The book of disquiet

Fernando Pessoa

"I was born in a time when the majority of young people had lost faith in God, for the same reason their elders had had it - without knowing why. And since the human spirit naturally tends to make judgments based on feeling instead of reason, most of these young people chose Humanity to replace God. I, however, am the sort of person who is always on the fringe of what he belongs to, seeing not only the multitude he's a part of but also the wide-open spaces around it. That's why I didn't give up God as completely as they did, and I never accepted Humanity. I reasoned that God, while improbable, might exist, in which case he should be worshiped; whereas Humanity, being a mere biological idea and signifying nothing more than the animal species we belong to, was no more deserving of worship than any other animal species. The cult of Humanity, with its rites of Freedom and Equality, always struck me as a revival of those ancient cults in which gods were like animals or had animal heads.

And so, not knowing how to believe in God and unable to believe in an aggregate of animals, I, along with other people on the fringe, kept a distance from things, a distance commonly called Decadence. Decadence is the total loss of unconsciousness, which is the very basis of life. Could it think, the heart would stop beating.

For those few like me who live without knowing how to have life, what's left but renunciation as our way and contemplation as our destiny? Not knowing nor able to know what religious life is, since faith isn't acquired through reason, and unable to have faith in or even react to the abstract notion of man, we're left with the aesthetic contemplation of life as our reason for having a soul. Impassive to the solemnity of any and all worlds, indifferent to the divine, and disdainers of what is human, we uselessly surrender ourselves to pointless sensation, cultivated in a refined Epicureanism, as befits our cerebral nerves.

Retaining from science only its fundamental precept - that everything is subject to fatal laws, which we cannot freely react to since the laws themselves determine all reactions - and seeing how this precept concurs with the more ancient one of the divine fatality of things, we abdicate from every effort like the weak-bodied from athletic endeavors, and we hunch over the book of sensations like scrupulous scholars of feeling.

Taking nothing seriously and recognizing our sensations as the only reality we have for certain, we take refuge there, exploring them like large unknown countries. And if we apply ourselves diligently not only to aesthetic contemplation but also to the expression of its methods and results, it's because the poetry or prose we write - devoid of any desire to move anyone else's will or to mold anyone's understanding - is merely like when a reader reads out loud to fully objectify the subjective pleasure of reading.

We're well aware that every creative work is imperfect and that our most dubious aesthetic contemplation will be the one whose object is what we write. But everything is imperfect. There's no sunset so lovely it couldn't be yet lovelier, no gentle breeze bringing us sleep that couldn't bring a yet sounder sleep. And so, contemplations of statues and mountains alike, enjoying both books and the passing days, and dreaming all things so as to transform them into our own substance, we will also write down descriptions and analyses, which when they're finished, will become extraneous things that we can enjoy as if they happened along one day.

This isn't the viewpoint of pessimists like Vigny, for whom life was a prison in which he wove straw to keep busy and forget. To be a pessimist is to see everything tragically, an attitude that's both excessive and uncomfortable. While it's true that we ascribe no value to the work we produce and that we produce it to keep busy, we're not like the prisoner who busily weaves straw to forget about his fate; we're like the girl who embroiders pillows for no other reason than to keep busy.

I see life as a roadside inn where I have to stay until the coach from the abyss pulls up. I don't know where it will take me, because I don't know anything. I could see this inn as a prison, for I'm compelled to wait in it; I could see it as a social centre, for it's here that I meet others. But I'm neither impatient nor common. I leave who will to stay shut up in their rooms, sprawled out on beds where they sleeplessly wait, and I leave who will to chat in the parlours, from where their songs and voices conveniently drift out here to me. I'm sitting at the door, feasting my eyes and ears on the colours and sounds of the landscape, and I softly sing - for myself alone - wispy songs I compose while waiting.

Night will fall on us all and the coach will pull up. I enjoy the breeze I'm given and the soul I was given to enjoy it with, and I no longer question or seek. If what I write in the book of travellers can, when read by others at some future date, also entertain them on their journey, then fine. If they don't read it, or are not entertained, that's fine too."


Robert McCall

"McCall is almost the opposite of Bonestell: he has never painted scenes of other worlds or planets. His interest is only the technology: 'In my paintings," he told in an interview in 1971 "the man is of secondary importance compared to what he has done and built. And 'only appearance on stage. The main role is interpreted by his great achievements.'"
Source: www.fabiofeminofantascience.org

Chesley Bonestell

"Bonestell, now considered the greatest astronomical and astronautical illustrator of all time, was born in 1888 in San Francisco. 'Actually, I do not go the artists and I do not like them. I believe that most of the crackers are only pretending to be the painters because they believe that to become enough of stirring color. I believe that in order to retain a good painter must first be able to draw very well, while very few of the so-called contemporary artists are capable. If I want, I can do beautiful designs at any time.'"
Source: www.fabiofeminofantascience.org

Paul Bolton

Source: http://www.fabiofeminofantascience.org

SF fantasy


Discopter (1945)

"About the same time that he lived in Berkley Alex invented an unusual flying craft. That invention was what he called the "discopter", a vertical liftoff aircraft that looked very much like what was to be later termed "flying saucer". He made numerous detailed drawings of the aircraft and other drawings of an American city with many "discopter" ports that looked very futuristic. He sent these detailed plans to all the branches of the U.S.. Military and was eventually told that they were intrigued by the concept and the design of the craft but were not prepared at that time because the war effort superseded its development. However he did indeed patent the design for the "discopter" in 1943 with the U.S. Patent Office and it served as the prototype for other similar aircraft that have been developed up to the present day."
Alexander G. Weygers (1901 - 1989)

Source: www.laesieworks.com

Operette Morali

"There is no disgust with life, no despair, no sense of the nothingness of things, of the worthlessness of remedies, of the loneliness of man; no hatred of the world and of oneself; that can last so long: although these attitudes of mind are completely reasonable, and their opposites unreasonable. But despite all this, after a little while; with a gentle change in the temper of the body; little by little; and often in a flash, for minuscule reasons scarcely possible to notice; the taste of life revives, and this or that fresh hope springs up, and human things take on their former visage, and show they are not unworthy of some care; not so much to the intellect, as indeed, so to speak, to the sense of the spirit. And that is enough to make a person, aware and convinced as he may be of the truth, as well as in spite of reason, both persevere in life, and go along with it as others do: for those very senses (one might say), and not the intellect, are what rules over us...And life is a thing of such small consequence, that man, as regards himself, ought not to be very anxious either to keep it or to discard it. Therefore, without pondering the matter too deeply; with each trivial reason that presents itself, for grasping the former alternative rather than the latter, he ought not to refuse to do so."

"For the excellence of souls brings greater urgency to their lives; which in turn brings a greater feeling of their own unhappiness; which is as much as to say greater unhappiness. In the same way, the larger degree of life in these souls implies more active self-love, wherever this may lead or whatever form it may take: and this surplus of self-love induces a more intense longing for beautitude, and therefore more vexation and suffering at being deprived of it, and deeper sorrow at the adversities that come along. All this is contained in the primeval and perpetual order of created things, which I cannnot alter."

"Ancients lived more fully than we do, partly because, on account of the grave continuous dangers they were accustomed to undergoing, they commonly died earlier than we do? And you will bestow the greatest blessing on men: whose life was always, I will not say happy, but less unhappy insofar as it was the more powerfully excited, and the more fully occupied."
-G. Leopardi


Svedhous (South Korea)

must say i'm pretty impressed to see a DSBM band from South Korea.
Despair Poetry, 2007

Wilhelm Staehle

Source: http://silhouettemasterpiecetheatre.com


Abigail Reynolds

"I collect second hand tourist guides. Within the century of printed photographs that they contain, I search for plates that have been printed at similar scale, taken from a similar view point.

When I find a near match between book plates, I cut and fold the pages into a new single surface. The dates written on each work give the publication dates of the books I have used. Whichever has been used as the 'base' image is listed first.

The patterns I use to cut the two book pages into one single surface are such that all of both sheets of paper are preserved. If you were to fold all the flaps in or out, the entirety of each image will be seen. The act of folding one image into the other pushes them out into three dimensions in a bulging time ruffle.

The Universal Now works operate as a resurrection of the unregarded book plates and forgotten photographers that have stood in the same places at a different times, bringing these moments into a dialogue and into the present. The Universal Now takes its title from debates about time continuum in quantum physics."

Source: http://www.abigailreynolds.com

Chad Hagen

Francisco Infante-Arana & Nonna Gorunova

Maurizio Anzeri

Photo embroidery

Sofie Loscher

"I bought some iron filings so i can start to visualise the magnetic field that exists around a magnet or between two polar opposite magnets (as shown above). I have been looking for a way to intensify the presence of energy in my work, a way of creating a work with a live force at its core. I am interested in exposing the empty space between two magnets, where all the tension is and where there is nothing to be seen; making the invisible visible."

Source: http://sofieloscher.wordpress.com

Richard Box

"This installation is pretty simple. It just takes advantage of an amazing electromagnetic situation created by high voltage power lines. 1301 fluorescent tubes were placed in a grid under power lines in the UK. They don’t need to be plugged in to light up because the electricity escaping from the powerlines is strong enough to excite the mercury vapor inside, causing them to fluoresce."

Source: http://jasonkrugman.wordpress.com



Lugburz Sleed (Ukraine)

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

"In >Pulse Room<, exhibition visitors' heartbeats are transmitted to 100 lightbulbs suspended from the ceiling. The interface, a simple metal handle, transmits a visitor*s pulse to a lightbulb after ten seconds. If another visitor touches the handle, his pulse is transmitted to the first lightbulb and the rhythm of its predecessor is transmitted to the next lightbulb in the series - thus the digital traces left by 100 visitors are permanently present in the exhibition in this poetic installation."

Source: http://interactive.usc.edu/members/sfisher


Justine Cooper

Saved by Science

Daniel Furman

Superdome, Palais de Tokyo, 2008

Cabinets of big C

Aston Lever's Museum

"View of Sir Ashton Lever's (1729-1788) incredible museum. Lever began his collection with exotic seashells in 1760 and continued to collect items until he had amassed an astounding 28,000 items, mostly curiosities of the natural world but also many ethnographic items, most notably a large amount of stuff from Captain Cook’s voyages into the South Seas. The Leverian Museum was one of the largest private and most exceptional collections ever amassed by a single Englishman. The individual boxes of birds are quite spectacular but - as Swainson noted - such a display method took up an enormous amount of room and gave the whole museum an air of spectacle. Looking at Lever's collection, it's easy to see why taxonomy - the science of putting all creatures into their genus and species - became increastingly important for naturalists from the early eighteenth century onwwards."

Source: http://www.ravishingbeasts.com

Thomas Grunfeld

Albert Pinkham Ryder

Boat in Moonlight


Smithsonian images

Source: http://smithsonianimages.si.edu


Vertebrate zoology collections

Vertebrate Zoology collections at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History

"Sometimes individuals with particular trait variations survive and reproduce better than individuals with other variations. Owls hunting in an area with light soil, for example, are more likely to catch dark-colored mice than light-colored mice. Soon, mice with dark coats will disappear from the light soil."

Source: http://newsdesk.si.edu/photos/nmnh_since_darwin.htm

Snow roots

It may not be the Yeti, but in a remote region of the Russian mountains a previously unknown and entirely unique form of plant root has been discovered. Lead Scientist Professor Hans Cornelissen and his Russian-Dutch team describe this finding June 11 in Ecology Letters.

The root belongs to the small alpine plant Corydalis conorhiza and unlike normal roots, which grow into soil, they extend upward through layers of snow. Given this novel behaviour, the scientists have termed them ’snow roots’.

“This is a completely new discovery,” says Cornelissen, an associate professor of ecology at VU University in Amsterdam. “Snow roots are thus far unknown and a spectacular evolutionary phenomenon.”

The team made their discovery high up in the Caucasus Mountains, where the ground remains covered in snow for much of the year. As the snow melted at the height of summer the scientists noted that C. conorhiza plants were surrounded by a filigree network of above-ground roots, stretching uphill and to each side for around 50cm. During the spring and perhaps also winter, these roots extend into the surrounding snow and during the summer they die and decompose, which may explain how they had remained undiscovered.

C. conorhiza also possesses normal roots which anchor the plant to the ground and take up nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Cornelissen’s team hypothesise that the additional snow roots allow C. conorhiza to take nitrogen directly from the snow. Many mountain plants take up nitrogen from melted snow soaking into the ground only after snow melt. However an impenetrable ice crust prevents C. conorhiza from doing this, therefore the plant is forced to depend upon the snow roots.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611192134.htm

Sortsind (Denmark)

Sar, 1999

Bajaga & Instruktori (Serbia/Ex-Yugo)