Landlocked dreaming pretending to be by winter’s fire with you, gives a skipping sleepy cadence to my weighted heart, as the honey sun skirts slantwise and drowns the strand in purple shade, we cling to desperate stripes of furtive warmth marching slowly into night.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr touches on a number of my obsessions; the Gilded Age, psychology, serial murder, the frontier. There are things I like about this prestige TV series adapted historical novel and some things I am less crazy about. The point is, there is probably a review or at least some comments, criticisms, and plaudits to follow here, so stay tuned for more info.!
Just curious if anybody has had any luck (good or bad) with trying to keep a common place book? I keep starting them and then forgetting them when I need them, even though I am always reading on a large variety of topics that could certainly benefit from some note taking and organization. How do I make it a part of my system? When do I create a special subject notebook or file and when a common place book entry instead?
January The Alchemist / Paulo Coelho Snow Crash / Neil Stephenson Chimpanzee politics: Power and sex among apes / Frans de Waal The mechanics of Ancient Egyptian magic / Robert K. Ritner, Religions of the Hellenistic-Roman Age / Antonía Tripolitis
February The Sumerians: Their history, culture, and character / Samuel Noah Kramer
March Isaac Newton / James Gleick Galactic pot-healer / Philip K. Dick Gods and robots: Myths, machines, and ancient dreams of technology / Adrienne Mayor Synchronicity / C. G. Jung Altered states / Paddy Chayefsky
April The divine invasion / Philip K. Dick On writing / Stephen King Wise blood / Flannery O’Connor Kim / Rudyard Kipling Two Essays on Analytical Psychology / C. G. Jung The transmigration of Timothy Archer / Phillip K. Dick
May Big Sur / Jack Kerouac The dead / James Joyce Fanfarlo / Charles Baudelaire The island of Doctor Moreau / H. G. Wells To walk the night / William Sloane The edge of running water / William Sloane The alteration / Kingsley Amis Bob Dylan: An intimate biography / Anthony Scaduto
June The king of elfland’s daughter / Lord Dunsany The archetypes and the collective unconscious (vol. 9.1) / C. G. Jung
July The essence of Tsongkhapa’s teachings. Three aspects of the Path / TsongKhaPa & His Holiness the Dalai Lama Rendezvous with Rama – Arthur C. Clarke Cosmic puppets – Phillip K. Dick
August Rama II / Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee Dogs in Antiquity: Anubis to Cerberus, the origins of the domestic dog / Douglas Brewer, et al. Dark entries / Robert Aickman True Grit / Charles Portis The treasure of the Sierra Madre / B. Traven Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara: A practitioner’s guide / Ben Connelly
September Rosemary’s baby / Ira Levin The family / Ed Sanders Masters of Atlantis / Charles Portis Fuzz : When nature breaks the law / Mary Roach The ultimate evil : the search for the sons of Sam / Maury Terry Soul catcher / Frank Herbert
October Fear : Trump in the White House / Bob Woodward Bad blood : Secrets and lies in a Silicon Valley startup / John Carryrou Warlock / Oakley Hall Hell house / Richard Matheson Erebus : The story of a ship / Michael Palin Rage / Bob Woodward Peril / Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
November The Ministry for the Future / Kim Stanley Robinson Artemis / Andy Weir Against the grain ; a deep history of the earliest states / John C. Scott The last duel ; A true story of crime, scandal, and trial by combat / Eric Jager
December Annihilation / Jeff Vandermeer Authority / Jeff Vandermeer Acceptance / Jeff Vandermeer Rebirth of a nation : The making of modern America, 1877 – 1920 / Jackson Lear 1898 : The birth of the American century / David Traxel Vril :The power of the coming race / Edward Bulwer-Lytton The dawn of everything: A new history of humanity / David Graeber and David Wengrow
From whence the dream that the siren’s song contains all the knowledge of the world encoded in it’s subtle and sublime melodies? It comes from the sea itself and is the very lure of its own singing. But it is the limit of that knowledge that eventually assumes the stark guise of madness, for knowledge exists on but a human scale, and has not truth in’t.
Incarnate things speak only to themselves, no matter how grandiloquent, no matter how great and all encompassing. But in the final fading of the ultimate string, which after all must have a bound in time, truth remains unspoken and unrevealed and always shall be, and therein lies the crushing melancholy of knowing – for knowing is as empty as the sound of surf within the vacant shell.
“All human choices lead ultimately to disaster. There is nothing to be done and nothing to be saved, so let the sea come in and wash it clean.” This is their song, and it is knowledge of the fate of the world.
We stopper our ears to such knowledge because we cannot live and function in the face of its stark revelation. We must abandon worldliness then, unless we dare to wear the cloak and mantle of the hero, which burns us up like acid in its deadly apotheosis.
Today I have been engaged in a little freeform research, the kind of thing that keeps me engaged with history even when I don’t have much in the way of professional opportunities to practice it. The real problem over the last year has obviously been the pandemic, and I am excited about opportunities that may be forthcoming to get back into the physical archive space as opposed to the very limited virtual one. Nonetheless, online is the place to start so that you don’t waste time at the repository.
One of these personalities, who I have investigated at a bit in detail, was an artist, photographer, and amateur architect named Rembrandt T. Steele, son of well-known Indiana painter T. C. Steele. It turns out that when the Art Association of Indianapolis, which was organized in 1883, decided to form a school with the monies left to it by local businessman John Herron, they looked to the Steele family for inspiration. The organization purchased the artist’s former house and studio property, known as the Tinker-house, just northeast of the intersection of Pennsylvania and 16th streets, and transformed it into an art school. This was in 1902.
They also made ‘Brandt’ Steele, one of the first faculty members of the new school to be opened in the former residence. A galley was to be opened as well, and the property was much renovated to accommodate it’s new functions. It probably didn’t hurt his career that Brandt’s father was the vice president of the Art Association.
The standard curriculum was to practice art intensively, “six hours daily, six days in a week.” Steele was assigned to teach design daily in a class listed as, “Modern ornament. The study of nature and its application to design.”
A note on the back of the circular notes that “the annual membership fee to the art association is five dollars,” and that when “both parents are members” it entitles children to attend all lectures and receptions given by the Association.
There were other items of interest about Steele the younger in the archives as well, along with his immediate family. Not only was Brandy a successful ceramicist, but he also designed his own home from scratch, one of the more distinctive properties in the city dating to the turn of the century, still standing on East Drive, in Woodruff place. Steele was an avid photographer, so there are large collections of his photographs in the archive. With none of them digitized, however, their contents only hinted at by the available finding aids.
In addition to Brandt’s drawings and papers, the archives also contain many writings and drawings attributed to his wife, Helen McKay Steele, including essays, letters, and most intriguing of all diaries. Helen was the daughter of a local newspaper magnate, and an accomplished writer, making her letters a pleasure to peruse.
Taken together the archival collection of the two personalities offers insightful and personal first hand views into Midwestern urban life during the Victorian Era. Early letters between them reference the Spanish-American War, and photos show that Brandt joined the Indiana Militia later, during the First World War.
Hellen Elizabeth died in 1947, while Brandt died in 1965 at the generously old age of 95. Both are buried together in the famous local landmark, Crown Hill Cemetery. Together they lived through two world wars, a pandemic, and a great depression, while Brandt survived his wife well into the Cold War. I am looking forward to looking deeper into their joint histories, as well as those of the Art School and Association, with a view to recreating some of the elements of upper class life in downtown Indianapolis during the turn of the last century. Wish me luck!