Sam Clemens enjoys a reputation unrivaled in American literary history and he was in large part the architect of that reputation. From the start of his career, he tried to control his public image.
A few years ago during a visit to Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence, I experienced a flash of insight about the artist that I saw as intrinsic to his becoming the father of modern painting.
"I am frightened by the proportions of my prosperity," he said to a friend. "It seems to me that whatever I touch turns to gold."
The French paperweight heyday, between 1845 and 1860, remained the high-water mark for the industry for nearly a hundred years. Then in the sixties, in America, the studio-glass movement relocated glassmaking from factories to ateliers, where utility gave way to art.
An author recounts her peculiar experiences being mistaken for someone else (and being asked for autographs on top of it).
After cooking for the popes and cardinals for decades in the 1500s, Bartolomeo Scappi published the world's first illustrated cookbook.
"The bhakti canon is vast and glorious. One of its greatest figures is a woman remembered as Mira Bai, whose songs have endured half a millennium, and whose singular significance in Indian society has only increased since the nation’s independence seventy years ago. "
With hindsight, it seems obvious that a collecting craze like Beanie Baby mania was destined to fizzle out. One morbid specimen can help us understand why these bears are collecting dust in the recesses of our minds.
The world is divided into people who sit on the floor and those who sit on chairs. In a classic study of human posture around the world, the anthropologist Gordon W. Hewes identified no fewer than a hundred common sitting positions.
Growing up in the context of no context.
Not only will she shit on you on her album, but the song will become a single, then a hit, and then you will hear yourself shat upon by an army of young women at Staples Center. And then she’ll deny that she was ever doing anything other than righteously manifesting her art. It’s diabolical, and for a lifelong passive-aggressive like me, it’s made her my hero.
How Oscar Wilde’s prison sentence changed him.
Hurting people is easy, and usually not useful. Better, as a rule, are tactics of confusion.
Reproducing Borges’s imaginary library online.
For my eleventh birthday, my father took me to the Dave Sweet Surfboards shop on Olympic Boulevard, in Santa Monica. From the rack of used boards, I chose a solid, sunbrowned 9'0" with blue-green paneled rails and a fin built with at least eight different types of wood. It cost seventy dollars. I was five feet tall, weighed eighty pounds, and could not reach my arm around it.
Mouse perfected the acid aesthetic before it existed. He was still airbrushing his playfully grotesque, anti–Mickey Mouse hot-rod monsters when the first acid tabs were rolling out of chemistry labs.
Genitals spit fire and snakes; hideous, multilimbed creatures sprout heads and pendulous breasts like tumors. In one panel, a string of crimson beads connects a mutated donkey’s knife-cum necklace to the raw end of his penis. In another, a litter of flying baby serpents come tumbling from the vagina of a flame-eared, bug-eyed, speckled, bulbous cat-woman. Those are among the two easiest to describe.
The role of black dolls in American culture.
Looking to the stars to find Dante’s birthday.
Madness indeed has its meanings, elusive and evanescent as our attempts to capture them have been.