American Art – Part I of III: Dorothea Tanning
Died 31 January 2012 – Dorothea Tanning, an American artist whose work was influenced by Surrealism.
Nobel Laureate: Oe Kenzaburo
“By reading Huckleberry Finn I felt I was able to justify my act of going into the mountain forest at night and sleeping among the trees with a sense of security which I could never find indoors.” – Oe Kenzaburo, Japanese novelist, author of “A Personal Matter” and “The Silent Cry,” and recipient of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature, for creating “an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today,” who was born 31 January 1935.
Some quotes from the work of Oe Kenzaburo:
“As I grew up, I was continually to suffer hardships in different realms of life – in my family, in my relationship to Japanese society and in my way of living at large in the latter half of the twentieth century.”
“The Japanese chose the principle of eternal peace as the basis of morality for our rebirth after the War.”
“The way Japan had tried to build up a modern state modelled on the West was cataclysmic.”
“After the end of the Second World War it was a categorical imperative for us to declare that we renounced war forever in a central article of the new Constitution.
Even though we now have the half-century-old new Constitution, there is a popular sentiment of support for the old one that lives on in reality in some quarters.”
“However, please allow me to say that the fundamental style of my writing has been to start from my personal matters and then to link it up with society, the state and the world.”
“I am one of the writers who wish to create serious works of literature which dissociate themselves from those novels which are mere reflections of the vast consumer cultures of Tokyo and the subcultures of the world at large.”
From the Music Archives: Blondie
31 January 1981 – “The Tide Is High,” by Blondie, reaches number one on American popular music charts.
Born 31 January 1872 – Zane Grey, an American author best known for his popular adventure novels that presented an idealized image
of the American frontier. In the words of one historian, “‘Riders of the Purple Sage’ (1912) was his best-selling book. In addition to the success of his printed works, they later had second lives and continuing influence when adapted as films and television productions. As of 2012, 112 films, two television episodes, and a television series, ‘Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater,’ had been made that were based loosely on his novels and short stories.”
From the American History Archives: Native American Reservations
31 January 1876 – The United States government orders all Native Americans to move onto reservations. In the words of one writer, “The hope of creating these reservations was to reduce clashes between the white settlers and the Natives. At first the Native American tribes were given land that they could use for agriculture, but eventually even this diminished as white settlers set their eyes on land that the Natives had received for reservations.”
American Art – Part II of III: E. Fay Jones
Born 31 January 1921 – E. Fay Jones, an American Architect and designer. In the words of one historian, “He was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones is also the only one of Wright’s disciples to have received the AIA Gold Medal (1990), the highest honor awarded by the American Institute of Architects.”
“I have one major rule: Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody — including me — has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.” – Ken Wilber, American writer, public speaker, philosopher, and the author of “The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion,” who was born 31 January 1949.
Some quotes from the work of Ken Wilber:
“The truth will not necessarily set you free, but truthfulness will.”
“That all opposites—such as mass and energy, subject and object, life and death—are so much each other that they are perfectly inseparable, still strikes most of us as hard to believe. But this is only because we accept as real the boundary line between the opposites. It is, recall, the boundaries themselves which create the seeming existence of separate opposites. To put it plainly, to say that ‘ultimate reality is a unity of opposites’ is actually to say that in ultimate reality there are no boundaries. Anywhere.”
“The simple fact is that we live in a world of conflict and opposites because we live in a world of boundaries. Since every boundary line is also a battle line, here is the human predicament: the firmer one’s boundaries, the more entrenched are one’s battles. The more I hold onto pleasure, the more I necessarily fear pain. The more I pursue goodness, the more I am obsessed with evil. The more I seek success, the more I must dread failure. The harder I cling to life, the more terrifying death becomes. The more I value anything, the more obsessed I become with its loss. Most of our problems, in other words, are problems of boundaries and the opposites they create.”
“Anything which is just born, which has just come into existence, has no past behind it. Birth, in other words, is the condition of having no past. And likewise, anything which now dies, which has just ceased to be, has no future left in front of it. Death is the condition of having no future. But we have already seen that this present moment has both no past and no future simultaneously. That is, birth and death are one in this present moment. This moment is just now being born—you can never find a past to this present moment, you can never find something before it. Yet also, this moment is just now dying — you can never find a future to this moment, never find something after it. This present, then, is a coincidence of opposites, a unity of birth and death, being and non-being, living and dying. As Ippen put it, ‘Every moment is the last moment and every moment is a rebirth.’”
“Because the egoic mind has led us to feel separate from our immortal Ground of Being over the millennia, we have invented a number of immortality symbols to give us a precarious sense of security and identity in life. Traditionally, these have been religious in character, such as the belief in everlasting life after death, in the West, and the belief in reincarnation, in the East. However, today, it is money that provides the primary immortality symbol. It is our obsession for money that is driving humanity to extinction. For when we do not face our fears with full consciousness and intelligence, these fears will eventually come along to haunt us.”
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Peruvian painter Vito Loli, who is the grandnephew of Paul Gauguin: “ Most of his work merges these two passions, achieving very personal images, full of magic and a direct and provoking message. Through his work, the artist shares his introspective journey, using nature as a metaphor.”
“I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.” – Molly Ivins, American author, newspaper columnist, political commentator, and humorist, who died 31 January 2007.
Some quotes from the work of Molly Ivins:
“In Texas, we do not hold high expectations for the governor’s office; it’s mostly been occupied by crooks, dorks and the comatose.”
“The first rule of holes: When you’re in one stop digging.”
“It’s all very well to run around saying regulation is bad, get the government off our backs, etc. Of course our lives are regulated. When you come to a stop sign, you stop; if you want to go fishing, you get a license; if you want to shoot ducks, you can shoot only three ducks. The alternative is dead bodies at the intersection, no fish, and no ducks. OK?”
“I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil.
And that no one knows the truth.”
“There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity — like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule — that’s what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar. ”
“When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as ‘enemies,’ it’s time for a quiet stir of alertness. Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.”
“Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.”
“I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”
“What you need is sustained outrage…there’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority.”
“I don’t so much mind that newspapers are dying – it’s watching them commit suicide that pisses me off.”
“There is no inverse relationship between freedom and security. Less of one does not lead to more of the other. People with no rights are not safe from terrorist attack.”
“It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”
“Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world.”
“I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point–race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.”
“As they say around the Texas Legislature, if you can’t drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against ’em anyway, you don’t belong in office.”
“Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don’t much care for.”
“One function of the income gap is that the people at the top of the heap have a hard time even seeing those at the bottom. They practically need a telescope. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt probably didn’t was a lot of time thinking about the people who build their pyramids, either.”
“So keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t forget to have fun doin’ it. Be outrageous… rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through celebrating the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was!”
A Poem for Today
“There will come soft rains,”
By Sara Teasdale
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows calling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild-plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
American Art – Part III of III: Andrew Ek
Here is the Artist Statement of American painter Andrew Ek: “I am a painter completely devoted to my work. I am primarily a self-taught artist and began drawing early on. In the beginning, dinosaurs and anthropomorphic creatures were my favorite subjects. In my teens, I became interested in special effects, frequently making Super-8 horror films, which eventually led to my enrollment in the Industrial Design Technology program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. At school, I was introduced to a myriad of artistic disciplines and ultimately became obsessed with developing and nurturing my fascination with realistic figurative oil painting. Utilizing my immediate surroundings and friends as fodder for imagery, while incorporating strong emotional undercurrents, my work has culminated into a nexus of finely wrought, phantasmagorical sequences. My aim is to envelop the viewer into an unfolding narrative in a vivid cinematic context, similar to a movie still.”