Artzybasheff’s Neurotica

а22aBoris Artzybasheff (1899 – 1965)  had a long career as an illustrator, beginning in the late 1920s and extending all the way through the 1950s, 50 books in all, including those he wrote himself, notably “As I See.”


Boris Artzybasheff is renowned for his ability to turn machines into living beings.а

Boris Artzybasheff.jpgDuring WW II he served as an adviser to the Psychological Warfare branch.  Why psychology? Wasn’t he an artist?  See for yourself: Artzybasheff’s Neurotica:



Latent Hostility


Inferiority  Complex





Manic-depressive Syndrome











To Be Or… Not

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none… including the Bard himself.

The Prince, the Dame, Benedict Cumberbatch and David Tennant:

UPDATE: Well, this clip stopped working on YouTube after a day or so. BBC on its site shows it only to the Brits, and perhaps to a few other chosen one. Try it, perhaps you are the one, too.

There is a “clip of a clip” in The Telegraph   Prince Charles plays Hamlet in brilliant BBC sketch alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen.

On May 3rd of this year, the world will mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.


The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield


The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield

What Anna Stubblefield Believed She Was Doing

This case has everything, check the ones that suit your understanding: Miscarriage of justice or triumph of justice? Mad scientist or selfless abandonment? True love or perversion? Scientific breakthrough or failure of method? And everything in between and in addition.

 Anna Stubblefield during her trial in October 2015. Credit Jonno Rattman for The New York Times

Anna Stubblefield during her trial in October 2015.  Jonno Rattman for The New York Times

I read a number of articles about the trial and about a hundred of comments (out of over a thousand), changing my mind several times along the way and, in the end, failed to form a firm opinion I could defend with conviction.анна1.PNG

Anna Stubblefield was convicted of raping her disabled student. But was the trial fair?

Bizarre story, indeed. Fitting some TV crime procedural or a TV show where lawyers take up a mind boggling controversial case.

Blue Star. A Fairy Tale

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Paris-based artist Saré (aka Evgenia Sarkissian) created a world of these odd little creatures she calls Zyuziki (plural). They are bumpy in all the wrong places. They stand together in weird ways. They wear weird things, decorated in odd ways.

“What seems ugly to us,they proudly reveal, and that does not make them ridiculous in the eyes of other Zyuziki. For us, yes, it may look like that, but to me it just means that we are not able to see ourselves. Who created the criteria of beauty? What does the appearance mean? How important is it? I suspect that we have different answers to these questions, and their answers I do not know. But, perhaps to their credit, ask us those questions and make us think,” Saré says in defense of her Zyuziki.sare7

This post meant to be titled Meet The Artist: Saré (Evgenia Sarkisian) — a part of the Meet The Artist series of posts. It isn’t, though, because the cute little world of Zyuzikis reminded me of a certain fairy tale — Blue Star by the Russian writer Aleksandr Kuprin (1870-1938.)

I couldn’t find an English translation of it — not sure it even exists, so I’ll  give you my own brief retelling. Here we go.

Once upon a time, since time immemorial, on the high plateau separated from the world by steep cliffs, deep gorges and thick forests lived peaceful, pastoral people.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A long time ago, no one remembers how many centuries back, a small regiment of strong, tall, clad in iron men crossed the treacherous rivers, climbed the steep mountains and reached this bucolic country.

The warriors liked what they found — a heavenly country with its gentle people, warm climate, delicious water and fertile land. There was no fight to conquer the pastoral country, for its peaceful inhabitants knew no evil, weapons or war. Thus the knights shed their heavy armor and decided to settle in these beautiful lands. Soon enough they won the hearts of local girls and married them.sare55Their leader, valiant and noble Earn, became their King, and the country got its name, Earnaterra, since and forever.sare12 It was he, Earn the First, who taught the people of Earnaterra husbandry and horticulture.sare1 He opened them to writing and art. He gave them the rudiments of law and religion.sare17 Earn the First remembered the temptations, debauchery and wickedness prevailing in the “educated countries down there” he left behind, thus he ruled to destroy the mountain path to Earnaterra, making the heavenly land forever unreacheable by any means whatsoever.sare6Under the good and wise rule of various kings all of them named Earn, not knowing wars, crime and poverty for thousand years, beautiful Ernaterra blossomed magnificently. Through the generations, the descendants of the knights became indistinguishable from the local population — there was no longer any visible difference in either language or appearance. The physique of the ancient knights was completely absorbed and dissolved in the native looks.sare44The language of the warriors, largely forgotten even by the kings, was used only at the court, in the most solemn ceremonies, often for expression of either elevated emotions or high concepts. sare9The memories of Earn the First, Earn the Great and Earn the Holy remained forever immortalized in beautiful, enduring legends — the creation of national lore.sare88A number of items that belonged to Earn the First were lovingly preserved in the ancient royal castle:  his armor, his helmet, a sword, a spear and a few unintelligible words the king carved out with the tip of his dagger on the wall of his hunting room.

None of the Earnaterrans could lift this armor even an inch off the ground or swing the heavy sword, even with both hands, and no one could make sense out of the inscription on the wall. The three images of the king were also preserved. One was a mosaic tableau bearing Earn’s profile, another  was a painted portrait and yet another — a statue carved of marble.

It must be said that every one of the three images of Earn the First were created with great love, artfulness and craftsmanship. Nonetheless, they were the subject of constant grieving. You see, the gentle Earnaterrans who adored their first monarch, the great, wise, just, holy Earn, collectively agreed — and with great sadness — that Earn the First was  exceptionally unattractive. His face, although neither evil or repulsive, was, well, extraordinary ugly by the high aesthetic standards of Earnaterra. sare3This is to say  that Earnaterrans have been enormously proud of their own inherent beauty.
sare77An ugly appearance of their first king has been forgiven, of course, thanks to the legendary beauty of his soul.sare.jpg

The laws of inherent similarities sometimes present people with strange whims. From time to time, a child is born looking nothing like his/her father or mother, not even like his/her grandparent or great grandparents, resembling, however, some distant ancestor generations removed.

Chroniclers recorded the births of an exceptionally ugly sons that sometimes occurred in the Earn royal family, although in the course of history these phenomena became more and more rare. Interesting that these ugly princes often possessed great high spiritual qualities: kindness, intelligence, cheerfulness. Such a fair mercy for the unfortunate fate of the august freaks reconciled Earnaterrans with them in spite of the people being very judgmental in matters of beauty and appearance.

Good King Earn XXIII was a remarkably handsome man. He fell passionately in love and married the most beautiful girl of the nation. sare11The royal couple remained childless for a very long time: ten years, counting from the wedding. One can imagine the jubilation of the people when in the eleventh year the welcome news that their beloved queen is with child. The people rejoiced doubly because with the royal birth a straight line of the crown inheritance was going to be restored. Earnaterrans were delighted when the  Princess Erna XIII was born.sare31Meanwhile, in the royal palace, the court midwife took a newborn baby in her arms and shook her head with great sadness. The fair queen glanced at her daughter and clasped her hands.

“Oh, my God, how ugly!” she lamented and burst into tears. But, in a moment, she came to her senses and said, “No, no, let me hold my little darling.  I’ll love her twice as much — the poor baby is so ugly.”

“Ah,” said the august father, “The fate is so cruel!  I’ve heard of ugly princes in our dynasty, but the ugly princess is the first in the noble House of Earns. Let us pray that beautiful soul, heart and mind outweigh her physical appearance.”

The faithful people of Earnaterra wholeheartedly agreed. Let the newborn Infanta be of a beautiful spirit.

Princess Earna, meanwhile, grew by leaps and bounds, was cheerful and healthy child, growing ever uglier with every passing day, bearing striking resemblance to the portraits of the Earn the First. She was a beautiful soul possessing lovely inner qualities: kindness, patience, humility, attention to others, love for people and animals, clear, lively, precise mind and unfailing affability.

At this point, we’ll abandon Sare’s art, for, obviously, Princess Earna was no Zyuik… segur_seven_crow_princes

…and considerably speed up the pace of the storytelling. One of the reasons of this hastiness is a spring snowstorm in Colorado. It damped over a foot of snow on Boulder, about a ton of which landed on our driveway and needs to be shoveled ASAP.IMG_20160416_152120.jpg

Thus, brevis in longo: To spare their ugly daughter’s feelings, her beautiful parents abolished mirrors in Ernaterra. For a very long time she had no idea how different she looks from Ernaterrans. A chance discovery of a single shard of mirror in her old nanny’s trunk devastated Earna. Distraught, she run into the mountains. There, she rescued a young man hanging off the cliff. He was tall and, by far, the ugliest creature she’d ever seen, speaking gibberish in a language that later has been revealed as French.

The French prince — and that who he was, for it is a fairy tale — nursed to health by Earna, had no trouble handling the ancient armor of King Earn the First and falling in love with a beautiful (oh, sorry, ugly)  princess. “Oh, my love, how sad I’m not the most beautiful girl of Earnaterra!” she said. “Thank gods for that, my beloved blue star!” said the prince in Earnaterran. They married, departed to France, had an ugly (oh, sorry, beautiful) baby son.  Poor Earna was happy to end up living among ugly people. Only the birth of an equally ugly child changed her perception of beauty. And also the revelation that the words carved on the wall of Earn the First’s hunting room in Latin said, “The men of my country are smart, loyal and hardworking, the women — honest, kind and intelligent. But — God forgive them! — they are exceptionally ugly people.”

The Endprince


Judging The Infallible FSM


The US District Court of Nebraska has denied a prisoner’s right to practice Pastafarianism by ruling the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or FSMism, is not a religion but a “parody.”

Stephen Cavanaugh, a prisoner in a Nebraska state penitentiary, sued the state in 2014 seeking $5 million in damages for “deep emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain” over the alleged breach of his right to worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster or “His Flying Noodliness.”

He claimed he was not allowed to dress in “full pirate regalia,” which is required by his faith, although those practicing recognized religions were allowed to wear their necessary attire.

He also said prison officials were stopping him from holding religious services for his deity.

District Judge John Gerrard ruled Tuesday in a 16 page decision that The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was not a religion and that Cavanaugh’s claim was not plausible under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act or under the state or federal constitution.

“It is, rather, a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education.”

“This case is difficult because FSMism, as a parody, is designed to look very much like a religion. Candidly, propositions from existing case law are not particularly well-suited for such a situation, because they developed to address more ad hoc creeds, not a comprehensive but plainly satirical doctrine.”

Source: Federal judge rules the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a God

Meet The Poet: Mark Gurarie, My Son

alexej ravski4.jpgEach year the month of April is set aside as National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate poets and their craft.

This year, I have ever more reasons to celebrate poetry and poets. One poet in particular — my son Mark Gurarie. His first book of poetry, Everybody’s Automat, was published by  The Operating System.everybodysautomat_cover_fullbleedfinal-1024x900.jpgPRAISE FOR EVERYBODY’S AUTOMAT:

 Mark Gurarie’s Everybody’s Automat could be the offspring of John Ashbery and Ziggy Stardust. And yet these are poems only Gurarie can write. These poems inhabit a superhuman linguistic and psychosocial consciousness. Martians are muses, as are John Cage & planet earth, who all play supporting roles in this delightful and haunting debut collection.” – Ali Power

The pitched quality of inventiveness in Mark Gurarie’s poems, is a worthy homage to the aleatoric musician John Cage and other musicians who inspire both the silences and contemplative notes of whimsy. The poems, like the music, however, are hitched to emotional states of being that are never distended or anemic, but curiously imaginative and responsibly resourceful to the core.” —Major Jackson

Everybody’s Automat arrives like a hundred aliens wielding a thousand devices to process the glittering wreckage of the Anthropocene. The book’s as much of a party as it is a postmortem revealing how we spoke to each other, where we failed each other, and that we never stopped making music, even as everything went irreversibly wrong. Whether Mark Gurarie is one of us, one of them, or a little of both, I can imagine no fitter or better poet to “confront the alien that speaks of ourselves.”

—Mark Bibbins

His publisher, The Operating System, takes a great pride in its authors and promotes them the best it can. Here is an excerpt from an impressively extended conversation with  Mark conducted by The Operating System  [RE:CON]VERSATIONS :: OF SOUND MIND :: PROCESS AND PRACTICE WITH EVERYBODY’S AUTOMAT’S MARK GURARIE

What’s a “poet”, anyway?  What is the role of the poet today?

Mark: This is a tough question because in the US, poetry is relegated to the margins of cultural and social production; whereas in many other countries and cultures, poetry is more central. Here, outside of exciting popular developments like the emergence of slam and spoken word—and I actually think you might be able to include the vibrancy of hip-hop here—poetry is famously ignored by non-poets.

That said, American poets have a special position as being the voice of the exterior, the underbelly, even if their exile from whatever the “mainstream” might largely be self-imposed.  In this sense, then, poets are able to use their craft to move in a freer way than many of their artistic peers who are more closely attuned to the market, and furthermore, the relationship between poet and broader American society is always evolving.

As much as can be said about the disengagement of say, modernist poets in the early 20th century, from political or social discourse, you have strains that speak for under-represented voices, that lift the mirror to society at large, like those of the Harlem Rennaissance, for instance. In a similar way, the poet today has the opportunity to employ the craft to explore and challenge the status quo, and in that, to bear witness. To me, it’s incredibly exciting that Claudia Rankine’s Citizen was actually on the NYT’s best-sellers list (two different times, I believe), or that  Patricia Lockwood’s “Rape Joke” went viral.

In its own way, and occasionally, the culture at large looks to the poets and lets them in; the onus is on the poets to use their craft and their perspective to make work that is meaningful, challenging and makes a genuine attempt to capture an underlying truth.


The poet doesn’t look like this anymore…

March Of Dinosaurs

Here they are, on order of appearence:  Shuvuuia, Sinosauropteryx, Compsognathus, Microraptor, Caudipteryx, Microceratus,
Hypsilophodon, Ornitholestes, Masiakasaurus, Psittacosaurus, Velociraptor, Laeallynasaus
Stegoceras, Troodon, Oviraptor, Protoceratops, Dromaeosaurus, Stygimoloch, Coelophysis
Dracorex, Dryosaurus, Deinonychus, Scelidosaurus, Herrerasaurus, Ornithomimus,  Kentrosaurus, Gigantspinosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Gastonia, Concavenator,
Utahraptor, Euoplocephalus, Sauropelta, Miragaia, Chasmosaurus, Magyarosaurus,
Einiosaurus, Camptosaurus, Diabloceratops, Styracosaurus, Cryolophosaurus
Tuojiangosaurus… and the rest of them:

3D Zika

zika.PNGZika virus is an unexpected new threat to mankind, that appeared suddenly. seemingly out of nowhere. Data on this virus is still very limited. Nevertheless, studio experts at Biomedical Imaging Visual Science have created a 3D-model of the virus Zika at atomic resolution.
zika1.pngFounder of Studio Visual Science Ivan Konstantinov and scientific consultant of the project Yury Stefanov answered questions related to their work. Excerpt of the interview, in my translation, is below. The entire article, in Russian, is here.

What is needed in order to create a model of the virus with such amazing level of detail?

— The development involves several steps. We begin with an overview, analysis and systematization of the available scientific information on the structure of the virus. It is important to understand what is known about the size and morphology of the particles, the types of proteins and other molecules included therein, the number, structure and interaction. There is often necessary to consult with structural virologists who deal with this particular virus directly. Moreover, we often use data cryoelectron microscopy and 3D-reconstruction of structures on its basis. This is a very powerful tool.zika2 Still, Zika virus only fairly recently become the subject of scientific interest. The reason was an epidemic caused by Zika and its previously unheard of consequence — microcephaly in infants born to infected mothers. Do you have enough data for a detailed Zika model? 

— At this time, Zika virus is still poorly researched from the structural point of view. However, many of Zika  “relatives” such as Dengue virus, for instance, is rather well researched.on the basis of which data can be modeled with good reliability Zika virus proteins. In such situations, particularly in demand possibilities of Biomedical Imaging and Modeling.zika3Is it possible to somehow verify that your model does, indeed, reflect the actual structure of the virus?

— Our models are scientific surveys carried out in graphical form. The more information is accumulated by scientists — the more accurate and more complete is our model. As soon as new data become available, our models will be updated, thus creating new versions. adeno Are you planning to publish the results of you work in scientific magazines? After all, by the look of them, your results are quite impressive.

— Thus far, what we have is a scientific overview rather than an independent study. The ultimate goal of a solid scientific work is solid practical result. In the case of viruses, for instance, such result would be a study of the interaction of viral proteins with ligands that might become a potential drug to conquer the virus. (In biochemistry and pharmacology, a ligand is a substance that forms a complex with a biomolecule to serve a biological purpose. VG)

How long, time-wise, it takes you to develop a single model of virus?

— Time depends on many factors. There are small and simple viruses that can be visualized and modeled in two or three weeks. But then there are huge and very sophisticated ones, of which very little is known from the structural point of view. It is difficult to predict the length of time it takes to model them.


Visual Science is an award-winning scientific design studio that creates scientifically accurate and eye-catching 3D models, illustrations and animations for pharmaceutical, medical device, biotech, and nanotechnology companies, as well as scientific institutions, laboratories, educational organizations, museums, publishing and advertising agencies around the world. Interesting site, in English, for those who likes visuals.


visual one



Justice For Jesus

christ.jpgJesus was condemned by the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of Israel (an assembly of twenty-three to seventy-one men appointed in every city in the Land of Israel) for proclaiming himself the Son of God, the Messiah. Since, according to Sanhedrin and the Romans,  Jesus was not the Son of God, the ruling and the sentence was fair — perfectly in keeping with the times. However, the verdict handed down by the Sanhedrin and executed by the Romans wasn’t without a number of procedural errors.

  • The hearing took place at night, although the law explicitly forbade the convocation of the Sanhedrin after dark.
  • Jesus was condemned during the Easter holidays, while during the Passover every official activities were strictly forbidden. 

Interesting that in 1948, an appeal to overturn Jesus Christ’s conviction was filed with the newly created Supreme Court of the State of Israel. The Court, however, declared itself incompetent to rule on appeal.christ.PNGMore recently, in August of 2013, the Kenyan lawyer Dola Indidis attempted to get justice for Jesus yet again. He urged the International Court of Justice at Hague to hear the 2000 year old case of the founder of Christianity and  completely exonerate Jesus Christ.

Is the “justice for Jesus” quest has merit?

“In this case, it is not clear what international law might have been violated and, even if there was such a violation, it is not clear that the relevant states have consented to the ICJ (the International Court of Justice) having jurisdiction over the dispute.” (Columbia law professor Anthea Roberts.)