American art – Part I of III: Jamie Vasta
“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” – Mary Wollstonecraft, British writer, philosopher, advocate of women’s rights, and author of “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” who died 10 September 1797.
Some quotes from Mary Wollstonecraft:
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
“If we revert to history, we shall find that the women who have distinguished themselves have neither been the most beautiful nor the most gentle of their sex.”
“Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.”
“It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.”
“I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists. I wish to persuade women to endeavor to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings are only the objects of pity, and that kind of love which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.”
“Weakness may excite tenderness, and gratify the arrogant pride of man; but the lordly caresses of a protector will not gratify a noble mind that pants for, and deserves to be respected. Fondness is a poor substitute for friendship.”
“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.”
“Love from its very nature must be transitory. To seek for a secret that would render it constant would be as wild a search as for the philosopher’s stone or the grand panacea: and the discovery would be equally useless, or rather pernicious to mankind. The most holy band of society is friendship.”
“Now the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of things people don’t understand. Take the Einstein theory. Take taxes. Take love. Do you understand them? Neither do I. But they exist. They happen.” – Dalton Trumbo, American screenwriter, novelist, and author of “Johnny Got His Gun,” who died 10 September 1976.
In the words of one historian, “As one of the Hollywood Ten, (Trumbo) refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 during the committee’s investigation of Communist influences in the motion picture industry. Trumbo won two Academy Awards while blacklisted; one was originally given to a front writer, and one was awarded to “Robert Rich”, Trumbo’s pseudonym.”
Some quotes from the work of Dalton Trumbo:
“Dishonesty in government is the business of every citizen. It is not enough to do your own job. There’s no particular virtue in that. Democracy isn’t a gift. It’s a responsibility.”
“The chief internal enemies of any state are those public officials who betray the trust imposed upon them by the people.”
“A good businessman never makes a contract unless he’s sure he can carry it through, yet every fool on earth is perfectly willing to sign a marriage contract without considering whether he can live up to it or not.”
“Democracy means that people can say what they want to. All the people. It means that they can vote as they wish. All the people. It means that they can worship God in any way they feel right, and that includes Christians and Jews and voodoo doctors as well.”
“The only interesting thing that can happen in a Swiss bedroom is suffocation by feather mattress.”
“We’ll free every slave in every town and region. Can anybody get a bigger army than that?”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Canadian painter John Hansen (born 1957): “For Hansen, sound craftsmanship applied in a proper theoretically grounded method is crucial as the effective means to express his reflections of life. Initially working from the imagination he creates the composition in his mind. Hansen then gathers reference materials by using a camera to record the image of the figure, and by documenting measurements along with small detail sketches. Hansen then sets to work in his preferred medium of oil.”
From the Music Archives- Part I of II: The Beatles
10 September 1966 – The Beatles’ “Revolver” album reaches number one
on American popular music charts and remains there for six weeks.
“Nothing is more dangerous than a dogmatic worldview – nothing more constraining, more blinding to innovation, more destructive of openness to novelty.” – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, writer, and historian of science, who was born 10 September 1941.
Some quotes from Stephen Jay Gould:
“The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and therefore never scrutinize or question.”
“We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.”
“We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life’s continuity on earth. We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited to it, but here we are.”
“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”
“We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes—one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximum freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way.”
“We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher answer’– but none exists.”
“Skepticism is the agent of reason against organized irrationalism–and is therefore one of the keys to human social and civic decency.”
“Life is short, and potential studies infinite. We have a much better chance of accomplishing something significant when we follow our passionate interests and work in areas of deepest personal meaning.”
“Science is not a heartless pursuit of objective information; it is a creative human activity.”
“Homo sapiens [are] a tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree.”
“People talk about human intelligence as the greatest adaptation in the history of the planet. It is an amazing and marvelous thing, but in evolutionary terms, it is as likely to do us in as to help us along.”
“No Geologist worth anything is permanently bound to a desk or laboratory, but the charming notion that true science can only be based on unbiased observation of nature in the raw is mythology. Creative work, in geology and anywhere else, is interaction and synthesis: half-baked ideas from a bar room, rocks in the field, chains of thought from lonely walks, numbers squeezed from rocks in a laboratory, numbers from a calculator riveted to a desk, fancy equipment usually malfunctioning on expensive ships, cheap equipment in the human cranium, arguments before a road cut.”
“The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos.”
“I would not choose to live in any age but my own; advances in medicine alone, and the consequent survival of children with access to these benefits, should preclude any temptation to trade for the past. But we cannot understand history if we saddle the past with pejorative categories based on our bad habits for dividing continua into compartments of increasing worth towards the present. These errors apply to the vast paleontological history of life, as much as to the temporally trivial chronicle of human beings. I cringe every time I read that this failed business, or that defeated team, has become a dinosaur and is succumbing to progress. ‘Dinosaur’ should be a term of praise, not opprobrium. Dinosaurs reigned for more than 100 million years and died through no fault of their own; Homo sapiens is nowhere near a million years old, and has limited prospects, entirely self-imposed, for extended geological longevity.”
“Obsolescence is a fate devoutly to be wished, lest science stagnate and die.”
“The human mind delights in finding pattern—so much so that we often mistake coincidence or forced analogy for profound meaning. No other habit of thought lies so deeply within the soul of a small creature trying to make sense of a complex world not constructed for it.”
“When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.”
“The facts of nature are what they are, but we can only view them through the spectacles of our mind. Our mind works largely by metaphor and comparison, not always (or often) by relentless logic. When we are caught in conceptual traps, the best exit is often a change in metaphor — not because the new guideline will be truer to nature (for neither the old nor the new metaphor lies ‘out there’ in the woods), but because we need a shift to more fruitful perspectives, and metaphor is often the best agent of conceptual transition.”
“Science is an integral part of culture. It’s not this foreign thing, done by an arcane priesthood. It’s one of the glories of the human intellectual tradition.”
“I had learned that a dexterous, opposable thumb stood among the hallmarks of human success. We had maintained, even exaggerated, this important flexibility of our primate forebears, while most mammals had sacrificed it in specializing their digits. Carnivores run, stab, and scratch. My cat may manipulate me psychologically, but he’ll never type or play the piano.”
“There are no shortcuts to moral insight. Nature is not intrinsically anything that can offer comfort or solace in human terms — if only because our species is such an insignificant latecomer in a world not constructed for us. So much the better. The answers to moral dilemmas are not lying out there, waiting to be discovered. They reside, like the kingdom of God, within us — the most difficult and inaccessible spot for any discovery or consensus.”
“The causes of life’s history [cannot] resolve the riddle of life’s meaning.”
“If we use the past only to creature heroes for present purposes, we will never understand the richness of human thought or the plurality of ways of knowing.”
“So much of science proceeds by telling stories.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Johannes Brahms
“At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that;
I have the fervour of myself for a presence
and my own spirit for light;
and my spirit with its loss
though small against the black,
small against the formless rocks,
hell must break before I am lost;
before I am lost,
hell must open like a red rose
for the dead to pass.” – From “Eurydice,” by Hilda “H.D.” Doolittle, poet, novelist, memoirist, and author of “Sea Garden,” who was born 10 September 1886.
All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre as of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.
All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.
Greece sees, unmoved,
God’s daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.
Below – Dante Gabriel Rossetti: “Helen of Troy”
“Rise with the hour for which you were made.” – Georgia Douglas Johnson, poet, playwright, member of the Harlem Renaissance, and author of “The Heart of a Woman,” who was born 10 September 1880.
And who shall separate the dust
What later we shall be:
Whose keen discerning eye will scan
And solve the mystery?
The high, the low, the rich, the poor,
The black, the white, the red,
And all the chromatique between,
Of whom shall it be said:
Here lies the dust of Africa;
Here are the sons of Rome;
Here lies the one unlabelled,
The world at large his home!
American Art – Part II of III: Joe Velez
Joe Velez (born 1978) is a self-taught painter.
American Muse – Part III of III: Amy Clampitt
“The music is a vibration in the brain rather than the ear. ” – Amy Clampitt, poet, writer, and author of “A Silence Opens: Poems,” who died 10 September 1994.
First daylight on the bittersweet-hung
sleeping porch at high summer; dew
all over the lawn, sowing diamond-
the hired man’s shadow revolving
along the walk, a flash of milkpails
passing; no threat in sight, no hint
anywhere in the universe, of that
apathy at the meridian, the noon
of absolute boredom; flies
crooning black lullabies in the kitchen,
milk-soured crocks, cream separator
still unwashed; what is there to life
but chores and more chores, dishwater,
fatigue, unwanted children; nothing
to stir the longueur of afternoon
except possibly thunderheads;
climbing, livid, turreted alabaster
lit up from within by splendor and terror
— forked lightning’s
Below – Tracy Tauber: “Thunderclouds with Lightning”
“Odysseus to Telemachus,”
By Joseph Brodsky
My dear Telemachus,
The Trojan War
is over now; I don’t recall who won it.
The Greeks, no doubt, for only they would leave
so many dead so far from their own homeland.
But still, my homeward way has proved too long.
While we were wasting time there, old Poseidon,
it almost seems, stretched and extended space.
I don’t know where I am or what this place
can be. It would appear some filthy island,
with bushes, buildings, and great grunting pigs.
A garden choked with weeds; some queen or other.
Grass and huge stones . . . Telemachus, my son!
To a wanderer the faces of all islands
resemble one another. And the mind
trips, numbering waves; eyes, sore from sea horizons,
run; and the flesh of water stuffs the ears.
I can’t remember how the war came out;
even how old you are–I can’t remember.
Grow up, then, my Telemachus, grow strong.
Only the gods know if we’ll see each other
again. You’ve long since ceased to be that babe
before whom I reined in the plowing bullocks.
Had it not been for Palamedes’ trick
we two would still be living in one household.
But maybe he was right; away from me
you are quite safe from all Oedipal passions,
and your dreams, my Telemachus, are blameless.
In the words of one art critic, Filipino artist Katrina Pallon is “a maximalist whose creative works are highly influenced by the intricacies of Viennese and French art nouveau; her paintings, illustrations, and photographs attest to her love for elaborate designs and her knack for romanticizing even the simplest of subjects. Her works echo her enthrallment to fairy tales and myth which she fuses with ornate Pan-Asian motifs and exquisite blooms. Her subjects more often than not comprise of dark, melancholic, sometimes mystical figures; fleeting beauty; masks; mystery; and women. Using warm, vivid tones, she translates these images into paintings and photographs.”
By Robert Bly
A man told me once that all the bad people
Were needed. Maybe not all, but your fingernails
You need; they are really claws, and we know
Claws. The sharks—what about them?
They make other fish swim faster. The hard-faced men
In black coats who chase you for hours
In dreams—that’s the only way to get you
To the shore. Sometimes those hard women
Who abandon you get you to say, ‘You.’
A lazy part of us is like a tumbleweed.
It doesn’t move on its own. Sometimes it takes
A lot of Depression to get tumbleweeds moving.
Then they blow across three or four States.
This man told me that things work together.
Bad handwriting sometimes leads to new ideas;
And a careless god—who refuses to let people
Eat from the Tree of Knowledge—can lead
To books, and eventually to us. We write
Poems with lies in them, but they help a little.
American Art – Part III of III: Sidney Goodman
According to one critic, “”Sidney Goodman is one of the preeminent contemporary American painters and draftsmen exploring the still fertile ground of art based on the human form. For over three decades the style that he has forged out of direct observation, creative imagination, and prolonged study of European and American masters has demonstrated the continuing vitality of figurative art. But Goodman’s embrace of metaphor and the metaphysical has set his brand of figuration markedly apart from that of other major artists of his generation. Goodman has developed an approach that is perhaps best understood as allegorical, albeit a thoroughly contemporary version of this traditional manner not tied to mythological or biblical texts, but instead lodged in modern urban and suburban subject matter. Because the visible world provides the stimulus for Goodman’s allusive inventions, the sometimes contradictory meanings of vision come into play: observation serves as the jumping-off point into a realm of visualization that often proves unsettling to familiar sight.”