Sentient in San Francisco – 20 December 2019

Contemporary British Art – Irina An: Part I of II.

Below – “Inside girl”; “Hope”; “Don’t look at me”; “Yesterday was Saturday”; “Armchair”; “Abstract girl.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 20 December 1954 – Sandra Cisneros, an award-winning American writer, poet, and author of “The House on Mango Street.”

Some quotes from the work of Sandra Cisneros:

“You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”
“My weapon has always been language, and I’ve always used it, but it has changed. Instead of shaping the words like knives now, I think they’re flowers, or bridges.”
“If you know two cultures and two languages, that intermediate place, where the two don’t perfectly meet, is really interesting.”
“The beauty of literature is you allow readers to see things through other peoples eyes. All good books do this.”
“There are two things you need to ask for, to open up that channel, so you get the light. One is humility, because our ego is always going to block that guidance, and so you ask for humility.And the second thing you’re going to ask for is courage, because what you’re going to be asked to do is bigger than what you think you can do.”
“The world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.”
“The border between the dead and the living, if you’re Mexican, doesn’t exist. The dead are part of your life.”
“We need to write because so many of our stories are not being heard. Where could they be heard in this era of fear and media monopolies? Writing allows us to transform what has happened to us and to fight back against what’s hurting us. While not everyone is an author, everyone is a writer and I think that the process of writing is deeply spiritual and liberatory.”

Contemporary British Art – Irina An: Part II of II.

Below – “Getting darker”; “Exterior girl Classic Blue”; “Ray girl”; “Eniko”; “Fitting”; “Window Iris.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 20 December 1968 – John Steinbeck, an American novelist, short story writer, author of “The Grapes of Wrath,” recipient of the National Book Award, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and recipient of the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Some quotes from the work of John Steinbeck:

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
“When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you’ve got two new people.”
“A man who tells secrets or stories must think of who is hearing or reading, for a story has as many versions as it has readers. Everyone takes what he wants or can from it and thus changes it to his measure. Some pick out parts and reject the rest, some strain the story through their mesh of prejudice, some paint it with their own delight. A story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. Only then can he accept wonders.”
“Only mediocrity escapes criticism.”
“To be alive at all is to have scars.”
“It is a time of quiet joy, the sunny morning. When the glittery dew is on the mallow weeds, each leaf holds a jewel which is beautiful if not valuable. This is no time for hurry or for bustle. Thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning.”
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”

Contemporary British Art – Nadia Attura: Part I of II.

Below (photographs) – “Cactus Nights”; “The Cape”; “Mexico blue”; “Opus 18”; “Summer Sea”; “Lo Capo.”

This Date in Philosophical History: Born 20 December 1969 – Alain de Botton, a Swiss-born British philosopher and author of “Essays in Love,” “How Proust Can Change Your Life,” and “The Consolations of Philosophy” (a wonderful book; the chapter on Schopenhauer – “Consolation for a Broken Heart” – is especially good).

Some quotes from the work of Alain de Botton:

“The challenge for a human now is to be more interesting to another than his or her smartphone.”
“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”
“It looks like it’s wasting time, but literature is actually the ultimate time-saver – because it gives us access to a range of emotions and events that it would take you years, decades, millennia to try to experience directly. Literature is the greatest reality simulator – a machine that puts you through infinitely more situations than you can ever directly witness.”
“We don’t really learn anything properly until there is a problem, until we are in pain, until something fails to go as we had hoped … We suffer, therefore we think.”
“The only people we can think of as normal are those we don’t yet know very well.”
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
“What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we’re truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along.”
“Maturity: the confidence to have no opinions on many things.”
“You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days.”
“Feeling lost, crazy and desperate belongs to a good life as much as optimism, certainty and reason.”
“Don’t despair: despair suggests you are in total control and know what is coming. You don’t – surrender to events with hope.”
“I learnt to stop fantasising about the perfect job or the perfect relationship because that can actually be an excuse for not living.”
“One of the better guarantors of ending up in a good relationship: an advanced capacity to be alone.”
“Life seems to be a process of replacing one anxiety with another and substituting one desire for another–which is not to say that we should never strive to overcome any of our anxieties or fulfil any of our desires, but rather to suggest that we should perhaps build into our strivings an awareness of the way our goals promise us a respite and a resolution that they cannot, by definition, deliver.”
“We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as beautiful, intelligent, and witty as we are ugly, stupid, and dull. But what if such a perfect being should one day turn around and decide they will love us back? We can only be somewhat shocked-how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us?”
“The difference between hope and despair is a different way of telling stories from the same facts.”
“One of our major flaws, and causes of unhappiness, is that we find it hard to take note of appreciate and be grateful for what is always around us. We suffer because we lose sight of the value of what is before us and yearn, often unfairly, for the imagined attraction elsewhere.”

Contemporary British Art – Nadia Attura: Part II of II.

Below (photographs) – “Cactus Dream”; “From Ella”; “Cactus Flower”; “Cactus Wall”; “The hill”; “Mountain Rain.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 20 December 1997 – Denise Levertov, an award-winning American poet.

“Talking to Grief”
by Denise Levertov

Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.

I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.

You think I don’t know you’ve been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.

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