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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Friday, February 23, 2007

shouldn't they all have titles?

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was a British philosopher known for many accomplishments, including his advocacy of utilitarianism, a belief that an action's moral worth is judged solely by its overall usefulness to mankind.

He also asked that an auto-icon, or mummy, be made of his remains and dressed in his clothes, and kept in a cabinet at University College London, which he assisted in founding.

Sounds like no fun whatsoever at first. Wait, though: the was one of the earliest proponents of animal rights, and argued that the ability to suffer was reason enough to spare a creature torment whether it could reason or no.

And he must have had a sense of humour, because -- well, read what Carl Van Vechten wrote about his increasingly grandiose monikers for his kitty:

Jeremy Bentham, the apostle of utilitarianism, childless, and wifeless,
lived in his house in London, surrounded by piles of books. Occasionally he was
visited by admirers whom he turned away or treated with rudeness. Madame de
Staël, for instance, sought an interview, and sent in her card. Charming Mr.
Bentham wrote on it, “Mr. Bentham has nothing to say to Madame de Staël, and he
is quite certain that Madame de Staël can have nothing to say to him,” and sent
it down to her! But he adored his pussy-cats. His favourite was a cat named
Langbourne, who afterwards became Sir John Langbourne, and still later the
Reverend Sir John Langbourne, D. D.
(italics mine)

From Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964). The Tiger in the House, chapter 12. 1922.

D.D. stands for "Doctor of Divinity". Do you think he called all that out while banging on the Rev.'s kitty bowl to come and get it? I've heard odder things.

There will be a curatorial break for a day or two. See you all in a bit.

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