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Showing posts from January, 2012

Post-Mortem Photography

Post-mortem photography began in the 19th century, essentially beginning with the invention of the camera, and ended in the 1940s. It was most popular in Britain and America, but it did spread to Eastern Europe by the 1920s. In a broad sense, it is defined as the act of photographing a deceased person. However, in the Victorian age, it became a fine art that may seem a bit macabre to modern sensibilities.

It was popular to prop the deceased into a position so as to appear alive with the surviving family or friends posing with them in a sort of family photo. The purpose of this was not to be sensational or macabre, but to have something beautiful to remember your lost loved one by. In the context of the mid-19th century, cameras were new technology and photography a brand new art form and was not as easily available to the public as it is today. That is why they posed the dead to appear, at least in the photo, as if they were still alive.

In many cases, these photo shoots would be the…

King Midas and An Alchemical Touch?

Midas And Bacchus by Nicolas Poussin
We have all heard the story of King Midas and his golden touch. Everyone knows the moral of the story is simply not to be greedy, but is that all there is to the story? What if that straightforward moral lessen is only the surface of something much deeper? Perhaps even a veiled reference to alchemy? After a re-reading of the story with these questions in mind, I have come to the conclusion that there is much, much more to it. I shall tell the story using the version found in Ovid’s Metamorphosis.

And not content with this, Bacchus resolved to leave that land, and with a worthier train went to the vineyards of his own Tmolus and to Pactolus, though the river was not golden, nor admired for precious sands. His usual throng of Satyrs and of Bacchanals surrounded him; but not Silenus, who was then detained from him. The Phrygian folk had captured him, as he was staggering, faint with palsied age and wine. And after they bound him in garlands, they led …

The Feast of All Saints

In this historical fiction novel, Anne Rice displays her literary prowess without any of the supernatural overtones usually found in her novels. While it is a melodrama, there is enough action to keep the plot moving without that dragging feeling books or movies sometimes get if a scene lasts too long.

The story is set in the 1840s and follows the lives of a handful of young gens de couleur libre, or “Free People of Color,” a type of in-between class formed of mixed race Creoles who peopled New Orleans and Louisiana. We get to see all of the characters from many different points of view throughout the story, so you really get a good sense of the world they lived in and the myriad of cultural nuances that explain who they are and why they behave as they do.

The main characters are Marcel St. Marie, the illegitimate son of Philippe Ferronaire, a rich white plantation owner who spends his time in the country with his white family and only visits the St. Maries in the city sporadically, …