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Posts Tagged ‘fairy tales

“The only thing I know is that I know nothing”*…

 

Heraclitus of Ephesus; detail from Raphael’s <i>The School of Athens</i>, circa 1509

Heraclitus of Ephesus; detail from Raphael’s The School of Athens, circa 1509

 

Poor Diogenes Laertius. He gets no respect. A “perfect ass”—“asinus germanus”—one nineteenth-century scholar called him. “Dim-witted,” said Nietzsche. An “ignoramus,” declared the twentieth-century classicist Werner Jaeger. In his lyric moods he wrote “perhaps the worst verses ever published,” an anthologist pronounced. And he had “no talent for philosophical exposition,” declares The Oxford Companion to Philosophy.

Then why waste time on him? For this excellent reason: Diogenes Laertius compiled the sole extant work from antiquity that gives anything like a comprehensive picture of Greek and Hellenistic philosophy. He may have been a flaming mediocrity. He may have been credulous and intellectually shallow. He may have produced a scissors-and-paste job cribbed from other ancient sources. But those other sources are lost, which makes what Diogenes Laertius left behind, to quote the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “truly priceless.” Eighty percent of success is showing up, Woody Allen supposedly said. Well, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers showed up. And by dint of that, its author has become what Nietzsche called “the night watchman of the history of Greek philosophy: no one can enter into it unless he has given him the key.”…

Jim Holt on on one of the more curious accidents of intellectual history: “Lovers of Wisdom.”

* Socrates

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As we ponder provenance, we might spare a thought for Hans Christian Andersen; he died on this date in 1875.  A prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his (often curiously-titled) fairy tales.  Those tales– which include “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”– have inspired plays, ballets, and of course both live-action and animated films.

In Andersen’s honor his birthday– August 2 (1805)– is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day.

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“Nostalgia is, ‘Hey, remember the other mall that used to be there?'”*…

 

Built in the early 1970s, a decaying Midwestern relic of throw-away consumer architecture will be torn down and developed into an updated outdoor shopping space. What is lost in the process?

An era is coming to its end in a mid-size Illinois city few Americans might recognize. Sandburg Mall, the four-anchor shopping arena constructed in 1974 on the northwest corner of Galesburg, is finally being torn down after decades of decline. Located near the intersection of Henderson street and Carl Sandburg Drive, just off the US-34 exit, the shopping center was built during Galesburg’s population apex — nearly 38,000 citizens were registered in 1960 census, dropping only about 1,000 by 1970. Per the city’s most recent census report, that number has dropped to just above 32,000…

Sandburg Mall is now a relic about to disintegrate, albeit one few citizens will probably miss. Its existence has been maligned for most of my teenage and adult life. It taunts and reminds most of a better, more colorful economic past in a town still struggling — and in some places, succeeding — to get back on its feet…

Tag Hartman-Simkins‘ haunting photo essay: “Baby Come Back: Images of an American Shopping Mall Before Its Death.”

* Charles Saunders

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As we shop til we drop, we might send fabulous birthday greetings to Charles Perrault; he was born on this date in 1628.  A member of the Académie Française, he laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, deriving his work from extant folk tales.  He is best known for Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots), La Belle au bois Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty), and Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard).

Hugely influential (e.g., on The Brothers Grimm, who wrote over 100 years later), his versions became canonical– and thus the basis for other literary tellings, operas, play, and ultimately movies… which is why Disney’s Cinderella (among other incarnations) has to contend with fragile footwear:  Perrault is believed to have confused vair for verre (the commonly-used descriptor in earlier versions), and thus to have given his princess-to-be “glass” slippers instead of “squirrel fur slippers.”

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Written by LW

January 12, 2017 at 1:01 am

“If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion”*…

 

Standing at just under 17 inches, Gnome Chomsky, the Garden Noam clutches his classic books, ‘The Manufacture of Compost’ and ‘Hedgerows not Hegemony’ – with his open right hand ready to hold the political slogan of your choosing. His clothes represent a relaxed but classy version of regular gnome attire, including: a nice suit jacket-tunic, jeans, boots, traditional gnome cap, and glasses…

Readers will find Noam/Gnome, along with Howard the Zinn Monk and others, at Just Say Gnome.

* Noam Chomsky

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As we just say “gnome” to imperialism, we might send fabulous birthday greetings to Hans Christian Andersen; he was born on this date in 1805.  A prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his (often curiously-titled) fairy tales.  Those tales– which include “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”– have inspired plays, ballets, and of course both live-action and animated films.

In Andersen’s honor this date– his birthday– is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day.

 source

Written by LW

April 2, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Judging books by their covers is seriously underrated”*…

 

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How to Poo on a Date has won the 36th annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.

The book, by Mats & Enzo, published by Prion Press, topped a public vote to find the oddest title, in one of the closest contests in prize history. In the end, How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers’ Guide to Toilet Etiquette, took home the title with 30% of the vote, beating into second place Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown (Pan South Africa) andThe Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews (ECW Press), which both captured 23% of voters.

The rest of the shortlist [pictured above] was made up of early frontrunner Working Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City by Chris Balsiger ands Erin Canning (One Peace Books), with 14%; Pie-ography: Where Pie Meets Biography by Jo Packham (Quarry) with 6%; and How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God by Ian Punnett (Harmony Books), with 4% of the votes…

Previous titles from Mats & Enzo, How to Poo on HolidayHow to Poo at Work and How to Bonk at Work, were all previously nominated for the prize. Tom Tivnan, features and  insight editor at The Bookseller, and Diagram Prize administrator, said: “The two were in danger of becoming perpetual Diagram bridesmaids, like Beryl Bainbridge and the Booker.”

He added: “In recent years, Diagram Prize voters have showed their catholic tastes by selecting rarefied food science titles (The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais, 2008), zoological studies (Bombproof Your Horse, 2004), and highbrow experimental literature (The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, 2003). Yet after Mats and Enzo’s win this year, with The Origin of Feces on the shortlist, and Saiyuud Diwong’s Cooking with Poo taking the crown in 2011, an all too-clear trend emerges. Diagram devotees have spoken, and spoken in no uncertain terms: poo wins prizes.”

No prize other than the honour of the win is traditionally given to the winner of the Diagram, which was founded as a way of relieving boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair by Diagram Group co-founders Trevor Boundford and Bruce Robertson in 1978.

Readers can read the full release at The Bookseller, and can follow (Roughy) Daily’s coverage of earlier year’s competitions here and here.

* Amy Smith, All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane

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As we load up our Kindles, we might send fabulous birthday greetings to Hans Christian Andersen; he was born on this date in 1805.  A prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his (often curiously-titled) fairy tales.  Those tales– which include “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”– have inspired plays, ballets, and both live-action and animated films.

In Andersen’s honor this date– his birthday– is celebrated as International Children’s Book Day.

 source

 

Many Happy Returns…

 

The Free Music Archive has found a replacement for the most recognizable– and probably the most lucrative– song in America– “Happy Birthday To You.”  Together with WFMU, FMA ran a contest to find a new copyright-free (and free to use) “Happy Birthday” song…

The “Happy Birthday To You” melody was published in the late 1800s by two sisters who taught elementary school, and it was registered for copyright, as “Happy Birthday To You” in 1935. Time Warner acquired the copyright in 1998. The song reportedly brings in two million dollars a year from licensing for films, TV shows, advertisements and the like; it won’t enter the public domain until 2030 at the earliest.

WFMU thought it was dubious that the song still deserves copyright protection, but rather than mount a court challenge, it sponsored a competition for a new birthday celebration song. Among the judges were Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan.

As WFMU says, the new song puts the happy back into birthdays, and takes the cease and desist out of them.

The winning tune, by  Monk Turner + Fascinoma lacks the opportunity to shout out the birthday person’s name; but there is room to build in a call and response element. You can download the sheet music in the key of B (pdf, google doc) or the key of C (pdf, google doc). Also, check out the alternative versions of the song including two piano tracks and an instrumental version.

And you can hear it, playing behind Bloomberg Law’s recounting of the case, here:

[TotH to Laughing Squid]

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As we hum a different tune, we might send public domain birthday greetings to Wilhelm Carl Grimm; he was born on this date in 1786.  The younger of the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob collected and published folk and “fairy” tales… a great many of which, freely available as they are in the public domain, have been used as the texts of animated and live action films that are– and will for decades be– under strict copyright protection (c.f., for example, this list of Disney films based on fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and others).

[Cake photo sourced here; Grimm, here]

 

Written by LW

February 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

Lest we forget…

As we round the turn into 2010, it’s natural enough to sneak a peak back.  In the spirit of Michael Hughes (whom readers may recall), Jason Powell has created “Looking into the Past,” a Flickr pool devoted to collages that combine old photos of locations, buildings, and people with those of their present day realities.

Photo: Jason Powell, via Ed Hunsinger, via Laughing Squid

See the whole collection.  And see highlights curated by Ed Hunsinger (to whom, ToTH), Paulo Canabarro, or Wired UK.

As we contemplate the space-time continuum, we might raise a toast to a pioneer of a different sort of exploration:  Jacob Grimm, German folklorist and philologist, the elder half of the Brothers Grimm (with his brother, Wilhelm); Jacob was born on this date in 1785.

Jacob Grimm

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