American Art – Part I of III: Mark B. Goodson
“The summer that I was ten—
Can it be there was only one summer that I was ten? It must
have been a long one then—” – May Swenson, American poet and playwright, who died on 4 December 1989.
Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen
Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt
Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead
How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye
“That was my one big Hollywood hit, but, in a way, it hurt my picture career. After that, I was typecast as a lion, and there just weren’t many parts for lions.” – Bert Lahr, American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, and Cowardly Lion, who died on 4 December 1967.
“An empty canvas, apparently really empty, that says nothing and is without significance. Almost dull, in fact. In reality, however, [it’s] crammed with thousands of undertone tensions and [is] full of expectancy. Slightly apprehensive lest it should be outraged … It can contain anything but cannot sustain everything … An empty canvas is a living wonder—far lovelier than certain pictures.” – Wassily Kandinsky, Russian painter and art theorist, who was born 16 December (Old System 4 December) 1866.
Hannah Arendt eschewed the label “philosopher” in favor of “political theorist” because, in her words, “men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world.” At least three of Arendt’s books are definitely worth reading: “The Human Condition” (her most influential work, in which she deals with the nature of power, politics, authority, and totalitarianism), “Men in Dark Times” (a collection of intellectual biographies), and “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.”
Some quotes from the work of Hannah Arendt:
“Economic growth may one day turn out to be a curse rather than a good, and under no conditions can it either lead into freedom or constitute a proof for its existence.”
“The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade.”
“The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide.”
“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”
“Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.”
“No cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics, the cause of freedom versus tyranny.”
“Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.”
“The ultimate end of human acts is eudaimonia, happiness in the sense of living well, which all men desire; all acts are but different means chosen to arrive at it.”
“It is my contention that civil disobediences are nothing but the latest form of voluntary association, and that they are thus quite in tune with the oldest traditions of the country.”
“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”
“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”
“This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.”
“Man cannot be free if he does not know that he is subject to necessity, because his freedom is always won in his never wholly successful attempts to liberate himself from necessity.”
“Nothing we use or hear or touch can be expressed in words that equal what is given by the senses.”
“Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible.”
“The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new therefore always appears in the guise of a miracle.”
“We have almost succeeded in leveling all human activities to the common denominator of securing the necessities of life and providing for their abundance.”
A Poem for Today
By Emily Rosko
Everywhere is a nowhere,
and here we are
in the middle of it.
For as long as we
could we galloped through
the cross-hatched daisies,
threw out our lungs
from the limestone
bluffs. The streams ran
long with a clay-jammed
soft bottom. Flood plains
turned for the richest
yield. It stunk high-fish,
green enough to breathe.
Sky was all
circumference, bell, or
curve, or big empty.
As with you. The husk-
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Freddie Cannon
Born 4 December 1940 – Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, an American vocalist responsible for the musical masterpiece “Palisades Park.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Frank Zappa
“You can’t write a chord ugly enough to say what you want sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream.” – Frank Zappa, American composer, singer-songwriter, guitarist, recording engineer, record producer, film director, and wit, who died on 4 December 1993.
“Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend.” – Omar Khayyam, Persian philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, musicologist, and poet, who died 4 December 1131.
Below – Five quatrains from the Edward Fitzgerald translation of the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”:
Wake! For the Sun, who scattered into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n and strikes
The Sultán’s Turret with a Shaft of Light.
Before the phantom of False morning died,
Methought a Voice within the Tavern cried,
‘When all the Temple is prepared within,
Why nods the drowsy Worshiper outside?’
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted—‘Open, then, the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.’
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum! –
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainier Maria Rilke, Bohemian-Austrian poet, novelist, and author of “Duino Elegies” and “Sonnets to Orpheus,” who was born 4 December 1875.
“Archaic Torso of Apollo”
We cannot know his undiscovered head
in which the apples of the eyes ripen. Yet
his torso still glows like a candelabra,
in which his seeing, now constrained,
remains and shines. Otherwise the curve
of the breast could not dazzle you, nor could a smile
pass through the quiet axis of the loins
to that centre where procreation swelled.
Otherwise this stone would be disfigured, and cut short,
under the shoulders’ transparent fall,
and would not glimmer so, like a predator’s pelt:
Musings in Autumn: Joseph Conrad
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Spanish painter Eduardo Arroyo (born 1937): “Stylistically, Arroyo’s mostly ironic, colorful works are at the crossroads between the trends of nouvelle figuration or figuration narrative and pop art. A characteristic of his representations is the general absence of spatial depth and the flattening of perspective.”
From the American History Archives: Crazy Horse
“A very great vision is needed, and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.” – Crazy Horse, Native American visionary and war leader of the Oglala Lakota, who was born 4 December 1840.
Here is how Black Elk (in “Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux,” based on talks with John G. Neihardt) describes the vision of Crazy Horse: “Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one. He was on his horse in that world, and the horse and himself on it and the trees and the grass and the stones and everything were made of spirit, and nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float. His horse was standing still there, and yet it danced around like a horse made only of shadow, and that is how he got his name, which does not mean that his horse was crazy or wild, but that in his vision it danced around in that queer way.
It was this vision that gave him his great power, for when he went into a fight, he had only to think of that world to be in it again, so that he could go through anything and not be hurt. Until he was killed at the Soldiers’ Town on White River, he was wounded only twice, once by accident and both times by some one of his own people when he was not expecting trouble and was not thinking; never by an enemy.”
A few quotes from Crazy Horse:
“One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.”
“My lands are where my dead lie buried.”
“We preferred our own way of living. We were no expense to the government. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone.”
“I tried to escape, and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken.”
Musings in Autumn: Wallace Stegner
“(The modern age) knows nothing about isolation and nothing about silence. In our quietest and loneliest hour the automatic ice-maker in the refrigerator will cluck and drop an ice cube, the automatic dishwasher will sigh through its changes, a plane will drone over, the nearest freeway will vibrate the air. Red and white lights will pass in the sky, lights will shine along highways and glance off windows. There is always a radio that can be turned to some all-night station, or a television set to turn artificial moonlight into the flickering images of the late show. We can put on a turntable whatever consolation we most respond to, Mozart or Copland or the Grateful Dead.” – “Angle of Repose”
“I want to make paintings full of colour, laughter, compassion and love. I want to make paintings that will make people happy, that will change the course of people’s lives. If I can do that, I can paint for a hundred years.” – Norval Morrisseau, Aboriginal Canadian artist whose work depicts, in the words of one historian, “the legends of his people, the cultural and political tensions between native Canadian and European traditions, his existential struggles, and his deep spirituality and mysticism. Morrisseau is the founder of the Woodlands School of Canadian art and a prominent member of the “Indian Group of Seven.” He died 4 December 2007.
Below – “Grand Shaman With Clan Staff”; “Artist and Shaman between Two Worlds”; “Visionary Woman and Fly”; “Sacred Bear With Circles of Life”; “Cycle of Salmon”; “Sacred Snake of Good and Evil”; “Shaman People”; “Tree of Life”; “Composition with Spirit Helpers”; “Family”; “Thunderbird”; “Mother and Child”; “Wheel of Life”; “We Are All One.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Pine tree tops,”
By Gary Snyder
American Art – Part II of III: Stacey Durand
Painter Stacey Durand earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Printmaking from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts and a Masters of Art in Teaching Art Degree from Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts.
A Third Poem for Today
“Choosing a Dog,”
By William Stafford
“It’s love,” they say. You touch
the right one and a whole half of the universe
wakes up, a new half.
Some people never find
that half, or they neglect it or trade it
for money or success and it dies.
The faces of big dogs tell, over the years,
that size is a burden: you enjoy it for awhile
but then maintenance gets to you.
When I get old I think I’ll keep, not a little
dog, but a serious dog,
for the casual, drop-in criminal —
My kind of dog, unimpressed by
dress or manner, just knowing
what’s really there by the smell.
Your good dogs, some things that they hear
they don’t really want you to know —
it’s too grim or ethereal.
American Art – Part III of III: Lindee Climo
Artist Statement: “To my mind, there is not a lot of difference between growing a living thing and painting it, in terms of overall conscious plan, time, and the time after. Both undertakings always override the plan because creativity, nature, and accident exist, and they both demand time without limits if the project is from the heart. After a living thing is grown and after a living thing is painted, there is always the need to do it again just a little differently, or a lot differently, but always to do it again. For me, seeing growth makes life meaningful.”