Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology - Lawrence Weschler Ebook, read via Open Library here.From the book jacket:"A nondescript storefront operation in Los Angeles, California, the Museum of Jurassic Technology actually exists - that may be the only thing about it that is for certain. The creation of David Wilson, a man of prodigiously unusual imagination, the museum is crammed full of some of the most astonishingly unbelievable marvels known to man. Visitors to the museum continually find themselves caught between wondering at the marvels of craft and nature that are on display and wondering whether any of this could possibly be true. Indeed, Wilson's true subject seems to be wonder itself, the delicious human capacity for astonishment and absorption out of which all true creativity arises."After reading that I immediately remembered why this was on my To Read list - my husband and I visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology (wikipedia) (yes, it was my idea) back in 2004 - and we should really make another visit. If you look at the outside of the place (via that wikipedia link above) it's hard to tell if it's actually open - and once inside you then have a fun time deciding what is real and what is...otherwise.Randomly I must pause here and note that the museum sells View-Master reels in their online gift shop. I'd be delighted with the place for that alone.I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that here and there I recognize a bit of redundancy, and sentences that were a bit overlong - but really, that sort of stylistic quibbling didn't occur to me often because the content was that diverting. I spent a lot of time immediately googling topics I just had to have more information on, finding out what more (and what books) I could reference online. This is a book about research that just begs for you to start research on your own. Well, if you're me anyway. Thus you'll see a lot of links in the quotes! (And I'm still looking some of this stuff up. Like the author, it seems I can get addicted to this.)I started reading assuming that I'd find out that a lot of the content in the Museum of Jurassic Technology (from now on MJT) wasn't true - and finding out that there's a lot more truth in MJT's content than I'd thought, and all sorts of fascinating historical connections. Which is basically the same journey that the author goes through.To experience a slice of the MJT: Collections And Exhibitions (and of course the rest of their site).A book I bumped into thanks to the subject: Summary guide by Ashmolean Museum, quotes here - Tradescant Collection at the Ashmolean Museum, OxfordRandom quotes:p. 28, from the pamphlet The Museum of Jurassic Technology and You:"Highlighting the singular collections of John James Swammerdam, Dr. Matthew Maty, Ole Worm (and his "Museum Wormianum"), and Elias Ashmole, the pamphlet went on to note how in the early days such treasure troves were the exclusive preserve of various social elites. For this reason, the pamphlet seemed to hold the late-eighteenth-century American painter Charles Wilson Peale in particularly high esteem."p. 39, on the MJT's David Wilson:""He never ever breaks irony - that's one of the incredible things about him." I was talking with Marcia Tucker, the director of New York's New Museum, about David Wilson. It turns out there's a growing cult among art and museum people who can't seem to get enough of the MJT. ..."When you're in there with him," Tucker went on, "everything initially just seems self-evidently what it is. There's this fine line, though, between knowing you're experiencing something and sensing that something is wrong. There's this slight slippage, which is the very essence of the place. And his own presence there behind the desk, the literal-minded way in which he earnestly and seemingly openly answers all your questions, his never ever cracking or letting you know that, or even whether, he's in on the joke - it all contributes seamlessly to that sense of slippage."p. 41 - David's wife Diana and Ralph Rugoff (LA art critic), at David Wilson's lecture at California State University, Los Angeles:"It was an early version of his Sonnabend spiel, which in fact for a long time existed solely as a lecture, only relatively recently having taken on its exhibitional form. "And he did it completely straight," Rugoff recalls. "Everybody there was taking notes furiously, as if this were all on the level and was likely to be on the test - the Falls, the cones, the planes, the whole thing. It was amazing. And at one point I leaned over to Diana and whispered, 'This is the most incredible piece of performance art I've ever seen.' And she replied, 'What makes you think it's a performance? David believes all this stuff.'"p. 42 - Wilson and author in conversation:"I asked him what had first attacted him to the museums, and he replied, "Well, their museumness. How dark and hushed they were inside, the oak-and-glass cases, the sense of being in these repositories amongst all those old things. That, and the curious style of writing - for instance, on the wall captions. Already then I was fascinated by what I've since come to see as these curious ellipses, the jumps between what you as a visitor are just assumed to know and the most minute, often bizarre, detail of explication, a leap in rhetoric that at times can be absolutely breathtaking. We've tried to preserve a bit of that effect with some of the exhibits here..."p. 60: "Those earliest museums, the ur-collections back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were sometimes called Wunderkammern, wonder-cabinets, and it occurs to me that the Museum of Jurassic Technology truly is their worthy heir in as much as wonder, broadly conceived, is its unifying theme. ("Part of the assigned task," David once told me, "is to reintegrate people to wonder.") But it's a special kind of wonder, and it's metastable. The visitor to the Museum of Jurassic Technology continually finds himself shimmering between wondering at (the marvels of nature) and wondering whether (any of this could possibly be true). And it's that very shimmer, the capacity for such delicious confusion, Wilson sometimes seems to suggest, that may constitute the most blessedly wonderful thing about being human."p. 64-65, story about a tour of the University of Pavia's old museum:""You'll never guess what this is,' my friend challenged me," [Tom] Eisner [biologist, Cornell] related, "and I didn't even try. 'Lazzaro Spallanzani's cock and balls!' " ..."Spallanzi was one of the great early modern naturalists," he offered helpfully. ..."Anyway, my colleague recounted for me how during one of the sieges of Pavia - Pavia always seemed to be coming under siege in those days - Spallanzani realized that he was dying of some urinary-tract infection; he kept careful notes on the progress of the disease so that his colleagues could study the bladder and kidneys themselves. Only, his corpse fell into the hands of his sworn enemy and fiercest rival, I forget the guy's name, an anatomist - in my own mind I always think of him as Scarpia, as in Tosca. So anyway, this Scarpia extracted not only Spallanzani's bladder and kidneys but his entire reproductive apparatus as well, which he thereupon proveeded to display with considerable glee. Remember: this is Italy, and such public emasculation was just about the worst affront to a man's honor that could be imagined. So that years later, after Scarpia died, Spallanzani's old students got ahold of his corpse, decapitated it, and preserved the head in a jar of its own which to this day rests on a shelf in the museum right nearby Spallanzani's." "Citations of things that don't precisely exist (in reality), p72-3:- Donald Evans - created stamps from fictional countries- Charles Simmonds - archeology of Little People: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5- Norman Daly civilization of Llhuros: 1, 2- Hokes Archives (Univ Tennessee, Knoxville) - Everett Ormsby Hokes - Beauvais Lyonsp. 76-77 Sir Walter Cope - Swiss visitor Thomas Platter's diary notes that Cope's castle contained: " "an appartment stuffed with queer foreign objects in every corner"...a round horn that had grown on an Englishwomen's forehead, a unicorn's tail; the baubles and bells of Henry VIII's fool..."p. 81: other collections:"the Tradescants' in Lambeth, Francesco Calceolari's in Verona, Ole Worm's in Copenhagen, Ferrante Imperato's in Naples, Manfredo Settala's in Milan, Athanasius Kircher's in Rome."p. 83 - Arthur MacGregor in The Origins Of Museums The Cabinet Of Curiosities In Sixteenth And Seventeenth Century Europe:"Rudolf II...established at the Hradschin Palace in Prague one of the most impressive artistic centers of his time. As well as being an outstanding patron, Rudolf built up a truly remarkable collection which has frequently been likened to his own personality in its immense richness and lack of purposeful direction."p. 84 - on the Imperato's museum's taxidermy pelican's mounting "as if stabbing itself with its own beak":"This detail refers to the belief, pervasive at the time, that pelicans were given to tearing their breasts open so as to resuscitate their dead young with their own blood, a contention tfirst adumbrated by Pliny the elder (AD 23-79) in his Natural History but one which naturally dovetailed quite nicely with subsequent Christian iconography."p 84, Theatrum Anatomicum of the University of Leiden: Boerhaave Museum, which contains, among other things, the reconstruction the Theatrum Anatomicum, 1988 (orig. 1596), quote via that link:"...even when there were no dissections the anatomy theatre was an interesting spectacle. On the balustrades stood the skeletons of human beings and animals, which not only taught the visitor something about comparative anatomy, but also taught him an edifying lesson about the fragility of life, since the human skeletons carry banners with such slogans as HOMO BULLA (man is a soap bubble) and MEMENTO MORI (remember you must die)"p 85-6, Frederik Ruysch:"Some of his tableaux were relatively straightforward: the skull of a prostitute, for instance, being kicked by the leg bones of a baby. Some were heartrending: Ruysch had perfected ways of preserving the entire bodies of dead infants in large glass jugs in presentations that were often lavished with extra-ordinary and living care [with additions of lace, bracelets, etc.]... Some were peculiar: Ruysch proudly exhibited a box of fly eggs taken from the anus of "a distinguished gentleman who sat too long in the privy" (Ruysch's own description from his catalogue). ...his masterworks, perhaps, were a series of vanitas mundi tableaux, exquisite skeleto-anatomical variations on traditional flower arrangements... For their base, Ruysch would contrive a mound of kidney stones and other diseased organs - this in itslef was not that unusual since dried kidney and gallstones (the bigger, the better) were regularly featured in wonder-cabinets all over the continent. ...[quote from Dr. Antonie Luyendijk-Elschout, Univ. of Leiden:] "With eye sockets turned heavenward the central skeleton - a foetus of about four months - chants a lament on the misery of life. ...accompanying itself on a violin made of osteomyelitic sequester with a dried artery for a bow. At its right a tiny skeleton conducts the music with a baton, set with minute kidney stones. In the right foreground, a stiff little skeleton girdles its hips with injected sheep intestines, its right hand grasping a spear made of the hardened vas deferens of an adult man, grimly conveying the message that its first hour was also its last. On the left, behind a handsome vase made of the inflated tunica albuginea of the testis, poses an elegant little skeleton with a feather on its skull and a stone coughted up from the lungs hanging from its hand."Image here as "Landscape with kidney, urinary and gallstones."p 99-100: where California gets its name - Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Exploits of Explandian) by Rodriguez de Montalvo, 1510:"The book itself was apparently nothing much to write home about, but there's considerable evidence that many of the conquistadors of the time were familiar with its story, in which Esplandian, a kind of late-medieval night, is helping to defend Constantinople...when suddenly there appears amongst the besieging horde: Calafia, Queen of California. California, for its part, turns out to be an island "on the right hand of the Indes" and "very near the terrestrial paradise," inhabited by a race of Amazonian warriors whose weapons are of purest gold, "for in all the island there is no other metal" California...there were also "many griffins"...when the griffins were small "the women went out with traps to take them to their cakes and brought them up there. And being themselves quite a match for the griffins, they fed them with the men whom they took prisoners, and with the boys to whom they gave birth." "p. 103, really sums up the MJT:"Thus we were once again tending into guinetessentially Jurassic territory, having launched out on manifestly solid ground only to find outselves...well, not really having any idea where the hell we were finding ourselves."p. 106: "The caption under the first read: "Mouse Pie, when eaten with regularity, serves as a remedy for children who stammer." The label under the burnt toast read: "Bed wetting or general incontinence of urine can be controlled by eating mice on toast, fur and all."After which there followed an italicized citation:A flayne Mouse, or made in powder and drunk at one tyme, doeth perfectly helpe such as cannot holde or keepe their water...--1579 Lupton, Thousand Notable Things I/40Right then and there I made myself a promise; and I've kept it: I have not gone to the library to track down that Lupton reference. there has to be an end to this. No really."(Later the author can't resist and does indeed look it up. He gives you his findings on the very last page of the Acknowledgements and Sources section.)p. 107, on the Mutter Museum:"The Mutter's show at the Jurassic featured an array of arcane and vaguely threatening antique surgical instruments, the plaster cast of a trephined skull from Peru, various gallstones, some astonishing photographs of sliced heads and haunting (haunted) bell jars, wax models of syphilitic tongues..."p. 117 footnote, Edward Brown, 1673, A Brief Account of Some Travels in divers Parts of Europe, describing contents of a Chamber of Rarities inlcuding "a Siren's hand," elephant's tusks, etc. etc.:"...And I must not omit the Garter of an English Bride, with the story of it; of the Fashion in England for the Bridemen to take it off and wear it in their Hat, which seemed so strange to the Germans, that I was obliged to confirm it to them, by assuring them that I had divers times wore such a Garter my self." Oh and also there was a painting by Albrect Durer in there too. It's thanks to a lot of these private "wonder" collections that many old artworks were preserved at all.p. 134 footnote: St George, mini city behind him in the background (click "treasure hunt" link) - close up photos were taken, showed that artist must have used single hair brush. And a magnifying glass, fairly new tech at the time.Artist: Rogier van der Weyden, painting: Saint George and the Dragon, 1432-1435