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Posts Tagged ‘self-portrait

“Nothing in a portrait is a matter of indifference”*…


This unique self-portrait, also known as “view from the left eye”, is the creation of Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach, noted for his contributions to physics such as the Mach number (which relates an object’s speed to the speed of sound) and the study of shock waves. The sketch appears in Mach’s The Analysis of Sensations, first published in German in 1886 as Beiträge zur Analyse der Empfindungen, and is used to illustrate his ideas about self-perception.

The considerations just advanced, expressed as they have been in an abstract form, will gain in strength and vividness if we consider the concrete facts from which they flow. Thus, I lie upon my sofa. If I close my right eye, the picture represented in the accompanying cut is presented to my left eye. In a frame formed by the ridge of my eyebrow, by my nose, and by my moustache, appears a part of my body, so far as visible, with its environment. My body differs from other human bodies beyond the fact that every intense motor idea is immediately expressed by a movement of it, and that, if it is touched, more striking changes are determined than if other bodies are touched by the circumstance, that it is only seen piecemeal, and, especially, is seen without a head. If I observe an element A within my field of vision, and investigate its connexion with another element B within the same field, I step out of the domain of physics into that of physiology or psychology, provided B, to use the apposite expression of a friend of mine made upon seeing this drawing, passes through my skin. Reflexions like that for the field of vision may be made with regard to the province of touch and the perceptual domains of the other senses…

More at “Self-Portrait by Ernst Mach (1886).”

* Charles Baudelaire


As we study ourselves studying ourselves, we might send ingenious birthday greetings to a man whose work gave Mach’s namesake speed measure a real workout: Clarence Leonard “Kelly” Johnson; he was born on this date in 1910.  A storied aeronautical engineer, He contributed to the design of 40 aircraft, from the P-38 Lightning fighter and the Hudson bomber to the U-2 spy plane and the F-104 Starfighter interceptor.

But Johnson is probably best remembered as the founding leader of Lockheed’s Skunk Works, a development group that has become a model in the business, engineering, and technical arenas of an effective approach to innovation– a group with a high degree of autonomy within an organization, unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.


Written by LW

February 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”…



In the grand tradition De Quincey, Freud, Burroughs, and Thompson (if not Emerson, from whom the quote in the title of this post), Bryan Saunders used self-experimentation as source material– as explained in “Artist Takes Every Drug Known to Man, Draws Self Portraits After Each Use.”

Klonopin (3 mg)

See more on Cultso and on Saunders’ own site.

[TotH to EWW]


As we follow the yellow brick road, we might send alternative birthday greetings to The Village Voice; it was first published on this date in 1955.  Started with backing from Norman Mailer (among others), the Voice was the first of the “alternative weeklies.”  Since it’s absorption in 2005 into a chain of urban free weeklies, the Voice has become, essentially, an ordinary “urban shopper.”  But in it’s first 50 years, it featured reportage, opinion, essays, and literary contributions from the likes of  Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Katherine Anne Porter, James Baldwin, e.e. cummings, Nat Hentoff, Ted Hoagland, William Bastone (later of thesmokinggun.com), Lucian Truscott IV, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, and Allen Ginsberg.  Its award-winning reviewers– including Jonas Mekas, Linda Solomon, Robert Christgau, and J. Hoberman– helped define the taste of an age; and it’s cartoonists– led by regular Jules Feiffer, and including  R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, and Tom Tomorrow– helped set its tone.



Written by LW

October 26, 2012 at 1:01 am

Up, Up, and Away!…

Japanese photographer Natsumi Hayashi uses her blog, Yowayowa Camera Woman, to post her wonderfully whimsical series of self-portraits… in each of which she is levitating.  (Explanation of the technique involved, here.)

[TotH to Kottke.org]

As we feel ourselves rising, we might spare a sweet thought for Aaron “Bunny” Lapin; he died on this date in 1999.  In 1948, Lapin invented Reddi-Wip, the pioneering whipped cream dessert topping dispensed from a spray can.   First sold by milkmen in St. Louis, the product rode the post-World War Two convenience craze to national success; in 1998, it was named by Time one of the century’s “100 great consumer items”– along with the pop-top can and Spam.  Lapin became known as the Whipped Cream King; but his legacy is broader:  in 1955, he patented a special valve to control the flow of Reddi-Wip from the can, and formed The Clayton Corporation to manufacture it.  Reddi-Wip is now a Con-Agra brand; but Clayton goes strong, now also making industrial valves, closures, caulk, adhesives and foamed plastic products (like insulation and cushioning materials).





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