1889: Artist-in-Residence

Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World - Courier Litho. Co., Buffalo, N.Y. (c 1896) small

Nathalie Micas and Rosa Bonheur (1864)The celebrated 19th century French painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur was known for wearing men’s pants, shirts, and ties, as well as participating in traditionally masculine activities such as hunting and smoking. She lived with her lifelong partner, Nathalie Micas (left in photo), for over 40 years, eventually in a castle near Fontainebleau that she had purchased with her earnings as a painter.  They lived with a menagerie of farm animals, dogs, cats, and birds—as well as a tamed lioness named Fathma.

Micas’s death in June 1889 coincided with the arrival of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in Paris, as part of the Exposition Universelle, an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille and featuring the debut of the Eiffel Tower. In an effort to distract her from the tragedy of her partner’s death, Bonheur’s art dealer arranged for her to visit the event. At the time, Bonheur was likely the most famous living painter in Europe.

The American showman William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody had founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1883. The show featured a large company of performers—including many Native Americans and famous historical western figures like Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane —who would demonstrate horseback riding and sharpshooting skills, as well as staging simulations of “wild west” scenes like the riding of the Pony Express, Native American attacks on wagon trains, and stagecoach robberies.

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1961: A Song Bob Dylan Never Wrote

Bob Dylan typing

From Dylan’s Chronicles Volume One (2004):

I can’t say when it occurred to me to write my own songs. I couldn’t have come up with anything comparable or halfway close to the folk song lyrics I was singing to define the way I felt about the world. I guess it happens to you by degrees. You just don’t wake up one day and decide that you need to write songs, especially if you’re a singer who has plenty of them and you’re learning more every day. Opportunities may come along for you to convert something—something that exists into something that didn’t yet. That might be the beginning of it. Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain. It’s not like you see songs approaching and invite them in. It’s not that easy. You want to write songs that are bigger than life. You want to say something about strange things that have happened to you, strange things you have seen. You have to know and understand something and then go past the vernacular. The chilling precision that these old-timers used in coming up with their songs was no small thing. Sometimes you could hear a song and your mind jumps ahead. You see similar patterns in the ways that you were thinking about things. I never looked at songs as either “good” or “bad,” only different kinds of good ones.

Some of them can be true to life cases. I’d been hearing a song around called “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill.” I knew that Joe Hill was real and important. I didn’t know who he was, so I asked Izzy at the Folklore Center. Izzy pulled out some pamphlets on him from the back room and gave them to me to read. What I read could have come out of a mystery novel. Joe Hill was a Swedish immigrant who fought in the Mexican War. He had led a bare and meager life, was a union organizer out West in about 1910, a Messianic figure who wanted to abolish the wage system of capitalism—a mechanic, musician and poet. They called him the workingman’s Robert Bums.

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1965: The Girl Who Took Care of the Turkeys


The Girl Who Took Care of the Turkeys

Now we take it up.
(audience)Ye------s indeed.
There were villagers at the Middle Place

a girl
had her home 
at Wind Place
where she kept a flock of turkeys.
At the Middle Place they were having a Yaaya Dance.
They were having a Yaaya Dance, and
during the first day
this girl
drawn to the dance. 
She stayed
with her turkeys 
taking are of them. 
That's the way
she lived:
it seems
she didn't go to the dance on the FIRST day, that day
she fed her turkeys, that's the way
they lived
and so
the dance went on
and she could hear the drum.
When she spoke to her turkeys about this, they said
“If you went
it wouldn't turn out well: who would take tare of us?" her 
        turkeys told her.
She listened to them and they slept through the night.
Then it was the second day
of the dance 
and night came. 
That night 
with the Yaaya Dance half over
she spoke to her big tom turkey:

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1808: Portrait of a Horse’s Ass

Henry Raeburn - George Harley Drummond (ca. 1808–9)

Henry Raeburn: Portrait of George Harley Drummond (ca. 1808–9); “It is curious…that the animal’s hindquarters should be so prominently displayed” says the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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250 BC: Thunder, Perfect Mind

Nag Hammadi Codices

In 1945, near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, a farmer named Muhammed al-Samman discovered a sealed jar containing thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices. Written in the Coptic language and collectively known as the Nag Hammadi Library, these writings are usually referred to as Christian and Gnostic texts dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries; one of them, however, defies easy categorization: Thunder, Perfect Mind. Scholar and translator George MacRae writes:

In terms of the religious traditions represented in the Nag Hammadi collection, Thunder, Perfect Mind is difficult to classify. It contains no distinctively Christian, Jewish, or gnostic allusions and does not seem clearly to presuppose any particular gnostic myth. There are resemblances to the tone and style of the wisdom hymns in the Biblical and intertestamental wisdom literature, and the self-proclamations are similar to the Isis aretalogy inscriptions. But if the multiple assertions in these works are intended to assert the universality of Isis or of God’s wisdom, perhaps the antithetical assertions of Thunder, Perfect Mind are a way of asserting the totally other-worldly transcendence of the revealer. (source)

Here is MacRae’s translation of this enigmatic text:

I was sent forth from the power,
and I have come to those who reflect upon me,
and I have been found among those who seek after me.
Look upon me, you who reflect upon me,
and you hearers, hear me.
You who are waiting for me, take me to yourselves.
And do not banish me from your sight.
And do not make your voice hate me, nor your hearing.
Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or any time. Be on your guard!
Do not be ignorant of me.
For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am <the mother> and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one
and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
and the sister of my husband
and he is my offspring.
I am the slave of him who prepared me.
I am the ruler of my offspring.
But he is the one who begot me before the time on a birthday.
And he is my offspring in (due) time,
and my power is from him.
I am the staff of his power in his youth,
and he is the rod of my old age.
And whatever he wills happens to me.
I am the silence that is incomprehensible
and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
I am the voice whose sound is manifold
and the word whose appearance is multiple.
I am the utterance of my name.

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1750: First Sleep, Second Sleep

French School - An Allegory of Sleep (mid 18th century)

That dreaming is a less sound species of sleep, appears from the familiar fact, which has probably been observed by every individual; viz. that the first sleep is much freer from it than the second. We retire to rest, fatigued by the exertions of the day, and sleep soundly for five or six hours: we wake, and then fall asleep again towards the morning, and dream the whole time of this second sleep.

— Abraham Rees: The Cyclopædia, Or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature (1819)

Until the modern era, up to an hour or more of quiet wakefulness midway through the night interrupted the rest of most Western Europeans….Families rose from their beds to urinate, smoke tobacco, and even visit close neighbors. Remaining abed, many persons also made love, prayed, and, most important, reflected on the dreams that typically preceded waking from their “first sleep.” Not only were these visions unusually vivid, but their images would have intruded far less on conscious thought had sleepers not stirred until dawn. The historical implications of this traditional mode of repose are enormous, especially in light of the significance European households once attached to dreams for their explanatory and predictive powers. In addition to suggesting that consolidated sleep, such as we today experience, is unnatural, segmented slumber afforded the unconscious an expanded avenue to the waking world that has remained closed for most of the Industrial Age.

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1959: Satchmo Talking

Collages by jazz great Louis Armstrong, mostly done on reel-to-reel tape boxes. Dates on the newspapers used range from 1959 to 1971, the year of his death.

Lous Armstrong - Collage (10)Lous Armstrong - Collage (20)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (19)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (18)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (17)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (16)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (15)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (14)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (13)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (12)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (9)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (8)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (7)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (6)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (5)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (4)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (3)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (2)  Lous Armstrong - Collage (1)

Lous Armstrong - Collage (11)

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1932: New Art Saves Strange Beasts


A headline from this article in Popular Science Monthly, January 1932:

Popular Science Monthly (January 1932)

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1159 BC: The First Strike in History

Turin Strike Papyrus [Cat. 1880]

In his first two decades on the throne, Ramesses III had repelled invasions, restored Egypt’s temples and re-established national pride. The court now looked forward to the king’s thirty-year jubilee, determined to stage a celebration worthy of so glorious a monarch. There would be no stinting, no corners cut. Only the most lavish ceremonies would do.

It was a fateful decision. Beneath the pomp and circumstance, the Egyptian state had been seriously weakened by its exertions. The military losses of 1179 were still keenly felt. Foreign trade with the Near East had never fully recovered from the Sea Peoples’ orgy of destruction. The temples’ coffers might be full of copper and myrrh, but their supplies of grain—the staple of the Egyptian economy—were gravely depleted. Against such a background, the jubilee preparations would prove a serious drain on resources.

The cracks started to appear in 1159, two years before the jubilee. Of all the state’s employees, the most important—and usually the most favored—were the men who worked on the excavation and decoration of the royal tomb. Living with their families in the gated community of the Place of Truth, they had grown used to enjoying better than average working conditions, and better than average remuneration. So, when the payment of their monthly wages (which also included their food rations) was eight days late, then twenty days late, it was clear something was badly wrong. Their scribe and “shop steward,” Amennakht, went at once to the mortuary temple of Horemheb to remonstrate with local officials. Eventually, he persuaded them to hand over forty-six sacks of corn to distribute to the workers as interim rations. But that was only the start of it.

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2020: Five-Dimensional Chess

5d Chess

In 5d Chess (released last month by Thunkspace), pieces can travel back in time. A rook in the eighth move of a game, for example, can be placed on the board as it was in move five. This then creates an alternative timeline version of the game with the pieces as they were in move five, plus the additional rook. (The rook, however, disappears from the board in the original timeline.)

After this second universe is created, players must then keep track of moves in both timelines in the game, with the possibility of additional universes being created every move. Players get as many moves per turn as there are timelines. The game is won when one player has fewer valid moves than the number of timelines.

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