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

In Reality Begin Dreams

Captivating meditations on sleep and esp. dreams. I may have mentioned this before, but Mother was fixated on her dreams, many mornings recalling them in detail. I have a very peculiar book of hers that purported to explain everything in dreams as some sort of signifier or signal or warning. Offers no research justifications beyond the way obvious: yes, dreaming dead people you knew have come back to life is scary and probably a warning that something unexpected is going to happen.

Homage To Nature

Sometimes the ocean in which we are the merest of ripples can deliver tiny joys. Today on our walk through the park, after seeing the rather yucky slug on the walkway, I mentioned that it seemed like years and years since we had seen any Woolly Bear caterpillars and how I remained fascinated (in fun) with their ability to predict the upcoming winter.

We then proceeded to see six of them, all very small, four edging along and two squished. Still have a little tingle from my words made fuzzy flesh.

Yeah, the UnScience Never Fails (And Hardly Changes)

This reminds me why I stopped doing pieces debunking pseudo-science in that the journalism exposes aren’t going to change anybody’s mind. The believers take such comfort and identity from their convictions that they are immune to persuasion. But I do think a vehement “What the fuck color is your car?!?” is a good tactic to shake up the faithful.

What Most Grinds Me About A.I. and Even Automation in General

Excellent piece, well worth perusing. But the assertion (which the article does not endorse) that has been popping up since I was a kid and has proven false every time is that “machines doing more of our work will mean more leisure time for everybody.” No, it just means people with less power will be out on their ear and have lot of “leisure time” with no income.