September 11th, 2007

Russian Rocket Science

John Oakes, the executive editor of Atlas Books, sent me a fascinating article, as yet unpublished, by Michael Hagemeister a professorat the University of Basle, that was read at a Swiss symposium on the Soviet Union and Russia. The article deals with occultism (mainly Gnosticism) and its influence on the Soviet/Russian space program from the beginnings--Konstantin Tsiolkovskii was a devotee who published hundreds of Gnostic or quasi-gnostic texts during his lifetime--to the present day and the evolution of Russian cosmism, which "elaborates an image of humanity, which spreads its noocratic rule over the universe, whence it can fulfill the universal cosmic plan of turning itself into an almighty immortal organism, thus attaining the status of God."

At one point, Hagemeister says, "It is quite remarkable, and fully deserves further investigation, that it was the esoteric of redemption from this world (many Russian scientists veiwed nature as a prison that must be escaped) which motivated Tsiolkovskii in his concrete research and technical developments.

I wish I could reproduce it in it's entirety, but it's beyond my ability. Maybe Paul Di, whom I believe also received the piece, can manage it.

Here's the url.
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Lesser-known Icons 11

[Clicken to embiggen]

Why does a Pilsbury Doughboy become famous and rich, while Perky Puffin Biscuitman goes straight to intellectual-property-rights Skid Row?

And what in god's name is the Springmaid Fabrics Girl holding? It looks like an obscene pleasure device.

Posted by Paul DiFi.
paul shirt
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When they were young

Whenever I read an obituary, I note whether the accompanying photo represents the deceased close to the age they were at death, or harks back to some more youthful image. Our mental representations of people often get fixed at a certain stage of their lives, and it's hard to imagine them being older or younger than our iconic memory of them.

Certainly celebrities, especially those with long careers, can get locked into a particular period of fame. The public comes to think of them only as they looked at a certain stage of their career arc.

With Lucille Ball, Baby Boomers always remember her as she looked during her 1950's TV days. If you're a bit younger, her matronly appearance in later years might stick.

But she was once a glamour girl, back in the 1930's.

Deb and I just watched FOLLOW THE FLEET, where she had a bit part as a showgirl.

I imagine the photo here dates to roughly that time, or perhaps the 1940's.


Lucille Ball officially joins the pantheon of the Inferior Four Deanna Durbin/Lena Horne Fan Club.

Posted by Paul DiFi.