plep Archive

27th February
When compassion becomes dissent, 'on the post-9/11 struggle to teach creative writing while awaiting the further annihilation of Iraq.'

Approximately half of today's entries have been filched from The the British Museum's Compass site - everything a museum website should be, and a great resource in itself.

100 Views of Mount Fuji: A Selection.
'Mt. Fuji has a dominant place in the cultural psyche of Japan, both for the people who have lived there, and for those who have come to imagine Japan from a distance. A potent metaphor in classical love poetry, revered since medieval times by mountain-climbing sects of both the Shint and Buddhist faiths, it is still today a site of pilgrimage; over 100,000 climb its peak every summer.'
'The enduring popularity of Fuji in the art and visual culture of Japan is remarkable. Fuji was once regarded as an eternal, unchanging symbol, and indeed has not changed its shape radically since its last eruption in 1707, but artists have not ceased to try and represent it in new ways ... '

The Caves of the Thousand Buddhas.
'The 'Caves of the Thousand Buddhas', or Qianfodong, are situated at Mogao, about 25 kilometres south-east of the oasis town of Dunhuang in Gansu province, western China, in the middle of the desert. By the late fourth century, the area had become a busy desert crossroads on the caravan routes of the Silk Road linking China and the West. Traders, pilgrims and other travellers stopped at the oasis town to stock up with provisions, pray for the journey ahead or give thanks for their survival.'
'At about this time wandering monks carved the first caves into the long cliff stretching almost 2 kilometres in length along the Daquan River. Over the next millennium more than 1000 caves of varying sizes were dug. Around five hundred of these were decorated as cave temples ... '

Collecting Souvenirs in Japan: A Diary.
Hello Kitty.

Kabuki Theatre of Japan. 'Going to the theatre was such an exciting event that I was hardly able to get a wink of sleep the night before. I would try to go to bed, but somehow I would always end up getting up quietly and slipping into the make-up room.' - From Izumi Mine, Nagori no yume.

Annuraaq: Clothing of Arctic North America. 'Fur was our only clothing, so we made sure it looked its best.' - Rosie Iqallijuq, 1997.

Kayak Clothing in Greenland. 'Because our ocean here, - it is very cold. And therefore it is very important for those who want to train kayaking, that they maintain their body temperature, out of consideration for their health.' - (Member of the Kayak Club Nuuk, 1999)

The Pacific: Gods and People.
'their universe comprised not only land surfaces, but the surrounding ocean as far as they could traverse and exploit it, the underworld with its fire-controlling and earth-shaking denizens, and the heavens above with their hierarchies of powerful gods and named stars and constellations that people could count on to guide their ways across the seas.' - Epeli Hau'ofa.

Queen of Sheba: Treasures from Ancient Yemen. The Queen of Sheba in art and legend.

Unknown Amazon.
'The vast reaches of the Amazonian rainforest have been lived in and shaped by human hands for thousands of years. Long before Europeans arrived in the Americas this deep history of human interaction with river and forest gave rise to enduring cultural traditions and sophisticated art styles. Today people's lives are closely intertwined with the plants and animals of the forest for their practical value as well as their symbolic significance.'
'Native Amazonians, or Amerindians, belong to a multitude of different ethnic groups with their own languages and cultures, but also sharing a common cultural tradition. Their story can be told in many ways through oral and written histories, objects and images. They often speak of the Amazon as a serpent, and the plan of the exhibition is based on this idea of a serpentine river which winds its way through the Amazonian past and present ... '

Durer and His Legacy. 'Albrecht Drer (1471-1528) of Nuremberg was the first truly international artist, a celebrity both during his life-time and ever since. He revitalized new printing technologies that ensured his works were appreciated and collected not only in his native country but throughout Europe. He was the great master of the multiple image, and his AD monogram became a widely recognized and respected trademark ... '

Human Image. 'Whether scratched on rock, moulded in clay, sculpted in stone, carved from wood, cast in metal, painted, drawn or printed, the urge to create figures in our own image has existed since man first sought to define his place in the world. In most cultures and at most times in history, people have created representations of themselves, or representations of other beings in human form ... '

Mummies and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt.

Rembrandt the Printmaker.

In Our Path. The story of the destruction of a community to build a freeway in California.

Roads and Highways.

The Highways of North Carolina.

Lucille's Route 66. A diner of some note.

Photographic Images from Historic Route 66. 'For all of you who want to experience the full spectrum of America, Route 66 is for you. Use the ribbon of highway as a "guide" taking you from the glitz of big cities to small-town America. Eat at the old diners and restaurants, talk to the locals, but above all stop and explore. Have a wonderful trip. We offer some additional tips...'

Route 40 - America's Golden Highway.

Goldwell Open Air Museum. 'Just outside of Beatty, Nevada, a small mining town on the road to Death Valley, California, an unlikely group of prominent Belgian artists created a self-described art situation consisting of seven outdoor sculptures that are colossal not only in their scale, but in their placement within the vastness of the upper Mojave desert.'
'For the casual visitor, the experience of the Gold Well Open Air Museum is enigmatic. They encounter a life-size, ghostly interpretation of the Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci; a 25-foot high pink woman made of cinder blocks; a 24-foot high steel prospector accompanied by a penguin; a blossoming tangle of gleaming chrome car parts; and an exquisitely carved winged woman reaching for the sun from high atop a wooden pillar. There are few interpretative materials to speak of: a nearby little house has some yellowed news clippings taped to the inside windows that offer titles for some of the pieces and very little else ... '

In Search of the Painted Forest. 'As Chicagoans, John and I utilize the Wisconsin Dells, the nearest tacky old-fashioned American pleasure colony, as an occasional escape/research site. True, it doesn't really make my top five all time fave tourist towns. It does not have the purity of Wildwood NJ (that's an article in itself, the best boardwalk in America and maybe the world). It is not as hilariously excessive as Branson, MO, where you can see Wayne Newton climb out of a spaceship or see Shoji Tabuchi play Fiddler on the Roof standing on a tacky pasteboard house that a junior high school would be ashamed to own as a prop. And the natural setting can't hold a candle to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Worst of all, I can't forgive the Dellsians for tearing down the puffy future home of the 50's, Xanadu, only a year before I made a special pilgrimage to see it, replacing it with a really pathetic and forgettable menagerie of miniature golf courses. Oh, and I almost forgot the fact that you can't drive 100 yards without having to see some pathetic bozo (another Chicago tourist, no doubt--the City of Bozo) dangling by his Air Jordans on a bungee cord of one sort or another. Yes, the Dells can be depressing--I can't always manage to reaffirm my value system there ... '

Joe Furey's Urban Grotto: Found and Lost.

When Moons and Shadows Dance. Shadows on Jupiter.

Jupiter's Moon Dances. 'At rare times one of Jupiter's satellites can hide another with its own disk or shadow.'

London by Night. I can see my house from here, hehe.

Mr Rogers' Neighbourhood.
' Fred Rogers, better known as television's "Mister Rogers," a cultural icon and kindly neighbor to generations of American children, died Thursday at the age of 74. '

The 5 Line Self Portrait.
Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.

The Lynmouth Floods of 1952 on Exmoor.
Via the Apothecary's Drawer.

If not war then what? Via dumbmonkey.

The minimal compact: An open-source contract for post-national states. 'Democracy for the rest of us' following the open source model... worth reading.
Also :- Emergent Democracy.

26th February
A Painter of Angels Became the Father of Camouflage.

The Gutenberg Bible at the Ransom Centre. 'The Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed with movable type, is the one of the greatest treasures in the Ransom Center's collections. It was printed at Johann Gutenberg's shop in Mainz, Germany and completed in 1454 or 1455. The Center's Bible was acquired in 1978 and is one of only five complete examples in the United States.'
Anatomy of a page.
Selected passages.

Images from Mark Catesby. 'Beginning in 1712, Mark Catesby, an English-born artist-naturalist embarked on two scientific expeditions to the southern colonies of British North America that would ultimately result in the first major work on New World botanical and animal life, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. Too poor to hire engravers, Catesby personally translated his watercolors into 220 plates of birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals. Volume I was published in 1731, Volume II in 1743, and the Appendix in 1748. In addition to the plates, Catesby included descriptions of plants and animals, soils, climate, agriculture, and Indians. All descriptions were in English and French.'

Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s. 'When Jackie Robinson took the field as a Brooklyn Dodger in 1947, he became the first African American to play major league baseball in the twentieth century. Materials that tell his story, and the history of baseball in general, are located throughout the Library of Congress. The special presentation called Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson, 1860s-1960s is a time line in five sections. It draws on approximately thirty items--manuscripts, books, photographs, and ephemera--from many parts of the Library. The first three sections of the presentation describe the color line that segregated baseball for many years, the Negro Leagues, and Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson--two men who played key roles in integrating the sport ... '

Times Square Photo Project. 'The Times Square Photo Project began in 1997. We have been photographing and presenting images of the Transition taking place in Times Square. Our archive has more than 10,000 images taken over the past five years, covering a wide variety of stories; from the last remains of the pornography industry to the activity, energy, signs, lights, and bold advertisements that are synonymous with the new Times Square. '
Transition of Times Square.

National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, Tennessee. 'The International Storytelling Center celebrates the power of storytelling each year in October by showcasing the world's stories, storytellers, and storytelling traditions at the highly acclaimed National Storytelling Festival-the world's premier storytelling event.'

Storytelling for Peace.
Selected stories.

The Lotus Sutra: The True Nature of the Buddha.

The Heart Sutra in several languages.

Confessions of Nat Turner. 'In the most important and best-documented slave insurrection in Southern history, Nat Turner, son of an African-born slave mother in Southampton County, Virginia, led an uprising of sixty or seventy slaves. As his remarkable confession indicates, he was a precocious youth and became a preacher motivated by mystical voices to fulfill a dream to liberate his people. He admitted that his own master, Joseph Travis, was a kindly person; yet he and his family were the first to be slaughtered. At least 51 - Gray says 55 - were murdered the night of the uprising, August 21, 1831, The details are given in the Confessions below. '

The Legend of Miao-shan. 'In China Kuan-yin (Avalokitesvara) came to be most frequently worshipped in female form as the Goddess of Mercy. This transformation from an originally male deity into a female one seems to have occurred sometime during the Northern Sung dynasty (960-1126) and is reflected in Kuan-yin's miracluous appearance in human form in the legend of Miao-shan ... '

The Homosexual Tradition in China. Interesting essay.

Puffer Fish. 'J. H. Richard engraved a puffer fish collected during the U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838-42.'
Snow Monkeys.
Via Natural Science Revealed.

The Gutenberg Bible: Digitised Images. From the British Library.

Paris Maps. 100 maps dating from 1716 to 1887.

John Singer Sargent. 'One of the great painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, John Singer Sargent made his fortune and reputation as a portrait painter of beautiful women and influential men. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, novelists Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry James, actress Ellen Terry and art patron Isabella Stewart Gardner all sat for him ... '

John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery.

Othmar Ammann's Glory. The George Washington Bridge.
'It was called the most beautiful bridge in the world. At the time of its 1931 opening, it certainly was the longest single span. To honor the engineering feat it represented, a stamp with its picture was issued, and the bridge became the subject of music, even a children's book ... '

Building the George Washington Bridge: A Photo Gallery.
'The George Washington Bridge stands high above the Hudson River, its eastern end resting on the shores of Manhattan, its western end embedded in the wooded bluffs of New Jersey's Palisades. Twice as long as the longest suspension bridge ever built, it was the marvel of its time and, to some, it will always be the noblest of all bridges. Spanning the river to link New York City and New Jersey had challenged planners for over 100 years before Othmar Ammann, the brilliant, Swiss-born architect and engineer, proposed a bridge design in 1923 that ultimately was chosen from all others ... '
Via the George Washington Bridge official site.

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century. A selection of published works.
An autobiography : the story of the Lord's dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith,the Colored evangelist, by Amanda Smith.
Behind the scenes, or, Thirty years a slave, and four years in the White House, by Elizabeth Keckley.
Ethiope Lays, by Priscilla Jane Thompson.
Gleanings of Quiet Hours, by Priscilla Jane Thompson.
History of Mary Prince, a West Indian slave.
Incidents in the life of a slave girl.