Dudes and dandies

Rose Callahan's "Dandy Portraits" — "Today, the question, "What is a dandy?" has no simple answer, and I do not claim to have the last word. Rather, this is a very personal exploration of dandyism - in it's "infinite variety" - thru the gentlemen I have had the pleasure of meeting. With each new portrait comes more curiosity, and the realization that a true dandy is a rare thing indeed."

In the 1880's, who was King of the Dudes? — "Wall was born in 1860. His father and grandfather each left him more than $1 million between his 18th and 22nd birthdays, which enabled a certain grandeur. Thereafter, Wall never drank water - only champagne - and sported a walrus mustache, gleaming monocle, and high, stiff collars encircled by one of his 5,000 flamboyant neckties. Wall eventually owned a wardrobe of 500 complete changes, useful for someone who completely changed his clothing at least six times daily.”

Shakespeare's Badass Quarto

Ron Rosenbaum in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

So the Bad Quarto, like the Ghost in Hamlet, once again is stalking the battlements of Shakespeare scholarship. Despite its popular image of pedantry, textual scholarship can be dramatic and enlightening. Texts, you sometimes come to feel, develop characters of their own. Scholars now prefer to call the Bad Quarto "Q1," but I like calling it the Bad Quarto — as in delinquent, disobedient, disruptive. The Badass Quarto.

Nietzsche on the "tyranny of the actual"

"What antiquated thoughts I harbour in my breast toward such a complex of mythology and virtue! But they must out for once, and may everyone have a good laugh. I would say the following: history always inculcates: "once upon a time," the moral: "you ought not" or "you ought not to have." So history becomes a compendium of actual immorality. How grievously he would err who would at the same time view history as the judge of this actual immorality! That a Raphael had to die at the age of thirty-six, for example, is offensive to morality: such a being ought never to die. If now you want to come to the aid of history, as apologists of the actual, you will say: he expressed all he had to say and given a longer life he would always only have produced beauty as the same beauty, not as new beauty, as things of this sort. Thus you are advocates of the devil, namely by making of success, of fact, your idol: while a fact is always stupid and has at all times resembled a calf more than a god." (From Nietzsche's On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, section 8. Translation by Peter Preuss.)

Leibniz, science, and theology

From The New Atlantis — "At fourteen, he enrolled at the University of Leipzig to study philosophy. “I was very young when I began to meditate,” he would later write, “and I was not quite fifteen when I strolled for whole days in a grove to take sides between Aristotle and Democritus.” Even then, Leibniz was nagged by the tension between the teleological account of nature inherited from Aristotle and engrained in academia, and the new mechanical physics, represented by Galileo and Descartes, that hearkened back to the ancient Greek atomist Democritus. Early in Leibniz’s career, mechanism won out and led him to focus on mathematics, but, as we shall see, he later appropriated into his system something akin to the substantial forms of Aristotle. "For reasons not entirely known, Leibniz was denied the doctor’s degree of law at Leipzig and left the city, never to live there again. After quickly finishing, defending, and publishing his dissertation at the University of Altdorf at age twenty, he turned down the offer of a professorship, presumably to pursue his independent work of reforming the sciences — a project involving far more than the academy."

Green: the history of a color

"For this queasily lush and labile tint was once hard to make, as difficult to manufacture as it is omnipresent in the world around us. The early colorants were derived from earth or vegetable matter, but they did not dye fast or true, and with time they grew faded and mottled. Painters liked malachite, though it was expensive and tended to blacken; Veronese relied on green and yet also complained about it, wishing its pigments were “as good in quality as the reds.” And some greens, as Pastoureau writes, were literally poisonous. Many seventeenth-century dyeworks relied on a vivid copper derivate called verdet whose fumes, even on finished garments, could prove deadly; while a nineteenth-century tint called “Schweinfurt green” that was used in wallpaper and upholstery came laden with arsenic."

From Alan Walker's open letter to Franz Liszt

Dear and highly esteemed Master! I have long cherished the notion of writing to you, and I am grateful beyond measure that I now have an opportunity to do so. To many people it may seem strange that I would want to communicate with you at all, you who have been dead for more than a century. If so, that can only be because they lack imaignation and are incapable of understanding how important your life and work have become to me. Suffice it to say that during the twenty-five years I worked on your biography, which surely gives me some claim to your attention, there were times when I longed to set aside my work in order to consult you directly about the problems before me.


What better place to start than at the beginning? Your early education was neglected, a situation you strove to overcome in later years. I recall reading somewhere that you attended school in your natal village of Raiding from your sixth year and received some basic tuition in reading and writing from the village schoolmaster Johann Rohrer. The most telling image I retained when considering your rustic education was that the schoolroom in which you and your fellow pupils were prepared for the outside world by Rohrer was a mere twenty feet in length and fourteen feet in width. From this early construction, you widened your boundaries to a point where you were able to embrace the whole world.