Sentient in San Francisco – 21 July 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 21 July 1858 – Lovis Corinth, a German painter: Part I of II.

Below – “The Artist and His Family”; “Morning Sunshine”; “At the Mirror”; “Walchensee Panorama”; “Woman in a Deck Chair by the Window”; “Self-Portrait with his Wife and a Glass of Champagne.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 21 July 1933 – John Gardner, an American novelist, essayist, critic, and author of “Grendel.”

Some quotes from the work of John Gardner:

“Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
“One of the many interesting challenges nature presents us is its apparent disinterest in maintaining the order humans crave.”
“As a rule of thumb I say, if Socrates, Jesus and Tolstoy wouldn’t do it, don’t.”
“An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
“Art, of course, is a way of thinking, a way of mining reality.”
“‘I know everything, you see,’ the old voice wheedled. ‘The beginning, the present, the end. Everything. You now, you see the past and the present, like other low creatures: no higher faculties than memory and perception. But dragons, my boy, have a whole different kind of mind.’ He stretched his mouth in a kind of smile, no trace of pleasure in it. ‘We are from the mountaintop: all time, all space. We see in one instant the passionate vision and the blowout.’”
“The true artist plays mad with his soul, labors at the very lip of the volcano, but remembers and clings to his purpose, which is as strong as the dream. He is not someone possessed, like Cassandra, but a passionate, easily tempted explorer who fully intends to get home again, like Odysseus.”

This Date in Art History: Born 21 July 1858 – Lovis Corinth, a German painter: Part II of II.

Below – “The Violinist”; “In a Black Coat”; “In a Corset”; “Woman with Lilies in a Greenhouse”; “Woman by a Goldfish Tank”; “Self-Portrait with Model.”

This Date in Environmental History: Died 21 July 2000 – Marc Reisner, an American writer and author of “Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water.”

Some quotes from the work of Marc Reisner:

“In the West, it is said, water flows uphill toward money. And it literally does, as it leaps three thousand feet across the Tehachapi Mountains in gigantic siphons to slake the thirst of Los Angeles, as it is shoved a thousand feet out of Colorado River canyons to water Phoenix and Palm Springs and the irrigated lands around them.”
“To easterners, ‘conservation’ of water usually means protecting rivers from development; in the West, it means building dams.”
“Reason is the first casualty in a drought.”
“Western Congressmen, in the 1970s, were perfectly willing to watch New York City collapse when it was threatened with bankruptcy and financial ruin. After all, New York was a profligate and sinful place and probably deserved such a fate. But they were not willing to see one acre of irrigated land succumb to the forces of nature, regardless of cost. So they authorized probably $1 billion worth of engineered solutions to the Colorado salinity problem in order that a few hundred upstream farmers could go on irrigating and poisoning the river. The Yuma Plant will remove the Colorado’s salt—actually just enough of it to fulfill our treaty obligations to Mexico—at a cost of around $300 per acre-foot of water. The upriver irrigators buy the same amount from the Bureau for three dollars and fifty cents.”
“A place that receives seven inches [of rain] or less—as Phoenix, El Paso, and Reno do—is arguably no place to inhabit at all.”
“More than anyplace else, California seems determined to prove that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a lie.”
“Throughout its history, the conservation movement had been little more than a minor nuisance to the water-development interests in the American West. They had, after all, twice managed to invade National Parks with dams; they had decimated the greatest salmon fishery in the world, in the Columbia River; they had taken the Serengeti of North America—the virgin Central Valley of California, with its thousands of grizzly bears and immense clouds of migratory waterfowl and its million and a half antelope and tule elk—and transformed it into a banal palatinate of industrial agriculture.”
“Had humans never settled in Los Angeles, evolution, left to its own devices, might have created in a million more years the ideal creature for the habitat: a camel with gills.”

This Date in Art History: Born 21 July 1866 – Carlos Schwabe, a Swiss Symbolist painter and printmaker: Part I of II.

Below – “Evening Bells”; “Elysean Fields”; “Angel of Hope”; “Death and the Gravedigger”; “Les Fleurs du mal”; “l’Ame du vin.”

This Date in Literary History; Died 21 July 2015 – E. L. Doctorow, an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, author of “Ragtime,” ’World’s Fair,” and “The March,” three-time recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of E. L. Doctorow:

“I am often asked the question How can the masses permit themselves to be exploited by the few. The answer is By being persuaded to identify with them.”
“The three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport, and a library card.”
“The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.”
“All over the world today, not just in the totalitarian countries, assiduous functionaries in Ministries of Truth are clubbing history dumb and rendering language insensible.”
“The difference between Socrates and Jesus is that no one had ever been put to death in Socrates’ name. And that is because Socrates’ ideas were never made law. Law, in whatever name, protects privilege.”
“The philosophical conservative is someone willing to pay the price of other people s suffering for his principles.”
“And so do people pass out of one’s life and all you can remember of them is their humanity, a poor fitful thing of no dominion, like your own.”
“We make a mistake to condescend to the past as if it were preparatory to our own time.”
“Because like all whores you value propriety. You are creature of capitalism, the ethics of which are so totally corrupt and hypocritical that your beauty is no more than the beauty of gold, which is to say false and cold and useless.”

This Date in Art History: Born 21 July 1866 – Carlos Schwabe, a Swiss Symbolist painter and printmaker: Part II of II.

Below – “The Wave”; “Fate”; “Interior Silence”; “Femme drapee”; “The Judgement of Paris”; “The Jade Ring.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 21 July 1945 – Wendy Cope, an English poet and critic.

Two poems by Wendy Cope (the first is a special treat for English majors):

“The Waste Land: Five Limericks”


In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful;
Clairvoyantes distress me,
Commuters depress me–
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.


She sat on a mighty fine chair,
Sparks flew as she tidied her hair;
She asks many questions,
I make few suggestions–
Bad as Albert and Lil–what a pair!


The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep;
Tiresias fancies a peep–
A typist is laid,
A record is played–
Wei la la. After this it gets deep.


A Phoenician named Phlebas forgot
About birds and his business–the lot,
Which is no surprise,
Since he’d met his demise
And been left in the ocean to rot.


No water. Dry rocks and dry throats,
Then thunder, a shower of quotes
From the Sanskrit and Dante.
Da. Damyata. Shantih.
I hope you’ll make sense of the notes.

“The Orange”

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

Below – Billinda Brandli DeVillez: “An Orange”

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