American Art – Part I of IV: Laurie Reid
Artist Statement: “I don’t believe there’s such a thing as pure formalism. I do sometimes use a grid, and other formal constructs, but there’s always the human hand involved. Psyche, material, form—it is a concoction that has to be brewed just right.”
“A small silence came between us, as precise as a picture hanging on the wall.” – Jean Stafford, American novelist, short story writer, and recipient of the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (for “The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford”), who died 26 March 1979.
Some quotes from the work of Jean Stafford:
“To her own heart, which was shaped exactly like a valentine, there came a wing-like palpitation, a delicate exigency, and all the fragrance of all the flowery springtime love affairs that ever were seemed waiting for them in the whisky bottle. To mingle their pain their handshake had promised them, was to produce a separate entity, like a child that could shift for itself, and they scrambled hastily toward this profound and pastoral experience.”
“I fell in love with Caligula and now I’m married to Calvin.”
“She wanted them to go together to some hopelessly disreputable bar and to console one another in the most maudlin fashion over a lengthy succession of powerful drinks of whiskey, to compare their illnesses, to marry their invalid souls for these few hours of painful communion, and to babble with rapture that they were at last, for a little while, they were no longer alone.”
“Irony, I feel, is a very high form of morality.”
Fancies in Springtime: Elyne Mitchell
“Spring comes to the Australian Alps like an invisible spirit. There is not the tremendous surge of upthrust life that there is in the lowland valleys, and no wild flowers bloom in the snow mountains till the early summer, but there is an immense stirring of excitement. A bright red and blue lowrie flits through the trees; snow thaws, and the streams become full of foaming water; the grey, flattened grass grows upwards again and becomes greener; wild horses start to lose their winter coats and find new energy; wombats sit, round and fat, blinking in the evening sunshine; at night there is the cry of a dingo to its mate.”
From the Movie Archives: “Tommy”
26 March 1975 – The film version of “Tommy,” based on The Who’s 1969 rock opera album “Tommy,” premieres in London. Directed by Ken Russell, the movie’s cast includes Roger Daltry, Elton John, Ann-Margaret, Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Arthur Brown, and Jack Nicholson.
“Two shall be born the whole world wide apart,
And speak in different tongues, and pay their debts
In different kinds of coin; and give no heed
Each to the other’s being. And know not
That each might suit the other to a T,
If they were but correctly introduced.
And these, unconsciously, shall bend their steps,
Escaping Spaniards and defying war,
Unerringly toward the same trysting-place,
Albeit they know it not. Until at last
They enter the same door, and suddenly
They meet. And ere they’ve seen each other’s face
They fall into each other’s arms, upon
The Broadway cable car – and this is Fate!” – “Fate,” by Carolyn Wells, American poet and writer of mysteries, limericks, and children’s books, who died 26 March 1942.
Some quotes from the work of Carolyn Wells:
“A canner exceedingly canny
One morning remarked to his granny:
‘A canner can can
Any thing that he can
But a canner can’t can a can, can he?’”
“The books we think we ought to read are poky, dull, and dry;
The books that we would like to read we are ashamed to buy;
The books that people talk about we never can recall;
And the books that people give us, oh, they’re the worst of all.”
“Actions lie louder than words.”
“What you can’t afford to lose, you can’t afford to buy.”
“What is the use of having an imagination if you can’t make it work for you?”
“Happiness is the ability to recognize it.”
Fancies in Springtime: Elizabeth Goudge
A Poem for Today
By Theodore Roethke
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
Fancies in Springtime: Richard Dawkins
“Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” – Sandra Day O’Connor, former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1981 -2006) and the first woman to be appointed to the Court, who was born 26 March 1930.
Some quotes from the work of Sandra Day O’Connor:
“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.”
“We don’t accomplish anything in the world alone and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry off one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that create something.”
“It is the individual who can and does make a difference even in this increasingly populous, complex world of ours. The individual can make things happen. It is the individual who can bring a tear to my eye and then cause me to take pen in hand. It is the individual who has acted or tried to act who will not only force a decision but also have a hand in shaping it. Whether acting in the legal, governmental, or private realm, one concerned and dedicated person can meaningful affect what some consider an uncaring world. So give freely of yourself always to your family, your friends, your community, and your country. The world will pay you back many times over.”
“The power I exert on the court depends on the power of the power of my arguments, not my gender”
“A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.”
“Less than one-third of eighth-graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence – and it’s right there in the name.”
“In Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court held that the United States’ exercise of authority over Guantánamo gave the detainees a constitutional right to bring their habeas corpus claims in federal district courts. The Court also held that the procedures authorized under the Military Commissions Act, which called for military tribunals to look into the detention of the Guantánamo detainees, were not an adequate substitute for habeas. As the Court explained, ‘The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, even in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system, they are reconciled within the framework of the law.’”
“The house of delusions is cheap to build but drafty to live in.” – A. E. Housman, English classical scholar, poet, and author of “A Shropshire Lad,” who was born 26 March 1849.
“A Shropshire Lad” is a cycle of sixty-three poems set in a half-imaginary pastoral landscape. Housman was surprised by the volume’s popularity, since in most of the poems he expresses a deep pessimism about the possibility of abiding human happiness in a world where love is fleeting and death a grim certainty.
“To an Athlete Dying Young” (from “A Shropshire Lad”)
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears.
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
Fancies in Springtime: K.L. Toth
British Art – Part I of II: Alison Hill
In the words of one art critic, “Alison Hill was born in 1955 in Lancashire, England. Having shown an interest in and talent for art from an early age, she was in 1974 offered a place on the BA Fine Art course at the University of Leeds. She gained a BA honors in Fine Art, followed by a PGCE in Art Education in 1980 and spent several years teaching art in colleges of further education in the North West.
In the summer of 2005 Alison returned to what had been her earlier ambition of becoming a professional artist and began to spend much of her time in the studio working prolifically to produce a whole range of paintings and drawings including portraits of her family and paintings inspired by her love of plants and gardens. She works in a variety of media including acrylic, gouache, oil and colored pencil.”
“Re-examine all that you have been told . . . dismiss that which insults your soul.” – Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, journalist, humanist, and author of “Leaves of Grass,” who died 26 March 1892.
“A Noiseless Patient Spider”
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
British Art – Part II of II: Anna Sweeten
Here is the Artist Statement of English painter Anna Sweeten (born 1947): “I could hope that my work speaks for itself, but I can say that I am passionate about landscape and especially that which I have known longest and most intimately. My aim is to paint the image of the immediate and arresting glimpsed or glanced at view one gets before the mind begins its own analysis (such as working to ‘see’ atmosphere). The impact of this first glimpse is all the more amazing in a subject so familiar, yet it never fails to occur.
I feel a strong emotional attachment to the eastern counties’ landscape and the desire to portray it has become increasingly important as I have grown older.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Mount Street Gardens,”
By Frederick Seidel
I’m talking about Mount Street.
Jackhammers give it the staggers.
They’re tearing up dear Mount Street.
It’s got a torn-up face like Mick Jagger’s.
I mean, this is Mount Street!
Scott’s restaurant, the choicest oysters, brilliant fish;
Purdey, the great shotgun maker—the street is complete
Posh plush and (except for Marc Jacobs) so English.
Remember the old Mount Street,
The quiet that perfumed the air
Like a flowering tree and smelled sweet
As only money can smell, because after all this was Mayfair?
One used to stay at the Connaught
Till they closed it for a makeover.
One was distraught
To see the dark wood brightened and sleekness take over.
Will help guests slide right into the zone.
Prince Charles and his design police
Are tickled pink because it doesn’t threaten the throne.
I exaggerate for effect—
But isn’t it grand, the stink of the stank,
That no sooner had the redone hotel just about got itself perfect
Than the local council decided: new street, new sidewalk, relocate the taxi rank!
Turn away from your life—away from the noise!—
Leaving the Connaught and Carlos Place behind.
Hidden away behind those redbrick buildings across the street are serious joys:
Green grandeur on a small enough scale to soothe your mind,
And birdsong as liquid as life was before you were born.
Whenever I’m in London I stop by this delightful garden to hear
The breeze in the palatial trees blow its shepherd’s horn.
I sit on a bench in Mount Street Gardens and London is nowhere near.
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Ludwig van Beethoven
Died 26 March 1827 – Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer and pianist.
Fancies in Springtime: Marcus Aurelius
American Art – Part II of IV: Alia E. El-Bermani
Here is one writer describing the background of painter Alia E. El-Bermani: “In 1994, she briefly attended Roger Williams University in Bristol Rhode Island a large liberal arts college which didn’t quite have the clear focus that Ms. El-Bermani was seeking. In 1996 she transferred to Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach California which is known for its strong emphasis on classical figurative training.
While studying at Laguna College of Art and Design Alia El-Bermani received the Plotkin Award for Excellence in Fine Arts. Then, in 2000 she received her BFA from LCAD, summa cum laude. Ever since, she has enjoyed continued success as a fine artist.”
Alia E. El-Bermani lives and works in Cary, North Carolina.
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Diana Ross
Born 26 March 1944 – Diana Ross, American vocalist, music artist, actress, and lead singer of the Motown group “The Supremes.”
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Safina
“It’s hard to walk briskly at this time of year; the accelerating pace of unfolding spring slows my own. I repeatedly stop – to watch what’s moving. Soon the torrent of migrants will completely overwhelm my ability to keep up with all the changes. But it’s easy to revel in the exuberance and the sense of rebirth, renewal.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Ladan Osman
Tonight is a drunk man,
his dirty shirt.
There is no couple chatting by the recycling bins,
offering to help me unload my plastics.
There is not even the black and white cat
that balances elegantly on the lip of the dumpster.
There is only the smell of sour breath. Sweat on the collar of my shirt.
A water bottle rolling under a car.
Me in my too-small pajama pants stacking juice jugs on neighbors’ juice jugs.
I look to see if there is someone drinking on their balcony.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Polish painter Marek Okrassa (born 1975): “Is it possible for a painting to be simultaneously a deep sociological analysis of the human being and a complex poetic metaphor? It is. Marek Okrassa seeks out for inspiration for his art by visiting crowded beaches, popular cafes and amusement parks. He observes various human types and tries to follow the typical patterns of behaviour. Numerous sketches, drawings and notes are being made, from which emerges a complicated web of interhuman relationships. In such a public places people move as if they were free particles, but the painter, being a keen observer, recollects some logic out of the chaos of urban life. Okrassa is fascinated with the hidden aspects of the life of a common man. It is the way of how this anonymous world becomes concrete, well known and acceptable. Perhaps it is a personal way of familiarising oneself with the reality, of translating the new into a complete artistic show. This is the simultaneous creation of a complex sociological fresco and a metaphorical image of the reality. The world of Marek Okrassa pictures, due to the talent and the intelligent narration, may tell us much about man.”
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Elvis Costello
26 March 1977 – Elvis Costello releases his first album – “My Aim Is True” – that features the song “Less Than Zero.”
Fancies in Springtime: Chris Maser
“They, that unnamed ‘they,’ they’ve knocked me down but I got up. I always get up—and I swear when I went down quite often I took the fall; nothing moves a mountain but itself. They, I’ve long ago named them me.” – Gregory Corso, American poet and the youngest member of the Beat Generation of writers that included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, who was born 26 March 1930.
I stand in the dark light in the dark
and look up at my window, I was
The lights are on; other people are
I am with raincoat; cigarette in
hat over eye, hand on gat.
I cross the street and enter the
building. The garbage cans haven’t stopped
I walk up the first flight; Dirty Ears
aims a knife at me . . .
I pump him full of lost watches.
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Bonsai at the Potter’s Stall”
By Kay Mullen
Under fluorescent light,
aligned on a bench
and table top, oranges
the size of marbles dangle
from trees with glossy
leaves. White trumpets
bloom in tiny clay pots.
Under a firethorn’s twisted
limbs, a three inch monk
holds a cup from which
he appears to drink
the interior life. The potter
prizes his bonsai children
who will never grow up,
American Art – Part III of IV: Ed Ruscha
Artist Statement: “When I began painting, all my paintings were of words which were gutteral utterances like Smash, Boss, Eat. Those words were like flowers in a vase; I just happened to paint words like someone else paints flowers. It wasn’t until later that I was interested in combinations of words and making thoughts, sentences, and things like that.”
“And were an epitaph to be my story I’d have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” – Robert Frost, American poet and four-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who was born 26 March 1874.
“Acquainted with the Night”
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Horacio Cardozo: “Horacio Cardozo was born in Argentina where he studied Architecture and Design at Buenos Aires University and Philosophy at Del Salvador University. His drawing skills and his admiration for fine arts, especially those of the Renaissance period, led him to explore a career in painting since 1987. His oil paintings display a touch of surrealism and express mythical ideas and concepts as well as philosophical themes. His eagerness to understand the inherent relationship between human nature, the universal order and the underlying reality leads him to create images that attempt to explain that which defies reason. His nude and semi-nude series set in a mystic aura are tinted with a subtle beauty.”
Horacio Cardozo lives and works in Auckland and Sydney.
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Dana Gioia
This is my past where no one knows me.
These are my friends whom I can’t name—
Here in a field where no one chose me,
The faces older, the voices the same.
Why does this stranger rise to greet me?
What is the joke that makes him smile,
As he calls the children together to meet me,
Bringing them forward in single file?
I nod pretending to recognize them,
Not knowing exactly what I should say.
Why does my presence seem to surprise them?
Who is the woman who turns away?
“What is to give light must endure burning.” – Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, founder of logotherapy (a form of existential analysis), Holocaust survivor, and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” who was born 26 March 1905.
Some quotes from the work of Viktor Frankl:
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”
“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.”
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
“For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”
“So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.”
“We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents…Sometimes the ‘unfinisheds’ are among the most beautiful symphonies.”
“A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining. What he becomes – within the limits of endowment and environment- he has made out of himself. In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.”
“So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
Fancies in Springtime: Pablo Neruda
“Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.” – Joseph Campbell, American mythologist, writer, lecturer, and author of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” “The Masks of God” (four volumes), “The Power of Myth,” “The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and Religion,” and “Myths to Live By,” who was born 26 March 1904.
Some quotes from the work of Joseph Campbell:
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.”
“Sit in a room and read–and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”
“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.”
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”
“All religions are true but none are literal.”
“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”
“Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.”
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe to match your nature with Nature.”
“Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.”
“Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”
“A bit of advice
Given to a young Native American
At the time of his initiation:
As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm. Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.”
“The first step to the knowledge of the wonder and mystery of life is the recognition of the monstrous nature of the earthly human realm as well as its glory, the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think they know how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination.”
“Gods suppressed become devils, and often it is these devils whom we first encounter when we turn inward.”
“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.”
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us, the labyrinth is fully known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Robert Cording
Year after year after year
I have come to love slowly
how old houses hold themselves—
before November’s drizzled rain
or the refreshing light of June—
as if they have all come to agree
that, in time, the days are no longer
a matter of suffering or rejoicing.
I have come to love
how they take on the color of rain or sun
as they go on keeping their vigil
without need of a sign, awaiting nothing
more than the birds that sing from the eaves,
the seizing cold that sounds the rafters.
Below – Daryl Urig: “Old House (study)”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian painter Peter Smeeth (born 1949): “(Smeeth) has drawn and painted since early childhood and always regarded his art practice as a search for excellence that continues to this day. He has a special interest in the human condition which is manifest in his portraits and figurative works but he enjoys all forms of art from the totally abstract to the super real. He works in most media …pencil, pastel, charcoal, watercolour, oil, acrylic and does sculptural work in plaster or bronze.
In his realist paintings he aims to paint light and space making the flat canvas appear three- dimensional. He strives to make his portraits life-like and alive so that the viewer feels the subject is actually present and he likes to see friends and relatives of the subject talking to the portrait.”
Fancies in Springtime: Edward Abbey
“A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”
“A delusion is something that people believe in despite a total lack of evidence.” – Richard Dawkins, British evolutionary biologist, emeritus fellow of New College Oxford, former University of Oxford’s Professor for Public Understanding of Science, and author of “The God Delusion” and “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution,” who was born 26 March 1941.
“Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.”
“By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.”
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
“If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.”
“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”
“We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”
“Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.”
“We humans are an extremely important manifestation of the replication bomb, because it is through us – through our brains, our symbolic culture and our technology – that the explosion may proceed to the next stage and reverberate through deep space.”
“Isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?”
“One of the things that is wrong with religion is that it teaches us to be satisfied with answers which are not really answers at all.”
“The meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry.”
“It has become almost a cliché to remark that nobody boasts of ignorance of literature, but it is socially acceptable to boast ignorance of science and proudly claim incompetence in mathematics.”
“Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world chess championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility.”
“The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity.”
“Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun.”
“The chances of each of us coming into existence are infinitesimally small, and even though we shall all die some day, we should count ourselves fantastically lucky to get our decades in the sun.”
“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
“For the first half of geological time our ancestors were bacteria. Most creatures still are bacteria, and each one of our trillions of cells is a colony of bacteria.”
“The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved out of literally nothing, is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice.”
“I suppose if you look back to your early childhood you accept everything people tell you, and that includes a heavy dose of irrationality – you’re told about tooth fairies and Father Christmas and things.”
“Nothing is wrong with peace and love. It is all the more regrettable that so many of Christ’s followers seem to disagree.”
“Religious fanatics want people to switch off their own minds, ignore the evidence, and blindly follow a holy book based upon private ‘revelation’.”
“When I say that human beings are just gene machines, one shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the word ‘just.’ There is a very great deal of complication, and indeed beauty in being a gene machine.”
“I am one of those scientists who feels that it is no longer enough just to get on and do science. We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organised ignorance.”
“The Bible should be taught, but emphatically not as reality. It is fiction, myth, poetry, anything but reality. As such it needs to be taught because it underlies so much of our literature and our culture.”
“The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science, especially in the schools of America.”
“The universe doesn’t owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn’t owe us a nice warm feeling inside.”
“What has ‘theology’ ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has ‘theology’ ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? What makes you think that ‘theology’ is a subject at all?”
“Natural selection is anything but random.”
“Of course in science there are things that are open to doubt and things need to be discussed. But among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know.”
“But perhaps the rest of us could have separate classes in science appreciation, the wonder of science, scientific ways of thinking, and the history of scientific ideas, rather than laboratory experience.”
“God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture.”
“If ever there was a slamming of the door in the face of constructive investigation, it is the word miracle. To a medieval peasant, a radio would have seemed like a miracle.”
“Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that’s because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.”
“I do disapprove very strongly of labelling children, especially young children, as something like ‘Catholic children’ or ‘Protestant children’ or ‘Islamic children.’”
“I once wrote that anybody who believes the world is only 6,000 years old is either ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.”
“I’m a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.”
“Scientists disagree among themselves but they never fight over their disagreements. They argue about evidence or go out and seek new evidence. Much the same is true of philosophers, historians and literary critics.”
“At least the fundamentalists haven’t tried to dilute their message. Their faith is exposed for what it is for all to see.”
“Evolution never looks to the future.”
“It’s an important point to realize that the genetic programming of our lives is not fully deterministic. It is statistical – it is in any animal merely statistical – not deterministic.”
“It’s very likely that most mammals have consciousness, and probably birds, too.”
“Physicists are working on the Big Bang, and one day they may or may not solve it.”
“Something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Linda Pastan
How did I get so old,
my 67th birthday.
I’m 76 in fact.
There are places
where at 60 they start
they start again
But the numbers
It’s the physics
of acceleration I mind,
the way time speeds up
as if it hasn’t guessed
Fancies in Springtime: Michael Shermer
“There are many sources of spirituality; religion may be the most common, but it is by no means the only. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality. Science does this in spades.”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of artist Barbara Lavallee
In the words of one writer, “Barbara Lavallee’s whimsical paintings depicting Alaskan life have made her one of the most celebrated artists in the state.
Barbara Lavallee was born in Iowa and grew up in Wisconsin. Her mother was an art teacher and Barbara graduated from Illinois’ Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. A professional artist since 1976, Barbara Lavallee developed her stylized figures by first working with silkscreen prints before turning to the watercolor medium.
Barbara lived for 12 years in Sitka, Alaska, teaching art to Native students at Mt. Edgecombe boarding school before moving to Girdwood, Alaska where she now lives. Her interest in Alaska Native cultures and the Eskimo Olympics are evident in her work. Barbara’s paintings and limited edition prints also reflect her world of kids, cats, and everyday Alaskan life. She especially enjoys painting women, who are usually depicted in bright colors doing things as diverse as picking berries, sitting in a hot tub, or doing aerobics.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: John Muir
American Art – Part IV of IV: Shahzia Sikander
In the words of one writer, “Shahzia Sikander was born in Pakistan in 1969. She studied Mughal miniature painting under a traditional master at the National College of Arts in Lahore, and later attended the Rhode Island School of Art and Design. She has lived in the United States for almost a decade, and presently resides in New York City.”