Art Books

Marks of Genius

An exhibition looking at ways in which attitudes towards genius are manifested in a number of remarkable books and manuscripts, and exploring how works of genius found in a university library can be acquired, collected and read.

It opened with a few references to genius but very quickly turned into an exercise in showing off some of the Bodleian’s treasures. To be honest it got a little ridiculous:

A Magna Carta of 1217, Newton’s Principia Mathematica, a Gothenburg Bible, Pliny’s Natural History, the watercolour cover Tolkien painted for The Hobbit, Shelley’s draft of Frankenstein, a First Folio, Audobon’s Birds of America, MS Bodley 764, so much more…

It really was just showing off! Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Oxford.




The Bear Nesesames

A nice collection of Spring photos over on The Big Picture, including this very cute one of two bear cubs


Medieval ideas about Bears #1:

The bear cub is born as a shapeless and eyeless lump of flesh, which the mother bear shapes into its proper form by licking it (the origin of the expression “to lick into shape”) (link)



Yōkai Daizukai, an illustrated guide to yōkai authored by manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, features a collection of cutaway diagrams showing the anatomy of 85 traditional monsters from Japanese folklore.


The Mannen-dake (”10,000-year bamboo”) is a bamboo-like monster that feeds on the souls of lost travelers camping in the woods.

Read on to find out more about the Mannen-dake, as well as:

  • the Kuro-kamikiri (Black Hair Cutter – it has the black hair, I don’t believe it has a preference as to the colour it cuts)
  • the Makura-gaeshi (Pillow Mover – rather worryingly the fact that it steals souls seems to be glossed over with greater focus put on its pranksome pillow-moving)
  • the Doro-ta-bō (Muddy Rice Field Man)
  • the Hyōsube
  • the Yanagi-baba (Willow Witch – fairly easy going compared to the rest)
  • the Fukuro-sage (a type of Tanuki, complete with prominent scrotum – something they failed to include in Super Mario)
  • Kasha (possible the rock-hardest of the bunch)
  • Bisha-ga-tsuku (named for it’s slusky snow sound – snow bunnies watch out)
  • and finally the would-be-cute-were-it-not-for-its-big-sharp-teeth, octopus-fearing Kijimunaa – hard wired for pranks

(via rocketboom)