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Posts Tagged ‘Beards

“His most prized possession is his library card…”

Scottish artist Frank McNab has completed a cycle of paintings– Oracles in the Community– that celebrates the libraries of Glasgow… and while they’re quite beautiful, there’s a bonus– a puzzle painted into the works, turning on William Blake’s “The Song of the Libraries.”

Travellers repose and dream among my leaves.
Magical libraries give you the whole world and take you even further. The only limits are yours.
The same number as the Pleiades can be found in these imaginings And together they form a word.
This is the tail which must be added to the comet far below before it is sent through the firmament and is put to the oracle.

There is a meaning in the books which are read in the dance with wisdom.
“With it or on it” the women used to say. On it.
At the pillars the ancient symbol of knowledge is his own start.
Far distant on the gates of fire he is small and his case is low.
Above the torch it lies in Arcadia.
Left of aspiration the weeds provide it.
And the sun paints its own initial on the tree of paradise lost.

Now you must attach this to what is under the veil and go to where your imagination camps next…

As we search for hidden vowels, we might recall that it was on this date in 1698 that, in an effort to move his people away from Asiatic customs, Tsar Peter I of Russia (Peter the Great) imposed a tax on beards. All men were required to pay a tax of one hundred rubles a year except for peasants, who had to pay one kopek each, and priests, who were exempt from the levy.

Peter on his deathbed, still beardless

Peter on his deathbed, still beardless

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And lest one forget, today is International Bacon Day!

The Annals of Pognology*…

* Pognology:  the study of whiskers and associated lore

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Edwardian England was a milieu of many and often peculiar mania.  Palmistry, numerology, and phrenology are well-known aspects of of the era.  Less well known, was pogonomancy, or divination by beard reading, to understand character or to foretell the future.

As Will Schofield explains on his wonderful site A Journey Round My Skull, a leading example of the period,

…a 1912 pamphlet entitled Poets Ranked by Beard Weight, has become a rarity much prized by bibliophiles, and one that still stands out as a particular curiosity among the many colorful curiosities of the period. Its author, one Upton Uxbridge Underwood (1881 – 1937), was a deipnosophist, clubman, and literary miscellanist with a special interest in matters tonsorial. His masterpiece, The Language of the Beard, an epicurean treat confected for the delectation of fellow bon vivants, vaunts the premise that the texture, contours, and growth patterns of a man’s beard indicate personality traits, aptitudes, and strengths and weaknesses of character. A spade beard, according to Underwood’s theories, may denote audacity and resolution, for example, while a forked, finely-downed beard signifies creativity and the gift of intuition, a bushy beard suggests generosity, and so on…

Read on (here) for more on this scratchy fringe at the lip of World War I– and for the rankings of Rossetti and one’s other favorite poets!

As we reach for the trimming scissors, we might spare a memorial thought for James Robert Wills, who died on his date in 1975.  In 1933, Bob Wills, as he became known, formed Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, incorporating jazz-swing influences into country and western– and as he attained fame, created the genre we now know as “western swing.”

Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. He had believed his chances of winning so slim that he was backstage chatting with friends when the award was announced. When he was finally tracked down and brought on stage, he said, “I don’t usually take my hat off to nobody. But I sure do to you folks.”

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys (source: Tulsa Oratorio Chorus)

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