Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label Ben Jonson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ben Jonson. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Look, I know as much about alchemy as the next guy or gal who studied English literature at university: i.e. not very much.  Ben Jonson, John Dee, some references in Shakespeare, a tiny bit of Paracelsus.  It’s not a lot to go on.

But I do like the look of alchemical symbols, or glyphs, which I suppose were/are also astronomical/astrological symbols.  I’m especially fond of mercury:

And also the sun, which usually looks like this:

Although occasionally it looks like this:

Try as I might, I can't find much direct connection between alchemists and walkers. Ben Jonson author of the play The Alchemist seems to have walked from London to Edinburgh between July and October 1618; but of course he wasn’t a real alchemist.

I mention all this because I was walking in West Hollywood t’other day, and wandered into a curious little enclave where there were quirky old Hollywood bungalows right next to brand new, exotic “architectural gems.”  Of course you had to think that a bungalow or two must have been extracted in order that the architectural gems could be shoehorned in – but I did like some of the fancy new architecture, specially this house:

And improbably (wait I'm getting there with the alchemy), I found a roundabout or traffic circle: not unknown in the US but by no means the kind of thing you expect to see every day.  And to make the road layout more comprehensible to drivers, the traffic engineers had created a graphic (you might even say a glyph).  I don’t know if it helped or not but it sure looked alchemical to me:

I remain slightly stunned.

Not so very much later I found myself walking on La Cienaga Boulevard and saw this:

It was, you guessed, apparently the sign for a hair waxing salon, a company called (I’m not making this up) Cocktail Wax - “A fun and sexy alternative to your everyday wax experience!”  I wondered if this was code for some activity I don’t know about, but I suspect that if you don’t know you’re not meant to.

I now discover there’s an alchemical symbol for wax, this:

It's not totally wonderful, but you know, I think on balance I prefer it to the one on La Cienaga.