The Parallax Effect

The Toot'n'C'mon Motel

    In Motel of the Mysteries, David Macaulay recounts the interpretive adventures of a team of archeologists in the year 4022 who discover the ruins of a late 20th century North American building and try to understand how it was used and what it meant. The name on the site is The Toot'n'C'mon Motel, which to them indicates it was a 50-tomb burial complex. In Tomb 26 they find two skeletons, in an outer and an inner chamber. To show how the inhabitants of 1980 used the objects they find in the inner chamber, one of the team puts on "the Sacred Collar and matching Headband," along with "the magnificent plasticus ear ornaments and the exquisite silver chain and pendant." Dressed for the ritual ceremony, she looks LIKE THIS.

Beauty is Truth, but Is It Eternal?

    To see what the most fashionably-dressed women were wearing in 1900,

Huck and His Critics, Now and Then

    Mark Twain's novel is both one of the most frequently taught works of literature, and one of the most frequently banned from schools. Here's the most recent newspaper story I found about an attack on it in our time:

    That story is from 3 weeks ago. Almost exactly 122 years earlier, in March 1885, less than two months after it was first published, Huck Finn was banned for the first time, as Louisa May Alcott and the other members of the Library Committee in Concord, Massachusetts, voted to remove the book from the library's shelves. The text of Twain's was the same in his time and in ours, but the way it's been interpreted, and the reasons for censoring it, have changed drastically, as you can SEE HERE.

"The Good Old Song" (1893)

    And considerably closer to home is the text of UVa's unofficial anthem. Once again, its words are the same now as when it was originally written, but . . .

That good old song of Wah-hoo-wah
We'll sing it o'er and o'er
It cheers our hearts and warms our blood
To hear them shout and roar.
We come from Old Virginia, where all is bright and gay.
Let's all join hands and give a yell for the dear old U.Va.
Wah-hoo-wah, Wah-hoo-wah.
Uni-v, Virginia,
Hoo-rah-ray, Hoo-rah-ray,
Ray! Ray! U-V-a

Walt Whitman

    Edna Pontellier turns 29 years old in the course of The Awakening, but that isn't the reason, or at least the only reason, why I wanted to include some Whitman in this sampler. This excerpt is from Whitman's "Song of Myself," originally published in 1855:

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly,
Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glistened with wet, it ran from their long hair,
Little streams passed all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also passed over their bodies,
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies swell to the sun....they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

"WHITMAN" IN 1855         |       "WHITMAN" IN 1913