Voeux de saison


Mes chers collègues, amis et lecteurs,

Je tiens à vous souhaiter à tous et toutes un joyeux solstice (en retard) ainsi qu’une bonne et heureuse nouvelle année qui sera pour vous, j’espère, remplie de santé, de paix et de prospérité. Souhaitons également qu’elle verra la fin de cette pestilence qui nous accable tous.

Prenez soin de vous et ne cessez jamais d’apprendre !

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Replica (2)

I recently talked about ancient book replicas, but this time I would like to discuss museum replicas…

For fun my sister gave me for Christmas a key-chain made with a roman coin replica that she purchased when she visited the “Pompeii: The Immortal City” exhibit at the Quebec City Museum of Civilisation.

It is reproducing a dupondius of Nero which shows on the obverse the radiated head of the emperor, right, with the latin inscription NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P (the last part is not very clear). The reverse illustrates a Roma helmeted and cuirrased, seated left, holding a winged victory in her right hand, and resting on Parazonium with a shield behind (although those details are not very clear either), with a ROMA in exergue and a S C on each side of the field. The original coin was struck in Rome in 65 CE (Sources: RIC 293, CoinArchives, Numismatics).

It is a nice reproduction, probably molded. It is engraved on both side “WRL” to clearly indicate that it is a reproduction. It comes with a small label saying “Roman Coin key-ring” that also tells us “WRL” stands for Westair Reproduction Ltd (MCMLXXII). It lists a website, Westair-reproductions.com, but this site is down because of COVID (they got a virus?) and is being blocked by Norton Life Lock. However, I found another website, westair.co.uk, dedicated for trade customers (whatever that means). It tells us that they are a UK company specialized in “supplying historical reproductions to Historic Houses, Castles and Museums not only in the UK but also to over 36 other countries around the world.”

There are one-hundred and thirty item listed in their roman section. They are the usual trinkets that you would find in a museum gift shop. They have a catalog available in PDF format. All stuff of little interest… The coin alone (without the key chain) is listed on their website and it come in pack of one-hundred (No price listed, order code RCDUPN). It is also listed with the key-chain (pack of 10, no price, order code RCKR).

There’s a lot of companies offering such replicas and often of much better quality:

One thing I am really looking for (a future birthday gift maybe?) is a fairly sized bust of the emperor Lucius Verus. It’s quite a minor emperor and yet there are a lot of possibilities on the market:


eBay: Lucius Verus marble bust

1st Dibs: Lucius Verus bust (if you want something really expensive)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any reproduction with Verus in armor (Hermitage, Prado, Uffizi) or wearing a nice toga

Of course, the cheaper option is to find a 3D scan file of the object you want and print it yourself at a 3D print shop (some libraries offer that service, like the Benny Fab Lab). There is such a thing even for Verus:

Some places even take custom orders (like a bust of yourself!). If you like art but cannot afford the real thing this is definitely an option to consider. Now you know…

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Cogitationes me: Thought of the day (for myself) [002.021.337]


I always thought that if there was a sense that I would not mind loosing it was my hearing. Today’s world is so full of sounds. The street noises, the planes criss-crossing the sky, the radio, the tv, the incessant chatting. The music has become cacophony and it is more of a distraction now. I thought it would be like being in a sensory deprivation box. It would be relaxing and calming. Like letting myself float at the surface of the lake (or pool), hearing only the lapping sound of the waves on the quay and the muffled, distant noise of the other kids playing on the beach. I valued vision so much more because it was definitely more essential for the input of knowledge by reading, watching documentaries, observing my surroundings, appreciating the beauty of the world… I don’t know how I would be able to continue living if I was loosing my vision. However, I thought that loosing my hearing wouldn’t change me much, could be a blessing even. I had an uncle that had become completely deaf after an accident and he was managing well. Hmm…. There is nothing that makes you appreciate something more than loosing it.

I have been practically (and hopefully temporarily) deaf for four days now . That’s what a rhinitis (very bad cold) coupled with a bilateral otitis does to you. Inflammation and cerumen block the ear canal, possibly impeding the movement of the tympanic membrane, infection and mucus also possibly obstructing the Eustachian tube, and voilà: you have hearing loss. These days, with the coronavirus pandemic, it is hard to see a doctor and even more a specialist like an otorhinolaryngologist (ORL). There’s no one to treat you quickly and reassure you… There’s just medication (antibiotics and ear drops) and patiently waiting for a distant appointment. In the meantime, I can barely hear anything but my aggravated tinnitus, people have to talk loudly right to my face, I have to put the phone volume to the max, I cannot watch tv without making enemy of my neighbours (or if I use earphones with the volume cranked up my head hurts after an hour), if I hear a sound I cannot tell from where, I cannot hear the birds nor the wind, I cannot hear the cat when he’s hungry or angry, I cannot hear the doorbell or the alarm clock, I cannot hear someone walking or a car coming, I cannot hear the silence (yeah! That’s thing) and I can’t even work (I can easily handle an exceedingly boring job that necessitate brutal concentration even with the terrible migraine I’ve had since May, but listening all day only to my tinnitus and not being able to understand needed instructions or essential informations, or even the office chit-chat: that’s unbearable). Maybe it’s the perfect time to catch up on my reading and writing?

No, being deaf is far from relaxing or calming. It is the most stressful experience of my life. I realize that it is the loss of nearly half the sensory information that my mind has access to (smell [the dainty fragrance of a flower], taste [the sweetness of a fruit] and touch [the warm softness of a woman’s skin], all together have a much smaller bandwidth than vision and hearing; although their data is more subtle and profound, triggering more easily connections with memory). It is now obvious to me that loosing the sense of hearing, it represents a lot. Enough to make you feel cut off the world. It also makes you paranoid, wondering what’s lurking beyond your field of vision. This vulnerability of not being in control of my full perception makes me annoyed and irritable. I hate being in that state. Hopefully I will get better soon. So, believe me when I tell you to enjoy what you have while you can because you never know when you gonna loose it!

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Cogitationes me: Thought of the day (for myself) [002.021.325]


I was watching yesterday a documentary on CNN (“The Hunt for Planet B”) about the James Webb Space Telescope which, after so many delays, will finally launch from French Guiana on December 18 (see its official Nasa website). It’s an infrared telescope with much more sensitivity than Hubbles which, among many other things, will push further our knowledge of the universe by looking for the very first galaxies and habitable exoplanets. 

On that documentary there was this guy reading Sidereus Nuncius (“The sidereal messenger”) by Galileo Galilei. Of course, it couldn’t be the original edition (published in 1610 by Thomas Baglioni in Venice) because it is a very rare book. It must have been a replica. My first reaction was, “I want that book.” I have always been into old books but they are very expensive and I cannot afford to purchase many of them — and certainly not rare edition which are priceless. It made me realized that purchasing replica could be an option. I quickly googled it to see if it was available. I could always make my own by using one of the many scanned files in PDF format (there is even translations available) but, of course, there are also several replica editions available on amazon. A purchase that I will seriously consider…

I already knew about old books replica, as my nephew mentioned he had purchased copies of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks (also available on Amazon from various publishers) but I never considered acquiring any. Now I am starting to have the hitch… Let’s see… which other great old books could I find replica of? Some facsimiles seems as expensive as the real thing! There is really a great market for old and ancient books and, if I prefer to go to ancient book fairs where I can browse through the books myself, there are also many purchasing options on the internet. In the course of my researches, I have even discovered that you can purchase on Etsy bundles of old books to decorate your house or give a more respectable look to your bookshelves ! The internet cannot cease to amaze me…

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Cogitationes me: Thought of the day (for myself) [002.021.324]


I just watched an interesting documentary on NHK World-Japan about a young boy, Asuka Umeda, who spent seven years writing in notebooks about events and subjects he was reading about in newspapers, commenting them and researching them further in what was for him a self-learning adventures. I first thought that he was an Hikikomori (ひきこもり) or suffering from a slight form of autism, but no, he was a normal boy, going to school and was just particularly shy and socially awkward — like many otakus (just a look at his bedroom and you instantly know that he’s a great anime & manga fan, doing lots of gunpla [ガンプラ]). He was certainly not shy about talking about his notebooks to teachers and museum directors, and won many awards for his writings and essays. One of those essays is about his self-learning experience and this documentary is illustrating it with cute animations and interviews.

Apparently, this type of self-learning (独学 / dokugaku / autodidacticism) is common in Japan. Elementary students are writing essays and compiling scrapbooks as homework assignments and some push it further as they make it an extracurricular activity. Asuka just pushed it even further, becoming obsessed with it to the point where he didn’t participated to any after-school club activities and stopped seeing friends to dedicate his time to writing in is notebooks. He is pursuing this interest even in high-school. He will probably become a good writer and journalist.

It made me realized that I was exactly like that as a child: curious but shy and socially awkward, spending lots of time reading, making scrapbooks and writing in my notebooks (thirty-seven so far) about ideas, places, books and movies that I have seen. Life has always been about the pursuit of knowledge for me. And I continue to do so, I just call it blogging now!

I recommend you see this documentary, My Notebooks: Seven Years of Tiny Great Adventures, which will remain available for streaming on NHK World website until the end of May. At he same time, you could have a look on another documentary about the animation studio Production I.G., which has created many of my favourite anime (like Ghost in the shell or Blood: The Last Vampire) — available for streaming until November 13, 2022.

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cogitationes me [002.021.114]

Pensée du jour (Pour moi-même)

V. Un jardin de livres

L’autre jour, sur FB, je suis tombé sur cette citation populaire de Marcus Tullius Cicero: “Si vous possédez une bibliothèque et un jardin, vous avez tout ce qu’il vous faut.” Je suis bien d’accord mais le texte est encore plus intéressant si on le remet dans son contexte. D’abord, cette traduction est inexacte quoiqu’elle rend bien l’esprit de la citation. Le texte original est “si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil” et cela se traduirait littéralement plutôt par “Si vous avez un jardin dans votre bibliothèque, tout sera complet” (ou, selon le traducteur, “vous ne manquerez de rien”, “vous avez tout”, “rien n’échouera”). Certains ont également interprété la citation dans le sens “si vous avez une bibliothèque donnant sur un jardin” ou “avec vue sur le jardin.”

Cette citation de Cicéron provient de ses Epistulae ad Familiares [Lettres aux amis] 9.4. À cette époque, il s’est retiré dans sa villa de Tusculum et tente de se faire oublié car Rome est en pleine guerre civile, alors que le dictateur Julius Caesar viens de vaincre Pompeius, le dernier de ses alliés du premier triumvirat, à Pharsale. En juin 708 AUC (46 AEC), Cicéron écrit à son ami Varron pour l’inviter à venir le visiter. Dans son contexte plus large le texte se lit ainsi: Quapropter, si venturus es, scito necesse esse te venire; (…) Sed de his etiam rebus, otiosi cum erimus, loquemur; (…) Tu si minus ad nos, nos accurremus ad te: si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil. C’est à dire [selon Itinera Electronica], ”S’il est vrai que vous deviez venir, c’est qu’il est dans l’ordre des choses nécessaires que vous veniez : si au contraire je ne vous vois point, c’est que votre venue se trouve en dehors des choses nécessaires. (…) Mais nous causerons de tout cela quand nous n’aurons rien de mieux à faire (…). Si vous ne vous hâtez, je cours auprès de vous, soyez-en sûr; et pour peu que vous ayez un jardin près de vos livres, nous n’aurons rien à désirer.“

Peu importe comment on traduit cette citation un peu obscure provenant d’une lettre tarabiscotée de Cicéron (et, comme Jean-François Géraud, nous pourrions en disserter longuement en nous étendant sur le rôle des jardins et des bibliothèques dans l’otium romain) c’est surtout la conjonction même des idées de bibliothèque et de jardin — deux lieux de calmes, propices à la réflexion — qui est intéressant. Étant donné que hortus fait surtout référence à un jardin potager (où l’on cultive des légumes, fruits, fines herbes et plantes aromatiques pour sa consommation personnelle) et qu’une bibliothèque est un lieu où l’on conserve, protège et diffuse le Savoir, nous pouvons affirmer que l’un nourrit le corps alors que l’autre nourrit l’esprit. L’un et l’autre sont même interchangeable, car dans un jardin on peut préserver et exprimer un ensemble de connaissances botaniques et horticoles, chaque variété et espèce étant bien alignée en rangées comme des livres sur une étagère. De même, une bibliothèque est vivante car régulièrement nous y ajoutons de nouvelles pousses et élaguons les éléments qui n’ont plus d’utilité, mettant de l’avant les sujets populaires du jour ou de la saison. Ce n’est pas par hasard que l’on retrouve de plus en plus de plantes (souvent disposées dans un atrium) dans les bibliothèques modernes. Dans un cas comme dans l’autre, c’est un lieu à la fois relaxant et stimulant. Ce n’est donc pas surprenant que Cicéron ait considéré cette conjonction comme l’endroit idéal pour une discussion politique ou philosophique entre amis.

Je trouve mon contentement car, moi aussi, je possède les deux. Que pourrais-je demander de plus?


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Cogitationes me

IIII. Thought of the day (for myself)

Today we are celebrating the greatest mystery of our time: the fact that a symbol of fertility (and constant renewal) can give birth to a symbol of sweet decadence — a rabbit laying chocolate eggs ! One can wonder what it has to do with the son of god being crossed and coming back to announced the zombie apocalypse. Go figure…


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Pictorial chronicles [002.021.078]

Hopefull spring

Snow, mud and ice
Disappearing at last
As the sun warm us all

On this last day of winter, I took a walk into the park. It was a little colder than the previous day, as if the winter wanted to remind us that it was still there… However, the hopeful signs of the coming spring could be seen everywhere: in the tiny shoots of daffodils (which will flower at last this year, I expect) or in the birds that were starting to populate the bare branches of the trees and fill the air with their songs. Today, I have seen a female cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), a downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) and two crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). 

At the same time, the coming of spring brings hope of more  than sunnier and warmer days. The coronavirus pandemic has reached its first anniversary and it has now been a year also since we started confinement and mitigation measures. People are exhausted and fed up with the distanciation and the mask wearing. Unfortunately, the threat of more potent virus variants forces us to persist in our efforts. But warmer temperature will allow for more outdoor activities which will in its turn alleviate our mental stress and the increasing vaccination pace will soon help everyone to better defend against the virus and create enough immunity to starve its spread and mutation.

I have never seen a spring burdened with so much hope…

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