scottish river bridge wallpaper, giving milton credit for inventing science fiction, ball gowns and cocktail dresses

scottish river bridge wallpaper

scottish river bridge wallpaper

 

 How John Milton Invented Science Fiction in the 1600s

Not to mention that the text of Paradise Lost is saturated in science. Milton met Galileo, for the first and only time, in a 1638 visit that Jonathan Rosen compared to “those comic book specials in which Superman meets Batman.” The “Tuscan artist” appears in Paradise Lost more than once. Book I compares Satan’s shield to the moon seen through a telescope. And the poem is studded with scientific details—“luminous inferior orbs” churning through outer space, descriptions of sunspots and seasons, creatures that evolve (according to divine plan, but still). Through it all, Milton, a storyteller, comes off as entranced by the laws governing the universe. (His mouthpiece in this regard is Adam, who cannot get enough of the angel Raphael’s disquisition on celestial motions in Book VIII.) There’s something very sci-fi about anyone who, while taking care to present his era’s astronomical theories as speculative, still likes to spin that speculation out into long descriptions of cosmic phenomena. Arthur C. Clarke would surely be proud.

Also, Milton kinda sorta thought that extraterrestrial life might be possible. In Book III of Paradise Lost, Satan flies down from Heaven to Earth, passing distant stars that, on closer inspection, turn out to be “other Worlds.” Other worlds with aliens on them? Could be! “Who dwelt happy there,” Milton explains, the archangel “stayd not to enquire.”

John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674)  would have been exposed to the Baroque art of his era, but certainly the art of the Romanesque or Medieval art would have been all around him. Much of Romanesque art was other worldly. he would have likely seen depictions of the chimeras of Greek mythology, a fire-breathing female monster resembling a lion in front, a goat in the middle, and a dragon behind. Certainly Milton would have seen gargoyles used lining the tops of some public buildings and churches. Both as decorative elements that siphoned water off the building and also to ward off creatures or spirits from the nether world. Where in lies the problem with giving Milton too much credit. The legend of gargoyles themselves sounds like science fiction-fantasy. It is a fairly well-known legend that  St. Romanus  (AD 631–641) told stories of how he delivered the country around Rouen from a monster called Gargouille or Goji. That legend also only works well with a public not knowledgeable of the history of using “grotesques” around building roofs to help shed water that goes as far back as the Ancient Egyptians.

Ball gown late 1850 blue and white silk damask

Ball gown, late 1850. blue and white silk damask. part of the Custome Institute at the metropolitan museum of art. it is that time of the year where many are dressing up a bit to attend parties and dinners, and  happen to coincide with my recent reading of an e-book on the history of fashion. I honestly do not know if, as some assert, if fashion is art. this dress would have been extremely expensive. custom made for the customer. the cut at the waist, the neck line, part of a trend that, at the time, was considered modern and daring. while this dress or something similar in quality and workmanship would not have been available to the masses, if someone of proper social status wore it, that made it socially acceptable.

yves saint laurent cocktail dress c1964

yves saint laurent cocktail dress c1964. black silk cloque with black grosgrain-ribbon binding.
part of the Costume Institute collection at the metropolitan museum of art. today this dress is probably socially acceptable anywhere. a genuine classic. some variation of this dress has been sold millions of times over. it has been worn by every variety of race, religion and political leanings. it is a tasteful but nevertheless provocative outfit. it accentuates the derrière by curving in toward the back, it exposes part of the waist, it bares the arms and shoulders and highlights the bust line. someone once said that fashion is sex. they could have been talking about this dress.

While not a fan of Harry Nilsson Everybody’s Talking At Me I can appreciate the concept of talking, ethics and garbled nonsense about values, just becoming so much noise: Everybody’s talking at me/I don’t hear a word they’re saying/Only the echoes of my mind./People stopping staring/I can’t see their faces/Only the shadows of their eyes. – The Lie that Prosecuting Bank Fraud Will Destabilize the Economy Is What Is REALLY Destroying the Economy

The Departments of Justice and Treasury are pretending that criminally prosecuting criminal banksters will destabilize the economy.

The exact opposite is true.

Failing to prosecute criminal fraud has been destabilizing the economy since at least 2007 … and will cause huge crashes in the future.

After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t recover:

The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.

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I think we ought to go do what we did in the S&L [crisis] and actually put many of these guys in prison. Absolutely. These are not just white-collar crimes or little accidents. There were victims. That’s the point. There were victims all over the world.

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Economists focus on the whole notion of incentives. People have an incentive sometimes to behave badly, because they can make more money if they can cheat. If our economic system is going to work then we have to make sure that what they gain when they cheat is offset by a system of penalties.

Though in the U.S. and much of Western Europe the powers that be, and for whatever reasons, a sizable minority of wage slaves see the bankers, hedge fund managers and the Mitt Romney leveraged buy-out specialists as demigods – a tiny army of John Galts. If we start throwing some of these criminals in jail it is like sending in unarmed martyrs to fight lions and tigers; a tragedy and a blasphemy. The people who feel this way are not a majority, but altogether they are a powerful and shrill minority. That watered down piece of financial regulation called Dodd-Frank has, like so many things, been compared to Stalinism and Nazism. I suspect the DOJ just doesn’t want to get tangled up in the political noise that would go with throwing people in jail. The bank that caused that gave rise to that editorial is going to pay $1.92 billion in penalties. Maybe that will be some incentive not to steal.

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