Sentient in San Francisco – 7 December 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 7 December 1902 – Thomas Nast, a German-born American editorial cartoonist. Thomas Nast is credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus.

Below – Thomas Nast’s rendering of wonderful, generous, pony-bestowing Santa Claus.

This Date in Literary History: Born 7 December 1888 – Joyce Cary, an Anglo-Irish novelist and author of “Herself Surprised,” “To Be A Pilgrim,” and “The Horse’s Mouth.”

Some quotes from the work of Joyce Cary:

“To forgive is wisdom, to forget is genius. And easier. Because it’s true. It’s a new world every heart beat.”
“No one can estimate the power of authority among poor and uneducated people in a world whose problems confuse even the wisest.”
“The will is never free – it is always attached to an object, a purpose. It is simply the engine in the car – it can’t steer.”
“Of all things I find most unbearable is the injustice of one generation to another.”
“It is the tragedy of the world that no one knows what he doesn’t know – and the less a man knows, the more sure he is that he knows everything.”
“Nothing like poetry when you lie awake at night. It keeps the old brain limber. It washes away the mud and sand that keeps on blocking up the bends. Like waves to make the pebbles dance on my old floors. And turn them into rubies and jacinths; or at any rate, good imitations.”
“The truth is that life is hard and dangerous; that he who seeks his own happiness does not find it; that he who is weak must suffer; that he who demands love will be disappointed; that he who is greedy will not be fed; that he who seeks peace will find strife; that truth is only for the brave; that joy is only for him who does not fear to be alone; that life is only for the one who is not afraid to die.”

This Date in Art History: Born 7 December 1892 – Stuart Davis, an American painter.

Below – “Garage No. 1”; “Country Life”; “Rue Lipp”; “Marine Scene/Docks, Gloucester, Massachusetts”; “Private Way.”

A Poem for Today

“Ironing After Midnight”
by Marsha Truman Cooper

Your mother called it
“doing the pressing,”
and you know now
how right she was.
There is something urgent here.
Not even the hiss
under each button
or the yellow business
ground in at the neck
can make one instant
of this work seem unimportant.
You’ve been taught
to turn the pocket corners
and pick out the dark lint
that collects there.
You’re tempted to leave it,
but the old lessons
go deeper than habits.
Everyone else is asleep.
The odor of sweat rises
when you do
under the armpits,
the owner’s particular smell
you can never quite wash out.
You’ll stay up.
You’ll have your way,
the final stroke
and sharpness
down the long sleeves,
a truly permanent edge.

Below – Edgar Degas: “Girl At Ironing Board”

Contemporary Hungarian Art – Norbert Garay-Nagy

Below – “Baroque portrait I”; “Atelier”; “Modern baroque portrait II”; “Enjoy the deep.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 7 December 1975 – Thornton Wilder, American novelist, playwright, author of “The Bridge of San Luis Ray,” “Our Town,” “The Skin of our Teeth,” and “The Eighth Day,” recipient of the National Book Award, and three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Thornton Wilder:

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are fools and the rest of us are in great danger of contagion.”
“We live in what is, but we find a thousand ways not to face it. Great theater strengthens our faculty to face it.”
“My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.”
“Providence has nothing good or high in store for one who does not resolutely aim at something high or good. A purpose is the eternal condition of success.”
“I want you to try and remember what it was like to have been very young. And particularly the days when you were first in love; when you were like a person sleepwalking, and you didn’t quite see the street you were in, and didn’t quite hear everything that was said to you. You’re just a little bit crazy. Will you remember that, please?”
“All that we know about those we have loved and lost is that they would wish us to remember them with a more intensified realization of their reality. What is essential does not die but clarifies. The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”
“Life is a fatal adventure. It can only have one end. So why not make it as far-ranging and free as possible.”
“Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?”

Contemporary American Art – Wayne Chang

Below – “Alley Cat”; Untitled; “Night Hogs”; “Chinatown Has A Mouse Problem”; “To Be King One Day.”

A Poem for Today

“They Sit Together on the Porch”
by Wendell Berry

They sit together on the porch, the dark
Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.
Their supper done with, they have washed and dried
The dishes–only two plates now, two glasses,
Two knives, two forks, two spoons–small work for two.
She sits with her hands folded in her lap,
At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak,
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now, that finally
For all its knowing will not exactly know
Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding
Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.

Below – P. Fleckenstein: “Home Sweet Home”

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