Sentient in San Francisco – 15 December 2019

Contemporary Russian Art – Sayan Baigaliyev: Part I of II.

Below – “A room in Moscow”; “Still life by the window”; “Sunny day in Batumi”; “the sun in Ortahisar”; “sunshine in the kitchen”; “Turkish carpet.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 15 December 1896 – Betty Smith, an American novelist, playwright, and author of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

Some quotes from the work of Betty Smith:

“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.”
“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words.”
“A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the bootstrap route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the cruel upclimb.”
“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing … something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up.”
“They learned no compassion from their own anguish. Thus their suffering was wasted.”
“I came to a clear conclusion, and it is a universal one: To live, to struggle, to be in love with life–in love with all life holds, joyful or sorrowful–is fulfillment. The fullness of life is open to all of us.”
“Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life…And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Sayan Baigaliyev: Part II of II.

Below – “Morning breakfast in the kitchen”; “Kitchen”; “A room in Moscow”; “Apples”; “Breakfast with the cat”; “It’s winter outside but the kitchen is warm.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 15 December 1930 – Edna O’Brien, an award-winning Irish novelist, playwright, poet, and short story writer.

Some quotes from the work of Edna O’Brien:

“It is increasingly clear that the fate of the universe will come to depend more and more on individuals as the bungling of bureaucracy permeates every corner of our existence.”
“History is said to be written by the victors. Fiction, by contrast, is largely the work of injured bystanders.”
“When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.”
“Love . . . is like nature, but in reverse; first it fruits, then it flowers, then it seems to wither, then it goes deep, deep down into its burrow, where no one sees it, where it is lost from sight, and ultimately people die with that secret buried inside their souls.”
“Sometimes one word can recall a whole span of life.”
“What makes us so afraid is the thing we half see, or half hear, as in a wood at dusk, when a tree stump becomes an animal and a sound becomes a siren. And most of that fear is the fear of not knowing, of not actually seeing correctly.”
“A country encapsulates our childhood and those lanes, byres, fields, flowers, insects, suns, moons and stars are forever reoccurring.”
“In a way Winter is the real Spring – the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.”

Contemporary Italian Art – Donatella Marraoni

Below – “poppies resin and cement”; “Dreams”; “Shadow”; “That’s Why”; “I’ll tell you a story”; “Portrait XI.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 15 December 1913 – Muriel Rukeyser, an award-winning American poet.

“The Speaking Tree”
by Muriel Rukeyser

for Robert Payne

Great Alexander sailing was from his true course turned
By a young wind from a cloud in Asia moving
Like a most recognizable most silvery woman;
Tall Alexander to the island came.
The small breeze blew behind his turning head.
He walked the foam of ripples into this scene.

The trunk of the speaking tree looks like a tree-trunk
Until you look again. Then people and animals
Are ripening on the branches; the broad leaves
Are leaves; pale horses, sharp fine foxes
Blossom; the red rabbit falls
Ready and running. The trunk coils, turns,
Snakes, fishes. Now the ripe people fall and run,
Three of them in their shore-dance, flames that stand
Where reeds are creatures and the foam is flame.

Stiff Alexander stands. He cannot turn.
But he is free to turn : this is the speaking tree,
It calls your name. It tells us what we mean.

Contemporary American Art – Kristin Moore

Below – “I-35 South”; “Texas Highway”; “Mulholland Drive”; “Hollywoodland II”; “Holiday”; “Judd (Marfa)”; “Over Long Beach”; “LA Palms.”

This Date in Intellectual History: Died 15 December 2011 – Christopher Hitchens, an English-American writer, columnist, essayist, journalist, orator, social critic, and author of “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice,” “No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton,” “Letters to a Young Contrarian,” “Why Orwell Matters,” “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” and “Hitch 22: A Memoir.”
How badly we need the erudition, eloquence, and genius of Christopher Hitchens in this dark time.

Some quotes from the work of Christopher Hitchens:

“What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
“Islamophobia: a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”
“Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”
“If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world.”
“I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.”
“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are God.”
“I’m not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.”
“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.”
“Human beings are pattern-seeking animals who will prefer even a bad theory or a conspiracy theory to no theory at all.”
“I have no time to waste on this planet being told what to do by those who think that God has given them instructions.”
“The gods that we’ve made are exactly the gods you’d expect to be made by a species that’s about half a chromosome away from being chimpanzee.”
“[Religion] attacks us in our deepest integrity – the core of our self-respect. Religion says that we would not know right from wrong, we would not know an evil, wicked act from a decent human act without divine permission, without divine authority or without, even worse, either the fear of a divine punishment or the hope of a divine reward. It strips us of the right to make our own determination, as all humans always have, about what is and what is not a right human action.”
“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”
“In some ways I feel sorry for racists and for religious fanatics, because they so much miss the point of being human, and deserve a sort of pity. But then I harden my heart, and decide to hate them all the more, because of the misery they inflict and because of the contemptible excuses they advance for doing so.”
“Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.”
“Religion is poison because it asks us to give up our most precious faculty, which is that of reason, and to believe things without evidence. It then asks us to respect this, which it calls faith.”
“The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has—from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.”

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