Sparrow Vs. The Phantom, Episode 1

Phantom  is a really good person and a really awesome person.  He did a Krampuskarten project a year or so ago that I wrote about here.

Phantom is the fantastic artist who created the sketch used on the Perchta Prayer cards that I leave in Wal-mart bathrooms and on tables at such fine dining establishments like as McDonald’s and Taco Bell and at gas pumps.

Phantom’s cat, Edmond, has had some unexpected emergency vet bills, so he needs money.  Well, what does Phantom do for a living, you might ask.  Well for the next tiny bit of time, he will continue as a teaching assistant at a really big college, but the semester will be ending soon and so will the pay check.  If you know anything about academia, teaching assistants are worse off than share croppers and slightly better off than slaves.  I’m not sure what his next plans are; that’s part of the reason why this segment was created.  Phantom had set up a “Help Edmond” fund:,  but that campaign has ended. Phantom is also excepting requests for commissions.  He does great quality work quickly for a very reasonable price.  To get a piece, email  See more of the Phantom at and

Deneb by Phantom September

(Code: Sparrow=pink; Phantom=green)

What is it about the fin de siecle that you like?  Does your fondness of the fin de siecle extend to the Belle Epoque and all things Edwardian?  

Up front, I’d like to mention that my real love is the “long nineteenth century,” since I really love the different aesthetics and philosophies that circulate throughout the whole century (plus a few extra decades at each end). One of the central things I really love is the century’s fixation with death. Absolutely love it. 
The easy answer, of course, is that I like almost everything. There are so many things, it’s hard to go deeper than that without repeating the same sentiment except at greater length. The things I especially appreciate are the period’s aesthetics, the obsession with the occult and science, and the various social and philosophical discourses of the time. Naturally there are a lot of unlikeable things about the time, but overall I find the fin de siècle (as included under the umbrella of the long nineteenth century) aesthetically and intellectually stimulating. As for the many not-so-great things of the time, I think it’s important to look at and acknowledge them as well, especially as a way to critique and examine current society/societies. It’s a pity humans didn’t learn from all the mistakes they made in the nineteenth century. Plus it’s also important not to fetishise the nineteenth century and ignore its many problems.  
Yes! My fondness does extend to those other periods. I’m not as familiar with the Belle Epoque and the Edwardian period, but I’ve been looking into them more closely recently. One great documentary is BBC’s “Hidden Killers: The Edwardian Home” and it explores the hidden dangers present in every day Edwardian life. Highlights include asbestos clothing and radioactive toothpaste. There’s also accompanying documentaries about the dangers of the Victorian and Tudor homes as well, if you want to track those down. You can usually find them on Youtube. 
“Plus it’s also important not to fetishise the nineteenth century and ignore its many problems.”    Oh, please!  Fetish is what I do best!  Who doesn’t want to fetishize the damage that corsets did to millions of young girls or the incredible evil cleverness of shoving small children down chimneys to clean them, or my favorite, round up all the poor people and making them pick oakum!    So, who is your favorite author from the 19th century?  Who is you favorite artist from the 19th century?  What is your favorite sexual custom of the 19th century?  Have your read Oscar Wilde’s “Salome”?  And what was up with that Little Ice Age? 

Deep Sea Gulper by Phantom September

 Oh geez. Just one author? Asking all the tough questions. Well, I’ll give you one per-country, and cheat with Britain because it encompasses a few different countries.  

England – Charles Dickens 
Ireland – Bram Stoker 
Scotland – Arthur Conan Doyle
(Sorry, Wales. D: )
Russia – Leo Tolstoy
Germany – Karl Marx
France – Alexandre Dumas
Japan – Natsume Souseki
You can just list one, if that’s too much. There’s a good reason that the works of these authors are considered classics. It’s sad that they get passed over as just stuffy old “classics” now. Their work really is actually very good. I’m well aware that there’s not a single female writer on that list, and I’m doing my best to explore the works of more non-male authors from the century. Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen are excellent, of course. I’m thinking of looking into the work of Marie Corelli, who outsold(!) Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and Rudyard Kipling. I’m most interested in her novel called The Sorrows of Satan
As for an artist, that’s tough as well. Hopefully you’ll indulge me and allow me to list more than one. 
Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, John Austen, Alphonse Mucha, and Caspar David Friedrich.
Sexual custom is actually the easiest. None. I identify as aromantic and asexual, and that sort of stuff just doesn’t interest me. One of the best things about most nineteenth-century fiction (especially novels) is the lack of sex scenes. It’s a total turn off when I read a modern book and am suddenly surprised with a sex scene. It annoys me, and I feel like I’m wasting my time. So with most nineteenth-century fiction it’s like I have this whole century of great fiction that isn’t going to rudely surprise me. XD That being said, there was CERTAINLY tonnes of sexy times and sexy things going on in the nineteenth century for sure. You’ve seen some of Aubrey Beardsley’s drawings. Just like any time period, there were some serious erotic adventures afoot. But I appreciate that it’s a century where I can also easily avoid running across sex scenes in the regular fiction. Works that explore the far reaching effects of lust and desire are fine, and can be very compelling. It’s the unneeded sex scenes that I find annoying. This is a long answer, but I want to try to be clear about the fact that it’s not that I look down on people who do like that sort of thing, and it’s not that I’m in favour of censorship. It’s just not something I find particularly compelling. 
Salome! I do love all the Angel of Death imagery. And Beardsley’s illustrations are excellent too, of course. 
The little ice age. I do want that back. I want to jump around on the Thames and go to the River Thames Frost Fair. I don’t have much to say about it, except that I really like ice and snow, and would have loved to see the magnificent glaciers back then. 

Oh my!!!!! You have opened up a terrific rabbit hole that we will explore a while later!  It’s going to be the hyper-sex vs. the asexual!   I’m horny already!

I like your answers!  My writers are Joseph Conrad, Guy de Maupassant, Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, and Christina Rossetti.  And I have a bad yen for Sir Richard Burton.  And Oscar Wilde makes me laugh.  In terms of artists, I like Christina’s brother, Dante, I like Toulouse-Lautrec, and I like Nadar, and of course Beardsley.  
I have to disagree somewhat about the lit and sex.  Victorian literature is full of repressed sex.  And then there was the thriving unground literary pornography published by the very prolific Anonymous.  I mean, even Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde….. Speaking of Stephenson, have you visited the PIrate’s House in Savannah where supposedly he wrote a lot of “Treasure Island”?  (I have a thing for Savannah too, like a bad sexual thing.)
So, what about all those crazy Victorian parlor languages, like the language of flowers and talking with fans (more Spanish than English, but still…)
(Yusssss. Wilde is awesome. As a side note, I really really want to read his collected letters at some point. I’m sure they are full of sass).

Absolutely. In my response I tried to make it clear that yes, sex is there in the century for those who want to look for it, and yes, there was plenty of porn. Plus syphilis 8D. What I appreciate, is that the mainstream literature doesn’t insist on including graphic sex scenes. Compared to modern literature especially, most of nineteenth-century literature is asexual-friendly literature, which also has the huge plus of being excellent literature. Plus having lots of death, of course. XD

However, I do think that allosexuals tend to read sex into everything anyway, even when it isn’t there. But to each their own, and that’s what’s nice about literature. People can take what they want from it. 
Nope, I’ve only been to Savannah once and basically only went to a rare book shop. XD 
I do love the language of flowers. I’m not as well-versed in the different parlour languages as I would like to be. It’s one of the next areas I’d like to explore next. The century just keeps revealing new layers to explore. Love it. 

Emri Deer by Phantom September

Parlor languages will completely change the way that you read Victorian literature!  One night when you’re in a really froggy, Vic Lit, English nerd mood, you’ll have to read Rosetti’s “Goblin Market” with a Language of Flowers website up.  It’ll make your head hurt.  

But now onto to Edmond.  Tell us all everything there is to know about Edmond and what has happened to him.  He looks a lot like a cat I use to have named Knucklehead who weighed 20lbs (at least).
I’m reading an interesting essay/chapter on the Goblin Market right now, actually! It starts off talking about the terrible frosts that happened in Britain the same year that it was written. I hadn’t really thought about the agricultural history of the century before, but it’s actually pretty interesting, especially with the huge influx of exotic plants and new gardening techniques. I haven’t read the whole essay yet, so I can’t say much more than that so far.

Well, I’d rather not say too much about what happened to Edmond. It makes me anxious to think about it. He managed to get a hold of and eat some leaves (lily leaves) that are very poisonous to cats, and I caught him at it. Usually I’m really careful about anything bad for cats, but one little mistake and things can get deadly pretty quick. Death is a constant companion for everyone. 
Edmond himself. He’s afraid of almost everything, and spends most of his time sleeping. Sometimes he plays tag with my dog, but mostly he lounges around trying to look majestic, which is easy since he’s a very pretty cat. He’s even afraid of boxes though. I got him as a stray 6 years ago, so I don’t know what might have caused him to be so afraid, if anything. He’s great though. Very affectionate and gentle. He lets me clip his nails without much fuss and lets me pet his tummy without trying to kill me in return. The one violent thing he does is if I won’t get up and feed him, he’ll literally punch me in the face; he puts all his weight into one paw and then bashes me one in the eye. He’s only 10 pounds, but that’s a ten pound weight dropping itself on one of my eyes. Breakfast is apparently very important to him. I’ve timed him, and he cleans himself every two hours.

In reality, my cat Knucklehead looked nothing like Edmond.

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