The Totally Esoteric Cocktail Party

It looks like we need a spillover thread from the Totally Esoteric Thread, since Hildy and tigtog have lots to talk about regarding biomechanics, and I really want to ask kittehserf why that particular Louis.

Feel free to chat, mingle, circulate and find out more about whatever thing it was that that person knows about that sounded so interesting.

Martinis on us.

B&W large room full of people in casual evening dress, 1960s style.

Party at George Plimpton’s house, circa 1963

Categories: fun & hobbies, work and family

Tags: ,

20 replies

  1. Oooh this will be fun!

  2. So, @kittehserf, what is the attraction of the most numerically unlucky Louis?

  3. Wheee I got named in a post!
    I’d been keen on that period of history in England, and when I went to RMIT I saw a book on Cardinal Richelieu in the library. I started looking through it because of the La Rochelle connection. It had lots of pics and there was a colour plate of the portrait of Louis from the Prado, the most commonly-used picture of him (which was in fact painted years after he passed, and isn’t a patch on the ones de Champaigne painted from life). Anyways, I couldn’t stop looking at that face, and turning back to the page. I knew nothing about him and wanted to find out about the person that went with that beautiful face.
    Well, that was 1981. I read that book – which was ignorant, homophobic and got SO many facts wrong, as I later found out – and Tapie’s history of his reign, still a good introduction sixty years after it was written. I read the first bio of him in English (by someone who met him). I read every damn thing I could find, because there were so many contradictions in how he was seen. Some writers would follow the Tallemant-Dumas school and dismiss him as an idiot, a coward, a man who had this BEAUTIFUL WIFE and didn’t fuck her at every given opportunity, ergo had something wrong with him. Others would call him a genius, a fearless soldier, one of France’s greatest kings. Some would have him loathing and fearing Richelieu; others would see them as close friends. Some would say he had a happy childhood; others would focus on the sexual abuse (and by our standards it absolutely was sexual abuse). One, a Freudian, treated everything as bad, dark, and somehow managed to sound like she was blaming a child for being the result of abuse. The best book I read, the only modern biography of him in English at the time, was Lloyd Moote’s 1989 work, which came closest to the image I’d formed of him even that early.
    I went to France twice, trying to find any connection with him; a fraught business, because so much from that time has been lost. But I’ve twice stood in the Salon Bleu at Fontainebleau on his birthday, the room where he was born, decorated now as his father remade it to commemorate his birth. I’ve stood and cried my eyes out before the Louis XIII Couronne Par Victoire in the Louvre, the most beautiful painting I’ve ever seen.
    If it isn’t obvious already, I fell in love with him very early on. Never been interested in any other man since; indeed the idea of another man became quite repulsive.
    The biggest change came a few years ago when I joined a writing site. I’d written a massive story, an alternative history fantasy about him, and wanted to know if it was any good. (It wasn’t bad for a first effort but oy, would it need editing and an actual plot if I’d ever returned to it!) I made friends via that site who uniformly said there must be more to this and helped me break out of the materialist-default thinking. Yeah, I’m sortakindalike a spiritualist, but not the reincarnation schtick or with the slightest interest in faux-Buddhism or contacting people in general. Long story short, I’d spent years loving him without a) knowing if he was alive, if there was such a thing as an afterlife; it seemed too much to hope for and I hadn’t got away from the ugly version of the Christian god notions, which weren’t much of an alternative to “nothing”; b) if he were alive, there was no reason to think he knew, or cared, much less to expect anything of him; just because I felt that way about him didn’t imply anything, or put any obligations on him.
    he is alive
    he does care
    he knew about me before I knew about him
    he didn’t stalk me or anything; he had to wait and see if I would be interested, because that’s just the way it works; when you’re in Spirit you just don’t try to influence earthsiders
    we’ve been together for seven years and I cross over most nights, and sometimes even get to remember what we did (whoot!)
    For anyone whose eyes have glazed over or is thinking “deluded” or “what a load of rubbish” – fine, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I’m loved by the person I love, and across the veil the kitties I’ve loved and farewelled here rule the house according to their kitty whims. As is only right and proper.
    He always considered thirteen his lucky number; I do, too. 🙂
    I don’t read about his earthly days, now. There’s too much happening now, he’s changed so much (happy vs unhappy sums it up, and no I’m not claiming credit for that – nearly four centuries of healing will do that for you).
    Oh, and the picture in my gravatar? That’s a photoshop showing him and Katie, who crossed over in 2009. She has him under her furry little paw, the bossy brat.
    So, one spillover. More like a flood, really.

  4. @Kitteh – I noticed in the other thread you said you didn’t speak French. Have you ever considered learning it? It is a pretty easy language for a native English speaker to pick up.

  5. I have at various times, Angharad, but the practicalities of getting to French lessons get in the way now. I’m in one of the outermost suburbs and spend nearly five hours a day commuting. Fitting in lessons after work or on weekends just isn’t happening.
    Plus, the need for it has diminished greatly, now. I’m not studying Louis’s earthly days any more. We’ve been together for over seven years now and French isn’t an issue.

  6. Some of my fellow classics nerds might share my bemusement in the recent realisation that large numbers of otherwise erudite people don’t seem to grok the reference Pratchett is making in the Diskworld books when he refers to the one quirky/unexpected class of miscreants that the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork decides to outlaw in the city – mimes. I was looking up a quote recently and came across a discussion from about 6 years ago where a few people were wondering why Pratchett made Vetinari have a thing about mimes in particular, and these were people who understood the pun being made with Vetinari/Medici just fine, but don’t get the reference to various Roman emperors banning mime performances and/or expelling mimes from the city at all, and speculate about why Pratchett chose mimes of all people for the Patrician to persecute.
    For those who don’t already know, btw, the mimes of Ancient Rome were not silent shows – they were *mimics* and their performances were much like current British pantomimes – broadly satirical bawdy scripts loosely based on well-known tales with much opportunity for improvised moments of mockery, except there was no “family show” pretence to soften them – they were renowned for their obscenity and were an extremely popular Roman entertainment. They also had a religious role in (expensive) funerals where they would respectfully mimic the appearance and mannerisms of ancestors of the dead (prominent families had wax masks of their most famous ancestors and detailed descriptions of limps, posture etc stored with them). With their training in mimicry, one can imagine how scathingly trenchant their passing jokes about political conflicts in the forum might be, and why certain unpopular rulers might want these satirical gadflies silenced.
    Despite Pratchett’s line about the Patrician holding up signs reading “Learn the Words” to mimes about to be expelled, I have no doubt Pratchett knew that the ancient mimes he was referencing weren’t silent and was making an in-joke for the classicists.

  7. Ahhhh. Thanks for that. It does make a lot more sense now, and is of course exactly what Prattchett would have been doing. Sort of the Clark and Dawe of their day?

    • Nowhere near as subtle as Clarke and Dawe, Mindy. As described by people far more expert than I, it appears somewhat more like a Cambridge Footlights themed revue (in the classic Fry/Laurie years) crossed with uncensored Benny Hill sketches and savage Spitting Image spoofs. If you can imagine the members of The Chaser and Kath & Kim doing a bawdy pantomime adaptation of Hamlet with the cast dressed up like the leading politicians of the day with new political jokes every week plus improvised riffing off audience interaction, then you’re probably in the ballpark.

  8. I wonder how often they said to each other ‘naw they’ll never believe they actually did that!’

    • Mindy: I wonder how often they said to each other ‘naw they’ll never believe they actually did that!’

      Given that (going by unearthed graffiti) a standard Roman electoral tactic was to have one’s clients relay the most outlandish gossip about one’s rival candidates, accusing them of as many permutations of adultery, pederasty, bestiality, incest, homosexuality, bribery, cowardice and treason as could be seen as remotely possible whilst holding oneself pointedly dignified above the rumourmongering, which rumours the city apparently lapped up and enlarged in the retelling, I’m sure the mimes were more worried about whether whatever they were doing on the night would rise above the rumours of the day.

  9. ::brags::
    I got to talk to Brian Dawe on the train a few times.
    I knew nothing about the background to the mimes thing. I assumed Pratchett found mimes irritating/silly/whatever and since I don’t care for mime it worked well for me.

  10. I really wish we’d gone a bit more in-depth during Ancient History studies on Ancient Rome. We did discuss the graffiti thing (which the series Rome does a brilliant job of representing in the opening credits, IMO), and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata (which was obvs. a huge hit with a classroom of teenagers).
    But that is really cool, Tigtog.

  11. I am hugely disappointed in how difficult it is to get a broad liberal education in Australia these days (and from what I hear, since the Whitlam government made uni education free). I went to an Ivy League school as a sciences PhD student, but with what I knew of the education my undergraduate friends received, I was very very jealous (and also somewhat regretful that I did not complete my arts degree, despite how non-classical (History of Science) it was).
    As for the House / cane issue:
    – the hip is a fulcrum of a see-saw style lever, with some of the glutes acting as a band holding one end of the seesaw down to balance gravity at the other end. if you put a cane on the other end to reduce gravity, then the muscles have to do less work, and the force on the fulcrum is reduced.
    – House has thigh muscle disease, and by reducing the force of gravity on that side his thigh muscles have to do less work.

    • Hildy re House/cane:
      * the primary work done by the thigh muscles (eta: in normal walking) is to do with controlling the knee rather than the hip, so you can’t just look at the biomechanics of the hip joint when analysing what is the best method of compensating for muscular weakness impeding locomotion. House’s injury would have minimal effect on the motion of the hip during walking, but would have a large effect on the stability of the knee in the support phase of gait.
      * by using a locked knee supported by a cane (that is often not the proper height, due to House collecting antique canes and not having them cut to size) House is not just unnecessarily limiting his knee movement (which has long term complications) but is also screwing up his hip, ankle and foot joints over the long term by choosing to do things his way, because these joints are not moving through the usual range of motion so that the force of gravity is concentrated over a smaller area of the joints. Also his leg’s flexor muscles will be moving into permanent contractures that make the range of movement even more circumscribed and anding up pulling the lower back out of alignment as well.
      * by having the cane on the side of the weak leg it unbalances the body’s centre of gravity far more than having a cane on the opposite side, shifting the COG more towards the side of of weakness whereas having the cane on the opposite side keeps the COG better sagitally aligned. The cane on the wrong side is thus increasing the COG’s movement both sideways and upwards on every step (our COG inscribes a 3D sinusoidal torus on every stride – the smoother our gait the smaller the sinusoidal arcs and the less energy the body consumes as we walk), thus the work that the rest of his body has to do to cope with the shift in his centre of gravity is increased, leading not only to sooner onset of fatigue during the day but also more potential for disorders in the lumbar and sacro-iliac joints, the pelvic symphisis and the supporting leg as well as the weakened leg.
      * the recommended physiotherapeutic solution is the cane on the opposite side to the weak leg and of a very specific height (related to the length of one’s arms rather than anything in the lower limbs, because the shoulders need to be even too) to ensure that the COG remains as evenly balanced as possible in order to avoid complications in other joints of the body. If the cane alone is insufficient to fully compensate for muscular weakness, then that weakness needs to be further supported by a brace of the modern sort that allows a limited range of motion. The patient is then trained in using this apparatus to achieve a gait as balanced and incorporating as close to a normal range of flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, pronation and supination as possible for each joint involved in walking, because this is the only way to ensure the best result not only for the current injury but also to prevent further injury to other joints and muscles.
      That House ignores physio/surgical advice and goes his own way despite knowing deep down that he is damaging his body even more is part of his self-destructive personality. If he was paying attention to his rehabilitation team’s advice, he’d be Cuddy or Wilson.
      BTW, Hugh Laurie noted in 2009 that five years of playing House had given him a limp for real, because of the pain in his knees due to walking in such an uneven way for take after take, day after day, week after week.

  12. I heard a paper recently that discussed the decline of the Roman mime in terms of the rise of Christianity and (politically convenient) desire of the elite to control obscene theatre.

    • Aphie, it was one of the things I found simultaneously wonderful and irritating about Rome the TV series – that the background aspects of Roman society were so scrupulously detailed while the plot conflated/elided/glamorised/trivialised so many of the political ploys/figures including many of my favourite events/people.
      Feminist Avatar, that paper sounds quite fascinating. The obscene aspects of Roman mime obviously made their mockery more biting, so objecting to the obscenity was a clever wedging tactic.

  13. I am hugely disappointed in how difficult it is to get a broad liberal education in Australia these days (and from what I hear, since the Whitlam government made uni education free).

    You think that free education made it more difficult for people to get a liberal education? Which people?

  14. tigtog, what I’m saying is that the standard advice regarding canes is primarily for hip disease, so that you don’t need a Trendelenburg lurch to get your CoG over your foot support. If you have hip pain, or weak hip abductors due to surgery, neurological disability, or other disease, then a cane on the contralateral hand is useful.
    If, on the other hand, you have weak knee extensors (quads) as well as a fixed flexion deformity (as House very well might have due to muscular imbalance at the knee between flexors and extensors, as well as possibly being nursed in a position of flexion during recovery to reduce the likelihood of tight-quads extension contracture), then a cane in the opposite hand doesn’t help during the single leg stance phase of gait. Gravity will be applying a flexion moment, and a cane will let him use his arms to oppose gravity to reduce that flexion moment enough that his weakened quads can deal. You are right about the CoG effects of the cane, though, but if his glutes are in good shape, he should be able to maintain single leg stance without shifting his CoG too much over.
    I’m thinking about the advice I give to my patients with Weber As that I treat in a CAM walker – I give them two crutches at first, then tell them to ditch the contralateral one in time, then nothing at all eventually.
    The ideal device for him would be a caliper, like the polio calipers, but it wouldn’t have been as photogenic.
    @Lauredhel: before education was made universally free, there wasn’t as much of an impetus to have a vocational tertiary education. In addition, although there were always rich stupid people, there weren’t as many poor stupid people.
    the problem with a liberal education in this day and age is that they let in people who are barely literate, and the lecturers teach to that level because you get hauled up in front of the faculty if you fail more than 40% of your class.
    my best educational experiences have been in the faculty of medicine at an australian university, and in an ivy league university, where everyone who is there has already been demonstrated to be hardworking and intelligent.

  15. If Feminist Avatar is keeping an eye on this thread, can I ask, are you working with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions? Because I love the work they’ve been doing, but have never quite been able to make my research area stretch and bend enough to have a shot at the various post-docs available within it.
    In other news, I’ve just been invited to contribute to the expanded, revised edition of the Feminist Companion to Shakespeare. This is quite a big deal for me, as it means someone doing a general search on feminism and Shakespeare is likely to end up looking at my work, without needing more specialist knowledge to find me.

  16. I do work for the CHE! And I also love our work, which is looking fab.
    Congrats on the publication- very cool.

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