Saturday, December 20, 2008
The symbol has been used by the church itself at least as far back as the 15th Century, when typesetters employed it with the newly invented Gutenberg press.
When fused with the second letter of Christ's name in Greek, Rho (P), it is called the labarum, a sort of sacred monogram symbolizing Jesus Christ. This ligature is said to have originated with Constantine I, who reportedly dreamed the symbol before the pivotal Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312). He ordered his soldiers to paint it on their shields, and when they emerged victorious from the battle, Constantine converted, becoming the first Christian Roman emperor.
But all this has little to do with the true meaning of Xmas. For that, you need look no farther than this year's magnificent Postal Service Christmas stamp. It is taken from a painting by the Italian master Sandro Botticelli which hangs in the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Virgin and Child With the Young John the Baptist was painted around the same time the holy "X" was first being inserted by frugal German typesetters into Gutenberg's invention.
What does "Xmas" truly mean? Click to enlarge and feast your eyes--you'll be brought as close as you can come to an answer.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Eros, the winged cherub, fluttered just over her shoulder, while standing beside her was the goat-god Pan, doing his best to seduce her.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"Our democracy is self-destructing, because it abused the right to freedom and equality, because it taught people to consider impudence as a right, illegality as freedom, rudeness as equality and anarchy as happiness."
Monday, December 8, 2008
What is often overlooked in the play is the fact that it is, in essence, a story of revenge. I was reminded of this by the wave of riots currently raging across Greece following the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy by police.
The police claim the boy was shot after their squad was attacked by a gang of youths. Despite this, riots have been spreading across the country and appear to be growing more violent.
"The fury is understandable," said the interior and public order minister, Prokopis Pavlopoulos. "What can't be understood is raw violence."
Friday, November 28, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Hey, have you read the new Nora Roberts?
Are you a member of Oprah’s Book Club?
Do you enjoy stories about the struggles of the disenfranchised in our society?
If you answered “no” to all those questions, we’d like to welcome you to BOOKGASM, the site dedicated to READING MATERIAL TO GET EXCITED ABOUT.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian holiday resort will hold a month-long, nude "anything goes" party to combat an expected economic downturn, media reports said on Thursday. "Tough economic times call for stiff measures," Tony Fox, the owner of the White Cockatoo resort in Mossman, in tropical Queensland state, told the Courier-Mail newspaper. "It will be a hedonism resort, where anything goes for a month. It doesn't take rocket science to work out what it means," Fox said, naming March as the risque party month. (more...)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Farmer's Market, Los Angeles
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
"The Human Consciousness Project sets out to explore the nature of human consciousness and the brain. The first step of the project is the "Awareness During Resuscitation" study, a collaboration among more than 25 medical centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Apollo was the greatest archer, the god of the silver bow. When he saw Eros struggling to string his little bow, Apollo made fun of him, and Eros took revenge. The cherub pulled out two arrows from his quiver: one that kindles love, and one that dispels it. The one that kindles was sharp and glistening with a gold point; the one that dispels was blunt and heavy with a lead tip. From the top of Mt. Parnassus, Eros shot Apollo through the heart with the gold point. The leaden one he shot at a nymph named Daphne, the beautiful daughter of a river god.Apollo fell immediately in love with Daphne, but Daphne spurned him and fled. He chased her through the woods. She ran like the wind. The further he pursued her, the more he fell in love, but Daphne grew more fearful the closer he came. As Apollo was about to overtake her, she cried out to her father for help, and the river god used his magic. A numbness seized Daphne’s limbs, bark closed over her body, her hair turned into leaves, her arms into branches, her feet into penetrating roots.
She had turned into a laurel tree. Only her beauty remained.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Its Editor-in-Chief, the lovely Jennifer Minar, recently did an interview with me discussing the writing of my new thriller, NIGHT OF THE FURIES. I'm honored to join the company of her other interviewees, including Michael Connelly, Peter Abrahams, Janet Fitch, and more. Check out the FURIES interview HERE.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Here's Wik on Phryne's trial: "...she was defended by the orator Hypereides, one of her lovers. When it seemed as if the verdict would be unfavourable, he tore open her robe and displayed her breasts, which so moved her judges that they acquitted her. ...The judges' change of heart was not simply because they were overcome by the beauty of her nude body, but because physical beauty was often seen as a facet of divinity or a mark of divine favor during those times."
The girl who held my eyes now was stepping lazily through the surf, gazing down at the frothy water, seemingly lost in herself. She was wearing a bikini with sailor stripes and the emblem of an anchor embroidered on the cups. Her hair was a rich black, cut to her shoulders, and tangled from drying in the wind. Her mouth was slightly open, and her downcast eyes were dark. She looked like a sated panther, moving with a kind of languid grace, dragging her toes through the water. Something about her—maybe the strength of her profile, or the whiteness of her skin, or the way she peered with quiet intentness at the strangers parading around her—told me she was different than the rest, that this was not the sort of place she came to very often. There was an air of youthful innocence about her, but an air intriguingly tinged with darkness, a sort of sensual contentment. I found the very sight of her arousing.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Famine sparked the “Great Fear” that swept France in the summer of 1789. Peasants went on a mad rampage, burning and ransacking their way through the countryside. Eventually it led to the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution.
Mass hysteria has many theories: “convergence,” “emotional contagion,” “collective effervescence.” They all involve a mutual reinforcement, an infectious multiplication of feeling, with emotions ranging from paranoia and panic to gleeful, unrestrained enthusiasm.
In the Middle Ages, episodes of what’s called the ‘dancing rage,’ or St. John’s Dance, erupted all over Europe. People would basically go wild in the streets, dancing, screaming, writhing, convulsing, even foaming at the mouth. It was another form of mass hysteria, and it happened in cities all over Europe. Priests thought the people were possessed by the devil. Music was played to help calm them.
It may be more than fear that feeds these collective convulsions. Professor Mary K. Matossian believes that in both these historical cases an initial catalyst was hallucinogenic ergotism. France’s “Great Fear,” like St. John’s Dance, may have been caused by ergot poisoning from the bread people ate. The ergot alkaloid ergotamine is an immediate precursor to LSD. It causes convulsions, hallucinations, mania, and psychosis.
The ergot fungus usually arises when the season is particularly wet and the grain is left damp. In that long-ago summer in France, a drought had been followed by storms and floods that ruined the year’s harvest. Usually farmers threw out ergot-infected yields, but when the harvest was poor, they couldn’t be choosy. They went ahead and ate the bread and chased the nobles all the way to the guillotine.
Forgive the pun, but once again it’s bad bread that’s making us throw the bums out. Only we may have another—even more infectious—catalyst to our hysteria.
The mass media.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"Fast, furious, sexy, and unique,
David Angsten's Night of the Furies
turns a tour of the Greek Isles into a gripping story of ancient history and bloody retribution.
This book demands to be read in one sitting."
James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Oracle