December Offerings – Part VII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

 Mortally Wounded and Sinking

December 7, 1942 – “a date which will live in infamy.”

Above – The U.S.S. Arizona under attack at Pearl Harbor.
Below – The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.
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American Art – Part I of III: Monica Cook

Artist Statement: “Over a decade ago I began painting self portraits out of convenience of using myself as a model. Although the paintings are somewhat autobiographical I have rarely considered my ‘self portraits’ a portrait of me. I try to allow the character to evolve on its own and not become trapped by expectations or likeness.
After many years of feeling confined to painting self portraits I would catch myself trying to memorize others features, like the shape of some ones hands or the color around their eyes to bring back to my portrait in the studio. Over time I had grown tired of solely painting myself and of the limited pose I had from painting from life through the mirror, so I began to use photographs as reference. Like many artists I enjoy working alone, becoming comfortable with use of a photographic reference made it possible to paint others without the distractions of having a model in the studio.”
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“It does not matter much whom we live with in this world, but it matters a great deal whom we dream of.” – Willa Cather, American author and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (for “One of Ours”), who was born on 7 December 1873.

Some quotes from Willa Cather:

“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.”
“Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.”
“The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.”
“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
“All the intelligence and talent in the world can’t make a singer. The voice is a wild thing. It can’t be bred in captivity. It is a sport, like the silver fox. It happens.”
“Give the people a new word and they think they have a new fact.”
“The condition every art requires is, not so much freedom from restriction, as freedom from adulteration and from the intrusion of foreign matter.”
“The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.”
“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”
“When we look back, the only things we cherish are those which in some way met our original want; the desire which formed in us in early youth, undirected, and of its own accord.”
“A work-room should be like an old shoe; no matter how shabby, it’s better than a new one.”
“Sometimes a neighbor whom we have disliked a lifetime for his arrogance and conceit lets fall a single commonplace remark that shows us another side, another man, really; a man uncertain, and puzzled, and in the dark like ourselves.”
“The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.”
“The irregular and intimate quality of things made entirely by the human hand.”
“What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself – life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.”
“When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them as if their reason had left them. When it has left a place where we have always found it, it is like shipwreck; we drop from security into something malevolent and bottomless.”
“Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.”
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From the Music Archives – Part I of IV: Dee Clark

Born 7 December 1990 – Dee Clark, an Arkansas-born American singer.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Romanian painter Serban Savu (born 1978): “Serban Savu is a figurative painter. His skillfully rendered canvases capture the daily existence of contemporary Romanians at work and leisure. Savu treats his protagonists’ facial characteristics in a generic manner, causing their individual identities to remain elusive. Interior scenes depict people unaware of our gaze and absorbed in their own worlds, viewed through glass and embedded in compositions governed by architectural features. Exterior rural landscapes often portray solitary figures in the middle-distance, isolated and overwhelmed.”
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“Every age yearns for a more beautiful world. The deeper the desperation and the depression about the confusing present, the more intense that yearning.” – Johan Huizinga, Dutch cultural historian and author of “The Autumn of the Middle Ages” and “Homo Ludens” (in which he suggests that play is primary to and a necessary [though not sufficient] condition of the generation of culture), who was born on 7 December 1872.
Some quotes from Johan Huizinga:

“The susceptibility of the average modern to pictorial suggestion enables advertising to exploit his lessened power of judgment.”
“An aristocratic culture does not advertise its emotions. In its forms of expression it is sober and reserved. Its general attitude is stoic.”
“A superstition which pretends to be scientific creates a much greater confusion of thought than one which contents itself with simple popular practices.”
“History can predict nothing except that great changes in human relationships will never come about in the form in which they have been anticipated.”
“History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us.
“If we are to preserve culture we must continue to create it.”
“It is impossible to strive for the heroic life. The title of hero is bestowed by the survivors upon the fallen, who themselves know nothing of heroism.”
“Physical nature lies at our feet shackled with a hundred chains. What of the control of human nature? Do not point to the triumphs of psychiatry, social services or the war against crime. Domination of human nature can only mean the domination of every man by himself.”
“Systematic philosophical and practical anti-intellectualism such as we are witnessing appears to be something truly novel in the history of human culture.”
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Peruvian figurative painter Eduardo Deza was born in Lima in 1983.
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From the Music Archives – Part II of IV: Otis Redding

7 December 1967 – Otis Redding records “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”

Polish painter Dominik Jasiński (born 1981) graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts with a degree in Graphic Design.
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“I believe that every English poet should read the English classics, master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them, travel abroad, experience the horror of sordid passion and—if he is lucky enough—know the love of an honest woman.” – Robert Graves, English poet, scholar/translator/writer specializing in Classical Greece and Rome, novelist, and author of the superb “Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography” (1929), who died on 7 December 1985.

Graves called “Good-Bye to All That” “my bitter leave-taking of England.” In it, he describes the physical and cultural cataclysm of World War I, including and especially the dangerous inadequacy of uncritical patriotism. True to his principles, Robert Graves turned down a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1957.

Some quotes from Robert Graves:

“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”
“Marriage, like money, is still with us; and, like money, progressively devalued.”
“If I were a girl, I’d despair. The supply of good women far exceeds that of the men who deserve them.”
“A remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good in spite of all the people who say he is very good.”
“A well chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure.”
“In love as in sport, the amateur status must be strictly maintained.”
“Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to support my cat.”
“What we now call ‘finance’ is, I hold, an intellectual perversion of what began as warm human love.”

And a poem:

“Dead Cow Farm”

An ancient saga tells us how
In the beginning the First Cow
(For nothing living yet had birth
But elemental Cow on Earth)
Began to lick cold stones and mud:
Under her warm tongue flesh and blood
Blossomed, a miracle to believe;
And so was Adam born, and Eve.
Here now is chaos once again,
Primaeval mud, cold stones and rain.
Here flesh decays and blood drips red
And the Cow’s dead, the old Cow’s dead.
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Héctor Julio Páride Bernabó (1911-1997) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was a painter, engraver, draughtsman, illustrator, potter, sculptor, mural painter, researcher, historian and journalist. He settled in Brazil and became a naturalized citizen of that country.
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From the Music Archives – Part III of IV: Tom Waits

“Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends.” – Tom Waits, American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor, who was born on 7 December 1949.

Critic Daniel Durchholz described the voice of Tom Waits as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.”

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“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” – Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher, historian, cognitive scientist, logician, political critic, and social activist, who was born on 7 December 1928.

In a 2005 poll, Noam Chomsky was voted the “world’s top public intellectual,” and according to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, he is cited as a source more often than almost any living scholar. In addition to being the “father of modern linguistics,” Chomsky has influenced fields such as computer science, mathematics, and psychology, and he has written extensively on war, politics, and mass media.

Some quotes from Noam Chomsky:

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
“Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.”
“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”
“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”
“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.”
“If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”
“You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it.”
“The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.”
“Education must provide the opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can at best provide a rich and challenging environment for the individual to explore, in his own way.”
“The Bible is one of the most genocidal books in history.”
“If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion.”
“The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn’t betray it I’d be ashamed of myself.”
“I have often thought that if a rational Fascist dictatorship were to exist, then it would choose the American system.”
“In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than just ideals to be valued – they may be essential to survival.”
“Anti-Americanism is a pure totalitarian concept. The very notion is idiotic.”
“The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the rigidity of the system of ideological control – ‘indoctrination,’ we might say – exercised through the mass media.”
“In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies.”
“If you are working 50 hours a week in a factory, you don’t have time to read 10 newspapers a day and go back to declassified government archives. But such people may have far-reaching insights into the way the world works.”
“Unlimited economic growth has the marvelous quality of stilling discontent while maintaining privilege, a fact that has not gone unnoticed among liberal economists.”
“We can, for example, be fairly confident that either there will be a world without war or there won’t be a world – at least, a world inhabited by creatures other than bacteria and beetles, with some scattering of others.”
“If there was an observer on Mars, they would probably be amazed that we have survived this long.”
“In many respects, the United States is a great country. Freedom of speech is protected more than in any other country. It is also a very free society.”
“Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony.”
“There are two problems for our species’ survival – nuclear war and environmental catastrophe – and we’re hurtling towards them. Knowingly.”
“There is massive propaganda for everyone to consume. Consumption is good for profits and consumption is good for the political establishment.”
“You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption.”
“I don’t want followers.”
“In the literal sense, there has been no relevant evolution since the trek from Africa. But there has been substantial progress towards higher standards of rights, justice and freedom – along with all too many illustrations of how remote is the goal of a decent society.”
“Stability is when the U.K. and U.S. invade a country and impose the regime of their choice.”
“The ‘anti-globalisation movement’ is the most significant proponent of globalisation – but in the interests of people, not concentrations of state-private power.”
“The government of Israel doesn’t like the kinds of things I say, which puts them into the same category as every other government in the world.”
“The public is not to see where power lies, how it shapes policy, and for what ends. Rather, people are to hate and fear one another.”
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American Art – Part II of III: Casey Childs

Painter Casey Childs (born 1982) earned an A.A. Degree from Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming and a B.A. Degree from Brigham Young University.
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The American Civil War: The Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

In the words of one historian, “The Battle of Prairie Grove was a battle of the American Civil War fought on December 7, 1862, that resulted in a tactical stalemate but essentially secured northwest Arkansas for the Union.”

Above – A map of the battle.
Below – The Prairie Grove Battlefield today.
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From the Music Archives – Part IV of IV: Wings

7 December 1973 – The rock group Wings releases “Band on the Run.”

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Sucking Up To Santa

Died 7 December 1902 – Thomas Nast, German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist who is considered the “Father of the American Cartoon.”

Above – Thomas Nast’s greatest work – an aesthetically perfect portrait of wonderful, generous, pony-bestowing Santa Claus.
Below – The best possible Christmas gift for someone who has been nice all year long. Or at least tried to be. Occasionally.
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A Poem for Today

“A Name for All,”
By Hart Crane

Moonmoth and grasshopper that flee our page
And still wing on, untarnished of the name
We pinion to your bodies to assuage
Our envy of your freedom—we must maim

Because we are usurpers, and chagrined—
And take the wing and scar it in the hand.
Names we have, even, to clap on the wind;
But we must die, as you, to understand.

I dreamed that all men dropped their names, and sang
As only they can praise, who build their days
With fin and hoof, with wing and sweetened fang
Struck free and holy in one Name always.

Below – “The Vision of Saint Eustace,” by Pisanello (1395-1455).
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Here is the Artist Statement of Latvian painter Laine Kainaize (born 1953): “I have been interested in painting since my early childhood. I graduated from the State Academy of Arts in Riga in 1980.
I have been a member of the Latvian Artists’ Union since 1982. I paint mainly in oil, but also do water colour and drawing.”
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A Second Poem for Today

“Two Gates,”
By Denise Low

I look through glass and see a young woman
of twenty, washing dishes, and the window
turns into a painting. She is myself thirty years ago.
She holds the same blue bowls and brass teapot
I still own. I see her outline against lamplight;
she knows only her side of the pane. The porch
where I stand is empty. Sunlight fades. I hear
water run in the sink as she lowers her head,
blind to the future. She does not imagine I exist.

I step forward for a better look and she dissolves
into lumber and paint. A gate I passed through
to the next life loses shape. Once more I stand
squared into the present, among maple trees
and scissor-tailed birds, in a garden, almost
a mother to that faint, distant woman.
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American Art – Part III of III: Claudia Alvarez

Artist Statement: “I’m influenced by the characteristics of children. Their actions pose questions simply yet poignantly about complex issues in the world today. A child’s viewpoint is innocent of cultural conventions. Their eyes and comments reveal to us just how corrupt social mechanisms are.”
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7 December 1941 – In Memoriam, Pearl Harbor: Part I

American Medal of Honor recipients killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: Mervyn S. Bennion, United States Navy Captain, Herbert C. Jones, United States Navy, Thomas J. Reeves, United States Navy, Franklin Van Balkenburgh, United States Navy. Twenty-four hundred United States servicemen died during the attack.

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7 December 1941 – In Memoriam, Pearl Harbor: Part II:

Navy Pilot First Lieutenant Fusata Iida was one of fifty-five Japanese airmen killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Below – The body of Fusata Iida being buried with military honors by U.S. Troops.

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A Third Poem for Today

“The Eye,”
By Robinson Jeffers

The Atlantic is a stormy moat; and the Mediterranean,
The blue pool in the old garden,
More than five thousand years has drunk sacrifice
Of ships and blood, and shines in the sun; but here the Pacific–
Our ships, planes, wars are perfectly irrelevant.
Neither our present blood-feud with the brave dwarfs
Nor any future world-quarrel of westering
And eastering man, the bloody migrations, greed of power, clash of
faiths–
Is a speck of dust on the great scale-pan.
Here from this mountain shore, headland beyond stormy headland
plunging like dolphins through the blue sea-smoke
Into pale sea–look west at the hill of water: it is half the
planet:
this dome, this half-globe, this bulging
Eyeball of water, arched over to Asia,
Australia and white Antartica: those are the eyelids that never
close;
this is the staring unsleeping
Eye of the earth; and what it watches is not our wars.
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