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There’s a story that Pliny tells about the Corinthian potter Butades, and his daughter Kora. Kora’s lover is about to leave her for a time, and she is compelled to capture his silhouette. This story is used by Pliny to describe the origins of painting and of relief sculpture (Kora’s silhouette is then appropriated by Butades as he presses clay to it and turns it into something else), but it is also, more obviously, a story about drawing. Moreover it is a story about traces, shadows and haunting. What Kora does is depict something that is fleeting and distorted, a shadow, and does so in the most immediate way she can. Her impetus is not to create a portrait of her lover, but to capture a silhouette he has temporarily cast on the wall. In order to do so she must turn her back on her lover while he is still present, and reduce him to an outline. In the act of copying his shadow she holds on to her lover in a way she already realises is tenuous. The very act of drawing his shadow is a recognition of her understanding of the implication of absence.

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Having heard, for the first time, that my adventures have been doubted, and looked upon as jokes, I feel bound to come forward and vindicate my character for veracity, by paying three shillings at the Mansion House of this great city for the affidavits hereto appended.  

This I have been forced into in regard of my own honour, although I have retired for many years from public and private life; and I hope that this, my last edition, will place me in a proper light with my readers.

– R. E. Raspe

Singular travels, campaigns and adventures of Baron Munchausen

 

1780

The Marquis de Sade, an infamous French aristocrat, spent just over a decade in the 1780s imprisoned on charges related to his violent sexual fantasies. He was held at the Chateau de Vincennes and the Bastille before finally being transferred to the insane Asylum at Charenton.

While imprisoned de Sade wrote the novella Justine. It tells the story of a girl who is orphaned at the impressionable age of twelve, when she and her older sister Juliette must learn to make their own way in the world. After they part company Juliette is quickly corrupted, but becomes worldly and is ultimately rewarded with riches and happiness. Justine, determined to be virtuous, is subjected to a series of misfortunes, betrayals and assaults. She is briefly reunited with her sister before she is eventually stuck by lightning and dies.

After the French Revolution de Sade enjoyed ten years of freedom, but 1800 would be his last; the following year Napoleon ordered the arrest of the anonymous author of Justine and de Sade was returned to Charenton asylum where he died in 1814.

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Remembering is mind-wandering into the past. We can also wander into the future, imagining what might happen tomorrow, or next Christmas, or when the Antarctic ice melts. The evidence shows, in fact, that people spend more time thinking about the future than about the past.  Nevertheless, there is a natural continuity between future and past, as time glides relentlessly from one to the other. What we’re about to do quickly becomes what we have done -assuming we actually do it. Sometimes we don’t, and when that happens we’re inclined to say: ‘Well I forgot.” Even forgetting, it seems, can apply to the future as to the past.

(Corballis, 2014, p.36)