Tag Archives: God

Pursuing ‘Conclusions Infinite:’ the divine inspiration of Georg Cantor

Sylvia Karasu New York, New York, United States   Georg Cantor, German mathematician, 1845-1918. Cantor as an older man, date unknown. Cantor was not quite age 73 when he died of heart failure. Photo Credit: Colport/Alamy Stock Photo. Used with permission. There is a “fine line between brilliance and madness”: the distinction, for example, between […]

Emblems and psychological medicine on the Sutton Hoo purse

Stephen Martin Durham, England, and Thailand   The recent film The Dig1 has brought into the wider public eye the story of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial.2 The burial mound, at Sutton Hoo, in Sussex, England,3,4 contained a high-status figure, almost certainly Royal. The most expensive of the grave goods5 are high-craftsmanship gold, set with very […]

The trouble with the belly button

Tonse N. K. Raju Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States   It is a simple dimple in the mid-abdomen. Yet for medieval artists, it caused mighty headaches while painting portraits of Adam and Eve. Painting the dimple as a natural anatomic feature could be construed as sacrilegious, implying that Adam and Eve were connected by umbilical cords […]

Giovanni Boccaccio on pandemics past and present

Constance Markey Chicago, IL   The plague of Florence, 1348; an episode in the Decameron by Boccaccio. Etching by L. Sabatelli the elder after G. Boccaccio. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)) Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) is universally celebrated for his masterpiece The Decameron, an appealing assemblage of one hundred loosely connected novellas, […]

Rilke: a poet’s death

Nicolas Roberto Robles Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. A portrait of Rilke painted two years after his death by Leonid Pasternak Public domain Rose, oh reiner widerspruch, lust, Niemandes schlaf zu sein under soviel lidern Rose, o pure contradiction, desire, to be no one’s sleep beneath so many lids. Rainer Maria Rilke, epitaph. On December […]

Faith and patron saints during the Black Death

Mariella Scerri Mellieha, Malta   Saint Roch. 1502. Francesco Francia.  Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public Domain.  The Black Death of 1348 was the greatest biomedical disaster in European history. Although it was not the first plague epidemic, the Black Death swept through Europe, killing millions indiscriminately and affecting society like no other natural calamity.1 Attempts to understand the […]

Blood is the life

Saameer Pani Sydney, Australia   The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. Giovanni di Paolo. 1455/60. The Art Institute of Chicago. Vampire—the  very  word  itself  conjures  up  images  of  supernatural  creatures  who  look  not  unlike  you  and  me,  prowl  about  at  night, prey on unsuspecting souls, and sink their fangs into innumerable, hapless victims to […]

Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding and the reputation of the medical profession 1742

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, United States     In his first published novel from 1742, Henry Fielding chronicles the journey and foibles of three principle characters: the amenable Parson Adams, the so-called beautiful wench Fanny, and her paramour Joseph Andrews—the namesake of the novel.1 Adventures and misadventures befall the young protagonist Andrews, none the least […]

A happy individual knows nothing

Basil Brooke Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa   Socrates and his students. Seljuk manuscript, early 13th century. Mubashshir ibn Fātik. Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul It seems that most people, most of the time, tend to avoid the really big questions, the hows and whys of existence, preferring to wait and see what happens when they die. […]

One thing we can’t live without

Liam Farrell Crossmaglen, Ireland   When God appeared to me and ordained me as his prophet, I was rather disappointed. He was tall and rather overtly Aryan, with a long, white beard (no genuflection to the minorities), and worst of all, had a cultured English accent. He doesn’t sound one bit like Morgan Freeman, I […]