his Date in History: Guy Fawkes Night. In the words of one writer, “Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on 5 November, primarily in Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.”
Below – “Flowers and Birds of Four Seasons” (folding screen); “White-robed Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion”; “The Four Accomplishments” (folding screen); “Patriarchs.”
Some quotes from the work of Lionel Trilling:
“Literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.”
“Immature artists imitate.
Mature artists steal.”
“We who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.”
“We live, understandably enough, with the sense of urgency; our clock, like Baudelaire’s, has had the hands removed and bears the legend, ‘It is later than you think.’ But with us it is always a little too late for mind, yet never too late for honest stupidity; always a little too late for understanding, never too late for righteous, bewildered wrath; always too late for thought, never too late for naïve moralizing. We seem to like to condemn our finest but not our worst qualities by pitting them against the exigency of time.”
“Man… is an inextricable tangle of culture and biology. And not being simple, he is not simply good; he has… a kind of hell within him from which rise everlastingly the impulses which threaten his civilization. He has the faculty of imagining for himself more in the way of pleasure and satisfaction than he can possibly achieve. Everything that he gains he pays for in more than equal coin; compromise and the compounding with defeat constitute his best way of getting through the world. His best qualities are the result of a struggle whose outcome is tragic. Yet he is a creature of love.”
“Nowadays our sense of history is being destroyed by the nature of our history – our memory is short and it grows shorter under the rapidity of the assault of events. What once occupied all our minds and filled the musty meeting halls with the awareness of heroism and destiny has now become chiefly a matter for the historical scholar.”
Below – “Portrait of Andrew Jackson”; “Portrait of Mary Ann Heide Norris”; “Gypsy Maidens”; “Passage of the Delaware”; “Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire”; “Macbeth in the Witches’ Cave.”
This Date in Art History: Died 5 November 1938 – Thomas Wilmer Dewing, an American painter.
Below – “The Days”; “Summer”; “Lady in Gold”; “The White Dress”; “In the Garden”; “The Recitation.”
Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 5 November 1926 – John Berger, an English art critic, novelist, painter, and poet.
Some quotes from the work of John Berger:
“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story’s voice makes everything its own.”
“Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and in this hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.”
“When we suffer anguish we return to early childhood because that is the period in which we first learnt to suffer the experience of total loss. It was more than that. It was the period in which we suffered more total losses than in all the rest of our life put together.”
“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which as beggar is a reminder of nothing.”
“The past is the one thing we are not prisoners of. We can do with the past exactly what we wish. What we can’t do is to change its consequences.”
“What reconciles me to my own death more than anything else is the image of a place: a place where your bones and mine are buried, thrown, uncovered, together. They are strewn there pell-mell. One of your ribs leans against my skull. A metacarpal of my left hand lies inside your pelvis. (Against my broken ribs your breast like a flower.) The hundred bones of our feet are scattered like gravel. It is strange that this image of our proximity, concerning as it does mere phosphate of calcium, should bestow a sense of peace. Yet it does. With you I can imagine a place where to be phosphate of calcium is enough.”
“History always constitutes the relation between a present and its past. Consequently fear of the present leads to mystification of the past.”
“Everything in life, is a question of drawing a life, John, and you have to decide for yourself where to draw it. You cant draw it for others. You can try, of course, but it doesn’t work. People obeying rules laid down my somebody else is not the same thing as respecting life. And if you want to respect life, you have to draw a line.”
Below – “Custer’s Last Stand”; “Abraham Lincoln”; “At the Seashore”; “Albert Einstein”; “Machinist.”
“A Fallen Leaf”
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
A trusting little leaf of green,
A bold audacious frost;
A rendezvous, a kiss or two,
And youth for ever lost.
The bitter, bitter cost.
A flaunting patch of vivid red,
That quivers in the sun;
A windy gust, a grave of dust,
The little race is run.
Were that the only one.
Below – “Lapin Agile”; “”Lapin Agile”; “Benches at Montmagny (Val-d’Oise)”; “Bistros in a Suburb”; “Factory”; “Flowers.”
Musings in Autumn: Shana Chartier
“Even on the silent days, believe your ship will come.”
Below – Albert Cevallier Tayler: “Girl Looking Out to Sea”
This Date in Art History: Died 5 November 1946 – Joseph Stella, an Italian-born American Futurist painter.
Below – “Battle of Lights, Coney Island”; “Brooklyn Bridge”;“Flowers, Italy”; “By-Products Plants”; “Telegraph Poles With Buildings”; “The Bridge”; “Luna Park.”