8,000 year old rock art of horses in Anatolia

From the Turkish Daily News:

Horse figures painted on rock formations in EskiÅŸehir are the oldest in Anatolia, according to new archaeological research.

The research revealed that the first known horse figures date back to 6,000 B.C. and that the area was settled in the early Neolithic period. The excavation and studies of Anatolia in EskiÅŸehir’s Sivrihisar district were conducted jointly by EskiÅŸehir-based Anadolu University and the EskiÅŸehir Archaeology Museum. The EskiÅŸehir province lies directly to the west of Ankara.Ali Umut Türkcan of Anadolu University said rock paintings featuring horse figures were found by two amateur photographers in 2002, adding, “The rock paintings were interesting because they contained 20 horse figures and a figure resembling a human showing his hands before the horses.”

Türkcan said the figures were later made clear using the computer program Photoshop and that it was the first time this technique was applied for such work.

“The rock paintings are really significant because they are the first horse figures found in Anatolia. Horse figures have an important place for this region, which used to be an area where horses were raised. In addition to the rock paintings with horse figures, early Neolithic period ceramics and flints were discovered in the region, suggesting that the area was also used for settlement,” he noted.

What’s even more interesting is that the painting might not be of a man hunting horses, but herding them. Yeah, that’s completely wild speculation on my part. A popular theory now is that horses were domesticated in the area of Ukraine 4,000 BC. This art is edging towards the period where horses are no longer just meat, but viewed as a work animal. I wonder…

I’d upload the photo, but the site is being cranky tonight.

encoding digital info into DNA

Bacteria can have digital information encoded into their DNA, about 2 MBs of information. Here’s the AFP story:

TOKYO (AFP) – For people who want to ensure their words last for their progeny, Japanese scientists have found a way to literally put a message into genes.

A research team said this week it had developed a technology for storing digital data in the DNA of bacteria, which unlike most living organisms can survive for millennia in the right conditions.

Each hay bacillus bacterium can store two megabits — the equivalent of 1.6 million Roman letters. The scientists can take out the microscopic implants in a laboratory and read them so they appear as ordinary text.

The team at Keio University’s Institute for Advanced Biosciences said the technology needs to be perfected but that it was optimistic about its future uses.

“If I wanted to store my personal diary in these live bacteria and take it with me to my grave, then my story can live for thousands and thousands of years,” head researcher Yoshiaki Ohashi said with a laugh.

In practical terms, the technology could eventually benefit companies such as pharmaceutical makers which want to “stamp” their brand.

“In doing so, the company can detect piracy and protect its patent. They can also store information at one specific area of the gene and retrieve it from there,” Ohashi said.

The researchers insert the data at four different places so even if one is disrupted, there would be backup.

But the team said they still needed to work before the technology could go on the market. In particular, the scientists need to ensure that the DNA will not be altered as live bacteria naturally evolve.

Hay bacillus bacteria are generally found in soil or decaying matter and are especially resistant to extreme weather.

I find it extremely annoying that the very first “practical” thing that they might use it for is for patents. Bullshit. I’d wager that the info will be stripped out of them just like pirates these days find ways to break DRM. Using DNA to encode digital information is extremely shortsighted, although, i’m insufficiently imaginative to come up with any great practical application right now. Stone tablets have worked fine for humans for thousands of years. Scribbling on the DNA of some bacteria seems a little overreaching. Medical records, perhaps? Nah… too impermanent.

As for impractical methods, i can see someone is going to be taking some bacteria, loading them up with great works of literature, and trumping Brion Gysin on the genetic level.


Finished Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, but i keep picking up every other book in the room to read instead. It makes me distinctly uncomfortable, as it reminds me of the best forgotten period when i was bombed out of my skull on antidepressants, caught in up saturating myself in the most ordinary experiences, trying to re-experience some unattainable bliss of normalcy. If i had an essentially unlimited budget to indulge in such obsession in recreation of the mundane, sifting through it for a transcendental experience, it would have been much like the plot of this book. Ugh. Discomforting.

The ending of the book was disappointing. i was expecting a numbing post-modern dissipation, but it turned into a whiz-flash-bang. It made sense, even inevitable, but i just recently read/re-read Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. (I’m still not entirely unconvinced that i read it before, although for years, i was convinced that i had.) McCarthy’s psychedelic mundanity had me thinking of Auster (I’ve read comparisons to Ballard, but nope… have not read Ballard…) until the last third/quarter of the book, when it became obvious where what served as the plot was creeping.

(Ultimately, though, disappointment with was a relief, as it was less scarring for me psychically.)

I should clarify… when i write of disappointment, it’s not a criticism of McCarthy’s writing. The disappointment comes from my over-identification with certain sensations the protagonist experiences, of trying to reinsert himself into reality, of becoming authentic again, and seeing that McCarthy goes somewhere different with it than i would have hoped. As more people read the book, i will be able to explain myself better without revealing what happens.

It’s easy to recommend the book, but at the moment, i’m more interested in McCarthy’s International Necronautical Society. Surplus Matter also points to an article in Dusted that gives insight to McCarthy’s taste in music, which too often laves a bad feeling, but with his taste for post-punk and postmodern spoken word, he’s not going to rhapsodize about some syrupy, strumming, guitar pop band.

Pamuk plans to return to Istanbul

A couple of weeks ago, i read rumors that Orhan Pamuk had abandoned Istanbul, and was planning to establish residency in New York City following the murder of Hrant Dink. I recalled the original story read something quite different, that he canceled a trip to Germany, and gone to New York instead to speak at Columbia, but Pamuk made no statement about emigration. The Turkish paper Sabah reports that Pamuk bought a return ticket to Istanbul for April 5th.

All of this talk of emigration was probably propaganda by nationalists. The plans for Pamuk to go to New York were in the works for some time, as evidenced by this New York magazine article from last October mentioning that Pamuk is a, “soon-to-be visiting Columbia professor…”

some books acquired in February 2007

Listing every book i’ve purchased this past month will be a pain in the neck, but keeping track of the stuff acquired in relatively local bookstores seems worthwhile. None of it is collectible, but fuck it… it’s fun to stumble across cheap copies of this stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill and i hit one in Baton Rouge. I haven’t a clue what he found, but i was pleased to get:

    Maldoror. Comte de Lautreamont. It’s probably not cool to admit that i read a few chapters of this, and wound up laughing in public, as it was so damned absurd.
    Against The Grain. J.K. Huysman. It’s the Dover edition, and i haven’t looked up who the translator is, as the name is not listed on the book. This is the one that i’m most likely to finish in the next few weeks, as the beginning has been a smooth read, creepy and decadent.
    The Ebony Tower. John Fowles. Whenever i get around to it, this will be my third Fowles.
    She. It seems vaguely familiar to me, but even after looking it up, i’m not sure if i heard of this book before.
    The Death of Artemio Cruz. Carlos Fuentes. I still haven’t ventured that far into Terra Nostra.
    The Campaign. Carlos Fuentes. Yeah, i’m a fool to play at being a completist with an author when i have not finished my first novel of his.
    The Alexiad of Anna Comnena. I was with Bill. How can i not get some Byzantine history? I remembered that i stowed away that Norwich book, unfinished. It will be dug back out today.

The next batch i bought in New Orleans on Sunday:

    The Monk. Matthew Lewis. There is definitely a theme this February. No, i doubt if i’m going to be cracking this one soon.
    The Secret Table. Mark J. Mirsky. Never heard of the author, but i was looking for anything by Fiction Collective, as i’ve had good experience with them lately. (I need to post about Don Webb.) The second story is titled “Onan’s Child” and mentions the clay of the earth crying out for human seed. If that’s what i think it means, combining the Kabbalism it promises, that’s weird.
    Andes Rising. James Munves. Yep, i was also hunting for New Directions, and it incorporates ornithology. i swear that i read a review of this years ago.
    The Cannibal. John Hawkes. I chose this over a perfectly good Richard Powers book that i wanted because this one is on New Directions, and thought it would be harder to find. I dunno.
    A Grain of Wheat. Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Nope. i still have not finished Wizard of the Crow, which has me hooked…. it’s just tougher to haul around when i’m reading in cars, sidewalks, parks, ect.

so the consensus is that Indus script is still undeciphered?

Egbert Richter Ushanas claims to have deciphered Indus script. I was mildly excited excited about this, until i did a quick search to night to see what happened in the wake of this…. only to find that he’s been insisting this for well over a decade. Here’s a clipping from the Times of India from 1994. Checking the Wikipedia entry on Indus script reveals no mention of Ushanas. I need to get back to this, and see why his claims have gained little traction.

Love Is a Mix Tape

I hesitate to recommend Sheffield’s book, because it suckerpunched me. As with many books that i’ve read in the past several years, i started it looking for a light read on a break. I hadn’t touched a music criticism/memoir in ages, but i was feeling nostalgic, as i had just talked to Damien about this lunatic mix project that he has, sprawling over decades of time, over thousands of artists, for no other purpose than his own amusement. Anyway, i wondered whether i’d relate to Sheffield’s nostalgia for the ’90s.

Actually… no. I lived in a very different ’90s. I was criminally ignorant of Pavement until Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, until a friend sat me down and forced me to listen to pay attention to the wordplay in the lyrics. The last connection i had to pop music was from one jukebox in a poolroom in ’89, and after that, i spiraled into a parallel universe where Julian Cope, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits were kings of the charts. Rob and Renee were older than me in the ’90s, and remember the ’80s differently as well. Come to think of it, most of my relationships with women in the ’90s were sad trainwrecks, rewarding in their ways, but not a single one a partnership anything like theirs (or any other normal human.) Still, Sheffield’s recollections of their relationship and its music did touch me. That’s what sent me on the recent iTunes cataloging.

One Amazon reviewer noted that it felt that Sheffield was still hiding large parts of himself in the book. I agree. I still don’t think that i know him that well, compared to an experience like having read Julian Cope’s Head On. His early years make sense, and a string of girlfriends prior to Renee give some insight on the evolution of his taste in music, but something felt missing. He didn’t really hit his stride until the book introduces Renee, who comes across as brash and charming, someone who seems to have taught him how to live. And then she dies. Bang. I knew her death was imminent, but as quickly and unexpectedly as it happened, it was still jarring. He wrote so lovingly of her that i was still eager for more details of the woman. Everything else is an unfinished postscript.

Nice book that made me wish that i didn’t live in a bathysphere in the ’90s, but it left me more saddened than inspired. And no, it’s not the pathetic laddism of High Fidelity. He loves the mixtape, and acknowledges the common messages that they are supposed to send, but he doesn’t have the narcissistic delusions.

(No, i’ll probably never be able to post any of my old mixtapes, as i burned them all last spring. There may be tracklistings in those journals and letters that i have locked away, but until then, good riddance.)

it’s alright. I got the job.

It’s not as if i would have shot myself in the noggin over this anyway.

I’ve passed the drug test and signed the last of the paperwork. I start this Thursday. The dearth of posting comes from purest laziness and an obscene obsession to load every album i own into iTunes, and tag them properly. 3,074 albums down, and more than enough to go… this “project” involves tracking down albums that were lost in the great hard drive crashes of the past two years, and a box of CDs lost in a move, recovered from backups that Damien had handy and other sources.

Not that anyone is holding his breath, but i’m pulling together some posts tonight. Obviously i have a lot to catch up on, so there will be a shitload of archaeology and literature news that most people will already be well familiar with at this late date. Sorry. Remember that the blog is as much of a substitute for my poor memory as a real blog.

i get twitchy when i tinker with canon

The past few weeks, i’ve been buying books like a madman, filling in gaps in my library that i’ve been meaning to fill for years. Many of them has been traditional canonical works, stuff that i read long ago for school, but misplaced, gave away, or never actually owned. The selection has been relatively stodgy… Chaucer, Dante, Thucydides, Ovid, some Hemingway, some Steinbeck, Melville… get the picture?

I don’t even quite know why i’m buying some of this stuff now, as i don’t intend to be rotating them into the TBR stacks. There is no Grand Plan for Reading, other than i’m tired of not having some of these books handy when i want to check a reference, and don’t feel like going online to something like Project Gutenberg.

(It’s not as if i won’t be able to buy them in the future, and i’ve already learned that the power of my employee discount is negligible when compared to buying used books or online stores.)

The only contemporary title that i’ve picked up in the bookstore in the past weeks has been The Bastard of Istanbul, and it’s on the shelf untouched. However, despite the chaos, i have been reading, and got some fun stuff, which i’ll post about later.