Surrealism

With reference to my last post, while America was partying throughout the 1920s, their European counterparts were getting real, surreal; as a matter of fact.

Emerging from the ashes of the Great War (if only they knew what’s lurking in 1942), European artists were dabbling in a counter-culture movement called Dada, which would eventually evolve into Surrealism. And one of their foremost evangelist was Salvador Dali.

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Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989) There will never be another… man or moustache.

Besides possessing a historic, medically important moustache, Dali’s revolutionary artistic style, eccentric behavior and public outbursts continued to fuel speculation as to the severity and extent of his migraines. Refer to my previous post of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome which describes ‘shrinking sensation, or loss of visual, auditory and time perception…’

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surrealz

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Surreally

So what about his moustache?

The EKG abnormality to recognize in cases of digoxin toxicity is ‘sagging’ of the ST- segment

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It’s called the Salvador Dali sign.

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The Great Gatsby Era

I had intended to write about the Beatniks but inspired by Christina’s movie review of The Great Gatsby I shall retrace about 30 years back.

MissBeatnik

Don’t worry ladies, will get back to you next post.

The Great Gatsby, as with author F Scott Fitzgerald’s other works, was an indictment of the Roaring Twenties in America. The peak of that generation featured the Jazz Age, motion pictures, cars and radios became commercially available. Women’s Suffrage was getting traction (women got to vote in the US in 1920) and most titillatingly, women slipped out of their Victorian corsets and launched the flapper culture; basically flipping off the subjugation of the previous centuries. Read: Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.

It was a golden age of excess and decadence. All

Convertibles- the classy way to roll

Convertibles- the classy way to roll

this would come tumbling down when The Great Depression hits in the 1930s but hey, that’s like years away so let’s just partayy!!

In other places around the world however, ‘Roaring 20s’ was having a different connotation. China was imploding in a civil war and the locals were struggling against the British yoke in India.

Chiang Kai Shek inspecting his straw- boots wearing soldiers - not a very golden age.

Chiang Kai Shek inspecting his straw- boots wearing soldiers – not a very golden age.

Nonetheless, this era of peace and prosperity in America laid the foundation of cultural dominance that is still evident today and saw the emergence of many legendary icons such as Charlie Chaplain, Edwin Hubble as well as the discovery of Penicillin.

http://www.amazon.com/Story-Lee-Steinbecks-Chinese-Cook/dp/1470167107/

http://www.amazon.com/Fourteen-Sunflower-Seeds-Ernie-Yap/dp/1479313122/

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Mackenzie King – An unflattering biography

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Dr King- The other one..the white one.

First, the good stuff: Mackenzie King is considered one of the most influential Prime Minister in Canada. He was also the longest-serving (22 years) and holds the record for being the only Canadian PM to date who had 5 university degrees and a PhD. He was responsible for bringing Canada into full autonomy from the British. He anticipated and guided the nation through World War 2 and left an socialistic imprint on Canadian society that is still evident today. Today, his portrait adorns the Canadian $50 note.

Secondly, Mackenzie King was crazy as a loon and an outright racist.

He  sent 22,000 Canadian Japanese to internment camps despite advice from his own military that they were law-abiding and not a threat.

His PhD dissertation? -it was titled ‘Oriental Immigration to Canada’ where he argued against immigration of Asian peoples and that ‘Canada should remain a white man’s country is believed to be not only desirable for economic and social reasons but highly necessary…’

“We must seek to keep this part of the Continent free from unrest and from too much intermixture of foreign strains of blood”.

From King’s Diary, 1938. Prime Minister of Canada 

And he thought Hitler was a ‘Joan of Arc’ and subsequently blocked Jewish refugees into Canada.

More pertinently, Mackenzie King liked to call up the dead. He was deeply involved with Spiritualism and frequently held seances to consult dead spirits. That’s not too crazy for that time. After all, Arthur Conan Doyle and Abraham Lincoln were known to dabble in mediums. But who did Mackenzie wish to speak with from the realms of the dead? His pet dog.

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Loon in Canada

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Infrasound

You are working alone in a dank and dark room. A little dehydrated and hungry, you have been too immersed in your work to notice. The room is dimly lit and warm but thankfully has a ventilating fan that’s a little noisy, but works okay.

As you yawn and stretch, you feel a sudden presence around you. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You see a dim gray figure in front of you. As you rub your eyes and squint, the figure continues to hover above the ground and started to move towards you.

That was what Vic Tandy experienced one day in 1998. However, instead of soiling his pants, he did a little investigating and found that the room he was in has an extractor fan whose blade was swinging at a low freuquency of 18.98 hertz–the exact frequency at which a human eyeball starts resonating. The resultant resonance produced an optical illusion

Ghost sightings has been associated with the presence of so-called infrasound. Animals respond to infrasonic signals during an earthquake and were witnessed fleeing an area before disaster hits. The human ear is not able to process sound waves below 20Hz but some people are prone to the effects of infrasonic waves nonetheless. A scientific experiment was carried out where an audience listened to live music pieces laced with infrasound.

The unusual experiences reported included feeling uneasy or sorrowful, getting chills down the spine or nervous feelings of revulsion or fear.

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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome and Lewis Carroll

” Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw…but she could not even get her head though the doorway; `and even if my head would go through,’ thought poor Alice, `it would be of very little use without my shoulders… so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, (`which certainly was not here before,’ said Alice,) and round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words `DRINK ME’ …`No, I’ll look first,’ she said, `and see whether it’s marked “poison” or not’… However, this bottle was not marked `poison,’ so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off…`What a curious feeling!’ said Alice; `I must be shutting up like a telescope.’ And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high, and her face brightened up at the thought that she was now the right size for going through the little door into that lovely garden…” Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Many people around the world, (including Lewis Carroll himself) experience Alice’s shrinking sensation, or loss of visual, auditory and time perception under less pleasant circumstances. Objects appear to shrink or enlarge or time seems to drag on as if ‘down a rabbit hole’. This is called (for real) Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS). First described by J Todd in 1955, AIWS is thought to be due to migraines, viral infections and yes, temporal lobe epilepsy.

With visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations and altered perceptions. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome can be baffling and terrifying for the sufferer; for he feels he is going mad in a weird world with warped perceptions and hallucinations.

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland524px-Lewis_Carroll's_Alice_drawing

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Van Gogh’s ear and his epilepsy

Vincent Van Gogh; apart from his artwork was also famed for being an artist who cut off his own ear. Repeatedly hospitalized in an asylum, he suffered scores of physical and mental ailments which included hallucinations and chronic depression which were believed to ultimately led to his death. Exhibiting eccentric behavior all his life, the association between Van Gogh’s health, treatments and his artistic genius continued to fuel speculation today.

His symptoms of hallucinations, odd behavior, prolonged periods of unconsciousness and peculiar perception of colors supported his physician’s diagnosis of epilepsy (癫痫); more specifically, temporal lobe epilepsy. 

Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is a chronic condition where the sufferer experiences seizures in areas of the brain that is associated with sensation, personality, behaviour and mood. How many more influential people were thought to suffer from and became famous as a result of TLE? Stay tuned.

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Starry Night Over The Rhine.

  

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Long but not long; short but not too short – The Novella

Novellas are generally described as short length novels.

According to the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, a novella has between 17500 to 40000 words. Anything above 40000 classifies as a novel and below 17500 is a short story. Just like salt, the novella is seldom referred by name but is ubiquitous throughout the literary world. Here some famous classics.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Time Machine by H.G Wells

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Although a bane for booksellers, novellas are making an inevitable resurgence. People used to pen letters but we now tweet our messages. Who reads novels anymore?

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