Science

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Sebastian Münster Cosmographia 1544
Science plays a central role in modern societies but science is not what most people believe it to be. Methodological foundations of science are nowadays unstable and scientists themselves are uncertain what these foundations are, if there are any.  The matter is important because, as Russian philosopher Lev Shestov says, “the theory of knowledge is not at all an abstract, harmless reflection on the methods of our thought; it determines in advance the sources whence our knowledge flows.” One may say that ontology is dependent on epistemology and not the other way around.
The ancient Greeks distinguished between episteme (knowledge) and doxa (opinion) and were only interested in what could be known for certain. They were cognitive maximalists. Only episteme mattered while doxa was considered unworthy of attention of a rational being. A gentleman would not lower himself to thinking about ordinary matters which was the domain of the slaves. As a slave society, the Greeks held manual work  in contempt while contemplation was considered the highest form of activity. Only slaves had closer contact with matter. As the Greeks believed that Logos (Reason) permeated that part of reality that really mattered, they thought that rational thinking was the key to understanding the world. Therefore, techne (craft) was for them inferior to episteme.
Moreover, as Alexandre Koyre explains, the Greeks thought that terrestrial, or sublunary, world was very different from the supralunar sphere.  The former was the domain of corruption and change while the latter was governed by the laws of mathematics. As the Greeks believed that mathematics could not be used to describe the world of earthly matters,  they were unable to develop techne into applied science. They were quite advanced in the mathematisation of astronomy but would consider the mathematisation of physics an absurd proposition because the sublunary world was imperfect, impure and changeable.
Theirs was a static society with no hope for progress. Aristotle was engaged in some rudimentary observation of physical objects while Plato devoted himself entirely to pure speculation. This frame of mind operated as a straitjacket on the Greek spirit.
Christianity continued the Greek philosophers’ disdain for earthly existence. Philosophically speaking, it was initially a form of Neoplatonism whose orientation was highly speculative. A significant change occurred in the thirteenth century when St Tomas Acquinas christianised Aristotle. Science, however, could not progress neither under Neoplatonists nor Aristotelians. The latter developed slavish devotion to Aristotle. His texts were considered more important than observation and supposedly contained all there was to know.  There was no place for change in the Middle Ages.  The medieval man looked towards the past and cherished permanence and immutability.
Only medieval technology made significant progress. As a religion open to slaves, Christianity gave recognition to manual work. The first centuries of Christianity were marked by the oriental form of worship involving asceticism and eremitic forms of monasticism. Eremitism was later replaced by cenobitism with monks not only praying but also working (ora et labora). Homo faber is a medieval creation and monks can be seen as the first empiricists. Gothic cathedrals are a testimony to an intense engagement with the physical world in medieval times, albeit only among monks, craftsmen and artisans.
The modern world started with theoreticians like Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes and practitioners like Galileo. They created the model of science that lasted for three centuries, reaching its apogee in the second half of the nineteenth century and starting to crumble in the 1930s.
 
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Rembrandt The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp 1632
A revolutionary change occurred when Galileo concluded that celestial bodies were also subject to change, limitations and imperfections. The discoveries of mountains on the Moon and the moons of Jupiter shattered the medieval worldview which was already crumbling following Copernicus’ calculations suggesting that the earth was moving around the sun. For Galileo, celestial bodies were but physical objects subject to the same laws as objects on Earth. Universal laws governed both the subblunary and celestial worlds. The sharp distinction between episteme and doxa thus disappeared.
Descartes provided theoretical basis for the mathematisation of physics and Galileo applied Descartes’ new method in his scientific experiments. He wrote in 1623 that “this grand book, which stands continually open before our eyes (I say the ‘Universe’), […] is written in mathematical language, and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometric figures”.

Galileo treated change as orderly and discrete therefore he needed exact calculations which could only be obtained by using precise measuring instruments. Senses were replaced by instruments in the observation of Nature. Until Galileo, people lived among objects that were apprehended by the five senses. Renaissance science introduced objects which could only be apprehended indirectly through instruments. Ordinary people still lived among objects that could be seen, heard, touched, smelled and tasted. Scientists however dismissed evidence coming from the senses as unreliable and focused on the objects that could only be observed via instruments. Visible objects moving in physical space were replaced by abstract objects moving in geometric space. Real existence of such objects was verified by theories, not senses; the status of these objects is even today questionable to some.

Theory replaced the everyday experience and common sense was no longer an arbiter of what was true and false. It was quite a challenge for people to accept that the Earth was moving around the Sun at an enormous speed without terrible wind pushing  objects off the surface of the earth. It was also puzzling that objects thrown into the air fell on the same spot from which they were thrown. Common sense dictated that the Copernican model was absurd but science won the argument by appealing to the verdict of Reason emancipated from the yoke of ancient wisdom and metaphysics, but also from everyday experience.
It seemed that the marriage of Bacon’s empiricism and Descartes’ rationalism, or induction with deduction, was a perfect match that put the humanity on the path to knowledge that was certain and final – true everywhere and for all times. The Enlightenment strengthened that conviction and led to belief that all the fundamental questions raised by man will be eventually answered by science. Boundless confidence in science was quite common among the educated members of the society.
This model of science existed for three centuries. At its apogee in the second half of the nineteenth century, it usurped the right to all-encompassing knowledge of all human matters. Scientism penetrated into the areas that could not and should not be mathematised like psychology, sociology, anthropology and history which deal with human behaviour.
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 Joseph Wright of Derby An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump 1768
A reaction to scientism found its best expression in the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey who proposed to distinguish between Naturwissenschaften and Geisteswissenschaften whose aims and methods were different – explaining and understanding, respectively. The neoromantic criticism of science was based on the conviction that science was inimical to values, and alienating man from the world. Artists were natural enemies of science and literature abounds in expressions of hostility to science. Tolstoy writes in The Death of Ivan Illich that
The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter’s Logic: “Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal,” had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself. That Caius – man in the abstract – was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from all others. He had been little Vanya, with a mamma and a papa, with Mitya and Volodya, with the toys, a coachman and a nurse, afterwards with Katenka and will all the joys, griefs, and delights of childhood, boyhood, and youth. What did Caius know of the smell of that striped leather ball Vanya had been so fond of?… “Caius really was mortal, and it was right for him to die; but for me, little Vanya, Ivan Ilych, with all my thoughts and emotions, it’s altogether a different matter. It cannot be that I ought to die. That would be too terrible.”
Dostoevsky is even more direct in his attack on science and its dehumanising effect in Notes from Underground
Upon my word, they will shout at you, it is no use protesting: it is a case of twice two makes four! Nature does not ask your permission, she has nothing to do with your wishes, and whether you like her laws or dislike them, you are bound to accept her as she is, and consequently all her conclusions.
Merciful Heavens! but what do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic, when, for some reason I dislike those laws and the fact that twice two makes four?
… But yet mathematical certainty is after all, something insufferable. Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.
… Consciousness, for instance, is infinitely superior to twice two makes four. Once you have mathematical certainty there is nothing left to do or to understand. There will be nothing left but to bottle up your five senses and plunge into contemplation. While if you stick to consciousness, even though the same result is attained, you can at least flog yourself at times, and that will, at any rate, liven you up.
These attacks were from outside of science and had little impact on it. A more powerful blow came from philosophers of science who questioned its methods and foundations.  The last valiant attempt to put science on firm ground was made by Husserl who wanted to give science absolute certainty. “What is true is true absolutely, in itself; the truth is one, identical with itself, whatever may be the beings who perceive it – men, monsters, angels or gods”, he writes in Logische Untersuchungen.
His uncompromising maximalism could not be defended when there was growing evidence of science being a historical phenomenon. Thomas Kuhn destroyed the myth of science as a process of accumulative growth of knowledge which is expanding by adding one discovery to another. He showed convincingly that there was no steady progress in science which in fact changes through one paradigm replacing another. Karl Popper replaced verification with falsification, claiming that knowledge is always of provisional nature.  Paul Feyerabend rejected all forms of authority, including the authority of reason and denigrated science as base and of little consequence.
The history of science is no longer perceived as linear and rational. Scientific criteria change through the change in paradigms, and scientists have difficulties with deciding what is scientific and non-scientific and what is rational and irrational. The boundaries of science are now porous. No-one believes anymore in trans-historical existence of the scientific method.
Polish philosopher Stefan Amsterdamski writes that for three centuries
… science has been treated as the embodiment of human rationality. It was seen as a feature specific to our culture, and its development was represented as the result of a systematic application of the rational method of investigation […] unlike the scientists and philosophers of a century ago, we no longer possess the conviction that scientific knowledge can be fully objective, as an  unmediated product of an autonomous knowing subject, and that its history is simply the history of Reason.
The ship of science has entered unchartered waters and there is no land in sight.
(based on Stefan Amsterdamski Między historią a metodą and Jozef Zycinski Język i metoda  )
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Old Cracow

(this is an abridged version of the first essay in Tadeusz Boy-Zelenski’s Znasz-li ten kraj?… / Know Thou This Country?, titled The right bank of the Vistula. The translation and the choice of images are mine)
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 Stanislaw Wyspainski Planty at Dawn 1894
At the end of the nineteenth century, Cracow was the most original city under the sun. Its geographical position was peculiar. Pressed into the corner of Austrian Galicia, cut off from nearly all the rest of the region, which was located in the Russian zone, cut off from the industrial basin in Silesia, disinherited by Lemberg from its aspirations to be Galicia’s capital, restricted in growth by being an Austrian fortress, Cracow could not develop into a modern city. It was a big small town. In the 1880s, Cracow had 56,000 inhabitants. The former capital of the Jagiellonian dynasty was relegated to the position of a small provincial town on the peripheries of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Cracow, however, has never resigned itself to its fate. It has never abdicated from its role of the nation’s capital during the period of partitions and even acquired new insignia of royalty; its role was to maintain Poland’s spiritual values, stifled in Prussian and Russian Partitions, and carry them to better times.
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Julian Falat (1853-1929) Wawel
All this turned Cracow into a peculiar creature. One might venture to compare Cracow with Paris which is composed of two distinct parts, divided by the Seine, la rive gauche and la rive droite. Cracow was, both metaphorically and geographically, the left bank. There were there, like in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, old aristocratic palaces; and caps, cassocks and black hats – like in the area of Saint-Sulpice.  There were solid walls of the Academy, birettas and gowns; swarms of young people spilling from the university buildings. There was also a district of artists. There were quiet, narrow streets; and picturesque corners and old churches – it was the left bank, quite impressive; no capital would be ashamed of it. But that was the end: when Paris roars on the right bank of the Seine – all modern, rich, populous and fashionable, on the right bank of the Vistula there was only …. the village of Dębniki.
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Erno Erb Fountain at the Main Square in Lemberg 
Lemberg was indeed lucky. Austria made it the capital of Galicia; it was the seat of the Diet and its executive department, where thousands of interests competed for attention. Situated near the vast expanses of the fertile land of Podolia, Lemberg was not far from the oil fields of Drohobych and Boryslav. Lemberg, compared with Cracow and other impoverished areas of the Austrian Galicia, was seething with life; big banks and small banks rose and burst like soap bubbles; trade with the East blossomed; big deals were made and also small deals; there was humour, verve and gaiety. Lemberg had a happy combination of Polish, Ruthenian (Ukrainian) and Armenian blood. It had beautiful and vivacious women, lyricism, musicality, and fire in its veins. Lemberg looked therefore with pity on a quiet and impoverished Cracow which, in turn, looked at Lemberg from the heights of its cultural splendour like an impoverished nobleman looks on a nouveau-riche. Lemberg had indeed a different climate.
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 Władysław Podkowiński Sobótki  1893/94
Climate … It is certain that there was some kind of organic sadness, some infection of sadness in Cracow. It may have been the result of psychological factors or physical conditions or, in fact, maybe there was indeed something in the atmosphere?
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Witold Wojtkiewicz Puppets 1906
This muffled life, with no surprises and no risks and no opportunities, made a profound effect on Cracow. Cracow was not the city of love like Lemberg. When in Lemberg even the execution of a murderer was thought to be a proper subject for a lively song, Cracow was silent, at most a drunk bricklayer, coming back from the tavern sang off-key “Here goes a bricklayer, whistling a waltz while a louse is marching on his collar.”
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Witold Wojtkiewicz Marionettes 1907
Life in Cracow was sad. Cracow’s atmosphere was determined at that time by the aristocracy which lived in the impoverished town in isolation from the other social classes.  The aristocracy was also the town’s only plutocracy.  Aristocrats lived in extraterritorial places of their palaces, clubs, often travelling abroad. The bourgeoisie lived, rather sanctimoniously, in Biedermeier apartments. Cracow’s proximity to Vienna had a destructive effect on the town’s social life. Anyone who wanted to have some fun travelled to the capital of the empire under some honourable pretext.
Even the Cracovian demi-monde was rachitic. Emaciated and anaemic factory girls lived in terrible poverty. Their lack of coquetry was striking. Similarly, nice bourgeois girls without dowry resigned themselves to spinsterhood. As ladies from “good homes”, they could not even fill their time with paid work. One could see those tragic pairs – mothers and daughters – walking in the Planty park, ever older and more and more bitter!
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Wojciech Weiss Cracow 
During the day, Cracow still had some semblance of life, living quite independently from its walls; during the night, the walls took dominion over man. When the clock struck ten at night, deserted streets were left only to a policeman and a solitary streewalker. One could only fall in love with the romantic beauty of this city of the dead. Soon the night watchman equipped with a halberd emerged from the dark and one could think that one is back in the Middle Ages.
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Jacek Malczewski Melancholy 1890-1894
Cracow’s attitude to its defensive walls was completely different to that of other modern cities. Everywhere else, life was stronger than stones and man was engaged in a struggle with the walls and the past. Everywhere else, cities were boiling over their walls, spreading widely, expanding into new districts, leaving monuments of the past on the side. Krakow was until recently almost entirely locked within the old walls, the enclosed area being filled with old streets and churches. In Cracow, man was repeatedly defeated by the walls, too week and powerless to change his circumstances.
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Jan Stanisławski The Planty in Cracow circa 1900
… but not without a fight. This capital of strange worship had a peculiar form of vitality. It has always, even in the most challenging circumstances, refused to accept to be a small town, like today it refuses to be a province for Warsaw. It again and again manifested its individuality and independence. But the fight with walls was difficult.
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Arno Erb (1890-1943) Procession
Nothing in this city was like in other towns. All seasons of the year had their rites. Visiting graves, participating in May devotions and Corpus Christi feasts, letting wreaths on the water, singing carols. All these events, and any other event in  general, played a disproportionately large role in Cracow’s life. Decorative spirit was highly developed. Cracow’s peculiar political situation made it the preferred city of national celebration, a vestibule to the Skalka sanctuary and the Wawel Castle.
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Witold Wojtkiewicz Meditations. Ash Wednesday. 1908

Dressing up was done at every opportunity. Even as a child I remember a few individuals who wore ancient robes every day, with a sabre; others favoured czamaras. In other places, people celebrate on many occasions but quickly return to everyday life, in Cracow celebrations are a way of life. Everywhere in the world, celebrations quickly dissolved in the stream of everyday living, in Cracow people were addicted to them like to a drug. Cracovians preferred to live in imagination, detached from reality. Life was but a dream and day-dreaming was a way of life.
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Stanisław Wyspiański Chochoły 1898
The attitude of Cracovians to nature was quite distinct. The sun felt uncomfortable here, making people prone to sadness. The sun illuminated indiscreetly the misery of life, women’s faces – faded and aenemic, unfashionable clothes showing signs of being patched and mended on many occasions. But the moon was at home in Cracow, wonderfully harmonising with the landscape of narrow streets and alleys, having some kind of affinity with the people. Cracow was a town of the moon.
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    Jan Styka A portrait of Franciszek Krudowski 1882
Cracow had its own spectre. Painter Franciszek Krudowski did not venture out of his apartment in the daylight but wandered at night for hours. One had an impression that this mysterious man could appear at once in several places.
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Julian Falat A view of Cracow 1904
Such was the town of my childhood. Cracow of my youth was rather different. From the walls new shoots began to emerge. From the salon and the sacristy life slipped out into the street and appeared in cafes. Young people, who were before barely visible, suddenly swarmed the streets in their cloaks. On the left bank of the Vistula River a new phenomenon appeared – Cracow’s bohemia.
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Wojciech Weiss Poppies 1902-1903
Cracow changed dramatically at the beginning of the twentieth century. New energy entered the town’s psyche. One had an illusion of living among interesting people of great intelligence. There was apparently enough talent to share it with the entire nation. Unlimited possibilities seemed to have awaited those who dared to dream about greatness.
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Witold Wojtkiewicz Mi-Caréme  1907
I remember one night we walked down Florianska Street, through the Main Square, then down the Grodzka Street, past the St Mary’s Church, the Church of St Barbara, the Church of St. Adalbert, the church of Dominicans, the Church of St. Peter and Paul, the Church of St. Giles, the Church of St. Andrew, until we reached the Vistula river – grey, small, insignificant and rather ridiculous. On the other bank there were a few houses. The right bank of the Vistula. Dębniki.
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Stanisław Wyspiański Vistula river 1905
 The right bank of the Vistula, and what was not there, this was Cracow’s tragic fate.

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Australasian Sketcher. 1880

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17 January

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Wild dogs watching kangaroos by moonlight

 

31 January

 

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Selectors clearing the forest

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A Victorian selector’s homestead

The first thing a selector does, after having obtained his occupation licence, is to build a hut of bark or slabs, and to enclose a small paddock with a temporary fence for his horses and bullocks. Then begins the work of splitting posts and rails for the fence that is to surround his selection, and this having been completed, the great task of clearing the land begins. It requires, indeed, a strong arm and stout heart to settle in the wild forest, where the timber grows to an enormous size, and the scrub and undergrowth are so dense that a man in many places can hardly push his way through. From sunrise to sunset the selector’s axe  can be heard ringing through the forest, and very often on moonlight nights, after he has had his evening meal, he turns to work again far into the night, burning logs and debris that have been dragged together during the day with the aid of bullocks.

14 February

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The Melbourne Exchange, Collins Street

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Shipping wheat at Sandridge pier for England

AUSTRALIAN FEDERATION

The subject of federation of the colonies, after having been on the shelf for some time, has of late been taken dawn, dusted and presented as a live topic of discussion, by two review articles from the pen of Sir Henry Parkes and the Hon. Mr. Douglas of Queensland. Sir Henry Parkes contended that federation or legislative union of the colonies, instead of being a difficult matter, was easy of attainment, and could, as far as the three colonies of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia were concerned, be reached within a year or so desired.  Sir H. Parkes did not explain the details of the process by which this end was to be attained and, indeed, it is evident that the matter is one, the whole difficult of which lies in these insignificant details. Mr. Douglas took a different view of the question. He […] argued that when time was right the foundations of an Australian nation should be laid by the union of all the colonies. Mr. Douglas took the view that the colonies should be contented with nothing less than “nationality” and further contended that to obtain this complete independence was essential. Thus he looked on to separation from the Empire as one of the preliminary steps f Australian consolidation and nationality.

10 April

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Lady students at the university : A glimpse of the future

The recent admission of ladies to the privileges of the Melbourne University has inspired our artist to take a dip into the future a good deal further than human eye can see. He has embodied his visions in some sketches showing some of the possible developments of the change lately inaugurated. But the portrait of Miss Caroline Ann Marion Boyd, the first lady who matriculated and became a member of the University, does not come under the category of prophetic views, but represents a very pleasing reality. This young lady is a native of Victoria, having  been born at Sandhurst […] The privilege granted by the council of allowing ladies to graduate came into operation on the 22nd. of last month
Miss. Boyd made – application on the 23rd, undertook the necessary obligations, and matriculated as a student thereby becoming the first lady student of the Melbourne University. Passing to the anticipative sketches, we have one raising the question. ‘Are there to be Lady Professors ? and giving the portraits of three professoresses’. Then we have lady students ‘At Study,’ while perambulating the grounds, and ‘ Their Alma Mater,’ a fierce’ looking old professoress in cap and gown.

22 May

ORGANISATION OF THE EMPIRE

It must be admitted, we think, by every competent and impartial person that the Empire of Great Britain, has reached a point where it behoves her statesmen to look around them and see what can be done for the organisation and federation of that mighty realm. The great empire, which has vast territories in every quarter of the globe, has grown up in a fortuitous manner and its texture bears every mark of its loose, occasional origin. No attempt has been made to give organic shape to a huge assemblage of dependencies: The result is, that we have a large number of rapidly-growing, wealthy, high-spirited communities, which are jealous to a fault of any interference from outside, united to the home country by a tie which has no regular connexion, with the constitutional Governments of those communities.

The home Legislature and Government have no means of imposing their decisions on any of the self-governing colonies, and the colonies have no lot or share in the counsels of the home Government, though their fate may be seriously influenced by its decisions and its actions. The Governments of the colonies and of the empire are in no relation whatever.

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The view of Daylesford

5 June

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The Queen’s Birthday: hoisting the royal standard on Government House

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Kyneton

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A meet of the Melbourne Bicycle Club

There has of late been a great extension of the interest in bicycling in Melbourne, due in large degree perhaps to the admirable quality and efficiency of the bicycles that have been introduced. The Melbourne Bicycle Club now numbers about 40 members, and holds occasional races, and organises long expeditions. Our illustration depicts a recent meet of the club at Brighton.

19 June

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Chinese furniture makers, Little Burke Street

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‘Tween decks in an intercolonial steamer

THE CHINESE QUESTION AGAIN

The Chinese question is one which is always turning up. We have it always with us. Sometimes we think we are rid of it, and that it is fairly laid or proved to be a mere nullity, and then comes a shuffle of political cards, or some industrial incident, that brings it back to us in full force. It seems curious that it should be so when we reflect on the very small number of Chinese in these colonies by which the panic is occasioned […] In Melbourne, where there has been some fitful agitation on the subject, the Chinese artisans by which the panic has been produced number, according to the closest estimates, only 60 or 70.

17 July

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Liverpool Street, Hobart Town

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The new Adelaide Exchange

31 July

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Blackfellows spearing eels, Gipps Land

20 November

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Last scene of the Kelly drama: the criminal on the scaffold

… executions are private in Victoria, and usually take place in the Melbourne Gaol. The part of the gaol where they take place is in what we call the transept of one of the buildings. The culprit on the night before execution is placed in the condemned cell on the second tier of cells, and the door of the cell opens on to the gallery running round the building. A beam is fixed across the recess, and a few steps from the door of the cell take the culprit on to the drop and below this beam. The fall of the drop allows the body to descend through the floor of the gallery, a distance of about 8ft.

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Review on the Prince of Wales’s Birthday

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My personal list of 100 best novels ever written

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Ivo Andrić The Bridge on the Drina
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
Honoré de Balzac Eugenie Grandet 
                     Le Père Goriot 
                     Cousin Bette
                     Lost Illusions
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights
Mikhail Bulgakov The Master and Margarita
Albert Camus The Plague
Elias Canetti Auto-da-Fe
Louis-Ferdinand Celine Journey to the End of the Night
Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote
J.M. Coetzee Youth 
                     Disgrace
                     The Life and Times of Michael K
Joseph Conrad Nostromo
                       Heart of Darkness
                       The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’
                       The Secret Agent
                       Lord Jim
Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe
Charles Dickens Oliver Twist
                     Great Expectations
Alfred Doblin Berlin Alexanderplatz
John Dos Passos U.S.A.
Fedor Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov
                       Crime and Punishment
                       The Devils
                       The Idiot
Alexandre Dumas pere The Three Musketeers
George Eliot Middlemarch
William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury
F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby
Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary
Theodor Fontane Effi Briest
Andre Gide The Vatican Cellars
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe The Sufferings of Young Werther

William Golding Lord of the Flies

Nikolai Gogol Dead Souls
Witold Gombrowicz Ferdydurke
Ivan Goncharov Oblomov
Gunter Grass The Tin Drum

Vasily Grossman Life and Fate 
Knut Hamsun Hunger
Thomas Hardy Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Jaroslav Hašek The Good Soldier Švejk
Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter
Hermann Hesse Steppenwolf
Victor Hugo The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
                     Les Miserables
Joris-Karl Huysmans A rebours
Aldous Huxley Brave New World
Henry James The Golden Bowl
                       The Portrait of a lady
James Joyce Ulysses 
Franz Kafka The Castle
                       The Trial
Gottfried Keller Green Henry
Choderlos de Laclos Les Liaisons dangereuses
Tomasi di Lampedusa The Leopard
Mikhail Lermontov A Hero Of Our Time
Sinclair Lewis Main Street
Jack London Martin Eden
Naguib Mahfouz Cairo Trilogy
Thomas Mann Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family
                        Doctor Faustus
                        The Magic Mountain
Alessandro Manzoni The Betrothed
Vladimir Nabokov Lolita
Gabriel Garcia Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude
Herman Melville Moby-Dick
Robert Musil The Man Without Qualities
George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four
Boris Pasternak Doctor Zhivago
Abbe Prevost Manon Lescaut
Marcel Proust Remembrance of Things Past
Bolesław Prus The Doll
Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front

Henry Handel Richardson The Fortunes of Richard Mahony
Joseph Roth The Radetzky March
Marquis de Sade Justine
Isaac Bashevis Singer The Family Moskat
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Cancer Ward
John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath
Stendhal Scarlet and Black
                        The Charterhouse of Parma
Laurence Sterne Tristram Shandy
Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels
Lev Tolstoi Anna Karenina
                       War And Peace
Ivan Turgenev Fathers and Sons
                       Virgin Soil
                       On the Eve
Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Jules Verne Around The World In Eighty Days
Edith Wharton The Age of Innocence
Marguerite Yourcenar Memoirs of Hadrian
Evgenii Zamiatin We
Emile Zola Thérèse Raquin
Arnold Zweig The Case of Sergeant Grischa

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Polish painting in the interbellum. 30 paintings

bat

 

Tymon Niesiolowski Bathing, 1919

Roman_Kramsztyk_Portret_Jana_Lechonia_1919

Roman Kramsztyk Portrait of Jan Lechon, 1919

 

pron

 

 Zbigniew Pronaszko Two Nudes, 1919

 

Tytus_Czyżewski_-_Akt_z_kotem

 

 Tytus Czyżewski Nude with Cat, 1920

 

Witkacy-Rąbanie_lasu._Walka

 

Witkacy Chopping wood. Fight,1921

 

prusz

 

Tadeusz Pruszkowski Melancholy, 1925

 

Chwistek_Feast

Leon Chwistek Feast, 1925

 

full_mieczyslaw_szczuka_autoportret_forum_770

 

Mieczysław Szczuka Self portrait with a palette, 1920

 

 

a-slice-of-watermelon-1927.jpg!Blog

 

Louis Marcoussis A Slice of Watermelon, 1927

 

 

zak-pierrot

 

Eugeniusz Zak, Pierrot

Jan_Gotard_-_Pijak

 

 Jan Gotard Drunkard, 1928

 Ludomir Slendzinski, Grający w guziki, 1928

Ludomir Sledzinski Playing in buttons, 1928

 

 

de-lempicka-tamara-autoportrait-7000949

 

 Tamara de Lempicka My portrait, 1929

 

 

strzeminskiac

 

Wladyslaw Strzeminski, Architectural Composition 13, c. 1929

 

 

Muter-Mela

 

Marie Mela Muter Expressionist Landscape

 

 

mienkes

 

Zygmunt Menkes Girl with Mandolin

 

 

mak

 

Tadeusz Makowski Children’s theatre, 1931

 

kanelba-rajmund-raymond-1897-1-jeune-garcon-au-chapeau-rouge-3253427

 

Rajmund Kanelba Young boy in red hat

 

 

narty-narciarze-1931-392x479

 

Janina Konarska Narty, 1931

 

 

borowski-lato

 

Wacław Borowski Summer, 1930

 

 

be

 

  Henryk Berlewi Two men, 1930

 

 

Waliszewski-Wyspa_milosci

 Zygmunt Waliszewski  Island of love

slowianie_1

Stanisław Szukalski House of witches, 1933

stry

Zofia Stryjeńska Pageant of Slavic Months

Vladislav-Skochiljas

Wladyslaw Skoczylas Laundresses

Artur_Markowicz_Poswiecenie_nowiu_ksiezyca_1933.jpg

Artur Markowicz Blessing of the new moon the moon, 1933

Leopold_Gottlieb__Kobiety_i_tulipan

Leopold Gottlieb Women and tulip, 1934

 

micha_portret

 

Antoni Michalak Portrait of Wanda Hoffman, 1936

 

 

cybis

 Bolesław Cybis Primavera, 1936

portrait-with-a-collar-1938

Moise Kisling Portrait with a collar, 1938

zamoyski-dziewczynka

 

Jan Zamoyski Girl with rooster, 1939

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Costume in art

In modern societies, only the poorest wear clothes solely to get protection from elements. All other social groups treat clothes as a medium to send a message to others about one’s identity, social status and aspirations. People are free to wear what they want and they often use that power to engage, seduce or provoke. Governments regulate only what its agents wear although strict penalties apply to breaches of regulations on uniforms worn by the police and the army.

In Europe, the erotic element of dress can hardly be overestimated and clothes have always been worn as much to cover the body as to reveal it. Eroticism of costume is even present in religious art which provides evidence of Christianitas being close to humanitas. It is quite surprising to see so much nudity in pre-Reformation religious painting. What is being celebrated here, the divine or the human?

the-holy-family-academy-of-fine-arts-vienna-by-joop-van-cleve-c-1515

 

Joos van Cleve The Holy Family, about 1525 

 

In traditional societies, strict rules apply to what one can wear in public. In such societies, costume is believed to have magical qualities. Individuals do not have discretion as to what to wear as the rules related to dress were supposedly declared once and for all by God. You are what you wear and no dissent is tolerated.

Traditional Judaism and Islam are iconoclastic and they have prescriptive and proscriptive rules on dressing of particular severity. As there is no divine sanction for colour, embellishments and patterns from nature, people often wear clothes covering almost all their bodies, and only white and black colours are acceptable.

 

pro

 

 Lucien Levy-Dhurmer Evening Promenade, 1930

In Europe, art bifurcated at Reformation and costume also reflects this phenomenon. Rococo, with its extravagant skirts and barely covered bosoms, is limited to Catholic countries. With the exception of the Calvinist Dutch Republic, Reformation – being iconoclastic – stifled artistic expression in visual arts. Pre-Raphaelites are no match for Impressionists.

Reformation introduced puritanism into people’s lives. Paradoxically, even today some paintings from several centuries ago would be considered too risqué even in our permissive times.

 

Jean_Honore_Fragonard_Young_Woman_Playing_with_a_Dog

 

 Jean Honore Fragonard Young Woman Playing with a Dog, between 1765 and 1772

 

In the second part of the seventeenth century and in the eighteenth century, extravagance in costume reached absurd levels. In England, during the Restoration, women used the seductive power of costume to its full potential. James Robinson Planché writes in History of British costume that

Charles II’s beauties were the very reverse of their mothers in dress as in demeanour. The starched ruff, the steeple-crowned hat, the rigid stomacher, and the stately fardingale were banished with the gravity and morality of their wearers. A studied negligence, an elegant deshabille, is the prevailing character of the costume in which they are nearly all represented.

Puritanic sobriety and austerity gave way to ostentatious display and flamboyancy in shapes and colours but it all ended with the ascendance of the Prince of Orange, a Protestant, to the throne as William III in 1689.

In France, frivolous gaiety took many shapes, including elaborate pastoral simplicity of noble men and women pretending to be shepherds and shepherdesses. The French Revolution destroyed this world. It all started with Rousseau who initiated a new trend in culture and politics by claiming that civilisation has corrupting power. His ideas became reality during the French Revolution. Gone were fetes champetres and fetes galantes, replaced by republican austerity and simplicity. Napoleon chose to copy the Romans in costume, furniture and architecture. The end of feudalism marked the end of the world as theatrum mundi and people behaving as if acting in a play, with appropriate costumes.

 

the-toilet

 Francois Boucher The Toilet

 

dancing_camargo_ed

 Nicolas Lancret La Camargo dancing

Revolution in politics was also a revolution in costume. King Louis XVI was executed wearing the simplest possible garment. He was stripped of all the vestiges of power and died as citizen Capet.

king

 

The standard simplicity of masculine costume worn today dates from the French Revolution, writes R. Turner Wilcox in The Mode in Costume.

The nineteenth century was a period of conservatism in costume and mores, particularly in England while the beginning of the twentieth century was also the beginning of a period of costume becoming simpler, more practical and more functional until almost everyone wore denim trousers. Jeans are nowadays worn by men and women, rich and poor, and young and old.

James Laver writes in The Concise History of Costume that a fundamental change occurred in the 1960:

[young men] no longer care about formality and are no longer concerned to “dress like a gentleman”. In other words, the idea of gentility which kept men’s clothes almost static for the last 150 years is no longer accepted; and this represents a real revolution in manners.

 

Costume plays a special role in art because it gives the artist an opportunity to show his craft. For that reason, the history of art is also the history of costume and this phenomenon can be illustrated by the following paintings and other art objects:

 

 

200px-Venus_von_Willendorf_01

Woman of Willendorf, between 28,000 and 25,000 BC

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Sumerian Statuette, from the Temple of Abu, Tel Asmar, c. 2700 – 2600 BC

persian archers

Persian Archers, Susa, fifth- fourth BC

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King Tut and his wife Ankhesenamun, c. 1332–1323 BC 

snake

The snake goddess, from the palace of Knossos, c. 1600 BC

athenapacifique

So-called Athena Pacifique, c. 130-90 BC

woman_archaic

Girl from Verona, Italy. Roman copy of a Greek original, 1 century

bikini

Mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale, fourth century AD

rawenna
Mosaic of Theodora’s Procession with Retinue, San Vitale, Ravenna, c. 546 CE
4_Gift_Bringers_of_Otto_III
Sclavinia, Germania, Gallia, and Roma, bringing offerings to Otto III; 990.
 Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_avril

Limbourg brothers The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry c. 1412 and 1416

 

eyck5

 

Jan van Eyck The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434

 
the-mass-at-bolsena-detail-1512
Raphael The Mass at Bolsena (detail), between 1512 and 1514 
francois-clouet-portrait
François Clouet King Charles IX of France, 1566.
  06henry8
 Hans Holbein Henry VIII, 1509
 800px-Elizabeth_I_(Armada_Portrait)
Unknown Portrait of Elizabeth I , 1588
 800px-Elizabeth_I,_Procession_Portrait
Robert Peake the Elder (attributed) Procession portrait of Elizabeth I of England, c. 1600
Peter_Paul_Rubens_Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_The_Artist_and_His_First_Wife,_Isabella_Brant,_in_the_Honeysuckle_Bower
Peter Paul Rubens The Artist and His First Wife, Isabella Brant, 1610 
300px-Cavalier_soldier_Hals-1624x

Frans Hals , Cavalier soldier, 1624

portrait-of-a-woman-1632

Rembrandt Portrait of a Woman, 1632

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 Anthony van Dyck Portrait of an Unknown lady, 1634-35
800px-Sir-Anthony-van-Dyck-Lord-John-Stuart-and-His-Brother-Lord-Bernard-Stuart
Anthony van Dyck Lord John Stuart and his brother Lord Bernard Stuart, 1637/8
 
portraitdelinfantemargueriteenrobeblanche

Diego Velázquez Infanta Margarita Teresa in White Garb, 1656

 

regent

 

Frans Hals Regentesses of the Old Men’s Almshouse, 1664

tiepolo

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo Young Lady in a Tricorn Hat, c. 1755/1760

Fragonard_-_swing
 Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Swing, 1767
Gainsborough_1748-9_Mr+Mrs-Andrews

 

Thomas Gainsborough Mr and Mrs Andrews, 1750

 
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Francois Gérard Madame Recamier, 1802
Philipp_Otto_Runge_003

 

Philipp Otto Runge, The Hülsenbeck Children, 1805-06

spitzweg

Carl Spitzweg, TheWidower, 1844

 

 

Dominique_Ingres_-_Mme_Moitessier

 

 

Dominique Ingres Mme Moitessier, 1856

 

whistler13

 

James McNeill Whistler At the Piano, 1858–59

 

 

 

 

Mother and Children

 

Pierre Auguste Renoir Mother Strolling with her Children, 1875

1280px-Frith_A_Private_View
William Powell Frith, A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1883
1024px-A_Sunday_on_La_Grande_Jatte,_Georges_Seurat,_1884
Georges Seurat A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884
800px-Gustave_Caillebotte_-_Paris_Street;_Rainy_Day_-_Google_Art_Project
Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877
music-in-the-tuileries-gardens-1862
Edouard Manet, Music in the Tuileries Garden, 1862 
300px-Cottonexchange1873-Degas
Edgar Degas, A Cotton Office in New Orleans, 1872-73
800px-Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_023.jpg
Pierre Auguste Renoir, La Loge, 1874
japan-s-camille-monet-in-japanese-costume-1876_jpg!Blog
Claude Monet La Japonaise (Camille Monet in Japanese Costume), 1876
260px-Van_Gogh_-_Portrait_of_Pere_Tanguy_1887-8
Vincent van Gogh Portrait of père Tanguy, 1887
margot-in-blue-1902
Mary Cassatt Margot in Blue, 1902
Boldini,_Lady_admiring_Fan
Boldini, Lady admiring Fan
miro
Joan Miró Portrait of Enric Cristofol Ricart, 1917
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Grosz Grey Day, 1921
the-praying-jew-rabbi-of-vitebsk-1914
Marc Chagall The Praying Jew (Rabbi of Vitebsk), 1914
tamara-de-lempicka-portrait-of-the-duchess-de-la-salle-1925-1348059646_b
Tamara de Lempicka Portrait of the Duchess de la Salle, 1925
 
charleston-couple_jpg!Blog
Erte Charleston Couple
 balthasar-klossowski-de-rola-1908-2001
Balthus Thérèse Dreaming, 1938
nazi
Adolf Wissel, Peasant Family from Kahlenberg, 1939
Rudolf%20Hermann%20Eisenmenger-Heimkehr%20der%20Ostmark%20(teil)%20(1941)%20Detail%20of%20a%20mural
Rudolf Hermann Eisenmenger ?
Self_Portrait_with_Jewish_Identity_Card_-Felix_Nussbaum_-_1943
Felix Nussbaum Self Portrait with Jewish Identity Card, 1943
portrait-of-natasha-gelman
Diego Rivera Portrait of Natasha Gelman, 1943
conference-at-night
Edward Hopper, Conference At Night,  1949
brack-mens-wear

John Brack Men’s wear 1953

 
 Hockney_clark-percy
David Hockney, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, 1970–71

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Two German poems

(an anonymous poem written as a tribute to Hitler and published in 1935)

 

Hitler

 

Nun schwenkt er sie im Wind, schwenkt sie mit Macht,

Und lasst sein Rufen hailen durch die Nacht.

Da horchen all die alten Kampfer auf,

Die deutsche Jugend rottet sich zu Hauf.

 

Er schwenkt die Fahne, schwenkt sie hin und her,

Er ruft die deutschen Manner ins Gewehr.

Er schwenkt die Fahne hoch, schwenkt sie mit Macht

Und lasst die Trommeln wirbeln in der Nacht.

 

Paul Celan Todesfuge 

 

todesfuge

 

Schwarze Milch der Frühe wir trinken sie abends
wir trinken sie mittags und morgens wir trinken sie nachts
wir trinken und trinken
wir schaufeln ein Grab in den Lüften da liegt man nicht eng
Ein Mann wohnt im Haus der spielt mit den Schlangen der schreibt
der schreibt wenn es dunkelt nach Deutschland
dein goldenes Haar Margarete

er schreibt es und tritt vor das Haus und es blitzen die Sterne
er pfeift seine Rüden herbei
er pfeift seine Juden hervor läßt schaufeln ein Grab in der Erde
er befiehlt uns spielt auf nun zum Tanz

Schwarze Milch der Frühe wir trinken dich nachts
wir trinken dich morgens und mittags wir trinken dich abends
wir trinken und trinken
Ein Mann wohnt im Haus der spielt mit den Schlangen der schreibt
der schreibt wenn es dunkelt nach Deutschland
dein goldenes Haar Margarete
Dein aschenes Haar Sulamith

wir schaufeln ein Grab in den Lüften da liegt man nicht eng

Er ruft stecht tiefer ins Erdreich ihr einen ihr andern singet und spielt
er greift nach dem Eisen im Gurt er schwingts seine Augen sind blau
stecht tiefer die Spaten ihr einen ihr anderen spielt weiter zum Tanz auf

Schwarze Milch der Frühe wir trinken dich nachts
wir trinken dich mittags und morgens wir trinken dich abends
wir trinken und trinken
ein Mann wohnt im Haus dein goldenes Haar Margarete
dein aschenes Haar Sulamith er spielt mit den Schlangen

Er ruft spielt süßer den Tod der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland
er ruft streicht dunkler die Geigen dann steigt ihr als Rauch in die Luft
dann habt ihr ein Grab in den Wolken da liegt man nicht eng

Schwarze Milch der Frühe wir trinken dich nachts
wir trinken dich mittags der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland
wir trinken dich abends und morgens wir trinken und trinken
der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland sein Auge ist blau
er trifft dich mit bleierner Kugel er trifft dich genau
ein Mann wohnt im Haus dein goldenes Haar Margarete
er hetzt seine Rüden auf uns er schenkt uns ein Grab in der Luft
er spielt mit den Schlangen und träumet der Tod ist ein Meister aus
Deutschland

dein goldenes Haar Margarete
dein aschenes Haar Sulamith

 

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