Sentient in San Francisco – 8 March 2019

Art for Today – Berthe Morisot (French, 1841-1895): “The Cherry Picker”

Musings in Winter: Natalie Angier

“We are made of stardust; why not take a few moments to look up at the family album?”

Contemporary American Art – Melanie Yazzie (Navajo)

Below – “Noon at the Lake”; “Missing Glove at Red Lake”; “She Wanders Around Red Lake”; “Second Winter in Erie, CO”; “Red Wing Blackbird in My Dream”; “Walking in the Morning.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 8 March 1859 – Kenneth Grahame, a Scottish-English writer and author of “The Wind in the Willows.”

Some quotes from the work of Kenneth Grahame:

“There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.”
“As a rule, indeed, grown-up people are fairly correct on matters of fact; it is in the higher gift of imagination that they are so sadly to seek.”
“There he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger’s origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.”
“The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
“Come along inside… We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.”
“Here today, up and off to somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that’s always changing!”

Art for Today – Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967): “Soir Bleu”

Remembering a Performer on the Date of His Death: Died 8 March 1971 – Harold Lloyd, an American actor, comedian, director, producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer.
Harold Lloyd was one of the great comedians of the silent film era, along with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Art for Today – Marie Bracquemond (French, 1840-1916): “Under the Lamp”

This Date in Literary History: Died 8 March 1941 – Sherwood Anderson, an American novelist, short story writer, and author of “Winesburg, Ohio.”

Some quotes from the work of Sherwood Anderson:

“The lives of people are like young trees in a forest. They are being choked by climbing vines. The vines are old thoughts and beliefs planted by dead men.”
“The thing of course, is to make yourself alive. Most people remain all of their lives in a stupor.”
“I go about looking at horses and cattle. They eat grass, make love, work when they have to, bear their young. I am sick with envy of them.”
“I wanted to run away from everything but I wanted to run towards something too.”
“It may be life is only worthwhile at moments. Perhaps that is all we ought to expect.”
“You won’t arrive. It is an endless search.”

Contemporary American Art – Frank Buffalo Hyde (Nez Perce and Onondaga)

Below – “Food Pyramid”; “Hopi Cheerleader Red”; “Face Swap”; “Puck-Ficasso”; “I-Witness Culture”; “Buffalo Fields Forever X-File.”

Remembering a Loyal Dog on the Date of His Death: Died 8 March 1934 – Hachiko, who was, in the words of one writer, “a Japanese Akita dog remembered for his loyalty to his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, for whom he continued to wait for over nine years following Ueno’s death.
Hachikō would meet Ueno at Shibuya Station every day after his commute home. This continued until May 21, 1925, when Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage while at work. From then until his death on March 8, 1935, Hachikō would return to Shibuya Station every day to await Ueno’s return.
During his lifetime, the dog was held up in Japanese culture as an example of loyalty and fidelity. Well after his death, he continues to be remembered in worldwide popular culture, with statues, movies, books, and appearances in various media.”

Art for Today – Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926): “Young Woman in Green, Outdoors in the Sun”

This Date in Literary History: Born 8 March 1931 – John McPhee, an American writer, author of “Annals of the Former World,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of John McPhee:

“When the climbers in 1953 planted their flags on the highest mountain, they set them in snow over the skeletons of creatures that had lived in the warm clear ocean that India, moving north, blanked out. Possibly as much as twenty thousand feet below the seafloor, the skeletal remains had turned into rock. This one fact is a treatise in itself on the movements of the surface of the earth. If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone.”
“If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a quantity like a million years, you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time. And then in a way you do not live at all, but in another way you live forever.”
“Rocks are records of events that took place at the time they formed. They are books. They have a different vocabulary, a different alphabet, but you learn how to read them.”
“On the geological time scale, a human lifetime is reduced to a brevity that is too inhibiting to think about deep time. … Geologists … see the unbelievable swiftness with which one evolving species on the Earth has learned to reach into the dirt of some tropical island and fling 747s across the sky … Seeing a race unaware of its own instantaneousness in time, they can reel off all the species that have come and gone, with emphasis on those that have specialized themselves to death.”
“Catch and release fishing may be cruelty masquerading as political correctness.”
“A quarter-horse jockey learns to think of a twenty-second race as if it were occurring across twenty minutes–in distinct parts, spaced in his consciousness. Each nuance of the ride comes to him as he builds his race. If you can do the opposite with deep time, living in it and thinking in it until the large numbers settle into place, you can sense how swiftly the initial earth packed itself together, how swiftly continents have assembled and come apart, how far and rapidly continents travel, how quickly mountains rise and how quickly they disintegrate and disappear.”

Contemporary American Art – Chin h Shin: Part I of II.

Below – “Rainy Day Walkers at 18th Street”; “Snow Day!”; “Still Rainy in Bleeker Street”; “Evening New York”; “Dark Rain in First Avenue”; “Sunset City Walkers.”

Remembering an Important Critic on the Date of His Birth: Born 8 March 1831 – Neil Postman, an American cultural critic, media theorist, and author of “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.

Some quotes from the work of Neil Postman:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”
“Once you have learned to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know.”
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.”
“Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.”
“Television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information – misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information – information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.”
“Embedded in every technology there is a powerful idea, sometimes two or three powerful ideas. Like language itself, a technology predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives and accomplishments and to subordinate others. Every technology has a philosophy, which is given expression in how the technology makes people use their minds, in how it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards.”
“If students get a sound education in the history, social effects and psychological biases of technology, they may grow to be adults who use technology rather than be used by it.”
“It is not necessary to conceal anything from a public insensible to contradiction and narcotized by technological diversions.”
“At its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living.”
“We are more naive than those of the Middle Ages, and more frightened, for we can be made to believe almost anything.”
“People in distress will sometimes prefer a problem that is familiar to a solution that is not.”
“Through the computer, the heralds say, we will make education better, religion better, politics better, our minds better — best of all, ourselves better. This is, of course, nonsense, and only the young or the ignorant or the foolish could believe it.”
“There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and we solve nothing fundamental by cloaking ourselves in technological glory.”
“The whole problem with news on television comes down to this: all the words uttered in an hour of news coverage could be printed on a page of a newspaper. And the world cannot be understood in one page.”
“Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.”

Contemporary American Art – Chin h Shin: Part II of II.

Below – “A Rainy Day in New York”; “Night Hawks at Sullivan Street”; “The Restaurant”; “On the Road”; “Winter is Coming!”; “Stormy Day New York.”

A Poem for Today

“One Light to Another”
By Jonathan Greene

The storm
turns off
the lights.

The lightning
lights the whereabouts
of the flashlight.

The flashlight
takes us to matches
and candles, the oil lamp.

Now we’re back,
the 19th century.

Below – Charles Wilson Peale: “Portrait of James Peale” (1822)

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