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(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

Many are the tales the Chinese tell of the wonderful cures that ginseng has wrought. They will tell you that its roots are a remedy for every illness, that they are able to prolong life and even to restore it after death; and their legends recount how the wolf, tiger, snake, and panda protect this miraculous plant from harm, and how the roots save themselves from capture by moving from place to place underground. And so, although our own physicians regard it as of little value, Johnny Chinaman still buys it at any price.

The most valuable ginseng – sometimes worth £10 an ounce – comes from Korea and Manchuria, and an inferior quality is cultivated in Japan. Most of the wild ginseng has now disappeared, and a cultivated plant is taking its place.
But the wild variety always commands better prices, because of the Chinese superstition which prefers roots resembling a man or some grotesque being (ginseng means “form of man”) rather than the regular roots which cultivation tends to produce. As shown above, the most fantastic shapes of men, animals, and wild birds are often dug up.

Ginseng belongs to the genus Panax. Panax ginseng, a native of China, and Panax quinquefolium, of eastern North America, are the most noted species.

Woodrow Wilson

(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

The ideal of European unity is an old one, but its development into the League of Nations is very recent. The development of improved means of communication – railways, steamships, telegraphs, wireless – all helped by knitting the world more closely together.

Innumerable international meetings have been held – in a single year as many as 160 – to consider special aspects of world problems; and since the organization of the International Postal Union, in 1874, an increasing number of permanent official international bureaus were organized with administrative and other powers. The Hague Tribunal, organized in 1899, was a long step toward an international organization, providing, as it did, the nucleus for a world court of justice.

To President Woodrow Wilson belongs the chief credit for making the formation of a League of Nations a reality. In his famous “Fourteen Points” he named this as part of the peace programme, subsequently accepted by the Allies and by Germany in the armistice negotiations. His insistence at the Peace Conference made the League a part of the Versailles treaty. Many offered suggestions as to plan, the one most closely followed in the covenant that of General Jan C. Smuts of South Africa.

The machinery of the League consists of one Assembly, an Executive Council, and an international Secretariat. The Assembly meets at stated intervals, is composed of not more than three representatives from each of the member countries, and each state has only one vote. The Executive Council consists of representatives from Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, the United States (should it enter the League) and four other states chosen by the Assembly.

The purposes of the League are to prevent wars by insisting upon arbitration and judicial decision of disputes, to secure a reduction of national armaments, and prevent international traffic in arms, drugs, women, and children; to obtain fair and humane conditions for labour, etc.

Owing to widespread differences of opinion in the United States regarding the treaty of Versailles and the advisability of joining the League of Nations, the Senate refused to ratify the treaty, and the League became an issue in the political campaign of 1920. The result of the election was an overwhelming reverse for the Democrat party and a victory for those who opposed the League.

President Wilson’s Fourteen Points

That war between nations be made illegal and its practice punishable by fine.

That the lands of Turkey and the former Ottoman Empire be given to the Great State of Texas.

That international policy be free, open, and no longer a secret procedure, and that it involve America and Great Britain only, to the exclusion of all other nations.

That the economy of Italy be channelled into the development of sporting automobiles, stylish women’s footwear, and men’s suits.

That Russia be evacuated and its population housed in a spacious country to be designated later.

That Serbo-Croatia and all lands surrounding the city of Sarajevo shall be the future vessel of all conflict, strife, horror, and insanity in Europe.

That the European nations admit in writing that, but for America, they would now be speaking German.

That all nations be unified in their love of and commitment to peace, and to the hatred of the French.

To that end, that France be severely punished for its role as host of this horrific conflict, and made to pay reparations to Germany.

That Austria be open, in the summer months, to tourists.

That combat against Switzerland continue until the last Swiss lies dead.

That Luxembourg be maintained as a nation, against common logic, to serve as an interesting political curio.

That the King of Belgium be set as watchman over Germany, to ensure that no suspicious or warlike activities transpire in that nation.

That all civilized nations unite in the noble purpose of exploiting the browner peoples of the Earth.

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Fucking hell.

I’m sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites; all I want is the truth now, just gimme some truth now.

(John Lennon, Just Gimme Some Truth)

This week, to celebrate the life of John Lennon on the thirtieth anniversary of his murder by an American nut, I will be making droll comments in a laconic affected Scouse accent, telling people how great Liverpool is but not going near the place, taking LSD, abandoning my first wife, and sitting up in bed with an ugly Japanese bird.

Apart from the last one, these would all do to celebrate the life of John Peel.

Next week, I will be campaigning to have Manchester’s airport named after Mark E. Smith. Perhaps you will join me? Hey, let’s just call it “The Fall”. Wouldn’t you like to land there?

Where were you when John Lennon was shot dead? And didn’t you think “Fuck! Yoko Ono was standing right next to him and not one bullet. Jesus!”?

Related:

John Lennon declared that he was “not interested in being a dead hero” in an interview given three days before his murder

(Observer)

The artist tells of her food fantasies and raiding the fridge as a child.

Sleeping under a dinner table is safe and snug. I picked it up as a child. As a young artist, at a big dinner, sometimes I’d get so tired I’d think, “If I just snooze for half an hour I’ll be fine”, and I’d slide underneath. More recently I don’t, because my absence would be too noticeable.

In the 60s my mother ran the Hotel International in Margate. I spent tons of time in the kitchen. I used to steal cream caramels when they came out of the fridge.

When little my favourite thing to eat was a pomegranate. I’d peel, take out every single seed individually, make sure all the pulp was off and then eat the hundreds of seeds one by one. I’d like to be a pomegranate.

My favourite cinematic food scene is of the paralysed man dreaming of eating oysters in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The first time I had surplus income, as an artist, I bought oysters. I was 30 or 31 and I’d never had one. Suddenly I’d spend every spare penny on oysters. At one point I was on 70 to 100 a week.

If anyone really wants to seduce me, a picnic is the way to go. I fantasise about them and when I see old-fashioned hampers I get a wave of nostalgia for something I’ve never had. I own a couple myself but I’ve never used them. I just stroke them.

I find it really difficult eating cute things. I mean, I never eat rabbit. Even when Mark Hix makes me his [rabbit and crayfish] Stargazy Pies, I can’t have rabbit in it. Stuck on my fridge is a magnet which says “Foie Gras is Cruel”.

I’ve a really naked kitchen in my basement. It’s got just the basics. And there’s a tiny shelf of cookery books – but I’ve never referred to one in my life.

When falling in love I always imagine what I would cook for the person and how this culinary foreplay would work, but nine times out of 10 it ends in disaster. It’s because of wishing everything to be perfect, when all I really want is a good shag.

I was in Japan, on the outskirts of Tokyo, with Nic Serota [director of the Tate], and he said, “Tracey, tell me you’re not going to eat that.” And as I said “Yeah” I looked down and it was dark and it was alive. A squid in an egg omelette thing with its tentacles still moving. Pretty hardcore. But not too vile to eat.

My table manners are impeccable. I really dislike it when people eat with their mouths open. It’s not difficult – you chew, swallow, then you speak, OK?

When I was a student I did lots of Last Supper paintings. You won’t have seen them, because I destroyed them all. For my own last supper, I’ll probably order caviar and a dozen oysters, if it’s during summer. A cosy shepherd’s pie if it’s winter.

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The room was passably warm by now. The tea and a cigarette worked their short-lived magic. He began to feel a little less bored and angry. Should he do a spot of work after all? He ought to work, of course. He always hated himself afterwards when he had wasted a whole evening.

(George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying)

Takemitsu is a very important composer for me, for all sorts of reasons. I do think there are few composers who can write music as sheerly beautiful as his – those who think modern music is of necessity ugly simply don’t know they are born.

In all sincerity, in simple sonic terms there is nothing in all music as ravishing as, say, From me flows what you call time, which seems to me to go about as far as music can go in its particular direction. The danger is that the music becomes too sensuous and loses its spine – this is not to say that it needs to be faster, louder or more abrasive, but that it skirts with becoming inconsequential unless there is more substance there – in the piece I’ve cited, which I am loathe to criticise, the motivic material holding it all together is possibly stretched pretty thin. But in other works, Takemitsu’s finest, this is not a problem, and everything is held in miraculous balance.



Arts

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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