|NO, EINSTEIN, WHY DON'T YOU DO THE MATH?!
Happy Birthday to para-political heavy-weight philosopher Oswald Spengler, who was born in Germany on this day in 1880! Spengler's hugely influential book, The Decline of the West, put forth his fascinating Civilizations Model, which posits that every epoch goes through a cycle of seasons, from Spring to Winter, after which comes an ultimate and unavoidable collapse. Cheerful stuff.
On this day in 1913, the Paris premiere performance of composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Vaslav Nijinski's ballet The Rite of Spring: Pictures from Pagan Russia provokes a riot when detractors and supporters of the gloriously asynchronous, poly-rhythmic music and primal, violent dancing begin fighting each other in the aisles. Despite the ruckus, which spilled out into the street, the 33-minute ballet was performed in its entirety. Stravinsky's score remains one of the most important and impressive pieces of Modernist music ever composed - an "it's all there" key to understanding where serious composition was headed in the 20th century - and, as a well-rounded human being, you really do owe it to yourself to take the time and give this horizon-expanding, mind-blowing, eardrum-pounding creation an uninterrupted listen with your complete and undivided attention. "Farewell la Belle Epoch, welcome the New Age."
In another defining moment of the Modern Age, it was on this day in 1919 that scientists Arthur Eddington and Andrew Crommelin conducted the first-ever real-world test of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. They set up camp on the island of Príncipe, near Africa, and prepared to watch a solar eclipse. According to general relativity, stars with light rays that passed near the Sun would appear to shift due to their light curving through the Sun's gravitational field - an effect only noticeable during eclipses, since otherwise the Sun's brightness would obscure the affected stars. They discovered that Newtonian physics could only account for half the shift that they recorded - a shift that was accurately predicted by Einstein's theory. All of a sudden, the Universe seemed like a whole lot stranger place, indeed... especially to those elite few with minds capable of grasping the physics of it all.
On this day in 1954, at the Hotel de Bilderberg near Arnhem in the Netherlands, the first ever Bilderberg conference is held. The whole ball of wax got rolling when several people, including Polish politicians Józef Retinger and Andrew Nielsen, became concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe. They proposed an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States could come together and promote a better understanding between the cultures of the United States and Western Europe and foster cooperation on political, economic, and defense issues. That's the official line. For a more accurate take on the goals, activities and origins of every conspiracy theorist's favorite honest-to-gosh actual global conspiracy, check out SourceWatch's excellent Bilderberg dossier. You'll be glad you did. Or not...
|A PICASSO OF STRAVINSKY - IT DOESN'T GET MORE MODERN THAN THAT!