h a l f b a k e r y
"Put it on a plate, son. You'll enjoy it more."
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I found out something last night that
literally changed my life. Yup, it was a life
changing day. No I didn't get laid off or
fired for a change, or even cheated on, or
lied to, by another 'baker. Not anything
even remotely so trivial.
For me it was something so
and about someone I have adored
all my life, and admired, and held in the
deepest reverence possible, except
for a god, or something like that.
I found out that John James Audubon
all of the birds he painted, before he
pinned them to a display board, where he
would literally spend days sticking their
beaks, their feathers, their expressions
even with pins, to pose them in specific
positions to make them appear more
He killed every single bird he ever drew.
He shot them in the back of their heads,
so as to not make a bloody mess of their
He killed them for his own personal
monetary gain. He killed them to make
paintings more realistic than his
contemporaries. He killed them to
books. He killed them for his own
pleasure. He killed the one thing I always
believed he cherished.
He opened the door for me to discover
them, to escape to their world, to share
it, to find some incredible fucking beauty
in an otherwise pretty shitty world.
It allowed me to experience freedom and
flight, peace and promise, a world very
alien to me. They let me watch them
and pretend their world was mine, if only
for fleeting moments every now and
They taught me their songs and their
language, their culture and their ways.
Hence now that the ranting part is
down, I propose that for every ignorant,
bloody, bastardly, greedy slob that has
ever robbed the world of even one
of it's most magnificent beauty, should
held accountable and be sentenced to die
in the exact same manner that he
subjected his victims to, and then to be
placed on public display for all to see,
forever and ever.
I'm not suggesting a discussion on the
death penalty, god knows that's been
to "death" here already. What I want
be a public display board, in a library, or
museum, or somewhere like that, in the
section where his "beautiful lifelike" bird
paintings are housed, and children could
look at his paintings and actually believe
the story, and all the lies. They could
believe for a moment that someone so
wonderful actually devoted his entire life
to capturing the endless beauty of a bird
Moments before they would then get to
visit the display case, where the ugly
would be told, and the decision to love or
not, to have passion or feel nothing but
indifference, would at-least be based on
fact, not on a prettied up story, with
streets, and buildings and monuments
erected in the name of not a hero, or
a kind and humble man, but instead of a
selfish, egotistical, sadistic mad man.
had but one goal in his pathetic life, to
paint better than the only other man on
Earth he felt *could* draw better than
and to sell more books than him as well.
I would like to stand in front of his
case today, and think to myself how
much more lifelike, or should I say
human-like he would look if only his
shoulder was pinned down with just a
bit sharper of an angle, you know, so the
sunlight hitting it would look more
realistic for that time of day. Or perhaps
his left testicle would be more believable
it had a mole or two growing from
underneath his sparse gray pubic hair.
There are others who I have wished
die in the same manner that they
on their innocent victims, but never, ever
did I in my worst nightmare, realize a
person who held such a delicate life in
palm of his hand in one moment, could
then blow the life out of him forever, for
nothing but the sake of his "style" of art.
Even the insect display boards don't
me, well not that much, because the
creator doesn't spend his whole
leading people to believe that he loves
creatures that he displays. He might even
believe he is passing information down
others, so that the species can be kept
from becoming extent, or be able to
define and/or differentiate new strains.
But this man, who was as a god to me,
the ability and the desire, to have quite
possibly, at one time or another, held the
very last of a particular species of a bird
his hand, just moments prior to blowing
to extinction. Forever and ever.
Cheating humanity from *ever* being
to hear, or see, or even have the
knowledge of a beautiful bird who once
flew freely through the air and was
brought down, shot to death and then
pinned to his exact specifications, for his
own egotistical legacy, making the
decision for all of us, to unmake what
saw fit to create.
A public display for all of eternity
DIY Display Boards, for those who deserve to be displayed for all to see forever and ever. Built to your own specifications of course. [blissmiss, Jul 27 2007]
||You give him more credit than is due
him, I say. Near the end of his life when
his eyesight and mind were failing him,
he took to shooting anything, and
everything, including almost himself
once, not fot the thrill of the kill, or the
abscense of any sense of morality about
killing a thing, he simply loved the
sound made by a shooting gun.
||And the point is not that the times were
different, as we all know they were far
more barbaric...the point is that as a
student and a lover of his paintings, I
was always led to believe he painted
them in their natural habitat, and that is
why he took to shooting them. His
competetor was able to duplicate the
birds with out killing them, better than
JJ could. So he killed them and faked
their poses. That's the part that I hate
almost as much as the killing. The
deception he lived his entire life, so that
his books would sell better than
||It is also important to remember that this was a time before high speed color photography. The only way to get detailed information about the bird was to get it to stand still for hours on end. Not practical with a live bird.
||See above. His biggest rival WAS able to
get the same stills, actually better stills,
with the birds alive and in their natural
They didn't take photos that I'm aware
of, atleast JJ didn't. That is why he
painstakinly posed them post-mortem.
So that he could take his jolly old time
painting them. Which is how he
reproduced his fake bird paintings.
||You could sit in front of a dead bird for
a couple years and never be able to
recreate the realness of life looking
back out at you, I would bet.
||This case would've been a nice additional example for when I was writing my dissertation - there's a part on wider context of information, and where the elastic boundary of metadata disappears into contextual background information 'outside the frame'. But then, go further outside that layer and there's often yet another that inverts the one it encloses. And so on.
||The display board, or dashboard is a good idea for the actual exhibit but better (or better if combined with
) would be a sort of canonical online source of this information - for example, a kind of taxonomical dataset of references that help build up the whole story, not just the facets written by the winners.
||Of course, you could link the display or dashboard to the web, which would supply the wider contextual background information via such a server. That'd kill two birds with one stone.
||I've always known this about Audobon,
but it does not diminish the
achievement of this illustrations and I
agree with the [Beep's] sentiments re
Victorian values. There were many who
even believed that animals were
incapable of feeling pain in the same
way as we do.
||There are modern equivalents of
Audobon. They carry out unnecessary
experiments on animals at research
labs. He killed his birds quickly. They
torture theirs slowly.
||Blissmiss - check out my Hunter Rug - I
take orders !
||//Audubon was behaving quite normally for a Victorian. They had no grasp of the sadness of extinction of species; they were avid collectors and recorders.//
||This reminds me of Tring, the small town where I grew up, where the Rothschilds lived. (Fun fact: they used to have zebra pull their cart instead of horses.) There's a natural history museum in town, which is basically a collection of the animals, birds, fish and insects that one particular Rothschild shot, hooked or gassed. In the museum's guide book, one phrase always stood out to me for its unintentional irony: "Lord Rothschild donated funds to establish the museum as a birthday present for his son, so that he would have somewhere to display his collection. The elder Rothschild regarded his son's interest in animals as a harmless pursuit."
||I wonder what we do now that will be condemned by our children...
||Unquestioning consumerism propelling unchecked advertising driving a saturated immersive mass media with no accountability in terms of the long term mental health of the populace. Probably.
||yes, worryingly I understand that.
||The guy with the bodies exhibition didn't do the same thing, did he? I've always worried about that
||I have never liked Audubon's drawings and now I like them less. I love birds of all kinds and though I lovingly eat chickens and ducks, I am aware that I'm taking something out of nature, and I enjoy their lives as well as their beauty and song; I would never want to keep a bird as a pet. I just want to be out there birdwatching and see them and be a part of their world for a while.
||Meanwhile, Audubon's pictures - they may as well not be birds, they are so stylized. He drew them as if they were women, but a bird is not similar.
||//He drew them as if they were women/
don't want to start a tiresome "PC" text
- but I don't understand this phrase.
||How do you draw something "as if it
woman" and can you also draw
"as if it was a man" or even "as if it was
a hungry aardvark, who had foolishly
stepped across a freshly varnished
that had still not dried properly" ???
||Everyone seems to have found valid points on both sides of the subject. I was touched by [bliss]'s shock at finding out that one has been disillusioned all these years, but that is part of life. [Beep] has made some comments with mature insight. I can't seem to take a stand myself right now, so carry on 'bakers...
||Oh, [blissmiss]. The higher you build the pedestal, the further they have to fall. [sympathy, but no vote]
||This seems to me to be more about the disjunction between [blissmiss]'s idea of Audubon and the reality than about Audubon being particularly cruel (for his time).
[Ian] //there's a part on wider context of information, and where the elastic boundary of metadata disappears into contextual background information 'outside the frame'. But then, go further outside that layer and there's often yet another that inverts the one it encloses.// - in much the same way as some irritating, juvenile people used to add " - NOT!!" to the end of their sentences.
||(I was so happy just to see a recent post of yours that I bunned it. Now I'll go back and read it...)
||later: Oh my! How shocking and sad! What a horrible day for you, blissmiss. I can't agree with the torture and murder of the inflicter, but I will leave the bun as solace for the birds that remain.
||// .. Life's Little Karma Display Board .. //