Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 27 September 1961 – Hilda Doolittle, an American poet, novelist, and memoirist.
“The Mysteries Remain”
by Hilda Doolittle
The mysteries remain,
I keep the same
cycle of seed-time
and of sun and rain;
Demeter in the grass,
renew and bless
Bacchus in the vine;
I hold the law,
I keep the mysteries true,
the first of these
to name the living, dead;
I am the wine and bread.
I keep the law,
I hold the mysteries true,
I am the vine,
the branches, you
Art for Autumn: Merrill Mahaffey (American, contemporary)
Below – “Grand Canyon”; “Rainbow Bridge”; “Bright Angel Cliffs”
For Your Information: 27 September is National Chocolate Milk Day in the United States.
French Art – Leopold Kowalski (1856-1931): Part I of II.
Below – “Autumn on the Shore of the Lake”; “A Game of Diabolo”; “Désir d’été”; “Reflections by the Pond”; “Girl with Flowers in Her Hair”; “Young Lady in a Kimono.”
Remembering a Cultural Anthropologist on the Date of His Birth: Born 27 September 1924 – Ernest Becker, an American anthropologist, writer, author of “The Denial of Death,” and recipient of the Puliter Prize.
Some quotes from the work of Ernest Becker:
“When we are young we are often puzzled by the fact that each person we admire seems to have a different version of what life ought to be, what a good man is, how to live, and so on. If we are especially sensitive it seems more than puzzling, it is disheartening. What most people usually do is to follow one person’s ideas and then another’s depending on who looms largest on one’s horizon at the time. The one with the deepest voice, the strongest appearance, the most authority and success, is usually the one who gets our momentary allegiance; and we try to pattern our ideals after him. But as life goes on we get a perspective on this and all these different versions of truth become a little pathetic. Each person thinks that he has the formula for triumphing over life’s limitations and knows with authority what it means to be a man, and he usually tries to win a following for his particular patent. Today we know that people try so hard to win converts for their point of view because it is more than merely an outlook on life: it is an immortality formula.”
“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”
“Yet, at the same time, as the Eastern sages also knew, man is a worm and food for worms. This is the paradox: he is out of nature and hopelessly in it; he is dual, up in the stars and yet housed in a heart-pumping, breath-gasping body that once belonged to a fish and still carries the gill-marks to prove it. His body is a material fleshy casing that is alien to him in many ways—the strangest and most repugnant way being that it aches and bleeds and will decay and die. Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and to have to live with. The lower animals are, of course, spared this painful contradiction, as they lack a symbolic identity and the self-consciousness that goes with it. They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being. This is what has made it so simple to shoot down whole herds of buffalo or elephants. The animals don’t know that death is happening and continue grazing placidly while others drop alongside them. The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are spared it. They live and they disappear with the same thoughtlessness: a few minutes of fear, a few seconds of anguish, and it is over. But to live a whole lifetime with the fate of death haunting one’s dreams and even the most sun-filled days—that’s something else.”
“Modern man is drinking and drugging himself out of awarness, or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing. As awarness calls for types of heroic dedication that his culture no longer provides for him, society contrives to help him forget. In the mysterious way in which life is given to us in evolution on this planet, it pushes in the direction of its own expansion. We don’t understand it simply because we don’t know the purpose of creation; we only feel life straining in ourselves and see it thrashing others about as they devour each other. Life seeks to expand in an unknown direction for unknown reasons.”
“To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything.”
“We have become victims of our own art. We touch people on the outsides of their bodies, and they us, but we cannot get to their insides and cannot reveal our insides to them. This is one of the great tragedies of our interiority-it is utterly personal and unrevealable. Often we want to say something unusually intimate to a spouse, a parent, a friend, communicate something of how we are really feeling about a sunset, who we really feel we are-only to fall strangely and miserably flat. Once in a great while we succeed, sometimes more with one person, less or never with others. But the occasional break-through only proves the rule. You reach out with a disclosure, fail, and fall back bitterly into yourself.”
“The great boon of repression is that it makes it possible to live decisively in an overwhelmingly miraculous and incomprehensible world, a world so full of beauty, majesty, and terror that if animals perceived it all they would be paralyzed to act. … What would the average man do with a full consciousness of absurdity? He has fashioned his character for the precise purpose of putting it between himself and the facts of life; it is his special tour-de-force that allows him to ignore incongruities, to nourish himself on impossibilities, to thrive on blindness. He accomplishes thereby a peculiarly human victory: the ability to be smug about terror.”
Below – “Sieste à la campagne”; “A Summer Evening”; “Bucolique”; “Dancing Maidens”; “Reading”; “Wild Flowers.”
Worth a Thousand Words: Stout Memorial Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, California.
This Date in Art History: Born 27 September 1946 – T. C. Cannon, an American painter and sculptor: Part I of II.
Below – “A Remembered Muse (Tosca)”; “Two Guns Arikara”; “Zero Hero”; “Favorite Wife”; “His Hair Flows Like a River”: “Self-Portrait in the Studio.”
A Poem for Today
“To an Aeolian Harp”
by Sara Teasdale
The winds have grown articulate in thee,
And voiced again the wail of ancient woe
That smote upon the winds of long ago:
The cries of Trojan women as they flee,
The quivering moan of pale Andromache,
Now lifted loud with pain and now brought low.
It is the soul of sorrow that we know,
As in a shell the soul of all the sea.
So sometimes in the compass of a song,
Unknown to him who sings, thro’ lips that live,
The voiceless dead of long-forgotten lands
Proclaim to us their heaviness and wrong
In sweeping sadness of the winds that give
Thy strings no rest from weariless wild hands.
This Date in Art History: Born 27 September 1946 – T. C. Cannon, an American painter and sculptor: Part II of II.
Below – “Osage with van Gogh”; “All the tired Horses in the Sun”; “Washington Landscape with Peace Medal Indian”; “Mama and Papa Have the Going Home Shiprock Blues”; “Waiting for the Bus (Anadarko Princess)”; “Indian Man.”