As demanded by absolutely no-one, here are all the posts I have done this month on species extinct in Ireland since the coming of humanity….
I have recently discovered the work of the Catalan composer Bernat Vivancos. Here is “Aeternam” from the album “Vivancos: Requiem”. The sleeve notes describe this (a prelude to the Requiem proper) as “a stripping away in a face to face dialogue with God” which is exactly right.
More from Vivancos’ notes (available on the Neu Records site):
Requiem, ‘rest’ in Latin, is a song of contemplation of life, death and transcendence. For the structure of this “Requiem”, I did not wish to follow the texts that have been incorporated into the Catholic liturgy in the last centuries. The idea is that this prayer should be new, without linking it to any previously established canon. It is intended to be a luminous meditation on transcendence, in which a selection of open, plural texts and reflections responds to a non-confessional vision of the end of human existence.
I have divided this “Requiem” into three parts. Preceded by the intimate, transparent “Aeternam” –a stripping away in a face to face dialogue with God–, the first part speaks of life on earth with reference to what I consider to be the three essential pillars of mankind: goodness, love and prayer.
The melodic motif that appears throughout the Requiem is formed by three continuous descending tones. Though the Resurrection is generally expressed by an ascending movement, I wished to do the opposite here. It is not we who ascend to Heaven, but God who, in his goodness as our Father, forgives us and lowers his powerful arm to raise us up.
Comparisons to Tallis’s Spem in Alium are, in this case, apt:
One of the themes I have found emerging from my project of blogging about species extinct in Ireland since human habitation is how hidden much of this biodiversity loss is. moths, mosses and flowers go extinct quietly. People may occasionally notice the absence of birdsong, or a lack of wildflowers, or the dominance of an invasive species, but all too much extinction is under the radar.
This is even more stark for marine ecosystems. In Whittled Away, Pádraic Fogarty has a whole chapter on marine life, and the successive pattern of overfishing and decline. As posted before, determining precisely if a marine species is totally extinct is difficult. Yet we can be sure of dramatic, if not terminal declines.
One example is the purple sea urchin. Fogarty writes:
Purple sea urchin
What it is : Spiny echinoderm once widespread and common on rocky shores
350 t landed in 1976
48t landed in 1986
6t landed in 1997
Not listed after 2003
Before exploitation it was estimated that one inlet in Galway Bay had 1,600 individuals per m2. Today they are very hard to find.
Purple Sea Urchin: This species was over fished and is now locally extinct. Landings were as high as 375 tonnes in 1976 and are now down to zero. This is a key species therefore its local extinction will have an impact on the associated marine community
The Irish Wildlife Trust’s Protecting Our Ocean’s Wealth report states that the most recent records of this species date from the mid 1990s.
Readers may have recently seen news that the Brave browser has jointly filed complaints against Google relating to their sharing of personal data. Recently I posted a link to NIthin Coca’s guide to fully quitting Google. A friend of mine, Johnny Ryan, has been key to this in his role as Chief Policy & Industry Relations Officer at Brave.
A little before this complaint, Johnny participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) some highlights of which are featured here.
There is much to chew on on the wide range of policy issues and privacy issues that our internet usage enmeshes us in. I liked especially this exchange:
u/Niels001: What are your dreams for Brave and BAT? Why did you join Brave?
JR: Hypertext was invented by Ted Nelson in the 1960s. Part of his dream was that everybody who contributed to the interconnected latticework of hypertext documents would be rewarded by those who perused them. People would drop tiny “bread crumb” like payments behind them as they flitted from item to item. It is a beautiful vision.
But this aspect of Nelson’s great dream was never realized at scale because these tiny micro payments were not practical. This is why BAT excites me. It may finally allow us to realize part of Nelson’s vision.
I do not see a better place to work today.
BAT is the Basic Attention Token, an open source, decentralised ad exchange platform developed by Brendan Eich, founder of Brave and before that Mozilla.
The headline that Brave users may get up to $70 annually for looking at ads may sound a bit clickbaity, but it has a wider implication:
Brave’s BAT integration offers one of the easiest on-ramps to cryptocurrency markets that the industry has seen. Everyday web users who might be nervous about investing portions of their paychecks into crypto, now have the option of earning BAT for free, just for browsing the web as they normally do. Then they will have the choice of holding onto the BAT, cashing it out, or dumping it into an exchange to start trading other coins and tokens.
As Johnny’s quote above indicates, all this has – or should have – a deeper philosophical meaning than simple consumption and passive attention. There is an awful passivity to online culture now, relative to the early days. As the tagline of Brave’s site says, “You are not a product.” But if you don’t want to be a product, don’t act like one. I urge readers to install and use Brave for themselves.
A recurrent pattern in the history of ideas is a dominant narrative creating dichotomies that, at the time, did not exist. I have blogged about these before – false tension between the Christian and classical worlds in the time of Boethius Victor Watts debunked , or dichotomies between religion and science, much trumpeted by some commentators but which can often be contrasted with the beliefs of working scientists.
In The Icon and the Square, Maria Taroutina examines how the traditional interests of institutions such as the crown, the church, and the Imperial Academy of Arts temporarily aligned with the radical, leftist, and revolutionary avant-garde at the turn of the twentieth century through a shared interest in the Byzantine past, offering a counter-narrative to prevailing notions of Russian modernism.
Focusing on the works of four different artists—Mikhail Vrubel, Vasily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Vladimir Tatlin — Taroutina shows how engagement with medieval pictorial traditions drove each artist to transform his own practice, pushing beyond the established boundaries of his respective artistic and intellectual milieu. She also contextualizes and complements her study of the work of these artists with an examination of the activities of a number of important cultural associations and institutions over the course of several decades. As a result, The Icon and the Square gives a more complete picture of Russian modernism: one that attends to the dialogue between generations of artists, curators, collectors, critics, and theorists.
The Icon and the Square retrieves a neglected but vital history that was deliberately suppressed by the atheist Soviet regime and subsequently ignored in favor of the secular formalism of mainstream modernist criticism. Taroutina’s timely study, which coincides with the centennial reassessments of Russian and Soviet modernism, is sure to invigorate conversation among scholars of art history, modernism, and Russian culture.
Adam deVille is good at pointing out the falseness of many oppositions conjured up by ignorance of history. He is especially strong on the pernicious influence of Christians failing to understand, or even try to understand, Marx and Freud.
Over the course of my September posts on extinct species in Ireland, the importance of archaeology and literary scholarship in determining which species have been extant in Ireland is striking. I came across this in Kieran Hickey’s Wolves in Ireland, with its analysis of medieval trade records in pelts.
Here is Raye’s summary:
This thesis identifies and discusses historical and literary sources describing four
species in the process of reintroduction: lynx (Lynx lynx), large whale (esp. Eubalena
glacialis), beaver (Castor fiber) and crane (Grus grus). The scope includes medieval and
early modern texts in English, Latin, and Welsh written in Britain before the species
went extinct. The aims for each species are: (i) to reconstruct the medieval cultural
memory; (ii) to contribute a cohesive extinction narrative; and (iii) to catalogue and
provide an eco-sensitive reading of the main historical and literary references. Each
chapter focuses on a different species:
1. The chapter on lynxes examines some new early references to the lynx and
argues that the species became extinct in south Britain c.900 AD. Some hardto-reconcile seventeenth century Scottish accounts are also explored.
2. The chapter on whales attributes the beginning of whale hunting to the ninth
century in Britain, corresponding with the fish event horizon; but suggests a
professional whaling industry only existed from the late medieval period.
3. The chapter on beavers identifies extinction dates based on the increasingly
confused literary references to the beaver after c.1300 in south Britain and
after c.1600 in Scotland, and the increase in fur importation.
4. The chapter on cranes emphasises the mixed perception of the crane
throughout the medieval and early modern period. Cranes were simultaneously
depicted as courtly falconers’ birds, greedy gluttons, and vigilant soldiers.
More generally, the thesis considers the levels of reliability between eyewitness accounts and animal metaphors. It examines the process of ‘redelimitation’ which is triggered by population decline, whereby nomenclature and concepts attached to one species become transferred to another. Finally, it emphasises geographical determinism: species generally become extinct in south Britain centuries before Scotland.