The Hermetic Art of Robert Fludd

Art from 'De Naturae Simia' by Robert Fludd, ca. 1617-1619.

My buddy Eric Leonardson hipped me to these two wonderful posts at the breathtakingly great BibliOdyssey blog, which include a number of images of art by the great 17th century hermetic artist, scholar and scientist, Robert Fludd.

I’ve been a great fan of Fludd’s art since I first came across one of his most famous pieces, “The Mystery of the Human Head,” in a Dover edition of Grillot de Givry’s Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy (originally Le Musée des sorciers, mages et alchemists, 1929). So much so that in the decades since I’ve used that particular piece for fliers, posters, and even as a company logo. And while perhaps I’ve not been looking in the right places, reproductions of Fludd’s work seem to be rare indeed.

Fortunately for me (and for you), the BibliOdyssey post includes a link to greyscale reproductions of Fludd’s entire magnum opus, Utriusque Cosmi Maioris Scilicet et Minores Metaphysica, Physica Atque Technica Historia, available for download as numerous zip files or a single mammoth 238mb PDF. These were scanned by Bill Heidrick from micofilm in the Bancroft collection at UC Berkeley, which “may be the only complete modern version available.”

Large cropped “color” repros (albeit edited) of De Naturae Simia, one of the books comprising the Utriusque Cosmi Majoris…, are available online from the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah — albeit wrapped in iframes. Uncropped (but much smaller) photo repros of the same work are also online via the ECHO Project of the Max Planck Society in Berlin. That site offers some Ajax-y browsing tools of marginal utility, but my understanding is that online collection is unedited.

The BibliOdyssey posts also offer links to numerous worthwhile articles about Fludd and his work, as well as items of related interest.

Good-bye, Charles. Blessed Be.

Charles Gocher performing live.  Photo by Mark Sullo - www.marksullo.com

As announced late Tuesday night on the Sun City Girls web site:

With deep regret, we must announce that Charles Gocher passed away yesterday [Monday, Feb. 19, 2007] in Seattle due to a long battle with cancer at the age of 54. He is survived by the two of us who adopted him as a brother 25 years ago and his many friends around the world. He will be missed more than most could ever know. Our thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement during the past three, very difficult years. Many of you were not aware that Charles was ill and that’s because he wanted it that way. Details of a memorial in his honor will be announced soon.

— Alan and Richard Bishop

When I received word of this news from a friend yesterday afternoon, I hung up my cell, sat on the nearest stoop, and just cried for a long time.

Charlie was a warm, special, brilliant, gifted guy — and I miss him terribly.

Today, there is a hole in the world.

Testament:

Godzilla Flicks Forthcoming on DVD

Last year was a great one for classic Japanese monster flicks on coming out on home video.

Classic Media released very fine DVD versions of three early Godzilla flicks that have been unavailable State-side for many years, and even those were never widescreen and generally were crappy transfers besides. All of their releases are in nifty hard-back cases, and feature both the Japanese (with newly translated subtitles) and US versions in widescreen. Gojira (1954) and Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) came in a 2-disc set with various extras, while Godzilla Raids Again (1955) / Gigantis the Fire Monster (1959) and Mothra vs. Godzilla / Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964) came as single-disc packages with fewer extras. (Tip: the latter two are, strangely, only available directly from Classic Media’s tie-in site, GodzillaOnDVD.com, and have recently been marked down. Also interlacing issues on some early copies of Godzilla Raids Again have been resolved.)

Anyway, the point is Classic Media has the US rights for four more original-series Godzilla films, including many of the very best, and will be giving all of them the same quality treatment. All of these are scheduled to be released this year both individually and as part of a huge multidisc set comprising the whole lot. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) and Invasion of Astro Monster / Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965) are both scheduled to be released in June — so definitely keep an eye out for those.

Street dates have not yet been announced for All Monsters Attack / Godzilla’s Revenge (1969) — an absolutely awful kid-flick comprised mainly of stock footage and really not worth your time — and the long-awaited US release of Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), the superior sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) and the last of the Godzilla films to be directed by originator Ishiro Honda (who went on to, among other things, assistant direct on Akira Kurosawa’s Ran).

Also noteworthy is that Classic Media will be following those with releases of Rodan (1956) — which suffered a truly horrible DVD fate at the hands of the notorious Scimitar in the ’90s — and the unjustly negelected War of the Gargantuas (1966), a sort-of sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World which was last released here on pan-and-scan VHS prolly 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Shock imprint of Media Blasters are no slouches either — au contraire! — with recent high-quality releases of excellent Toho films like Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People), The Mysterians and Atragon. They’re playing it close with street dates, but sometime this year they will offer a Region 1 release of Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), an intriguing and mostly-successful effort that I don’t believe has ever been released on Stateside home video of any kind…at least, not legally.  Will it include the famous lost giant octopus sequence??  Stay tuned to find out.  Also in their queue for 2007 is another fine obscurity beloved of serious Toho fans, Latitude Zero (1969) — which stars Joseph Cotton and Cesar Romero. I shit thee not.

If you’re so inclined, you can keep up with announced street dates for these and other Toho flicks at the Toho Kingdom site.

Meals Ready To Starve

Folks with disaster packs at the ready — as all of us in the Western US earthquake zone should have — may wish to reevaluate their nutritional options.

Meals for Marines in Afghanistan insufficient, report states

By Bob Brewin
Federal Computer Week
Jan. 18, 2007

Marines deployed in Afghanistan are not getting adequate nutrition from the Defense Department’s standard combat ration, Meals Ready to Eat [MREs], the Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned (MCLL) said in its January newsletter.

Marine and Army troops deployed to Afghanistan conduct dismounted operations — meaning they walk instead of ride — in mountainous terrain and MREs do not provide enough nutrition for their mission, the MCCLL newsletter states.

As a result, “many Marines and soldiers lost 20 to 40 pounds of bodyweight during their deployment,” the newsletter states. It adds that at least one solider was evacuated because of malnutrition [emphasis added] and a 60-pound weight loss.

…The Army Soldier Systems Center, which is responsible for development of combat rations, did not return calls from Federal Computer Week about the lack of nutrition in MREs by deadline.

Windows Vista! It’s Spook-erific!

Although just about a month old now, this news item just crossed the ol’ Brainpain today…

For Windows Vista Security, Microsoft Called in Pros

By Alec Klein and Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post
Tuesday, January 9, 2007

When Microsoft introduces its long-awaited Windows Vista operating system this month, it will have an unlikely partner to thank for making its flagship product safe and secure for millions of computer users across the world: the National Security Agency.

For the first time, the giant software maker is acknowledging the help of the secretive agency, better known for eavesdropping on foreign officials and, more recently, U.S. citizens as part of the Bush administration’s effort to combat terrorism. The agency said it has helped in the development of the security of Microsoft’s new operating system — the brains of a computer — to protect it from worms, Trojan horses and other insidious computer attackers.

“Our intention is to help everyone with security,” Tony W. Sager, the NSA’s chief of vulnerability analysis and operations group, said yesterday. [cough]

The NSA’s impact may be felt widely. Windows commands more than 90 percent of the worldwide market share in desktop operating systems, and Vista, which is set to be released to consumers Jan. 30, is expected to be used by more than 600 million computer users by 2010, according to Al Gillen, an analyst at market research firm International Data.

…”I kind of call it a Good Housekeeping seal” of approval, said Michael Cherry, a former Windows program manager who now analyzes the product for Directions on Microsoft, a firm that tracks the software maker. …

Yyyyeah. Duly noted.

Read the full article at the link above. Although…I would be remiss to not quote the following as well:

…Other software makers have turned to government agencies for security advice, including Apple, which makes the Mac OS X operating system. “We work with a number of U.S. government agencies on Mac OS X security and collaborated with the NSA on the Mac OS X security configuration guide,” said Apple spokesman Anuj Nayar in an e-mail.

Novell, which sells a Linux-based operating system, also works with government agencies on software security issues, spokesman Bruce Lowry said in an e-mail, “but we’re not in a position to go into specifics of the who, what, when types of questions.” …

El Topo Opens at the Grand Illusion — One Week Only

This Friday (Feb. 2, 2007), Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo begins a one-week run in Seattle at The Grand Illusion, in the U-District at the corner of 50th and University Way (aka The Ave).  Enter on 50th.

Showtimes:  6:30 PM and 8:45 PM daily.  Plus:  4  PM matinees on Sat. 2/3 and Sun. 2/4; and 11 PM late nites on Fri. 2/2 and Sat. 2/3.  Run concludes on Thurs. 2/8, and Holy Mountain opens the following day.

As was sorted out here in unnecessary but joyously geeky detail, both El Topo and Holy Mountain are being screened as new 35mm prints, only months old according to the distributer.  El Topo is a newly-struck 35mm print of the 1996 optical restoration (not the just completed full digital restoration supervised by Jodorowsky himself).  But word is that Holy Mountain (opening Fri. 2/9) will indeed be a new 35mm print of the newest restoration (again, supervised by Jodorowsky).