Bats: Cuties or Creepies?

We checked out the Empresses exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum today (yeah, I’m sorry we didn’t get out earlier so I could plug it before its final week) and aside from the most wondrous silk stitching I’ve seen in my life, I was stuck with a couple zoological-perspective revelations.

First, the symbol of the Emperor is the five-clawed dragon, the symbol of the Empress is the Phoenix. I noticed that to bolster the real-world actuality of the imaginary birds, they were always painted (and stitched, and carved) the same way (long neck with crested head, long legs, some peacock aspects to the plumage) and often in a natural setting — a bird among birds.

Second, it blew our brains how a different cultural attitude toward an animal can change its representation in art. I knew bats were considered good luck symbols (because of no more than a weird word coincidence), but did not realize how much a different connotation, even perception, of an animal could alter its representation in art. There were lots of bats with beautiful curly wings and cute, whiskery faces. And then some utterly wild ones that had white wings, pink heads and blue bodies (more like butterflies, really). Concluded that these were understood to not be realism in any way, but their own sort of ideogram.

[Single most astonishing object: the head-on-both-ends dragon seal of the final Emperor. It was not melted down like all previous ones because he was the last Emperor. Weighs 40 pounds. Incredibly detailed, utterly ferocious monster.]

Dragon seal.jpg

R.I.P.: Dr. Larry Martin

Which is what we called him when I took his BU disinformation class in 1979.

As you can tell, very witty, yet made sharp, even corrosive points. One story I remember is that he mentioned learning Elvis Presley songs on acoustic guitar “so young people would trust us at parties.”

One of the most informative and enlightening classes I ever attended.

There Is No Bottom For the Bar to Reach

Charlie Pierce knows this is a day for reflection on evil acts and scumbag behavior.

First there was this incredibly evil development. Which was kinda hidden and kinda not. I didn’t understand back then just how well “noise” of events could conceal the most important messages.

Next, another ugly history lesson. I thought Starr was going to be the  phony-scumbag bottom. HA! This is a key insight that had not occurred to me:

(One of the worst things about the current media elite is that so many of them came of age during this extended kabuki and became convinced that this is the way things are supposed to work, an attitude many of them brought with them into their coverage of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.)

 

If We Don’t Talk About the Top Secret, It Doesn’t Exist

I’ve mentioned the mad mentality created by the Nuclear Era several times on this blog. Charlie has just done a piece that underscores how ongoing the insanity remains. I would particularly like applaud the nightmarish truth of the Garry Wills quote about the Ground Zero of Modern Secrecy. Wow, Another Fun Report

Aztec and Eclipse

I cannot resist the notion that the first across-the-USA total eclipse was a sign of evil times. But the happier chips of me left take comfort in one of the huge benefits of science, in this case astronomy, in making a reasonably predictable universe. Otherwise, the sun going out could be the beginning of freakin’ anything, including that it would not come back.

The Aztecs had a particularly creepy mythology associated with eclipses: the sun was under attack from the stars you could see around it when it turned black. These are the female deities/demons Tzitzimime, quite the monsters.

Some images:

TZI 1

TZI 2

TZI 3

TZI 4

TZI 5

TZI 6

The Queen.