Prufrock is off this week and will return on August 8.

Reviews and News:

Wasp-egg black, dog-tooth gold, mollusk-purple, dragon's blood red and only the best, ultramarine, for Mary. Coloring illuminated manuscripts:

"One could honour God with prayer, of course, and build cathedrals, amass treasuries, turn choirs into stained-glass jewel boxes, carve portals with saints and sinners. But for the medieval monks bent over vellum in chilly scriptoria colour, too, was devotion: offertories of lapis lazuli, azurite, cinnabar, silver and gold, gold and more gold. Silver tarnished on the page, but gold remained exquisite, inviolable, and monks and scholars found a dragonish greed for it.

"War, weather, revolution, Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, acquisitive magpies, trophy-hunters and time have stripped gold and pigment from sculptures and ivories. Frescoes have been whitewashed, mosaics scuffed, stained-glass smashed, reliquaries melted and their gems dispersed, but illuminated manuscripts, bound between covers of oak and tanned leather, survive. They are the best record we have of the elation of colour in the art of the sixth to 16th centuries.[...]

"When scribes do get the naturalism bug in the 14th century, they paint with the exactitude of the botanist. Millefleurs scroll along page edges ripe and blooming with wild strawberries, daisies, poppies, thistles, dandelions, roses, fungi, forget-me-nots, and attendant wagtails, goldfinches and lapwings, all in their proper colours.

"Borders and margins become places of mischief. Below a stately visitation — ultramarine Mary, greeted by mollusc-purple Elizabeth — a lion pads snackishly towards a desert hermit. The corners and bases of pages are mayhem: a hare plays a church organ, woodcutters foot-wrestle, a monkey scratches his bottom, a timorous knight is menaced by a snail, a squire in a popinjay tunic — purple, crimson, verdigris — rides the bare back of a wild man."

And, ICYMI, no shortage of killer rabbits (apologies to Jimmy Carter).

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Lest we forget dentists of lore: Before Dave Eggers there was Doc Holliday.

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The pleasures of Proustian thinking…

"Benjamin Taylor quotes Proust's friend the diplomat Robert de Billy, who claimed Proust's writing taught him 'Ia joie de penser autrement que par principes.' That is to say, he taught him the pleasures of thinking without resorting, as Taylor has it, to 'categories and abstractions,' adding: 'Can there be a better definition of artistic thinking?'

"As it happens, there is, and—no surprise here—Marcel Proust has supplied it. In his most famous aphorism, Pascal wrote, 'The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.' Proust supplements this splendidly when he writes

"Our intellect is not the most subtle, the most powerful, the most appropriate instrument for revealing the truth. It is life that, little by little, example by example, permits us to see what is most important to our heart, or to our mind, is learned not by reasoning but through other agencies. Then it is that the intellect, observing their superiority, abdicates its control to them upon reasoned grounds and agrees to become their collaborator and lackey.

"Thus does the mind become subservient to the heart, which has reasons that reason by itself cannot hope to know."

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And, remembrance of conventions past: the thrills of 1980, but first Mencken in 1924, "There is something about a national convention that makes it as fascinating as a revival or a hanging. It is vulgar, it is ugly, it is stupid, it is tedious, it's hard upon both the higher cerebral centers and the gluteus maximus, and yet it is somehow charming. One sits through long sessions wishing heartily that all the delegates were dead and in hell—and then suddenly there comes a show so gaudy and hilarious, so melodramatic and obscene, so unimaginably exhilarating and preposterous that one lives a gorgeous year in an hour."

Essay of the Day: Rod Serling, enduring the passage of time, in a dimension beyond sight and sound…

"'A writer's claim to recognition doesn't take the passage of time very well,' Serling observed in 1957, adding that the aspiring TV writer should buy a scrapbook since that would be 'probably the only way he'll find permanence in recognition.' The creator of The Twilight Zone would be surprised to know that his show is not just remembered today, is not just studied by academics as an artifact from a bygone era, but is still available and watched and loved for its stories and characters and insights into human nature. Almost nothing is left of Rod Serling's many commercials, the ads that sunk him in moneyed misery. But The Twilight Zone — the show for which he struggled, the artistic achievement he worried would fade to oblivion — remains."

Read more here.

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Poem of the day: William Logan "Robins in love"

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Image of the Day: Balloons.