Gothic: Halloween Summed Up in a Single Writing Style

“Scare Tactics is that rare academic work that’s accessible rather than purposefully opaque, and it has much to offer readers interested in American literature, gothic fiction, or uppity women.”—Bitch Magazine

The notion of “the Gothic” permeates our society’s art forms, conveying the darkest of possible tones. It is this sense of discomfort, this sudden acquaintance with the disturbing and the uncanny, which draws us towards this type of literature time and time again.

Scare Tactics, written by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, explores the women authors who contributed to this strangely intriguing literary field. Between the end of the Civil War and roughly 1930, hundreds of uncanny tales were published by women in the periodical press and in books. These include stories by familiar figures such as Edith Wharton, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as well as by authors almost wholly unknown to twenty-first-century readers, such as Josephine Dodge Bacon, Alice Brown, Emma Frances Dawson, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. Focusing on this tradition of female writing offers a corrective to the prevailing belief within American literary scholarship that the uncanny tale, exemplified by the literary productions of Irving, Poe, and Hawthorne, was displaced after the Civil War by literary realism.

To read Chapter 1, “The Ghost in the Parlor: Harriet Prescott Spofford, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Anna M. Hoyt, and Edith Wharton”, click here.

Visit our Halloween 2014 Pinterest page: Costumes, Cobwebs, Candy, & Books…

“Scare Tactics is that rare academic work that’s accessible rather than purposefully opaque, and it has much to offer readers interested in American literature, gothic fiction, or uppity women.”—Bitch Magazine The notion of “the Gothic” permeates our society’s art forms, … Full Story

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Jacques Derrida’s Cat

Jacques Derrida’s Cat
On discovering one is being looked-at, rather than looking-at

Jacques Derrida in his book, The Animal That Therefore I Am, discusses the expectation before him to talk about animals, but, instead of “talking about”, and instead of describing animal as a generality, or even as an assortment of species, he describes an incident, a specific moment with a singular and real cat, with his cat, Logos. He described a moment of being naked in the presence of this cat, with the cat looking at him. He described a sense, of discomfort, even shame from this experience of having his naked body gazed upon by his cat. Derrida saw that he was not so much looking as he was being looked at, and not by some global category of “animal”, but by an all-too-present, staring feline.

Derrida continues, always returning to the cat, his cat, the specific cat staring at his naked body. He reminds us that the experience of being looked upon by an animal is almost never the vantage point from which animals are talked about in both science and philosophy.Instead, the gaze is repeatedly and consistently from the human eyes upon the body of the animal. We, the humans (and in particular, we the philosophers, the scientists, and other institutional players) are the observers, and from the position of looking upon the animal we also find ourselves with the privilege of being the ones who name, who examine, and who interpret the animal. The scientific and philisophical eye never expects the animal to be examining the examiner.

[This review was originally posted by Christopher Kinman on his blog.]

For more on Jaques Derrida, visit The French Thinkers Collection by Combined Academic Publications.

Jacques Derrida’s Cat On discovering one is being looked-at, rather than looking-at Jacques Derrida in his book, The Animal That Therefore I Am, discusses the expectation before him to talk about animals, but, instead of “talking about”, and instead of describing animal … Full Story

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The New York Times Reviews COOL

What Would We Do Without It?
A Look at Our Love Affair With Air-Conditioning
by Sam Roberts | NYT Bookshelf
SEPT. 19, 2014

With summer just about officially over, we can dispassionately explore what the world was like a little more than a century ago, before Willis Carrier installed his “apparatus for treating air” in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, printing plant.

“I live in New York, a city that doesn’t exist without air-conditioning,” Salvatore Basile writes in “Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything” (Fordham University Press).

To Americans, New York is a Northern city, but in his breezily anecdotal book, Mr. Basile reminds readers that we practically share a latitude with Madrid, if not the siestas. The heat could be brutal, particularly when 5,000 ceiling fans, while the largest such installation in the world, were all that cooled the city’s subway cars.

Air-conditioning was not just about comfort.

It triggered a cultural and demographic revolution.

It made windowless offices, work and retail spaces and entertainment venues possible (and also permitted the introduction of heat-generating computers).

It also diminished street life.

And beyond New York, it made living in the Sun Belt bearable, shifting not only jobs and population there, but also political power.

Read full article…

What Would We Do Without It? A Look at Our Love Affair With Air-Conditioning by Sam Roberts | NYT Bookshelf SEPT. 19, 2014 With summer just about officially over, we can dispassionately explore what the world was like a little … Full Story

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LA Times: 10 Surprising Air-conditioning Facts from COOL

BY CAROLYN KELLOGG
September 12, 2014

The easiest way to beat the heat this weekend may be to turn on your air conditioning. But the road to being able to flip a switch to cool down your house was not so simple. As author Salvatore Basile explains in his new book “Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything,” the path to easy, affordable ways to cool down took a path through ice, ammonia, fans, pipes, blowers, coils and more. Here are some surprising things you probably don’t know about air conditioning.

1. If you go to a movie to beat the heat this weekend, you’re not the first. In fact, major advances in air-conditioning technology began in 1917, when theater owners wanted to fill seats during sweltering summers. With no home air conditioning, people flocked to movie theaters, whose advertisements featured lettering dripping with icicles.

2. In 1736, the English House of Commons was cooled by a seven-foot, hand-cranked “blowing wheel.” The man at the crank was known as the Ventilator.

3. An ice-making machine was patented as early as 1851, but American ice interests, which had a network that stored and transported lake ice from cold regions, managed to quash it.

4. A variety of machine cooling systems were developed, but they were slow to catch on. In 1891, a St. Louis company transformed a beer hall and restaurant into an “Ice Palace.” Chilled by refrigeration, painted with murals of a polar expedition, it displayed frost-coated pipes spelling out the prorprietor’s name to passers-by. Those who left the 90-degree temperatures outside for the 70 degrees inside considered it merely a pleasant oddity.

5. An unnamed California millionaire was the first to try cooling an entire room in his home mechanically, in 1892. It was only 6 feet by 9 feet and required a false wall to conceal machinery, more of which was located on the roof. (Could it have been William Randolph Hearst? That’s my guess).

6. Two early successful ventilation systems were installed in 1899 in Cornell’s dissecting rooms (for the cadavers) and 1903, at the New York Stock Exchange (for the stockbrokers).

7. Willis Haviland Carrier, whose patents and ideas created the first widely popular factory-scale coolers, was so absorbed in creating his air conditioner that he once left for a business trip with a large suitcase in which he had packed nothing but a handkerchief.

8. The first fully air-conditioned residence was built in Minneapolis in 1913 by Charles “Spend-a-Million” Gates, heir to a barbed-wire fortune. The mansion, taking up three city lots, also boasted gold plumbing and a ballroom, but Gates never got to experience it: He died while on a hunting trip before the house was finished.

9. The first U.S. president to enjoy an air-conditioned Oval Office was Herbert Hoover, who spent $30,000 on the system just months after the stock market crash of 1929.

10. If you tried to buy an in-window air-conditioning unit in the 1940s, you’d spend about about $350 in 1940s money, which in today’s dollars is almost $3,500.

FULL ARTICLE

Book news and more; I’m @paperhaus on Twitter

BY CAROLYN KELLOGG September 12, 2014 The easiest way to beat the heat this weekend may be to turn on your air conditioning. But the road to being able to flip a switch to cool down your house was not … Full Story

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Air Conditioning Appreciation Day!

By Salvatore Basile

This week—August 15, to be exact—celebrates the climax of Air Conditioning Appreciation Days, a month-long tribute to the wonderful technology that has made summer heat a little more bearable for millions of people. Census figures tell us that nine out of ten Americans have central air conditioning, or a window unit, or more than one, in our homes; in our cars, it’s nearly universal. Go to any hardware or home goods store and you’ll see a pile of boxes containing no-fuss machines in a whole range of sizes, amazingly affordable, plop-’em-in-the-window-and-plug-’em-in-and-you’re-done. Not only do we appreciate the air conditioner, but we appreciate how easy it is to become air conditioned.

When it comes to coolth, we’ve come a long way. But in earlier times, it was nowhere near as simple for ordinary citizens to get summertime comfort.

One of the first cooling contraptions offered to the public showed up around 1865, the brainchild of inventor Azel S. Lyman: Lyman’s Air Purifier. This consisted of a tall, bulky cabinet that formed the headboard of a bed, divided into various levels that held ice to cool the air, unslaked lime to absorb humidity, and charcoal to absorb “minute particles of decomposing animal and vegetable matter” as well as “disgusting gases.” Relying on the principle that hot air rises and cool air sinks, air would (theoretically) enter the cabinet under its own power, rise to encounter the ice, be dried by the lime, purified by the charcoal, and finally ejected—directly onto the pillow of the sleeper—“as pure and exhilarating as was ever breathed upon the heights of Oregon.” Lyman announced this marvel in Scientific American, and in the same issue ran an advertisement looking for salesmen. Somehow the Air Purifier didn’t take off.

More interesting to homeowners was the device that showed up in 1882, the electric fan. Until then, fans were powered by water or steam, usually intended for public buildings rather than homes, and most of them tended to circulate air lazily. But the electric model was quite different, with blades that revolved at 2,000 rpm—“as rapidly as a buzz saw,” observed one wag, and for years they were nicknamed “buzz” fans. They were some of the very first electrically powered appliances available for sale. They were also exorbitant, costing $20 (in modern terms, about $475). But that didn’t stop the era’s big spenders from seizing upon them eagerly. Delighted reviewers of the electric fan claimed that it was “warranted to lower the temperature of a room from ninety-five to sixty degrees in a few minutes” and that its effect was “like going into a cool grove.”

The fan combined with ice around the turn of the century, producing an eight-foot-tall metal object that its inventor called “The NEVO, or COLD AIR STOVE.” The principle was simple: air entered through a small pipe at the top, was pulled by a fan through the NEVO’s body—which had to be stuffed daily with 250 pounds of ice and salt to provide the cooling—and would then be discharged out an opening at the bottom. “It dries, washes, and purifies the air.” As the NEVO had more in common with a gigantic ice cream freezer than with actual temperature control, and the smallest NEVO cost $80 (nowadays, $1,700) and cost $100 per season (over $2,000) to operate, it didn’t get far.

By this time, a young engineer named Willis Carrier had developed a mechanical system that could actually cool the air and dry it, the Apparatus for Treating Air. But this was machinery of the Giant Economy Size, and used only in factories. In 1914, one wealthy gent asked Carrier to install a system in his new forty-bedroom Minneapolis home, and indeed the system was the same type that “a small factory” would use. Unfortunately, this proud homeowner died before the house was completed, and historians speculate that the machinery was never even turned on.

It wasn’t until 1929 that Frigidaire announced the first home air conditioner, the Frigidaire Room Cooler. This wasn’t in any way a lightweight portable. The Room Cooler consisted of a four-foot-tall metal cabinet, weighing 200 pounds, that had to be connected by pipes to a separate 400-pound compressor (“may be located in the basement, or any convenient location”). And it cost $800, in those days the same as a Pontiac roadster. While newspaper and magazine articles regarded the Room Cooler as a hot-weather miracle, the price (along with the setup requirements) meant that its customers came almost solely from the ranks of the rich, or businesses with cash to burn. Then fate intervened only months after the Room Cooler’s introduction when the stock market crashed, leaving very little cash for anyone to burn. Home air conditioning would have to wait until the country climbed back from the Depression.

Actually, it waited until the end of World War II, when the postwar housing boom prompted brand-new homeowners to fill their houses with the latest comforts. Along with television, air conditioning was at the top of the wish list. And at last, the timing was right; manufacturers were able to offer central cooling, as well as window units, at affordable prices. The compressor in the backyard, or the metal posterior droning out the window, became bona fide status symbols. By 1953, sales topped a million units—and the country never looked back.

Appreciation? Of course. And perhaps, adoration.

To read more about Salvator Basile’s latest book, COOL: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything visit FACEBOOK and www.fordhampress.com.

By Salvatore Basile This week—August 15, to be exact—celebrates the climax of Air Conditioning Appreciation Days, a month-long tribute to the wonderful technology that has made summer heat a little more bearable for millions of people. Census figures tell us … Full Story

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