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mental health mondays :: lest we forget

in case you've missed it, today is the 100th anniversary of england's declaring war on germany, beginning the terrifying chapter in our history now known as "world war one". they didn't call it that for some time, of course. it was known as "the great war", most likely because many people were hopeful that there was no way that such a wholesale slaughter would ever be repeated. we all know that didn't quite work out.

i've always been fascinated with the great war, far more so than world war two, because its consequences were so far-reaching: probably more than any other event in the twentieth century. in fact, the second world war was really a consequence of the first; you don't get hitler without kaiser wilhelm ii.

another consequence of the first world war was the advent of the first man-made psychiatric disorder. at the time, they called it "shell shock", because doctors guessed that the strange group of symptoms were a result of prolonged exposure to explosives on the front. [this was after they acknowledged that there was a problem and that tens of thousands of soldiers weren't just cowards trying to avoid going back out there to fight for king and country.]

footage of shell shock victims is still around, although it isn't as widely viewed as it should be. in an age when we are used to thinking about mental disorders as invisible, it's difficult to comprehend how completely shattered these young men were.





you can read the bbc commentary about the condition here.

and from the canadian war museum here.

with all due respect to george carlin [who famously opined that stronger language commanded attention- see the first two minutes of the linked video in particular], the men who came home so profoundly disordered did not receive the treatment they needed. the videos above betray how quickly hospitals tried to "heal" patients during the war, in the hopes that they could be deployed once again. pretty savage.

as if that weren't bad enough, the war itself has become a sort of cultural repressed memory, particularly in north america. everyone knows about the second world war, but even our understanding of that is handicapped by the fact that we refuse to seriously study the first. perhaps it's because, despite the abhorrent violence that came with ww2, it makes a better story. it has a clear-cut villain, which creates clear-cut heroes who fight him. what's better, the good guys won. it's still a war, but it's one that we can feel good about. not so with world war one.

there are to this day battles that trace their roots to the great war, there are still soldiers returning with shell-shock [soldiers who are still not getting the treatment they need], there are still civilians whose lives and homes are destroyed because of the first world war and none of that will get any better until we are honest with ourselves about what happened a hundred years ago. time for us to seek some historical therapy.

the image at the top of this post is an art installation done as part of the british centenary, nearly 900,000 poppies surrounding the tower of london. read more about it here.

Comments

L.P. said…
I grew up more interested in WWII because my dad fought in that war. My grandfather fought in WWI, and you are right that we seem to have collective amnesia about it. A few years ago I saw an excellent series called (I think) "The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century" and it was utterly heartbreaking (not that all wars aren't, but this one was particularly brutal and wasteful).

One of my favorite movies of all time is Renoir's "Grand Illusion"....

as long as you're here, why not read more?

making faces :: fall for all, part 2 [a seasonal colour analysis experiment]

well, installment one was the easy part: coming up with autumn looks for the autumn seasons. now we move into seasonal colour types that aren't as well-aligned with the typical autumn palette. first up, we deal with the winter seasons: dark, true and bright.

in colour analysis, each "parent" season- spring, summer, autumn, winter- overlap with each other season in one colour dimension- hue [warm/ cool], value [light/ dark] and chroma [saturated/ muted]. autumn is warm, dark and muted [relatively speaking], whereas winter is cool, dark and saturated. so you can see that the points of crossover in palettes, the places where you can emphasize autumn's attributes, is in the darker shades.

it's unsurprising that as fall transitions into winter, you get the darkest shades of all. we've seen the warmer equivalent in the dark autumn look from last time, so from there, as with all neutral seasons, we move from the warmer to the cooler cognate...


mental health mondays :: all the monsters are here

i had meant to post about this project much earlier, since it was done during october, but i still think it's very much worth a look. artist shawn coss drew a "portrait" of a mental disorder for every day of october [mental health month], something that tries to convey what the feeling of having that disease is. his work reminds me a little of ralph steadman's iconic hunter s. thompson covers, and especially gerald scarfe's animations for pink floyd's the wall. his figures are somewhere between spectral humans and insectoid aliens, all ravenous appetite and primal destructiveness.

i chose a few favourites to share, but i highly encourage you, if you like what you see, to pre-order the book he's publishing with all the drawings. [you can also get 11x17 prints of individual images.]

autism spectrum disorder

as coss notes himself, asd is not a disorder, per se, but he included it since it's still listed in the dsm-v. autism does very much affect the min…

making faces :: burberry bits

during my brief sojourn in the west last month, i did have the time to stop by the holt renfrew there and
see one of the only two burberry makeup counters in canada. i'm not in the least bit happy that this collection has been limited to the toronto and vancouver flagship stores, especially since we have a beautiful flagship store here in montreal. and now that i've actually gotten to try burberry products, i'm even less happy about the limited availability.

burberry are still newcomers to the cosmetic world, having launched their collection just a few short years ago. they've already become darlings of the makeup mafia, with virtually all of their products garnering rave reviews from ladies who know their stuff. as you might expect from a design house, the products are pricy and even by the standards of prestige brands, their prices are high, but it's worth noting that you tend to get a fair amount of product. which is especially nice when you're limited as t…