Sentient in San Francisco – 16 February 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 16 February 1543 – Kano Eitoku, a Japanese painter.

Below – “Cypress Trees”; “Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons, Peafowl”; “Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons, Phoenix birds”; “Birds and flowers of the four seasons, Tree”; “Chinese guardian lions.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 February 1944 – Richard Ford, an American novelist, short story writer, author of “The Sportswriter” and “Independence Day,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Richard Ford:

“I know you can dream your way through an otherwise fine life, and never wake up, which is what I almost did.”
“Some idiotic things are well worth doing.”
“If you lose all hope, you can always find it again.”
“Love isn’t a thing, after all, but an endless series of single acts.”
“Maturity, as I conceived it, was recognizing what was bad or peculiar in life, admitting it has to stay that way, and going ahead with the best of things.”
“When you are sixteen you do not know what your parents know, or much of what they understand, and less of what’s in their hearts. This can save you from becoming an adult too early, save your life from becoming only theirs lived over again–which is a loss. But to shield yourself–as I didn’t do–seems to be an even greater error, since what’s lost is the truth of your parents’ life and what you should think about it, and beyond that, how you should estimate the world you are about to live in.”
“Being a slow reader would normally be a deficiency; I found a way to make it an asset. I began to sound words and see all those qualities – in a way it made words more precious to me. Since so much of what happens in the world between human beings has to do with the inconsideration of language, with the imprecision of language, with language leaving our mouths unmediated, one thing which was sensuous and visceral led to, in the use of language, a moral gesture. It was about trying to use language to both exemplify and articulate what good is.”
“I’m intrigued by how ordinary behavior exists so close beside its opposite.”
“The art of living your life has a lot to do with getting over loss. The less the past haunts you, the better.”

This Date in Art History: Born 16 February 1830 – Lars Hertervig, a Norwegian painter.

Below – “Forest Lake”; “Old Pine Trees”; “Coastal Landscape”; “Borgoy Island”; “Landskap med skog og elv.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 February 1838 – Henry Adams, an American historian, author of “The Education of Henry Adams,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (awarded posthumously).
The Modern Library named “The Education of Henry Adams” the best English-language nonfiction book of the 20th century.

Some quotes from the work of Henry Adams:

“I firmly believe, that before many centuries more, science will be the master of man. The engines he will have invented will be beyond his strength to control. Someday, science shall have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race commit suicide by blowing up the world.”
“The whole fabric of society will go to wrack if we really lay hands of reform on our rotten institutions. From top to bottom the whole system is a fraud, all of us know it, laborers and capitalists alike, and all of us are consenting parties to it.”
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
“The press is the hired agent of a monied system, and set up for no other purpose than to tell lies where their interests are involved. One can trust nobody and nothing.”
“I am an anarchist in politics and an impressionist in art as well as a symbolist in literature. Not that I understand what these terms mean, but I take them to be all merely synonyms of pessimist.”
“Politics, as a practise, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”
“No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.”
“Knowledge of human nature is the beginning and end of political education.”
“Of all studies, the one he would rather have avoided was that of his own mind. He knew no tragedy so heartrending as introspection.”
“Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.”
“You say that love is nonsense…. I tell you it is no such thing. For weeks and months it is a steady physical pain, an ache about the heart, never leaving one, by night or by day; a long strain on one’s nerves like toothache or rheumatism, not intolerable at any one instant, but exhausting by its steady drain on the strength.”
“The Indian Summer of life should be a little sunny and a little sad, like the season, and infinite in wealth and depth of tone, but never hustled.”

Below – 1885 photograph of Henry Adams by William Norman.

This Date in Art History: Born 16 February 1841 – Armand Guillaumin, a French painter.

Below – “Landscape with Ruins”; “Snowy landscape in Crozant”; “The Haystacks”; “Sunset at Ivry”; “Landscape”; “Self-Portrait.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 16 February 1992 – Angela Carter, an English novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and author of “The Bloody Chamber.”

Some quotes from the work of Angela Carter:

“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.”
“Nostalgia, the vice of the aged. We watch so many old movies our memories come in monochrome.”
“Is not this world an illusion? And yet it fools everybody.”
“Cities have sexes: London is a man, Paris a woman, and New York a well-adjusted transsexual.”
“Home is where the heart is and hence a movable feast.”
“She stood lost in eternity wearing a crazy dress, watching the immense sky.”
“His touch both consoles and devastates me; I feel my heart pulse, then wither, naked as a stone on the roaring mattress while the lovely, moony night slides through the window to dapple the flanks of this innocent who makes cages to keep the sweet birds in. Eat me, drink me; thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden, I go back and back to him to have his fingers strip the tattered skin away and clothe me in his dress of water, this garment that drenches me, its slithering odour, its capacity for drowning.”
“I think it’s one of the scars in our culture that we have too high an opinion of ourselves. We align ourselves with the angels instead of the higher primates.”
“It’s every woman’s tragedy, that, after a certain age, she looks like a female impersonator. Mind you, we’ve known some lovely female impersonators, in our time.”
“To pin your hopes upon the future is to consign those hopes to a hypothesis, which is to say, a nothingness. Here and now is what we must contend with.”
“She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening.”
“We must all make do with the rags of love we find flapping on the scarecrow of humanity.”

This Date in Art History: Died 16 February 1990 – Keith Haring, an American painter.

Below – “Statue of Liberty”; “Radiant Baby”; “Growing #2”; “Pop Shop Mother And Baby”; “Icons (C) – Angel”; Untitled.

A Poem for Today

“Neighbors in October”
by David Baker

All afternoon his tractor pulls a flat wagon
with bales to the barn, then back to the waiting
chopped field. It trails a feather of smoke.
Down the block we bend with the season:
shoes to polish for a big game,
storm windows to batten or patch.
And how like a field is the whole sky now
that the maples have shed their leaves, too.
It makes us believers—stationed in groups,
leaning on rakes, looking into space. We rub blisters
over billows of leaf smoke. Or stand alone,
bagging gold for the cold days to come.

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