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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Quote of the Day

"It was a cool December morning
when William C. Minor cut off his penis."


Artist Doreen Garner

A fascinating, terrifying, beautiful work dealing with trauma, the physicality of the body, and the history of violence against black women in the history of gynecology and medicine.

Watch the video of her process and commentary:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Quote of the Day: "I cannot see any good reason to think of the way, say, oral sex, triggers or fails to trigger disgust any differently than how we think of the cornbread."

Terrible Period Advice

See the article HERE

Who knew gallstones could be so beautiful?

Image from from Thomas Schnalke's "Das Ding an Sich: Zur Geschichte eines berliner Gallensteins."

The Chymist

"Originally, alchemy was a secretive activity, with its own complex and mystical imagery. By the 1740s it had become distinct from chemistry, and alchemists were popularly regarded as charlatans."

Monday, July 3, 2017

X-Ray Singing

Tuberculosis: HOT or NOT?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Blog

Always more to see and read:

By Brandy Schillace

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

On the French Midwife Madame du Coudray

"She was a bold pioneer in obstetrical pedagogy in the service of France, tirelessly promoting the interests of the government that dispatched her. She was a curse visited upon the traditional village matrons who practiced timehonored ways of birthing and wanted no "help" or instruction disrupting their lives. She was a female upstart usurping the turf of doctors and surgeons who had traditionally presided over all examinations and degreegranting ceremonies for midwives throughout the country. She was a wondrous, brilliant phenomenon. She was a virago. A loyal patriotic servant. A fraud not to be trusted. An ingenious inventor. An outrageous, pretentious quack. A selfsacrificing, devoted teacher. Feminist role model. Traitor to her sex. Savior of the French population. Mere flash in the pan. Boon to humanity. Royal (literally) nuisance. Any and all of the above, depending on your point of view."
Gelbart, Nina Rattner. The King's Midwife : A History and Mystery of Madame Du Coudray. University of California Press, 1998.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I have done a short comparison between Martin Luther and Freddy Mercury

Luther said: “Men have broad shoulders and narrow hips, and accordingly they possess intelligence. Women have narrow shoulders and broad hips. Women ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon.” [No. 54; Luther was 47]

He also said: “Imagine what it would be like without this sex. The home, cities, economic life, and government would virtually disappear. Men can't do without women. Even if it were possible for men to beget and bear children, they still couldn't do without women.” [No. 1658; Luther was 48]

So, essentially, fat-bottomed girls make the rockin' world go 'round.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The History of Condoms

HERE is a succinct timeline. There is more on WIKIPEDIA.

According to the OED, the name is thought to have come from an 18th-century physician.

It also offers this early quote: "Happy the Man, who in his Pocket keeps, Whether with Green or Scarlet Ribband bound, A well made C——." (W. Kennett in W. Pattison Cupid's Metamorphoses 307, 1728)

Replica sheepgut condom from HERE

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Shape of Snails

“the conceptual world of pre-eighteenth-century zoology must
have accorded little importance to the orientation of a
shell”. We will refer to this as the ‘Gould hypothesis’.
-from: From a ‘domestic commodity’ to a ‘secret of trade’: snails and shells of land molluscs in early
(mainly 16th and 17th century) visual arts 

"chirality" is the direction in which the snail shell is oriented

Friday, July 29, 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Donald Duck as a Nazi

A film featuring Donald Duck has only recently become legal to share in Russia. See the full story by Atlas Obscura.

Syndrome K: A fake disease that saved Jewish lives

See the fully story HERE

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saucy Northern Renaissance Images

See Niklaus Manuel HERE and a pinterest collection of Adam and Eve getting frisky HERE.

Niklaus Manuel Deutsche

See HERE for Holbein's Maiden and Death

While you're at it, just look at ALL THE PICTURES. And even more, just on the theme of Death and the Maiden. 


The Importance of Poop Sticks

This story rehashes the main points of an article which revealed signs of infectious disease on "hygene sticks"

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Butt Monsters

"If drowning children sounds brutal, then consider the preferred object of [the kappa's] thievery: the human liver. As river dwellers, kappas were thought to lurk beneath the old fashioned toilets that overhung the river and to use that vantage point to truly invade people's private space. By reaching through the anus, kappas could snatch the internal organs of an unsuspecting toilet-goer. Collateral damage in this transaction was a mythical organ called the shirikodama, a little globe that was believed to plug the anus."

Before silicon implants in 1961, oil, ivory, glass, rubber, ox cartilage, wool, fruit, plastic & sponge were all trialed as breast fillers.

from Whores of Yore

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Stop-Motion Skeletons

A very cool story about Ray Harryhausen's work in animation and film--and all the creepy things he made to move.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

From Engelhardt's Diabetes: Its Medical and Cultural History

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Olaus Rudbeck

Would-be discoverer of Atlantis, creator of the Gustavinium, and all-around Swedish badass. Read more about him on Wikipedia.

A Poem on Anatomy from 1646

A Quote from Barlaeus, "On the Anatomical Table":

You learn to understand through what specific flaw each single part succumbs, under which rule it may rise again, as well as the astonishing accidents of the human forum. To this one greed was detrimental or mad lust, This one was destroyed by furor, that one by the pernicious admixture of the water he had drunk. Just as we die in a thousand different ways, we are wounded not just by one cause alone. Now, it will be the sea, then the land, finally the pernicious air that does the damage. The elements, which are favorable in the whole, are detrimental to the cure. And life's thread is cut by an enemy forever different."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Saints, Demons, Death, and the Devil for Metal Dudes, Part I

This post is dedicated to a friend who has been scrupulously studying the works of Albrecht Dürer to make a film for his compositions. I am lucky enough to be a sounding board for the script and process, which has been wildly inspiring.

First are some images by Dürer.

Knight, Death, and the Devil, 1513

Melancholia I, 1514

St. Jerome in his Study, 1514

These will be the main parts of the film, featuring the characters in various ways, often indirect, as well as common themes such as the hourglass. 

One of his earlier prints is also of note, since he had nearly perfected his ideas of proportion and plays with the idea of the humors. And who doesn't love that goat in the top right corner?

Adam and Eve, 1504

I should also note that there are some great bits about Dürer in THIS BOOK

Recently, this also led me to look further into the creative stylings in depictions of St. Anthony. He was tempted by demons, and since demons don't have a single face or type, it was an invitation for artists to be as inventive as possible. My favorite:

Martin Schöngauer, Temptation of St. Anthony, 1470s

The style here is amazing, and the creativity even more so.

And St. Anthony was also the namesake of an illness ("St. Anthony's Fire") now known as ergotism. Because of this, he was featured in a brilliant altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald:

Isenheim Altarpiece, 1512-1516

It depicts a Jesus covered in lacerations, skin affected similarly to those with the disease.

In the left-hand corner on the internal wing, St. Anthony is again tortured by demons.

HERE you can see the how the altarpiece opens.

In another altarpiece in Aachen, I found this little guy being very proud of doing his job next to St. Anthony.

And HERE is a funny rant on depictions of St. Anthony. 

More to come later!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Saving Faces

A video showing an American artist making facial prosthetics for soldiers. More information at the Public Domain Review and the National Library of Medicine  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Theaters of drama taking from theaters of anatomy

"The ordinary citizen, in order to be admitted to the anatomy, had to purchase an entrance ticket. This was another international custom. It appears quite likely that the sale of tickets to those wishing to attend public anatomies preceded the same of ordinary theater tickets by sever years and may even have encouraged theatrical confraternities to follow suit. This, incidentally, is only one of a number of aspects suggesting, it seems to me, that studies of the history of the stage should include the anatomical theaters."

-p. 32, William Heckscher's Rembrandt's Anatomy of Dr. Nicholas Tulp, 1958

The full text of the book can also be found HERE

Sensory Upload

German Troops in WWI

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pythagoras, Beans, and Murder

From the never-ending and often satisfyingly strange vaults of Wikipedia:

"Some authors mentioned a "Pythagorean diet", the abstention from eating meat, beans, or fish. Firenze debated the Pythagorean diet in 1743.[22]
 Some stories of Pythagoras' murder revolve around his aversion to beans. According to legend, enemies of the Pythagoreans set fire to Pythagoras' house, sending the elderly man running toward a bean field, where he halted, declaring that he would rather die than enter the field – whereupon his pursuers slit his throat.[23] It has been suggested that the prohibition of beans was to avoid favism; susceptible people may develop hemolytic anemia as a result of eating beans, or even of walking through a field where bean plants are in flower.[24] It is more likely to have been for magico-religious reasons,[25] perhaps because beans obviously demonstrate the potential for life, perhaps because they resemble the kidneys and genitalia.[26] There was a belief that beans and human beings were created from the same material.[27]
 According to accounts from Diogenes Laertius, and or Eustathius, it is thought that the fava bean was particularly sacred to the Pythagoreans; this is because fava beans have hollow stems, and it was believed that souls of the deceased would travel through the ground, up the hollow stems, into the beans where they would reside.[28]
 Callimachus is quoted: Keep your hands from beans, a painful food: As Pythagoras enjoined, I too urge.And Empedocles, is quoted: Wretches, utter wretches, keep your hands from beans.[29]"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Consumptive Chic"

See the Smithsonain Mag Story "How Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion"

Marie Duplessis, painted by Édouard Viénot

And an interesting quote from a story specifically about her:

In 1847, shortly before 23-year-old Marie Duplessis, one of 19th-century Paris’s most celebrated courtesans, died of consumption, she told her maid, “I’ve always felt that I’ll come back to life.” Her prophecy came true: she found enduring fame in the work of a former conquest, Alexandre Dumas fils, “La Dame aux Camélias” (there’s a newly translated version by Liesl Schillinger, a regular contributor to the Book Review), as well as in “La Traviata,” the opera Verdi based on Dumas’s novel and play.

Elizabeth Hughes and the Discovery of Insulin

This lecture notice reminded me that I should look up more about Elizabeth Hughes.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On Free Association

From Elizabeth Sears, "The Life and Work of William S. Heckscher,"
Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 53. Bd., H. 1 (1990), pp. 107-133

Madam Tussaud and Wax Anatomical Women

"In 1802, a 42-year-old Frenchwoman named Marie Gresholtz arrived in London, with her four-year-old son and three wax statues. The son was the product of a short-lived marriage to one François Tussaud; the three Sleeping Beauties were part of her inheritance, left by her guardian Philippe Curtius, stormer of the Bastille and sculptor extraordinaire.
 The woman, who would become known as Madame Tussaud, had lived in the company of wax since she was six. Apprenticed to Curtius, she was summoned to Versailles to teach Louis XVI’s sister how to make wax flowers and medallions. Soon she found herself producing effigies of the royal family’s decapitated heads."


Story here

Some Quotes, and Some Criticism, of a Medieval Medicine Review

Excerpts from the book in the review:

Mount cites several of these strange remedies in the book, like this one to cure whooping cough:
Take a caterpillar, wrap it in a small bag of muslin, and hang the bag around the neck of the affected child. The caterpillar will die and the child will be cured. Or pour a bowl of milk and get a ferret to lap from the bowl. After the child drinks the rest of the milk, she will recover.

Here is a remedy for menstrual cramps:

A remedy for women who suffered from dysmenorrhoea (painful periods) required taking a cat, cutting off its head, removing its innards and laying the still warm body of the feline on the painful belly (from the Fifteenth-century Leechbook, recipe 238, p. 89).

And to cure gout:
Boil a red-haired dog alive in oil until it falls apart. Then add worms, hog’s marrow and herbs. Apply the mixture to the a effected parts. Or take a frog when neither sun nor moon is shining. Cut off its hind legs and wrap them in deer skin. Apply the right to the right and the left to the left foot of the gouty person and without doubt he will be healed.

These are, of course, the types of things that can be expected from some of the reaches of medieval medicine. The author of the review has a somewhat crass, "what were they thinking?" sort of attitude toward these bits and bobs, but oh well. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

"for months [I] had been dealing with cadavers of all sexes and all ages - I could even eat my lunch sitting with the dead limbs." 

- W.S. Heckscher, art historian

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ball People

Here is the essential breakdown.

This was also mentioned in the cult movie/musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch in the graphics and lyrics for Origin of Love.

And a very cool book based on it.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Album covers, back from the dead

I've written before about the album art of Joy Division (including the sandpaper album cover meant to destroy other album covers)

Just as artist’s books are surviving in the underground, there are artists still pushing the boundaries of album art. These are some very cool examples: one set is permanently sealed within its sleeve and has remnants of the artist’s own blood.  Another has human ashes (as described on the sleeve) that are crushed and painted onto the playing surface of the record.

Talk about putting yourself into your music.

Pictures and info HERE

Sound HERE