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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
From Our Abecedarian Blog . . .

Today — February 6, 2016

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

We were honored to consult on some magic for a thrillarious new novel.  Gary Barwin explains:
At some point in my Yiddish for Pirates novel, I needed our "hero," Moishe, to facilitate an escape from an auto-da-fé where some condemned conversos were about to be burned at the stake. I wanted this to be accomplished with some flair and by fighting fire with fire. I mean, at lot was at stake, as it were. When I want to know about magic, I ask my sagacious and professorially odd friend, Professor Oddfellow AKA Craig Conley author of numerous books and keeper of many arcane fires. He has rabbitted away more hatfuls of knowledge about magic than anyone I know.

He suggested that my scene could use the ol' Egyptian fire trick. From the front, the audience sees only a wall of fire, but what is really happening is that there are two separate walls which allows the magician to appear to walk through a solid wall of fire. This was interesting.

I thought I could adapt this in a number of ways. Firstly, because this is a book engaging with Hebrew, Kabbalah, books, mysticism, and a kind of Yiddish derring-do (I guess that could be translated more plainly as "chutzpah,") I'd make the trick use a Hebrew/Yiddish letter. The letter qoph (kuf) would allow someone to enter the wall of fire and then escape out a secret flaming sally port out the back. This was important not only because my characters needed to escape but also because this scene was taking place in the round, in the Quemadero, the Inquisition's Sevillian execution square.  And the stakes would be in the enclosed part of the letter.
As it turns out, and here I'm giving the scene away, there is a rabbi who has a teffilin box filled with oil and he throws it like a Molotov cocktail onto the kindling below his pyre. So Moishe has to act more quickly than he planned. Still, the whole thing is pulled off like a brilliant magic trick. Or a miracle. At least, that's what Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor thinks, But more on that another time...


. . . read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
It's been said that the "fiddle is its own conundrum.  It is called the devil's box and it takes hold of those who choose to play it and never lets go" (Bluegrass Unlimited, 2006).  We find evidence in A Fatal Fiddle by Edward Heron Allen, 1890.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Roy Blakeley's Motor Caravan by Percy Keese Fitzhugh, 1921.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Curiosités Médico-Artistiques by Lucien Nass, 1907.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Give me your hands, if we be friends" — Shakespeare in the woods, from The Carolina Magazine, 1933.


[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Uncle Chesterton's Heir by Joséphine Blanche Colomb, 1884.



[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Sure, you can do the hokey pokey, but it'll cost you.  (If I had a nickel for every time I've done the hokey pokey ...)  From The Woman Citizen's Library, 1913.



[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


The Right Word (permalink)

Here's nothing less than the "Uggerythrums" from One of the Thirty: A Strange History, Now for the First Time Told by Hargrave Jennings, 1873.



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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

What we call "volunteer" plants are actually scattered by elves, as we learn in the Annual Program for the Observance of Arbor Day in the Schools of Rhode Island, 1901.



[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From The Individual Delinquent by William Healy, 1915.



[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .



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