‘It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.’ –George Carlin


Is it possible to have a psychedelic experience from a placebo alone? […] We examined individual variation in placebo effects in a naturalistic environment resembling a typical psychedelic party. […] The 4-h study took place in a group setting with music, paintings, coloured lights, and visual projections. Participants (n=33) consumed a placebo that we described as a drug resembling psilocybin, which is found in psychedelic mushrooms. […]

There was considerable individual variation in the placebo effects; many participants reported no changes while others showed effects with magnitudes typically associated with moderate or high doses of psilocybin. In addition, the majority (61%) of participants verbally reported some effect of the drug. Several stated that they saw the paintings on the walls “move” or “reshape” themselves, others felt “heavy… as if gravity [had] a stronger hold”, and one had a “come down” before another “wave” hit her.

{ Psychopharmacology | Continue reading }

images { Left: Marilyn Buck | Right: Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn), 1967 }

Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west


Physicists have long struggled with a perplexing conundrum: How do we reconcile what we see in the quantum world with what we don’t in the classical world? In a phenomenon called quantum superposition, particles have been shown to shift between particle-like and wave-like states, meaning they’re in two places at once.

But this phenomenon hasn’t been observed with more massive objects—it’s only been seen in the smallest particles, such as atoms, photons, and electrons. That’s beginning to change. […]

Physicist Markus Arndt of the University of Vienna and an international team of researchers have demonstrated quantum superposition in molecules, the largest particles ever tested.

{ Popular Mechanics | Continue reading }

photo { Andy Warhol: Elvis Paintings, Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles, 1963 }

‘The formula of our happiness: a Yea, a Nay, a straight line, a goal.’ –Nietzsche


When faced with a personal problem people typically give better advice to others than to themselves. This has been termed ‘Solomon’s Paradox’, named after the biblical King Solomon who was wise for others, but not so when it came to making decisions that would have an impact on his own standing.

Suppose that instead of imagining a problem from the perspective of another you were actually able to have a conversation with yourself about it, but from the embodied perspective of another.

A previous study showed how it is possible to enact internal dialogue in virtual reality (VR) through participants alternately occupying two different virtual bodies – one representing themselves and the other Sigmund Freud. They could maintain a self-conversation by explaining their problem to the virtual Freud and then from the embodied perspective of Freud see and hear the explanation by their virtual doppelganger, and then give some advice. Alternating between the two bodies they could maintain a self-dialogue, as if between two different people.

Here we show that the process of alternating between their own and the Freud body is important for successful psychological outcomes. An experiment was carried out with 58 people, 29 in the body swapping Self-Conversation condition and 29 in a condition where they only spoke to a Scripted Freud character. The results showed that the Self-Conversation method results in a greater perception of change and help compared to the Scripted. We compare this method with the distancing paradigm where participants imagine resolving a problem from a first or third person perspective.

We consider the method as a possible strategy for self-counselling.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas { Andy Warhol, Are You “Different?” (Positive), 1985 }

Where does the white go when the snow melts?


Salmon sushi was introduced to Japan by the Norwegians in 1986


You are 44% more likely to die if you have surgery on a Friday (1.44% chance) compared to a Monday (1.00% chance). The likelihood of death jumps 82% compared to Monday if you have surgery on the weekend.


The State of Wyoming Has 2 Escalators


When women are ovulating, they are (unknowingly) much less likely to call their dads, and when their dads call them, they end the conversation more quickly. However, they’re more likely to call their moms, and the phone conversations last longer.


Recent seminal works on human mobility have shown that individuals constantly exploit a small set of repeatedly visited locations. The number of familiar locations an individual visits at any point is a conserved quantity with a typical size of ~25.


The surface area of human lungs is as big as a tennis court […]

You can say “ding dong” but not “dong ding,” “zig zag” but not “zag zig,” and “flip flop” but not “flop flip.” The same strict word order applies to tick tock, riff raff, ping pong, King Kong, wishy washy, etc. This is the rule of ablaut reduplication: if there are two words, the first is i and the second is either a or o. If there are three words, then the order is i, a, o.

{ 52 Things I Learned in 2018 | Continue reading }

image { a performance/installation Warhol did for the now-defunct Finch College Museum of Art, in New York in February of 1972. The project consisted of Warhol vacuuming the gallery rug and then displaying the vacuum and its signed dust bag in the gallery that he’d cleaned. | Blake Gopnik }

‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.’ —Richard Feynman


Damage to certain parts of the brain can lead to a bizarre syndrome called hemispatial neglect, in which one loses awareness of one side of their body and the space around it. In extreme cases, a patient with hemispatial neglect might eat food from only one side of their plate, dress on only one side of their body, or shave or apply make-up to half of their face, apparently because they cannot pay attention to anything on that the other side.

Research published last week now suggests that something like this happens to all of us when we drift off to sleep each night.

{ Neurophilosophy/Guardian | Continue reading }

art { Andy Warhol, Mrs. McCarthy and Mrs. Brown (Tunafish Disaster), (1963) }

The Sphinx Without a Secret


Le pop art dépersonnalise, mais il ne rend pas anonyme : rien de plus identifiable que Marilyn, la chaise électrique, un pneu ou une robe, vus par le pop art ; ils ne sont même que cela : immédiatement et exhaustivement identifiables, nous enseignant par là que l’identité n’est pas la personne : le monde futur risque d’être un monde d’identités, mais non de personnes.

We must realize that if Pop Art depersonalized, it does not make anonymous: nothing is more identifiable than Marilyn, the electric chair, a tire, or a dress, as seen by Pop Art; they are in fact nothing but that: immediately and exhaustively identifiable, thereby teaching us that identify is not the person: the future world risks being a world of identities, but not of persons.

{ Roland Barthes, Cette vieille chose, l’art, 1980 }

art { Andy Warhol, Foot and Tire, 1963–-64 }

related { David Cronenberg on Foot and Tire }

‘If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.’ –David Sedaris


{ Velvet Underground Horrifies Psychiatrists, NY Times, 1966 }

‘Time, which is the author of authors.’ –Francis Bacon (1561-1626)


You are doing something new in making exclusive use of second-hand images.

{ David Bourdon interviewed by Andy Warhol | Continue reading }

art { Andy Warhol, Knives, 1981-82 | Andy Warhol, Knives, 1981-82 }

‘The distortion of a text, says Freud in Moses and Monotheism, is not unlike a murder. The difficulty lies not in the execution of the deed but in doing away with the traces.’ —James Wood


{ Andy Warhol, Still-life Polaroids, 1977-1983 }

‘There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.’ –Nietzsche


Andy Warhol took the subject of homosexual obsession to the big screen [in 1965]. The film was “My Hustler.” […]

By the mid-1960s, the movie taboo against homosexuality was down. But progressive depictions of gays (let alone lesbians) were rarities. In American movies, gay characters were portrayed as deviant misfits who inevitably met with societal scorn or tragedy (usually suicide). British films like “Victim” and “A Taste of Honey” were somewhat more open-minded in providing sympathetic (if epicene) depictions of gays.

“My Hustler” was radically different because it was not the least bit apologetic of the gay lifestyle. While the film dabbled in stereotypes (the bitchy queen, the rough trade call boys, even the fag hag best friend), no one was shown as a victim, let alone a freak. It was a raw, honest vision of a portion of the gay world which movie audiences never witnessed before.

Warhol was not, by any stretch, a polished filmmaker. His films were unsophisticated in their technique and production values were painfully low. In fact, “My Hustler” consists of two unbroken shots running 33 minutes each (the length of a 1,200 foot reel of 16mm film). While the visual aspect may seem stagnant, the film’s imagery and wall-to-wall talk makes its feel as if one if literally a voyeur to the mini-drama at hand.

“My Hustler” takes place on the Labor Day weekend at the beachfront Fire Island home of a wealthy and not-young queen (Ed Hood). He called a New York Dial-a-Hustler service and was sent a tall, muscular blonde hunk (Paul America). The film finds the older man on his deck watching his leased boytoy reclining on the beach. It is quite a sight to behold, as the hustler rubs suntan oil on his body and whittles with a piece of wood. And speaking of pieces of wood, the guy’s tight bathing suit leaves little to the imagination.

This scene is interrupted by two uninvited guests: Genevieve, the rich and bored socialite (Genevieve Charbon), and Joe, a late-30s hustler (Joe Campbell). The three sit on the deck and talk/bitch/dish among themselves about the stud in the sand. The camera pans back and forth between the deck trio and the hustler (there are no edits – just a continuous run of the camera). For long periods, the camera is fixated on the hustler while the others talk on the soundtrack. Joe claims to know the hustler, Genevieve states she can charm the guy with her sex appeal, and their mincing host belittles both of them with acidic camp remarks (he calls Genevieve a “fag hag” and calls Joe “the sugar plum fairy” – a line that Lou Reed would use in “Walk on the Wild Side”). All three make blunt comments about the object of their gaze (ranging from whether he is a real blonde to fantasizing about the length and width of what the bathing suit is barely concealing). Genevieve eventually makes her move and invites the hustler to go swimming with her.

{ Film Threat | Continue reading }

The crossexamination proceeds re Bloom and the bucket. A lace bucket. Bloom himself Bowel trouble. In Beaver street.


Warhol’s apotheosis as the savior of abstract painting has been coming for years now, ever since sundry dealers, curators, critics, and historians decided that his Shadows, Oxidations, Camouflages, and Rorschachs were in the great tradition of Kazimir Malevich, Jackson Pollock, and Barnett Newman. […]

Deitch begins by referring to abstraction as “a painting tradition that was once seen as essentially reductive” and “monolithic and doctrinaire”—but has “now become expansive.” In what sense were seminal abstract artists such as Kandinsky or de Kooning ever reductive? And what is more reductive than Warhol’s silly attempt at an all-over abstract painting included in this show, the bewilderingly boring 35-foot expanse of army surplus patterning entitled Camouflage?

Deitch would have us believe that Warhol had something to do with incorporating collage into abstract painting, although the truth is that Picasso and Braque were already doing that a century ago. There is nothing in this show that doesn’t have its origins in abstract painting long before Warhol got to work with his silkscreens.

{ Jed Perl/TNR | Continue reading }

Yell this time


{ The Story Behind the Iconic Andy Warhol ‘Esquire’ Cover }

If masturbation really prevented prostate cancer there’d be no such thing as prostate cancer


One of the more memorable encounters in the history of modern art occurred late in 1961 when the period’s preeminent avant-garde dealer, Leo Castelli, paid a call at the Upper East Side Manhattan townhouse-cum-studio of Andy Warhol, whose pioneering Pop paintings based on cartoon characters including Dick Tracy, the Little King, Nancy, Popeye, and Superman had caught the eye of Castelli’s gallery director, Ivan Karp, who in turn urged his boss to go have a look for himself. Warhol, eager to make the difficult leap from commercial artist to “serious” painter, decades later recalled his crushing disappointment when Castelli coolly told him, “Well, it’s unfortunate, the timing, because I just took on Roy Lichtenstein, and the two of you in the same gallery would collide.”

Although Lichtenstein, then a thirty-eight-year-old assistant art professor at Rutgers University’s Douglass College in New Jersey, was also making pictures based on comic-book prototypes—an example of wholly independent multiple discovery not unlike such scientific findings as calculus, oxygen, photography, and evolution—he and Warhol were in fact doing quite different things with similar source material, as the divergent tangents of their later careers would amply demonstrate. By 1964, Castelli recognized his mistake and added the thwarted aspirant to his gallery roster, though not before Warhol forswore cartoon imagery, fearful of seeming to imitate Lichtenstein, of whom he always remained somewhat in awe.

In fact, what Lichtenstein and his five-years-younger contemporary Warhol had most in common was being the foremost exemplars of Cool among their generation of American visual artists. The first half of the 1960s was the apogee of what might be termed the Age of Cool—as defined by that quality of being simultaneously with-it and disengaged, in control but nonchalant, knowing but ironically self-aware, and above all inscrutably undemonstrative.

{ NY Review of Books | Continue reading }

Peel slowly and see


The Velvet Underground sued the Andy Warhol Foundation, accusing it of infringing the trademark for the banana design on the cover of the rock group’s first album in 1967.

The band’s founders, Lou Reed and John Cale, said that the foundation infringed the design by licensing it to third parties, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan.

The band, which was active from about 1965 to 1972, formed an artistic collaboration with Warhol, who designed the banana illustration for “The Velvet Underground and Nico,” which critics have labeled one of the most influential rock recordings of all time, according to the complaint.

The Warhol Foundation claimed it has a copyright interest in the design, according to the lawsuit. The Velvet Underground partnership said in the complaint that the design can’t be copyrighted because the banana image Warhol furnished for the illustration came from an advertisement and was in the public domain.

Warhol’s copyrighted works have a market value of $120 million and the foundation has earned more than $2.5 million a year licensing rights to those works, according to the complaint.

The Velvet Underground is seeking a judicial declaration that the foundation has no copyright to the banana design, an injunction barring the use of any merchandise using the artwork and monetary damages. The group is requesting a jury trial.

{ Bloomberg | Courthouse News Service }

The foolish one of the family is within. Haha! Huzoor, where’s he?


In the history of inkblots, the experiment of Hermann Rorschach [1884-1922] is the most famous moment: a controversial attempt to establish a scientific personality assessment based on ten standard Rorschach inkblots. Then comes Andy Warhol, who in the 1980s reconnects inkblots with the art that came before. He did these huge, very sexual, strange, hieratic paintings which he called ‘Rorschach Paintings’ - although they were, in fact, entirely of his own invention. At the opening a journalist asked him what they meant and Warhol - in that amazing, neutral, “I’m a mirror” way of his– said, “Oh, I made a mistake, I got that wrong. I thought the idea was that you make your own inkblots and the psychiatrist interprets them. If I’d known, I’d just have copied the originals!” (…)

there have been inkblot tests around for ages, but in the 19th century they took over from silhouettes as the parlour game, partly due to a German doctor and poet called Justinus Koerner, who was a friend of the German Romantics and was interested in the nascent science of psychology and such things. He’d write endless letters, and he doodled in them, and started playing around with inkblots. He was the one who worked out that you could make inkblots symmetrical by folding them over.

{ The Browser | Continue reading }

related { Rorschach Test – Psychodiagnostic Plates: The ten inkblots + Decryption }

image { John Waters, Director’s cuts }

Always thinking that just behind some narrow door in all of his favorite bars, men in red woolen shirts are getting incredible kicks from things he’ll never know.


Can a clean smell make you a better person?

That’s the provocative suggestion of a recent study in the journal Psychological Science. A team of researchers found that when people were in a room recently spritzed with a citrus-scented cleanser, they behaved more fairly when playing a classic trust game. In another experiment, the smell of cleanser made subjects more likely to volunteer for a charity.

The findings suggest that simply smelling something clean makes people clean up their behavior - that a smell can provoke a mental leap between cleanliness and morality, making people think differently about the world around them. The authors even suggested that clean smells could be employed as a tool to influence how people act.

The idea that a smell can affect something as complex as ethical behavior seems surprising, not least because smell has long been seen as a “lower” sense, playing on our emotions and instincts while our reason and judgment operate on another plane. But research increasingly shows that smell doesn’t just affect how we feel: It affects how we think, in ways that are just beginning to be understood.

{ The Boston Globe | Continue reading }

One of the works that helps visualize the breakthrough is a painting done in 1961, which consists in a greatly enlarged version of a simple black-and-white advertisement of the kind that appears in side columns and back pages of cheap newspapers. It advertised the services of a plastic surgeon, and showed two profiles of the same woman, before and after an operation on her nose.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

artwork { Andy Warhol, Before and After, 1961 }

‘Joy is man’s passage from a less to a greater perfection.’ –Spinoza


Sometimes you hear a word for the first time and think: “Of course.” How better to describe Paris Hilton than as a “celebutante” or the frequent tabloid target Alec Baldwin as “the bloviator”? (Thanks, New York Post!)

Now make room for “prehab.”

Prehab made its debut on Feb. 23, the handiwork of GlasgowRose, a commenter on Gawker, after a publicist for Charlie Sheen announced that the star of “Two and a Half Men” was entering rehab as a “preventative measure.”

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

A respected scientist set out to determine which drugs are actually the most dangerous — and discovered that the answers are, well, awkward. (…)

The list, printed as a chart with the unassuming title “Mean Harm Scores for 20 Substances,” ranked a set of common drugs, both legal and illegal, in order of their harmfulness - how addictive they were, how physically damaging, and how much they threatened society. Many drug specialists now consider it one of the most objective sources available on the actual harmfulness of different substances.

That ranking showed, with numbers, what Nutt was fired for saying out loud: Overall, alcohol is far worse than many illegal drugs. So is tobacco. Smoking pot is less harmful than drinking, and LSD is less damaging yet.

{ The Boston Globe | Continue reading }

Andy was one of my best friends. We hung out together several nights a week for over ten years. We used to go to Studio 54 — an amazing place.

{ Jerry Hall interview | Index magazine | Continue reading }

photo { Andy Warhol and Jerry Hall, Studio 54, NYC, late 70s }