2014: Wolf and Tank

Victor Ash - Wolf and Tank (c 2014)

Victor Ash: Wolf and Tank (c. 2014)

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1965: Film

Beckett---Keaton---Film-(1965)Buster Keaton in Samuel Beckett’s Film (1965). The film is silent, except for the single admonishment “shhhhhhh.” It was Beckett’s only screenplay; Keaton died the following year.

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2016: Cloud Study

Catherine Erb - Cloud Study 32 (Clouds over Water) (2016) mixed media photo encaustic, 36 x 80

Catherine Erb: Cloud Study 32 (Clouds over Water) (2016)

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2020: Ingathering

Joyce Brienza + Deborah Sukenic - Ingathering (2020)

Joyce Brienza + Deborah Sukenic: Ingathering (2020); from an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

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1904: Columbia

Model Ships, Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904) [detail]

A model of the USS Columbia at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904; cropped from a larger photo:

Model Ships, Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904)

The ship to the right may be the Minneapolis. The Columbia was the fourth ship with that name in the US Navy; it was launched in 1892 and served during the Spanish–American War:

USS Columbia, Brooklyn Naval Yard (1904)

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1882: Jumbo

An anecdote from Matthew Scott’s biography of Jumbo the Elephant (1885):

Once when I was riding him around in the Zoological Gardens, in London, sitting on his neck, with about a dozen children on a panier-saddle across his broad back, we were proceeding down the path. It was on a delightful summer afternoon, and the grass plots, flowers, plants, and trees, which abound in those magnificent gardens, looked beautiful. I was engaged talking to the dozen “little folk” who occupied his back, and encouraging them to sit very quietly and not fall off, when all at once Master Jumbo came to a standstill for some cause or other. I shouted to him to go along, but for once he did not obey the order. As I turned round to see what was the matter, there was a lady running over the grass-plot on to the path, screaming and shouting, “Oh, my poor child! my child, my child! oh, he will be killed, he will be killed!” Well, I looked down from my elevation and saw Jumbo deliberately and coolly putting his trunk around the body of an infant that escaped its mother’s apron-strings and had run and fallen in front of Jumbo. Jumbo is a very careful walker, and always looks where he is going, and, like some others of God’s creatures, is rather slow in his movements, but both very sure-footed and thoughtful. He just stopped right there, gently picked up the child by the waist with his trunk, and laid it on the green grass beside its screaming mother, more tenderly than the mother afterward took up the frightened child in her excitement.

Jumbo was an African bush elephant who had been captured in the Sudan, exported to a zoo in Paris, and then, in 1865, moved to the London Zoo. Scott (at left in picture) was Jumbo’s attentive and beloved keeper. Despite widespread public protest, Jumbo was sold to the American circus tycoon P. T. Barnum in 1862; when the animal was transported to the United States, Scott went with him.

Jumbo was not named Jumbo because he was large. The word “jumbo”—meaning “large,” as in “jumbo jet”—originated by association with the animal.

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1958: Firebird III

General Motors - Firebird III (1958) front view

The General Motors Firebird III was built in 1958, debuted as a concept car at Motorama in 1959, and was featured at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

general-motors-firebird-iii-1958-side-view-1

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1776: Equally as Precious to a Black Man

Rev._Lemuel_Haynes

In 1776, Lemuel Haynes, a veteran of the American Revolution and the first black man in the United States to be ordained as a minister, wrote this response to the Declaration of Independence:

Liberty Further Extended: Or Free Thoughts on the Illegality of Slave-keeping

We hold these truths to be self-Evident, that all men are created Equal, that they are Endowed By their Creator with Ceartain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happyness.

—Congress

….Liberty, & freedom, is an innate principle, which is unmovebly placed in the human Species; and to see a man aspire after it, is not Enigmatical, seeing he acts no ways incompatible with his own Nature; consequently, he that would infring upon a mans Liberty may reasonably Expect to meet with oposision, seeing the Defendant cannot Comply to Nonresistance, unless he Counter-acts the very Laws of nature.

Liberty is a Jewel which was handed Down to man from the cabinet of heaven, and is Coaeval with his Existance. And as it proceed from the Supreme Legislature of the univers, so it is he which hath a sole right to take away; therefore, he that would take away a mans Liberty assumes a prerogative that Belongs to another, and acts out of his own domain.

One man may bost a superorety above another in point of Natural previledg; yet if he can produse no convincive arguments in vindication of this preheminence his hypothesis is to Be Suspected. To affirm, that an Englishman has a right to his Liberty, is a truth which has Been so clearly Evinced, Especially of Late, that to spend time in illustrating this, would be But Superfluous tautology. But I query, whether Liberty is so contracted a principle as to be Confin’d to any nation under Heaven; nay, I think it not hyperbolical to affirm, that Even an affrican, has Equally as good a right to his Liberty in common with Englishmen.

I know that those that are concerned in the Slave-trade, Do pretend to Bring arguments in vindication of their practise; yet if we give them a candid Examination, we shall find them (Even those of the most cogent kind) to be Essencially Deficient. We live in a day wherein Liberty & freedom is the subject of many millions Concern; and the important Struggle hath alread caused great Effusion of Blood; men seem to manifest the most sanguine resolution not to Let their natural rights go without their Lives go with them; a resolution, one would think Every one that has the Least Love to his country, or futer posterity, would fully confide in, yet while we are so zelous to maintain, and foster our own invaded rights, it cannot be tho’t impertinent for us Candidly to reflect on our own conduct, and I doubt not But that we shall find that subsisting in the midst of us, that may with propriety be stiled Opression, nay, much greater opression, than that which Englishmen seem so much to spurn at. I mean an oppression which they, themselves, impose upon others…

…. And the main proposition, which I intend for some Breif illustration is this, Namely, That an African, or, in other terms, that a Negro may Justly Chalenge, and has an undeniable right to his Liberty: Consequently, the practise of Slave-keeping, which so much abounds in this Land is illicit. Every privilege that mankind Enjoy have their Origen from god; and whatever acts are passed in any Earthly Court, which are Derogatory to those Edicts that are passed in the Court of Heaven, the act is void. If I have a perticular previledg granted to me by god, and the act is not revoked nor the power that granted the benefit vacated, (as it is imposable but that god should Ever remain immutable) then he that would infringe upon my Benifit, assumes an unreasonable, and tyrannic power.

It hath pleased god to make of one Blood all nations of men, for to dwell upon the face of the Earth. Acts 1 7, 26. And as all are of one Species, so there are the same Laws, and aspiring principles placed in all nations; and the Effect that these Laws will produce, are Similar to Each other. Consequently we may suppose, that what is precious to one man, is precious to another, and what is irksom, or intolarable to one man, is so to another, consider’d in a Law of Nature. Therefore we may reasonably Conclude, that Liberty is Equally as pre[c]ious to a Black man, as it is to a white one, and Bondage Equally as intollarable to the one as it is to the other: Seeing it Effects the Laws of nature Equally as much in the one as it Does in the other. But, as I observed Before, those privileges that are granted to us By the Divine Being, no one has the Least right to take them from us without our consen[t]; and there is Not the Least precept, or practise, in the Sacred Scriptures, that constitutes a Black man a Slave, any more than a white one.

Shall a mans Couler Be the Decisive Criterion whereby to Judg of his natural right? or Becaus a man is not of the same couler with his Neighbour, shall he Be Deprived of those things that Distuingsheth [Distinguisheth] him from the Beasts of the field?…

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1848: The Devil’s Violin

Paul Lormier - costume desig for Le violon du diable (1848)Costume design by Paul Lormier for the 1849 ballet Le violon du diable (source).

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1953: Description

Damon Davis - from Cracks (2020)

A description of what we would now call a depressive episode from a 1953 story by Jean Ferry, “The Traveler with Luggage”:

As a result of incidents still obscure to me, I suffered an absolutely atrocious mental breakdown in the first months of the year 19—, from which I had the hardest rime recovering. Having never experienced this kind of turmoil, I was deeply struck by its intensity; but a cenesthetic certainty guarantees my safety from the return of what I can only call a disease.

Weighed down by various work, for which I shared responsibility with very dear friends whom till then I had done much to keep, I suddenly found myself utterly, unremittingly unable not only to write a line, but even to perform any act of free will whatsoever. After voluntarily depriving myself of vacation, since I could not do otherwise, I spent several long weeks wandering the winter streets, no blissful idler but a hunted man, dogged by remorse and worry. I had neither willpower, nor the will to have willpower. I missed appointments with the most ridiculous excuses; I embarrassed several people who were counting on me, to whom I was bound by all sorts of ties, the least painful of which were not those of sincere friendship. I was ashamed of my incredible cowardice and, I repeat, this leisure tormented me with each passing second. Sometimes, quite rarely, I would forget it all, but almost right away, as a flood bursts a dam, the tower of misfortunes I’d built bit by bit with my own hands would suddenly collapse on me.

Image: A sculpture from Damon Davis’s series Cracks (2020).

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