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Posts by Jack Sherefkin

Immortality and the Fear of Death

Philosophical writings on mortality and the fear of death.Read More ›

Hubble and the Sublime: The Fear of the Infinite

From exploding stars to colliding galaxies, the photos from Hubble make us aware of the staggering immensity of the universe. The glimpse of eternity that these sublime images offer can arouse anxiety, even terror.Read More ›

The Influence of Struwwelpeter

Heinrich Hoffmann's Struwwelpeter from Andy's Early Comics ArchiveStruwwelpeter is a children's book that has been endlessly imitated and retold, while providing the inspiration for countless parodies.

Struwwelpeter, pronounced Strool'vel-pay-ter, is a collection of cruel and frightening stories written and illustrated by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann in 1844. Wanting to buy his three-year son a book for Christmas and dissatisfied with what was available, he wrote his own. His 

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Camouflaged Anti-Nazi Literature

In the early eighties, rare book librarian John Rathe pulled down a dusty box, wrapped in twine, from a remote corner of the Rare Book room. Attached to the box was a label that said: "Do not open until war is over." Which war? The Civil War? The War of 1812? What he discovered was a box filled with disguised anti-Nazi tracts hidden in packets of tea and shampoo and concealed in miniature books both popular and scholarly.

Notice the concealed pamphlets sticking out of the packets of shampoo, tea, and tomato seeds.

A Brief History

On January 30, 

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Literacy — What is it Good For?

Blades, William: Pentateuch of Printing with a Chapter on Judges (1891)Literacy is good, illiteracy is bad. Literacy is the foundation of civilization and culture. Who doubts it? History, however, tells another story. The Incas, for example, were not literate, yet had a sophisticated culture.1 Instead of writing, they used a system of knotted cords called quipus to store information and 

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