Home/Prufrock/Evelyn Waugh’s Burnt Novel, Michelangelo’s Dome, and the Riddle of Consciousness

Evelyn Waugh’s Burnt Novel, Michelangelo’s Dome, and the Riddle of Consciousness

Panorama of Rome, via Wikimedia Commons.

Evelyn Waugh sent his first attempt at a novel (called The Temple at Thatch) to Harold Acton. “Acton told him that the story was ‘too English for my exotic taste. Too much nid-nodding over port,’ and recommended that Waugh print it ‘in a few elegant copies for the friends who love you such as myself’.” Instead, Waugh burned it.

The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison presents the writer “in all his candor, seriousness, outrage and wit,” Dwight Garner writes.

The Apostrophe Protection Society shuts down. “We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won.”

The anonymous 16th-century translator of a selection of Tacitus has been identified: Queen Elizabeth I.

Michelangelo’s dome: “Michelangelo became chief architect at St Peter’s in 1546, following the death of Antonio da Sangallo, who had served for twenty years in the same position. Sangallo had not been the first to occupy that role: the project was already decades old when he took over. In the early years of the 16th century, Pope Julius II had initiated renovations when it became clear that the ancient basilica, completed around AD 360 on the site believed to be St Peter’s tomb, was at serious risk of collapse. At first, almost no one proposed remaking it entirely. The new St Peter’s took shape slowly, and for all its spiritual symbolism it was the architectural project from hell. Imagine a century of Grand Designs specials with one pope after another playing the despairing client and you get the picture. Michelangelo’s appointment at the age of seventy-one proved controversial.”

Neuroscience has tried and failed to explain consciousness for over 50 years. Why? “If you simply rule in advance that the mind must be physical and assume that an understanding of consciousness must be a materialist understanding, because scientific materialism is obviously correct, you end up looking for your keys under the streetlamp because that’s where the light is.”

A short history of Getty Images and the crisis in stock photography. Bad news for those of you hoping to make a living taking pictures of orange juice or people holding pens.

Essay of the Day:

Can bee stings help people who suffer from Lyme disease? Katy Vine explores the anecdotal and scientific evidence in Texas Monthly:

“Apitherapy—enlisting bees and bee products for medicinal purposes—has been practiced around the world for thousands of years. Ancient medical texts would recommend bee-related cures for everything from toothaches to female sterility. The English beekeeper Tickner Edwardes wrote in his 1907 book The Bee-Master of Warrilow about the experiences of a fellow beekeeper who was also a physician. The doctor approached a man with ‘rheumatism’ and administered a half-dozen stings, and the man ‘passed from whimpering through the various stages of growing indignation to sheer undisguised profanity.’ Noting that the patient would get better, the doctor told Edwardes, ‘There is nothing new in this treatment of rheumatism by bee stings. It is literally as old as the hills. Every bee-keeper for the last two thousand years has known of it.’ Many beekeepers continue to claim that they don’t get arthritis.

“Whether it works for Lyme disease is another question entirely. Researchers often approach medicinal bee venom as skeptically as they would magic crystals or lucky charms. But some aren’t ruling it out. ‘In principle, it is conceivable that you do something unusual, like a bee sting, and that’s going to help a disease whose nature we do not understand,’ said Kim Lewis, a Lyme researcher and director of Northeastern University’s Antimicrobial Discovery Center, in Boston. ‘But without a proper clinical trial, it’s hard to tell whether this is for real.’ Noting that patients are desperate, Monica Embers of Tulane stressed the importance of well-designed studies. ‘We want to find something that works,’ she said.

“The woman who claims to have invented the ten-sting protocol for Lyme disease is Ellie Lobel, a 51-year old Californian with a complicated backstory. She claims that she got a PhD in nuclear physics from the University College Kensington, in England, at age eighteen, and that she later worked on a secret project for the U.S. government, which she couldn’t discuss—a résumé often repeated without question in publications profiling her. When I told her I was having difficulty finding any evidence of a ‘University College Kensington,’ she said that it was ‘dissolved long ago,’ and explained that any documentation of her life before her involvement with Lyme therapies is classified. She only mentions her résumé, she told me, to let people know that she ‘was a little smarter than the average bear’ and that she ‘knew how to research and problem-solve and put things together.’”

Read the rest.

Photo: Znojmo

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about the author

Micah Mattix is the literary editor of The American Conservative and an associate professor of English at Regent University.  His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Pleiades, The Washington Times, and many other publications. His latest book is The Soul Is a Stranger in this World: Essays on Poets and Poetry (Cascade). Follow him on Twitter.

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