This Date in Art History: Born 5 November 1890 – Jan Zrzavy, a Czech painter and illustrator.
Below – “Slag Heaps”; “The Valley of Sorrow”; “Girl Friends”; “Camaret”; “Nocturne.”
This Date in Art History: Died 5 November 1872 – Thomas Sully, a British-born American portrait painter.
Below – “Portrait of Shakespeare”; “The Student” (Sully’s daughter Rosalie); “Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire”; “Charlotte Cushman”; “Portrait of Fanny Kemble”; “Lady with a Harp.”
Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 5 November 2005 – John Fowles, an English novelist and author of “The Magus.”
Some quotes from “The Magus”:
“The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself.”
“I acquired expensive habits and affected manners. I got a third-class degree and a first-class illusion: that I was a poet. But nothing could have been less poetic that my seeing-through-all boredom with life in general and with making a living in particular. I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope– an impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all. But I did absorb a small dose of one permanently useful thing, Oxford’s greatest gift to civilized life: Socratic honesty. It showed me, very intermittently, that it is not enough to revolt against one’s past. One day I was outrageously bitter among some friends about the Army; back in my own rooms later it suddenly struck me that just because I said with impunity things that would have apoplexed my dead father, I was still no less under his influence. The truth was I was not a cynic by nature, only by revolt. I had got away from what I hated, but I hadn’t found where I loved, and so I pretended that there was nowhere to love. Handsomely equipped to fail, I went out into the world.”
“Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because they imagine it is the one thing that stops women laughing at them. In it they can reduce women to the status of objects. That is the great distinction between the sexes. Men see objects, women see relationship between objects. Whether the objects love each other, need each other, match each other. It is an extra dimension of feeling we men are without and one that makes war abhorrent to all real women – and absurd. I will tell you what war is. War is a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships. Our relationship with our fellow-men. Our relationship with our economic and historical situation. And above all our relationship to nothingness. To death.”
“The craving to risk death is our last great perversion. We come from night, we go into night. Why live in night?”
“Duty largely consists of pretending that the trivial is critical.”
“‘Greece is like a mirror. It makes you suffer. Then you learn.’
‘To live alone?’
‘To live. With what you are.’”
“It came to me…that I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world at that moment, that what I was feeling at that moment justified all I had been through, because all I had been through was my being there. I was experiencing…a new self-acceptance, a sense that I had to be this mind and this body, its vices and its virtues, and that I had no other chance or choice.”
“‘The human race is unimportant. It is the self that must not be betrayed.’
‘I suppose one could say that Hitler didn’t betray his self.’
‘You are right. He did not. But millions of Germans did betray their selves. That was the tragedy. Not that one man had the courage to be evil. But that millions had not the courage to be good.’”
Below – “The Days”; “The White Dress”; “The Hermit Thrush”; “The Song”; “In the Garden”; “Before Sunrise.”
A November Poem
by Maggie Dietz
Show’s over, folks. And didn’t October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.
Nothing left but fool’s gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees
Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge
On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.
Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter’s big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.
The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who’d wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.