If you’ve been having a shocker recently, today is the day it starts to get better. The sun is coming back. People talk about Wednesdays being the “hump” day of the week, essentially the winter solstice is the “hump” day of cold, wet, and dark days. Well done, you’ve made it.
Now, all this talk of “humping” and wetness has, inevitably, got me thinking about one thing.
For some time now, people like poet Robert Graves and countercultural guru Timothy Leary have assumed that ancient religion and mysticism were the products of mind-altering drugs. But in the case of one modern religious experience—the inspiration behind John Coltrane’s holy four-part suite, A Love Supreme—it was the distinct absence of drugs that lit the flame. Like many recovering addicts, Coltrane found God in 1957, after having what he called in the album’s liner notes “a spiritual awakening.” Seven years later, he dedicated his masterpiece, “a humble, offering,” to the deity he credited with “a richer, fuller, more productive life.” No rote hymnal, chant, or psalter, A Love Supreme offers itself up to the listener as the product of intensely personal devotion. And like the ecstatic revelations of many a saint, Coltrane’s work has inspired its own devotional cult—The Church of St. Coltrane. Continue reading →
Mapping experts have identified a curious cluster of seven roads around Swan Street in Manchester which are all perfectly aligned with the midwinter sun, just like the prehistoric monument at Stonehenge. Sun-worshippers hoping to mark the Winter Solstice on Sunday could avoid a trip to Stonehenge – and celebrate on the back streets of Manchester’s Northern Quarter instead. Continue reading →
“I think, therefore I am” is perhaps the most familiar one-liner in western philosophy. Even if the stoners, philosophers and quantum mechanically-inclined skeptics who believe we’re living an illusion are right, few existential quips hit with such profound, approachable simplicity. The only catch is that in Descartes’ opinion, “we” – our thoughts, our personalities, our “minds” – are mostly divorced from our bodies.
The polymathic Frenchman and other dualist philosophers proposed that while the mind exerts control over our physical interaction with the world, there is a clear delineation between body and mind; that our material forms are simply temporary housing for our immaterial souls. But centuries of science argue against a corporeal crash pad. The body and mind appear inextricably linked. And findings from a new study published in Cancer by a Canadian group suggest that our mental state has measurable physical influence on us – more specifically on our DNA. Continue reading →
Bartholomäus Traubeck created equipment that would translate tree rings into music by playing them on a turntable. Rather than use a needle like a record, sensors gather information about the wood’s color and texture and use an algorithm that translates variations into piano notes. The breadth of variation between individual trees results in a individualized tune. The album, appropriately titled “Years,” features spruce, ash, oak, maple, alder, walnut, and beech trees. It is available to download now and it is available to purchase on vinyl. The end product of these arbor “records” is haunting and beautiful and you need to check it out. Continue reading →
Don’t lecture on tidiness of dress when your flies are undone
Overheard, in response to Prince William lecturing about Elephant Ivory when the man goes shooting.
The Royston Cave is an artificial cave in Hertfordshire, England. It is not known who created the cave or what it was used for, but there has been much speculation. Some believe that it was used by the Knights Templar. Others believe it may have been an Augustinian store mine. Another theory is that it was a Neolithic flint mine. None of these theories have been substantiated, and the origin of the Royston Cave remains a mystery. Royston cave was discovered in August 1742 in Royston. A worker was digging holes to build footing for a new bench at a market. He discovered a millstone while he was digging, and when he dug around to remove it, he found the shaft leading to the cave. When the cave was discovered, it was half-filled with dirt and rock. Efforts were made to remove the dirt and rock, which was subsequently discarded. Some believed that treasure would be found within Royston cave. However, removal of the dirt did not reveal any treasure. There were sculptures and carvings found within. It is worth noting that had the soil not been discarded, today’s technology could have allowed for a soil analysis.
There’s an element to this story that is quite delightful but it also has the makings of an epic horror movie. Nagoro is a small village in the mountains of southern Japan, now home to three times as many life-sized scarecrows as people. The dolls are being made by 65-year old Tsukimi Ayano, who moved back to Nagoro after years of being away to take care of her father. Ayano has slowly replaced residents, who’ve either moved away or died, with a whimsical scarecrow. Continue reading →
Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth to eke out the last of his money-making franchise over the space of 144 minutes. Sadly, it’s a shameless cash-in. Thin on plot – but, the CGI is mind-blowingly good.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Lord of the Rings films, but the decision to extend The Hobbit out over three instalments always smacked of profiteering. Sadly this last film lives up to that promise, stretching 30 minutes’ worth of plot so thinly the story itself starts to disappear. Continue reading →