• Art,  Early Music,  History,  Music,  Myth,  World Music

    New Sappho poems

    In the most recent issue of the New Yorker there’s a charming little long read about recent discoveries in the life and work of Sappho, including two new Sappho poems (or… whatever). The two fragments, one discovered in 2012 the other in 2004, take on the subject of idiot relatives and old age. [I bring] the beautiful gifts of the violet Muses, girls, and [I love] that song lover, the sweet-toned lyre. My skin was [delicate] before, but now old age [claims it]; my hair turned from black [to white]. My spirit has grown heavy; knees buckle that once could dance light as fawns. I often groan, but what can…

  • Ephemera,  Myth

    If I was a rare book collector

    Abebooks has posted a list of the 10 most expensive books it sold in 2010. Some highlights: 1. Arabic Manuscript of Al Wajaza Fi Sihhat Il Qawl Bi l Ijaza – $45,000 This is an important work on Hadith methodology (narrations concerning the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) that was originally written in the 10th century AD. This copy was published in the 12th-13th century A.D. and contained an ownership mark on the title page from a well known scholar called Ibrahim B. Sulleymanb Muhammad B. Abd Ul Aziz Al Hanafi Al Jinini, who bought it while living in Damascus in 1659 A.D. 6. Ottoman Atlas – $19,500 Published…

  • Myth

    Lois Long’s father and the Nature Fakers

    Lois Long’s father, William Long, was prominent in the “Nature faker” controversy, one of the most fantastic controversies America’s literary world has gone through. Around the turn of the 20th century naturalist literature saw a boom in popularity, and among the beneficiaries were colorful writers without considerable scientific experience. Among these were writers like Jack London and Ruyard Kipling, who told fictional stories with anthropomorphic animals, but also among these were writers who claimed to tell non-fiction stories with… anthropomorphic animals. A positive review of William Long’s book in the Atlantic, spurred the controversy. Long originated some animal stories which are now popular features in cartoons – Porcupines rolling down…

  • Myth,  Religion

    The Revival of Thomas Browne

    From the New York Times: He was the kind of Christian thinker, after all, who could wonder whether Lazarus would have a legal right to reclaim his possessions from his heirs after he re-emerged from the grave. He could write with great verve about why most cultures buried their dead lying down, but some had the bodies standing erect; about the macabre practice of inhaling a dying person’s last breath; and about the even more disturbing one of drinking a loved one’s ashes (a custom revived and adapted by Keith Richards, who claimed to have snorted some of his father’s remains.) As an amateur scientist and product of the early Enlightenment, Browne…

  • Ephemera,  Myth

    Avilude: A Game of Birds

    From Yale Beinecke Library. Avilude, or Game of Birds, (Worcester, West & Lee, 1873), a card game from 1873, including play instructions. Information about the rules can be found here. More photos after the break.

  • Myth

    The leech-child

    Descending from the heavens to this island, they erected a heavenly pillar and a spacious palace. At this time Izanagi-no-mikoto asked his spouse Izanami-no-mikoto, saying: “How is your body formed?” She replied, saying: “My body, formed though it be formed, has one place which is formed insufficiently.” Then Izangi-no-mikoto said: “My body, formed though it be formed, has one place which is formed to excess. Therefore, I would like to take that place in my body which is formed to excess and insert it into that place in your body which is formed insufficiently, and thus give birth to the land. How would this be?” Izanami-no-mikoto replied saying: “That will…