The term meme has been closely associated with internet catchphrases or fads, but originally it was more a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices. The word was coined by British scientist Richard Dawkins who used the word in his book The Selfish Gene (1976) as a basis for discussion of evolutionary principles.
The word only recently was added to the dictionary with the following meaning;
a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.
Examples of memes included melodies, catch-phrases, beliefs (notably religious beliefs), clothing fashion, and inside jokes.
Internet Meme’s include things like Fail/Win, Pwnd/Owned, Nom Nom Nom, O RLY?, All Your Base Are Belong to Us & Rickroll.
For interesting insights on Meme’s check out this site.
A Religious art war was raging, between the Counter-Reformation and Protestants. Protestants believed that art was a distraction or an idol and should not be in the churches, one of the main defences for the Counter-Reformation was that not everyone can read and deserve to learn about religion too, thus the purpose of the art. The Counter-Reformation Church searched for authentic religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate, this was the beginning of the Baroque art movement. The Baroque style was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church which had decided that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s intensely emotional realism and dramatic use of lighting had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting. Caravaggio grow up been told to be a painter you need to paint like the Mannerists (by teacher and mannerist Simone Peterzano), though for Caravaggio he couldn’t paint pictures of paradise as he had no knowledge of these things. Caravaggio painted what he knew to be real.
With paintings like Calling of Saint Matthew, you see nothing of Jesus but his arm calling out to Saint Matthew. “Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom house, and said to him, “Follow me”, and Matthew rose and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9). If you look at the painting you can see it’s a dark and gritty place which you would not see if this painting came from the Mannerist era.
Caravaggio lived by the motto “Nec Spe, Nec Metu” (Without Hope, Without Fear) he believed himself a sinner and it came through in his paintings. Probably the best painting to reflect that would be “David with the Head of Goliath”. In this painting Caravaggio is the head of Goliath; it is very rare for a self portrait to depict the painter as the villain. On the sword that David is holding is inscribed H-AS OS, in Latin: Humilitas occidit superbiam (“Humility kills pride”)
Wuthering Heights must be one of the first novels where the protagonists can be considered antagonists or anti-heroes. It’s a story of love turning into bitter hatred. The orphan Heathcliff and Catherine were in love but when Catherine’s parents both die, Heathcliff runs away from Wuthering Heights. A few years later Catherine married Edgar and Heathcliff comes back (later that same year). In attempt to hide his broken heart Heathcliff marries Isabella but the pain continues to consume him turning him into a violent and emotional abusive man. The story follows the bitterness towards both families. The wounds were deep and their children Catherine and Linton were faced with the difficult task of mending the families division.
Emily Brontë really knows how to paint a picture with her writing. Wuthering Heights, though very dark is full of passion, love, hate and all emotions in between. The book keeps hinting at a silver lining but often holds it back making you want it more. Emily didn’t hold back when writing this book, she really puts a spot light on emotional abuse and hatred, even used the word ‘slut’ a few times in the book. The depiction of mental and physical cruelty in this book will make it difficult to read for some; you’ll either love or hate this book. While not all full of darkness, there’s a beauty in the story sometimes missed in books nowadays.
Like Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions left me with a lot to think about. In the mists of this satirical story there is a whole other element; the book explores the effects of an author-reader relationship, mainly with Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover. The book the sent Dwayne Hoover was in the form of a letter from the creature telling the reader he is the only real person in the world, everyone else were robots, and later in the epilogue the creator has a conversation with Trout.
It’s an interesting concept, and one I haven’t really thought about before, but it is something to ponder.
Street art is normally considered Graffiti but for artist like Blek le Rat and Banksy it’s a tool for getting their message across. For these artists stencil art or street art is the future of art, one of the few mediums which allows their works to get viewed by millions of people. Often considered satirical pieces of art, the works of Blek le Rat and Banksy are political, cultural, and ethical in nature. Blek le Rat has often claimed that his works are designed to bring often overlooked issues to the forefront of people’s thoughts.
I’m not sure how many people have seen this mini series, but I thought in an effort to make sure I post regularly I would mention this wonderful show. Desperate Romantics is a BBC series of the life of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. One thing that was impressive about this show, was all the effort they put into recreating some of the Brotherhoods paintings. In the show you will see a few pieces, such as;
Christ in the House of His Parents (1849–50) by John Everett Millais
Ophelia (1851-2) by John Everett Millais
The Order of Release (1854) by John Everett Millais
The Scapegoat (1856) by William Holman Hunt
Bocca Baciata (1859) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Beata Beatrix (1872) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Shadow of Death (1872) by William Holman Hunt
Oxford Union murals (1857-9) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones et al.
As well as sketch or images of;
Ecce Ancilla Domini (1849–50) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Hireling Shepherd (1851) by William Holman Hunt
The Light of the World (1853–54) by William Holman Hunt
The Awakening Conscience (1853) by William Holman Hunt
Dante’s Vision of Rachel and Leah (1855) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Blind Girl (1856) by John Everett Millais
Autumn Leaves (1856) by John Everett Millais
The Holy Family (undated) by Elizabeth Siddal
The Rowing Boat (undated) by Elizabeth Siddal
Venus Verticordia (1868) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Bubbles (1886) by John Everett Millais
Though I’m not sure how accurate the show is, it is a fascinating insight on some of some great artists.
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.
Bright Star is a movie based on the last three years of John Keats life and his relationship with his muse Fanny Brawne. Though it was a Hollywood retelling of Keats romance, it was based on the biography ‘Keats’written by Andrew Motion. The highlight of the movie was really the poetry and letters by Keats. It is just nice to get this kind of insight on one of my literary heroes even in it was stylised a bit for the movie.
Disclaimer: While I don’t agree in the whole Sub-Culture labelling it does play a big part in culture itself. So I will try to remain unbiased and not try to stereotype any sub-culture.
“Clear Body, Clear Mind”
The lifestyle choice of Sobriety and Chastity
Both Straight Edge and Hardline sub cultures are not only originated from a punk rock scene, it is more of a philosophical choice for them.
Difference Between the Two
The common lifestyle choices between the two are; no drinking, no smoking & no drugs (even in some cases no promiscuous sex) but Hardline take it one step further than Straight Edge; they also have a bio-centric view of the world and pro-life stance on abortion.
Why be Straight Edge or Hardline?
It is important to know that both cultures are not religious or political based.
It’s a lifestyle centred around personal development and well being, while encouraging fun and togetherness. The movements wish to attract people away from dependancy lifestyles centred around drug habits (legal or illegal) and unhealthy and exploitative eating and general living habits common in modern cultures.
While Straight Edge is not dogmatic, Hardline is.
The X on the hands
A common practice at all-ages punk shows was to mark minors with an “X” on their hands so they couldn’t buy alcohol. As the straight-edge philosophy grew popular, punkers who were older than 18 but didn’t drink for ideological reasons started to mark themselves with the X in a show of solidarity.
Culture is all around us, especially in the music and the media, but we tend to miss it. I missed this one because I missed the show entirely but this bit of insight makes me want to watch the show.
David Lynch’s cult classic Twin Peaks has a few great examples culture. Mainly the use of dream-analysis; Dale Cooper solved the death of Laura Palmer in his sleep, literally. But he doesn’t remember, he knows that he knows but it’s been kept from him. He states in the show ‘My dream is a code waiting to be cracked – break the code, solve the crime’
Interestingly enough Lynch didn’t have an interpretation of the dream, it was an after thought; he had a ‘waking dream’ of this whole dream sequence and decided to add it into the show.
I’m sure The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud would have come in handy in solving the crime. But what is the book really about? Freud description is;
In the following pages, I shall demonstrate that there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams, and that on the application of this technique, every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance, and one which may be assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state. Further, I shall endeavour to elucidate the processes which underlie the strangeness and obscurity of dreams, and to deduce from these processes the nature of the psychic forces whose conflict or co-operation is responsible for our dreams.
Though the book is widely considered to be his most important contribution to psychology, I have serious doubts about this book. For starters, people think differently and I suspect that they would dream differently as well. I don’t pretend to understand the whole Dream Interpretation theories; I just don’t think every dream would fit neatly into these interpretations.