“Beware the Ides of March”
15 March 44 BCE: Julius Caesar, Roman general, statesman, Consul, and author, is assassinated.
15 March 1974 CE: Robert Neralich, American scholar, teacher, and writer, gets married, and in time fathers three sons.
American Art – Part I of II: Janet Leach
“What constitutes an American? Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the rights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.” – Harold L. Ickes, American administrator and politician, who was born 15 March 1874.
In the words of one historian, “(Ickes) served as United States Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, from 1933 to 1946, the longest tenure of anyone to hold the office, and the second longest serving Cabinet member in U.S. history next to James Wilson. Ickes was responsible for implementing much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal.’”
Here is how one writer describes the artistry of Brazilian painter Ammer Jacome: “Ancient meets post-modern in Ammer Jácome’s paintings. The Brazilian artist paints stunning portraits that transcend heritage. Jácome spans the wide spectrum of the beauty of humanity. Native Americans and Carnival performers, warriors and children, take center stage in the artist’s dramatic portrayals of life. While the subject matter is timeless, Jácome’s style is of the moment. Most notable is his tendency to fragment imagery.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Phil Lesh
“There was always so much encouragement, to just really take it and run with it, from Deadheads.” – Phil Lesh, American singer, bassist, and a founding member of the Grateful Dead, who was born 15 March 1940.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Ry Cooder
Born 15 March 1947 – Ryland Peter “Ry” Cooder, an American musician known for his slide guitar work.
Ry Cooder has won many awards in the course of his career, including the 1980 Best Music award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for the soundtrack of “The Long Riders.”
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Australian painter Paul Jaarsma: “(He) is inspired by the many travels he made through the world. The outer journeys deepen themselves into images through which the inner journey also will be visible.
Travel together with Paul Jaarsma into a world of culture, wildlife, nature and spirituality, to eventually come home into the Silence from which the Creation reveals itself.”
“A woman finds the natural lay of the land almost unconsciously; and not feeling it incumbent on her to be guide and philosopher to any successor, she takes little pains to mark the route by which she is making her ascent.” – Alice Stone Blackwell, American feminist, journalist, and human rights advocate, who died 15 March 1950.
15 March 1812 – Ivan Kuskov, Chief Administrator of the Russian-American Company, arrives at Port Rumiantsev with 25 Russians and 80 Native Alaskans and proceeds north to establish Fortress Ross near what is now the Russian River. Fortress Ross was the first Russian settlement in California.
Above – A portrait of Ivan Kuskov.
Below – “Settlement Ross, 1841,” by Ilya Gavrilovich Voznesenskii; Fortress Ross (now Fort Ross) today (reconstructed), with the Chapel in the center of the photograph.
Canadian Art – Part I of II: Jacques Payette
In the words of one critic, self-taught Canadian painter Jacques Payette (born 1951)
“always manages to express the duality of man’s nature, reconciling and contrasting the physical with the metaphysical.”
“We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight.” – Howard Phillips “H.P.” Lovecraft, American writer of horror fiction and creator of the Cthulhu Mythos, who died 15 March 1937.
In the words of one critic, “Stephen King called Lovecraft ‘the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.’ King has made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book ‘Danse Macabre’ that Lovecraft was responsible for King’s own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing.”
A Lovecraftian challenge for brave and possibly foolish individuals: Obtain a copy of “The Call of Cthulhu and Other Dark Tales,” turn off all the lights in your bedchamber except for a lamp, and begin reading the book in bed on a night when the wind is rising ahead of an approaching storm. Leave one curtained window slightly open, so that the breeze can enter your room. Pause between stories and raise your eyes from the book, noting how the billowing curtains cast provocative shadows on the floor and walls – perhaps one shadow too many. When you are finished reading, turn off the lamp, settle yourself for slumber, and close your eyes. Try not to think about the “dark tales” you have just read. Keep reminding yourself that they’re only stories. Ignore the persistent and ever-closer rumbling of thunder, as well as the other unfamiliar noises that seem, strangely, to be coming from somewhere inside the house. Sleep well.
Some quotes from the work of The Master:
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
“The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.”
“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age.”
“To be bitter is to attribute intent and personality to the formless, infinite, unchanging and unchangeable void. We drift on a chartless, resistless sea. Let us sing when we can, and forget the rest.”
“If I am mad, it is mercy! May the gods pity the man who in his callousness can remain sane to the hideous end!”
“Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.”
“I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge, or lustre, or name.”
“There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we learn and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life. But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.”
“Contrary to what you may assume, I am not a pessimist but an indifferentist- that is, I don’t make the mistake of thinking that the… cosmos… gives a damn one way or the other about the especial wants and ultimate welfare of mosquitoes, rats, lice, dogs, men, horses, pterodactyls, trees, fungi, dodos, or other forms of biological energy.”
“Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.”
“The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow because it demands from the reader a certain degree of imagination and a capacity for detachment from everyday life.”
“The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them. They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.”
“Ultimate horror often paralyses memory in a merciful way.”
“‘Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.’
‘In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.’”
Canadian Art – Part II of II: G. Jesse Gledhill
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Canadian painter G. Jesse Gledhill: “Jesse’s work portrays the human experience. The same essential emotional complexities exist now as they did when man first painted a cave wall; something essential was being said about the nature of man. Jesse’s technical accomplishment brings this idea to the audience even when the psychological aspects may remain latent to the viewer. The means whereby all of us adjudicate the world in which we live are intellectual and emotional. An intellectual response is learned, whereas emotion is innate and Jesse’s work is a vector which appeals to the latter. This self-taught artist has combined several ‘isms’ to end up with a style of his own and
his challenge is to be revealing rather than merely novel.”
A Poem for Today
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.
We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.
We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
A Second Poem for Today
By Michelle Y. Burke
You love your friend, so you fly across the country to see her.
Your friend is grieving. When you look at her, you see that something’s missing.
You look again. She seems all there: reading glasses, sarcasm, leather pumps.
What did you expect? Ruins? Demeter without arms in the British Museum?
Your friend says she believes there’s more pain than beauty in the world.
When Persephone was taken, Demeter damned the world for half the year.
The other half remained warm and bountiful; the Greeks loved symmetry.
On the plane, the man next to you read a geometry book, the lesson on finding the circumference of a circle.
On circumference: you can calculate the way around if you know the way across.
You try across with your friend. You try around.
I don’t believe in an afterlife, she says. But after K. died, I thought I might go after her.
In case I’m wrong. In case she’s somewhere. Waiting.
American Art – Part II of II: Robert Schefman