American painter Derek Buckner (born 1970) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
A Poem for Today
By Ezra Pound
Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,
So ’gainst the winter’s balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Johannes Brahms
Musings in Autumn: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)
“This mountain of release is such that the
ascent’s most painful at the start, below;
the more you rise, the milder it will be.
And when the slope feels gentle to the point that
climbing up sheer rock is effortless
as though you were gliding downstream in a boat,
then you will have arrived where this path ends” – “The Divine Comedy”
“Laugh, and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone.”- Anthony Burgess, English writer, composer, and author of “A Clockwork Orange,” who died 25 November 1993.
Some quotes from the work of Anthony Burgess:
“When a man cannot chose, he ceases to be a man.”
“To be left alone is the most precious thing one can ask of the modern world.”
“The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”
“I see what is right and approve, but I do what is wrong.”
“If you expect the worst from a person you can never be disappointed.”
“Language exists less to record the actual than to liberate the imagination.”
“The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it.”
“It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil.”
A Poem for Today
“Too lazy to be ambitious,”
By Ryokan (1758-1831)
Too lazy to be ambitious,
I let the world take care of itself.
Ten days’ worth of rice in my bag;
a bundle of twigs by the fireplace.
Why chatter about delusion and enlightenment?
Listening to the night rain on my roof,
I sit comfortably, with both legs stretched out.
Below – Millie Gift Smith: “Rainy Night”
American Art – Part II of IV: Barry X Ball
Sculptor Barry X Ball was born in 1955 in Pasadena, California and lives and works in New York.
Musings in Autumn: Rumi (1207-1273)
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense.” – From “The Essential Rumi”
Below – Maria Lutz: “Grassy Field”
“The greatest of all the accomplishments of 20th century science has been the discovery of human ignorance.” – Lewis Thomas, American physician, essayist, etymologist, poet, educator, policy advisor, researcher, and author of “The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher” (winner of National Book Awards in two categories – Arts and Letters and The Sciences) and “The Medusa and The Snail” (winner of the National Book Award in Science), who was born 25 November 1913.
Some quotes from the work of Lewis Thomas:
“Statistically, the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you’d think the mere fact of existing would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise.”
“The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music.”
“Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment… They do everything but watch television.”
“I am a member of a fragile species, still new to the earth, the youngest creatures of any scale, here only a few moments as evolutionary time is measured, a juvenile species, a child of a species. We are only tentatively set in place, error prone, at risk of fumbling, in real danger at the moment of leaving behind only a thin layer of our fossils, radioactive at that.”
“We are, perhaps uniquely among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take the idea of dying, unable to sit still.”
“If we had better hearing, and could discern the descants of sea birds, the rhythmic tympani of schools of mollusks, or even the distant harmonics of midges hanging over meadows in the sun, the combined sound might lift us off our feet.”
“The future is too interesting and dangerous to be entrusted to any predictable, reliable agency. We need all the fallibility we can get. Most of all, we need to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds.”
“My mitochondria comprise a very large proportion of me. I cannot do the calculation, but I suppose there is almost as much of them in sheer dry bulk as there is the rest of me. Looked at in this way, I could be taken for a very large, motile colony of respiring bacteria, operating a complex system of nuclei, microtubules, and neurons for the pleasure and sustenance of their families, and running, at the moment, a typewriter.”
“It is not a simple life to be a single cell, although I have no right to say so, having been a single cell so long ago myself that I have no memory at all of that stage in my life.”
“Have you noticed how often it happens that a really good idea — the kind of idea that looks, as it approaches, like the explanation for everything about everything — tends to hover near at hand when you are thinking hard about something quite different? There you are, halfway into a taxi, thinking about the condition of the cartilage in the right knee joint, and suddenly, with a whirring sound, in flies a new notion looking for a place to light. You’d better be sure you have a few bare spots, denuded of anything like thought, ready for its perching, or it will fly away into the dark.”
“The oldest, easiest to swallow idea was that the earth was man’s personal property, a combination of garden, zoo, bank vault, and energy source, placed at our disposal to be consumed, ornamented, or pulled apart as we wished.”
Musings in Autumn: Dogen Zenji (1200-1253)
“Coming, going, the waterbirds
don’t leave a trace,
don’t follow a path.” – From “The Enlightened Heart”
A Poem for Today
By Ellen Compton
darken the hedgerow
According to one critic, French painter Bruno Serre (born 1970) “ takes his inspiration from amateur erotic photographs or Christmas Celebration pictures posted on the Internet.”
From the American History Archives: Powder River Battle
25 November 1876 – In the words of one historian, “U.S. troops under the leadership of Colonel Ranald Mackenzie destroy the village of Cheyenne living with Chief Dull Knife on the headwaters of the Powder River. The attack was in retaliation against some of the Indians who had participated in the massacre of Custer and his men at Little Bighorn.”
Below – Cheyenne leaders Little Wolf, left, and Dull Knife, called Morning Star by his own people. Both were in the village on the Red Fork of Powder River when troops attacked in November 1876. The photo was taken in Washington, D.C. in 1873; Colonel Ranald MacKenzie, who led about 700 cavalry and 400 Indian scouts in an all-night march to attack the Cheyenne on the Red Fork; Dull Knife Battlefield, Red Fork, Wyoming.
Here is the Artist Statement of painter Adriana Mufarrege: “I was born in Córdoba, Argentina, on July 16th 1962.
My father’s parents were Lebanese, born in Bishmezzine. My mother’s family arrived to Santa Fe plains from Switzerland about 1850. I spent my childhood and adolescence in Santa Fe. Since 1980 I live in Córdoba.
I started painting in 1981 under the guide of artist Marcos Milewski. Then I entered the School of Arts at Córdoba National University. In 1987 I got my degree as Superior Professor in Art Education.”
A Poem for Today
By Issa (1763-1828)
In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing
as a stranger.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Antonio Vivaldi
“If people destroy something replaceable made by mankind, they are called vandals; if they destroy something irreplaceable made by God, they are called developers.” – Joseph Wood Krutch, American writer, critic, naturalist, and author of “The Desert Year” (known informally as “The Cactus Walden”), who was born 25 November 1893.
In the words of one literary historian, “One of the last interviews with Krutch before his death was conducted by Edward Abbey and appears in Abbey’s 1988 book “One Life at a Time, Please.”
Some quotes from the work of Joseph Wood Krutch:
“It is not ignorance but knowledge which is the mother of wonder.”
“The world of poetry, mythology, and religion represents the world as a man would like to have it, while science represents the world as he gradually comes to discover it.”
“The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February.”
“Both the cockroach and the bird could get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.”
“Technology made large populations possible; large populations now make technology indispensable.”
“Cats seem to go along on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.”
“Security depends not so much upon how much you have, as upon how much you can do without.”
“As machines get to be more and more like men, men will come to be more like machines. ”
“For a real glimpse into an almost vanished world, one should look at a scorpion, who so obviously has no business lingering into the twentieth century. He is not shaped like a spider and he has too many legs to be an insect. Plainly, he is a discontinued model – still running but very difficult, one imagines, to get spare parts for.”
“The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.”
Musings in November: Lucy Maud Montgomery
“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” – “Anne of Green Gables”
Below – Jim Wodark: “Ocean Shadows”
American Art – Part III of IV: Francis Cunningham
Here is how one critic describes the career of painter Francis Cunningham (born 1931): “Cunningham grew up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard College in 1953. After two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, he attended the Art Students League of New York, where he studied painting with Edwin Dickinson and drawing and anatomy with Robert Beverly Hale. Cunningham has had one-man shows in Washington, Chicago and New York, where he exhibited at the Waverly, Salpeter and Hirschl and Adler galleries. He has had one-man shows in Stockholm and Copenhagen and has participated in group exhibitions extensively in the U.S. He taught for eighteen years at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and for three years at the Art Students League. In 1980 he co-founded the New Brooklyn School of Life Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, Inc. with the sculptor Barney Hodes. In 1983 they co-founded the New York Academy of Art.”
Musings in Autumn: Wu Men (1183-1260)
“Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.” – From “The Enlightened Heart”
American Art – Part IV of IV: William Merritt Chase
In the words of one historian, “William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) was an Impressionist painter and important art teacher who established the Chase School, which would later become Parsons New School for Design. After stints at both the Academy of Design in New York and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Chase traveled to Venice for additional study. After returning to the United States, he became close friends with Winslow Homer, numbered Georgia O’Keeffe among his many pupils, and influenced California art at the turn of the century through interactions with Arthur Frank Mathews, Xavier Martinez, and Percy Gray. “
Below – “End of the Season Sun”; “Girl in a Japanese Costume”; “Mrs. Chase in Prospect Park”; “Good Friends”; “Studio Interior”; “Landscape: Shinnecock, Long Island”; “A City Park”; “At the Seaside”; “Self-Portrait.”
Artist Statement (partial): “My work mirrors individuals’ private moments of introspection. I find myself compelled to capture the moments when a strong desire and need to feel comfortable in one’s own skin are present. Similarly, I want to capture a person’s attempt at reconnecting or discovering some form of greater magic and the candid instant when a person reveals how far he or she feels from that magic.”
A Poem for Today
By Anne Sexton
By the first of August
the invisible beetles began
to snore and the grass was
as tough as hemp and was
no color—no more than
the sand was a color and
we had worn our bare feet
bare since the twentieth
of June and there were times
we forgot to wind up your
alarm clock and some nights
we took our gin warm and neat
from old jelly glasses while
the sun blew out of sight
like a red picture hat and
one day I tied my hair back
with a ribbon and you said
that I looked almost like
a puritan lady and what
I remember best is that
the door to your room was
the door to mine.
Died 24 November 1957 – Diego Rivera, a Mexican artist famous for painting murals, including the Detroit Industry Murals that depict work at the Ford Motor Company, two of which appear below.
Below – “Two Women”; “Detroit Industry, North Wall”; “Detroit Industry, South Wall”; “Man, Controller of the Universe”; “Corn”; “The Flower Vendor.”
From the Music Archives: Scott Joplin
“Because it has such a ragged movement. It suggests something like that.” – Scott Joplin, American composer, pianist, and “The King of Ragtime,” who was born 24 November 1868.
“If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.” – Baruch Spinoza, Dutch philosopher, who was born 24 November 1632.
In the words of one historian, “By laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and, arguably, the universe, (Spinoza) came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy. His magnum opus, the posthumous ‘Ethics,’ in which he opposed Descartes’ mind–body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy’s most important thinkers.” According to another historian, In the ‘Ethics,’ “Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely.” Finally, philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel insisted that “You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”
Some quotes from the work of Baruch Spinoza:
“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”
“I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion.”
“No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.”
“The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure…you are above everything distressing.”
“Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare.”
“Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice.”
“I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”
“The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is.”
“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.”
“The greatest secret of monarchic rule…is to keep men deceived and to cloak in the specious name of religion the fear by which they must be checked, so that they will fight for slavery as they would for salvation, and will think it not shameful, but a most honorable achievement, to give their life and blood that one man may have a ground for boasting.”
“Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many.”
“I would warn you that I do not attribute to nature either beauty or deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.”
“Pride is pleasure arising from a man’s thinking too highly of himself.”
“Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”
“Nothing in nature is by chance… Something appears to be chance only because of our lack of knowledge.”
“None are more taken in by flattery than the proud, who wish to be the first and are not.”
“He who seeks to regulate everything by law is more likely to arouse vices than to reform them. It is best to grant what cannot be abolished, even though it be in itself harmful. How many evils spring from luxury, envy, avarice, drunkenness and the like, yet these are tolerated because they cannot be prevented by legal enactments.”
“He alone is free who lives with free consent under the entire guidance of reason”
“Those who know the true use of money, and regulate the measure of wealth according to their needs, live contented with few things.”
“Nature offers nothing that can be called this man’s rather than another’s; but under nature everything belongs to all.”
“Things which are accidentally the causes either of hope or fear are called good or evil omens.”
“In proportion as we endeavor to live according to the guidance of reason, shall we strive as much as possible to depend less on hope, to liberate ourselves from fear, to rule fortune, and to direct our actions by the sure counsels of reason.”
“Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are determined.”
“Those who wish to seek out the cause of miracles, and to understand the things of nature as philosophers, and not to stare at them in astonishment like fools, are soon considered heretical and impious, and proclaimed as such by those whom the mob adores as the interpreters of nature and the gods. For these men know that, once ignorance is put aside, that wonderment would be taken away, which is the only means by which their authority is preserved.”
“It is certain that seditions, wars, and contempt or breach of the laws are not so much to be imputed to the wickedness of the subjects, as to the bad state of the dominion.”
Columbian-born painter Rafael Espitia (born 1967) now lives and works in Miami.
“The idea of choice is easily debased if one forgets that the aim is to have chosen successfully, not to be endlessly choosing.” – George Trow, Jr., American essayist, novelist, playwright, media critic, and author of “Within the Context of No Context,” an essay on television and its effect on American culture, who died 24 November 2006.
A few quotes from the work of George Trow, Jr.:
“The work of television is to establish false contexts and to chronicle the unraveling of existing contexts; finally, to establish the context of no-context and to chronicle it.”
“Soon it will be achieved. The lie of television has been that there are contexts to which television will grant an access. Since lies last, usually, no more than one generation, television will re-form around the idea that television itself is a context to which television will grand access.”
“Wonder was the grace of the country. Any action could be justified by that: the wonder it was rooted in. Period followed period, and finally the wonder was that things could be built so big. Bridges, skyscrapers, fortunes, all having a life first in the marketplace, still drew on the force of wonder. But then a moment’s quiet. What was it now that was built so big? Only the marketplace itself. Could there be wonder in that? The size of the con?”
A Second Poem for Today
By Valerie Wetlaufer
At the age of nine, Pa drove me
to the river. The pastor & deacons
awaited. I donned a white robe,
of my fresh nubs.
Father Jonas reached beneath me,
placed a hand over my nose & mouth.
He pushed me hard until my feet released
& rose to the surface, like a corpse.
I cried afterward, cold & clammy,
wet hair plaited back.
All the men thought I was full
of the Holy Ghost.
Below – Jeremy Sams: “Cane River Baptism”
In the words of one writer, “Gernot Kissel, born 1939 in Worms on the Rhine, Germany, was an Engineer and Architect. A self taught painter, he started painting at 18 and has been painting ever since. He sadly passed away in 2008, but his powerful work will be living on.”
From the American History Archives: Texas Rangers
24 November 1835 – The Texas Provincial Government authorizes the creation of a horse-mounted police force called the Texas Rangers (which is now the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety).
Below – Frederic Remington: “Texas Rangers”
A Third Poem for Today
By Jack Gilbert
I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. But if she did, I knew
it would be as a lady in a long white dress.
It is strange that she has returned
as somebody’s dalmation. I meet
the man walking her on a leash
almost every week. He says good morning
and I stoop down to calm her. He said
once that she was never like that with
other people. Sometimes she is tethered
on thier lawn when I go by. If nobody
is around, I sit on the grass. When she
finally quiets, she puts her head in my lap
and we watch each other’s eyes as I whisper
in her soft ears. She cares nothing about
the mystery. She likes it best when
I touch her head and tell her small
things about my days and our friends.
That makes her happy the way it always did.
Below – Tanya and Craig Amberson: “Emerald Beauty”
Portuguese painter Gina Marrinhas (born 1950) studied art in Lisbon.
Died 24 November 1973 – John Neihardt, an American poet, writer, and author of “Black Elk Speaks.” In the words of one critic, Neihardt
“relates the story of Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota medicine man. Black Elk spoke in Lakota and Black Elk’s son, Ben Black Elk, who was present during the talks, translated his father’s words into English.
Neihardt made notes during these talks which he later used as the basis for his book.”
Some quotes from “Black Elk Speaks”:
“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one.”
“You have noticed that the truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing face is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better for them to see.”
“I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream . . . the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered.”
“I did not see anything [New York 1886] to help my people. I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.”
“It is hard to follow one great vision in this world of darkness and of many changing shadows. Among those men get lost.”
“When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the west, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greenier and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm.”
“It is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.”
“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.”
“But now that I can see it all as from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision given to a man too weak to use it; of a holy tree that should have flourished in a people’s heart with flowers and singing birds, and now is withered; and of a people’s dream that died in bloody snow.”
Musings in Autumn: Loren Eiseley
“It is a commonplace of all religious thought, even the most primitive, that the man seeking visions and insight must go apart from his fellows and live for a time in the wilderness.” – “The Judgment of the Birds”
Below – Dan Nance: “Vision Quest”
American Art – Part II of III: Ron Sanders
In the words of one art historian, painter Ron Sanders (born 1966) “is a Signature Member of the Paint America Association and the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society and an Associate Member of the Oil Painters of America. The winner of numerous national and regional awards and honors, the artist’s work hangs in private and public collections throughout the United States, including the Indiana State Museum Collection.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“As Children Know,”
By Jimmy Santiago Baca
Elm branches radiate green heat,
blackbirds stiffly strut across fields.
Beneath bedroom wood floor, I feel earth—
bread in an oven that slowly swells,
simmering my Navajo blanket thread-crust
as white-feathered and corn-tasseled
Corn Dancers rise in a line, follow my calf,
vanish in a rumple and surface at my knee-cliff,
chanting. Wearing shagged buffalo headgear,
Buffalo Dancer chases Deer Woman across
Sleeping Leg mountain. Branches of wild rose
trees rattle seeds. Deer Woman fades into hills
of beige background. Red Bird
of my heart thrashes wildly after her.
What a stupid man I have been!
How good to let imagination go,
step over worrisome events,
those hacked logs
in the driveway.
Let decisions go!
Let them blow
like school children’s papers
against the fence,
rattling in the afternoon wind.
This Red Bird
of my heart thrashes within the tidy appearance
I offer the world,
topples what I erect, snares what I set free,
dashes what I’ve put together,
indulges in things left unfinished,
and my world is left, as children know,
left as toys after dark in the sandbox.
American Art – Part III of III: Sergio Lopez
In the words of one writer, “Sergio Lopez, born in 1983, is a graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco – and is an exemplary painter in a variety of mediums. His artistic knowledge ballooned when he discovered his love of oil painting and charcoal drawing. He filled sketchbook after sketchbook with observations from life as well as drawings from his imagination. The Golden Age illustrators, Bravura painters, contemporary artists, concept designers, graffiti writers, and photographers have been some of his strongest influences in his pursuit of painting. He continues to study by visiting museums and observing the Great Masters, which he strives to learn lessons of beauty from.”
In the words of one writer, “Joyce Cambron states that her figurative paintings are about ‘things I can’t easily talk about – isolation and intimacy. They are often representations of the least public moments, those seen only by family or a lover; waking, stepping into the shower, a dirty kitchen. They both invite intimacy and cause the discomfort of intrusion.’
While interiors and the figure are the subjects that most interest her, she returns to the landscape to experiment with materials and to work more with light and space rather than representation. In these paintings, she often employs irregular surfaces such as hand made paper from India for the inspiration derived from its rustic shape and texture.”
A Poem for Today
“Sixth Ave. Green with Blue Corner,”
By Elaine Equi
How much greener
is paint than grass,
especially in winter.
From the Movie Archives: Harpo Marx
Born 23 November 1888 – Arthur “Harpo” Marx, an American comedian, film star, member of The Marx Brothers Comedy Team, and harpist.
Born 23 November 1861 – Konstantin Korovin, a leading Russian Impressionist painter.
Below – “Hammerfest: Aurora Borealis”; “St. Triphon’s Brook in Pechenga”; “On the Balcony, Spanish Women Leonora and Ampara”; “Twilight in a Room”; “Two Ladies on a Terrace”; “Pier in Gurzuf”; “Moonlit Night, Paris”; “Moonlit Night, Winter.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock,”
By Wallace Stevens
The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
In red weather.
Below – Paul Klee: “Fish Magic”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: The Piano Guys
From the American Old West: Billy the Kid
Born 23 November 1859 – William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid, a 19th century gunman and outlaw in the American Old West.
In the words of one historian: “Relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, Billy was catapulted into legend in 1881 when New Mexico’s governor, Lew Wallace, placed a price on his head.” Shortly thereafter, Billy the Kid was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
Below -– Billy the Kid; Pat Garrett; the tombstone at Billy the Kid’s grave, Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British sculptor Matthew Simmonds: “The sculptures of Matthew Simmonds give us a direct experience of our being in the present, through a love of the past transmitted in marble and light.
From his early childhood, Simmonds was fascinated by stone buildings, an affection that flows into his artworks, where stone architecture is used as a central theme. Particularly the medieval architecture, with its striving to get to a new sophistication of space, comes alive in the marble. Simmonds makes a play of architecture and ornamentation on a small scale, but the spaces created give the same feeling as in the buildings themselves; a place to rest, a place to travel with the eye and maybe find a moment of tranquillity. The marble is opened up, and inside is a space within a building that only exists in the viewer’s mind. What you sense is the significance of space.
‘To create a sculpture that catches the light and structure of a building and lets the eye wander, to feel that here my eye could live, here a part of me could stay, is a great achievement. The sculptures give the viewer a different perspective on space. They look different from every viewpoint. You long to be in them, and they seem almost more meaningful for that.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Mary Jo Salter
My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,
and likes to rent her movies, for a treat.
It makes some evenings harder to enjoy.
The list of actresses who might employ
him as their slave is too long to repeat.
(My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,
Carole Lombard, Paulette Goddard, coy
Jean Arthur with that voice as dry as wheat …)
It makes some evenings harder to enjoy.
Does he confess all this just to annoy
a loyal spouse? I know I can’t compete.
My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy.
And can’t a woman have her dreamboats? Boy,
I wouldn’t say my life is incomplete,
but some evening I could certainly enjoy
two hours with Cary Grant as my own toy.
I guess, though, we were destined not to meet.
My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,
which makes some evenings harder to enjoy.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: The Piano Guys
“The poet is at the edge of our consciousness of the world, finding beyond the suspected nothingness which we imagine limits our perception another acre or so of being worth our venturing upon.” – Guy Davenport, American writer, translator, illustrator, painter, teacher, and author of “The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays,” who was born 23 November 1927.
Some quotes from the work of Guy Davenport:
“Man was first a hunter, and an artist: his early vestiges tell us that alone. But he must always have dreamed, and recognized and guessed and supposed, all the skills of the imagination. Language itself is a continuously imaginative act. Rational discourse outside our familiar territory of Greek logic sounds to our ears like the wildest imagination. The Dogon, a people of West Africa, will tell you that a white fox named Ogo frequently weaves himself a hat of string bean hulls, puts it on his impudent head, and dances in the okra to insult and infuriate God Almighty, and that there’s nothing we can do about it except abide him in faith and patience.
This is not folklore, or quaint custom, but as serious a matter to the Dogon as a filling station to us Americans. The imagination; that is, the way we shape and use the world, indeed the way we see the world, has geographical boundaries like islands, continents, and countries. These boundaries can be crossed. That Dogon fox and his impudent dance came to live with us, but in a different body, and to serve a different mode of the imagination. We call him Brer Rabbit.”
“In curved Einsteinian space we are at all times, technically, looking at the back of our own head.”
“When Heraclitus said that everything passes steadily along, he was not inciting us to make the best of the moment, an idea unseemly to his placid mind, but to pay attention to the pace of things. Each has its own rhythm: the nap of a dog, the procession of the equinoxes, the dances of Lydia, the majestically slow beat of the drums at Dodona, the swift runners at Olympia.”
“The meaning of the world, said Wittgenstein, is outside the world. Events and values are distinguishable only in relation to others. A totality of events and values, the world itself, requires another.”
“The birds suffer their suffering each in a lifetime, forgetting it as they go.”
“It is worthwhile adding that the power of the poem to teach not only sensibilities and the subtle movements of the spirit but knowledge, real lasting felt knowledge, is going mostly unnoticed among our scholars. The body of knowledge locked into and releasable from poetry can replace practically any university in the Republic. First things first, then: the primal importance of a poem is what it can add to the individual mind.
Poetry is the voice of a poet at its birth, and the voice of a people in its ultimate fulfillment as a successful and useful work of art.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Antonio Machado
In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.
We know nothing of our own souls
that are un-understandable and say nothing.
The deepest words
of the wise man teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows
or the sound of the water when it is flowing.
Here is the Artist Statement of Swedish painter Alexander Klingspor: “My paintings reflect the world around me as I experience it. After all, that is what a painter does. He reflects what he sees. Hopefully my paintings will give the viewer an experience, a window into my world. I listen to the riddles of the night. From the nocturnal winter world of my hometown Stockholm comes my fascination for the night and it’s intriguing mood. I’ve always admired the old masters for their way to depict the relativity between light and dark. Without darkness no light can shine. And according to this universal rule I create my paintings.”
Musings in Autumn – Part I of II: Annie Dillard
“It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.” – “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”
Below – Tinker Creek, Virginia; Indian Creek, Arkansas; Middle Boulder Creek, Colorado; Chalk Creek, Colorado; Redwood Creek, California; Bonanza Creek, Alaska.
Died 23 November 1872 – Ten Bears, a Principal Chief of the Yamparika division of the Numunuu Comanche.
In 1867, Comanche and Kiowa tribal leaders met with William Tecumseh Sherman at Medicine Lodge Creek, Kansas. Sherman told them that they and their people would have to leave their ancestral homeland on the plains and live on a reservation in Oklahoma. In response, Ten Bears delivered the following speech:
“My heart is filled with joy when I see you here today, as the brooks fill with water when the snows melt in the spring. I feel glad as the ponies do when the fresh grass starts in the beginning of the year.
My people have never first drawn a bow or fired a gun against the whites. There has been trouble between us. My young men have danced the war dance. But it was not begun by us. It was you who sent the first soldier.
Two years ago I came upon this road, following the buffalo that my wives and children might have their cheeks plump and their bodies warm. But the soldiers fired on us. So it was upon the Canadian River. Nor have we been made to cry once only. The blue-dressed soldiers came out from the night, and for campfires they lit our lodges. Instead of hunting game they killed our braves, and the warriors of the tribe cut short their hair for the dead.
So it was in Texas. They made sorrow in our camps, and we went out like the buffalo bulls when the cows are attacked. When we found them we killed them, and their scalps hung in our lodges. The Comanches are not weak and blind, like the pups of a dog when seven days old. They are strong and far-sighted, like grown horses. We took their road and we went on it. The white women cried and our women laughed.
But there are things that you have said to me which I do not like. They were not sweet like sugar, but bitter like gourds. You have said that you want to put us on a reservation, to build us houses and to make us medicine lodges. I do not want them. I was born under the prairie, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no walls and everything drew free breath. I want to die there, not within walls. I know every stream and every wood between the Rio Grande and the Arkansas River. I have hunted and lived all over that country. I live like my fathers before me and like them I live happily.
When I was in Washington the Great Father told me that all the Comanche land was ours and that no one should hinder us from living on it. So why do you ask us to leave the rivers and the sun and the wind and live in houses? Do not tell us to give up the buffalo for the sheep. The young men hear talk of this, and it makes them sad and angry. Do not speak of it more. I love to carry out the talk I heard from the Great Father. When I get goods and presents my people feel glad, since it shows that he holds us in his eye.
If the Texans had kept out of my country there might have been peace. But that which you say we must now live in is too small. The Texans have taken away the places where the grass grew thickest and the timber was best. Had we kept that, we might have done as you ask. But it is too late. The whites took the country which we loved, and we wish only to wander the prairie ’til we die.”
Musings in Autumn – Part II of II: Edward Abbey
“There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. … To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.” – “Desert Solitaire”
Below – Walking with my intrepid students in Tibet (at the top of Tara Pass during the circumambulation of Mount Kailash – 18, 500’); in Sikkim, India (at the base of Mount Kanchenjunga – 16,500’); in Ladakh, India (at the top of a 17,000’ pass in the Markha Valley); on a pilgrimage route above Lhasa, Tibet – 16,000’; in Nepal (on the Annapurna Circuit, at the top of Thorung Pass -17,769 feet).
A Fifth Poem for Today
“The First Night,”
By Billy Collins
‘The worst thing about death must be
the first night. ’ – Juan Ramón Jiménez
Before I opened you, Jiménez,
it never occurred to me that day and night
would continue to circle each other in the ring of death,
but now you have me wondering
if there will also be a sun and a moon
and will the dead gather to watch them rise and set
then repair, each soul alone,
to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.
Or will the first night be the only night,
a darkness for which we have no other name?
How feeble our vocabulary in the face of death,
How impossible to write it down.
This is where language will stop,
the horse we have ridden all our lives
rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff.
The word that was in the beginning
and the word that was made flesh—
those and all the other words will cease.
Even now, reading you on this trellised porch,
how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?
But it is enough to frighten me
into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon,
to sunlight bright on water
or fragmented in a grove of trees,
and to look more closely here at these small leaves,
these sentinel thorns,
whose employment it is to guard the rose.
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Sharon Bryan
Why not lindendust,
live oak, maple, why
name the remains
after the blade, not
what it cut—
only now do I see
that the air is full
of small sharp stars
every living thing
that gets in their way.
American Art – Part II of III: John Robert Peck
Artist Statement: “My focus is portraiture. I believe that both drawing and painting are fundamentally about a search for visual truth in nature- in the objects of still life, the landscapes around us and the faces and figures of models. For me, the portrait remains the single most important subject of painting- and I am a student for life in that search to see and record such beauty.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Sonnets to Orpheus: Part II, Number 29,”
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face
grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.
In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.
And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Of History and Hope,”
By Miller Williams
We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.
But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.
Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.
All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.
Below – Syrian refugee children.
American Art – Part III of III: Joseph Michael Todorovitch
In the words of one writer, “Joseph Todorovitch is a young contemporary painter who has developed a reputation for his highly representational figure paintings. Growing up in Southern California, he became interested in traditional drawing and painting at an early age. His training introduced him to many artistic influences including notable ateliers and instructors.
His work is a culmination of these forces with a deep respect for the knowledge and sensitivities of the past. Joseph has been able to sift through the vast amount of information, be selective, and utilize what’s necessary to achieve an impact that speaks about a personal experience with his subjects. His paintings emote, and convey a care and sensitivity that is reminiscent of the naturalist painters of the 19th century. Utilizing subtle value and temperature shifts, fine draughtsmanship, and pure intuition, Joseph weaves a world of breathable air and psychological nuance in his work.”
22 November 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
American Art – Part I of IV: Lani Irwin
Artist Statement: “I’m not sure there’s anything that hasn’t been done in painting except what’s been written on artists own souls. The only thing possible is to keep working from my own intuition and own inner self.”
A Poem for Today
By Donald Hall
To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.
Nobel Laureate: Andre Gide
“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – Andre Gide, French writer, author of “The Immoralist” and “The Counterfeiters,” and recipient of the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight,” who was born 22 November 1869.
Some quotes from the work of Andre Gide:
“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”
“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
“Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason.”
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
“Work and struggle and never accept an evil that you can change.”
“‘You have to let other people be right’ was his answer to their insults. ‘It consoles them for not being anything else.’”
“Only fools don’t contradict themselves”
“Fear of ridicule begets the worst cowardice.”
“Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself- and thus make yourself indispensable.”
“We prefer to go deformed and distorted all our lives rather than not resemble the portrait of ourselves which we ourselves have first drawn. It’s absurd. We run the risk of warping what’s best in us.”
“The most decisive actions of our life – I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future – are, more often than not, unconsidered.”
“To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Nanci France-Vaz
In the words of one critic, “Nanci France-Vaz is a progressive realist that creates paintings filled with drama, light, color, and a life like quality. Her background in acting, dance, and special effects film is evident in all of her compositions. She is the director of her own film through the medium of painting. Each subject has a unique presence in the environment with dramatic light and atmosphere. “As a painter, my greatest desire is to combine the style of a modern cinematographer with the classical style and techniques of the old masters. Painting in the 21st century should not be a replica of the classical art of the past, but a progressive modern version utilizing the techniques and information of the past with the technology of the future.”
A Second Poem for Today
“The Broken Fountain,”
By Amy Lowell
Oblong, its jutted ends rounding into circles,
The old sunken basin lies with its flat, marble lip
An inch below the terrace tiles.
Over the stagnant water
The blue-green of coned yews;
The purple and red of trailing fuchsias
Dripping out of marble urns;
Bright squares of sky
Ribbed by the wake of a swimming beetle.
Through the blue-bronze water
Wavers the pale uncertainty of a shadow.
An arm flashes through the reflections,
A breast is outlined with leaves.
Outstretched in the quiet water
The statue of a Goddess slumbers.
But when Autumn comes
The beech leaves cover her with a golden counter-pane.
Below – Antonietta Varallo: “Old Fountain”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of German sculptor Bruno Walpoth: “Humans are his central theme. With great love and craftsmanship he makes his sculptures and gives every one, it seems, a soul. The sculptures have a meditative effect on the viewer. The material, either linden or walnut wood, in combination with light gives each sculpture a specific character and makes it hard not to want to touch them.”
A Third Poem for Today
“For a Traveler,”
By Jessica Greenbaum
I only have a moment so let me tell you the shortest story,
about arriving at a long loved place, the house of friends in Maine,
their lawn of wildflowers, their grandfather clock and candid
portraits, their gabled attic rooms, and woodstove in the kitchen,
all accessories of the genuine summer years before, when I was
their son’s girlfriend and tied an apron behind my neck, beneath
my braids, and took from their garden the harvest for a dinner
I would make alone and serve at their big table with the gladness
of the found, and loved. The eggplant shone like polished wood,
the tomatoes smelled like their furred collars, the dozen zucchini
lined up on the counter like placid troops with the onions, their
minions, and I even remember the garlic, each clove from its airmail
envelope brought to the cutting board, ready for my instruction.
And in this very slight story, a decade later, I came by myself,
having been dropped by the airport cab, and waited for the family
to arrive home from work. I walked into the lawn, waist-high
in the swaying, purple lupines, the subject of June’s afternoon light
as I had never been addressed — a displaced young woman with
cropped hair, no place to which I wished to return, and no one
to gather me in his arms. That day the lupines received me,
and I was in love with them, because they were all I had left,
and in that same manner I have loved much of the world since then,
and who is to say there is more of a reason, or more to love?
“The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.” – Aldous Huxley, English writer, humanist, pacifist, satirist, and author of “Brave New World” and “The Doors of Perception,” who died 22 November 1963.
Some quotes from the work of Aldous Huxley:
“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
“An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.”
“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”
“If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.”
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.”
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.”
“Chastity—the most unnatural of all the sexual perversions.”
“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”
“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.”
“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.”
“Every man’s memory is his private literature.”
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”
“Man is so intelligent that he feels impelled to invent theories to account for what happens in the world. Unfortunately, he is not quite intelligent enough, in most cases, to find correct explanations. So that when he acts on his theories, he behaves very often like a lunatic.”
“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”
Here is how one critic describes the work of Latvian painter Vija Zarina: “The language of the artist’s painting is very feminine, refined, ornamental. Peace and harmony radiate from her compositions, thus reflecting the internal world and thinking of the artist.”
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
22 November 1954 – The Humane Society of the United States begins its compassionate work in the world.
Dutch painter Paul Boswijk (born 1959) was educated at the Art Academy Minerva in Groningen.
A Fourth Poem for Today
“If Once You Have Slept On An Island,”
By Rachel Field
If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.
Below – Jamie Wyeth: “If Once You Have Slept On An Island”
American Art – Part III of IV: William Bliss Baker
Died 20 November 1886 – William Bliss Baker, an American artist who, in the words of one critic, “began painting just as the Hudson River School was winding down.”
Below – “Fallen Monarchs”; “April Snow”; “Woodland Brook”; “Hiding in the Haycocks”; “Dark Forest”; “Shadows in a Pool.”
Musings in Autumn: Mary Austin
“Wild fowl, quacking hordes of them, nest in the tulares (swamp reeds). Any day’s venture will raise from open shallows the great blue heron on his hollow wings. Chill evenings the mallard drakes cry continually from the glassy pools, the bittern’s hollow boom rolls along the water paths. Strange and farflown fowl drop down against the saffron, autumn sky. All day wings beat above it hazy with speed; long flights of cranes glimmer in the twilight. By night one wakes to hear the clanging geese go over. One wishes for, but gets no nearer speech from those the reedy fens have swallowed up. What they do there, how fare, what find, is the secret of the tulares.” – “The Land of Little Rain”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!
Below – Marie Luise Strohmenger: “Look how the wild swans fly”
“With the aurora borealis flaming coldly overhead, or the stars leaping in the frost dance, and the land numb and frozen under its pall of snow, this song of the huskies might have been the defiance of life, only it was pitched in minor key, with long-drawn wailings and half-sobs, and was more the pleading of life, the articulate travail of existence. It was an old song, old as the breed itself–one of the first songs of the younger world in a day when songs were sad.” – Jack London, American writer, journalist, social activist, and author of “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang,” who died 22 November 1916.
Some quotes from the work of Jack London:
“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.”
“I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.”
“The Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept.”
“But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”
“Ever bike? Now that’s something that makes life worth living! Oh, to just grip your handlebars and lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through streets and road, over railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds, avoiding collisions, at twenty miles or more an hour, and wondering all the time when you’re going to smash up. Well, now, that’s something! And then go home again after three hours of it…and then to think that tomorrow I can do it all over again!”
“A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of laughter more terrible than any sadness-a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.”
“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.”
“The function of man is to live, not to exist.”
Canadian artist Faye Dietrich takes her inspiration from the natural beauty of her country’s wild landscapes.
Below – “Northern Yukon Mountains”; “Full Moon Whitehorse”; “Kluane Yukon”; “Dempster Highway, North Yukon”; “Yukon River Pilings”; “Taku River Headwaters”; “Farry to Gibsons.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“The Epic Stars,”
By Robinson Jeffers
The heroic stars spending themselves,
Coining their very flesh into bullets for the lost battle,
They must burn out at length like used candles;
And Mother Night will weep in her triumph, taking home her heroes.
There is the stuff for an epic poem-
This magnificent raid at the heart of darkness, this lost battle-
We don’t know enough, we’ll never know.
Oh happy Homer, taking the stars and the Gods for granted.
Below – Toby Harriman: “The Milky Way over Big Sur, California”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Kevin Red Star
Kevin Red Star (born 1943) is a Native American artist. He is a member of the Crow tribe and lives in Lodge Grass, Montana.
Below – “Crow Indian Riders Mountain Trail Ride”; “Evening Mountain Horses”; “Crow Indian Parade Riders”; “Crow Tipi 9”; “Spirit Ponies”; “Crow Indian Man Dancers and Sisters II”; “Black Bird – Crow Indian Woman”; “Herd of Red Horses”; “First Snow.”
Brent Funderburk earned a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. in Painting, Drawing, and Film from East Carolina University School of Art in Greenville.
A Poem for Today
“The Best of It,”
By Kay Ryan
However carved up
or pared down we get,
we keep on making
the best of it as though
it doesn’t matter that
our acre’s down to
a square foot. As
though our garden
could be one bean
and we’d rejoice if
it flourishes, as
though one bean
could nourish us.
Died 21 November 1907 – Paula Modersohn-Becker, a German painter and one of the most important representatives of early Expressionism.
Below – “Still Life”; untitled; “Reclining Mother and Child”; “Rainer Maria Rilke”; “Self-Portrait.”
From the American History Archives: The Phonograph
21 November 1877 – Thomas Edison announces that he has invented the phonograph, a machine that could record and play sound. The first words he recorded and played back were “Mary had a little lamb.” The phonograph was Edison’s favorite invention.
A Second Poem for Today
“Flying at Night,”
By Ted Kooser
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like
American Art – Part II of V: Linda Mann
Artist Statement: “The theme of my still life paintings is that the world is real, orderly and fascinating and that man is capable of understanding and enjoying it. I express this theme by choosing beautiful objects to paint, by creating compositions that are purposeful and intriguing, by carefully rendering the objects and by capturing the subtle and exact quality of light.
My paintings evoke an exciting sense of immediacy, of experiencing a stylized reality – not a reality of routine, but rather a reality of heightened and selective focus, sensuous surfaces, dramatic intersection of light and dark, subtle contrast between warm and cool light and between crisp and soft edges – a reality that rewards your study.”
A Third Poem for Today
“The Wild Iris,”
By Louise Gluck
At the end of my suffering
there was a door.
Hear me out: that which you call death
Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.
It is terrible to survive
buried in the dark earth.
Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.
You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:
from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.
Here is how one critic describes the work of Spanish painter Ramon Lombarte: “His art seems to rise from a Mediterranean psyche with rich combinations of light, shadows and movement. Mundane impressions of our daily life are transformed into unforgettable works of riveting beauty. He manages to weld a combination of flawless technique with images of daily life to capture in his art rich scenarios revealing an original and virtuosic talent. He invites us to come out of the daily routine and from his artist soul he rises us up from a conventional surrounding world. He stimulates our consciousness and stops the movement of time to reveal the transcendent in the insignificant, the shape in the shapeless.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Paul Zimmer
Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—”Stardust,”
“Naima,” “The Trout,” “My Rosary,” “Perdido.”
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.
Now I have a small dog who does not sing,
but listens with discernment, requiring
skill and spirit in my falsetto voice.
I sing her name and words of love
andante, con brio, vivace, adagio.
Sometimes she is so moved she turns
to place a paw across her snout,
closes her eyes, sighing like a girl
I held and danced with years ago.
But I am a pretender to dog music.
The true strains rise only from
the rich, red chambers of a canine heart,
these melodies best when the moon is up,
listeners and singers together or
apart, beyond friendship and anger,
far from any human imposter—
ballads of long nights lifting
to starlight, songs of bones, turds,
conquests, hunts, smells, rankings,
things settled long before our birth.
Below – “Moon Dog,” by Rufino Tamayo
“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” – Ellen Glasgow, American writer, author of “Barren Ground,” and recipient of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “In This Our Life”), who died 21 November 1945.
Some quotes from the work of Ellen Glasgow:
“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”
“A tragic irony of life is that we so often achieve success or financial independence after the chief reason for which we sought it has passed away.”
“Most women want their youth back again; but I wouldn’t have mine back at any price. The worst years of my life are behind me, and my best ones ahead.”
“There is no support so strong as the strength that enables one to stand alone.”
“Grandfather used to say that when a woman got ready to fall in love the man didn’t matter, because she could drape her feeling over a scarecrow and pretend he was handsome.”
“Her life, she knew, was becoming simplified into an unbreakable chain of habits, a series of orderly actions at regular hours. Vaguely, she thought of herself as a happy woman; yet she was aware that this monotony of contentment had no relation to what she had called happiness in her youth. It was better perhaps; it was certainly as good; but it measured all the difference between youth and maturity.”
“It is good for a man to do right, and to leave happiness to take care of itself.”
“In the past few years, I have made a thrilling discovery … that until one is over sixty, one can never really learn the secret of living. One can then begin to live, not simply with the intense part of oneself, but with one’s entire being.”
“Mediocrity would always win by force of numbers, but it would win only more mediocrity.”
“He knows so little and knows it so fluently.”
“To teach one’s self is to be forced to learn twice.”
“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”
“No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.”
“No matter how vital experience might be while you lived it, no sooner was it ended and dead than it became as lifeless as the piles of dry dust in a school history book.”
American Art – Part III of V: Thomas Wargin
Artist Statement: “The work in its entirety represents who I am, my interests, abilities and what lies beneath my sub-conscious mind. My goal is to engage the viewer and stimulate the mind as well as their visual senses. I want the viewer to go to a place that they can only dream of or hope to be part of. I sometimes am intrigued with childhood stories and interpret these stories in a fashion that captures my viewer and stirs them into a new way of looking at the story.
The technique I use to create my work is a blend of old and new practices. I begin with sketches, which evolve into clay or carved 3- dimensional forms. Using various molding techniques, resin models are created, which are then hand packed into flasks with casting sand, ready for the casting process. In my foundry, I melt aluminum and bronze and watch as the molten metal burns new life into the molds. After cooling, parts are assembled for rough fit and positioning. Meticulously, I either weld or drill, tap and screw every component together to check for form, fit, and overall composition. Some pieces are disassembled again to be taken through phases of polishing or sandblasting. I complete the desired finish through high polish buffing or patination. Some of my art adds a diverse mixture of materials both raw and man made such as: various woods, stone, glass, or even original drawings. With the combination of these materials my goal is to compliment not compete in the composition and make it more inviting. These types of processes and materials allow me and my work to be spontaneous. It also assures each piece to be an original.
My goal is to create a unique art form that shares a seamless integration between the world around me and the human spirit. All the work is the growth of my interests, skills and imagination. I personally accomplish every task in the creation of my work. I feel it harnesses the energy and creativity of my soul.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Amy Clampitt
While you walk the water’s edge,
turning over concepts
I can’t envision, the honking buoy
serves notice that at any time
the wind may change,
the reef-bell clatters
its treble monotone, deaf as Cassandra
to any note but warning. The ocean,
cumbered by no business more urgent
than keeping open old accounts
that never balanced,
goes on shuffling its millenniums
of quartz, granite, and basalt.
toward the permutations of novelty—
driftwood and shipwreck, last night’s
beer cans, spilt oil, the coughed-up
residue of plastic—with random
impartiality, playing catch or tag
or touch-last like a terrier,
turning the same thing over and over,
over and over. For the ocean, nothing
is beneath consideration.
of so many mussels and periwinkles
have been abandoned here, it’s hopeless
to know which to salvage. Instead
I keep a lookout for beach glass—
amber of Budweiser, chrysoprase
of Almadén and Gallo, lapis
by way of (no getting around it,
I’m afraid) Phillips’
Milk of Magnesia, with now and then a rare
translucent turquoise or blurred amethyst
of no known origin.
goes on forever: they came from sand,
they go back to gravel,
along with treasuries
of Murano, the buttressed
astonishments of Chartres,
which even now are readying
for being turned over and over as gravely
and gradually as an intellect
engaged in the hazardous
redefinition of structures
no one has yet looked at.
In the words of one writer, “Born in Paris in 1953, Patrick Pietropoli has been painting figures and urban landscapes for almost thirty years. His landscapes have been influenced by the panoramas of many cities around the world including Rome, Venice, New York, Paris or London and he continues to draw inspirations from cities that surround him. His meticulous attention to detail, his realistic use of color and his distinct linear gestures are what make his urban landscapes very personal and familiar, creating an intimate experience between the artwork and its audience. Pietropoli’s own personal Grail is the quest of beauty: ‘Beauty, I think, can be anywhere and everywhere, even under all the infinitesimal details of reality, like a chimney on a rooftop or a gothic window on the top of a building in New York City,” he says. ‘ I don’t have to look far or wide to find beauty, because – to my eyes- it’s in everything. And I do not consider myself a realistic painter at all. I use realism to reach another dimension that is beyond the boundaries of realism.’”
“In autumn, (it is) the evenings (that are most beautiful), when the glittering sun sinks close to the edge of the hills and the crows fly back to their nests in threes and fours and twos; more charming still is a file of wild geese, like specks in the distant sky. When the sun has set, one’s heart is moved by the sound of the wind and the hum of the insects.” – Sei Shonagon
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of British figurative painter Mark Demsteader (born 1963):
“His powerful depictions of the female form in clean and assured lines of pastel and gouache have sparked a renaissance of interest in traditional life drawing amongst the art collecting fraternity. This immense technical ability is tempered by the natural sensitivity with which he imbues each subject. Although isolated in the picture plane each model seems to live and breathe, their expression and poise conveying a sense of narrative that invites the viewer to ask more questions about them than the artist answers.”
From the American Old West: Tom Horn
Born 21 November 1861 – Tom Horn, an American Old West lawman, scout, soldier, hired gunman, outlaw, and assassin. On the day before his 43rd birthday, Tom Horn was hanged in Cheyenne, Wyoming for the murder of Willie Nickell. Horn is buried in the Columbia Cemetery in Boulder, Colorado.
Below – Columbia Cemetery; Horn’s tombstone.
“If the dream is a translation of waking life, waking life is also a translation of the dream.” – Rene Magritte, Belgian surrealist artist, who was born 21 November 1898.
Below – “The Empire of Light, II”; “Golconda”; “The Lovers II”; “Time Transfixed”; “The Human Condition”; “The Mysteries of the Horizon.”
“The good life of any river may depend on the perception of its music; and the preservation of some music to perceive.” – Aldo Leopold
Below – Three views of the Buffalo River.
American Art – Part IV of V: Tristan Henry-Wilson
In the words of one writer, “Hailing from the forlorn reaches of New England, visual artist Tristan Henry-Wilson works his unique magic with consummate flair and a knowing ease. A steady go-to illustrator for many popular music bands and magazines, he has quickly become a regular presence throughout online and print media. However, despite his growing success in illustration, Tristan still labors away for days on end with a feverishly beatific glint in his eye and an oil-paint dabbed brush in his hand, causing some to cite him as a rising personality in ‘Nueu American Painting.’”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Tu Fu
A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light.
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened
Colors grace thatch homes for a moment.
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across
Half a mountain – and lingers past noon.
Here is the Artist Statement of Japanese Painter Yoji Nishida:
“For 40 years, I have continued to paint with oil on the theme of man. In recent years I’ve drawn mainly roses and white color female images. Models are those who have continued to classical ballet.
I decided to add one point for comparison with recent years, ‘look’ works depicting 25 years ago.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Dirge Without Music,”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
Below – Barbara O. Davis: “Dirge” (inspired by “Dirge without Music”)
American Art – Part V of V: Brett Bigbee
Artist Statement: “I am painstaking with my work. I usually have a strong sense of the effect I want to create and I labor to achieve it. As a result, I only finish one or two paintings a year.
When I decide upon an image, I start making multiple sketches to explore and strengthen the composition. With (paintings of my two sons), once I was confident of the strength of the image, I focused on creating life-size drawings of each child. Next, I transferred the drawings to canvas. To do this, I traced the drawings, flipped the tracings over and re-drew my lines on the reverse side of the tracings. Then, I flipped the tracings back over onto the canvas and used a pen to go over the original lines. This process transfers the graphite onto the canvas. Renaissance artists used a similar technique. They would prick the contours of a drawing with a pin and dust powdered charcoal through the pinholes onto the recipient surface, which could be a wall or canvas.
My next step in this painting was to create a monochromatic, opaque image. I used various golden hues, establishing the tonal relationships that I’d have in the final work. In a sense, I redrew and refined the image using multiple layers of paint. I then added local color to the whole image. As with the underpainting, the color is enhanced and developed using multiple layers of pigment until the painting is finished.”
Lance Hunter earned a BFA from Lamar University and an MFA from Stephen F. Austin University. He is an Associate Professor of Art at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma teaching painting and drawing classes.
“After I asked him (a student) what he meant, he replied that freedom consisted of the unimpeded right to get rich, to use his ability, no matter what the cost to others, to win advancement. No decent society can tolerate that definition.” – Norman Thomas, American Presbyterian minister, socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America, who was born 20 November 1884.
Some quotes from the work of Norman Thomas:
“If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag, wash it.”
“I always get more applause than votes.”
“We are socialists because we believe this income which we all cooperate in making isn’t divided as it ought to be…We do reward men according to deed. We do reward or give to people according to need. No religion would be possible in which that wasn’t done. There are the young, there are the old, there are many whom we have to reward according to their need. But in spite of improvements that have been made, and especially perhaps by my liberal friends who aren’t just sure how far to go…we still have a society where there’s a great deal of reward not according to deed, not according to need, but according to breed – the choice of your grandfather is very important. And according to the successful greed, which operates not in terms of great contributions to men, but in terms of manipulations of one sort of another.”
“The secret of a good life is to have the right loyalties and hold them in the right scale of values.”
“To us Americans much has been given; of us much is required. With all our faults and mistakes, it is our strength in support of the freedom our forefathers loved which has saved mankind from subjection to totalitarian power.”
A Poem for Today
“You Go to My Head,”
By Carole Boston Weatherford
I sang my songs so much
that they became
the soundtrack for my dreams,
the melody of my moods,
a room I lived in,
and a balm for my wounds.
I sang my songs enough
to know them backward
and forward, enough
to wonder if they could lift me
from hometown haunts
to center stage.
I’d sung my songs enough
to think I could take on
Baltimore’s best talent
at the Harlem Theatre
and maybe even win.
If you sing a song enough,
it can go to your head that way.
Below: “Singing Bird”
Australian Art – Part I of II: Louise Feneley
Louise Feneley studied art in both Adelaide and New York City.
Nobel Laureates – Part I of II: Selma Lagerlof
“I see the green earth covered with the works of man or with the ruins of men’s work. The pyramids weigh down the earth, the tower of Babel has pierced the sky, the lovely temples and the gray castles have fallen into ruins. But of all those things which hands have built, what hasn’t fallen nor ever will fall? Dear friends, throw away the trowel and mortarboard! Throw your masons’ aprons over your heads and lie down to build dreams! What are temples of stone and clay to the soul? Learn to build eternal mansions of dreams and visions!” – Selma Lagerlof, Swedish writer, author of “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils,” and the recipient of the 1909 Nobel Prize in Literature “in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings,” who was born 20 November 1858.
Some quotes from the work of Selma Lagerlof:
“Have you ever seen a child sitting on its mother’s knee listening to fairy stories? As long as the child is told of cruel giants and of the terrible suffering of beautiful princesses, it holds its head up and its eyes open; but if the mother begins to speak of happiness and sunshine, the little one closes its eyes and falls asleep with its head against her breast. . . . I am a child like that, too. Others may like stories of flowers and sunshine; but I choose the dark nights and sad destinies.”
“‘What Gosta,’ he said to himself, ‘can you no longer endure? You have been hardened in poverty all of your life; you have heard every tree in the forest, every tuft in the meadows preach to you of sacrifice and patience. You, brought up in a country where the winter is severe, and the summer joy is very short, have you forgotten the art of bearing your trials?
‘Oh Gosta, a man must bear all that life gives him with a courageous heart and a smile on his lips, else he is no man. Sorrow as much as you will. If you love your beloved, let your conscience burn and chafe within you, but show yourself a man and a Varmlander. Let your glances beam with joy, and meet your friends with a gay word on your lips! Life and nature are hard. They bring forth courage and joy as a counterweight against their own hardness, or no one could endure them.’”
“We are the poem’s ancient band of twelve that proceeds through the ages. There were twelve of us, when we ruled the world on the cloud-covered top of Olympus, and twelve when we lived as birds in Ygdrasil’s green crown. Wherever poetry went forth, there we followed. Did we not sit, twelve men strong, at King Arthur’s round table, and did twelve paladins not go in Charles the Twelfth’s great army? On of us has been Thor, another Jupiter, as any man should be able to see in us yet today. The divine splendor can be sensed under the rags, the lion’s mane under the donkey hide. Time has treated us badly, but when we are there, the smithy becomes Mount Olympus and the cavalier’s wing a Valhalla.”
Australian Art – Part II of II: Crispin Akerman
Artist Statement: “Many of the works have as their central focus the flowers and leaves of plant species native to the South West of Western Australia. Other objects in the paintings are historical, sculptural, or organic in form, and are arranged over underlying geometries, with the space between as important as the objects depicted. The work is realistic not photographic. The unresolved sections add drama to the work, and heighten the focus of the paintings – the arrangement of objects and the elements of local history and the natural environment.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Edward Hopper’s ‘Office at Night,’”
By Victoria Chang
The boss is sitting at the desk the boss doesn’t look
at her the boss is waiting for the black telephone
to ring she also waits for a ring from the boss he is
waiting for the files from her
her blue dress like a reused file folder around
her body her hands tight around the files
the filing cabinet might eat her might take her hand off
the boss might eat her the boss
wants her but the boss wants money more just a little bit
more the boss always seems to want
the money a bit more the boss doesn’t hear
there are taxis outside waiting
for all the women down on the street across the street
a boss prepares for bed another boss above him
in apartment X rotates a Q-tip in his ear before sex
despite instructions on the box we took
my father out of the paper the living will the letters
with their little capes will leave the paper
who will take care of my children later who will take care
of my father the will will take care
of no one a piece of paper cannot take care of anyone I
cannot take care of everyone on some nights
I wake in a panic and can’t tell if I am dead or alive
this year I dye my hair so I won’t have to die
Below – Edward Hopper: “Office at Night”
American Art – Part II of III: Jonathan Jungsuk Ahn
In the words of one art historian, Korean-born American painter Jonathan Jungsuk Ahn (born 1977) “particularly enjoys portraiture and other figurative works. He currently resides in San Francisco, where he divides his time between painting, studying, teaching and doting on his niece, Eloise.”
Nobel Laureates – Part II of II: Nadine Gordimer
“Truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is.” – Nadine Gordimer, South African writer, political activist, author of “July’s People,” and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature as a writer “who through her magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity,” who was born 20 November 1923.
Some quotes from the work of Nadine Gordimer:
“With an understanding of Shakespeare there comes a release from the gullibility that makes you prey to the great shopkeeper who runs the world, and would sell you cheap to illusion.”
“What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there’s another force from inside battling to make us something else.”
“Books don’t need batteries.”
“The facts are always less than what really happened.”
“Everyone ends up moving alone towards the self.”
“Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.”
“My answer is: Recognize yourself in others.”
“It’s easier for the former masters to put aside the masks that hid their humanity than for the former slaves to recognise the faces underneath. Or to trust that this is not a new mask these are wearing.”
“Sincerity is never having an idea of oneself.”
From the American History Archives: Seizure of Alcatraz
20 November 1969 – Native American activists (Indians of All Tribes – IAT) seize control of Alcatraz Island. The occupation lasted until 11 July 1971, when it was forcibly ended by the U.S. government.
“California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.” – Don DeLillo, American essayist, novelist, short story writer, playwright, and author of “White Noise,” who was born 20 November 1936.
Some quotes from the work of Don DeLillo:
“Writers must oppose systems. It’s important to write against power, corporations, the state, and the whole system of consumption and of debilitating entertainments…I think writers, by nature, must oppose things, oppose whatever power tries to impose on us.”
“The future belongs to crowds.”
“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?”
“No sense of the irony of human experience, that we are the highest form of life on earth, and yet ineffably sad because we know what no other animal knows, that we must die.”
“Sometimes I see something so moving I know I’m not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.”
“If you reveal everything, bare every feeling, ask for understanding, you lose something crucial to your sense of yourself. You need to know things that others don’t know. It’s what no one knows about you that allows you to know yourself.”
“The power of the dead is that we think they see us all the time. The dead have a presence. Is there a level of energy composed solely of the dead? They are also in the ground, of course, asleep and crumbling. Perhaps we are what they dream.”
“There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist?”
“The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation. There must be something in family life that generates factual error. Over-closeness, the noise and heat of being. Perhaps even something deeper like the need to survive. Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into things, the looser our structure may seem to become. The family process works towards sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. I tell Murray that ignorance and confusion can’t possibly be the driving forces behind family solidarity. What an idea, what a subversion. He asks me why the strongest family units exist in the least developed societies. Not to know is a weapon of survival, he says. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted. What a heartless theory, I say. But Murray insists it’s true.”
“Facts are lonely things”
“All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots. ”
“Fear is unnatural. Lightning and thunder are unnatural. Pain, death, reality, these are all unnatural. We can’t bear these things as they are. We know too much. So we resort to repression, compromise and disguise. This is how we survive the universe. This is the natural language of the species.”
“Before pop art, there was such a thing as bad taste. Now there’s kitsch, schlock, camp, and porn.”
“What good is knowledge if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. It changes and grows every second of every day. But nobody actually knows anything.”
“It was important for him to believe that he’d spent his life among people who kept missing the point.”
“These are the days after. Everything now is measured by after.”
“The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear.”
The Way of Things
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu
Below – A waterfall in Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas; Lake Fayetteville Dam, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Boulder Creek, Boulder, Colorado; Tanana River, Fairbanks, Alaska; Charles River, Boston, Massachusetts; Big River, Mendocino, California.
A Third Poem for Today
“Slowly autumn comes to an end. . .”
By Tao Ch’ien (365-427)
Slowly autumn comes to an end.
Painfully cold a dawn wind thickens the dew.
Grass round here will not be green again,
Trees and leaves are already suffering.
The clear air is drained and purified
And the high white sky’s a mystery.
Nothing’s left of the cicada’s sound.
Flying geese break the heavens’ silence.
The Myriad Creatures rise and return.
How can life and death not be hard?
From the beginning all things have to die.
Thinking of it can bruise the heart.
What can I do to lighten my thoughts?
Solace myself drinking the last of this wine.
Who understands the next thousand years?
Let’s just make this morning last forever.
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Jack Kerouac
on the Cliffside
Nodding at the canyon
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Below – Autumn at Walden Pond.
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Falling Leaves and Early Snow,”
By Kenneth Rexroth
In the years to come they will say,
“They fell like the leaves
In the autumn of nineteen thirty-nine.”
November has come to the forest,
To the meadows where we picked the cyclamen.
The year fades with the white frost
On the brown sedge in the hazy meadows,
Where the deer tracks were black in the morning.
Ice forms in the shadows;
Disheveled maples hang over the water;
Deep gold sunlight glistens on the shrunken stream.
Somnolent trout move through pillars of brown and gold.
The yellow maple leaves eddy above them,
The glittering leaves of the cottonwood,
The olive, velvety alder leaves,
The scarlet dogwood leaves,
Most poignant of all.
In the afternoon thin blades of cloud
Move over the mountains;
The storm clouds follow them;
Fine rain falls without wind.
The forest is filled with wet resonant silence.
When the rain pauses the clouds
Cling to the cliffs and the waterfalls.
In the evening the wind changes;
Snow falls in the sunset.
We stand in the snowy twilight
And watch the moon rise in a breach of cloud.
Between the black pines lie narrow bands of moonlight,
Glimmering with floating snow.
An owl cries in the sifting darkness.
The moon has a sheen like a glacier.
American Art – Part III of III: Ian Strawn
Artist Statement: ”I am a people watcher. I revel in catching momentary glimpses of old men behind me in the checkout line, or catch sight of the girl with the rather striking eyebrows on the other side of the bookstore. Somewhere in the clockwork of my soul there is a drive to know something of the people around me. Not to talk to them, or approach them, or learn any concrete fact about them, but to read their faces, to catalogue them, to glean what I can from the short moment that I can steal a glance.
Recently, my work has mirrored this same passion. In it, I am describing people as if at that glance. The scene is not wholly realized. Settings, clothes, and objects are often abridged or discarded. But what remains is that which satiates my desire to know them. Something is there that speaks to me of who they are, what they want, and what their relationship is to me. It is what is left when nothing more is wanted.”
Artist Statement: “What is art for the viewer but a catalyst for inspiration? I want to make work which inspires and engages the viewer in what I truly believe is important and what drives me. I believe in space exploration and the pursuit of technology as a vehicle to the future. There will be bumps along the way, because we are flawed. Some advanced technology will be used irresponsibly or simply for evil. However, the progression of science and technology also represents the evolution of our species. We are the first species just smart enough to evolve ourselves outside of natural selection and Darwinian evolution. Do we need to be smarter? Yes. But we don’t have to wait millions of years to get there naturally. We can do that through our ingenuity. Creating a body of work that can open a dialog about these ideas is what I am working towards with my art.”
“A family is a mystery.” – Sharon Olds, American poet and recipient of the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award (for “The Dead and the Living”) and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “Stag’s Leap”), who was born 19 November 1942.
“I Go Back to May 1937”
I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks,
the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips aglow in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it—she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you have not heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips, like chips of flint, as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.
Israeli ceramicist Ronit Baranga (born 1973) studied Art History in Tel-Aviv University and Practical Arts at the Art School of Bet-Berl College.
A Poem for Today
“I build my cottage . . .,”
By Tao Yuan Ming (365-427)
I built my cottage among the habitations of men,
And yet there is no clamor of carriages and horses.
You ask: “Sir, how can this be done?”
“A heart that is distant creates its own solitude.”
I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge,
Then gaze afar towards the southern hills.
The mountain air is fresh at the dusk of day;
The flying birds in flocks return.
In these things there lies a deep meaning;
I want to tell it, but have forgotten the words.
Below – Ma Yuan: “An Official Strolling on a Path in Spring”
Polish Art – Part I of II: Jarek Wojcik
Jarek Wojcik earned a Masters Degree in Medieval Mural Art from the University of Poznan.
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: The Gettysburg Address
19 November 1863 – President Abraham Lincoln delivers his address in Gettysburg.
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
Below – The only confirmed photo of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, some three hours before the speech.
Polish Art – Part II of II: Agnieszka Kozien
Agnieszka Kozien studied art in the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow.
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: The Golden Gate Park Conservatory
19 November 1971 – The Golden Gate Park Conservatory becomes a California State Historical Landmark.
American Art – Part II of III: Natalie Italiano
Natalie Italiano studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Moore College of Art, and Studio Incamminati.
Died 19 November 1887 – Emma Lazarus, an American poet best known for being the author of “The New Colossus,” a sonnet that appears on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
“The New Colossus”
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Died 19 November 1949 – James Ensor, a Flemish painter and printmaker who had an important influence on expressionism and surrealism.
Below – “The Rower”; “Intrigue”; “Portrait of the Artist Surrounded by Masks.”; “Still Life with Fish and Shells”; “Still Life with Chinoiseries.”
19 November 1850 – Alfred Tennyson becomes Poet Laureate, succeeding William Wordsworth. He held the position until his death in 1892, by far the longest tenure of any Laureate before or since.
Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea,
Thy tribute wave deliver:
No more by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.
Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea,
A rivulet then a river:
Nowhere by thee my steps shall be
For ever and for ever.
But here will sigh thine alder tree
And here thine aspen shiver;
And here by thee will hum the bee,
For ever and for ever.
A thousand suns will stream on thee,
A thousand moons will quiver;
But not by thee my steps shall be,
For ever and for ever.
A Second Poem for Today
By Sharon Olds
Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.
Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber – servants, half-
Listening for the bell.
Sometimes I see them lying like love letters
In the Dead Letter Office
And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.
Below – Thomas Alexander Harrison: “Child by the Sea”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Iranian painter Fereshteh Salehi: “In her works she tells her stories with lines and colors in a plain and poetic manner.
Like Icons, her works portray simplicity, care and hope. They bring to mind all the mystery of what Arabic literary critics call ‘al-sahl al-mumtana’ – a simplicity that is impossible to imitate/explain.
She uses miniature elements and fresco techniques, which results nostalgic idealized paintings, that evokes people feelings of recognition, nostalgia, and love.
Her youth and roots in the ancient Persia, her school and her struggle with the classic views within the European art-world turn out to be an unsuspected source of dreams images.
It is no coincidence that the hands and eyes play such a big part in her works. They form the border and the distinction between inside and outside- between ourselves and the world-between past, present, future.
The humane individual does not approach nature as something that is ‘matter’ but respects it as another self! So the flowers, birds and fishes are magnified in her works to enable the viewer to appreciate the delicate beauty of each blossom and incidentally, her loving care in portraying them.”
Died 19 November 1931 – Xu Zhimo, a Chinese poet.
I am a cloud in the sky,
A chance shadow on the wave of your heart.
Don’t be surprised,
Or too elated;
In an instant I shall vanish without trace.
We meet on the sea of dark night,
You on your way, I on mine.
Remember if you will,
Or, better still, forget
The light exchanged in this encounter.
Iris Frederix (born 1981) is a Dutch painter. According to one critic, “Human drama and comedy are the primary source of inspiration for her work. The urge to submerge herself thoroughly into her chosen subject usually results in a series of particular works. Large canvasses, clear colours or atmospheric pictures; the centre of attention is always the human being or his palpable presence.”
“Serious poetry deals with the fundamental conflicts that cannot be logically resolved: we can state the conflicts rationally, but reason does not relieve us of them.” – Allen Tate, American poet, essayist, and social commentator, who was born 19 November 1899.
When you are come by ways emptied of light
You’ll say goodbye, in that indifferent gloom,
To the quick draughts of old, yet with polite
Anguish of pride recall as an heirloom
A dawn when stars dropped gold about your head
And, so amazed, you knew not were you dead.
For, brother, know that this is art, and you
With a cold incautious sorrow stricken dumb,
Have your own vanishing slit of light let through,
Passionate as winter, where only a few may come:
Not idiots in the street find out the lees
In the last drink of dying Socrates.
A Third Poem for Today
“Confessions of a Bird Watcher,”
By Chard Deniord
The windows are dressed in feathers where the birds have flown against
then fallen below into the flowers where their bodies lie grounded, still,
slowly disappearing each day until all that is left are their narrow,
I have sat at my window now for years and watched a hundred birds
mistake the glass for air and break their necks, wondering what to do,
how else to live among them and keep my view.
Not to mention the sight of them at the feeder in the morning,
especially the cardinal in snow.
What sign to post on the sill that says, “Warning, large glass window.
Fatal if struck. Fly around or above but not away.
There are seeds in the feeder and water in the bath.
I need you, which is to say, I’m sorry for my genius as the creature inside
who attracts you with seeds and watches you die against the window
I’ve built with the knowledge of its danger to you.
With a heart that rejects its reasons in favor of keeping what it wants:
the sight of you, the sight of you.
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Australian painter Amber Koroluk-Stephenson: “(Her) current practice draws directly from her day-to-day experience within the Tasmanian suburban landscape. She seeks out points of tension within these environments in an effort to deconstruct the idealised images of suburbia seen in Australian popular culture. As a voyeur exploring the homes of others, Koroluk-Stephenson engages in a dialogue that pushes the boundaries between public and private space. This tension is transposed into her work as the saturated colours and shifting pictorial planes subtly obscure realistic representations of these familiar yet strange environments. Her paintings present an ambiguous instability, highlighting cracks within the suburban facade.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Design for November,”
By William Carlos Williams
Let confusion be the design
and all my thoughts go,
swallowed by desire: recess
from promises in
the November of your arms.
Release from the rose: broken
through which, from easy
branches that mock the blood
a few leaves fall.
There the mind is cradled,
stripped also and returned
to the ground, a trivial
and momentary clatter. Sleep
and be brought down, and so
condone the world, eased of
the jagged sky and all
its petty imageries, flying
birds, its fogs and windy
phalanxes . . .
American Art – Part III of III: James Neil Hollingsworth
Artist Statement: “It’s been said that most people will have three major careers in their life. I’m now into my fourth. Following a tour in the military in the early 70’s I worked a number of day jobs, and went to school at night. No real direction, just testing the water. It was during this period that I discovered soaring, and spent most of my summer weekends flying sailplanes. The lure of aviation became so strong that I decided to put the academic world on hold, and entered technical school. Two years later I was a licensed aircraft mechanic. Aviation was an all-consuming passion for me, but between working on aircraft, flying and a short lived affair with skydiving, I still found the time to paint an occasional watercolor, or illuminate a letter to a friend. Following a particularly cold winter in an unheated hanger, I found myself tempted to change careers when the father of a friend who owned a graphic design business offered me a job as a paste up artist. I decided to mothball my tools, and two weeks later I was working as an ‘artist.’ A couple of years down the line I left to become a partner in a typesetting/graphic design shop with a close friend of mine. That lasted for nearly eight years. The growing popularity of desktop publishing had begun to take a large bite out of our business, so sadly we agreed to close our shop. After that I worked for a number of design firms on a salaried, and freelance basis. I also worked for two years as a book designer, and illustrator for a small publishing company. Ready to leave the freelance world for a stable job with a regular paycheck I decided to follow in the footsteps of my wife Karen, who at the time was working as a registered nurse. Two years of nursing school later, so was I. My nursing career started in the emergency room, and later I moved to the operating room. This lasted nearly a decade. Then one day some friends of ours told Karen and I how they had begun to sell their artwork on the Internet. I gave it a try, and found they were right. I spent the next year working days in the OR, and painting nights, and on weekends. At the close of that year the sales of my art were such that I felt confident enough to take the leap, and left nursing to paint full-time. That was the end of 2005. Currently I am represented by a number of fine galleries, and have my work in private collections throughout the United States, parts of Europe, and Asia.”
In the words of one writer, “Wanda Choate has exhibited in many shows and received top honors, including OPA Awards of Excellence in 06, 07, 08, Best of Show in the Central South. She is a Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America, and American Woman Artists. She continues to create still-life, figurative and landscape works from her studio, in Springfield Tennessee.”
A Poem for Today
By Thomas Hood
No sun—no moon!
No morn—no noon—
No sky—no earthly view—
No distance looking blue—
No road—no street—no “t’other side the way”—
No end to any Row—
No indications where the Crescents go—
No top to any steeple—
No recognitions of familiar people—
No courtesies for showing ‘em—
No knowing ‘em!
No traveling at all—no locomotion,
No inkling of the way—no notion—
“No go”—by land or ocean—
No mail—no post—
No news from any foreign coast—
No park—no ring—no afternoon gentility—
No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds –
Below – George Pauwels: “Foggy Day in November”
“Romance takes place in the middle distance. Romance is looking in at yourself through a window clouded with dew. Romance means leaving things out: where life grunts and shuffles, romance only sighs.” – Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, environmental activist, and author of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” who was born 18 November 1939.
Some quotes from the work of Margaret Atwood:
“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It’s like the tide going out, revealing whatever’s been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.”
“War is what happens when language fails.”
“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”
“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance; you have to work at it.”
“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”
“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”
“When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You’re your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too—leave them behind. You don’t yet know about the habit they have, of coming back.
Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.”
“If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year’s beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener’s calendar. This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect. People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better, and take even a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth.” – Vita Sackville-West
A Second Poem for Today
By Sandra Lee
From canvas cloth enchantments call,
brushed crimson black and brown.
Fairytale fames November fall,
coconut creamy crown.
The morning sun wets on wet pink,
it calms magenta peeks of wink,
the morning sun
the morning sun,
firing up sugar dreams of ink.
Wood-smoke perfumes a fiery frame,
Romantic rainbow tints of flame,
sable reddened foils.
Strokes of autumn on linen sketch,
thy golden sculpts of lemon etch,
strokes of autumn
strokes of autumn,
o’er keen horizon’s amber stretch.
Warm mosaic sunrise swatches,
dark cobalt’s out to light.
Purple plums and stardust blotches,
with ochres blended bright.
Thy falling leaves of sleepy sap,
dancing before white winter’s nap,
thy falling leaves
thy falling leaves,
oh graceful daubs of brushes snap.
In the words of one critic, “Ricardo Martínez de Hoyos (1918-2009) was a Mexican painter noted for his figurative work on unreal atmospheres.”
“an axiom of sorcery: If you come to know yourself
no one else can know you” – Rodney Hall, Australian author and poet, who was born 18 November 1935.
[“An Ancient Tree Exploding in the Night”]
An Ancient Tree Exploding in the Night:
the crack of centuries disturbs a neighborhood of sleep
a treasurehouse of daylight bursts apart
leaves flaring instant as a school of fish caught
in one brief blade of sun – a single
bodyshape of heat drawing the active dark together
as a sigh
– while here you lie
inert beneath light’s nervous fingers
Below – Beth Moon: A Photograph from the series “Diamond Nights”
American Art – Part II of V: Gail Pidduck
”As an art student in Utah I often wished that I could show the California I knew to fellow students. California to them was urban, Los Angeles or the Bay Area. To me it was fields of zinnias or corn on foggy summer mornings. I now have the opportunity to paint my California. It is my desire to have my paintings help viewers see the importance of our rural treasure and the people who work within it.”
“Across the border on the far island,
You stepped into the waters with me
And when you disrobed you lit the stars
And the stars and my eyes kissed your skin
Your slender legs, columns, tilting
Toward heaven, in the age of Helen,
Touched the water and the sky.
I saw the milky way that night.” – From “Sineann,” by Sean Mac Falls, Irish poet, who was born 18 November 1957.
“I Hear All The Outlawed World”
I hear all the outlawed world in harmony,
The marshling stalks the green and gaunt
Destroyers who heed not sparkling deserts
Charged to the gill, nor candles pitching down
Like doom. I note the scale of fossils
In cloud covered peaks, record
The seemly count of bodies by square root
And irrational number, I am witness
Bound to bounty to all who blaze in gray
And shallow grooves seeding their ends
In strikes on the ripe and smoldering fields.
I see all the outlawed world in harmony,
Barking wood bracing by the bud,
Where runs of blue, bury in vain
Down slash of mountain forest, cascading
Into august, rising after the fall,
As do kind-killers blasting from shells
To die as snails creeping under flower,
Who saw the past wasting away
In filed futures, slipping by blades in neck
Of wood, sightless as gallows of trees
Try murder each time they make their leaves.
I know all the outlawed world in harmony,
By seamless song of stuttering gulls,
As in conches, waves of providence,
Cell from the center, beating musseled shoals,
Where wailing ghosts and wing-tips point
Printed nails to the silent capes,
And bumble hairs comb round the broken yokes
Stirring streams of babble baited
By flowering psalms, engaging arms to prey
On tales told by the rood and drown
In eyes turning like sands on the sea.
Russian painter Maria Kholmogorova (born 1973) graduated from both the Vladivostok Art School and the Far Eastern State University of Arts, Vladivostok.
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Hank Ballard
Born 18 November 1927 – Hank Ballard, an American singer-songwriter and member of The Midnighters.
From the Art Archives: Louis-Jacques Daguerre
Born 18 November 1787 – Louis-Jacques Daguerre, a French artist, physicist, and inventor of the daguerreotype process of photography.
Below – Louis-Jacques Daguerre; “Boulevard du Temple,” taken by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris, includes the earliest known candid photograph of a person. The image shows a street, but because of the over ten-minute exposure time the moving traffic does not appear. At the lower left, however, a man apparently having his boots polished, and the bootblack polishing them, were motionless enough for their images to be captured.
A Third Poem for Today
“Shoveling Snow With Buddha,”
By Billy Collins
In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.
Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.
Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?
But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.
This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.
He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.
All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.
After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?
Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.
Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Danny Whitten
Died 18 November 1972 – Danny Whitten, an American singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for his work with Neil Young’s backing band Crazy Horse.
From the Family Values Archives: William Tell
18 November 1307 – William Tell shoots an apple off his son’s head,
I wish that I could have an opportunity to demonstrate my marksmanship in this challenging way. It fact, I wish that I could have three opportunities.
Below – William Tell’s apple-shot as depicted in Sebastian Munster’s “Cosmographia” (1554); my three targets – I mean my three wonderful sons, whose nicknames are Winesap, Macintosh, and Bullseye.
American Art – Part III of V: Man Ray
Died 18 November 1976 – Man Ray, an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris.
Below – “Promenade”; “The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows”: “Ridgefield Landscape”; “Fire Escapes and Umbrellas”; “Female Nude with Hoops”; “Self-Portrait as Fashion Photograper.”
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Johann Sebastian Bach
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust, French novelist, critic, essayist, and author of the multi-volume “In Search of Lost Time,” who died on 18 November 1922.
Some quotes from Marcel Proust:
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
“Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”
“A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.”
“Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces.”
“Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.”
“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”
“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.”
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”
“If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”
“As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.”
“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.”
“It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body.”
“Love is space and time measured by the heart.”
“It is not because other people are dead that our affection for them grows faint, it is because we ourselves are dying.”
“In theory one is aware that the earth revolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can live undisturbed. So it is with Time in one’s life.”
“It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions.”
“Let us leave pretty women to men devoid of imagination.”
“The only paradise is paradise lost.”
“We are able to find everything in our memory, which is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory in which chance steers our hand sometimes to a soothing drug and sometimes to a dangerous poison.”
“Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible.”
“Lies are essential to humanity. They are perhaps as important as the pursuit of pleasure and moreover are dictated by that pursuit.”
“The bonds that unite another person to our self exist only in our mind.”
“The charms of the passing woman are generally in direct proportion to the swiftness of her passing.”
“We become moral when we are unhappy.
“Your soul is a dark forest. But the trees are of a particular species, they are genealogical trees.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Molly Peacock
What if we got outside ourselves and there
really was an outside out there, not just
our insides turned inside out? What if there
really were a you beyond me, not just
the waves off my own fire, like those waves off
the backyard grill you can see the next yard through,
though not well — just enough to know that off
to the right belongs to someone else, not you.
What if, when we said I love you, there were
a you to love as there is a yard beyond
to walk past the grill and get to? To endure
the endless walk through the self, knowing through a bond
that has no basis (for ourselves are all we know)
is altruism: not giving, but coming to know
someone is there through the wavy vision
of the self’s heat, love become a decision.
“I am one of those unfortunates to whom death is less hideous than explanations.” – Wyndham Lewis, English painter and author, who was born 18 November 1882.
Snow would be the easy
way out—that softening
sky like a sigh of relief
at finally being allowed
to yield. No dice.
We stack twigs for burning
in glistening patches
but the rain won’t give.
So we wait, breeding
mood, making music
of decline. We sit down
in the smell of the past
and rise in a light
that is already leaving.
We ache in secret,
a gloomy line
or two of German.
When spring comes
we promise to act
the fool. Pour,
rain! Sail, wind,
with your cargo of zithers!
“How fragile we are under the sheltering sky. Behind the sheltering sky is a vast dark universe, and we’re just so small.” – Paul Bowles, an American expatriate composer, writer, translator, and author of “The Sheltering Sky” (1949), set in what was known as French North Africa, who died 18 November 1999.
According to one historian, “In 1947 Bowles settled in Tangier, Morocco, and his wife, Jane Bowles followed in 1948. Except for winters spent in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) during the early 1950s, Tangier was his home for the remaining 52 years of his life.”
Some quotes from the work of Paul Bowles:
“I’ve always wanted to get as far as possible from the place where I was born. Far both geographically and spiritually. To leave it behind … I feel that life is very short and the world is there to see and one should know as much about it as possible. One belongs to the whole world, not just one part of it.”
“Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveler belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another. Indeed, he would have found it difficult to tell, among the many places he had lived, precisely where it was he had felt most at home.”
“Another important difference between tourist and traveler is that the former accepts his own civilization without question; not so the traveler, who compares it with the others, and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking.”
“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
“Security is a false God. Begin to make sacrifices to it and you are lost.”
“The soul is the weariest part of the body.”
“Immediately when you arrive in Sahara, for the first or the tenth time, you notice the stillness. An incredible, absolute silence prevails outside the towns; and within, even in busy places like the markets, there is a hushed quality in the air, as if the quiet were a conscious force which, resenting the intrusion of sound, minimizes and disperses sound straightaway. Then there is the sky, compared to which all other skies seem fainthearted efforts. Solid and luminous, it is always the focal point of the landscape. At sunset, the precise, curved shadow of the earth rises into it swiftly from the horizon, cutting into light section and dark section. When all daylight is gone, and the space is thick with stars, it is still of an intense and burning blue, darkest directly overhead and paling toward the earth, so that the night never really goes dark.
You leave the gate of the fort or town behind, pass the camels lying outside, go up into the dunes, or out onto the hard, stony plain and stand awhile alone. Presently, you will either shiver and hurry back inside the walls, or you will go on standing there and let something very peculiar happen to you, something that everyone who lives there has undergone and which the French call ‘le bapteme de solitude.’ It is a unique sensation, and it has nothing to do with loneliness, for loneliness presupposes memory. Here in this wholly mineral landscape lighted by stars like flares, even memory disappears…A strange, and by no means pleasant, process of reintegration begins inside you, and you have the choice of fighting against it, and insisting on remaining the person you have always been, or letting it take its course. For no one who has stayed in the Sahara for a while is quite the same as when he came.
…Perhaps the logical question to ask at this point is: Why go? The answer is that when a man has been there and undergone the baptism of solitude he can’t help himself. Once he has been under the spell of the vast luminous, silent country, no other place is quite strong enough for him, no other surroundings can provide the supremely satisfying sensation of existing in the midst of something that is absolute. He will go back, whatever the cost in time or money, for the absolute has no price.”
“Everyone is isolated from everyone else. The concept of society is like a cushion to protect us from the knowledge of that isolation. A fiction that serves as an anesthetic.”
“‘When I was young … Before I was twenty, I mean, I used to think that life was a thing that kept gaining impetus, it would get richer and deeper each year. You kept learning more, getting wiser, having more insight, going further into the truth’ – she hesitated.
Port laughed abruptly. – ‘And now you know it’s not like that. Right? It’s more like smoking a cigarette. The first few puffs it tasted wonderful, and you don’t even think of its ever being used up. Then you begin taking it for granted. Suddenly you realize it’s nearly burned down to the end. And then’s when you’re conscious of the bitter taste.’”
“The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it’s having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Ricardo Reis
(Translated by Edouard Roditi)
Of the gardens of Adonis, Lydia, I love
Most of all those fugitive roses
That on the day they are born,
That very day, must also die.
Eternal, for them, the light of day:
They’re born when the sun is already high
And die before Apollo’s course
Across the visible sky is run.
We too, of our lives, must make one day:
We never know, my Lydia, nor want
To know of nights before or after
The little while that we may last.
Below – John Dickson Batten: “The Garden of Adonis – Amoretta and Time” (1887)
American Art – Part IV of V: Francys Flanagan
In the words of one writer, “Francys Flanagan is a painter who is driven by a passion for self-expression through art. Her works are often noted for their unique style, elegance and technique. Francys paints with a style that blends precise realism with impressionism. Her use of vibrant colors and soft edges make her work an excellent choice for a wide range of projects and purposes.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Ricardo Reis
(Translated by Edouard Roditi)
To be great, be whole: nothing that’s you
Should you exaggerate or exclude.
In each thing, be all. Give all you are
In the least you ever do.
The whole moon, because it rides so high,
Is reflected in each pool.
Below – Maria Gamundi: “Selene” (marble sculpture)
American Art – Part V of V: Deborah Brown
Artist Statement: “I am interested in the visible world and how we view it through the lens of our culture. My subjects have included urban and pastoral landscapes, birds, flowers, undersea environments, and dogs that I have cared for as a volunteer in a shelter. I have painted ambiguous encounters between animals and humans that result from the collision of the natural world with our technological conquest.”
Artist statement: “I seek to capture the subtle details in my paintings – like the delicate weave of a bird’s nest or the curious look of a fledgling bird – things that might otherwise go unnoticed. My paintings feature birds and animals that are in my local environment and through my paintings I hope to make people more aware of the environment around them.”
A Poem for Today
“Later Autumn Song,”
By Edward Dowden
This is the year’s despair: some wind last night
Utter’d too soon the irrevocable word,
And the leaves heard it, and the low clouds heard;
So a wan morning dawn’d of sterile light;
Flowers droop’d, or show’d a startled face and white;
The cattle cower’d, and one disconsolate bird
Chirp’d a weak note; last came this mist and blurr’d
The hills, and fed upon the fields like blight.
Ah, why so swift despair! There yet will be
Warm noons, the honey’d leavings of the year,
Hours of rich musing, ripest autumn’s core,
And late-heap’d fruit, and falling hedge-berry,
Blossoms in cottage-crofts, and yet, once more,
A song, not less than June’s, fervent and clear.
From the Music Archives: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
17 November 1876 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s patriotic Slavonic March premieres in Moscow.
A Second Poem for Today
“November Through a Giant Copper Beech,”
By Edwin Honig
This almost bare tree is racing
taut in the wind, leaves flaring,
jet fire fed by a hurrying
keen whistling bird, against
hundred-limbed elephant branches,
steadied in wrinkled gray molten
wrapped tight to stay where it is.
Think of sheer endlessness, beauty
patient in form, forever
uncrumbled between time’s nickering
teeth — oh brutal necessity!
Think of the still and the flowing —
Heraclitus’s ‘everything passes,’
the one-eyed conviction against
the rockheaded ‘everything dozes.’
On this bleary white afternoon,
are there fires lip up in heaven
against such faking of quickness
and light, such windy discoursing?
While November numbly collapses,
this beech tree, heavy as death
on the lawn, braces for throat-
cutting ice, bandaging snow.
Vala Ola is a contemporary Icelandic sculptor and painter whose work has won many awards. She has lived and worked in the United States since 1994.
The barnacle is rather odd —
It’s not related to the clam
Or limpet. It’s an arthropod,
Though one that doesn’t give a damn.
Cousin to the crab and shrimp,
When larval, it can twitch and swim,
And make decisions — tiny imp
That flits according to its whim.
Once grown, with nothing more to prove
It hunkers down, and will remain
Stuck fast. And once it does not move,
Has no more purpose for a brain.
Its one boast is, it will not budge,
Cemented where it chanced to sink,
Sclerotic, stubborn as a grudge.
Settled, it does not need to think.
Born 17 November 1921 – Albert Bertelsen, a Dutch artist known for his landscape paintings and portraits of people he met as a boy and whom he attempted to paint as though seen through a child’s eyes.
From the Movie Archives: Peter Cook
“Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam.” – Peter Cook, English actor, satirist, writer and comedian, who was born 17 November 1937, portraying the “Impressive Clergyman” in “The Princess Bride.”
From the American Old West: Fort Buchanan
17 November 1856 – The United States Army establishes Fort Buchanan on the Sonoita River in present-day southern Arizona, in order to help control new land acquired in the Gadsen Purchase.
Below – The ruins of fort Buchanan in 1914.
American Art – Part II of III: Isamu Noguchi
Born 17 November 1904 – Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American artist, sculptor, and landscape architect.
Below – “Leda”; “Portrait of My Uncle”; “Lunar Infant”; “The Kiss”; “Remembrance”; “Strange Bird.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Self and Dream Self,”
By Les Murray
Routines of decaying time
fade, and your waking life
gets laborious as science.
You huddle in, becoming
the deathless younger self
who will survive your dreams
and vanish in surviving.
Dream brings on its story
at the pace of drift
in twilight, sunless color,
its settings are believed,
a library of wood shingles,
plain mythic furniture
vivid drone of talk,
yet few loves return:
trysts seem unkeepable.
Urgencies from your time
join with the browner suits
walking those arcades with you
but then you are apart,
aghast, beside the numberless
defiling down steep fence
into an imminence —
as in the ancient burrow
you, with an ever-changing cast,
survive deciding episodes
till you are dismissed
and a restart of tense
summons your waking size
out through shreds of story.
Below – Jackson Pollock: “Portrait and a Dream”
In the words of one critic, Dutch painter Joke Frima (born 1952) “attended two art schools in The Netherlands, but had to go to Florence to find the kind of training she was looking for.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Patricia Traxler
When it snows, he stands
at the back door or wanders
around the house to each
window in turn and
watches the weather
like a lover. O farm boy,
I waited years
for you to look at me
that way. Now we’re old
enough to stop waiting
for random looks or touches
or words, so I find myself
watching you watching
the weather, and we wait
together to discover
whatever the sky might bring.
In the words of one writer, “Mark Lang was born in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada in 1966. He now lives in Montreal, where he and his wife have raised a family. He was educated at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, and The School of Visual Arts in New York City, and received scholarships and awards at both institutions.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“Rock and Hawk,”
By Robinson Jeffers
Here is a symbol in which
Many high tragic thoughts
Watch their own eyes.
This gray rock, standing tall
On the headland, where the seawind
Lets no tree grow,
Earthquake-proved, and signatured
By ages of storms: on its peak
A falcon has perched.
I think, here is your emblem,
To hang in the future sky;
Not the cross, not the hive,
But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final
Life with calm death; the falcon’s
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive
Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.
Below – Robinson Jeffers looking seaward from atop Hawk Tower, which he built on his property with local stones.
American Art – Part III of III: Lisa Lindholm
In the words of one critic, “Lisa Lindholm lives and works in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas. She completed studies in computer visualization at Texas A&M University in 2000. After serving time in assorted cubicles in assorted large corporations making computers do assorted things, she leapt into life as a full-time artist in 2005. Lindholm currently works as a painter, graphic designer, and proprietor of FreeLisa Designs and Banner Theory. Her current series of works deals with the relationships between an organic and natural existence with a created and imagined presence.”
Matthew Davey has studied art at both Purdue University and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
A Poem for Today
By Billy Collins
There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.
The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the ﬂoor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.
The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.
The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.
And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night
like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.
Below – Gerald Schwartz: “Beauty of Silence”
Iranian painter Shahrzad Hazrati (born 1957) studied art at the Polytechnic University in Tehran, the Fine Arts Department of Tehran University, and the Fine Arts Department of Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul.
A Second Poem for Today
By Margaret Widdemer
I have known great gold Sorrows:
Majestic Griefs shall serve me watchfully
Through the slow-pacing morrows:
I have knelt hopeless where sea-echoing
Dim endless voices cried of suffering
Vibrant and far in broken litany:
Where white magnolia and tuberose hauntingly
Pulsed their regretful sweets along the air-—
All things most tragical, most fair,
Have still encompassed me . . .
I dance where in the screaming market-place
The dusty world that watches buys and sells,
With painted merriment upon my face,
Whirling my bells,
Thrusting my sad soul to its mockery.
I have known great gold Sorrows . . .
Shall they not mock me, these pain-haunted ones,
If it shall make them merry, and forget
That grief shall rise and set
With the unchanging, unforgetting suns
Of their relentless morrows?
Below – Jan Matejko: “Stanczyk”
In the words of one critic, British painter Jake Baddeley “draws his inspirations from many sources: the Ancient Greeks, the Italian Renaissance Masters, the Dutch Masters, iconography, mythology, psychology and philosophy. But most of all he relies on his own subconscious and intuition which has proven many times to have a logic and curious independence of its own.”
From the Psychedelic History Archives: Dr. Albert Hofmann
16 November 1938 – Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann synthesizes lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) for the first time at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.
Below – Robert Venosa: “Portrait of Albert Hofmann”
Polish painter Tomasz Kostecki (born 1964) was trained at the School of Arts in Zakopane.
Nobel Laureate: Jose Saramago
“Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are.” – Jose Saramago, Portuguese writer, author of “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis,” and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature (for his “compassion and irony” that enable us “to once again apprehend an elusory reality” and for his “modern skepticism” about official truths), who was born 16 November 1922.
Some quotes from the work of Jose Saramago:
“We use words to understand each other and even, sometimes, to find each other.”
“I don’t think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see.”
“If there is a way for the world to be transformed for the better, it can only be done by pessimism; optimists will never change the world for the better.”
“You know the name you were given, you do not know the name that you have.”
“Whether we like it or not, the one justification for the existence of all religions is death; they need death as much as we need bread to eat.”
“When all is said and done, what is clear is that all lives end before their time.”
“You never know beforehand what people are capable of, – you have to wait, give it time. It’s time that rules; time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand. We have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives.”
“Lo! sweeten’d with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow,
Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days
The flower ripens in its place,
Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil,
Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.” – From “The Lotos-Eaters,” by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Here is the Artist Statement of Australian artist Max Middleton:
“Despite the fact that I have painted many subjects, I have endeavored to have clear goals and they are: to be inspired by nature in all its variety, to be excited by what I see, to paint only that which touches me deeply, and to attain the highest excellence in draftsman ship and technique in order to express what I feel about my subject.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Walter Clyde Curry
Grieve not that winter masks the yet quick earth,
Nor still that summer walks the hills no more;
That fickle spring has doffed the plaid she wore
To swathe herself in napkins till rebirth.
These buddings, flowerings, are nothing worth;
This ermine cloud stretched firm across the lakes
Will presently be shattered into flakes;
Then, starveling world, be subject to my mirth.
I know that faithful swift mortality
Subscribes to nothing longer than a day;
All beauty signals imminent decay;
And painted wreckage cumbers land and sea.
I laugh to hear a sniveling wise one say,
“Some winnowed self escapes this reckless way.”
In the words of one critic, “Alexander Bartashevich was born in Minsk in 1966. He graduated from the Art College and later from the Belarusian Art Academy. The artist determined his own recognizable style in his first student works. Since then he stays true to his aesthetic concept, which can be expressed by a short formula: ‘hidden charge at heart – harmony and peace on a canvas.’”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Chard Deniord
For Ethan Canin
I sat on the dock at dusk and spoke
to the fish who swam beneath me
like ears with fins to hear my secrets.
“That words come close?” I whispered.
“The sky enters me like a sword
with my own hand on the hilt.
How to witness what I can’t express—
the smell of lilacs, the dirge of loons.
Make up the rest if you wish.
Less is enough.
Say I sound like one of the Hosts.
That I’m crying also and there’s nothing
you can do to make me stop.
That I’m like the peepers, katydids, and thrush
with my own song— all call in the opera of dusk.
Or is it response?”
Painter Aram Nersisyan lives and works in Armenia.
“What we call our ego is something abstract. It has the same kind of reality as an hour, or an inch, or a pound, or a line of longitude. It is an image of ourselves. It is a social convention. The fallacy that all of us make is that we treat is as a physical organ, as if it were real.” – Alan Watts, British-born philosopher, writer, speaker, and author of many excellent books, best known as an interpreter of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience, who died 16 November 1973.
Some quotes from the work of Alan Watts:
“Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.”
“You find out that the universe is a system that creeps up on itself and says ‘Boo!’ and then laughs at itself for jumping.”
“But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, which is stupid.”
“What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”
“No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.”
“There is only this now. It does not come from anywhere; it is not going anywhere. It is not permanent, but it is not impermanent. Though moving, it is always still. When we try to catch it, it seems to run away, and yet it is always here and there is no escape from it. And when we turn around to find the self which knows this moment, we find that it has vanished like the past.”
“Inability to accept the mystic experience is more than an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit—-to the ‘conquest’ of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature.”
“When a man no longer confuses himself with the definition of himself that others have given him, he is at once universal and unique. He is universal by virtue of the inseparability of his organism from the cosmos. He is unique in that he is just this organism and not any stereotype of role, class, or identity assumed for the convenience of social communication.”
“When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”
“Belief…is the insistence that the truth is what one would ‘lief’ or (will or) wish to be…Faith is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith let’s go…faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.”
“No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them.”
“Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.”
“Just as money is not real, consumable wealth, books are not life. To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency.”
“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”
“Look, here is a tree in the garden and every summer is produces apples, and we call it an apple tree because the tree ‘apples.’ That’s what it does. All right, now here is a solar system inside a galaxy, and one of the peculiarities of this solar system is that at least on the planet earth, the thing peoples! In just the same way that an apple tree apples!”
“There is no more telling symptom of the confusion of ‘modern thought’ than the very suggestion that poetry or mythology can be ‘mere.’”
“Going out of your mind at least once a day is tremendously important. Because by going out of your mind you come to your senses.”
“A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion.”
“A loving God would not provide His children with an infallible guide
to behavior and to the truth about the universe. A loving God would not do something to His children that would rot their brains. If we had an infallible guide, then we would never think for ourselves. Therefore, our minds would become atrophied. It would be as if my grandfather had left me a billion dollars. I’m glad he didn’t.”
“A myth is an image in terms of which we try to make sense of the world.”
“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
“The menu is not the meal.”
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
“Jesus Christ knew he was God. So wake up and find out eventually who you really are. In our culture, of course, they’ll say you’re crazy and you’re blasphemous, and they’ll either put you in jail or in a nut house (which is pretty much the same thing). However if you wake up in India and tell your friends and relations, ‘My goodness, I’ve just discovered that I’m God,’ they’ll laugh and say, ‘Oh, congratulations, at last you found out.’”
“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.”
“Life is like music for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present.”
“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”
“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
“A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.”
“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
“It’s like you took a bottle of ink and you threw it at a wall. Smash! And all that ink spread. And in the middle, it’s dense, isn’t it? And as it gets out on the edge, the little droplets get finer and finer and make more complicated patterns, see? So in the same way, there was a big bang at the beginning of things and it spread. And you and I, sitting here in this room, as complicated human beings, are way, way out on the fringe of that bang. We are the complicated little patterns on the end of it. Very interesting. But so we define ourselves as being only that. If you think that you are only inside your skin, you define yourself as one very complicated little curlique, way out on the edge of that explosion. Way out in space, and way out in time. Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you’re a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don’t feel that we’re still the big bang. But you are. Depends how you define yourself. You are actually–if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning– you’re not something that’s a result of the big bang. You’re not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as–Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so–I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I’m that, too. But we’ve learned to define ourselves as separate from it. ”
“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”
“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
“A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.”
Japanese painter Ouka Fukui (born 1968) graduated from Tama Art University with a degree in Graphic Design.
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Robinson Jeffers
In scornful upright loneliness they stand,
Counting themselves no kin of anything
Whether of earth or sky. Their gnarled roots cling
Like wasted fingers of a clutching hand
In the grim rock. A silent spectral band
They watch the old sky, but hold no communing
With aught. Only, when some lone eagle’s wing
Flaps past above their grey and desolate land,
Or when the wind pants up a rough-hewn glen,
Bending them down as with an age of thought,
Or when, ‘mid flying clouds that can not dull
Her constant light, the moon shines silver, then
They find a soul, and their dim moan is wrought
Into a singing sad and beautiful.
Below – Hasegawa Tohaku: “Pine Trees in Moonlight”
American Art – Part II of II: Linda Christensen
Artist Statement: “I continue to explore the figure and am looking more consciously at the reasons for doing so. I enjoy working on composition whilst creating obstacles for myself – this challenges me to select different solutions to familiar situations.
Sometimes throwing something onto the canvas that has little immediate connection to the current idea opens up a new awareness. I strive to keep myself interested in the process and therefore a challenge is welcome. Reworking my palette and exploring new color combinations is helping me to question the reason for selecting specific colors.
I like the challenge in my awareness of what isn’t happening, what isn’t being used, what isn’t being said and why, these are some of the obstacles I set myself.
Honesty about myself is a crucial factor in my paintings. My overall desire is to emit emotion through the paint, the line, the contrasts and composition. Redundancy is the enemy. I want to keep things interesting and with a hint of danger. Danger in the desire to obscure what is already there and what might be a beautiful passage in the painting. Courage to continue growing and recognizing my need for emotional movement is paramount.”