“Forgers tend to be embittered souls,” says Edward Dolnick, author of a book about Van Meegeren. “Typically, they start out as artists and nobody likes their stuff but they get appreciated when they put someone else’s name on it. That feels like proof that the art world is phony.”
Okay, so Dictionary.com informs me that “grangerize” means: “To add to the visual content of a book by inserting images not included in the original volume, often by mutilating other books.” Or: “To mutilate (books) in order to get illustrative material for such a purpose.”
I love that there’s a word for that. Still, it should really also mean: “To improve incompetent spells by knowing wtf you’re talking about.”
David Brooks’ New Yorker piece on human behavior had a lot of silliness in it, but I still liked this bit, about two (imaginary) people on a first date:
At lunch, Harold and Erica quickly discovered that they had a lot in common. They both affected connoisseurship regarding prosaic things such as muffins, hamburgers, and iced tea. They both exaggerated their popularity in high school, and had the same opinions about the characters in “Mad Men.” People generally overestimate how distinct their own lives are, so the commonalities seemed to them a series of miracles. The coincidences gave their relationship an aura of destiny.
Key findings from The Journal of Cosmology: “According to NASA’s review committee (NASA 2007), and a panel of experts assembled by the National Academy of Science (Longnecker and Molins 2006), this is a serious oversight: if male and female astronauts share a cramped space ship for years, surrounded by stars blazing in the blackness of night, thoughts are bound to turn to sex and romance.”
In 1934, H.G. Wells went to Moscow to interview Joseph Stalin. The transcript is surreal and unintentionally very funny:
WELLS: I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Stalin, for agreeing to see me. I was in the United States recently. I had a long conversation With President Roosevelt and tried to ascertain what his leading ideas were. Now I have come to you to ask you what you are doing to change the world….
STALIN: Not so very much….
WELLS: I wander around the world as a common man and, as a common man, observe what is going on around me.
STALIN: Important public men like yourself are not “common men.” Of course, history alone can show how important this or that public man has been; at all events you do not look at the world as a “common man.”
Blah blah then follows all sorts of point-counterpoint about the merits of reformist socialism (Wells’ doctrine of choice) vs. Marxism-Leninism (Stalin’s). Soon they’re stumbling over metaphors:
STALIN: … For this great task a great class is required. Big ships go on long voyages.
WELLS: Yes, but for long voyages a captain and a navigator are required.
STALIN: That is true; but what is first required for a long voyage is a big ship. What is a navigator without a ship? An idle man.
WELLS: The big ship is humanity, not a class.
STALIN: You, Mr. Wells, evidently start out with the assumption that all men are good. I, however, do not forget that there are many wicked men. I do not believe in the goodness of the bourgeoisie.
Apparently, Wells “disliked what he saw as a narrow orthodoxy and obdurance to the facts in Stalin.”
Cute: “Machiavelli used to dress in his best clothes when he sat down to read his books; his encounter with their authors, many of them ancient Greeks and Romans, was the most important meeting of his day.”
Science books for kids, circa 1850:
Journalist Henry Morley was similarly inspired when he wrote The Water Drops: A Fairy Tale in 1850, which explored water pollution through the eyes of the water droplets that make up clouds. The story began by describing the colourful clouds we see at sunset as a fantastical land “far in the West”, usually accounted for “by principles of Meteorology”, but which, according to Nursery Lore, “is a world inhabited by fairies”. Readers met Nebulus, Nubis and Nephelo, who were competing for the hand of Princess Cirrha, daughter of King Cumulus – names that may have been familiar to those who knew the terms for different types of clouds, but which also evoked the exotic language you might find in The Arabian Nights. From this fairyland, the suitors descended to the streets, sewers and kettles of London, following the path along which each drop flowed. Along the way, the readers learned about water cleanliness and hygiene, complete with bracketed references to factual sources mentioned by the travelling fairy-drops.
The water drop even proved to be the setting for a romance. In The Diamond Lens by Fitz-James O’Brien, a microscopist fell in love with a creature living in a water drop called “Animula” – a clear reference to “animalcule”, a term used to describe water-borne microscopic creatures. Animula came to a tragic end when the drop of water evaporated.