Sentient in San Francisco – 2 February 2019

Happy Groundhog Day 2019

News from Punxsutawney: Phil the Groundhog did not see his shadow, and so we are going to experience an early Spring.

This Date in Art History: Born 2 February 1895 – Robert Philipp, an American painter.

Below – “Russian Tea Room”; “Artist’s Studio”; “Portrait of Woman in Straw Hat”; “Friends”; “Portrait of Asian Girl”; “Rendezvous.”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Death: Died 2 February 1970 – Bertrand Russell, an British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist, and recipient of the 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Bertrand Russell:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
“The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.”
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
“If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. […] The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.”
“God and Satan alike are essentially human figures, the one a projection of ourselves, the other of our enemies.”
“The secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible.”
“The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.”
“One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.”
“We may define ‘faith’ as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups, substitute different emotions.”
“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid … Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.”

Contemporary British Art – Ellen Paige Leach

Below – “Northern Wind”; “Church Cove – Port Leven #2”; “Gunwalloe #1”; “Gunwlloe #9”; “Church Cove – Port Leven #6.”

A Poem for Today

by Ed Ochester

Crows, crows, crows, crows
then the slow flapaway over the hill
and the dead oak is naked

Contemporary American Art – Charlotte Evans

Below – “blue mountain”; “across the pond”; “flotilla”; “early birds”; “red sky”; “open arms.”

A Poem for Today

“The Singing”
by Patrick Phillips

I can hear her through
the thin wall, singing,
up before the sun:
two notes, a kind
of hushed half-breathing,
each time the baby
makes that little moan—

can hear her trying
not to sing, then singing
anyway, a thing so old
it might as well
be Hittite or Minoan,

and so soft no one
would ever guess
that I myself once
sang that very song:

back when my son
and then his brother
used to cry all night
or half the morning,
though nothing in all
the world was wrong.

And now how strange:
to be the man from next door,
listening, as the baby cries
then quiets, cries and quiets
each time she sings
their secret song,

that would sound the same ten
thousand years ago,
and has no
meaning but to calm.

Below – Brian Kershisnik: “Singing Madonna and Child”

Contemporary French Art – John O’Grady

Below – “Clearing the Wood V”; “Evening Glow Across the Bog”; “You Are Everything V”; “The Fairy Rath”; “Moonlight over the sugar loaf”; “The Glow of the Night”; “Looking Up.”

A Poem for Today

“Comings and Goings”
by Glenna Lyuschei

In Tucson
when a university student
goes home
she might leave her desk
and a chair, a bookcase outside her cave
with a sign, “Take me.”

And who could resist
heat radiating over furniture
like a mirage? You hoist
an old Victrola into your pickup
and ratchet up a new song.

You start that life in the West,
invent a past, and when that tune
winds down, it’s okay to put out,
“Take me.”

What do we have in life
but comings and goings?

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