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Posts Tagged ‘Bentham

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance”*…

 

Man in a Three-Piece Suit Dancing Within the Circle at a Wedding,” Rockville Centre, New York, 1976.

 

The first monograph by the New York-based photographer Meryl Meisler, published last year, included rambunctious scenes from Manhattan’s disco scene, taken in Meisler’s club-hopping youth, alongside images of a crumbling, pre-gentrifying Bushwick, shot when Meisler was teaching art at a local public school, in the early eighties. But, before she began documenting urban life in New York, Meisler trained her eye outside of the city, photographing her own Jewish extended family on Long Island’s South Shore. In the early seventies, while home on winter break from studying illustration at the University of Wisconsin, Meisler began experimenting with deadpan self-portraiture, donning the Girl Scouts uniforms and the ballet and tap costumes of her childhood. Soon she was photographing her parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—the whole mishpocha—finding loopy antics and exaggerated period detail in holiday gatherings and daily ritual. The result is a delightfully outlandish family photo album, and a capsule of seventies suburbia crackling with humor and mischief. In the Meisler-clan milieu, kitsch bedspreads match kitsch wallpaper, hairdressers blow chewing-gum bubbles the size of their clients’ bouffants, Hustler is the beach reading of choice, and everyone is a character or a ham…

“Mom Getting Her Hair Teased at Besame Beauty Salon,” North Massapequa, New York.

 

See it all at “Seventies Long Island: The Whole Mishpocha.”

* George Bernard Shaw, Immaturity

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As we prepare to reune, we might spare a utilitarian thought for Jeremy Bentham; the author, jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer died on this date in 1832.  Bentham is considered a founder of modern Utilitarianism (via his own work, and that of students including James Mill and his son, John Stuart Mill); he actively advocated individual and economic freedom, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalizing of homosexual acts. He argued for the abolition of slavery and the death penalty, and for the abolition of physical punishment, including that of children.

Bentham was involved in the founding of University College (then, the University of London), the first in England to admit all, regardless of race, creed, or political belief.  On his death, he was dissected as part of a public anatomy lecture– as he specified in his will.  Afterward– again, as Bentham’s will specified– the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the “Auto-icon”, with the skeleton stuffed out with hay and dressed in Bentham’s clothes.  Bentham had intended the Auto-icon to incorporate his actual head, preserved to resemble its appearance in life.  But experimental efforts at mummification, though technically successful, left the head looking alarmingly macabre, with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull.  So the Auto-icon was given a wax head, fitted with some of Bentham’s own hair.

It is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of University College.  The real head was displayed in the same case as the Auto-icon for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks, so is now locked away.

 see a virtual, 360-degree rotatable version here

Written by LW

June 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

The Domestic Lives of Great Philosophers, Part 6: Jeremy Bentham’s Recipes…

 

University College London proudly displays the remains of one of its founders, the Father of Utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham.  They’re also anxious to display his works…  but they comprise 60,000 manuscript folios– lots of handwriting to transcribe.  The college has been at it since 1959, and the going has been slow– until relatively recently:

The genesis of Transcribe Bentham was in 2009, when the Co-Director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, Melissa Terras, was asked by the head of the Bentham Project, Professor Philip Schofield, for advice on procuring funding to digitise the 60,000 folios. “The days for getting funding for pure ‘scan and dump’ digitisation projects are over,” explains Terras, “and I wondered if we could do something more interesting.”

Around the same time, the MPs expenses scandal had broken in the UK, and Terras noticed something interesting: “The Guardian newspaper had built a platform to allow their readers to sift through the thousands of pages of MP’s receipts and I wondered — could we do the same? Could we ask people to read these manuscripts?”

The answer is a definite “yes.” Transcribe Bentham has been a certifiable success, and continues to grow in scale. With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the project has now expanded to encompass the British Library’s collection of 12,500 manuscript folios by Bentham…

[Read the whole story at Gizmodo.uk]

As the digitization has proceeded– in many cases, the first reading of Bentham’s scrawls– some interesting discoveries have been made; the exploration has shed new light, for instance of his stance on animal rights.  But perhaps most surprisingly, volunteer readers have discovered a tranche of recipes (complete with the costs of their ingredients) from the great thinker.  An excerpt from the manuscript page above:

Walnut shell pickle 

1/2 lb—
The husks of ripe
walnuts at the time
They separate most
easily from the walnut
& before they begin
to rot—
6 tb — 1d
Salt 1 tb 1
Labour 1/2
21/2

Pound the husks adding the  salt when they are nearly bruised into an uniform mass so that it may be perfectly mixed.  This & all other pickles must be kept in close vessels, casks headed down, jars with bladder tied over the mouth, or cloth or paper covered with melted pitch &c. When a stone vessel is opened it should be emptied into smaller ones, so that no more than sufficient for two or three weeks consumption may be put into each.

See Bentham’s other culinary creations– and the rest of his work– at Transcribe Bentham.

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As we clear our palettes, we might send unorthodox birthday greetings to Otto Gross; he was born on this date in 1877.  A psychoanalyst  by training (he was an early disciple of Freud), Gross became a champion of an early form of anti-psychiatry  (“depth psychology“) and sexual liberation, and an anarchist.  His impact on psychology was limited (though Jung claimed that Gross “changed [his] entire worldview”); but he was an important influence on  D. H. Lawrence, Franz Kafka, and other artists– including the founders of Berlin Dada.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

March 17, 2013 at 1:01 am

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