Art Spotlight: Jan van Eyck’s Eye of God

What do you see when you look at this painting? What, indeed, seems to be looking back at you? This 1434 portrait of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife stands as an incredible example of Renaissance art — and

Anti-Syphilis Posters and the Monstrous Feminine

It’s a common trope throughout humanity’s patriarchal history: The otherness of woman is not only alien and unknowable but ultimately the stuff of monstrosity. We see it in myth cycles, folklore, witchcraft persecution and various interpretations of human reproduction. Rather

Artificial Noses and the Ravages of Syphilis

As we discuss in our podcast episode “Syphilis Through the Ages,” the disfiguring disease forced many Europeans to hide their bald spots and sunken, decaying noses. And so powdered wigs became increasingly popular, as did codpieces, merkins and false noses

Artatomical: Rembrandt’s Portrait of de Lairesse

As mentioned in our podcast episode “Syphilis Through the Ages,” the pox plagued Europeans for centuries with profound cultural ramifications. Yet some of the afflicted took a level of hedonistic pride in their illness, or at least faced it with

How Inventive: The Shower Hood

How inventive! Here we see Munich actress Inge Marschall demonstrating the use of the shower-hood, a 1970 German invention to protect hair and make-up in the shower. It’s essentially a shower cap for your entire head and it seems strange

Monster of the Week: The Werewolf

Ah, how have we overlooked the werewolf for so long? I think we can blame the moon. The lycanthropic human is slave to the lunar cycle — or so we’ve been told. When the full moon hangs fat in the

Tertiary Syphilis Invades your Television

It’s syphilis week at Stuff to Blow Your Mind. That’s right, both this week’s podcast episodes explore the fascinating science, culture and history of this most monstrous of venereal diseases. Plus, in addition to last week’s Monster of the Week

Artatomical: Matthias Grünewald’s Diseased Christ

The Isenheim Altarpiece of German Renissance painter Matthias Grünewald (1470 – 1528) is a powerful work of religious art. It’s also about as morbid and apocalyptic a vision of the Christian faith as you could ask for, thoroughly grounding our fleshly

How Inventive: The Artificial Mommy Breast

How inventive! Here we see a 1963 photo of the next big thing infant sleep aids: the artificial breast with built-in heartbeat from the Japanese Majima company. As far as I can tell, this technology didn’t quite catch on. Amazon

Monster of the Week: The Syphilitic Vampire

We’ve discussed humanoid sanguivores and Mexican vampire women before, but this week we turn our attention to Count Spirochete, the vampiric embodiment of syphilis. Just as the Russian sailing ship The Demeter delivered Dracula to the shores of England, so

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