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Posts Tagged ‘trompe-l’œil

“To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys, “I wish I had known this some time ago”*…

 

irony

 

“Irony” is a term that everyone uses and seems to understand. It is also a concept that is notoriously difficult to define. Much like Winona Ryder’s character in the 1994 rom-com “Reality Bites,” whose inability to describe irony costs her a job interview, we know it when we see it, but nonetheless have trouble articulating it. Even worse, it seems as if the same term is used to describe very different things. And following your mother’s advice — to look it up in the dictionary — is liable to leave you even more confused than before.

Uncertainty about irony can be found almost everywhere. An American president posts a tweet containing the phrase “Isn’t it ironic?” and is derided for misusing the term. A North Korean dictator bans sarcasm directed at him and his regime because he fears that people are only agreeing with him ironically. A song about irony is mocked because its lyrics contain non-ironic examples. The term has been applied to a number of different phenomena over time, and as a label, it has been stretched to accommodate a number of new senses. But exactly how does irony differ from related concepts like coincidence, paradox, satire, and parody?…

A handy guide to distinguishing the notoriously slippery concept of irony from its distant cousins coincidence, satire, parody, and paradox: “What Irony is Not,” excerpted from Irony and Sarcasm, by Roger Kreuz.

* Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn

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As we choose our words, we might recall that it was on this date in 1483 that Pope Sixtus IV consecrated the Sistine Chapel (which takes its name from his) in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City.  Originally known as the Cappella Magna (Great Chapel), Sixtus had renovated it, enlisting a team of Renaissance painters that included Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli to create a series of frescos depicting the Life of Moses and the Life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe-l’œil drapery below.  Michelangelo’s famous ceiling was painted from 1508 to 1512; and his equally-remarkable altarpiece, The Last Judgement, from 1536 to 1541.

220px-Sistina-interno source

 

Up against the wall…

From Dark Roasted Blend, a lovely collection of the murals, trompe l’oeil, and other varieties of wall painting that brighten cityscapes around the world…

Many, many more at “Extreme Murals and Painted Buildings.”

As we put away the whitewash, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Swanson and Sons sold the first “TV Dinner.”  The original repast consisted of a Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cornbread dressing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes packaged in a tray like those used at the time for airline meals, with each item in its own compartment. The aluminum tray could, of course, be heated directly in the oven without any extra dishes; and one could eat the meal directly from the same tray– which fit perfectly the “TV tables” in vogue at the time.  The original TV Dinner was priced at 98 cents; Swanson sold more than 10 million units in the first year of production.

“It’s good to be full!”  (source)

Gimme a break, gimme a break…

source

The earliest ancestor of the Kit Kat Bar was born in 1935, when a worker at the Rowntree’s factory in York suggested a snack that “a man could have in his lunch box for work.”  It was launched in September 1935 in the UK as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp (price: 2 pence). The two-finger version was launched on May 15, 1936, then renamed “Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp” in 1937; after World War II, it became simply “Kit Kat.”  The name is thought to be a nod to the Kit-Cat Club, an eighteenth-century Whig literary club:

As the building had very low ceilings, it could accommodate only paintings which were wide but not too high. In the art world, such paintings became known as ‘kitkats’. It is therefore conceivable that the humble KIT KAT derived its name from paintings which has to be snapped off to fit into low-ceilinged rooms. [source]

In any case, while the versions sold in the UK and the US remain true to its milk chocolate-cover wafer heritage, Kit Kats sold elsewhere in the world have…  well, adopted local coloration.  “Fried Toast” (a young native of Washington State now living in Japan) has created a Flickr pool that’s a veritable field guide to Kit Kats around the globe: Kit Kats of the World.

Consider, for example, the Muscat Kit Kat…

Or the French Salt Kit Kat…

Oh so many more, here.

As contemplate cultural inclinations in confectionery, we might that it was on this date in  1585 that The Olympic Theatre was inaugurated in Vicenza.  The final masterpiece of Andrea Palladio, the Renaissance disciple of Vitruvius and surely the most influential individual in the history of Western architecture, the theater opened with a production of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King.  The trompe-l’œil onstage scenery, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi to give the appearance of long streets receding to a distant horizon, was installed in 1585 for that first performance, and is the oldest stage set still in existence.

The stage of the Olympic Theatre

Detail: Scamozzi’s scenery viewed through the central arch

UPDATE:  Readers who enjoyed the amusing headlines featured in “All the News, Regardless of Fit”  might appreciate this (N altogether SFW) post at HuffPo… and the Twitter stream at The Media is Dying.

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