How Random Is This

New York City’s amazing Metropolitan Museum of Art is probably my favorite museum in the world and I’ve been to hundreds. It’s also one of the most visited museums in the world with nearly 2 million guests annually. The Met alos offers a wonderful website that generates random images from its collection of millions of items.

Random Met: Literally what it says on the homepage: “Infinite Scroll of Random Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Open Access“. It can be diverting and addicting to scroll through the diverse images from the museum’s permanent collection which consists of works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, paintings, and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met maintains extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine, and Islamic art. The museum is home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes, and accessories, as well as antique weapons and armor from around the world. Several notable interiors, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design, are installed in its galleries. Be warned it’s easy to spend an hour down this rabbit hole.

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when the dying speak, they cannot lie

I was sad to read of the passing of the great English author Hilary Mantel. Here in the colonies we became acquainted with her powerful prose through the Wolf Hall trilogy. I thought that I would share this piece from Hilary Mantel’s essay “Blot, Erase, Delete,” published in Index on Censorship, Vol. 45, Issue 3, 2016.

It has always been axiomatic that when the dying speak, they cannot lie. I knew a man whose mother told him, as she lay dying, who his real father was: like a woman in a Victorian melodrama. She might as well have climbed out of bed and kicked his feet from under him. The truth was far too late to do him any good, and just in time to plunge him into misery and confusion and the complex grief of a double loss. Some truths have a sell-by date. Some should not be uttered even by the dying. Some cannot be uttered. When a victim of Henry VIII faced the headsman, the standard scaffold speech praised the king: his justice, his mercy. You didn’t mean this, but you had to think about the people left behind: some flattery might help them. Oppressors don’t just want to do their deed, they want to take a bow: they want their victims to sing their praises. This doesn’t change, and it seems there are no new thoughts, no new struggles with censorship and self-censorship, only the old struggles repeating: half-animated corpses of forbidden childhood thoughts crawling out of the psychic trenches we have dug for them, and recurring denials by the great of the truths written on the bodies of the small.

I have 97 notebooks in a wooden box. I do not count them as suppressed volumes. I work on the principle that there is no failed work, only work pending: that there is nothing I won’t say, only what I haven’t said yet. In my novel in progress I have written, “If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?” A notebook written eight years ago says, “I am searching for a place where the truth can be uttered: a place, I mean, that is not an execution ground.”

Posted in Books, Europe, Freedom of Speech, History, Theater, Writing | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Flowers in the summer, Fires in the fall

Autumn Fires

Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
And all up in the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over,
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

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Moving Cities

“Moving Barcelona is a magical realist dance story about the Catalonian capital, an autonomous region in the Spanish State contending with an identity crisis. A city with everything going for it is still haunted by the ghosts of its past and despite much progress, it finds itself unearthing old wounds. Barcelonians, in pursuit of happiness, find themselves on a treadmill  to nowhere in a tale of modern day life. Moving Barcelona is the eighth film in an award-winning collection of works by the London-based film-maker, Jevan Chowdhury to capture the world as a stage. Life on the street in London, Paris, Brussels, Dallas, Prague, Yerevan and Athens have all been recorded in this growing canon.”


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Tourism and the Climate Crisis

The U.S. state of Florida is a tourist mecca and is at the same time at the center of the global climate emergency. To highlight the growing emergency, the Florida nonprofit The CLEO Institute staged a dramatic gift shop in Miami Beach, and then flooded it with 5,600 gallons of water. The shoppers were not warned in advance.

The video (below) demonstrates the effects of rising sea levels and chronic flooding in day-to-day lives. The reality is that the climate crisis is already here, and Florida is experiencing the effects of stronger hurricanes, extreme heat, and chronic flooding & rising seas due to manmade warming pollution. The Sunshine State must stop depending on dirty, polluting energy sources that are rising temperatures and disrupting our climate. It is affecting Floridians’ lives in many ways, especially the marginalized and underserved communities feeling the disproportionate brunt of the crisis. It is driving higher costs of real estate, property insurance, energy, and food, along with an imminent threat to our drinking water source due to seawater intrusion, as well as loss of our precious biodiversity like our coral reef systems and the Florida Manatee.

If we fail to act now, Florida will no longer be “The Sunshine State” but a state in an emergency. We ask you to help us tackle the climate emergency by signing the petition stating your wish and stance to put Florida on a clean, renewable energy pathway and a rapid transition to net-zero emissions by 2040.”

NB: If the video does not launch, please visit our home page here.


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Revenge of the Librarians

Regular visitors to Travel Between The Pages will be well aware of my appreciation for cartoonist Tom Gauld’s hilarious comics. So, I was happy to discover that he has a new book of cartoons that will be released in the coming weeks.

Tom Gauld returns with a brilliant collection of literary cartoons in Revenge of the Librarians. Witty drawings are punctuated with the artist’s signature brand of trenchant humour. Some of his favored targets include the pretentious procrastinating novelist, the commercial mercenary of the dispassionate editor, the willful obscurantism of the vainglorious poet, and the supercillious bookseller.


Posted in Art, Books, Bookstore Tourism, Libraries, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Which Countries Still Have A Monarchy

With all of the hubbub about the death of Queen Elizabeth II and Charles’ ascension to the throne, I wondered what countries still maintained a monarchy. Low and behold, the excellent website Visual Capitalist has a helpful graphic that answers the query.


Posted in Europe, History, Maps | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

It’s That Time of the Year Again

Forty years after Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 to raise awareness about censorship, the issue has taken on new importance across the country. This year more than ever it’s essential that we raise awareness about book banning and censorship. Books unite us. Books encourage boundless exploration and allow readers to spread their wings. Stories give flight to new ideas and perspectives. Reading—especially books that set us free—expands our worldview. Censorship, on the other hand, locks away our freedom and divides us from humanity in our own cages.

The United States in in the midst of a culture war driven by neo-Fascists and white Christian Nationists. Funded by a network of dark money from extremist oligarchs, sham community and parent groups are attacking libraries and school boards on a daily basis in nefarious attemps to ban and censor books.


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Signs of Hope

TheHope Signs initiative was created by Gothenburg Book Fair and advertising agency Nord DDB, and sees authors such as Jojo Moyes, David Lagercrantz, Lauren Groff, and Anthony Doerr sharing their thoughts on global warming for climate crisis demonstration placards.

Printed on the posters are one-liners such as “It ruined first all the other life on the planet, then in a blink it killed itself,” by Lauren Groff, and “It is through hope that we create the world not yet visible but possible,” by Vanessa Nakate.

The posters are free to download and use the for rallies and for various social causes by printing them from the Hope Signs website. To further spread the message, they can also be posted on social media.


Johana Burai, a Swedish graphic designer, helped illustrate the posters to make them look like heat maps to further instill the image of climate change in onlookers’ minds.



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Meow Wolf

The Santa Fe, New Mexico-based cutting edge arts group known as Meow Wolf has launched an exciting project in Denver, Colorado called the Covergence Station. Squeezed into a pizza slice-shaped space between urban highways, the colorful attraction is a series of immersive installations made from mostly salvaged materials. Meow Wolf has collaborated with 300 regional artists and creatives to build the innovative attraction.

According to creative director  Chadney Everett, “We have a mission to make art that is as accessible to a billionaire as a minimum wage worker and create experiences that are accessible to them—not only financially but spiritually accessible.”

The venue has a lobby, events space and four primary gallery spaces that take advantage of the five-storey structure with wall-to-wall decoration and design. A series of smaller galleries line the space as well.





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