Cool research. A team of 7 researchers, using 3 databases of individuals who are culturally important through history, plotted the migration of those individuals to determine cultural centers.
They visualize this for America:
That really gives meaning to the idea of flyover states. But, pause it and look around a bit. Check out the importance of:
Cincinnati and Louisville in the early to mid 19th century.
How about the Erie Canal being traced out.
The absence of much at all across the Black Belt of the deep South.
San Francisco popping out of nowhere in the 1850’s (before, and everyone forgets about this, not really thriving well after that).
The necklace of cities along the Union Pacific route, through Kansas City, Denver, and Salt Lake City.
The way Salt Lake City and the west coast attract people who bypassed the east coast completely.
The outsized attraction of New Orleans in the early 20th century (as its primacy as a port faded)
The development of the triangle in Texas as oil boomed.
The huge migration to Los Angeles starting in the 1920’s.
And towards the end, the influx of people into Florida.
And for Europe:
During its heydey, notice how the Roman Empire is actually fairly tenuous across the west: everyone’s in Rome in a way they’ve never been in New York.
But as the Empire fades, the centers of western European cultural start popping up before (and during) the barbarian invasions.
The Dark Ages are pretty dark, but there’s clustering across the region we still associate with medieval history: from the Ile de France, arcing northeast towards the low countries, and then back southeast across the central Rhine valley.
In the 12th century, look for Seville and Cordoba popping up under the Moors in Spain. Paris gets brighter at the same time.
Not much going on in northern Italy, until the bright lights come on in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Check out Amsterdam in the 17th century.
I found Vienna quieter than I expected in the 17th and 18th centuries. But look at the lights of Budapest, Prague, and Cracow.
St. Petersburg pops out of nowhere after its founding in the early 18th century.
By 1900, Germany has bright lights … everywhere.
And look at England … whole bunches of people leaving to go to America. Look closely, and you can see some of them coming from Germany in the 1930’s.
You can also see many eastern Europeans heading in the direction of Moscow in the mid 20th century.
Hubert Duprat noted that some insects build a carapace — not really a cocoon, but more of a shelter — out of found materials. So he put them in an environment where they find flakes of gold, and bits of pearl. Here’s what he got:
I have no idea why the headline of that story caught my eye last week:
A Rite of Sexual Submission:
Bed to Book to Off Broadway ‘The Surrender,’
Adapted From Toni Bentley’s Erotic Memoir
I don’t go looking in The New York Times for erotica, sexual submission holds zero interest for me, rites remind me of the parts of church I don’t care for, and while I like theater† I don’t worship it like New Yorkers.
But anyway, I started reading the article. And this blog is about the stuff that gets my attention …
What struck me afterwards was that the memoir’s author, the actress, and the director … are all serious about this. Alrighty then.
Still curious from this dip into the breadth of human experience, I got on The Google and found a copy of the memoir. I confess that I didn’t read the whole thing … but it is well-written, readable, and deeply introspective. It’s NSFW, but in 2014 its pornographic content is relatively minimal.
It’s more like one person’s memoir about their obsession with a short-lived focal point in their life, that in turn happens to be something most people avoid. Think Lolita rather than Playboy, although less interesting than either. I think the girl’s got some issues (nicely summed up by this wordplay on Funkadelic). I hope the book helped her work through those. I can’t see though, how putting it on stage, amounts to anything more than extending her navel gazing in the hopes that someone’s taste for tales of others’ prurience gets converted into ticket purchases. The end of this interview tends to confirm that view.
* I’m actually a little curious to find out if this post collects spam comments faster than other ones.
† I’ve never seen anything quite this … unusual. The best I can manage was seeing a pre-Broadway version of White Boned Demon;the play mixing the trial of Jiang Qing with Ibsen's The Doll House.
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