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Posts Tagged ‘Beards

“Tradition wears a snowy beard, romance is always young”*…

 

Thomas Gowing felt the mighty yet fragile English Beard to be threatened with extinction by an invasive foreign species, the Razor. So he set out to defend the furry face mammal in every conceivable way. The resulting lecture was received so enthusiastically by a bushy-faced audience in Ipswich that it was soon turned into The Philosophy of Beards (1854) — the first book entirely devoted to this subject.

It is Gowing’s ardent belief that the bearded are better looking, better morally and better historically than the shaven. To call him a huge fan of the suburbs of the chin would be an understatement. “It is impossible” he writes “to view a series of bearded portraits . . . without feeling that they possess dignity, gravity, freedom, vigour, and completeness.” By contrast, the clean-cut look always leaves him with “a sense of artificial conventional bareness”. Gowing’s apology for the beard makes frequent appeals to nature, some of them amusingly far-fetched: “Nature leaves nothing but what is beautiful uncovered, and the masculine chin is seldom sightly, because it was designed to be covered, while the chins of women are generally beautiful.” Sometimes his argument transforms from a shield for the beard into a swipe at the chin: “There is scarcely indeed a more naturally disgusting object than a beardless old man (compared by the Turks to a ‘plucked pigeon’)”.

Gowing was writing at a time when physiognomy — the art of reading a person’s character in their facial features — was still popular in Europe and America. So it is no surprise to learn that “the absence of Beard is usually a sign of physical and moral weakness”…

More tonsorial teaching at: “The Philosophy of Beards (1854).”

Read it in full at the Internet Archive; or buy a hard copy of The Philosophy The British Library republished it in 2014, for the first time since 1854.

* John Greenleaf Whittier

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As we hail the hirsute, we might recall that it was on this date in 2005 that Kingda Ka opened at the Six Flags Great Adventure Park in Jackson, New Jersey.  The world’s tallest roller coaster (and the world’s second fastest roller coaster), it offers riders an experience that lasts 28 seconds… during which the roller coaster cars are “launched” to a speed of 128 mph (in 3.5 seconds).  At the end of the launch track, the train climbs the main tower (or top hat) and rolls 90 degrees to the right before reaching a height of 456 feet.  The train then descends 418 feet (straight down through a 270-degree right-hand spiral.  The train climbs a second hill of 129 feet, producing a brief period of weightlessness, before descending, turning toward the station, and being smoothly brought to a stop by the magnetic brakes.

Cool.

Kingda Ka’s “top hat”

source

 

Written by LW

May 21, 2018 at 1:01 am

“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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