This Date in Art History: Born 8 December 1815 – Adolph Menzel, a German painter and illustrator.
Below – “Emilie Menzel Asleep”; “Balcony Room”; “The Bedroom of the Artist in the Ritterstraße”; “At the Beer Garden”; “Building Site with Willows”; “Studio Wall.”
This Date in Literary/Cultural History: Born 8 December 1960 – Bill McKibben, an award-winning American environmentalist and author of “The End of Nature.”
Some quotes from the work of Bill McKibben:
“Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it.”
“The technology we need most badly is the technology of community, the knowledge about how to cooperate to get things done.”
“There hadn’t really been a climate movement, per se. I think everyone spent twenty years thinking that if we just keep pointing out that the world is on the edge of the greatest crisis by far it’s ever come to, then our leaders will do something about it. And it turned out that was wrong. They weren’t going to do anything about it.”
“Global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It’s our reality.”
“In 50 years, no one will care about the fiscal cliff or the Euro crisis. They’ll just ask, ‘So the Arctic melted, and then what did you do?’”
“It is unbelievably sad and ironic that the first victims of global warming are almost all going to come from places that are producing virtually none of the problem.”
“If we all used clotheslines, we could save 30 million tons of coal a year, or shut down 15 nuclear power plants. And you don’t have to wait to start. Yours could be up by this afternoon. To be specific, buy 50 feet of clothesline and a $3 bag of clothespins and become a solar energy pioneer.”
“We’re not at the point of trying to stop global warming; it’s too late for that. We’re trying to keep it from becoming a complete and utter calamity.”
“We can either save the planet from catastrophic warming, or protect fossil fuel CEOs. Not both. Do the math(s).”
“If we were built, what were we built for? … Why do we have this amazing collection of sinews, senses, and sensibilities? Were we really designed in order to recline on the couch, extending our wrists perpendicular to the floor so we can flick through the television’s offerings? Were we really designed in order to shop some more so the economy can grow some more? Or were we designed to experience the great epiphanies that come from contact with each other and with the natural world?”
“The world hasn’t ended, but the world as we know it has-even if we don’t quite know it yet.”
Below – “Air”; “The River”; “The Night”; “Bas Relief” (terracotta); “The Nymph.”La Méditerranée.”
A Poem for Today
by Catherine Barnett
My father scolded us all for refusing his liquor.
He kept buying tequila, and steak for the grill,
until finally we joined him, making margaritas,
cutting the fat off the bone.
When he saw how we drank, my sister
shredding the black labels into her glass
while his remaining grandchildren
dragged their thin bunk bed mattresses
first out to the lawn to play
then farther up the field to sleep next to her,
I think it was then he changed,
something in him died. He’s gentler now,
quiet, losing weight though every night
he eats the same ice cream he always ate
only now he’s not drinking,
he doesn’t fall asleep with the spoon in his hand,
he waits for my mother to come lie down with him.
Below – J. Coates: “Old Couple”
This Date in Art History: Born 8 December 1881 – Albert Gleizes, a French painter.
Below- “Man in a Hammock”; “Football Players”; “Woman with Phlox”; “Bords de la Marne,”; “Man on a Balcony”; “The Bathers.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 8 December 1913 – Delmore Schwartz, an American poet and short story writer.
Some quotes from the work of Delmore Schwartz:
“Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.”
“Love is the most difficult and dangerous form of courage. Courage is the most desperate, admirable and noble kind of love.”
“How the false truths of the years of youth have passed!
Have passed at full speed like trains which never stopped
There where I stood and waited, hardly aware,
How little I knew, or which of them was the one
To mount and ride to hope or where true hope arrives.”
“Even paranoids have real enemies.”
“I got married the second time in the way that, when a murder is committed, crackpots turn up at the police station to confess the crime.”
“I am a book I neither wrote nor read.”
“O your life, your lonely life
What have you ever done with it,
And done with the great gift of consciousness?
What will you ever do before Death’s knife
Provides the answer ultimate and appropriate?
As I for my part felt in my heart as one who falls,
Falls in a parachute, falls endlessly, and feels the vast
Draft of the abyss sucking him down and down,
An endlessly helplessly falling and appalled clown:
This is the way the night passes by, this
Is the overnight endless trip to the famous unfathomable abyss.”
“How could I think the brief years were enough
To prove the reality of endless love?”
“Where the light is, and each thing clear,
Separate from all others, standing in its place,
I drink the time and touch whatever’s near,
And hope for day when the whole world has that face:
For what assures her present every year?I
n dark accidents the mind’s sufficient grace.”
“What was the freedom to which the adult human being rose in the morning, if each act was held back or inspired by the overpowering ghost of a little child?”
Below – “Afternoon by the Pond”; “The Red Bridge”; “Anna Dwight Weir Reading a Letter”; “The Birches”; “The Black Lace Dress”; “On the Shore.”
“Failed Tribute to the Stonemason of Tor House, Robinson Jeffers”
by James Tate
We traveled down to see your house,
Tor House, Hawk Tower, in Carmel,
California. It was not quite what
I thought it would be: I wanted it
to be on a hill, with a view of the ocean
unobstructed by other dwellings.
Fifty years ago I know you had
a clean walk to the sea, hopping
from boulder to boulder, the various
seafowl rightly impressed with
your lean, stern face. But today
with our cameras cocked we had to
sneak and crawl through trimmed lawns
to even verify the identity of
your strange carbuncular creation,
now rented to trillionaire non-
literary folk from Pasadena.
Edged in on all sides by trilevel
pasteboard phantasms, it took
a pair of good glasses to barely see
some newlyweds feed popcorn
to an albatross. Man is
a puny thing, divorced,
whether he knows it or not, and
pays his monthly alimony,
his child-support. Year after year
you strolled down to this exceptionally
violent shore and chose your boulder;
the arms grew as the house grew
as the mind grew to exist outside
of time, beyond the dalliance
of your fellows. Today I hate
Carmel: I seek libation in the Tiki
Bar: naked native ladies are painted
in iridescent orange on velvet cloth:
the whole town loves art.
And I donate this Singapore Sling
to the memory of it, and join
the stream of idlers simmering outside.
Much as hawks circled your head
when you cut stone all afternoon,
kids with funny hats on motorscooters
keep circling the block.
Below – Tor House and Hawk Tower.