He doesn’t know whether his behaviour was unusual, he didn’t drink but took large amounts of cocaine.
This remark is taken from the medical file of Georg Trakl and is part of a brief account of the poet’s movements and behaviour in the month or so preceding his committal for observation to a psychiatric hospital in Kraków in early October 1914.
Just six weeks earlier, towards the end of August, the 27-year-old Trakl had undertaken the 1000-kilometre train journey from Innsbruck, at the western end of the Habsburg Empire, to the far eastern crownland of Galicia, where he was to be deployed as a military pharmacist.
His frontline experience was brief but traumatic.
During the Battle of Grodek-Rawa Ruska, he was assigned sole care of ninety badly wounded soldiers sheltering in a barn, a task for which he had neither the training nor the equipment.
As he later recounted from his hospital bed in Kraków to his friend and publisher Ludwig von Ficker, when one of the wounded men had ended his own suffering by shooting himself in the head, Trakl had fled outside only to be confronted by the sight of local peasants hanging lifeless in the trees.
One evening during the westward retreat of the defeated Austro-Hungarian forces, he announced his own intention to shoot himself, but was forcefully disarmed by his comrades.
His committal followed on 6 October and he died in hospital on 3 November.
His medical file lists the cause of death, complete with exclamation mark, as “Suicid durch Cocainintoxication!”
Not all forms of wall graffiti are acceptable – most are viewed as vandalism. But in the case of French street artist Patrick Commecy, homeowners actually invite him to paint on their walls.
Along with his team of muralists, he transforms boring, dull patches of wall into vibrant scenes, full of life. In fact unless you have a ‘before’ picture, you might not even realize it’s a painting.
Patrick and his team travel across France, painting hyper-realistic windows and balconies on bare walls that resemble the rest of the building. They dress up these painted windows with plants, birds and sometimes even rocks and waterfalls.
It all looks so real that it’s confusing for a moment – it’s hard to tell the difference between a real tree and the painted one.
The phenomenal artist works his magic in several ways, transforming plain walls into vibrant cafes, bakeries, playgrounds, schoolhouses and more. In some of his works, he also incorporates paintings of popular figures and influential people who belong to the town that he’s painting in.
You have to look closely at his murals to spot some of these people standing in a balcony or peeking through a window.
For instance, on the side of the first Guides Office, within view of Mont Blanc, he painted a mural depicting 20 pioneers of mountaineering.
In the city of Montpellier, he used the ‘trompe l’oeil’ technique on a building, featuring six famous figures and residents from the city, including chemist Antoine Jerome Balard who discovered bromine.
The murals are fun, educational and surprisingly easy to maintain. People of all ages are entertained by Patrick’s art, which is now becoming a major tourist attraction as well.
Residents of the various towns that he’s painted in, admit that his work has improved the quality of their lives, by highlighting their identity and history.
All over France, Patrick is being regarded as a hero – giving ‘facelifts’ to otherwise obscure towns and improving their brand image.
Europe’s biggest woodchipper, the black woodpecker, tosses out woodchips from the nest hole he has been fashioning. The hole is a major excavation, probably extending 60cm down into the trunk.
The woodpecker’s chisel-like beak has a high-strength inner layer of bone and a flexible outer layer that helps reduce the shock of the vibrations. If the female finds the nest chamber to her satisfaction, she will lay two to eight eggs, which the pair take turns to incubate.