Maybe it was this one (above).
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Come to think of it, it's probably more likely that the man had OCD. He probably wrote compulsively and often, whether he was inspired or not. That would be a fatal flaw for a lesser writer but hey, this is Milton, and when he was inspired he was almost without peer. See what you think of this collection of fragments (in no particular order):
"...With looks / Downcast and damp..." ["looks downcast and damp..." Nice, very nice. I assume "damp" refers to tears but it also brings to mind a wet rag, which is a great image to support the impact of "downcast."]
"And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer / Before all temples th' upright heart and pure..." ["the upright heart and pure"... I love how he transposes words like that.]
"...the dire event / That with sad overthrow and foul defeat, / Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host / In horrible destruction laid thus low..." [Not "laid low thus," but rather "laid thus low." That's a beautiful construction. Maybe that's the influence that Latin construction had on English. You can see the influence of the King James Bible style here. Milton could assume a wide audience for his poetry because even the common working man was Bible literate and therefore had a taste for beautiful words.]
Milton was a Puritan and the idea of democracy was so infused into that belief that even demons had to vote on everything, including whether to break with God.
"...The Towers of Heaven are filled / With armed watch that render all access / Impregnable. Oft on the bordering deep / Encamp their legions, or with secret wing / scout far and wide into the Night / Scorning surprise..."
Wow! Heaven uses an active defence which relies not only on walls but on reconnaissance and confrontation with the enemy at night. It sounds like something modern defenders would do.
How would you like to have been the seamen who witnessed that?
All paperback editions of Paradise Lost were not created equal. Here's (above) an annotated one from 1999 that has a good typeface and no bleed through.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
This one (above) appears to be a lump of clay shaped by a palette knife, but it's actually a comet called 67P Churyumorov. A probe named Rosetta just arrived there and is now in orbit attempting to locate a landing site for its robot lander.
Here's (above) a 5 kilometer high mesa on Mars which has undergone a collapse, possibly due to groundwater undermining a layer of subterranean salt. Some kind of dark material is revealed and some of it seems to have been carried down to the ground in a pattern possibly influenced by a liquid.
Here's (above) an even odder one. It's a supernova occuring in a double star system in a nearby galaxy, Galaxy M82SN. The star had already explosively thrown off it's shell, alerting astronomers on Earth that it was about to enter the next stage where it turns into a white dwarf and emits jets of Xrays. Telescopes all over the world (including Chandra, the orbiting Xray telescope) were immediately trained on this star, only....only there were no Xrays. "So what?" you say.
Well, it's an important discovery. The two squares at the bottom are before and after shots of the dwarf, and they're empty. That indicates that our model for how supernovas occur is wrong. Good Grief! The universe continues to amaze!
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Long time readers of this blog know how much I like melodrama. The time travel story I just posted was heavily influenced by it. For me it means creating stories out of elements that have sure-fire audience appeal. If people naturally like to see romance and swordfights, if they love to cheer on a hero and boo the villain, if they have a sentimental attachment to beloved pets...then the melodramatist tries to fit those elements in.
A story like that can be the cheesiest daytime soap opera or it can be Macbeth. It depends on the skill of the writer.
The story begins in the 1780s with a young French aristocrat named Pixerecourt.
Pixerecourt was young and well off and his father had just bought an estate that would have qualified him as an aristocrat. The boy had no aspirations beyond chasing women and wearing nice clothes. Life was good and he hadn't a care in the world. Then came the French Revolution and he and his family were tossed out into the snowflakes.
He had lots of adventures where he was hunted like an animal and nearly starved. Finally he met an old friend who, at great risk to himself, got Pixerecourt a low level clerk's job under an assumed name. Desperate for money, Pixerecourt tried to pay back the friend by writing a play and selling it to one of the local theatres. Sell it he did, and to his surprise the public lined up around the block to see it. It was a hit. In order to explain why I have to digress for a moment.
Back to Pixerecourt: he wasn't trying to innovate. He just wanted to write a popular drama. The problem was that he had seen nothing but the darkest side of life since he left home and was still living under the threat of discovery by murderous fanatics. He wrote about villains because that's all he knew. It evidently struck a chord with the audience, who'd had plenty of brushes with evil themselves.
I wish I could say that Pixerecourt had a life of ease afterward but that wasn't the case. His plays brought him to the attention of the authorities who did everything they could to capture him. Later he was drafted into the revolutionary army which apparently didn't know about his background. I don't know how his later life played out but one of his plays, The Dog of Montargis (usually spelled differently than it is on the poster), became a staple of theatre in the 19th Century and was a favorite of Charles Dickens.
Incidentally, how did anyone ever stage this play? Even with a trained dog the actor playing the murderer must have gotten some serious bites. And what would happen if someone in the audience brought their cat to the play?
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Here I am (above), about to get my hair cut at the local beauty school.
Friends think I get my hair cut by students because I'm cheap. Let me answer that. See the guy above? That's your barber.
See the student above? That's my barber. 'Need I say more?
Hmmm, maybe the average is a bit more like this (above), but you see my point.
There are male students too, but so far I haven't gotten one of them.
It's a school so the haircut doesn't always turn out. That's the risk you take. Most of the time it turns out okay.
I imagine that cosmetology students must acquire a lot of equipment. A lot of what you see here (above) is for cutting women's hair.
If you want to cut men's hair then you have to add even more (above) to your kit. If you want to cut black people's hair then there's still more products and accessories to buy. Geez, cutting hair isn't cheap!
Monday, August 04, 2014
Here's (above) a fragment of a recent episode of "Through the Wormhole." It makes the amazing claim that gravity may not exist. If it does exist then where are the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein? An elaborate, well-funded search just concluded and it turned up nothing. According to this show what we call gravity might just be the same thing as the Strong Force operating through gluon pairs rather than individual gluons.
That's an amazing thing to say. In order to explain why gravity is so weak compared to other forces, we've come up with other dimensions, endless bubble universes, and M Theory. What if none of that was necessary to explain what we see? The demotion of gravity from force to something less would simplify things and overturn a lot of currently believed ideas. Who's right?
That's Earth above, as it's thought to have looked 4 billion years ago in it's "Hadeon" period. I'm guessing that Hadeon is derived from "Hades."