This Date in Art History: Born 11 November 1863 – Paul Signac, a French painter.
Below – “Capo di Noli”; “Woman with Umbrella”; “The Pine Tree at Saint Tropez”; “Women by the Well”; “Marseille”; “In the Time of Harmony. The Golden Age is not in the Past, it is in the Future.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November 1821 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, philosopher, and author of “Notes From Underground,” “Crime and Punishment,” and “The Brothers Karamazov.”
Some quotes from the work of Fyodor Dostoyevski:
“The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.”
“When I look back on my past and think how much time I wasted on nothing, how much time has been lost in futilities, errors, laziness, incapacity to live; how little I appreciated it, how many times I sinned against my heart and soul-then my heart bleeds. Life is a gift, life is happiness, every minute can be an eternity of happiness.”
“It is better to be unhappy and know the worst, than to be happy in a fool’s paradise.”
“The soul is healed by being with children.”
“A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.”
“Humanity can live without science, it can live without bread, but it cannot live without beauty. Without beauty, there would be nothing left to do in this life. Here the secret lies. Here lies the entire story.
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
“Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”
Below – Portrait of Dostoyevsky by Vasil Perov .
This Date in Art History: Born 11 November 1868 – Edouard Vuillard, a French painter: Part I of II.
Below – “The Flowered Dress”; “Three Women in Conversation”; “Interior”; “The Garden of Vaucresson”; “Portrait of Princess Bibesco”; “Le Grand Teddy.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November1928 – Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican novelist, essayist, and author of “The Death of Antonio Cruz.”
Some quotes from the work of Carlos Fuentes:
“Art gives life to what history killed. Art gives voice to what history denied, silenced, or persecuted. Art brings truth to the lies of history.”
“Writing is a struggle against silence.”
“One wants to tell a story, like Scheherezade, in order not to die. It’s one of the oldest urges in mankind. It’s a way of stalling death.”
“I am not interested in slice of life, what I want is a slice of the imagination.”
“I discovered very quickly that criticism is a form of optimism, and that when you are silent about the shortcomings of your society, you’re very pessimistic about that society. And it’s only when you speak truthfully about it that you show your faith in that society.”
“In a world torn by every kind of fundamentalism – religious, ethnic, nationalist and tribal – we must grant first place to economic fundamentalism, with its religious conviction that the market, left to its own devices, is capable of resolving all our problems. This faith has its own ayatollahs. Its church is neo-liberalism; its creed is profit; its prayers are for monopolies.”
“Religion is dogmatic. Politic is ideological. Reason must be logical, but literature has a privilege of being equivocal.”
“Reading, writing, teaching, learning, are all activities aimed at introducing civilizations to each other.”
Below – “Le corsage raye”; “Venus de Milo”; “Morning in the garden, Clos Cezanne”; “Aux Clayes, Geranium on a blue table”; “The seamstresses”; “Large Interior with Six Persons.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November 1937 – Alicia Ostriker, an award-winning American poet.
“In Every Life”
by Alicia Striker
In every life there’s a moment or two
when the self disappears, the cruel wound
takes over, and then again
at times we are filled with sky
or with birds or
simply with the sugary tea on the table
said the old woman
I know what you mean said the tulip
for instance a cloudless April sky
the approach of a butterfly
but as to the disappearing self
I have not yet experienced that
You are creating distinctions
that do not exist in reality
where “self” and “not-self” are like salt
in ocean, cloud in sky
oxygen in fire
said the philosophical dog
under the table scratching his balls
Below – Sarah Holden: “Dog under the Table”
Contemporary French Art – Stephanie de Malherbe: Part I of II.
Below – “Je voudrais du soleil rouge II”; “Hope”; La vie qui passe II”; “Light III”; “Le reflet des étoiles II”; “The heart is made for peace.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November 1922 – Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, and author of “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “A Man Without a Country.”
Note: In these dark political and cultural times in America, I think about “A Man Without a Country” frequently.
Some quotes from the work of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.:
“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”
“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. ‘Blessed are the merciful’ in a courtroom? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”
“You meet saints everywhere. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.”
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves… It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters.”
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.”
Contemporary French Art – Stephanie de Malherbe: Part II of II.
Below – “Je voudrais du soleil bleu”; “Reflets XXI”; “Instagram”; “River Light”; “Vivement le printemps”; “Reflets VII.”
A Poem for Today
by Sharon Chmielarz
All those years—almost a hundred—
the farm had hard water.
Hard orange. Buckets lined in orange.
Sink and tub and toilet, too,
once they got running water.
And now, in less than a lifetime,
just by changing the well’s location,
in the same yard, mind you,
the water’s soft, clear, delicious to drink.
All those years to shake your head over.
Look how sweet life has become;
you can see it in the couple who live here,
their calmness as they sit at their table,
the beauty as they offer you new water to drink.
Below – Jason Patrick Jenkins: “Rock Glass and Pitcher”