Loving Our Mother: Earth Day 2016
22 April 1970 – Earth Day, founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, is first observed, though the idea for such a day had been suggested a year earlier. In the words of one historian, “In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.”
Some appropriate quotes for Earth Day (particularly the final one):
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” —Theodore Roosevelt
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Perhaps a creature of so much ingenuity and deep memory is almost bound to grow alienated from his world, his fellows, and the objects around him. He suffers from a nostalgia for which there is no remedy upon earth except as it is to be found in the enlightenment of the spirit–some ability to have a perceptive rather than an exploitive relationship with his fellow creatures.” – Loren Eiseley
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” —John Muir
“The good man is the friend of all living things.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“We need the tonic of wildness … At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplainable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” – Carl Sagan
Below – The Earth Day Flag, created by John McConnell; John McConnell (1915-2012); Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005); the “Pale Blue Dot” – a photograph of the Earth taken from about six billion miles away by the Voyager 1 space probe.
American Art – Part I of VIII: Ansel Adams
“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” AND “A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams, visionary American photographer and environmentalist, who died 22 April 1984.
Fancies in Springtime: John Marzluff
My thought has learned the lucid art
By which the willows lave their limbs
Whose form upon the water swims
Though in the air they rise apart.
For when with my delight I lie,
By purest reason unreproved,
Psyche usurps the outward eye
To trace her inward sculpture grooved
In one melodious line, whose flow
With eddying circle now invests
The rippled silver of her breasts,
Now shaves a flank of rose-lit snow,
Or rounds a cheek where sunset dies
in the black starlight of her eyes.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
“Fashion is the science of appearance, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” – Henry Fielding, English novelist, dramatist, and author of “Tom Jones,” who was born 22 April 1707.
Some quotes from “Tom Jones”:
“There are a set of religious, or rather moral writers, who teach that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery, in this world. A very wholesome and comfortable doctrine, and to which we have but one objection, namely, that it is not true.”
“Wisdom, in short, whose lessons have been represented as so hard to learn by those who never were at her school, only teaches us to extend a simple maxim universally known and followed even in the lowest life, a little farther than that life carries it. And this is, not to buy at too dear a price. Now, whoever takes this maxim abroad with him into the grand market of the world, and constantly applies it to honours, to riches, to pleasures, and to every other commodity which that market affords, is, I will venture to affirm, a wise man.”
“I look upon the vulgar observation, ‘That the devil often deserts his friends, and leaves them in the lurch,’ to be a great abuse on that gentleman’s character. Perhaps he may sometimes desert those who are only his cup acquaintance; or who, at most, are but half his; but he generally stands by those who are thoroughly his servants, and helps them off in all extremities, till their bargain expires.”
“It is much easier to make good men wise, than to make bad men good.”
“Nothing can be more reasonable, than that slaves and flatterers should exact the same taxes on all below them, which they themselves pay to all above them.”
“One of the maxims which the devil, in a late visit upon earth, left to his disciples, is, when once you are got up, to kick the stool from under you. In plain English, when you have made your fortune by the good offices of a friend, you are advised to discard him as soon as you can.”
“Men are strangely inclined to worship what they do not understand. A grand secret, upon which several imposers on mankind have totally relied for the success of their frauds.”
American Art – Part II of VIII: Sherry Krulle-Beaton
Artist Statement: “The object of my art is not to reproduce nature, but to define the essence, energies, and intensity of it. I want to create paintings that draw the viewer to them and possibly generate a significant event or joy in their lives.”
Fancies in Springtime: Christopher Lasch
“Our growing dependence on technologies no one seems to understand or control has given rise to feelings of powerlessness and victimization. We find it more and more difficult to achieve a sense of continuity, permanence, or connection with the world around us. Relationships with others are notably fragile; goods are made to be used up and discarded; reality is experienced as an unstable environment of flickering images. Everything conspires to encourage escapist solutions to the psychological problems of dependence, separation, and individuation, and to discourage the moral realism that makes it possible for human beings to come to terms with existential constraints on their power and freedom.”
A Poem for Today
By Lawson Fusao Inada
Memory is an old Mexican woman
sweeping her yard with a broom.
She has grown even smaller now,
residing at that vanishing point
decades after one dies,
but at some times, given
the right conditions—
an ordinary dream, or practically
anything in particular—
she absolutely looms,
assuming the stature
she had in the neighborhood.
This was the Great Valley,
and we had swept in
to do the grooming.
We were on the move, tending
what was essentially
someone else’s garden.
Memory’s yard was all that
in miniature, in microcosm:
rivers for irrigation,
certain plants, certain trees
ascertained by season.
Without formal acknowledgment,
she was most certainly
the head of a community, American.
Memory had been there forever.
We settled in around her;
we brought the electricity
of blues and baptized gospel,
ancient adaptations of icons,
spices, teas, fireworks, trestles,
newly acquired techniques
of conflict and healing, common
concepts of collective survival. . .
Memory was there all the while.
Her house, her shed, her skin,
were all the same— weathered—
and she didn’t do anything, especially,
except hum as she moved;
Memory, in essence, was unmemorable.
Yet, ask any of us who have long since left,
who have all but forgotten that adulterated place
paved over and parceled out by the powers that be,
and what we remember, without even choosing to,
is an old woman humming, sweeping, smoothing her yard: Memory.
From the “Too Good Not to Quote Department”:
“Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too.” – Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States and shamelessly dishonest man, who died 22 April 1994.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
“…but the ones who go posing as moralists are the worst. Cost-free morals. Full of great ways for others to improve without any expense to themselves. There’s an ego thing in there, too. They use the morals to make someone else look inferior and that way look better themselves. It doesn’t matter what the moral code is — religious morals, political morals, racist morals, capitalist morals, feminist morals, hippie morals — they’re all the same. The moral codes change but the meanness and the egotism stay the same.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Chinese-born painter Zhaoming Wu (born 1955): “Wu focuses on figurative work, using live models, mainly women draped in cloth, although his repertoire includes landscapes and portraits. The curves of the body and folds in cloth remind Wu of nature, such as mountains, water, and sunrise and sunset. Wu’s style is impressionistic and moody. It has evolved from initially painting ‘quickly and spontaneously’ with exaggerated values and colors to growing more logical and conscious, according to Wu.”
Zhaoming Wu lives and works in San Francisco.
Died 22 April 1930 – Jeppe Aakjaer, a Danish poet and novelist.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun,
While the moor is resting,
Herds now homeward are begun,
And the stork is nesting.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.
O’er the moor-path silence falls
As on roads so winding.
A late bumblebee is all
Keenest ears are finding.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.
Briefly now the lapwing flies
O’er the bog-pond’s blushes,
Ere it folds its wings and lies
’Neath a roof of rushes.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun.
Eastern window-panes afar
Flare up in the gloaming,
Moorland ponds like tiny stars
Catch the sunset’s homing.
Still, my heart, now sets the sun!
Fancies in Springtime: John Marzluff
“Woodpeckers are natural engineers whose abandoned nest and roost cavities facilitate a great diversity of life, including birds, mammals, invertebrates, and many fungi,moss, and lichens. Without woodpeckers, birds such as chickadees and tits, swallows ans martins, bluebirds, some flycatchers, nuthatches, wood ducks, hooded mergansers, and small owls (screech, saw-whet, and pygmy) would be homeless.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Moldovan painter Vladimir Sorin (born 1966): “Sorin has developed a personal style that allows him to depict his subject with photorealistic clarity using traditional painting techniques combined with soft light and warm colors to create a romantic realism that is more like a dream-like ‘ultra memory.’
Sorin is an avid photographer and gets many of his ideas while cycling or hiking in the countryside with his camera. His poetic landscapes have become a part of personal collections throughout Europe and America.”
A Second Poem for Today
By David Tucker
A slow news day, but I did like the obit about the butcher
who kept the same store for fifty years. People remembered
when his street was sweetly roaring, aproned
with flower stalls and fish stands.
The stock market wandered, spooked by presidential winks,
by micro-winds and the shadows of earnings. News was stationed
around the horizon, ready as summer clouds to thunder–
but it moved off and we covered the committee meeting
at the back of the statehouse, sat around on our desks,
then went home early. The birds were still singing,
the sun just going down. Working these long hours,
you forget how beautiful the early evening can be,
the big houses like ships turning into the night,
their rooms piled high with silence.
Fancies in Springtime: George Lakoff
“The problem with classical disembodied scientific realism is that it takes two intertwined and inseparable dimensions of all experience – the awareness of the experiencing organism and the stable entities and structures it encounters – and erects them as separate and distinct entities called subjects and objects. What disembodied realism … misses is that, as embodied, imaginative creatures, we never were separated or divorced from reality in the first place. What has always made science possible is our embodiment, not our transcendence of it, and our imagination, not our avoidance of it.”
American Art – Part III of VIII: John Randall Younger
“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” – Ellen Glasgow, American novelist and recipient of the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “In This Our Life”), who was born 22 April 1873.
Some quotes from the work of Ellen Glasgow:
“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”
“He knows so little and knows it so fluently.”
“To teach one’s self is to be forced to learn twice.”
“Mediocrity would always win by force of numbers, but it would win only more mediocrity.”
“There wouldn’t be half as much fun in the world if it weren’t for children and men, and there ain’t a mite of difference between them under the skins.”
“No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated.”
“No matter how vital experience might be while you lived it, no sooner was it ended and dead than it became as lifeless as the piles of dry dust in a school history book.”
“Nothing is more consuming, or more illogical, than the desire for remembrance.”
“Violence commands both literature and life, and violence is always crude and distorted.”
“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Marianne Boruch
It seems so—
I don’t know. It seems
as if the end of the world
has never happened in here.
No smoke, no
dizzy flaring except
those candles you can light
in the chapel for a quarter.
They last maybe an hour
before burning out.
And in this room
where we wait, I see
them pass, the surgical folk—
nurses, doctors, the guy who hangs up
the blood drop—ready for lunch,
their scrubs still starched into wrinkles,
a cheerful green or pale blue,
and the end of a joke, something
about a man who thought he could be—
what? I lose it
in their brief laughter.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“How thoroughly the chimps and bonobos have erased the list of purported human distinctions!-self-awareness, language, ideas and their association, reason, trade, play, choice, courage, love and altruism, laughter, concealed ovulation, kissing, face-to-face sex, female orgasm, division of labor, cannibalism, art, music, politics, and featherless bipedalism, besides tool using, tool making, and much else. Philosophers and scientists confidently offer up traits said to be uniquely human, and the apes casually knock them down–toppling the pretension that humans constitute some sort of biological aristocracy among the beings of Earth. Instead, we are more like the nouveau riche, incompletely accommodated to our recent exalted state, insecure about who we are, and trying to put as much distance as possible between us and our humble origins. It’s as if our nearest relatives, by their very existence, refute all our explanations and justifications. So as counterweights to human arrogance and pride, it is good for us that there are still apes on Earth.”
“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” – Immanuel Kant, German philosopher, who was born 22 April 1724.
Some quotes from the work of Immanuel Kant:
“Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s intelligence without the guidance of another.”
“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.”
“Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.”
“Two things awe me most: the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”
“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.”
“Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.”
“Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.”
“Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.”
“Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.”
“To be is to do.”
“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”
“If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on.”
“Even philosophers will praise war as ennobling mankind, forgetting the Greek who said: ‘War is bad in that it begets more evil than it kills.’”
“Nothing is divine but what is agreeable to reason.”
“From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned.”
American Art – Part IV of VIII: Dominic Avant
Artist Statement: “I mainly work in oils on figurative and landscape subjects. Because of my passion for plein air painting, I use a strong play of light and color to create drama. This impressionistic use of color and light set on my foundation of academic drawing builds a nice marriage between Impressionism and Realism.
I have become increasingly intrigued with catching the figure in natural moments. In my painting of my son Dean I was struck by a child’s fascination and peaceful innocence as he played with a green bucket in the water and sand oblivious of time. It is just this type of moment that I strive for in my figurative work. I have been doing commissions now for several years.
Whether I am doing landscape or figurative works I strive to capture the essence and the true beauty of the subject. I believe nature is
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Yusef Komunyakaa
When the plowblade struck
An old stump hiding under
The soil like a beggar’s
Rotten tooth, they swarmed up
& Mister Jackson left the plow
Wedged like a whaler’s harpoon.
The horse was midnight
Against dusk, tethered to somebody’s
Pocketwatch. He shivered, but not
The way women shook their heads
Before mirrors at the five
& dime—a deeper connection
To the low field’s evening star.
He stood there, in tracechains,
Lathered in froth, just
Stopped by a great, goofy
Calmness. He whinnied
Once, & then the whole
Beautiful, blue-black sky
Fell on his back.
Fancies in Springtime: Toni Morrison
“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Russian-American novelist, lepidopterist, and author of “Lolita” and “Pale Fire,” who was born 22 April 1899.
Some quotes from the work of Vladimir Nabokov:
“Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.”
“Revelation can be more perilous than Revolution.”
“Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.”
“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”
“There is nothing in the world that I loathe more than group activity, that communal bath where the hairy and slippery mix in a multiplication of mediocrity.”
“My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.”
“A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.”
“Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.”
“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is.”
“To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.”
“Life is a great sunrise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.”
“I confess, I do not believe in time.”
“I cannot conceive how anybody in his right mind should go to a psychoanalyst.”
“Poetry involves the mysteries of the irrational perceived through rational words.”
“It is hard, I submit, to loathe bloodshed, including war, more than I do, but it is still harder to exceed my loathing of the very nature of totalitarian states in which massacre is only an administrative detail.”
“Some people, and I am one of them, hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm.”
“Nothing is more exhilarating than philistine vulgarity.”
“Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.”
“The good, the admirable reader identifies himself not with the boy or the girl in the book, but with the mind that conceived and composed that book.”
“The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.”
“Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don’t stop to think, don’t interrupt the scream, exhale, release life’s rapture.”
American Art – Part V of VIII: Craig Nelson
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Craig Nelson: “For over 30 years, Craig Nelson has been depicting figures landscapes and various environments in rich vibrant oils. His passion for the subjects relates directly to his brushwork, weaving mood and emotion into each work of art.”
“We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” –
Louise Gluck, American poet and 12th U.S. Poet Laureate, who was born 22 April 1943.
“A Summer Garden”
Several weeks ago I discovered a photograph of my mother
sitting in the sun, her face flushed as with achievement or triumph.
The sun was shining. The dogs
were sleeping at her feet where time was also sleeping,
calm and unmoving as in all photographs.
I wiped the dust from my mother’s face.
Indeed, dust covered everything; it seemed to me the persistent
haze of nostalgia that protects all relics of childhood.
In the background, an assortment of park furniture, trees and shrubbery.
The sun moved lower in the sky, the shadows lengthened and darkened.
The more dust I removed, the more these shadows grew.
Summer arrived. The children
leaned over the rose border, their shadows
merging with the shadows of the roses.
A word came into my head, referring
to this shifting and changing, these erasures
that were now obvious—
it appeared, and as quickly vanished.
Was it blindness or darkness, peril, confusion?
Summer arrived, then autumn. The leaves turning,
the children bright spots in a mash of bronze and sienna.
When I had recovered somewhat from these events,
I replaced the photograph as I had found it
between the pages of an ancient paperback,
many parts of which had been
annotated in the margins, sometimes in words but more often
in spirited questions and exclamations
meaning “I agree” or “I’m unsure, puzzled—”
The ink was faded. Here and there I couldn’t tell
what thoughts occurred to the reader
but through the bruise-like blotches I could sense
urgency, as though tears had fallen.
I held the book awhile.
It was ‘Death in Venice’ (in translation);
I had noted the page in case, as Freud believed,
nothing is an accident.
Thus the little photograph
was buried again, as the past is buried in the future.
In the margin there were two words,
linked by an arrow: “sterility” and, down the page, “oblivion”—
“And it seemed to him the pale and lovely
summoner out there smiled at him and beckoned…”
How quiet the garden is;
no breeze ruffles the Cornelian cherry.
Summer has come.
How quiet it is
now that life has triumphed. The rough
pillars of the sycamores
support the immobile
shelves of the foliage,
the lawn beneath
And in the middle of the sky,
the immodest god.
Things are, he says. They are, they do not change;
response does not change.
How hushed it is, the stage
as well as the audience; it seems
breathing is an intrusion.
He must be very close,
the grass is shadowless.
How quiet it is, how silent,
like an afternoon in Pompeii.
Beatrice took the children to the park in Cedarhurst.
The sun was shining. Airplanes
passed back and forth overhead, peaceful because the war was over.
It was the world of her imagination:
true and false were of no importance.
Freshly polished and glittering—
that was the world. Dust
had not yet erupted on the surface of things.
The planes passed back and forth, bound
for Rome and Paris—you couldn’t get there
unless you flew over the park. Everything
must pass through, nothing can stop—
The children held hands, leaning
to smell the roses.
They were five and seven.
was her perception of time.
She sat on a bench, somewhat hidden by oak trees.
Far away, fear approached and departed;
from the train station came the sound it made.
The sky was pink and orange, older because the day was over.
Fancies in Springtime: Jerry Dennis
“There’s relief in not having to be outside. No gardening, no mowing the lawn, no tyranny of long daylight hours to fill with productive activity. We rip through summer, burning the hours and tearing up the land. Then snow comes like a bandage, and winter heals the wounds.”
From the Music Archives: Richie Havens
Died 22 April 2013 – Richie Havens, an American guitarist and singer-songwriter.
American Art – Part VI of VIII: Michelle Dunaway
Artist Statement: “My mother was always doing something creative, whether painting, wood carving, or stained glass… there were always art books around the house and she encouraged me to do charcoal drawings at around the age of seven. I think growing up in Alaska gave me a love of color and also, growing up in such an untamed wilderness made me aware of all the beauty that is in the everyday. My Father and I always went on adventure hikes in the wilderness, taking the ‘path less traveled.’ I think that really gave me a joy of the process of discovery that translates into the creation of art. For me, the most profound stories are found in the simplest moments. That is something I aspire to convey in my paintings.”
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
“Many Western biologists appreciate the mystery inherent in the animals they observe. They comprehend that, objectively, what they are watching is deceptively complex and, subjectively, that the animals themselves have nonhuman ways of life. They know that while experiments can be designed to reveal aspects of the animal, the animal itself will always remain larger than the sum of any set of experiments. They know they can be very precise about what they do, but that that does not guarantee they will be accurate. They know the behavior of an individual animal may differ strikingly from the generally recognized behavior of its species; and that the same species may behave quite differently from place to place, from year to year.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Trish Dugger
We barge out of the womb
with two of them: eyes, ears,
arms, hands, legs, feet.
Only one heart. Not a good
plan. God should know we
need at least a dozen,
a baker’s dozen of hearts.
They break like Easter eggs
hidden in the grass,
stepped on and smashed.
My own heart is patched,
bandaged, taped, barely
Fancies in Springtime: Murasaki Shikibu
“People make a great deal of the flowers of spring and the leaves of autumn, but for me a night like this, with a clear moon shining on snow, is the best — and there is not a trace of color in it. I cannot describe the effect it has on me, weird and unearthly somehow. I do not understand people who find a winter evening forbidding.”
From the Movie Archives: Jack Nicholson
Born 22 April 1937 – Jack Nicholson, an American actor, film director, producer, and writer. In the words of one movie historian, “ With twelve Academy Award nominations (eight for Best Actor and four for Best Supporting Actor), Nicholson is the most nominated male actor in Academy Awards history.”
A scene from one of Jack Nicholson’s Academy Award-winning performances (Will Sampson, portraying Chief Bromden in this scene, also deserved at least an Academy Award nomination.):
Fancies in Springtime: Miranda Dickinson
“There’s this moment, just before it happens, when everything around you goes still. It’s like that moment you get just before it snows – like nature is holding its breath … And in that moment, anything is possible, and everything you know is called into question.”
American Art – Part VII of VIII: William Whitaker
In the words of one writer, “The only son of an artist father, William Whitaker (born 1943), American painter, grew up in the special world of the working artist. He had access to the finest art materials and was painting in watercolor and oil at the age of six. His fondest early memories are of the sights sounds and smells of the art studio.
Whitaker loves to paint from life in an old fashioned studio. No matter what direction his art takes him, he always comes back to the model in the studio, the form bathed in the beautiful quiet cool light coming down from a high north window. He refers to this kind of seeing and painting as the Old Testament of art and feels there is enough magic to engage him there for the rest of his life.
He believes the value of painting is to be found in its spiritual power. Having been told all his life that the kind of painting he enjoys is dead, he takes quiet comfort in lovingly attempting to capture something the camera cannot see. He is also delighted that there are so many wonderfully talented young artists who are not bound or inhibited by contemporary art world conventions and who are out to paint beautifully crafted pictures without apology. He has been a professional artist since 1965, during which time he has conducted workshops and been a university art professor. He continues to work with one or two advanced student artists for fun. He paints about three or four hours every day ands spends the rest of the time trying not to ruin any good work he’s done.”
Fancies in Springtime: Annie Dillard
“When her doctor took her bandages off and led her into the garden, the girl who was no longer blind saw ‘the tree with the lights in it.’ It was for this tree I searched through the peach orchards of summer, in the forests of fall and down winter and spring for years. Then one day I was walking along Tinker creek and thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with the lights in it. I saw the backyard cedar where the mourning doves roost charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame. I stood on the grass with the lights in it, grass that was wholly fire, utterly focused and utterly dreamed. It was less like seeing that like being for the first time see, knocked breathless by a powerful glance. The flood of fire abated, but I’m still spending the power. Gradually the lights went out in the cedar, the colors died, the cells un-flamed and disappeared. I was still ringing. I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. I have since only very rarely seen the tree with the lights in it. The vision comes and goes, mostly goes, but I live for it, for the moment the mountains open and a new light roars in spate through the crack, and the mountains slam.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Carrie Shipers
I wanted it: arc of red and blue
strobing my skin, sirens singing
my praises, the cinching embrace
of the cot as the ambulance
slammed shut and steered away.
More than needle-pierce
or dragging blade, I wanted the swab
of alcohol and cotton, the promise
of gauze-covered cure.
My mother saved anyone
who asked, but never me,
never the way I wanted:
her palms skimming my limbs
for injury, her fingers finding
what hurt, her lips whispering,
‘I got here just in time.’
Fancies in Springtime: Sean J. Halford
“Tears are a wonderful thing; they wash, they warm, they are the rivers that run through our minds, seeking release. In their salinity they remind us that we came from the sea. Our cells know this, and go about their machinations, ceaselessly recreating the primordial brine. We are water…”
Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part IX)
Artist Statement: “My artwork can best be described as expressionism. The term applies to work that rejects camera snapshot realism, and instead, expresses emotion by distortion and strong colors. My paintings reflect an interest in the day-to-day activities of Alaskans such as fishing, berry picking, children at play, crabbing, and whaling. I am also fascinated with the legends of Alaska’s Native people. While I find much to paint around Juneau, most of my material comes from sketching trips taken to the far corners of Alaska. I’ve taught school on King Island in the Bering Sea, traveled and sketched almost every community in Alaska.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Carol Oates
“Art serves a purpose. It expands our horizons, frees our minds, and opens us up to new experiences. It opens the imagination. All these great discoveries of our time — without the desire to reach beyond our boundaries, we would be forever stagnant. The folly is in closing one’s eyes and not recognizing it.”
American Art – Part VIII of VIII: Sonia Lopez-Chavez
Artist Statement: “Art is my calling, and I love every minute of it.”