The coastline paradox is the counterintuitive observation that the coastline of a landmass does not have a well-defined length. This results from the fractal-like properties of coastlines. Over a wide range of measurement scales, down to the atomic, coastlines show a degree of self-similarity, and as the measurement scale is made smaller and smaller, the measured length continues to increase, rather than converging on any one value. (via @jsomers)
From Jonathan Raban’s post on the mechanized Madame Bovary in Ry:
That said, there are two features of Ry that nicely reinforce a reading of Madame Bovary. The town is only thirteen miles east of Rouen, but feels far further. It belongs to Normandy’s agricultural economy (hay wagons on the main street), and its air of provincial isolation from a city so nearby would be unimaginable in England, let alone the US Its self-containment, deep in fields of wheat and grazing Charolais and dairy cattle, makes Emma’s trips to Rouen in the Lion d’Or’s rattletrap coach, the Hirondelle, seem almost as momentous now as they were in 1850—journeys to a remote and glamorous world beyond the ken of the townsfolk of Yonville.
The second is the hilariously weird Musée d’Automates, housed in a restored cider press just short of the bridge. In 1977, an horloger, Michel Burgaud, and his young son installed their exhibition (“Une pléiade de couleurs et de vie”) of mechanical tableaux of scenes from Madame Bovary. At the press of a switch, three hundred stage-lit dolls, each eight or so inches high, swivel jerkily and saw the air as they act out the novel against painted backdrops that reshape Ry into the spitting image of Yonville.
As Raban reminds us, model imitates literature, as “bad art has an important role in Flaubert’s novel:
The Burgaud tableaux recall, with unconscious fidelity, the organ-grinder who shows up at Emma’s window in Tostes:
A waltz would begin and, on top of the barrel organ, in a tiny drawing room, dancers no taller than your finger—ladies in pink turbans, Tyroleans in jackets, monkeys in black tailcoats, gentlemen in knee breeches—circled round and round among the armchairs and tables and sofas, mirrored in pieces of glass held together at the edges by strips of gold paper.
…Where Binet left off, the Burgauds began. Innumerable hours of enthralled, obsessive, foolish devotion must have gone into their copying of Flaubert’s novel in wire, papier-maché, and clockwork—an artistic enterprise at once perfectly dotty and perfectly in keeping with the book.