A Clockwork Orang

A portrait of the clockmaker Thomas Mudge by Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland (1772)

Note: The title of this incendiary intervention was buried by Anthony Burgess in the title of his magisterial A Clockwork Orange (1962): in Malay, orang means “man” (as in orangutan, “man of the forest”). The book asks whether man is clockwork or has free will. Obviously, Thomas Mudge was a “clockwork orang” in another sense.


Performativizing Papyrocentricity #60

Papyrocentric Performativity Presents:

Conteur CompatissantShort Stories, Guy de Maupassant, translated by Marjorie Laurie (Everyman’s Library 1934)

Riff-Raph100 Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces, Gordon Kerr (Flame Tree Publishing 2011)

Fall of the WildA Fall of Moondust, Arthur C. Clarke (1961)

Orchid and OakVine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W.E. Vine et al (Thomas Nelson 1984)

Hoare HereRisingtidefallingstar, Philip Hoare (Fourth Estate 2017)

Or Read a Review at Random: RaRaR

Anne’s Hans’

Anne Cresacre by Hans Holbein

Anne Cresacre by Hans Holbein (c. 1527)

Prince, n’enquerez de sepmaine
Où elles sont, ne de cest an,
Que ce refrain ne vous remaine:
Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!

Ballade des Dames du temps jadis, François Villon (1431-c.1489)

Oh My Guardian #5

‘We’re stepping out of a binary’ – celebrating the art of marginalized LGBT Muslims

[…] The show features artwork themed around issues of Islamophobia, racism and homophobia to “highlight the struggles common among contemporary Muslim queer, trans and gender non-conforming communities,” said co-curator and activist Yas Ahmed. — ‘We’re stepping out of a binary’, The Guardian, 22/i/2018.

Elsewhere other-accessible:

Oh My Guardian #1
Oh My Guardian #2
Oh My Guardian #3
Oh My Guardian #4
Reds under the Thread

Game of Zones

The Badminton Game by David Inshaw

David Inshaw, The Badminton Game (1972-3)

I first came across this beautiful and mysterious painting in a book devoted to British art. Then I forgot the name of both artist and painting, and couldn’t get at the book any more. Years later, I’ve found it again on the cover of a paperback in a secondhand shop. I like the way it combines zones: the domestic and the dendric, the lunar and the ludic, the terrestrial and the celestial. And it’s full of fractals: the trees, the clouds and, implicitly, the moon and the two girls playing badminton.

Pedal to the Medal

“Once, in a contest with a rival, he painted a blue curve on a huge sheet of paper. Then he dipped the feet of a chicken in red paint and persuaded the bird to walk all over the paper. The resulting image, he said, represented the Tatsuta river with red maple leaves floating in it. The judge gave him the prize.” — The Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (c. 1760-1849) described in Thomas W. Hodgkinson’s and Hubert van den Bergh’s How to Sound Cultured (2015)

Oneiric Ocean


I like this illustration of a scene in Jules Vernes’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) even more because it has at least one mistake in it. At least, I think it’s a mistake: the jellyfish on the upper left are two Portuguese men-o’-war (really colonial hydrozoans, not jellyfish). They have gas-filled float-bladders, so in reality you see them only on the surface, not hanging in midwater like that. The mistake makes the scene like a dream. The absence of colour is good too: it fixes the illustration firmly in the past and the colours you imagine are more vivid. The artist is imagining, dreaming, conjuring a vision of an oneiric ocean.