a-journey-of-elegance

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Euthanasia Coaster - Julijonas Urbonas

“Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetic euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely – with elegance and euphoria – take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death. Thanks to the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies and, of course, gravity, the fatal journey is made pleasing, elegant and meaningful. Celebrating the limits of the human body but also the liberation from the horizontal life, this ‘kinetic sculpture’ is in fact the ultimate roller coaster: John Allen, former president of the famed Philadelphia Toboggan Company, once sad that “the ultimate roller coaster is built when you send out twenty-four people and they all come back dead. This could be done, you know.”

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Scientific literacy is a compass by which to understand ourselves and our environment, while refining our skepticism. Science, as Carl Sagan asserted, is a way of thinking. Embracing this is to live by a more rigorous standard of accountability and openness to the ever changing winds of knowledge, with which we may more precisely (and honestly) navigate amidst the rocky shoals of pseudoscience, false pretenses, and arguments from authority; confidently sailing toward uncertainty by a cautious optimism: realizing that we must continue to fine-tune our bearings.
– Rich (@sagansense)

The above video - courtesy of my wonderful friends over at The Inspiration Journey - encompasses Carl Sagan’s poetic elegance, produced with visuals to compliment very poignant words he spoke during one of his last interviews before his death.

Sagan’s full interview with Charlie Rose is available to watch here. The context of his engagement with Charlie Rose provides a wonderful primer to his 1995 book – ‘The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark’ – which was co-authored by his wife, Ann Druyan.

Related: The video/song “A Wave of Reason” (produced by melodysheep as an installment to the Symphony of Science series) provides an auditory montage of excerpts which further expand upon the principles and directive of science. Notable men and women of science featured are Bertrand Russell, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Carolyn Porco, Richard Dawkins, Phil Plait, Richard Feynman, James Randi, and of course, Carl Sagan.

Stay curious*

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Robert Moran's graphic scores: Fortress and Elegant Journey

“Moran […] was an important Bay Area figure during the 1960s, with stints as a composition teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In his graphic scores - including ‘Elegant Journeys’ and 'Fortress,’[…] Moran sketches out a format that allows for plenty of improvisation and chance encounters.” - Joshua Kosman

The Marvelous Women
By Mohja Kahf

All women speak two languages:
the language of men
and the language of silent suffering.
Some women speak a third,
the language of queens.
They are marvelous
and they are my friends.

My friends give me poetry.
If it were not for them
I’d be a seamstress out of work.
They send me their dresses
and I sew together poems,
enormous sails for ocean journeys.

My marvelous friends, these women
who are elegant and fix engines,
who teach gynecology and literacy,
and work in jails and sing and sculpt
and paint the ninety-nine names,
who keep each other’s secrets
and pass on each other’s spirits
like small packets of leavening,

it is from you I fashion poetry.
I scoop up, in handfuls, glittering
sequins that fall from your bodies
as you fall in love, marry, divorce,
get custody, get cats, enter
supreme courts of justice,
argue with God.

You rescuers on galloping steeds
of the weak and the wounded–
Creatures of beauty and passion,
powerful workers in love–
you are the poems.
I am only your stenographer.
I am the hungry transcriber
of the conjuring recipes you hoard
in the chests of your great-grandmothers.

My marvelous friends–the women
of brilliance in my life,
who levitate my daughters,
you are a coat of many colors
in silk tie-dye so gossamer
it can be crumpled in one hand.
You houris, you mermaids, swimmers
in dangerous waters, defiers of sharks–

My marvelous friends,
thirsty Hagars and laughing Sarahs,
you eloquent radio Aishas,
Marys drinking the secret
milkshakes of heaven,
slinky Zuleikas of desire,
gay Walladas, Harriets
parting the sea, Esthers in the palace,
Penelopes of patient scheming,

you are the last hope of the shrinking women.
You are the last hand to the fallen knights
You are the only epics left in the world

Come with me, come with poetry
Jump on this wild chariot, hurry–

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Happy Birthday, Voltaire!

François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was born on this day, November 21, in 1694!

“Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.”

-wikipedia

To celebrate, we are taking a look at Voltaire’s Candide (PQ2082 .C3 1937 Cage), which is beautifully illustrated by Rockwell Kent.

“Kent’s nearly four score inset illustrations and numerous illustrated capitals serve as an unusually elegant journey through Voltaire’s world of “liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools.”

-New York Public Library

To see anything in our special collections, please ask a reference librarian for assistance.