Sentient in San Francisco – 15 February 2020

This Date in Art History: Died 15 February 1939 – Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, a Russian painter.

Below – “House-warming party”; “Theater. Tragedy”; “Alarm”; “Motherhood”; “Self-portrait”; “Bathing of a Red Horse.”

A Poem for Today

“Peacock Display”
by David Wagoner

He approaches her, trailing his whole fortune,
Perfectly cocksure, and suddenly spreads
The huge fan of his tail for her amazement.

Each turquoise and purple, black-horned, walleyed quill
Comes quivering forward, an amphitheatric shell
For his most fortunate audience: her alone.

He plumes himself. He shakes his brassily gold
Wings and rump in a dance, lifting his claws
Stiff-legged under the great bulge of his breast.

And she strolls calmly away, pecking and pausing,
Not watching him, astonished to discover
All these seeds spread just for her in the dirt.

Contemporary Serbian Art – Endre Penovac: Part I of II.

Below – “Midnight”; “Milky”; “Fade”; “Bathed in Sunshine”; “Through Winter Fog”; “Blue Cat.”

This Date in Intellectual/Literary History: Born 15 February 1945 – Douglas Hofstadter, an American scholar of cognitive science, physics, and comparative literature, author of “Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid,” and recipient of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Douglas Hofstadter:

“Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”
“How gullible are you? Is your gullibility located in some “gullibility center” in your brain? Could a neurosurgeon reach in and perform some delicate operation to lower your gullibility, otherwise leaving you alone? If you believe this, you are pretty gullible, and should perhaps consider such an operation.”
“In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.”
“It is curious, how one often mistrusts one’s own opinions if they are stated by someone else.”
“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order – and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.”
“Meaning lies as much
in the mind of the reader
as in the Haiku.”
“The key question is, no matter how much you absorb of another person, can you have absorbed so much of them that when that primary brain perishes, you can feel that that person did not totally perish from the earth… because they live on in a ‘second neural home’?… In the wake of a human being’s death, what survives is a set of afterglows, some brighter and some dimmer, in the collective brains of those who were dearest to them… Though the primary brain has been eclipsed, there is, in those who remain… a collective corona that still glows.”

Contemporary Serbian Art – Endre Penovac: Part II of II.

Below – “Sweet and Sour…”; “Waiting for the Lunch”; “My Mother’s Hen”; “Peaceful”; “My neighbor’s cat”; “Dotted I.”

Musings in Winter: Thomas S. Monson

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Watch your step.”

Below – Photo by Bruno Nascimento.

Contemporary Romanian Art – Lucian Bruma

Below – “First time thinking”; “Open to the public”; “Imagine how the world could work”; “Activating social emotions II”; “The symbolic reaction”; “Thinking about the box.”

A Poem for Today

by Karma Larsen

It was the moonflowers that surprised us.
Early summer we noticed the soft gray foliage.
She asked for seedpods every year but I never saw them in her garden.
Never knew what she did with them.
Exotic and tropical, not like her other flowers.
I expected her to throw them in the pasture maybe,
a gift to the coyotes. Huge, platterlike white flowers
shining in the night to soften their plaintive howling.
A sound I love; a reminder, even on the darkest night,
that manicured lawns don’t surround me.

Midsummer they shot up, filled the small place by the back door,
sprawled over sidewalks, refused to be ignored.
Gaudy and awkward by day,
by night they were huge, soft, luminous.
Only this year, this year of her death
did they break free of their huge, prickly husks
and brighten the darkness she left.

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