Maskull Lasserre — Incarnate

image of Maskull Lasserre's sculpture 'Incarnate', a skull carved of old computer manuals

Incarnate - Maskull Lasserre

Take a bunch of obsolete computer and software manuals, clamp them together tightly, and you have a substrate a little like the wood the paper was made from.

Now get out a rotary carving tool, like a Dremel, and start carving.

My father used to tell me sculpture was easy… Start with a clean block, and cut off everything that doesn’t look like what you’re carving. It never seemed quite that easy to me. :)

Well, Canadian born artist Maskull Lasserre had this idea, and he came up with a stunningly beautiful carving of a skull he calls “Incarnate”, subtitled “Three Degrees of Certainty II”.

Being an avid book lover, I can imagine how it would smell, look, and feel, up close… The way the papery texture would feel on the fingertips, the way the freshly exposed paper would smell, the idealized almost-bone color and visual texture it would have…

I want one. :)

You can see an image gallery of the work in progress, start to finish, at his site, here:

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Skeleton Words – “Make no bones about it!”

One of the times we’ll find a skeleton in language is when someone says “…make no bones about it!”, which generally means something like “no nonsense” or “no complaints”… No ifs, ands, or buts.

So, why do we say such a thing? What does it mean, “make bones”, anyway?

Chicken Bones in your Soup

You don't want to find any bones in it.

Turns out it’s a modification of another thing they used to say, way back when, about five or six hundred years ago. Suppose you’re having chicken soup or something, and a sharp little bone pokes you in the mouth as you eat? Finding a bone in something, therefore, was a fairly unpleasant thing.

That complaint eventually got applied to other things – one might say of a business deal or a bargain that the found no bones in it… It was easy enough to swallow. By 1459 we see a series of letters where someone describes the acceptance of a verdict at court:

“And fond that tyme no bonys in the matere.” (and found that time no bones in the matter)

What originated as a complaint – to find bones in something – began to be used in the negative – find no bones in it – and then got modified somewhere along the way – make no bones about it.

I’d speculate that this might have been an indication of the speaker’s opinion that the person “making bones”, as opposed to “finding bones” was making much of little or nothing… Not finding those bones, but making them up.

By 1878 we have a line in a work by Richard Simpson:

“Elizabeth was thus making huge bones of sending some £7000 over for the general purposes of the government in Ireland.”

And from there, we get to a phrase you don’t even hear much any more, communicating to someone that they should accept what’s said or offered without complaint or trouble… Make no bones about it.

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Skeleton for sale!

Tyrannosaurus baatar, for sale in NYC.

The skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus baatar will be going up for auction in NYC.

Ever wanted a skeleton in your living room or back yard?

How about a Tyrannosaur?  Bids start at $850,000 :)

It’s not a T-rex, but a cousin, and even so, it’s a bit out of my range, but you’ve got to admit, it’d be a heck of a conversation piece!

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