Sentient in San Francisco – 25 March 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 25 March 1932 – Harriet Backer, a Norwegian painter.

Below – “Blue Interior”; “Chez Moi”; “Kone som syr”; “Evening Interior”; “Into the Light”; “By Lamp Light.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 March 1910 – Paul Scott, an English author, poet, and playwright.

Some quotes from the work of Paul Scott:

“Well, life is not just a business of standing on dry land and occasionally getting your feet wet. It is merely an illusion that some of us stand on one bank and some on the opposite. So long as we stand like that we are not living at all, but dreaming. So jump, jump in, and let the shock wake us up. Even if we drown, at least for a moment or two before we die we shall be awake and alive.”
“English is not spare. But it is beautiful. It cannot be called truthful because its subtleties are infinite. It is the language of a people who have probably earned their reputation for perfidy and hypocrisy because their language itself is so flexible, so often light-headed with statements which appear to mean one thing one year and quite a different thing the next.”
“Deny people something they want, over a longish period, and they naturally start disagreeing about precisely what it is they do want.”
“You seem to like everybody. It’s unnatural. It’s also unfortunate. You’re going to waste so much time before you’ve worked out who the people are it’s worth your while to know.”
“In such a fashion human beings call for explanations of the things that happen to them and in such a way scenes and characters are set for exploration, like toys set out by kneeling children intent on pursuing their grim but necessary games.”
“in this life, living, there is no dignity except perhaps in laughter.”
“There are images that stay vividly in your mind, even after many years: images coupled with the feeling that at the same time came to you. Sometimes you can know that such an image has been selected to stay with you forever out of the hundreds you every day encounter.”
“As children we accept magic as a normal part of life. Everything seems rooted in it, everything conspires in magic terms.”
“An emigration is possibly the loneliest experience a man can suffer. In a way it is not a country he has lost but a home, or even just a part of a home, a room perhaps, or something in that room that he has had to leave behind, and which haunts him. I remember a window-seat I used to sit in as a youth, reading Pushkin and teaching myself to smoke scented cigarettes. That window is one I am always knocking at, asking to be let in.”


Contemporary British Art – Lorna Brown

Below – “Balcony 3”; “Garden Beach, Nice”; “Balcony 1”; “Balcony 2”; “From Primrose Hill 3”; “Grenada 3.”

A Poem for Today

“Seed”
by Kathleen Driskell

In first grade, you met Squanto,
nearly naked and
on his haunches, showing
those thick-headed pilgrims
how one must plant fish
to grow maize. And in autumn
you dove into the lobotomized
pumpkin, into the gooey pulp
and seeds, raising a clump
like a slimy chandelier
from the Titanic. And now
in late summer, daughter,
you smile, holding a ripe watermelon,
cut in half, exposing the black
seed within its bright red heart.
Your melon. How proud you are
to think you grew this delicious
thing all on your own.

Below – Barbara Ann Robertson: “Watermelon Slice”

Contemporary German Art – Richard Kuhn

Below – “unknown model 1701/19”; “unknown model 1003/19”; “portrait 2609-18”; “unknown model 2709/18”; “Garden Party”; “unknown model 1803/19.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 March 1925 – Flannery O’Connor, an American short story writer, novelist, and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Flannery O’Connor:

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell them to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning.”
“You shall know the truth, and it will make you odd.”
“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”
“Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul.”
“The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”
“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it”

Contemporary Italian Art – Rosario Oliva

Below – “Falling Sky”; “Memories”; “Smartphone”; “Social Sofa”; “A Walk After A Rainy Day.”


A Poem for Today

“Blind Date”
by Jay Leeming

Our loneliness sits with us at dinner, an unwanted guest
who never says anything. It’s uncomfortable. Still

we get to know each other, like students allowed
to use a private research library for only one night.

I go through her file of friends, cities and jobs.
“What was that like?” I ask. “What did you do then?”

We are each doctors who have only ourselves
for medicine, and long to prescribe it for what ails

the other. She has a nice smile. ‘Maybe, maybe . . . ‘
I tell myself. But my heart is a cynical hermit

who frowns once, then shuts the door of his room
and starts reading a book. All I can do now is want

to want her. Our polite conversation coasts
like a car running on fumes, and then rolls to a stop;

we split the bill, and that third guest at the table
goes home with each of us, to talk and talk.

Below – Joanie Springer: “Blind Date”

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