Sentient in San Francisco – 11 September 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 11 September 1903 – Stephen Etnier, an American painter.

Below – “Still Morning”; “Storefront, Nassau”; “Fort Popham”; Study for “Hurricane Ridge, Harpswell”; “Sunrise, Moana Kea”; “White Bell.”

This Date in Literary History: born 11 September 1885 – D. H. Lawrence, an English novelist, essayist, poet, playwright, and author of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and “Studies in Classic American Literature.”

Some quotes from the work of D. H. Lawrence:

“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”
“Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.”
“There is a sixth sense, the natural religious sense, the sense of wonder.”
“America is neither free nor brave, but a land of tight, iron-clanking little wills, everybody trying to put it over everybody else, and a land of men absolutely devoid of the real courage of trust, trust in life’s sacred spontaneity. They can’t trust life until they can control it.”
“I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.”
“This is what I believe: That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women. There is my creed.”

This Date in Art History: Died 11 September 1939 – Konstantin Korovin, a Russian painter.

Below – “On the Balcony, Spanish Women Leonora and Ampara”; “St. Triphon’s Brook in Pechenga”; “Twilight in a Room”; “Hammerfest: Aurora Borealis”; “Moonlit Night, Winter”; “Spring.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 11 September 1958 – Robert W. Service, a British-Canadian poet and writer known as “the Bard of the Yukon.”
Robert W. Service did not consider himself a great poet. In fact, he generally referred to his poems as “verses.” Nevertheless, his rhymes have delighted generations of readers with their descriptions of Klondike landscapes and the men who traversed them in search of gold. I not only committed some of Service’s verses to memory when I was a boy, but reading them also fueled my determination to visit the Yukon – a determination that I finally realized a few years ago, when I visited Whitehorse and spent a night in the Robert W. Service Campground.

The opening stanzas of two of Robert W. Service’s most famous verses:

from “The Cremation of Sam McGee”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

from “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

Below – The Robert W. Service Memorial and the Robert W. Service Memorial Desk in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada; the Robert W. Service Campground; the Yukon River flowing beside the campground.

Contemporary American Art – Barbara Kuebel

Below – “The gap between the space”; “touching four corners”; “Stretching into one space”; “almost over”; “crowded crowd”; “the stolen moment.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 11 September 1917 – Jessica Mitford, an English-American writer, journalist and author of “The American Way of Death Revisited.”

Some quotes from the Work of Jessica Mitford:

“You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.”
“The character and mentality of the keepers may be of more importance in understanding prisons than the character and mentality of the kept.”
“Gracious dying is a huge, macabre and expensive joke on the American public.”
“Growing up in the English countryside seemed an interminable process. Freezing winter gave way to frosty spring, which in turn merged into chilly summer-but nothing ever, ever happened.”
“Society created the prison in its own image; will history, with its penchant for paradox, reverse those roles?”
“A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”
“In childbirth, as in other human endeavors, fashions start with the rich, are then adopted by the aspirant middle class with an assist from the ever-watchful media, and may or may not eventually filter down to the poor.”
“Things on the whole are much faster in America; people don’t ‘stand for election’, they ‘run for office.’”
“Prison walls are meant not only to keep convicts in, but to keep the would-be investigator out.”
“I discovered that Human Nature was not, as I had always supposed, a fixed and unalterable entity, that wars are not caused by a natural urge in men to fight, that ownership of land and factories is not necessarily the natural reward of greater wisdom and energy.”
“It is somehow reassuring to discover that the word travel is derived from travail, denoting the pains of childbirth.”
“One is only really inwardly comfortable, so to speak, after one’s life has assumed some sort of shape. Not just a routine, like studying or a job or being a housewife, but something more complete than all those, which would include goals set by oneself and a circle of life-time type friends. I think this is one of the hardest things to achieve, in fact often just trying doesn’t achieve it but rather it seems to develop almost by accident.”

Contemporary British Art – Clare Nicholas

Below – “Aberdeen Heather”; “The Old Mill, Wyre Valley”; “Brownsover Hall Gardens”;“Brownsover Hall Stables”; “Badby woods”; “Crofter’s Cottage, Aberdeen.”

A Poem for Today

“Prayer for the Dead”
by Stuart Kestenbaum

The light snow started late last night and continued
all night long while I slept and could hear it occasionally
enter my sleep, where I dreamed my brother
was alive again and possessing the beauty of youth, aware
that he would be leaving again shortly and that is the lesson
of the snow falling and of the seeds of death that are in everything
that is born: we are here for a moment
of a story that is longer than all of us and few of us
remember, the wind is blowing out of someplace
we don’t know, and each moment contains rhythms
within rhythms, and if you discover some old piece
of your own writing, or an old photograph,
you may not remember that it was you and even if it was once you,
it’s not you now, not this moment that the synapses fire
and your hands move to cover your face in a gesture
of grief and remembrance.

Note: Stuart Kestenbaum lost his brother Howard in the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Below – The World Trade Center Memorial.


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