turbulent period

There’s no such thing as the Dark Ages, but OK

As a very serious adult, with a respectable career and life, and a healthy ability to let petty shit slide, I spent much too much time last week arguing with strangers on the internet who believe in the myth of the Dark Ages.

The arguments in question focused on a massively inaccurate meme, which some observers of the group pointed out was originally supposed to be about knowledge loss after the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but which some very cool EDGE LORD had changed to be about ‘The Christian Dark Ages’. Please feast your eyes on it in all it’s massive wrongness:

This is, pretty obviously, a bunch of honkey bullshit and also massively incorrect, as many important scholars have noted. As a result, I spent hours of my life – which I will never get back -  pointing out repeatedly that the ‘graph’ in question has nothing to do with reality, and arguing with non-experts about the medieval period.

For the most part – these people were well-meaning. Many pointed out that this was a very Euro-centric world view, and that Asia, Africa, and the Arab world were all making huge advancements in scientific and medical theory at this time. That is absolutely true. White people have never been the entire world. The Chinese had a massively advanced scientific culture by this time, for example, and had been holding it down with hermetically sealed research laboratories since the third century BCE. The Arab world, meanwhile was compiling treatises on eye surgery. Scientific advancement was something that was happening in this period. Europe is not the centre of the world.

Having said that, while it is important to acknowledge that the-rest-of-the-world was making huge strides in scientific advancement during this time, and that Europe and white people are not the entire world, nor responsible for all of human advancement, there was no such thing as the Dark Ages in Europe either.

While everything about the idea of the Dark Ages is incorrect, lets start off with the way the term was meant to be used. The totally ignorant graph above, unsurprisingly, is completely fucking off. Hilariously, the idea of the ‘Dark Ages’ actually originated in the medieval period itself. Petrarch – the poet laureate of fourteenth-century Rome - was actually the originator of the idea that there was a period of stagnation that Europe was moving out of. Petrarch had a political axe to grind. He considered that any point at which Rome – where he lived and worked and had considerable sway – did not completely dominate the world was a BAD TIME. This is not an unbiased assessment of world history.

The actual phrase ‘Dark Ages’ itself derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, which Caesar Baronius – a cardinal and Church historian - came up with around 1602. He applied the term exclusively to the tenth and eleventh centuries.  However, and very significantly in his use of the term, Baronius was not decrying a state of scientific malaise, or a particularly turbulent political period – he’s talking about a lack of sources surviving from that time.  Indeed, Baronius sees the cut off point for the dark ages to be the Gregorian reforms of 1046, following which we see a massive increase in surviving documentation. Witness an actual useful chart:

When we move into a period where there are more texts to be considered, Baronius argues, Europe moved out of the period of darkness and into a ‘new age’.*

Now this is some real talk. As you can tell from that graph, during the Carolingian Renaissance of the ninth century, we see a flurry of Latin writers emerge, and a lot of text copying. This drops off again until what we term the Twelfth-Century Renaissance – home to this blog’s favourite philosopher/proto-Kanye –  Abelard. (Shout out to my boy.) However, when people use the term ‘Dark Ages’ now, they usually use it to talk about the entire millennium of the Medieval period, and they aren’t talking about source survival.  They aren’t thinking ‘dark’ as in ‘occluded’, they are thinking ‘dark’ as in pejorative.

We can thank the Enlightenment historiography for the expansion of the idea that the medieval period was a bad dark time. Kant and Voltaire in particular liked to see themselves as a part of an ‘Age of Reason’ as opposed to what they saw as the ‘Age of Faith’ of the medieval period. To their way of thinking, any time that the Church was in power was a time of regressive thinking. The Middle Ages, then, was a dark time because it was so dominated by religion. 

The first push back against the term dark ages began with the Romantics. After the, um, unpleasantness of the Reign of Terror, and the major cultural and environmental upheavals of the Industrial Revolution it became fashionable to look at the medieval period as a time of spiritual focus, and environmental purity. Obviously this is a super-biased way of looking at the period – just like it was biased for Enlightenment thinkers to take one look at the primacy of the Church and declare an entire millennium to be bad. I mean, really what the Romantics were doing was just casting shade on the Enlightenment historiography because they felt like it inevitably led to the guillotine. But what can you do?

By the twentieth century historians had moved on from the idea pretty much completely. If you take the time to actually, you know, study the medieval period, it becomes very apparent very quickly that there was a tremendous amount of intensive thought happening. This is the era of Thomas Aquinas – a bad ass philosopher who will think you under the fucking table. Of Hildegard of Bingen – who basically founded scientific natural history in the German speaking lands. Hell, like we talked about last week Rogerius and Giles of Corbeil were throwing it down for major medical advancement. There was a lot going on. On the real, without the contributions of medieval thinkers you would not get Galileo, Newton, or the Scientific Revolution. The medieval period was not a period of stagnation, it was a time of progress.

But it’s not just that the idea of a ‘Dark Ages’ makes no sense when you look at what incredible advancement was happening at the time, it also makes no sense because it implies that stuff was going really well under the Romans. We estimate that somewhere between thirty to forty percent of the population of Italian Rome were slaves. The Romans had total bans on human dissection, meaning that there was no real way for medicine to progress any further than it had by the time of collapse – a problem that medieval people didn’t have. I mean even if you just want to make it about religion - the Roman Empire was Christian at the time of its collapse and had its heads of state worshipped as LITERAL GODS during the pagan era. Somehow every edgy motherfucker with a fedora is totally cool with this and thinks it is super reasonable though. Because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The Romans were not a bunch of really awesome people living a life of idealised rationality any more than medieval people were all ignorant savages living in fear of God.

Is there a time that historians use the term ‘Dark Ages’? Yeah, we do use it to talk about source survival rates. It’s not a term we use as a value judgment, however. We just mean that we don’t have a lot of evidence to go off of. By the same token – if we somehow move on to another electronic format without converting the way things are stored now, we could be moving into a theoretical Digital Dark Age, where historians in the future won’t be able to study what we are writing now. (And that would be a tragedy, because legit, I would kill to be a historian working on Donald Trump’s tweets in the year 2717.)

We’re now moving away from using the term Dark Ages at all, however, because of the frequency with which it is misinterpreted. I mean, if every basic motherfucker out there who never bothered to read God’s Philosophers (hat tip to James Hamman – this book is amazing) will insist on willfully misinterpreting us, we just ain’t gonna give them the ammo.

What it comes down to is that the medieval period was as vibrant as any other period of history. If you’re going to player hate, go ahead, but please don’t act like you know anything about either medieval or ancient history when you do. There is no period of rational supermen followed by ignorant monsters. There are just people doing their best in the circumstances.

* Caesar Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici Vol. X. (Rome, 1602), p. 647. “Novum incohatur saeculum quod, sua asperitate ac boni sterilitate ferreum, malique exudantis deformitate plumbeum, atque inopia scriptorum, appellari consuevit obscurum.”


Star Wars worlds : Lah'mu
Lah'mu was an inaccessible planet located in the Raioballo sector of the galaxy’s Outer Rim Territories, far from major hyperspace routes. Its planetary rings were primarily silica formed from the remains of one of the planet’s ancient moons, pulverized long before the Clone Wars. The planet itself was lush and dark green in color, and its biosphere transformed iron into chlorophyll. The planet’s crust, split numerous times during its early geographic life, was fertile and rich with minerals and soils brought to the surface during this turbulent period. Its small population of settlers included the Erso family, who relocated to Lah'mu after the Clone Wars, and were ultimately tracked down by Director Orson Callan Krennic years later.

Gracchi Bothers: the reformers

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were a pair of tribunes of the plebs from the 2nd Century BC, who sought to introduce land reform and other populist legislation in ancient Rome. They were both members of the Populares, a group of politicians who appealed to the average citizens and that opposed the conservative Optimates in the Roman Senate. They have been deemed the founding fathers of both socialism and populism.

Tiberius Gracchus, born in 168 BC, was the older of the Gracchi brothers. He is best known for his attempts to legislate agrarian reform and for his untimely death at the hands of the Senators. Under Tiberius’ proposal, no one citizen would be able to possess more than 500 iugera of public land (ager publicus) that was acquired during wars. Any excess land would be confiscated to the state and redistributed to the poor and homeless in small plots of about 30 iugera per family.

The Senate was resistant to agrarian reform because its members owned most of the land and it was the basis of their wealth. Therefore, Tiberius was very unpopular with the Senatorial elite. His main opponent was Marcus Octavius, another tribune who vetoed Tiberius’ bills from entering the Assembly and whom Tiberius had previously gotten removed from office.

When King Attalus III of Pergamum died, he left his entire fortune to the people of Rome. Pergamum was one of the richest cities in the ancient world, and Tiberius wanted to use the wealth from Pergamum to find his agrarian law. This was a direct attack on Senatorial power and the Senate’s opposition to Tiberius began to increase.

With his term coming to an end, Tiberius sought re-election as tribune for the following year. This was unprecedented and his opponents claimed that it was illegal and Tiberius was trying to become a tyrant. On election, violence broke out in the Senate between Tiberius’ followers and his opponents. Tiberius was beaten to death with wooden chairs and nearly 300 of his supporters suffered the same fate. These deaths marked a turning point in Roman history and a long-lasting association between violence and the office of the tribune.

Tiberius was succeeded by his younger brother, Gaius Gracchus, who was also a social reformer. He was quaestor in 126 BC and tribune of the plebs in 123 BC. He is generally considered to be a more complex and confrontational figure than Tiberius, and he had a much clearer legislative agenda that extended beyond simple agrarian reform. Some of his laws appear to have been directed toward the people responsible for his brother’s death.

He renewed Tiberius’ land law and founded new colonies in Italy and Carthage. He introduced a law that no conscription of Romans under age 17 would be allowed and that the state would pay for basic military equipment. Previously, the soldier had to pay for his own equipment, which was especially difficult for the lowest census class. Like his brother, he also funded state-subsidized grain. Another law passed by Gaius imposed the death penalty on any judge who accepted a bribe to convict another Roman guilty.

Gaius’ opponents tried to win away his support and he lost popular appeal by 121 BC. After a riot broke out on the Capitoline Hill and one of Gaius’ opponents was killed, the ‘ultimate decree of the Senate’ (Senatus consultum ultimum) was passed for the first time. This law gave the Senate the power to declare anyone an enemy of the state and execute him without trial by a jury. A mob was then raised to assassinate Gaius. Knowing that his own death was imminent, Gaius committed suicide on the Aventine Hill in 121 BC. All of his reforms were undermined except for his grain laws. Three thousand of his supporters were subsequently arrested and put to death in the proscriptions that followed.

The tribunates of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus began a turbulent period in Rome’s domestic politics, and their careers and untimely deaths emphasize both the strengths and the weaknesses of the tribunate. In the following decades, the tendency toward violence became even more clear as numerous tribunes saw their time in office come to an end with their deaths.

Asmaa bint Abu Bakr رضي الله عنها

source: ‘ad-Da’wah ilallaah’ (The Call to Allaah), The magazine featuring Women’s Issues. (UK) Vol-1 Issue-5

Asmaa was a woman of great nobility, wisdom and patience. She was among the early converts to Makkah and being the daughter of the great Companion Abu Bakr, she was brought up in an atmosphere of purity and devotion and shared close ties with the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

When the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was about to secretly leave Makkah for his emigration to Madeenah with his close friend Abu Bakr, it was Asmaa who prepared the provisions for the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and her father. She said: “I prepared the provision bag for the Prophet in the house of Abu Bakr when he wanted to emigrate to Madeenah. We did not find anything with which to tie his bag or waterskin. I said to Abu Bakr: “By Allaah, I cannot find anything to tie with except my belt.” He said: “Tear it in two and tie the waterskin with one and the bag with the other.”” So that is what she did and since then she became know as ‘Dhaatun-Nitaaqayn’ [She of the two belts]. (Collected in Sahaah al-Bukhaaree (eng. Trans. Vol.4 p.141 no.222))

Asmaa was married to Zubayr Ibn al-Awwaam, the cousin of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was a very poor man, nevertheless Abu Bakr knew him to be a man of great piety, so despite the huge difference between their financial status, Abu Bakr married his daughter to him. In the initial stages of her marriage, Asmaa has to face a lot of hardship due to the extreme poverty they suffered. Suddenly, this daughter of a rich merchant found herself tending to the animals, kneading, grinding, fetching water and carrying huge loads on her head. She said about her situation: “When az-Zubayr married me, he had neither land, nor wealth, nor slave, nor anything else like it, except a camel to get water and his horse. I used to graze his horse, provide fodder for it, look after it and ground dates for his camel. Besides this, I grazed the camel, made arrangements for providing it with water and patching up his leather bucket and kneading the flour. I was not very good at baking the bread, so my female neighbors used to bake bread for me and they were sincere women. And I used to carry on my head, the date-stones from the land of az-Zubayr which the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had endowed him and it was a distance of two miles from Madeenah. One day, as o was carrying the date-stones upon my head, I happened to meet Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, along with a group of his Companions. He called me and told the camel to sit down so that he could make me ride behind him. I felt shy to go with men and I remembered az-Zubayr and his Gheerah (Gheerah is the sense of pride that a man has which causes him to dislike his wives, daughters or sisters from being seen or heard by strangers. It is this gheerah which makes a man protective about his women) and he was a man having the most gheerah. The Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam understood my shyness and left. I came to az-Zubayr and said: “The Messenger of Allaah met me as I was carrying date-stones upon my head and there was with him a group of his Companions. He told the camel to kneel so that I could mount it but I felt shy from him and I remembered your gheerah.” Upon this az-Zubayr said: “By Allaah, the thought of you carrying date-stones upon your head is more severe a burden to me than you riding with him.”

I led this life of hardship until Abu Bakr sent me a female servant who took upon herself the responsibility of looking after the horse and I felt as if she had emancipated me.” (Reported in Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (eng. Trans. Vol.7 p.111 no.151))

Look at the sense of dignity and modesty of Asmaa. See how she felt shy in front of men? See how careful she was about refraining from what displeased her husband? She knew that az-Zubayr had a lot of gheerah, so she didn’t want to upset him by accepting the Prophet’s offer of assistance, even though that meant bringing hardship upon herself. And what did az-Zubayr say when he heard of what had happened that day?…’By Allaah, the thought of you carrying date-stones is more severe a burden on me than you riding with him!” so even though az-Zubayr had a lot of gheerah, he did not wish for that to cause inconvenience to his wife. Isn’t this what the marital relationship should be like? One of mutual concern, corporation and compassion? Asmaa could easily have said: “I am the daughter of the noble Abu Bakr and so I shouldn’t be doing these jobs!” but she didn’t. she was patient and respectful towards her husband throughout her difficult period.

It is reported that once when she complained to her father about her hardships, he advised her, “My daughter be patient. When a woman has a righteous husband and he dies and she does not remarry after him, they will be reunited in the Garden.”(Reported in at-Tabaqaat of Ibn Sa’d)

And az-Zubayr was indeed a righteous man, as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself testified when he counted him among the Promised ten of Paradise. (See Musnad Ahmad, Abu Dawood and others. Authenticated in Saheehul-Jaami’ (no.50)) He also said of him: “az-Zubayr is the son of my paternal aunt and my disciple from my Ummah.” (Saheeh – Narrated by Jaabir & collected in Musnad Ahmad. Authenticated by al-Albaanee in his as-Saheehah (1877))

In addition to her being the wife of such a righteous man, Asmaa was also the mother of ‘Urwah Ibn az-Zubayr, who became one of the scholars of Madeenah. His teachers included his parents as well as him maternal aunt, the Mother of the Believers, ‘Aaishah radhi’allaahu anha; from whom he learnt a great deal. ‘Umar Ibn Abdul Azeez said about him: “I do not find anyone more knowledgeable than ‘Urwah Ibn az-Zubayr, and for whatever I know he knows something which I do not.” (Reported by adh-Dhahabee in Siyaar A’laamin-Nubalaa’)

His son Hishaam reports that his father’s leg had to be amputated at the knee and was adviced to drink a narcotic, but he refused saying, “I did not think that anyone would drink something which would take away his intellect to the point that he did not know his Lord.” So they took off his leg with a saw and he did not say anything but “Ouch, ouch.” And in the same journey his son Muhammad was kicked to death by a mule and ‘Urwah was not heard to say anything about it but: “We have suffered much fatigue in this, our journey.” [Soorah Kahf 18:62]. O Allaah, I had seven sons and You took one and left me with six, and I had four limbs and You took one and left me with three – so if You have tested me then You have saved me, and if You have taken – You have left (more) behind.” (Ibn ‘Asaakir (11/287))

Her other son was of the Khaleefahs of the Muslims, ‘Abdullaah Ibn az-Zubayr, who was the leader of the Muslims during one of the most turbulent periods in Islaamic history. He was killed in Makkah at the hands of al-Hajjaaj on the 17th of Jumadaa al-Ulaa in 73H. a few days after the death of her sin, Asmaa bint Abu Bakr – ‘She of the two Belts’ – also died – radi’allaahu anhaa.

So many benefits in this narration الله اكبر!

Don’t Buy Me No Flowers

@cocoa-and-rum suggested a florist AU. So, I did.


Face tensed in concentration, Killian focused on the lilies out before him. The pinks and creams blended together in pleasing harmony, but there was something missing. Texture. Movement. As he reached for his pruning shears he stifled a wry groan. If only his old work mates could see him now. Lieutenant Killian Jones, outstanding officer in her majesty’s navy, capable, strong ( masculine )… a florist. Almost, anyway. Once his community college certification was complete.

From the front of the store he heard a soft groan followed by a loud whisper of, “Snickerdoodles!”

Killian smirked. His sister-in-law’s inability to swear never failed to tickle him. Dropping the shears, he headed for the curtain that separated the two parts of the store.

“Alright Else?”

As he stepped into the main part of the business, the blonde was staring intently at a sales note.

“Yes…” she replied, the crease between her brows growing deeper. Then she sighed. “Actually no.”

She turned and placed a hand on the large bump that was barely concealed by her crisp, cream apron. “I took this order earlier and I thought it was for delivery tomorrow, but no, silly Elsa, it’s due for today.”

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The King in Love  Ep. 1~4

Historical background to help understand The King in Love (2017 MBC)

Yi Seung-Hyu : You said your name was Han-Cheon?
Wang Won : Yes.
Yi Seung-Hyu : On the left side of that name, the Chinese character Eon for “speech” is supposed to be added, isn’t it?
Wang Won :  (surprised)
Yi Seung-Hyu : Han for “shore” and Cheon for “fountain”… combined together, Won for “endless”.
Wang Won : You must be thinking further than you should be.
Yi Seung-Hyu : I want to boast to you that I found out your identity through Paja (meaning “wordplay”), but I’ve seen you before, a long time ago. You are still the way you used to be. How have you been, Crown prince.

■ Alias breakdown through Paja (“wordplay”)

Paja (파자 破字) is an old-fashioned wordplay using the fact that some Chinese characters are combination of existing characters. According to the Paja rule, our two boys’ aliases break down as follow.  

  • 謜 원 Won (meaning “endless”) = 言 언 Eon (“speech”) + 厂 한 Han (“shore, hillside”)  + 泉 천 Cheon (“fountain, spring”)
  • 潾 린 Rin (meaning “clear, crystalline purity”) = 水 수 Soo (“water”) + 粦 인 In (“goblin’s fire, ignis fatuus, will o’ the wisp”)

That’s why Won is Han-Cheon and Rin is Soo-In.  

By the way, San (珊 산) means “coral” in Chinese character. So, there is a scene where Crown Prince Won presents her with a coral dagger in the original novel. Her alias in the drama is So-Hwa (소화 小花), but the English subtitle made a mistake. It is not So-Ah (little kid) but So-Hwa (little flower).

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the US needs a militant left because we live in the most militarized western country

everything in our society is militarized, half the police forces in the country are indistinguishable from combat occupation forces, the fucking post office has more assault rifles than they know what to do with, the population in general is extremely well-armed and the right has networks of militias that have been training for years, some of them with direct access to material & intelligence support from government agencies

we are passing through an extremely turbulent, very violent, period of history and taking some mythical high-ground to be slaughtered on is not a viable option no matter what the centrists keep crying about, if the left wants to survive and expand it needs to be just as militant and uncompromising as every other group

Join Florence in celebrating the anniversary of @DavidBowieReal’s ‘Heroes’, with an exploration of the factors that influenced the album.

David Bowie’s 'Heroes’ 40th Anniversary

Florence Welch, from the British band Florence + The Machine, marks the 40th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s seminal “Heroes” LP by exploring the personal and musical factors that influenced the album’s writing and recording in Berlin in 1977.

Florence will feature archive of the late David Bowie explaining why he chose to live and work in Berlin and the impact the city’s history had on the masterpiece he created. She’ll also meet the album’s producer Tony Visconti to get an insight to the unique recording techniques he employed to interpret Bowie’s creative vision and how the characteristics of the famous Hansa Studios, which are situated in a huge former chamber music concert hall, contributed to the album’s influential sounds. Iggy Pop, who was living with Bowie in Berlin during the recording of the album, recalls how a battle with drug addition, bankruptcy and a legal dispute with his ex wife for access to his son all provided inspiration for the album’s lyrics and Brian Eno, who collaborated with David throughout the LP’s recording, explains the unique musical structures he and David employed to compose the innovative songs.

Berlin’s radical cultural diversity had always fascinated Bowie and Florence will explain how the opportunity to live and work in the city during the turbulent political period prior to the fall of `the Wall’ provided the perfect austere environment for David and his collaborators to experiment with music inspired by several German techno bands of the 70’s, including Neu!, Kraftwerk and Can.



October 2, 1452 -  Fotheringhay Castle. Richard Plantagenet was born to Cecily Neville, Duchess of York and Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York who was the presumed heir to the throne of England. The man who history would come to know as King Richard III was the twelfth child and fourth surviving son. Richard’s birth to his death would be defined by a period of English civil war that would later be known as the Wars of the Roses. His fortune changed when his eldest brother Edward became king with the death of his father and brother, altering Richard’s own history. This would be become a period of time with substantial violence and death with moments of surprising comfort. Exile found Richard more than once, as well as betrayal from those closest to him. As a young boy he was given to his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick to be raised in Middleham Castle where he was trained in life and war. It was within these walls that he became acquainted with the Earl’s daughter Anne would later become his wife, his Duchess and Queen Consort.  In his teens Richard displayed an advanced ability at war and furthered his power growth by remaining loyal to his brother when forced to choose sides. After his wedding, Richard found peace of sorts in the North of England and his former home. His rule and his way of dispensing justice between those of rank and the poor formed a connection that still lingers. Richard had one son with Anne. Edward of Middleham, who died shortly before his mother and father’s own tragic deaths, and two illegitimate children from his youth; Katherine Plantagenet and John of Gloucester. In 1483, Richard’s life as the King’s brother changed upon his death and put Richard closer in line to the throne. Though questions still remain on the way Richard was given the crown by Parliament, he did become King of England on June 25, 1483. And on July 6, 1483 he shared a joint coronation with his Queen. His first Parliament showed a resolve and hope for change for his people, but tragedy was to follow. First with the death of his son and heir, Edward in spring 1484 and then the passing of his Queen Anne Neville in March 1485. Although he fought with courage and heart to save his country, his rule would become one of the shortest and most controversial. Richard was born during a turbulent period and it was violence that would take away his life, in the form of a invader named Tudor on August 22, 1485. Richard was 32.  

Although his decisions can only be guessed at, he was a King of England who found a way to be remembered throughout history.



Rachel back in your tags again with another wc ad, this time with a ( hopefully ) better looking edit! Again I ask you, do you like tumultuous sister relationships? Little baby punks surviving the zombie apocalypse all by herself? A heartbreaking reunion with even more heartbreaks to come? Come inside, I’ve got the girl for you!

name: Marnie Sergeant
age: 15 to 16 years old
birthplace: Manchester, New Hampshire
location: Cheyenne, Wyoming
parents: Mark and Cassandra Sergeant
siblings: Glenn and Ingrid Sergeant
faceclaim: Kathryn Newton Taissa Farmiga could work, but I’m pretty set on Kathryn tbh )
traits: + clever, precocious, swift  /  – melodramatic, stubborn, capricious

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The Woman Who Painted Marie Antoinette

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842) was an admired portraitist of late 18th century French royalty, and is considered one of the most important women painters of all time.  An autodidact with exceptional skills as a portraitist, she become the portraitist of Queen Marie Antoinette. She achieved success in France and Europe during one of the most eventful, turbulent periods in European history. 

In 1777, Vigée Le Brun received the commission, her first from queen Marie Antoinette. In her memoirs, she wrote, “Marie-Antoinette was tall and admirably built, being somewhat stout, but not excessively so. Her arms were superb, her hands small and perfectly formed, and her feet charming. She had the best gait of any woman in France, carrying her head erect with a dignity that marked her as the Queen in the midst of her whole Court, her majestic mien, however, not in the least diminishing the sweetness and amiability of her face.”

With the support of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, Vigée Le Brun became one of fourteen women (among 550 artists) admitted to the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture before the Revolution. At her first Salon, she displayed a number of portraits, including one of the queen in a white muslin dress and straw hat. The characterization of the monarch was admired. However, the pastoral costume was condemned as inappropriate for the public portrayal of royalty and the artist was asked to remove it from the exhibition. 

A month after Vigée Le Brun was obliged to remove her picture of Marie Antoinette in a chemise dress from the Salon, she installed a new, larger, and more formal portrait of the queen. In an astonishing transformation, she presents the sitter in the same pose and with the same expression while attiring her in the epitome of decorum and taste. The queen wears an elegant lace-trimmed dress. At the center of the nosegay in both paintings is a pink cabbage rose, her signature flower, at the peak of its bloom. 

So pleased was the queen that during a period of six years, Vigée Le Brun would paint more than thirty portraits of the queen and her family, leading to her being commonly viewed as the official portraitist of Marie Antoinette.

Vigée Le Brun helped to improve Marie Antoinette’s image by painting portraits that included her children and worked towards making her more relatable to the public, in hopes to counter the bad press and judgement the queen had recently received.

The above double portrait was commissioned by Marie Antoinette and depicts her children Madame Royale (1778–1851) and the dauphin (1781–1789) sitting side by side in a garden. It is typical for the era that they are dressed as adults. The dauphin is presented in a satin sailor suit with the cross and sash of the Order of the Holy Spirit. Madame Royale wears a miniature straw hat and fichu with her striped satin dress. 

She received commission for the portrait Marie-Antoinette and her Children(1787) in 1785, which portrayed Marie Antoinette as a devout and loving mother figure. This was one of the last portraits that Vigee Le Brun painted of the queen. 

After completing her famous 1787 portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children, Vigée Le Brun painted this work, doubtless without a sitting and probably on her own initiative. She believed that there would be requests for other images of the queen but in the end she did not sell this canvas for many years. The face and pose of Marie Antoinette in the two compositions are almost identical, but here she has aged and she communicates a degree of regal severity.  

After the arrest of the royal family during the French Revolution, Vigée Le Brun fled France with her young daughter Julie. She lived and worked for some years in Italy, Austria, and Russia, where her experience in dealing with an aristocratic clientele was still useful.

anonymous asked:



Here’s the opening of the next chapter. This is so…Dooku.


Many years ago, he had been on a mission on the planet Devros. The Devronian people were a highly developed, highly civilized society - ones who placed a premium on culture and the arts. The citizens of Devros were renowned in particular for their visual art, for their paintings - not the crude holo-works and replicas that adorned the walls of the Senate building on Coruscant, but real, physical compositions that required a deft hand and careful planning.

The job had been simple - serve on a temporary security detail of a young prince who had been threatened with assassination during a turbulent period of Devronian politics. Predictable - almost mundane, really. And it would have been the most tedious of missions if not for the fact that the young monarch had commissioned a self-portrait that very week. Every day he had watched as the disheveled artist dragged himself and his materials to the sitting rooms. Once there, he would methodically set up his paints, his graphites, and his easel. And then it would begin - always first with the positioning of the subject, the lighting - finding a compromise between the young ruler’s demands and the artist’s vision. And then there were sketches, outlines, the difficult choice of color palette. But bit by bit, the work had begun to reveal itself, until what had been something ambiguous and vague took on definitive shape. Soon after, the background was enhanced, and simple geometric shapes became limbs, postures, even expressions. But what had struck the young Jedi the most was the illusion of depth, that one could actually walk up to the painting and expect the subject to respond if greeted. It was a wonderful deception of hand that only the most talented artists were able to accomplish. The prince - the cretin he was - certainly hadn’t deserved such a fantastic object. He had shown as much depth as a puddle in the Geonosian desert.

Still, Dooku had been enthralled by the process, if not the subject matter. For the first time of his apprenticeship, he truly understood how patience, how careful planning could reap long-term benefits and advantages. But the seeds needed to be planted, cultivated in just the right way. One could not jump from sketches directly to the final product. Otherwise the outcome would be…inadequate.

Now, though - his work was nearly complete. It was only missing that intangible depth - some singular event that Dooku was certain would push the man next to him completely over to his side.

If he could only manufacture such a thing.


Book review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a powerful, important story that I can’t recommend enough. Set in 1959, during the desegregation of American schools, it follows Sarah Dunbar, one of the first black students to attend a previously all-white school, through the trials she endures at the hands of her fellow classmates, her conflict between wanting to do her part for the movement and wanting to feel safe, and her budding romantic feelings for Linda Hairston, the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of integration.

Through the eyes of both Sarah and Linda, Talley explores the impact of societal racism, sexism, and homophobia on the individual.  Talley’s depiction of the segregationists as otherwise intelligent, well-educated men and women blind to their own ignorance - thinking that their hatred is clever and nuanced and at times even loving - is brilliantly executed and terrifyingly true to real life.  The arguments Talley’s characters use to justify their racism might seem absurd to a modern reader, but all are still in use today to defend discriminatory beliefs and actions.

Sarah was a wonderful character - passionate, strong-willed, and caring.  Linda’s perspective was much more uncomfortable to read and reminded me of a quote I keep seeing on the internet in regards to current events in America: "One of the most sinister things about normalised racism is you don’t have to have bad intentions to be racist, you just have to remain ignorant.” Through Linda, Talley explores how easily ignorance can misinterpreted as knowledge and cruelty can be mistaken for kindness when discrimination is so normalised that, to the privileged, any opinion that differs from what they’ve been taught their entire lives seems absurd.  Talley acknowledges that even with the best of intentions, years of misinformation and indoctrination cannot be undone instantly. Talley doesn’t attempt to ‘fix’ Linda in a few short months; Linda’s views are the result of an entire childhood of indoctrination, and although she eventually manages to break free of her father’s propaganda and begin to think for herself, she still harbours some ignorant and harmful ideas about race as the novel draws to a close.

Unfortunately, while Linda’s prejudice is realistic and thoughtfully written, it does weaken the love story between Sarah and Linda.  I loved that Talley chose to leave the reader with an ending that suggests both girls will continue to educate themselves and form their own beliefs, but as the issue of Linda’s racism was never fully resolved, I found their relationship by the end of the novel problematic.  That said, Sarah and Linda’s gradually developing feelings for each other were beautifully written, and both girls’ examination of their own internalized homophobia nicely paralleled their discussions of racial discrimination.

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a wonderfully crafted, much needed examination of social discrimination which not only sheds light on a turbulent period of modern history, but also gives focus to issues which continue to be relevant today.

Many thanks to Harlequin UK for providing a copy of Lies We Tell Ourselves in exchange for an honest review. Lies We Tell Ourselves will be released on September 30th in the US and October 3rd in the UK.

Publisher: Harlequin UK/MIRA Ink
Rating: 5 stars | ★★★★★
Review cross-posted to Goodreads

Preorder on Amazon: US | UK

Yagami Taichi with the Crest of Courage: 2nd year in high school. He is still a part of the soccer club as he had in elementary school, and goes through hard training every day. Since he’s in his growing stage, he eats a lot. He is in the same class as Sora.
Izumi Koushiro with the Crest of Knowledge: 1st year in high school. He goes to the same high school as Taichi. He also helps out a friend’s company that’s been set up in America through the internet.
Ishida Yamato with the Crest of Friendship: 2nd year in high school. He is in the class next door from Taichi and Sora. He forms a new band in high school and plays bass. Of course, he also does vocals.

Interview with Toei Animation’s producer Arai Shuuhei behind the cut.

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Welsh: the onlyCeltic language not classified as “endangered” by UNESCO

Thought to have originated sometime between 400 and 700 AD, Welsh is one of six surviving Celtic languages: the others being Breton, Irish, Gaelic, Cornish and Manx. Cymraeg (“Welsh” in Welsh) is derived from the Brittonic word Combrogi, meaning fellow countryman.

The Latin alphabet was adapted for the writing of Welsh early in the ninth century and by 1660, 108 books had been published in Welsh. By the second half of the 18th century Wales was one of the few European countries to have a literate majority, thanks in part to Griffith Jones, who in 1734, motivated by a desire to ‘save people’s souls’, set about organizing a system to teach children and adults basic reading skills in their mother tongue in as little as three months, before moving on to the next location.

The mid-19th century was a turbulent period in Welsh history and some attributed the resulting riots and poor provision of education in Wales to the continued existence of the Welsh language. Welsh school children were discouraged from speaking Welsh through the Welsh Not: A plaque which was given to any offending child, to be handed on to whoever next spoke the language. At the end of lessons, the child left with the Welsh Not would be punished.

By the early 20th century Welsh was still the everyday language used in Wales, but the success of the coal mining industry attracted workers from further afield and by 1911 Welsh was a minority language, spoken by just 43.5% of the population for the first time for around 2,000 years.

This led in 1925 to the founding of Plaid Cymru, a socialist leaning party seeking self-government and the preservation of the language and culture of Wales. The recent growth of bilingualism in Wales is due largely to their non-violent direct action throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s which led to the imprisonment of hundreds of its members.

According to the latest 2011 Census, 19% of people in Wales can speak Welsh. There are currently over 490 primary and secondary schools which teach entirely or mainly through the medium of Welsh. Some courses at Welsh universities and colleges are available in Welsh and there are numerous Welsh courses for adults.


Cymraeg: yr unig iaith Geltaidd Nid dosbarthu fel “mewn perygl” gan UNESCO

Cymraeg yw un o’r chwech iaith Geltaidd sydd wedi goroesi ers iddi gael ei tharddu rhywbryd rhwng 400 a100 OC: Llydaweg, Gwyddeleg, Gaeleg, Cernyweg a Manaweg yw’r lleill. Mae’r gair ‘Cymraeg’ ei hun yn dod o'r gair Brythoneg ‘Combrogi’, sy'n golygu gydwladwr.

Erbyn ail hanner yr 18fed ganrif Cymru oedd un o'r ychydig wledydd Ewropeaidd lle bu fwyafrif y boblogaeth yn llythrennog, diolch yn rhannol i Griffith Jones. Yn 1734 drefnodd e system i ddysgu plant a oedolion sgiliau darllen sylfaenol yn eu mamiaith, er mwyn ‘achub eneidiau pobl’ mae'n debyg. Byddai'n cyflawni hyn mewn cyn lleied â thri mis, cyn symud ymlaen i'r lleoliad nesaf.

Roedd canol y 19eg ganrif yn gyfnod cythryblus yn hanes Cymru ac roedd rhai yn beio’r terfysg, a’r ddarpariaeth wael o addysg yng Nghymru ar fodolaeth barhaus yr iaith Gymraeg. Caiff blant ysgolion Cymru eu hannog i beidio â siarad Cymraeg gyda’r Welsh Not, sef plac a roddwyd i unrhyw blentyn defnyddiod yr iaith yn y dosbarth, trosglwyddwyd i bwy bynnag gwnaeth siarad yr iaith tro nesa. Roedd yna gosb wedyn i'r blentyn hynnu a ddelir y Welsh Not ar diwedd y dydd.

Erbyn dechrau'r 20fed ganrif Cymraeg oedd y prif iaith a ddefnyddir yng Nghymru. Gyda llwyddiant y diwydiant cloddio glo yn denu gweithwyr o bell, erbyn 1911 Cymraeg oedd yr iaith leiafrifol, siaredir gan dim ond 43.5% o'r boblogaeth am y tro cyntaf ers tua 2,000 mlynedd.

Arweiniodd hyn yn 1925 i sefydliad Plaid Cymru, plaid sosialaidd sy'n ceisio tuag at hunan-lywodraeth a gwarchod iaith a diwylliant Cymru. Mae’r twf diweddar o ddwyieithrwydd yng Nghymru yn bennaf oherwydd eu gweithredu uniongyrchol di-drais drwy gydol y 1960au, 70au ac 80au. Caracharwyd cannoedd ei aelodau yn y cyfnod.

Yn ôl y Cyfrifiad diweddaraf 2011, gall 19% o bobl Cymru yn siarad Cymraeg. Ar hyn o bryd mae yna dros 490 o ysgolion cynradd ac uwchradd yn addysgu yn gyfan gwbl neu'n bennaf trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Mae rhai cyrsiau mewn prifysgolion a cholegau Cymru ar gael yn Gymraeg ac mae cyrsiau niferus Cymraeg i oedolion.

64 days in heaven and hell (1)
Van Gogh and Gauguin in the Yellow House at Arles
Very early in the morning of Tuesday 23 October 1888, Paul Gauguin arrived by train in Arles. He must have been quite tired, because the 1100 km journey from Pont-Aven had taken him almost two days. But it was worth it. He was invited by his friend Vincent Van Gogh to stay and work with him in the “Yellow House”.
Only 64 hectic days later, their paths would split again.

I’d like to know more about this turbulent period. So, let’s open some books and start digging.

(( This ended up being slightly different than what you had asked for, but I hope you still like it! ovo ))

Arthur was by no means a fool.

He read magazines and articles online. He did his homework. He didn’t have a high ranking office position for nothing; he knew how to research. And it was almost disgustingly transparent, so much so that Arthur felt properly revolted that Alfred considered him that oblivious.

His husband was cheating on him.

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My Thoughts On The Show And Yuuri Katsuki’s Free Skate Program: “Yuri!!! On Ice”

This is a series that will certainly go down in history for breaking all the barriers and regulations set before it. We all know of the censorship laws in Japan, so it is no small feat that we were able to receive such a gift from the creators, who I’m sure worked tirelessly to produce Yuri!!! On Ice. Before I continue, I would like to sincerely thank the team that brought us what we’ve all been crying over for the past several weeks. You are amazing people, and you have more courage than anyone else could imagine.

The scenes depicted above were taken from Episode 005, where Yuuri Katsuki (23, Japanese) competed in the Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu Championships. He faced a few younger, up-and-coming figure-skaters (one of them being Kenjirou, Minami), but he ultimately won, and may now advance further. He is getting steadily closer to the Grand Prix Final, as well. What I would like to discuss is the program itself, how very important it was, and what it meant to me.

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