Sentient in San Francisco – 12 December 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 12 December 1799 – Karl Bryullov, a Russian painter.

Below – “A Dream of a Girl Before a Sunrise”; “The Last Day of Pompeii”; “Girl, gathering grapes in the vicinity of Naples”; “Italian Morning”; “Italian Midday”; “Self-Portrait.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 12 December 1821 – Gustave Flaubert, a French novelist and author of “Madame Bovary.”

Some quotes from the work of Gustave Flaubert:

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
“The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.”
“Stupidity is something unshakable; nothing attacks it without breaking itself against it; it is of the nature of granite, hard and resistant.”
“There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.”
“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”
“One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.
“All you have to do to make something interesting is to look at it long enough.”
“I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.”
“The principal thing in this world is to keep one’s soul aloft.”

This Date in Art History: Born 12 December 1856 – Henry Moret, a French painter.

Below – “Bathing in the Sea at Lomener”; “Before the Storm, Brittany”; “The Garden”; “Geese on the Banks of L’Aven”; “Groux”; “The North Sea.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 12 December 1999 – Joseph Heller, an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and author of “Catch-22.”

Some quotes from the work of Joseph Heller:

“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
“The question is: what is a sane man to do in an insane society?”
“When I grow up I want to be a little boy.”
“Peace on earth would mean the end of civilization as we know it.”
“[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”
“He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.”
“For war there is always enough. It’s peace that’s expensive.”
“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
‘That’s some catch, that Catch-22.’”

This Date in Art History: Born 12 December 1863 – Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter and illustrator: Part I of II.

Below – “The Scream”; “The Dance of Life”; “At the Roulette Table in Monte Carlo”; “Anxiety”; “Ashes”; “Melancholy.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 12 December 2016 – Shirley Hazzard, an Australian-American novelist, short story writer, author of “The Transit of Venus” and “The Great Fire,” and recipient of multiple awards, including the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Shirley Hazzard:

“At first, there is something you expect of life. Later, there is what life expects of you. By the time you realize these are the same, it can be too late for expectations. What we are being, not what we are to be. They are the same thing.”
“Human beings need unhappiness at least as much as they need happiness.”
“It is the impulse of our century, with its nearly religious belief in magnitude, to fling an institution into every void.”
“There is balance in life, but not fairness.”
“Marriage is like democracy – it doesn’t really work, but it’s all we’ve been able to come up with.”
“Americans’ great and secret fear is that America may turn out to be a phenomenon rather than a civilization.”
“In the circle where I was raised, I knew of no one knowledgeable in the visual arts, no one who regularly attended musical performances, and only two adults other than my teachers who spoke without embarrassment of poetry and literature — both of these being women. As far as I can recall, I never heard a man refer to a good or a great book. I knew no one who had mastered, or even studied, another language from choice. And our articulate, conscious life proceeded without acknowledgement of the preceding civilisations which had produced it.”
“When people say of their tragedies, ‘I don’t often think of it now,’ what they mean is it has entered permanently into their thoughts, and colors everything.”
“Children seldom have a proper sense of their own tragedy, discounting and keeping hidden the true horrors of their short lives, humbly imagining real calamity to be some prestigious drama of the grown-up world.”

This Date in Art History: Born 12 December 1863 – Edvard Munch, a Norwegian painter and illustrator: Part II of II.

Below – “The Voice / Summer Night”; “Red and White”; “Starry Night”; “Lady From the Sea”; “Love and Pain (Vampire)”; “Weeping Woman.”

A Poem for Today

By Keith Althaus

We drove through the gates
into a maze of little roads,
with speed bumps now,
that circled a pavilion,
field house, and ran past
the playing fields and wound
their way up to the cluster
of wood and stone buildings
of the school you went to once.
The green was returning to
the trees and lawn, the lake
was still half-lidded with ice
and blind in the middle.
There was nobody around
except a few cars in front
of the administration. It must
have been spring break.
We left without ever getting out
of the car. You were quiet
that night, the next day,
the way after heavy rain
that the earth cannot absorb,
the water lies in pools
in unexpected places for days
until it disappears.

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