From the Pacific Northwest – Part XIX

Musings in Autumn: Ken Ilgunas

“On a hike, the days pass with the wind, the sun, the stars; movement is powered by a belly full of food and water, not a noxious tankful of fossil fuels. On a hike, you’re less a job title and more a human being….A periodic hike not only stretches the limbs but also reminds us: Wow, there’s a big old world out there.”

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A Poem for Today

“Now, I know you remember so and so”
By Doris Davenport

meaning somebody who rode through town once, ten
years ago or who lived and died before your birth. They
expect you to remember, to know, just like your mind is
their mind and if you don’t, they might take it personal.
Get so made at you, they can’t get on with the story.

Not like Fannie Mae. She will get all into a story and
catch herself: “But that was before you
were born.” Fannie Mae will pause, grin for emphasis
and say, “And I wish you
coulda seen it!”

not me.
when i get through
when i’m done
won’t be no wishing
you could see.
you gone see.

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American Art – Norman Campbell

Artist Statement: “I am a southeast Alaskan artist who creates invented landscapes using pen and ink with additions of colored pencil and watercolor.”

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Musings in Autumn: Janice Anderson

“Nature is one of the most underutilized treasures in life. It has the power to unburden hearts and reconnect to that inner place of peace.”

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A Second Poem for Today

“Affirmation”
By Donald Hall

To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.

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Musings in Autumn: Cynthia Rylant

“In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.”

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Canadian Art – Part I: Glenn Payan

Artist Statement: “It is the joy and mystery I find in life that I love communicating through art. I tend not to refer to reality too much when developing a piece but rather draw on my own memories and recollections when choosing my subject matter and composing a painting. This way I tend to eliminate the superfluous and the trite, focusing more on those elements that made the memory such a fond one in the first place. While emotion and whim play a large role in creating a piece; lighting, perspective and colour are part of an extensive preplanning stage all of which assist in communicating that sense of joy or mystery to the viewer.”

Below – “Vancouver”; “The Goodsir Range”; “Passage Island, Howe Sound”; “Rundle”; “The Potato Farmer”; “On the Horizon.”

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Musings in Autumn: Oscar Levant

“Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember.”

Below – Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory. I remember.

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Erich Fromm (1900-1980) was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist.

Some quotes from the work of Erich Fromm:

“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”
“A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet ‘for sale’, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his ‘normal’ contemporaries. Not rarely will he suffer from neurosis that results from the situation of a sane man living in an insane society, rather than that of the more conventional neurosis of a sick man trying to adapt himself to a sick society. In the process of going further in his analysis, i.e. of growing to greater independence and productivity,his neurotic symptoms will cure themselves.”
“It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas and feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing on reason or mental health.”
“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.’”
“One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.”
“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”
“That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.”
“Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. ‘Patriotism’ is its cult… Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.”
“There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as ‘moral indignation,’ which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.”
“Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His main aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his ‘personality package’ with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.”
“Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.”
“Man’s main task is to give birth to himself.”

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Musings in Autumn: Aristotle

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”

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A Third Poem for Today

“Cruel Cogito”
By Ken Chen

How joyous!,
passing this time alone
with your father, how bright his golden laugh
which drew you to laugh yourself uncontrolled,
how sweet the happy hour oysters you two pry and eat,
piling wobbling shells that glisten on the table
while the pianist plays by the kitchen doors.
You find yourself reminded of what you wrote
in the eulogy: that you two would still possess
a relationship even though
he was dead, that you could still
go and speak with him
when you dreamed

and so you see the seat opposite from you seats no one.

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Musings in Autumn: Henry David Thoreau

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”

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A Fourth Poem for Today

“Blessings”
By Jay Parini

Blessings for these things:
the dandelion greens I picked in summer
and would douse with vinegar and oil
at grandma’s little house in Pennsylvania,
near the river. Or the small potatoes
she would spade to boil and butter,
which I ate like fruit with greasy fingers.
Blessings for my friend, thirteen
that summer when we prayed by diving from a cliff
on Sunday mornings in the church
of mud and pebbles, foam and moss.
I will not forget the fizz and tingle,
sunning in wet skin on flat, cool rocks,
so drenched in summer.
And for you, my love, blessings
for the times we lay so naked in a bed
without the sense of turbulence or tides.
I could just believe the softness of our skin,
those sheets like clouds,
how when the sunlight turned to roses,
neither of us dared to move or breathe.
Blessings on these things and more:
the rivers and the houses full of light,
the bitter weeds that taste like sun,
dirt-sweetened spuds,
the hard bright pebbles, spongy mosses,
lifting of our bodies into whiffs of cloud,
all sleep-warm pillows in the break of dawn.

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Musings in Autumn: Lucy Maud Montgomery

“November–with uncanny witchery in its changed trees. With murky red sunsets flaming in smoky crimson behind the westering hills. With dear days when the austere woods were beautiful and gracious in a dignified serenity of folded hands and closed eyes–days full of a fine, pale sunshine that sifted through the late, leafless gold of the juniper-trees and glimmered among the grey beeches, lighting up evergreen banks of moss and washing the colonnades of the pines. Days with a high-sprung sky of flawless turquoise. Days when an exquisite melancholy seemed to hang over the landscape and dream about the lake. But days, too, of the wild blackness of great autumn storms, followed by dank, wet, streaming nights when there was witch-laughter in the pines and fitful moans among the mainland trees. What cared they? Old Tom had built his roof well, and his chimney drew.”

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Canadian Art – Part II: David Riome

In the words of one writer, “David Riome was exposed to nature and art at an early age. The mixed woodland around his hometown in Saskatchewan provided rich and varied experiences, which fostered an awareness of nature evident in his present work. Self-taught, the artist pursued individual studies and has been trained in a variety of technical and visual skills.
David Riome’s wood and stone sculpture is carved with traditional hand tools from imported and domestic materials. His soapstone quarry, located in a remote area of Northern Saskatchewan, is the source of much material for his smaller work. Antler, bone, coral, bronze and other metals are also used in multi-media carvings. The natural materials complement the vital content of his work. In both his wildlife and figurative work, the artist draws from basic forms found in nature. Utilizing principles of balance, rhythm, and harmony, he creates work that is uniquely Northern in their synthesis of subject, style and material.”

Below – “Bison” (alabaster); “Owl” (pyrophyllite, acrylic); “Tufted Grouse” (alabaster, acrylic); “Bear” (chlorite, acrylic); “Otters” (alabaster, acrylic); “Bison Stone” (pyrophyllite).

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