Food for the Spirit and the Soul

Because the diverse parts of human nature need to be nourished in different ways.

American Muse: Amy Lowell


“The Broken Fountain”

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
Slide reflections:
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 – “Old Fountain,” painted by Antonietta Varallo.

Add a comment


November Offerings – Part XXII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart


American Requiem

22 November 1963 – President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

American Art – Part I of III: Darcie Copeland

An Art-Related Quiz: Solving Five Visual Puzzles

Here is American painter Darcie Copeland describing her artistry: “My personality lends itself to the humorous side of life, which allows me to express myself through my work, while I continually strive to stretch the boundaries of my viewer’s imagination. My method of expression is through Rebuses – puzzles or riddles in which pictures represent words or phrases. I invite you to play the game of solving each Rebus by the obvious and hidden clues within each of my works.”
Type = ArtScans RGB : Gamma = 1.882


“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.”

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.”

“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.

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”

American Art – Part II of III: 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.”

“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 (left to right) – “Northern Yukon Mountains”; “Full Moon Whitehorse”; “Kluane Yukon”; “Dempster Highway, North Yukon”; “Yukon River Pilings”; “Taku River Headwaters”; “Farry to Gibsons.”


A Poem for Today

“One Flower,”
By Jack Kerouac

One flower
on the Cliffside
Nodding at the canyon

American Art – Part III of III: 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.”

Add a comment

American Muse: Edna St. Vincent Millay


“Dirge Without Music”

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.

Add a comment

November Offerings – Part XXI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Brent Funderburk

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.

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.”

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.

Died 21 November 1909 – Peder Severin Kroyer, a Danish painter.

Below – “In the store when there is no fishing”; “Summer Day on Skagen’s Southern Beach”; “Roses”; “Midsummer Eve Bonfire on Skagen Beach”; Summer Evening at Skagen Beach – The Artist and His Wife”; “Self-Portrait.”

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.”

“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 II of IV: 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.”

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.’”

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.

Above – Tom Horn.
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 (left to right) – “The Empire of Light, II”; “Golconda”; “The Lovers II”; “Time Transfixed”; “The Human Condition”; “The Mysteries of the Horizon.”
Ren? Magritte, Golconde, 1953, Restored by Shimon D. Yanowitz, 2009  øðä îàâøéè, âåì÷åðã, 1953, øñèåøöéä ò"é ùîòåï éðåáéõ, 2009

American Art – Part III of IV: 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 Poem for Today

“Morning Rain,”
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 Second Poem for Today

“Ninth Day, Ninth Month,”
By Tao Ch’ien

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.

American Art – Part IV of IV: 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.”

Add a comment

American Muse: Jack Kerouac


“One Flower”

One flower
on the Cliffside
Nodding at the canyon

Add a comment

November Offerings – Part XX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Lance Hunter

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.”

Born 20 November 1916 – William John Elwyn Davies, a Welsh painter.
Below (left to right) – “So Far, No Further”; “The Sawmill III”; “Coastal Path”; “The Topiarist”; “Seascape.”
(c) Mrs Gillian Davies; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Mrs Gillian Davies; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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; Scull Creek, Fayetteville, Arkansas; Boulder Creek, Colorado; Tanana River, Fairbanks, Alaska.


Died 20 November 1978 – Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian artist.

Below – “Love Song”; “The Disquieting Muses”; “The Nostalgia of the Infinite”; “Mystery and Melancholy”; “Red Tower”; “Melancholy of a Beautiful Day.”

“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.”


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 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 I of II: Louise Feneley

Louise Feneley studied art in both Adelaide and New York City.


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.”


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.”
Crispin Akerman_paintings
Crispin Akerman_paintings
Crispin Akerman_paintings
Crispin Akerman_paintings
Crispin Akerman_paintings


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.

A 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.

A Second 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.

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.”

Add a comment

American Muse: Kenneth Rexroth


“Falling Leaves and Early Snow”

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.

Add a comment

November Offerings – Part XIX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Micah Ganske

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.”

Israeli ceramicist Ronit Baranga (born 1973) studied Art History in Tel-Aviv University and Practical Arts at the Art School of Bet-Berl College.
Ronit Baranga
Ronit Baranga

Polish Art – Part I of II: Jarek Wojcik

Jarek Wojcik earned a Masters Degree in Medieval Mural Art from the University of Poznan.


19 November 1863 – 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.

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.”
James Ensor, The Rower, 1883, KMSKA, Antwerp


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.

“The Charge of the Light Brigade”

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Below – “Charge of the Light Brigade,” by Richard Caton Woodville, Jr.

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.”

“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.

“The Unborn”

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.

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 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

reeds, strawpale,

through which, from easy

branches that mock the blood

a few leaves fall.
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.”

Add a comment

American Muse: Billy Collins


“Shoveling Snow With Buddha”

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.


Add a comment

November Offerings – Part XVIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of VI: Wanda Choate

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.”

“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.”

American Art – Part II of VI: Willem de Kooning

18 November 1997 – Willem de Kooning’s painting “Two Standing Women” (1949) sells at auction for $4,182,500.

18 November 1865 – Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” is published in the “New York Saturday Press” (under the title “Jim Smiley And His Jumping Frog”). It was Twain’s first great success as a writer.

18 November 1928 – In the words of one historian, this day marked the “release of the animated short ‘Steamboat Willie,’ the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, featuring the third appearances of cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. This is considered by the Disney Corporation to be Mickey’s birthday.”

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

American Art – Part III of VI: Gail Pidduck

Artist Statement: “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 and author of “20 Poems,” 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 II: Hank Ballard

Born 18 November 1927 – Hank Ballard, an American singer-songwriter and member of The Midnighters.


Born 18 November 1787 – Louis-Jacques Daguerre, a French artist, physicist, and inventor of the daguerreotype process of photography.

Above: Louis-Jacques Daguerre.

Below – “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.

From the Music Archives – Part II of II: 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.


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.

Above – William Tell’s apple-shot as depicted in Sebastian Munster’s “Cosmographia.”
Below – My three deserving targets – I mean my three wonderful sons, whose nicknames are Winesap, Macintosh, and Bullseye.

American Art – Part IV of VI: 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”; “Self-Portrait Assemblage.”

“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.”

“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.

Below (left to right) – “Creation Myth”; “Ezra Pound”; “Mexican Shawl”; “Bagdad”; “Inca with Birds”; “Newfoundland.”

“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.”

American Art – Part V of VI: 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.”

Photo/John Stanton. Courtesy of the Tor House Foundation

A 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.

Above – Robinson Jeffers standing atop Hawk Tower, which he built on his California coast property with local stones.
aJeffers2 copy

American Art – Part VI of VI: 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.”

Add a comment