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December 18, 2003



A reported analysis of climatological conditions at the time Edvard Munch painted "The Scream" is yet another natural science attempt to explain the ineffable. This sort of analysis is vexing because it purports to explain a psychological effect by banal recourse to a physical one and in so doing misses the point of this painting and much of Munch's oeuvre. The sky has a symbolic value regardless of the actual sky over Oslo on the day. Next up: the inevitable annual "explanation" of the Star of Bethlehem by some literal-minded astronomer (via Rocket Jones).

"One of the high points of our research trip to Oslo came when we rounded a bend in the road and realized we were standing in the exact spot where Munch had been 120 years ago," Olson recalled in a statement. "It was very satisfying to stand in the exact spot where an artist had his experience," he said. "The real importance of finding the location, though, was to determine the direction of view in the painting. We could see that Munch was looking to the southwest -- exactly where the Krakatoa twilights appeared in the winter of 1883-84."

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 18, 2003 07:15 AM


Forget the literal-minded astronomers: have you read Arthur C. Clarke's The Star?

Posted by: Ian at December 19, 2003 09:39 PM