March Offerings – Part VIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Michael Schoenig

Michael Schoenig attended both Pittsburg State University in Plattsburgh, NY and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Below – “Waterfall, Port Kent, NY”; “Yosemite Falls, after Bierstadt”; “Tessie”; “Joshua Tree, 2006”; untitled.

“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” – Simon Cameron, American politician, who was born 8 March 1799.

Here’s another quote from the estimable Mr. Cameron, who, in addition to being a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, was Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, though he only served a year before resigning amidst a corruption scandal: “I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here… We have spent millions on that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped.” (on funding the Smithsonian Institution)

In his attitude toward science, Simon Cameron was clearly a Republican “ahead of his time.”

Above – Simon Cameron.
Below – The Smithsonian Institution Building in 1865.

Musings in Winter: Wilhelm Reich

“You’ll have a good, secure life when being alive means more to you than security, love more than money, your freedom more than public or partisan opinion, when the mood of Beethoven’s or Bach’s music becomes the mood of your whole life … when your thinking is in harmony, and no longer in conflict, with your feelings … when you let yourself be guided by the thoughts of great sages and no longer by the crimes of great warriors … when you pay the men and women who teach your children better than the politicians; when truths inspire you and empty formulas repel you; when you communicate with your fellow workers in foreign countries directly, and no longer through diplomats…”

A Poem for Today

By Billy Collins

Smokey the Bear heads
into the autumn woods
with a red can of gasoline
and a box of wooden matches.

His ranger’s hat is cocked
at a disturbing angle.

His brown fur gleams
under the high sun
as his paws, the size
of catcher’s mitts,
crackle into the distance.

He is sick of dispensing
warnings to the careless,
the half-wit camper,
the dumbbell hiker.

He is going to show them
how a professional does it.

Swedish watercolorist Lars Lerin (born 1954) lives and paints in Karlstad.
Lars Lerin_watercolor_artist

Lars Lerin_watercolor_artist

Lars Lerin_watercolor_artist

Olof Andreas Nilsson, född 1974-09-14. Fotograf på Malmö Museer, verksamhetsstart 2002.

Lars Lerin_watercolor_artist


“The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic.” – Henry Ward Beecher, American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and abolitionist, who died 8 March 1887.

Some quotes from the work of Henry Ward Beecher:

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”
“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
“A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.”
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
“‎Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself – and be lenient to everybody else.”
“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”
“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
“Adversity, if for no other reason, is of benefit, since it is sure to bring a season of sober reflection. People see clearer at such times. Storms purify the atmosphere.”
“A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road.”
“There are more quarrels smothered by just shutting your mouth, and holding it shut, than by all the wisdom in the world.”
“No man is sane who does not know how to be insane on the proper occasions.”
“Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength. ”
“If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him landlord to a ghost.”
“A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man’s history. It is a man’s duty to have books.”

Musings in Winter: Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.”

A Second Poem for Today

By Jonathan Greene

Honored when
the butterfly lights
on my shoulder.

Next stop:
a rotting log.


Spanish Art – Part I of II: Pedro del Toro

Spanish hyperrealist artist Pedro del Toro paints cityscapes and portraits.






“The habits of our lives makes us presume that things will happen in a certain foreseeable way, that there will be a vague coherence in the world.” – Adolfo Bioy Casares, Argentinean writer, journalist, translator, and author of “The Invention of More!,” who died 8 March 1999.

Some quotes from the work of Adolfo Bioy Casares:

“To be on an island inhabited by artificial ghosts was the most unbearable of nightmares,- to be in love with one of those images was worse than being in love with a ghost (perhaps we always want the person we love to have the existence of a ghost).”
“The sea is endless when you are in a rowboat.”
“The case of the inventor who is duped by his own invention emphasizes our need for circumspection.”
“I do not believe that a dream should necessarily be taken for reality, or reality for madness.”
“Life has now taught me that love for things, like all unrequited love, takes its toll in the long run.”

Musings in Winter: Red Haircrow

“I welcome questions. I hate assumptions.”

Spanish Art – Part II of II: Gabriel Portoles

Spanish artist Gabriel Portoles (born 1930) lives and works in Barcelona.






From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Mickey Dolenz

“The Monkees are to the Beatles what ‘Star Trek’ is to NASA. They are both totally valid in their contexts.” – Mickey Dolenz, American actor who became the drummer and lead vocalist of the Monkees, who was born 8 March 1945.

“Hey! Hey!”

Turkish painter Burcin Erdi was born in Munich in 1977. She has a Master’s degree from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul.






Musings in Winter: Jim Rohn

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Little Peggy March

Born 8 March 1948 – Little Peggy March (Margaret Battavio), an American singer best remembered for her 1963 hit song “I Will Follow Him.”

Musings in Winter: Steve Maraboli

“Simplify your life. You don’t grow spiritual, you shrink spiritual.”

A Third Poem for Today

By Dan Gerber

You know how, after it rains,
my father told me one August afternoon
when I struggled with something
hurtful my best friend had said,
how worms come out and
crawl all over the sidewalk
and it stays a big mess
a long time after it’s over
if you step on them?

Leave them alone,
he went on to say,
after clearing his throat,
and when the rain stops,
they crawl back into the ground.

Musings in Winter: C. JoyBell C.

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”

Artist Jonathan Wateridge was born in Zambia in 1972. He lives and works in London. Here is part of his Artist Statement: “The group series explores ideas of role play, identity and why people choose to commemorate a collective moment. It is a moment that is ‘real’ but also performed and I find that tension interesting to examine.”
Jonathan Wateridge

Jonathan Wateridge





A Fourth Poem for Today

“Removing the Dross”
By Thomas R. Moore

After snowstorms my father
shoveled the driveway where it lay
open to a sweep of wind across

a neighbor’s field, where the snow
drifted half way down to the paved
road, before snow-blowers, before

pick-ups cruised the streets with
THE BOSS lettered on red plows.
He heated the flat shovel

in the woodstove till the blade
steamed, like Vulcan at his furnace
removing the dross, then rubbed

a hissing candle on the steel
so the snow would slide unchecked
as he made each toss. He marked

blocks with the waxed blade, lifted
and tossed, lifted and tossed again,
squaring off against the snow.

“There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters.” – Alice Thomas Ellis, the pen name of Welsh writer Anna Haycraft, who died 8 March 2005, offering a plausible explanation for why the course of both true love and family life never did run smooth.

A few quotes from the work of the uncommonly wise Alice Thomas Ellis:

“Death is the last enemy: once we’ve got past that I think everything will be all right.”
“Men were made for war. Without it they wandered greyly about, getting under the feet of the women, who were trying to organize the really important things of life.”
“Adolescence is usually typified by an unanswerable combination of innocence and insolence.”

Musings in Winter: Charles Bukowski

“having nothing to struggle
they have nothing to struggle

Russian Art – Part I of II: Vladimir Kim

Russian artist Vladimir Kim has spent time traveling and painting in the United States and Mexico.






A Fifth Poem for Today

“Bottled Water”
By Kim Dower

I go to the corner liquor store
for a bottle of water, middle
of a hectic day, must get out
of the office, stop making decisions,
quit obsessing does my blue skirt clash
with my hot pink flats; should I get
my mother a caregiver or just put her
in a home, and I pull open the glass
refrigerator door, am confronted
by brands—Arrowhead, Glitter Geyser,
Deer Park, spring, summer, winter water,
and clearly the bosses of bottled water:
Real Water and Smart Water—how different
will they taste? If I drink Smart Water
will I raise my IQ but be less authentic?
If I choose Real Water will I no longer
deny the truth, but will I attract confused,
needy people who’ll take advantage
of my realness by dumping their problems
on me, and will I be too stupid to help them
sort through their murky dilemmas?
I take no chances, buy them both,
sparkling smart, purified real, drain both bottles,
look around to see is anyone watching?
I’m now brilliantly hydrated.
Both real and smart my insides bubble
with compassion and intelligence
as I walk the streets with a new swagger,
knowing the world is mine.

Russian Art – Part II of II: Evgeniy Monakhov

Russian painter Evgeniy Monakhov (born 1974) graduated from the Moscow Art College and the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow. In the words of one writer, “Monakhov’s paintings excite the same feelings, as music and poetry do. Metaphors of time, history and personal emotional experience pass before spectators. Delicate colors and refined contours create beautiful musical harmony.”






Musings in Winter: Wallace Stegner

“It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose ‘which’ rules you want to live by, and it’s persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any.”

“There is something memorable in the experience to be had by going into a fair ground that stands at the edge of a Middle Western town on a night after the annual fair has been held. The sensation is one never to be forgotten. On all sides are ghosts, not of the dead, but of living people. Here, during the day just passed, have come the people from hundreds of little frame houses have gathered within these board walls. Young girls have laughed and men with beards have talked of the affairs of their lives. The place has been filled to overflowing with life. It has itched and squirmed with life and now it is night and the life has all gone away. The silence is almost terrifying. One conceals oneself standing silently beside the trunk of a tree and what there is of a reflective tendency in his nature is intensified. One shudders at the thought of the meaninglessness of life while at the same instant, and if the people of the town are his people, one loves life so intensely that tears come into the eyes.” – From “Winesburg, Ohio,” by Sherwood Anderson, American novelist and short story writer, who died 8 March 1941.

Anderson’s short story cycle “Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life” and his short story “Triumph of the Egg” should be required reading for all Americans.

Some quotes from the work of Sherwood Anderson:

“Dare to be strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture anything.”
“‘Love is like a wind stirring the grass beneath trees on a black night,’ he had said. ‘You must not try to make love definite. It is the divine accident of life. If you try to be definite and sure about it and to live beneath the trees, where soft night winds blow, the long hot day of disappointment comes swiftly and the gritty dust from passing wagons gathers upon lips inflamed and made tender by kisses.’”
“There is a time in the life of every boy when he for the first time takes the backward view of life. Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses the line into manhood. The boy is walking through the street of his town. He is thinking of the future and of the figure he will cut in the world. Ambitions and regrets awake within him. Suddenly something happens; he stops under a tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. Ghosts of old things creep into his consciousness; the voices outside of himself whisper a message concerning the limitations of life. From being quite sure of himself and his future he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative boy a door is torn open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched in procession before him, the countless figures of men who before his time have come out of nothingness into the world, lived their lives and again disappeared into nothingness. The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun.”
“I am a lover and have not found my thing to love. That is a big point if you know enough to realize what I mean. It makes my destruction inevitable, you see. There are few who understand that.”
“The fruition of the year had come and the night should have been fine with a moon in the sky and the crisp sharp promise of frost in the air, but it wasn’t that way. It rained and little puddles of water shone under the street lamps on Main Street. In the woods in the darkness beyond the Fair Ground water dripped from the black trees.”
“There is within every human being a deep well of thinking over which a heavy iron lid is kept clamped.”
“It is no use. I find it impossible to work with security staring me in the face.”
“It was a cold day but the sun was out and the trees were like great bonfires against gray distant fields and hills.”
“He thought about himself and to the young that always brings sadness.”
“Her thoughts ran away to her girlhood with its passionate longing for adventure and she remembered the arms of men that had held her when adventure was a possible thing for her. Particularly she remembered one who had for a time been her lover and who in the moment of his passion had cried out to her more than a hundred times, saying the same words madly over and over: ‘You dear! You dear! You lovely dear!’ The words, she thought, expressed something she would have liked to have achieved in life.”
“People keep on getting married. Evidently hope is eternal in the human breast.”
“The machines men are so intent on making have carried them very far from the old sweet things.”
“All good New Orleanians go to look at the Mississippi at least once a day. At night it is like creeping into a dark bedroom to look at a sleeping child–something of that sort–gives you the same warm nice feeling, I mean.”
“The story of Doctor Reefy and his courtship of the tall dark girl who became his wife and left her money to him is a very curious story. It is delicious, like the twisted little apples that grow in the orchards of Winesburg. In the fall one walks in the orchards and the ground is hard with frost underfoot. The apples have been taken from the trees by the pickers. They have been put in barrels and shipped to the cities where they will be eaten in apartments that are filled with books, magazines, furniture, and people. On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy’s hands. One nibbles at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the apple has been gathered all of its sweetness. One runs from tree to tree over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and filling his pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.”
“Many people must live and die alone, even in Winesburg.”


Musings in Winter: Rainer Maria Rilke

“There are no classes in life for beginners: right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.”

American Art – Part II of IV: Dina Brodsky

Painter Dina Brodsky was born in Minsk, Belarus in 1981. Her family immigrated to the US in 1990. She was educated at University of Massachusetts Amherst and New York Academy of Art, where she received her MFA. She lives and works in New York City.







“The Himalayas are the crowning achievement of the Indo-Australian plate. India in the Oligocene crashed head on into Tibet, hit so hard that it not only folded and buckled the plate boundaries but also plowed into the newly created Tibetan plateau and drove the Himalayas five and a half miles into the sky. The mountains are in some trouble. India has not stopped pushing them, and they are still going up. Their height and volume are already so great they are beginning to melt in their own self-generated radioactive heat. 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 a warm clear ocean that India, moving north, blanked out. Possibly as much as 20,000 feet below the sea floor, 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.” – From “Annals of the Former World” (which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction), by John McPhee, American writer, who was born 8 March 1931.

Some quotes from the work of John McPhee:

“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.”
“Speaking of libraries: A big open-stack academic or public library is no small pleasure to work in. You’re, say, trying to do a piece on something in Nevada, and you go down to C Floor, deep in the earth, and out to what a miner would call a remote working face. You find 10995.497S just where the card catalog and the online computer thought it would be, but that is only the initial nick. The book you knew about has led you to others you did not know about. To the ceiling the shelves are loaded with books about Nevada. You pull them down, one at a time, and sit on the floor and look them over until you are sitting on a pile five feet high, at which point you are late home for dinner and you get up and walk away. It’s an incomparable boon to research, all that; but it is also a reason why there are almost no large open-stack libraries left in the world.”
“Now, at Suiattle Pass, Brower was still talking about butterflies. He said he had raised them from time to time and had often watched them emerge from the chrysalis–first a crack in the case, then a feeler, and in an hour a butterfly. He said he had felt that he wanted to help, to speed them through the long and awkward procedure; and he had once tried. The butterflies came out with extended abdomens, and their wings were balled together like miniature clenched fists. Nothing happened. They sat there until they died. ‘I have never gotten over that,’ he said. ‘That kind of information is all over in the country, but it’s not in town.’”
“(If you are) going to have an industrial society you must have places that will look terrible. Other places you set aside—to say, ‘This is the way it was.’”
“He said, ‘Americans look upon water as an inexhaustible resource. It’s not, if you’re mining it. Arizona is mining groundwater.’”
“Some miners’ wives take in washing and make more money than their husbands do. In every gold rush from this one to the Klondike, the suppliers and service industries will gather up the dust while ninety-nine per cent of the miners go home with empty pokes.”
“Only once in the historical record has a jump on the San Andreas exceeded the jump of 1906. In 1857, near Tejon Pass outside Los Angeles, the two sides shifted thirty feet.”
“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.”

A Sixth Poem for Today

“A Story Can Change Your Life”
By Peter Everwine

On the morning she became a young widow,
my grandmother, startled by a sudden shadow,
looked up from her work to see a hawk turn
her prized rooster into a cloud of feathers.
That same moment, halfway around the world
in a Minnesota mine, her husband died,
buried under a ton of rockfall.
She told me this story sixty years ago.
I don’t know if it’s true but it ought to be.
She was a hard old woman, and though she knelt
on Sundays when the acolyte’s silver bell
announced the moment of Christ’s miracle,
it was the darker mysteries she lived by:
shiver-cry of an owl, black dog by the roadside,
a tapping at the door and nobody there.
The moral of the story was plain enough:
miracles become a burden and require a priest
to explain them. With signs, you only need
to keep your wits about you and place your trust
in a shadow world that lets you know hard luck
and grief are coming your way. And for that
—so the story goes—any day will do.

American Art – Part III of IV: Kirstine Reiner

Artist Statement: “I think most of all I am interested in re-creating life on the canvas, or what feels like ‘life energy’. Although my painting style is realism, there’s a great deal of imagination involved. In between working from a model I’ll spend a lot of time working from memory and imagination and other references I am fascinated with at the time. I like to think of the work as not preconceived at all, but rather as a sort of organic puzzle where the final outcome doesn’t necessarily even have to carry a real likeness to the person more than it has to feel right and convey surprises in the process. So the painting goes through many transformations of expression before I find my way.”

Below – “Tangy Zangy Blue”; “Dichotomy”; “Spider, Self Portrait 2”; “Portrait Squared”; “White Pillow.”





Musings in Winter: Katherine Min

“It’s a secondhand world we’re born into. What is novel to us is only so because we’re newborn, and what we cannot see, that has come before- what our parents have seen and been and done- are the hand-me-downs we begin to wear as swaddling clothes, even as we ourselves are naked. The flaw runs through us, implicating us in its imperfection even as it separates us, delivers us onto opposite sides of a chasm. It is both terribly beautiful and terribly sad, but it is, finally, the fault in the universe that gives birth to us all.”

Three decades ago, Neil Postman elaborated the regrettable ways that some technologies were affecting American cultural character. He was considered something of an alarmist, though now he seems more like a prophet.
“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World.’ Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
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. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in ‘Brave New World Revisited,’ the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ ‘In 1984,’ Huxley added, ‘people are controlled by inflicting pain. In ‘Brave New World,’ they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.’ In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.” – From “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” (1985), by Neil Postman, American writer, media theorist, and cultural critic, who was born 8 March 1931.

Some quotes from the work of Neil Postman:

“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.”
“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.”
“What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. 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; a culture-death is a clear possibility.”
“Most of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action.”
“The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.”
“We do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant.”
“It is not that television is entertaining but that it has made entertainment itself the natural format for the representation of all experience. … The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.”
“‘The scientific method,’ Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote, ‘is nothing but the normal working of the human mind.’ That is to say, when the mind is working; that is to say further, when it is engaged in correcting its mistakes.
Taking this point of view, we may conclude that science is not physics, biology, or chemistry–is not even a ‘subject’ –but a moral imperative drawn from a larger narrative whose purpose is to give perspective, balance, and humility to learning.”
“At its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living.”
“Television is our culture’s principal mode of knowing about itself. Therefore — and this is the critical point — how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged. It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse. It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails.”
“For in the end, he was trying to tell us what afflicted the people in ‘Brave New World’ was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.”
“But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple.”
“Television screens saturated with commercials promoting the utopian and childish idea that all problems have fast, simple, and technological solutions. You must banish from your mind the naive but commonplace notion that commercials are about products. They are about products in the same sense that the story of Jonah is about the anatomy of whales.”
“The reader must come armed, in a serious state of intellectual readiness. This is not easy because he comes to the text alone. In reading, one’s responses are isolated, one’s intellect thrown back on its own resources. To be confronted by the cold abstractions of printed sentences is to look upon language bare, without the assistance of either beauty or community. Thus, reading is by its nature a serious business. It is also, of course, an essentially rational activity.”
“In America, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is certainly useful to have a few when a pollster shows up. But these are opinions are quite different rider from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century opinions. It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions, which would account for the fact that they change from week to week, as the pollsters tell us. What is happening here is that television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. I am using this world almost in the precise sense in which it is used by spies in the CIA or KGB. 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. In saying this, I do not mean to imply that television news deliberately aims to deprive Americans of a coherent, contextual understanding of their world. I mean to say that when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the inevitable result. And in saying that the television news show entertains but does not inform, I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”
“There must be a sequence to learning, that perseverance and a certain measure of perspiration are indispensable, that individual pleasures must frequently be submerged in the interests of group cohesion, and that learning to be critical and to think conceptually and rigorously do not come easily to the young but are hard-fought victories.”
“Technology always has unforeseen consequences, and it is not always clear, at the beginning, who or what will win, and who or what will lose.”
“Remember: in order for a perception to change one must be frustrated in one’s actions or change one’s purpose.”
“Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.”
“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.”
“Parents embraced ‘Sesame Street’ for several reasons, among them that it assuaged their guilt over the fact that they could not or would not restrict their children’s access to television. ‘Sesame Street’ appeared to justify allowing a four- or five-year-old to sit transfixed in front of a television screen for unnatural periods of time. Parents were eager to hope that television could teach their children something other than which breakfast cereal has the most crackle. At the same time, ‘Sesame Street’ relieved them of the responsibility of teaching their pre-school children how to read—no small matter in a culture where children are apt to be considered a nuisance…. We now know that ‘Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.’ Which is to say, we now know that ‘Sesame Street’ undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”
“If politics is like show business, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are, which is another matter altogether.”

Musings in Winter: Ta-Nehisi Coates

“I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”

A Seventh Poem for Today

“Apple Blossoms”
By Susan Kelly-DeWitt

One evening in winter
when nothing has been enough,
when the days are too short,

the nights too long
and cheerless, the secret
and docile buds of the apple

blossoms begin their quick
ascent to light. Night
after interminable night

the sugars pucker and swell
into green slips, green
silks. And just as you find

yourself at the end
of winter’s long, cold
rope, the blossoms open

like pink thimbles
and that black dollop
of shine called

bumblebee stumbles in.


Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Nancy Yaki

In the words of one writer, “Nancy because a resident of Homer, Alaska in 1980. Although she recently moved to California, she returns to Homer for the beautiful Alaskan summers.
Surprisingly disarming and folksy, her paintings offer a view into the realm of a contemporary artist at once embracing the simple spirit of her surroundings and transforming the elitism of fine art into an at tangible and graceful humor.
Unflinching in her humor and warmth, Nancy creates a universe exclusive of nobody, where the muses speak of us all.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Manzanita”; “Morning Melody”; “The Red Novel”; “Lake Cachuma, Noon”; “Tres Amigos”; “Fresh Rain”; “Guarding the Ridge”; “Crossing the Gulf #1.”








Musings in Winter: Slavoj Zizek

“The fact that a cloud from a minor volcanic eruption in Iceland—a small disturbance in the complex mechanism of life on the Earth—can bring to a standstill the aerial traffic over an entire continent is a reminder of how, with all its power to transform nature, humankind remains just another species on the planet Earth.”


American Art – Part IV of IV: Jared Sines

In the words of one writer, “Bay Area artist Jared Sines didn’t exactly have the average childhood: by age eight he was undergoing classical art training and drawing from live nude models.
‘Most parents teach their kids how to throw a curve ball, but mine were into the arts,’ said Sines, an exhibitor at The Garden Gallery in Half Moon Bay whose primary work includes still-life, nudes and landscapes. ‘Draw the nice naked lady,’ they’d say,’ he laughed. ‘I liked the drawing best. I liked painting too, but I think I got more paint all over the room than on the canvas.’
Sines credits his father with getting him started in art. ‘My father was one of those crazy artist types too, though I guess all artists are a little bit crazy. “Learn anatomy, son,” he said. His legacy really lives on in me through his love of art.’
Sines is a California native and took art classes his whole life, including advertising art at the Academy of Advertising Art and contemporary art at San Francisco State University. He’s also exhibited across the state, from La Jolla to San Francisco, from the age of 21.”

Below – “Good Luck and Happiness”; “Still Life at Clear Lake”; “Yellow Bartlett and Berries”; “Plum Wonderful”; “Still Life by the Sea”; “Gold Country.”






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