In hindsight, the 19th century, with its far-flung outposts of colonial power and its scientific expeditions deep into the Conradian jungles of empire, looks like a golden age of exotic contagions, tumors, abscesses, and other morbid curiosities, not to mention…
“We’re all black centipedes at heart,” the novelist and mordant social satirist William S. Burroughs once observed. Clearly not a people person.
At about eight in the evening of Saturday, the fifth of February, 1818, Matthew Lewis was tucking into dinner on his sugar plantation in Savanna-la-Mar, Jamaica.
To me, centipedes are a means to a philosophical end: anatomizing the emotion of disgust.
Is there a personality type that gravitates toward giant centipedes?
Are we our things? Are they us?
Part of a Series: “Self-Help for Surrealists.”
Predictably, “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary” (September 28, 2013–January 12, 2014) at the Museum of Modern Art, packed them in.
His studied cool, like a high-roller blowing smoke rings with overdone unconcern, is a dead giveaway. So, too, is the plinkety-plink of marimba keys, so high they make a sharp, brittle noise, like bones, as he sings those words.
To this day, my leftish friends of a certain age define fashion as any investment in appearance whatsoever, and view it with deep suspicion as clear evidence of counterrevolutionary tendencies.