"The circumstances of present-day life are responsible for the fact that most people are dull. Nowadays, almost no one has anything happen to him. The generality of men swim about in a sea of vulgarity. Neither our love affairs nor our adventures are of sufficient interest to warrant communicating them to others. Our society is committed to making our life, our ideas, our aspirations more and more uniform."

--Pio Baroja, The Restlessness of Shanti Andia

 

Like Pio Baroja in his tales of vagabonds, adventurers, dreamers, and seafarers, Joshua Avram & His Cabinet of Curiosities seeks to rove beyond the strictures of everyday life—the quotidian, the contemporary, the banal, the familiar, the comfortable, and the established. The wunderkammern and curiosity cabinets of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries served as portals into the strange and exotic worlds that could be found on other continents; within the ocean deep; in jungles, mountains, or forests; and in the fantastical or mythical realms of the imagination; so, too, will visitors to this site enter a place in which the unfamiliar is paramount and the ordinary is shunned.

 

The combination of wanderlust and inquisitiveness that a cabinet of curiosities represents is reflected in the pages of this site. The famous botanists, plant hunters, natural historians, travel writers, and early explorers who made possible the curiosity cabinets of Albertus Seba, Ole Worm, Athanasius Kircher, Frederik Ruysch, and others will be given frequent consideration, as will restless souls like Isabelle Eberhardt, Ibn Battuta, Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir, Sven Hedin, Mungo Park, and William Dampier. The primary and tertiary effects of these travels, including colonialism and green or ecological imperialism, will also receive due attention. Eccentrics of all kinds fall within the bounds of this site’s interest as well, particularly those who transgressed the boundaries of their time, country, and culture, and aspired to new ways of thinking and living.

 

The previous paragraph notwithstanding, anthropocentrism is not an inclination to which Joshua Avram & His Cabinet of Curiosities will submit. Weird creatures, odd plants, and bewitching insects hold a particularly important place in this online wunderkammer, lest we forget that cycads, ferns, and countless other plants, creatures, and crawling things inhabited this orb long before hominids. Along with descriptions of non-human life, JoshuaAvram.com features thorough reviews of interesting books on evolution, geology, astronomy, botany, and the history of science.

 

Finally, just as a wunderkammer or curiosity cabinet might contain automata, unusual works of art, or other man-made objects, this cabinet of curiosity gives ample consideration to weird books, strange fiction (including decadent and Gothic literature), and obscure writers, as well as other neglected artists and artworks that can inspire wonder and provoke thought.

 

My hope is that with each visit to JoshuaAvram.com, i.e. Joshua Avram & His Cabinet of Curiosities, you will discover an extraordinary plant, a tale of early scientists, a strange author, some obscure words, or a work of weird fiction that transports you beyond these “lone and level sands.” Next stop: Joshua Avram’s Literary & Pictorial Log of Naturalia & Artificialia.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2009 JoshuaAvram.com