View previous topic | View next topic

Fear

Page 4 of 7
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next

MatC
298677.  Wed Mar 19, 2008 7:57 am Reply with quote

Here’s one that has an uncomfortably contemporary feel, in these days of ricin and anthrax and other imaginary, state-sponsored horrors ...

In Milan, in 1630, the plague was foretold by the appearance a year earlier of a comet. Because of its “pale colour,” most fortune tellers believed it meant pestilence, rather than war or famine, and the fact that they were right meant that they were widely listened to thereafter.

One morning in April of that year, the city awoke to a mystery: all the doors in the main streets had been daubed with a spot, as if a sponge had been dabbed against them. It was agreed that this spot consisted of “purulent matter of the plague-sores.” There was debate, however, over who had put it there; was it the Devil (as foretold by ancient prophecy) or was it “emissaries of foreign powers employed to spread infectious poison over the city”?

Meanwhile, the plague was spreading rapidly. It was understood that the devils and/or terrorists had poisoned “all objects of touch,” including even “the very handles of the doors.” (Mackay, writing in the mid-19th century, clearly found that idea silly; today, of course, we are often warned that door handles are one of the great spreaders of colds, flu, stomach bugs and so on).

Everyone was on watch for the poisoners. If you wanted an enemy done in, you simply denounced him for “besmearing a door with ointment,” and the mob would kill him for you.

One old man, an octogenarian, was seen to wipe his customary seat in the church of St Antonio with his cloak before sitting on it. This was interpreted, not as a hygiene measure, but as an act of besmearing. A mob of women took him, and dragged him by his hair to the municipal judge. Unfortunately, he died on the way.

He was one of many. Some of them really do sound as if they come straight from the War Against Terror ... A man named Mora, a barber-chemist, was suspected of sympathy for the devil. His house was raided, and found to contain chemical preparations. They were “preservatives against infection” he protested - but physicians called as expert witnesses said they were “poisons.” Mora was put to the rack, and after insisting on his innocence for a surprisingly long time, he eventually admitted that he’d conspired with the devil and some foreigners to “poison the whole city.” Not only had he been at the door handles, the proto-bin-Laden bastard, but he’d also infected the fountains. Luckily for the security of the homeland, he named - under torture - many of his accomplices, who were swiftly put to death. City saved as anti-terror police smash poison plot, etc etc.

Mora’s house was raised to the ground, and a column erected on the spot where it had stood, inscribed with a memorial to his guilt.

Despite these victories, the plague just got worse and worse. Of course, one reason it did so is that every time an accomplice was executed, large crowds gathered together to watch ... and thus infected each other.

Eventually, the devil himself was spotted. He had rented a house in Milan, which he used as his HQ, preparing his poisons and organising his emissaries to distribute them. Scores of people saw him, but no matter how many searches the authorities made they could never quite catch up with him. Nearly, but never quite.

Interestingly, large numbers of people (an unspecified number which is “almost incredible”) came forward to confess - of their own free will, without torture or denunciation - that they were emissaries of the Demon of the Pestilence, and that they had carried out poisonings on his behalf. Usually, they were people who already had visible signs of the plague on them, and some “died in the act of confession.”

S: “Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds” by Charles Mackay (Wordsworth Editions, 1995).

 
MatC
298715.  Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:10 am Reply with quote

In the matter of cheese dreams, it might be worth noting that if any of the panellists dream of figs;

“if green, betoken embarrassment; if dried, money to the poor and mirth to the rich.”

S: “Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds” by Charles Mackay (Wordsworth Editions, 1995).

 
MatC
298811.  Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:42 am Reply with quote

Another historic placebo: at the siege of Breda, 1625, the Prince of Orange’s garrison was afflicted with scurvy. The Prince told his physicians to prepare two or three small phials, containing a decoction of camomile, wormwood and camphor, and had them dose the men with it, while pretending that it was a priceless and rare medicine which had been obtained with great danger and difficulty form the East. It was so strong, the physicians were to tell the men, that “two or three drops would impart a healing virtue to a gallon of water.” A homeopathic remedy, in other words. It worked, apparently; the men took the medicine, believing the story, and the scurvy was defeated.

S: “Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds” by Charles Mackay (Wordsworth Editions, 1995).

Could scurvy really be cured by placebo?

 
dr.bob
298850.  Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:47 pm Reply with quote

You'd be surprised what can be cured by placebo.

Kathy Sykes fronted a show a while ago looking into various health-related things. One episode showed a bunch of patients who had problems with the cartilage in their knees that required surgery to fix. However, the surgeon performed an incredible test of the placebo effect. He anaesthetised his patients, and cut open their knees exactly as if he was doing the surgery, except he didn't do anything. He just stitched them up again without doing anything to address the problems they were having.

Fast forward to a few weeks later and an interview with one of the patients who reports that his knee is now completely better and he can walk again.

 
MatC
298926.  Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:31 pm Reply with quote

Amazing ... what on earth is happening there?

Mind you, now they've shown it on TV, presumably it won't work any more - I mean, this is faith healing, isn't it?


Incidentally, I meant to put the Siege of Breda post under Fictitious Tractors, I think.

 
MatC
299342.  Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:16 am Reply with quote

Another poet who upset imperialism (as discussed above) was the Salvadorean, Roque Dalton. He was involved in revolutionary struggles in the 1960 and 70s, until eventually murdered - probably by traitors on his own side.

But in 1965, he had been captured by the CIA inside El Salvador. They offered him a quiet retirement, if he would agree to give up his literary activities. He refused, choosing execution instead. But he didn't die on that occasion, because, while he was in prison awaiting death, an earthquake collapsed the wall of his cell. He escaped by joining a passing religious procession.

S: Morning Star (date uncertain).

 
Molly Cule
300879.  Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:09 pm Reply with quote

Edward Munch painted The Scream a few days after Krakatoa erupted in 1883, Oslo harbour where he painted would have had the red and yellow skies of his painting at the time. The eruption was heard 2,900 miles away and 36,000 people died mostly from huge tsunamis.

Turner painted the red sunsets over England that resulted from the biggest eruption of the last 10,000 years at Tambora, Indonesia in 1815.

s - Stanley Williams, professor of geology at Arizona State University.

 
MatC
301160.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:56 am Reply with quote

It's rather a nice idea that that picture is painted "from life"!

 
dr.bob
302042.  Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:03 am Reply with quote

Molly Cule wrote:
Turner painted the red sunsets over England that resulted from the biggest eruption of the last 10,000 years at Tambora, Indonesia in 1815.


Rather neatly, given the title of the thread, the eruption at Tambora lead to the creation of one of the most famous horror novels: F for Frankenstein.

In the Author's Introduction to the book, Mary Shelly describes how she and her husband visited Switzerland in the summer of 1816 and became the neighbours of Lord Byron. However, 1816 was the famous "year without a summer." As Shelly puts it:

Quote:
it proved a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house. Some volumes of ghost stories translated from the German into French fell into our hands.


Inspired by their reading habits, Byron suggested a competition where they each wrote a "ghost story," with Shelley's becoming the most famous.

It's generally thought now that the lack of summer in 1816 was due to the vast amounts of volcanic dust ejected into the upper atmosphere by Mount Tambora. So if it weren't for the volcano, the summer of 1816 would've been much nicer, and Shelley and her companions would've been far too busy gadding about Switzerland to have stayed inside, read ghost stories, and been inspired to write one of the most famous novels in history.

 
eggshaped
302926.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:50 am Reply with quote

1950s comic book panic in the US.

Good article here, but here are the edited highlights:

Quote:
The [comic-book inquisition] took place on April 21, 1954, at the Foley Square U.S. Courthouse (now the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse), in New York City, where a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee charged with investigating the causes of juvenile delinquency took on an imminent danger within: the comic-book industry. The hearings were televised.


Quote:
By 1952, [...] more than twenty publishers were putting out close to six hundred and fifty titles a month. Eighty to a hundred million comic books were sold every week; according to contemporary reports, the average issue was passed along to six or more readers. The math of the pass-alongs is a little dubious, but it seems plausible to say that in the early nineteen-fifties comic books reached more people than magazines, radio, or television did.


One witness said:
Quote:
Comic books taught children racism and sadism—“Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry," "“Batman” comics were homoerotic and “Wonder Woman” was about sadomasochism.


Quote:
According to a Gallup poll taken in November, 1954, seventy per cent of Americans believed that comic books were a cause of juvenile crime. [...] laws restricting the sale of comic books were passed in more than a dozen states, and there were also public comic-book burnings.

 
eggshaped
302942.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:17 am Reply with quote

I've a feeling that I, or someone else, has posted this before, but I just re-found it.

Wearing aluminium helmets actually improve the government's ability to read your mind with radio waves.

http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/

Quote:
Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified.

These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities.

We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

 
MatC
302951.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:22 am Reply with quote

More on the moral panic over comics at post 17435

"Werthamism" was a term of absue still in use in comic fandom in the 1970s and 80s (possibly since, too, though I am out of touch).

 
Jenny
303028.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:39 am Reply with quote

Is there scope in this topic for a mention of Reefer Madness?

 
Flash
303048.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:52 am Reply with quote

Lovely aluminium helmet site. Although it's a joke, I don't see why we shouldn't nick it.

 
dr.bob
303068.  Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:08 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
One witness said:
Quote:
Comic books taught children racism and sadism—“Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry," "“Batman” comics were homoerotic and “Wonder Woman” was about sadomasochism.


To be fair, they weren't far wrong about Batman:

http://www.superdickery.com/seduction/1.html
http://www.superdickery.com/seduction/5.html
http://www.superdickery.com/seduction/7.html
http://www.superdickery.com/seduction/29.html
http://www.superdickery.com/seduction/38.html
http://www.superdickery.com/seduction/73.html

And the piece de resistance (albeit not batman related):

http://www.superdickery.com/seduction/49.html

 

Page 4 of 7
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group