Garbage castleToday I spent the entire day going through medieval garbage. That is to say, I went though boxes filled with remains of medieval and early-modern books, which were stored in the archives of Maastricht, in the south of Holland. The snippets and sheets were thrown out centuries ago, but were subsequently fished out of the bin because a new purpose was found for them: recycling. Many ended up in the dark inside of bookbindings, where they supported boards and backs. Not the example above, however, which was used for a more artistic purpose, likely in the late 16th century: the large blank space was perfect for doodling a castle on - and two of its inhabitants. A draft, no doubt, a practice run before the real deal was undertaken. Someone liked it enough, however, to hang on to, although the sheet ultimately shared the fate of his peers - the bin. It may have been recycled again, ultimately ending up filed in a box, and then, today, in my hands. I just love this well-traveled garbage castle.
Pic (my own): Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 18.A Nr. 208.
Great post! The accident of survival never ceases to amaze me. What we have, and what has been lost.
omg i love this so fucking much
By Aki Inomata, quite literally taking the hermit crabs ability for carrying their home on their back, the Japanese artist crafts architecturally inspired shells from plastic for the crabs, with miniature cities on them. I think another fantastic aspect is the transparency, how you can see the anatomy of the crab even when they withdraw is just fascinating.
Amanda Ripley’s book, The Unthinkable, examines who survives when faced with natural disasters or terrorism, and who doesn’t. It’s largely a matter of beliefs: survivors are those who think they have some control over external circumstances, and who see how even a negative experience might lead to growth. Overconfident people, who overestimate their powers, do particularly well.
Perhaps the real difficulty was that life was far too short. Just as one generation learned their lessons, they died; and the next generation had to step forward and start again from scratch with nothing to work from but those anonymous deep-coded atavistic imperatives, the secret commands of the genes, and whatever few cogent guidelines they had managed to rescue from the minute-by-minute demonstration of human contradiction, confusion and hypocrisy that was their parents. Or guardians. Childhood: it was like trying to chart an entire continent by the brief flare of a firework. Except you had no idea that this was your only chance to explore for free, and instead you spent the five seconds of precious light gawping at the sky, stuffing treacle into your mouth. And then it went dark again.
I’ve wanted to be flexible — to touch my toes, even — for years. It’s not something you’d know, but being tall can come with a bunch of downsides: back pain, bad posture, inflexibility, and even dirty feet (because who can stretch down to clean them in a tiny shower cubicle).
This year, as part of my Sessions training, I’ve resolved to try to get a handle on the inflexibility. (Next year I’ll work on my posture.) I’ve never been much of a yoga fan, in part because of the practicalities of being in one place for a long stretch of time for classes, and apps on the iPhone never worked much for me in the past either.
Given my rigidity, it’s been hard keeping to the programme. At first I wanted to stretch every day, but now I think I’ll be content just to do a 15-minute series of movements/exercises five days per week.
I’m using Beeminder to keep me honest. I’ve only been going a little over a week or two, but I’m already starting to feel some give in my hips and hamstrings.
Let’s hope the progress continues!
Late is never better than never.
Why? Why does what was beautiful suddenly shatter in hindsight because it concealed dark truths? Why does the memory of years of happy marriage turn to gall when our partner is revealed to have had a lover all those years? Because such a situation makes it impossible to be happy? But we were happy! Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily. Because happiness is only real if it lasts forever? Because things always end painfully if they contained pain, conscious or unconscious, all along? But what is unconscious, unrecognized pain? […] Is this what sadness is all about? Is it what comes over us when beautiful memories shatter in hindsight because the remembered happiness fed not just on actual circumstances but on a promise that was not kept?