“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 V: Hilla Rebay
In the words of one writer, “Hilla Rebay (1890 – 1967) was a notable abstract artist in the early 20th century and co-founder and first director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She was a key figure in advising Solomon R. Guggenheim to collect non-objective art, a collection that would later form the basis of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum collection, and she was also influential in selecting Frank Lloyd Wright to design the current Guggenheim museum, which is now known as a modernist icon in New York City.”
“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.’”
Musings in Winter: Kurt Vonnegut
“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”
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.”
A Poem for Today
Bu Kenneth Koch
I love you as a sheriff searches for a walnut
That will solve a murder case unsolved for years
Because the murderer left it in the snow beside a window
Through which he saw her head, connecting with
Her shoulders by a neck, and laid a red
Roof in her heart. For this we live a thousand years;
For this we love, and we live because we love, we are not
Inside a bottle, thank goodness! I love you as a
Kid searches for a goat; I am crazier than shirttails
In the wind, when you’re near, a wind that blows from
The big blue sea, so shiny so deep and so unlike us;
I think I am bicycling across an Africa of green and white fields
Always, to be near you, even in my heart
When I’m awake, which swims, and also I believe that you
Are trustworthy as the sidewalk which leads me to
The place where I again think of you, a new
Harmony of thoughts! I love you as the sunlight leads the prow
Of a ship which sails
From Hartford to Miami, and I love you
Best at dawn, when even before I am awake the sun
Receives me in the questions which you always pose.
Musings in Winter: George Carlin
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.
American Art – Part II of V: Janet Leach
Musings in Winter: Joseph Campbell
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.’
Musings in Winter: Bill Hicks
“If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.”
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.”
Musings in Winter: Gore Vidal
“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.
Musings in Winter: Jack Kerouac
“This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do.”
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.
Musings in Winter: Jarod Kintz
American Art – Part III of V: Michael Rich
Artist Statement: “One can paint for a long time only to discover they know very little about it. I come to the canvas free of preconceptions and open to possibilities. Pictures and images are not so much the aim as a resolution, a crystallization of shape, color and mark into a whole of an experience that has resonance. I am most often lost in the process of painting, struggling to find a way out and feeling very much a beginner until that moment of clarity. For a long time now, my work has found a resolution in a kind of illuminated landscape. Spaces of color and light akin to the mountains and seas of my travels open up between tectonic plates of color and form.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Bruce Guernsey
I’d see these kids
huddled like grouse
in the plowed ruts
in front of their shack
waiting for the bus,
three small children
bunched against the drifts
rising behind them.
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.”
Musings in Winter: Chief Seattle
“My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain…There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Lynn Sharon Schwartz
My father had our yard cemented over.
He couldn’t tell a flower from a weed.
The neighbors let their backyards run to clover
and some grew dappled gardens from a seed,
but he preferred cement to rampant green.
Lushness reeked of anarchy’s profusion.
Better to tamp the wildness down, unseen,
than tolerate its careless brash intrusion.
“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 Fifth Poem for Today
By Mark Irwin
Mother came to visit today. We
hadn’t seen each other in years. Why didn’t
you call? I asked. Your windows are filthy, she said. I know,
I know. It’s from the dust and rain. She stood outside.
I stood in, and we cleaned each one that way, staring into each other’s eyes,
rubbing the white towel over our faces, rubbing
away hours, years. This is what it was like
when you were inside me, she said. What? I asked,
though I understood. Afterwards, indoors, she smelled like snow
melting. Holding hands we stood by the picture window,
gazing into the December sun, watching the pines in flame.
Musings in Winter: Joseph Campbell
“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Robert Schefman
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Robert Gibb
Come March we’d find them
In the five-and-dimes,
Furled tighter than umbrellas
About their slats, the air
In an undertow above us
Like weather on the maps.
We’d play out lines
Of kite string, tugging against
The bucking sideways flights.
Readied for assembly,
I’d arc the tensed keel of balsa
Into place against the crosspiece,
Feeling the paper snap
Tautly as a sheet, then lift
The almost weightless body
Up to where it hauled me
Trolling into the winds—
Knotted bows like vertebrae
Flashing among fields
Of light. Why ruin it
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist John Fehringer
In the words of one writer, “Calm cool waters, vast rivers of ice, snow geese in flight and endless rows of mountains like frozen waves against a becoming sky, are all part of the Alaska landscape and The Art of John Fehringer. With a command of light and a developed creative spirit, John reflects a world of compelling beauty that rivals one’s own imagination while spinning the true tales of splendor in Alaska. Take a journey with John as he draws the viewer in for an intimate rendezvous with grandeur, beauty and peace, through his art.
For his Alaska landscapes, wildlife and aviation pieces, John primarily works in watercolor using an airbrush to achieve the smooth gradient tones that fill his canvas and have created the signature style we now recognize to be exclusive to a Fehringer piece. Many observers have mistaken John’s images to be photographs, speaking to the skill of execution and the command of light displayed in each piece.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Musings in Winter: Carl Gustav Jung
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Robert Morgan
It’s said they planted trees by graves
to soak up spirits of the dead
through roots into the growing wood.
The favorite in the burial yards
I knew was common juniper.
One could do worse than pass into
such a species. I like to think
that when I’m gone the chemicals
and yes the spirit that was me
might be searched out by subtle roots
and raised with sap through capillaries
into an upright, fragrant trunk,
and aromatic twigs and bark,
through needles bright as hoarfrost to
the sunlight for a century
or more, in wood repelling rot
and standing tall with monuments
and statues there on the far hill,
erect as truth, a testimony,
in ground that’s dignified by loss,
around a melancholy tree
that’s pointing toward infinity.
Musings in Winter: Phil Cousineau
“The journey of the hero is about the courage to seek the depths; the image of creative rebirth; the eternal cycle of change within us; the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know. The hero journey is a symbol that binds, in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas, the spiritual quest of the ancients with the modern search for identity, always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find.”
American Art – Part V of V: Marilyn Murphy
In the words of critic Peter Frank, “There is a particular logic inherent in Murphy’s conjunction, one based on visual punning and the slightly too bright, almost halated quality of her tonalities. If this is dreaming, it is lucid dreaming, a knowing exploitation of the dream state by Murphy to provide her and us, with images and sensations of improbable freedom and thrilling or hilarious juxtaposition.”