31 October 2012

Inspiration : Unworthy

Unworthy 9/27/09

The human body can go bad in so many ways.

One day you are sitting, eating a muffin, drinking a latte. The next you have cancer, a blood disease, an aneurysm.

There are some truly horrifying illnesses that can just happen.

And that I am afraid of.

I fear I have genetic disorders
A bad heart, ASL, cancer, gum disease
My head is going to decide that sanity isn't for it

The image above is of Blascho's Lines. They are invisible lines that cover your body. Mine. They become suddenly visible with various skin disorders. The lines are believed to trace the migration of embryonic cells during in utero development. They do not correspond to nervous, muscular, or lymphatic systems. The lines can be observed in other animals such as cats and dogs.

The stripes are a type of genetic mosaicism. Which is when different cells with different genotypes appear in one individual.

Your body is a mosaic.

This is a portrait mosaic from Pompeii. A woman with a pen to her lips, book in hand. She is contemplating 50 Shades of Gray. Or something. Point is, she's made up of little tiles. That mimic atoms. And she had invisible lines of embryonic cells all over her.

And maybe they showed up sometime.

When they do. They look like this.

And that kind of looks like a kick-ass leopard make-up job. Though more calico cat.

I fear the divide between reality and dreaming
It blurs sometimes
It's an ocean liner - I'm a bit of wood

I recently had a strange fight with a skin disorder. I thought it was ring worm. And I even talked about it in a post.

It turned out that the rash was actually Pityrias Rosea. Which has no known cause and is treated by 'waiting'. It showed up in lines across my chest and back. In a pattern that looked like stripes. In lines.

What is amazing about the ways the body goes wrong. Is that sometimes it does and we suddenly can see how it began. We hold the memory of our creation in lines across our skin. They are hidden. They are forgotten.

I fear tomorrow will be the same as today and so on
That the sun will rise and the sky will be blue
I fear not being afraid

We are recordings of ourselves.

Inspiration is a try at exploring my own work in a thoughtful way. A book report on me.

29 October 2012


Hominid from Brian Andrews on Vimeo.

26 October 2012

History of Maps

After my post on Wednesday I thought I'd do a rundown of how maps evolved. Why not? I'm going to start with a section from that post and go from there.

A History of Maps!

The earliest map we have is the Babylonian Imago Mundi from 600 BCE. The clay tablet shows Babylon at the heart of a seven-pointed star of islands. The accompanying text describes three of the islands:

1-"place of the rising sun"
2-"the sun is hidden and nothing can be seen"
3-"beyond the flight of birds"

Babylonian Imago Mundi
The idea of the nation drawing the map being at the center of the world would continue throughout the ages. Human nature creates a false sense of center. We all think we are the center of the world. It has led to flat world theories, the earth being the center of the universe, and numerous wars.

Similarly Anaximander created an Aegean-centered world map  c. 610 BCE. This map would form the basis of most cartography for the next 700 years. Each generation slightly improving upon the original.

The incremental changes built up until we get to Ptolemy's map c. 150. This new map revolutionized the concepts of cartography. Ptolemy introduced longitude and latitude as well as aligning terrestrial and celestial observations. His ideas and descriptions would influence map makers for over 1000 years.

15th century reconstruction of Ptolemy's World Map

Ptolemy did not draw a map that exists to modern times. In the 1300s his manuscript for Geographia was rediscovered and promptly people started drawing maps based on his descriptions. The map is flawed but set people in the right direction. Within 100 years we would have maps that begin to look like the world as it truly is.

Genoese map of 1457

While the Genoese map is somewhat confusing to look at, Europe, northern Africa, and Asia are all clear and mostly the right shapes.

What I would consider an early true 'modern' looking map of the whole world is the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570) by Abraham Ortelius. 60 years later the Nova totius Terrarum Orbis (1630) by Hendrik Hondius. This map is basically the world as it is.

And it only took 2200 years!

Nova totius Terrarum Orbis (1630)

24 October 2012

Map Supplemental Appendix 1

I try not to get too political on this blog. I leave that to my Twitters and Facebooks. But Mitt Romney has not seen a map of Iran. Clearly.

via National Review

This is why maps are important. In one glance Romney could have come up with a better statement. Iran controls many seaports, thus is important to U.S. interests in the area. Syria has nothing to do with that. Not in this way.


Map Supplemental

Saul Steinberg

I forgot one of my favorite weird maps. This cover to the New Yorker from 1976 is the view of the world from 9th Avenue in New York.

It is amazing for it's simple graphic depiction of the bubble that is New York City. Also of note...no Europe. America with its back to its neighbor across the Atlantic...hmmm

In light of the lack of Euro discussion this election cycle I feel like it is oddly appropriate.

Dust Jacket : The Second World War

The Second World War
Jacket Design: Steve Marking

Steve Marking is the current art director at Orion Books. He previously worked for Penguin UK as a senior designer. His credentials are on point.

This cover is pretty spectacular. If you've been reading Dust Jacket for any length of time you know that I clearly love me some text-based design. In fact, this cover is so very similar to the cover of Orphan Master's Son that I almost didn't pick it.

But it gives me the chance to discuss maps, which are a huge love of mine.

So maps.

The earliest map we have is the Babylonian Imago Mundi from 600 BCE. The clay tablet shows Babylon at the heart of a seven-pointed star of islands. The accompanying text describes three of the islands:

1-"place of the rising sun"
2-"the sun is hidden and nothing can be seen"
3-"beyond the flight of birds"

Babylonian Imago Mundi
This map is beautiful for its simplicity. An attempt to place the self in the broader world. To contextualize. This is the first reason I love maps. They take the wilds and make them feel like home. If you can know something you can be master of it.

Maps are colonialism.

This may not be beautiful when you start to project from the statement, it is a beautiful sentiment. That you can know something by laying it down.

At their base level maps are simply lines. The flowing lines of nature and the grid of man. At times they can be completely hypnotic and surreal:

Harold Fisk - Historical trace of the Mississippi  (1944)
I mean. Look at that. You want to drown in it. Cover your walls, become obsessive. I understand people who never leave their apartments and fill notebooks. They are drawing that.

And it is real!

On the other end of the spectrum are the maps where things are just crazy.

To the right is a 15th century engraving of Ptolemy's description of the world. It was printed only a few years before Columbus' first voyage. Nothing is real. It is manic, full of strange locations, and the world is a smooshed mess. But it is magical and it was the standard for 1000 years. Imagine believing that the world looked like that. What it would feel like.

The drawings around them are amazing and fun to look at. Modern maps have given way to too much realism. I want a little of that magic back. Which ties back to our cover. By simply adding the text that map becomes more than a detail of the Atlantic Ocean. Something ominous begins to hover over it. Something dark.
Carta Marina (1539)
Click the caption to see that in full size. It is amazing. You will spend hours with it. Modern satellite imaging has shown that many of the locations of the sea creatures and monsters are actually locations of weather patterns and known storm areas. So the threat was real. Imagine weather patterns represented by monsters.

Today's forecast is for dragons over the plains and serpents along the eastern seaboard.

Dust Jacket is a sometime article about the design and art of book covers. The idea is to shine a spotlight on the work of the designer separate from the author. Literally judging a book by its cover.

22 October 2012

Inspiration : Tout

Tout 9/26/12

You are dressed in your fall camouflage
are wood ducking the season

Yes. Yes you are.

While it is easy to see the basic idea behind this poem. The true inspiration came from my cat.

This is my cat:


He likes to sit high up on bookshelves and stalk me. Sometimes he hides in boxes or drawers and jumps at me as I walk by.

He's a cat.

So I mashed hunting and my cat together with a creepy stalker vibe and some vague doppelgänger-ness.

high-hatting matching my gait

Also...doppelgängers are super creepy. Like really. Abraham Lincoln claimed to have a vision of one that Mary Todd Lincoln interpreted as him winning a second term but dying before the end of it. Other famous people reporting the phenomena:

      Percy Bysshe Shelly - Percy and his wife Mary Shelly supposedly met his double.

      John Donne - Saw his wife's double the night she miscarried.

      Johann Wolfgang Goethe - Saw himself riding horseback.

      George Tryon - His double walked through a party shortly after his ship sank in the Meditteranean.

Inspiration is a try at exploring my own work in a thoughtful way. A book report on me.

17 October 2012

Firefly Kōan

Firefly Kōan

In the time-lapse photo
the trails of green
          are lace
across the forest

They are headlights

When you shut your eyes
too quickly
and the direct light
becomes arcing lines of glowing

The afterimage
on the sides of everything

15 October 2012

Walking to Work Kōan

Walking to Work Kōan

Segmented carapace of white orchids
          the tail of a kite -
each bloom - a bow

The morning makes the tree lime
leaves fall -
          flash bulbs - LED
breaking fireflies in hands

Those war-paint lines on your face

The man man pushes the cart of glass
stares into each can - treasure
          the sound of wind chimes

12 October 2012

THIS! 10/12/12

THIS! on October 12, 2012

Historical Bromance

On this day in 1960 Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on a desk at a UN General Assembly meeting to protest the Philippine assertion of Soviet Union colonial policy in Eastern Europe.

1) 55 Cancri e

'55 Cancri e' is a massive 8x heavier than the earth while only twice the size. Its close orbit means a year is only 18 hours. The surface temperature reaches 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface is covered in graphite and diamonds.

It is also only 40 light years away.

2) Wendy's

They unveiled a new logo. It's terrible.

Comparison via Brand New

The new Wendy icon is fine. I like the update. I like that she is flesh colored instead of ghost-white. I like the hair and the new circle. The script choice is...odd. It's too rounded, too silly. It looses all appeal. Why not use the old logo with the new Wendy? Sad.

3) Mo Yan

Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel in Literature. The Chinese author's pen name means 'Don't Speak'. He is best known for Red Sorghum and the film version. His latest novel Life And Death Are Wearing Me Out was written in 42 days with traditional brush and ink.

Buy one of his books.


This gigantic Batcave model exists in the world. It weighs 100 pounds and took over 800 hours. Look at the builder's Flickr stream here.

11 October 2012

Rain Room

Through the use of digital cameras and motion sensors this art installation allows you to walk through a rain storm without getting wet. If you are in London...go see this at the Barbican and tell me about it.

10 October 2012


So I've been sick since Sunday. I spent yesterday asleep in bed while J went about his day off business. He made an amazing butternut squash casserole that I couldn't even eat. I awoke this morning to a blistering headache and upset stomach.

So I watched Mythbusters all day. Which is my second place go to behind Murder, She Wrote. Cause when you're sick the best things are science and murder. And explosions. And WASPy shenanigans.

I've not been feeling too well for the last month or so. I got ringworm in September and have had a lengthy battle that involved me sitting in an annoying NY waiting room while TMZ played on a TV and an elderly woman bitched loudly about how long it was all taking. I had to explain to the nurse what ringworm was! (!!!) (!?!?!) The doctor wrote a prescription without even looking at the spots on my chest or arms.

It took 5 weeks to get rid of it. Mostly because it was ALL OVER me and was hard to treat. But secondly because in the middle J and I went to England for the wedding of the century. Thus negating a lot of the treating that had gone on.

I bring this up for a two reasons:

1) Ringworm is lame. It's like a sunburn that won't go away. Mildly itchy yet spreading and ugly to look at so not something to be left to its own devices.

2) A woman mentioned something to me at work that reminded me of a great episode of Radiolab.

Dematophytosis is a fungal infection of the outer layers of skin on humans and other domestic animals. It is a fungus that feeds of keratin, which is found in skin and fingernails. There are 10 different species of fungi involved with infections and it is estimated that up to 20% of the population are infected. The clearest sign you have it are pronounced rings of red, they don't always itch, and can go undetected under your arms or in your groin.

Now on to Radiolab. If you are not familiar with this exceptional WNYC show, please acquaint yourself. Pick any show and go with it. They are amazing, strange, and enjoyable. The show I'm about to discuss is a great one. You can listen to it below.

The part of the episode the woman was bringing up to me at work was about people infecting themselves with hookworms to relieve allergies and asthma.

Radiolab centers their story on David Pritchard, a scientist who infected himself to study the effects. After a series of painful experiments, that he outlines in the show and in a NY Times article from 2008, he has settled on an infection of 10 worms as a prescription for allergies.

The process is called Helminthic therapy. And has been shown to be helpful for a number of over-active immune system disorders. The list is long - Crohn’s diseaseulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma, eczema, dermatitis, hay fever and some food allergies. The theory is that exposure to these parasites helps to 'train' our immune system properly. That we provide a host body for the parasite and it helps us become immune to these disorders.

I am not a squeamish person. I take pain well. I handle blood well. The sound of bones breaking is the only thing that I really flinch at. The idea of purposefully infecting myself to alleviate allergies sounds preposterous.


Sitting here feeling sick, fluish, the way I do in spring when my allergies kick into high, I've been thinking that it might not be so bad. Considering I've dealt with an annoying false 'worm' this last month I'm sure I could deal with a real one. Especially one that only caused minor itching at the infection site and few other problems in low numbers. 10 seems low, right?

05 October 2012

THIS! 10/5/12

THIS! on October 5th, 2012

FACT! In 1582 there was no October 5th in Italy, Poland, Portugal, or Spain due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar.

1) Betaville

Betaville is a project by Brooklyn Experimental Media Center. The project is an open-source city planner program that allows anyone to fill in and experiment with open spaces in large urban areas. Right now there is one for New York.

Battery Park of the FUTURE!

The platform allows people to improve each others designs and to play Sim City for real. The hope is to influence and shape real world urban development. I would love to see some of their designs implemented, even half-assed they would be better than most of what exists now.

2) Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti this group is widely considered the first 'avant-garde' art movement. The idea was to return to a pre-Raphael style of sharp detail and bright color. They were widely criticized for being medieval. Charles Dickens declared Millais' Christ in the House of His Parents (1850) blasphemous, making the holy family look like 'alcoholics and slum-dwellers'. Oh Dickens, you very British man you.

Working class = alcoholic slum-dweller

03 October 2012

Inspiration : Beldam

Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons visits Alexander.
Beldam 9/25/09

This was the first poem-a-day poem. As with all the poems, the word came first.

'Beldam' is an old-English word for witch or hag. It is implied the woman in question is ugly.

At the time my family was facing a lot of death. My aunt had recently died from breast cancer. My father's mother had died suddenly from cancer and my mother's mother was diagnosed with lymphoma. She would die fairly soon after.

With all that around me I was thinking about what makes an ugly woman. I thought of the Amazons and their practice of removing the left breast for archery purposes. In our society women who are left breast-less are viewed as weak, less than. My aunt had a double mastectomy. To rebuild her breasts they did a procedure where they use a flap of skin from the stomach and stretch it up and then use the muscle to build. She was left nipple-less and belly button-less.

Each amazonian breast
placed in a vat of honey
soaks until golden

I wanted the image to be empowering. Enshrining that lost part of the body in gold.

Artists interpretation of 'Mellified Man'
Honey is naturally antiseptic and antibacterial. In Burma there are priests that bury their chief abbots in coffins of honey. There is the myth of the Mellified Man. An older member of the community agrees to the process. They abandon all food and water for only consuming honey. After awhile this diet would prove fatal. The body is then suspended in a coffin of honey for up to 100 years then the 'mellified' body is taken and sold as a confection to ward against ailment.

is spooned like cow tongues
onto a waiting child's mouth

That confection is both sweet and terrible. Our own genes cause us to self-destruct. We remove the bad parts, but what happens to them? We still pass on those genes to the next generation. The idea that what we take into us becomes a part of us is as old as man.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and he that loves it will eat from its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

Endocannibalism is the eating of a member of the tribe. There are many reasons that people did this. Most are based around the idea that the dead person's soul will enter the living who consume the body. There is a belief that the experiences and power of the dead will be absorbed by the living.

The consumption of the honeyed body is the ultimate metaphor of gene-passing. Of knowledge. And the good and bad that come with it. Cannibalism is linked to all sorts of diseases. A mad-cow like disease called kuru occurs in the tribes of Papua New Guinea. The disease has been traced back to one individual who was consumed at death.

we empty
into each other

Inspiration is a try at exploring my own work in a thoughtful way. A book report on me.

01 October 2012

This is home.

And I am going to there.

Posting will be sporadic over the next few weeks. I have to focus on the packing/cleaning/planning things.