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mental health mondays :: the face of insanity

french romantic painter theodore gericault was probably best known in his time for a painting called "the raft of the medusa", which was not only a richly detailed and haunting image, but also an extremely topical one, as it dealt with a much-discussed story at the time.

however, later in life, gericault turned more to portraiture and was commissioned by one dr. etienne-jean georget, a psychiatrist or, as he would have been known at that time, an "alienist". georget himself is an interesting character, who helped identify different types of monomania [exactly what it sounds like: singular obsession], such as religious, sexual and homicidal. he also theorised that certain among the insane could not be held responsible for their actions and felt that there should be a ban on executing the mentally ill, supporting instead the idea that they should be confined to an asylum.

georget's commission was for gericault to paint a series of portraits- ten were apparently made in all- of different patients at his asylum. when georget died, the portraits were split between two associates of his. five of them disappeared to brittany and have never been seen again. the remaining five were apparently taken to germany, where they were apparently found and catalogued under very basic names. they have found their way into various galleries around europe and offer a fascinating glimpse at some of the era's forgotten people.

at the time, psychiatry was in its infancy, as were the notions of societal responsibility to care for the poor and unfortunate. having a young and sometimes controversial artist create these poignant images was not merely an artistic exercise, but a political one. previously, if the mentally deranged had been shown at all, it was as an object of ridicule, whereas gericault's portraits invite quiet contemplation, treating their subjects as afflicted with a real illness.

here are images of the five surviving portraits:

woman suffering from obsessive jealousy

a kleptomaniac

man suffering from delusions of military command

woman addicted to gambling
a child snatcher
ironically, there are many who theorise that the "commission" was in fact an early form of art therapy imposed on patient gericault by his physician georget after the artist suffered a breakdown in 1819. gericault's grandfather had died in a madhouse, which hints that it mental illness may have run in gericault's family.

the artist remained silent on the subject for the remainder of his life which, sadly, was not long. he died of complications from horse-riding accidents combined with a  chronic lung infection at the age of 33. four years later he was followed by the doctor, etienne-jean georget, also felled by a lung infection, also 33 at the time of his death.

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jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: hot stuff, comin' through

i don't even know what to say about the weather. the end of september saw temperatures at a scalding 36c/ 97f outside. this is especially annoying because we've had a moderate summer. most days it rained a little in the morning, the temperatures didn't creep into the 30s too often and there wasn't the normal stretch of a few weeks when it felt like we were living on the sun. now, we've receded into more normal fall weather, although it's still on the warm side for mid-october. that climate change thing is a bitch.

trying to think of something positive in the situation, it does put me in a perfect frame of mind to write about urban decay's naked heat palette. it's the latest in what appears to be an endless series of warm neutral and red eyeshadow palettes that have followed in the footsteps of anastasia's modern renaissance. [which i ultimately decided i didn't need after doing a thorough search of my considerable stash.] i do think that it'…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…