13 Responses to “SINAI & OLIVET”

  1. Red Letter Box Says:

    Trance fixed by maps

    • The arch-villian of Joy Williams’ story ‘Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child’ is John James Audubon (a freemason). Yeah, the bird society guy.


      Joy Williams, the author of “Baba Iaga and the Pelican Child,” explains the origins of her story:

      When I was doing some research for a book on the Florida Keys some twenty years ago, I discovered that John James Audubon, despite his revered status, was a great slaughterer of birds. (Perhaps everyone was aware of this.) He killed tirelessly for pleasurable sport and would wipe out entire mangrove islands of its inhabitants because…well, because I guess it was easy once he got started. I do hope the curse of history will catch up with him. Perhaps Baba Iaga will be the great facilitator in that regard.

      By story’s end, the anti-hero has taken to the skies, shining a magical lamp on everyone she meets, illuminating that which they’d rather not see – namely, the “humanity” present in all animals, not just those of the human variety:

      […] Baba Iaga continued to fly through the skies in her mortar, navigating with her pestle. But instead of a broom, she carried the lamp that illuminated the things people did not know or were reluctant or refused to understand. And she would lower the lamp over a person and they would see how extraordinary were the birds and beasts of the world, and that they should be valued for their bright and beautiful and mysterious selves and not willfully harmed for they were more precious than castles or the golden rocks dug out from the earth. [More so, actually. – ed.]

      But she could reach only a few people each day with the lamp.

      Once, seven people experienced its light but usually it was far less. It would take thousands of years, tens of thousands perhaps, to reach all the human beings with the light.

      Baba Iaga came home one evening – so tired – and she gathered her little family around her, the pelican child and the dog and the cat and said, My dear ones, I still have magic and power unrealized. Do you wish to become human beings, for some think you are under a hellish spell. Do you want to become human? The dog and the cat spoke. The pelican child had not spoken since the day of her return.


      He killed thousands of birds and cruelly experimented on many animals, including catfish, a bald eagle, and his very own hunting dog. With friends, he buried a rat in a pot, its tail protruding from the dirt, and gave the complete ensemble to another friend, claiming it was a rare flower. He served jail time for bankruptcy and knifed a man in Kentucky over ownership of a steamboat.

      Today, his drawings and paintings of American wildlife are respected worldwide, and his name is synonymous with environmental concern and wildlife preservation. A true enigma, John James Audubon was not even his name until he came to America in 1803 to look after his father’s business.

      Audubon, born Jean Rabin in Saint-Domingue in 1785, was something of a liar from the beginning; he told others falsely and often that he studied painting with Jacques-Louis David. Artistically and professionally, Audubon struggled to gain acceptance into the strict company of American and British scientific academies.

      Although Audubon’s technique of moving nature from the outdoors to the canvas was well within the realm of the acceptable in the early nineteenth century, today his process would be anathema to the society that now bears his name.

      According to Audubon biographer William Souder, “At one time or another, Audubon killed specimens of all but a handful of the more than four hundred species of birds he ultimately painted, plus most of the quadrupeds of North America, from squirrels to alligators to moose.”

      Simple enough to describe, his process was to kill, clean, position, and paint. One difference, however, between Audubon and his contemporary, Alexander Wilson, is that Audubon portrayed his ornithological subject matter at life size.

      A second difference is that Audubon posed his birds in nature, conducting activities that he had either imagined or witnessed. For example, his Black Vulture appears to be eating the flesh of a deer carcass, while his female Great Cormorant is portrayed tending her young through tall grass.

      With the exception of the display of birds in the Peale Museum in Philadelphia, wildlife work for the scientific community was usually posed and drawn on a small scale and without the aesthetic benefit of habitat, weather, and fauna in the forms of prey or predator.

      By 1823, Audubon was living in Louisiana, drawing and teaching, having amassed great debt but also having assembled a vast portfolio of American wildlife art. When he arrived in Philadelphia in 1824, he hoped his art would receive acclaim, but his work was received poorly by the Academy of Natural Sciences and George Ord, a friend of the late Alexander Wilson. As Souder states, “Against Ord’s energetic opposition to him throughout the city and the orchestrated campaign to prevent his election to the academy, Audubon never had a chance.”

      His work was well received throughout Britain, however. The Scots elected him to the elite scientific Wernerian Society in 1827, and he was elected to the Royal Society in London in 1830.

      These successes coincided with the publication of Audubon’s most lasting achievement—what he called his “great work,” The Birds of America, containing 435 hand-colored images and distributed in 87 parts. A stunning achievement, also recognized in the United States, the publication of The Birds of America eventually propelled Audubon into the ranks of the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1831, seven years after his initial rejection.

      Audubon spent most of his last decade in New York, having succumbed to various illnesses, and died there on January 27, 1851. He is buried in Trinity Church Cemetery at 155th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.

      —Warren Perry, Catalog of American Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

      William Souder, Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of “The Birds of America (New York: North Point Press, 2004).

  2. Melissa Potnia Says:

  3. Kyd_Kenoyma Says:

  4. Off topic, just an awesome house 🙂

  5. Happy birthday, Lenny!

  6. Gods and Monsters by Lana

    • Burt Bacharackalambamboom! Says:

      Oh yeah. I almost forgot Lana del Rey aka Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, America’s favorite soda Pop Star.

      While the LdR song posted above should have massive appeal to the twenty-something-wiggerz-who-wanna-be-gangstas crowd, this next song should score a big hit with the horny-older-guys-looking-for-some-no-guilt-bunga-bunga-no-questions-asked-no-answers-given demographic.

      Behold the poetry of Lana del Rey.

      Take the Pepsi challenge!

      My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola,
      my eyes are wide like cherry pies.
      I gots a taste for men who’re older,
      Its always been so its no surprise.

      Harvey’s in the sky with diamonds and he’s making me crazy (I come alive at night)
      All he wants to do it party with his pretty baby.

      Come on baby, lets ride
      We can escape the great sunshine.
      I know your wife and she wouldn’t mind
      We made it out to the other side [x3]
      Come on, come on
      Come on, come on, baby.

      I fall asleep on an american flag
      I wear my diamonds on skid row
      I pledge alligence to my dad
      for teaching me everything he knows

      Harvey’s in the sky with diamonds and hes making me crazy (I come alive at night)
      all he wants to do it party with his pretty baby

      come on baby, lets ride
      we can escape the great sunshine.
      I know your wife and she wouldn’t mind
      We made it out to the other side [x3]
      Come on, come on
      Come on, come on, baby

  7. Tha haters are gonna hate! YOLO!

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