sham science we have been led to believe it is? The Smithsonian on how alchemists’ breakthroughs were pillaged by the forefathers of modern science:

In the 1980s, some revisionist scholars began arguing that alchemists actually made significant contributions to the development of science.

Historians of science began deciphering alchemical texts—which wasn’t easy. The alchemists, obsessed with secrecy, deliberately described their experiments in metaphorical terms laden with obscure references to mythology and history. For instance, text that describes a “cold dragon” who “creeps in and out of the caves” was code for saltpeter (potassium nitrate).

Growing evidence that the alchemists seem to have performed legitimate experiments, manipulated and analyzed the material world in interesting ways and reported genuine results. And many of the great names in the canon of modern science took note.

Robert Boyle, one of the 17th-century founders of modern chemistry, “basically pillaged” the work of the German physician and alchemist Daniel Sennert, says Newman.

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Merlin – The Man behind the Myth

Merlin reads his prohecies to King Vortigern. British Library MS Cotton Claudius B VII f.224, Geoffrey of Monmouth's Prophetiae Merlini. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

Merlin reads his prohecies to King Vortigern. British Library MS Cotton Claudius B VII f.224, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Prophetiae Merlini. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

Graham Phillips, author of King Arthur: The True Story, shares findings of his research on the historical origin of Merlin. Via Graham Phillips.net

From the time the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century, until the Norman Conquest of 1066, civilization fell apart in Britain, and the country endured an era of chaos and warfare known as the Dark Ages.  Few written records have survived from this time; consequently, the fifth century, when Arthur and Merlin are said to have lived, is an historical period steeped in mystery.  The records that do survive only provide a rough outline of events, and most contemporary figures went completely unrecorded.  Although, like Arthur, Merlin is mentioned in a few surviving Dark Age manuscripts, he is only referenced in passing.  The first author to provide any actual detail concerning Merlin’s life was the Welsh cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote in the 1130s.  In his History of the British Kings Geoffrey introduces Merlin by saying that he first proved himself as a youth when a British king named Vortigern chose him as a sacrifice.  According to Geoffrey, Vortigern was building a fort on a mountain in North Wales to protect his kingdom from the invading Anglo-Saxons, but each time the fort was close to completion the foundations mysteriously collapsed.  Vortigern’s advisors suggest that to put things right a boy must be sacrificed, and victim they pick is the young Merlin.  However, just as Merlin is about to die, he tells the king that the problems are being caused by two dragons that dwell in a pool, in a cave below the fort’s foundations.  When the pool is discovered and the dragons released, Vortigern is so impressed by Merlin’s mystic knowledge that he makes him his chief advisor and offers him the new fort as his own.   Although this story is obviously an imaginative legend, a Dark Age manuscript records a similar story which reveals an historical figure behind the Merlin myth.

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The Terrifying Beaked Plague Mask Of Historical Europe

plague mask

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice on the disturbing origins of raven-nosed masks, which were worn by so-called “plague doctors” during times of mass death in Early Modern Europe:

The earliest textual description of the mask dates from the 17th century. Charles de Lorme, chief physician to Louis XIII and likely inventor behind the design, wrote:

The nose [is] half a foot long, shaped like a beak, filled with perfume with one [hole] on each side near the nostrils, but that can suffice to breathe and carry along the impression of the [herbs] enclosed further along in the beak.

A coherent germ theory did not emerge until the mid-19th century – de Lorme was trying to protect himself miasma, or poisonous vapours associated with decomposition and foul air.

It is difficult to know how ubiquitous the plague mask was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most physicians fled the city during outbreaks, leaving the dying to fend for themselves.

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