mathematician, composer, photographer, fiddler
The Standing Stones of Stenness
Possibly the oldest henge in the British Isles – the Standing Stones of Stenness in Orkney, Scotland. The Stenness Watch Stone is visible in the distance. The Ness of Brogdar, Ring of Brogdar, Maeshowe, and Skara Brae are nearby but not visible.
Compare my photo with the following still from Powell & Pressburger’s first collaboration, The Spy in Black (1939).
In it Conrad Veidt is sneaking with a motorcycle between moonlit standing stones in Orkney, on his way from his U-boat near The Old Man of Hoy to a clandestine rendezvous in a house overlooking the British Grand Fleet in Scappa Flow.
I incidentally once dressed up for Halloween as one of Veidt’s earliest screen roles – the somnambulist in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).
Besides Powell & Pressburger – and of course Kubrick – the sunset at Stenness also made me think of Edward Gorey’s drawing of Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell for TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939) and “The Mathematician’s Nightmare” from Bertrand Russell’s Nightmares of Eminent Persons and Other Stories (1954).
- Drought and Drone Reveal ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Signs of Ancient Henge in Ireland, The New York Times, 13 July 2018.
- Saving Scotland’s Heritage From the Rising Seas, The New York Times, 25 Sept 2018.
After Laocoön [or Before?]
Little is known with certainty about the serpent—not even how many thousand years old it is.
A New Multistage Construction Chronology for the Great Serpent Mound, USA, Edward W. Herrmann, G. William Monaghan, William F. Romain, Timothy M. Schilling, Jarrod Burks, Karen L. Leone, Matthew P. Purtill, Alan C. Tonetti, Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 50, pp. 117–125, Oct 2014.
Serpent Mound: A Fort Ancient Icon?, Robert V. Fletcher, Terry L. Cameron, Bradley T. Lepper, Dee Anne Wymer and William Pickard, Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 105–143, Spring 1996.
The Serpent Mound of Ohio, F.W. Putnam, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Vol. XXXIX, No. 6, pp. 871–888, April 1890.
History Got it Wrong: Scientists Now Say Serpent Mound as Old as Aristotle by Geoffrey Sea for Indian Country Today, 7 Aug 2014.
Crazy Theories Threaten Serpent Mound, Demean Native Heritage by Mary Annette Pember for Indian Country Today, 6 June 2013.