Sentient in San Francisco – 23 May 2020

Contemporary Slovenian Art – Lara Jese

Below – “Wasserpfferde”; “White Golden Horse”; “LuLu BO”; “BBB (The Fit Lady”; “The Golden Horse”; “Battery V.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 23 May 1891 – Par Lagerkvist, a Swedish novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, author of “The Dwarf” and “The Sibyl,” and recipient of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Par Lagerkvist:

“Nothing is more foreign than the world of one’s childhood when one has truly left it.”
“All human culture is but an attempt at something unattainable, something which far transcends our powers of realization. There it stands, mutilated, tragic as a torso. Is not the human spirit itself a torso?”
“It is incomprehensible that he should want to have these futile people here, and still more incomprehensible that he should be able to sit and listen to them and their stupid chatter. I can understand that he may occasionally listen to poets reciting their verses; they can be regarded as buffoons such as are always kept at court. They laud the lofty purity of the human soul, great events and heroic feats, and there is nothing to be said against all that, particularly if their songs flatter him. Human beings need flattery; otherwise they do not fulfill their purpose, not even in their own eyes. And both the present and the past contain much that is beautiful and noble which, without due praise, would have been neither noble nor beautiful. Above all, they sing the praises of love, which is quite as it should be, for nothing else is in such need of transformation into something different. The ladies are filled with melancholy and their breasts heave with sighs; the men gaze vaguely and dreamily into space, for they all know what it is really like and realize that this must be an especially beautiful poem.”
“And they are deformed though it does not show on the outside. I live only my dwarf life. I never go around tall and smooth-featured. I am ever myself, always the same, I live one life alone. I have no other being inside me. And I recognize everything within me, nothing ever comes up from my inner depths, nothing there is shrouded in mystery. Therefore I do not fear the things which frighten them, the incoherent, the unknown, the mysterious. Such things do not exist for me. There is nothing ‘different’ about me.”
“All human culture is but an attempt at something unattainable, something which far transcends our powers of realization. There it stands, mutilated, tragic as a torso. Is not the human spirit itself a torso?”
“I have noticed that sometimes I frighten people; what they really fear is themselves. They think it is I who scare them, but it is the dwarf within them, the ape-faced manlike being who sticks up his head from the depths of their souls.”
“Only the gods have many destinies and need never die. They are filled with everything and experience everything. Everything – except human happiness. That they can never know and therefore they grudge it to men. Nothing makes them so evil and cruel as that men should presume to be happy and forget them for the sake of their earthly happiness.”

Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Maria A

Below – “The Insight”; “59 shades of blue”; “summer is always a good idea”; “OM”; “Sunrise”; “Sea 2 See.”

A Poem for Today

“The Window”
by Rumi

Your body is away from me
but there is a window open
from my heart to yours.

From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.

Below – Frederick Childe Hassam: “The Goldfish Window”

Contemporary French Art – Yvan Favre: Part I of II.

Below – “take the path”; “11062016”; “n7”; “Opening night”; “fireplace”; “n77”; “unsuspicious.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 23 May 2012 – Paul Fussell, an American cultural and literary historian, infantry officer during World War II, author of “The Great War and Modern Memory” and “Abroad: British Literary Travel Between the Wars,” and recipient of both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Reading “The Great War and Modern Memory” changed the way I understood history, literature, and human nature.

Some quotes from the work of Paul Fussell:

“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveller learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.”
“Exploration belongs to the Renaissance, travel to the bourgeois age, tourism to our proletarian moment.The explorer seeks the undiscovered, the traveler that which has been discovered by the mind working in history, the tourist that which has been discovered by entrepreneurship and prepared for him by the arts of mass publicity.If the explorer moves toward the risks of the formless and the unknown, the tourist moves toward the security of pure cliché. It is between these two poles that the traveler mediates.”
“Americans are the only people in the world known to me whose status anxiety prompts them to advertise their college and university affiliations in the rear window of their automobiles.”
“The middles cleave to euphemisms not just because they’re an aid in avoiding facts. They like them also because they assist their social yearnings towards pomposity. This is possible because most euphemisms permit the speaker to multiply syllables, and the middle class confuses sheer numerousness with weight and value.”
“A more or less accurate measure of class in America is TV size: the bigger your TV, the lower your class.”
“Wars damage the civilian society as much as they damage the enemy. Soldiers never get over it.”
“Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and it’s fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment.”
“Travelers learn not just foreign customs and curious cuisines and unfamiliar beliefs and novel forms of government. They learn, if they are lucky, humility.”
“Today the Somme is a peaceful but sullen place, unforgetting and unforgiving. … To wander now over the fields destined to extrude their rusty metal fragments for centuries is to appreciate in the most intimate way the permanent reverberations of July, 1916. When the air is damp you can smell rusted iron everywhere, even though you see only wheat and barley.”
“I find nothing more depressing than optimism.”
“Anybody who notices unpleasant facts in the have-a-nice-day world we live in is going to be designated a curmudgeon.”

Contemporary French Art – Yvan Favre: Part II of II.

Below – “Rebecca”; “15102016”; “n’66”; “n’9”; “20170402”; “shades.”

A Poem for Today

“Making a Fist”
by Naomi Shihab Nye

“We forget that we are all dead men conversing with dead men.”
—Jorge Luis Borges

For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.

“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”

Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.

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