Sentient in San Francisco – 3 October 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 3 October 1865 – Gustave Loiseau, a French painter.

Below – “La cascade”; “Nature morte aux pommes”; “Pont-Aven, Temps Gris, Brittany”; “Le Verger en Hiver”; “Bateaux sur la Seine à Oissel.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 3 October 1916 – James Herriot (the pen name of James Alfred Wight), a British veterinary surgeon, writer, and author of “All Creatures Great and Small.”

Some quotes from the work of James Herriot:

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs …[they] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.”
“No animal is a better judge of comfort than a cat.”
“And the peace which I always found in the silence and emptiness of the moors filled me utterly.”
“I think it was the beginning of Mrs. Bond’s unquestioning faith in me when she saw me quickly enveloping the cat till all you could see of him was a small black and white head protruding from an immovable cocoon of cloth. He and i were now facing each other, more or less eyeball to eyeball, and George couldn’t do a thing about it. As i say, I rather pride myself on this little expertise, and even today my veterinary colleagues have been known to remark, ‘Old Herriot may be limited in many respects, but by God he can wrap a cat.’”
“I could do terrible things to people who dump unwanted animals by the roadside.”
“I love writing about my job because I loved it, and it was a particularly interesting one when I was a young man. It was like holidays with pay to me.”
“I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.”


This Date in Art History: Born 3 October 1867 – Pierre Bonnard, a French painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Woman with a Dog”; “The Omnibus”; “Dancers”; “Two Dogs in a Deserted Street”; “The Dining Room in the Country”; “Nude against the Light.”

A Poem for Today

“The Inevitable”
by Allan Peterson

To have that letter arrive
was like the mist that took a meadow
and revealed hundreds
of small webs once invisible
The inevitable often
stands by plainly but unnoticed
till it hands you a letter
that says death and you notice
the weed field had been
readying its many damp handkerchiefs
all along

This Date in Art History: Born 3 October 1867 – Pierre Bonnard, a French painter: Part II of II.

Below – Painted screen with crane, ducks, pheasant, bamboo and ferns; “Women in the Garden” (in the Japanese kamemono style); Painted screen: the Bonnard family in the garden”; “Stairs with Mimosa”; “La Charmille”;“Self-Portrait.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 3 October 1900 – Thomas Wolfe, an American novelist and author of “Look Homeward, Angel.”

Some quotes from the work of Thomas Wolfe:

“All things belonging to the earth will never change-the leaf, the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes again, the trees whose stiff arms clash and tremble in the dark, and the dust of lovers long since buried in the earth-all things proceeding from the earth to seasons, all things that lapse and change and come again upon the earth-these things will always be the same, for they come up from the earth that never changes, they go back into the earth that lasts forever. Only the earth endures, but it endures forever.”
“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”
“Man is born to live, to suffer, and to die, and what befalls him is a tragic lot. There is no denying this in the final end. But we must deny it all along the way.”
“Is this not the true romantic feeling; not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you.”
“The dark ancestral cave, the womb from which mankind emerged into the light, forever pulls one back – but…you can’t go home again…you can’t go…back home to the escapes of Time and Memory. You Can’t Go Home Again.”
“The thought of these vast stacks of books would drive him mad: the more he read, the less he seemed to know — the greater the number of the books he read, the greater the immense uncountable number of those which he could never read would seem to be…. The thought that other books were waiting for him tore at his heart forever.”
“Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.
Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father’s heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?
O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?
O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”
“My dear, dear girl [. . .] we can’t turn back the days that have gone. We can’t turn life back to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of fire–a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron–which we cannot get back.”
“A destiny that leads the English to the Dutch is strange enough; but one that leads from Epsom into Pennsylvania, and thence into the hills that shut in Altamont over the proud coral cry of the cock, and the soft stone smile of an angel, is touched by that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world.
Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.
The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time.
This is a moment:”
“And who shall say–whatever disenchantment follows–that we ever forget magic; or that we can ever betray, on this leaden earth, the apple-tree, the singing, and the gold?”
“The old hunger for voyages fed at his heart….To go alone…into strange cities; to meet strange people and to pass again before they could know him; to wander, like his own legend, across the earth–it seemed to him there could be no better thing than that.”
“Then summer fades and passes and October comes. We’ll smell smoke then, and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, a sense of sadness and departure.”
“There came to him an image of man’s whole life upon the earth. It seemed to him that all man’s life was like a tiny spurt of flame that blazed out briefly in an illimitable and terrifying darkness, and that all man’s grandeur, tragic dignity, his heroic glory, came from the brevity and smallness of this flame. He knew his life was little and would be extinguished, and that only darkness was immense and everlasting. And he knew that he would die with defiance on his lips, and that the shout of his denial would ring with the last pulsing of his heart into the maw of all-engulfing night.”

This Date in Art History: Born 3 October 1882 – A. Y. Jackson, a Canadian painter.

Below – “Red Maple”; “Northern Landscape, Great Bear Lake”; “Sunlit Tapestry”; “Aurora”; “Red Cedar”; “Gatineau.”


A Poem for Today

“Part of a Legacy”
by Frank Steele

I take pillows outdoors to sun them
as my mother did.  “Keeps bedding fresh,”
she said.  It was April then, too—
buttercups fluffing their frail sails,
one striped bee humming grudges, a crinkle
of jonquils.  Weeds reclaimed bare ground.
All of these leaked somehow
into the pillows, looking odd where they
simmered all day, the size of hams, out of place
on grass.  And at night I could feel
some part of my mother still with me
in the warmth of my face as I dreamed
baseball and honeysuckle, sleeping
on sunlight.

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