Sentient in San Francisco – 2 June 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 2 June 1904 – Frank Runacres, an English painter.

Below – “Ladies on Bridge”; “Girl in Venice”; “The Big Wheel”; “Afternoon Cruise”; “Sur la place”; “The boat house.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 2 June 1935 – Carol Shields, an American-Canadian novelist, short story writer, author of “The Stone Diaries,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Carol Shields:

“This is why I read novels: so I can escape my own unrelenting monologue.”
“There are chapters in every life which are seldom read and certainly not aloud.”
“It’s hard work being a person, you have to do it every single day.”
“A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it. It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction.”
“I don’t think I would have been a writer if I hadn’t been a mother. I wanted to construct something that contained some of these feelings that I had, some of these discoveries or revelations.”
“The larger loneliness of our lives evolves from our unwillingness to spend ourselves, stir ourselves. We are always damping down our inner weather, permitting ourselves the comforts of postponement, of rehearsals.”
“Go for long walks,
indulge in hot baths,
Question your assumptions,
be kind to yourself,
live for the moment,
loosen up, scream,
curse the world,
count your blessings,
Just let go,
Just be.”

Contemporary French Art – Patrick Gonzales

Below (photography/digital painting) – Untitled #347; Untitled #353; Untitled #342; Untitled #358; Untitled #352; Untitled #153.

This Date in Literary History: Born 2 June 1907 – John Lehmann, an English poet and publisher.

“This Excellent Machine”
by John Lehmann

This excellent machine is neatly planned.
A child, a half-wit would not feel perplexed:
No chance to err, you simply press the button –
At once each cog in motion moves the next,
The whole revolves, and anything that lives
Is quickly sucked towards the running band,
Where, shot between the automatic knives,
It’s guaranteed to finish dead as mutton.

This excellent machine will illustrate
The modern world divided into nations:
So neatly planned, that if you merely tap it
The armaments will start their devastations,
And though we’re for it, though we’re all convinced
Some fool will press the button soon or late,
We stand and stare, expecting to be minced –
And very few are asking ‘Why not scrap it?’

Contemporary American Art – Costel Iarca

Below – “Still Life Nr 12”; “Still Life Nr 3”; “Still Life Nr 9”; “Fragile Beautiful”; “Still Life”; “Still Life Nr 10.”

This Date in Literary/Intellectual History: Born 2 June 1953 – Cornel West, an American philosopher, political activist, author, and public intellectual.

Some quotes from the work of Cornel West:

“The country is in deep trouble. We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that’s the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.”
“Hope and optimism are different. Optimism tends to be based on the notion that there’s enough evidence out there to believe things are gonna be better, much more rational, deeply secular, whereas hope looks at the evidence and says, ‘It doesn’t look good at all. Doesn’t look good at all. Gonna go beyond the evidence to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious to allow people to engage in heroic actions always against the odds, no guarantee whatsoever.’ That’s hope. I’m a prisoner of hope, though. Gonna die a prisoner of hope.”
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
“Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it. In a way, empathy is predicated upon hope.
“The greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of inspiration.”
“You’ve got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it.”
“Too many young folk have addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love.”
“We are who we are because somebody loved us.”

Contemporary Polish Art – Natalia Sroka

Below – “Bosnia”; “Antilla series of El pueblo”; “Coria”; “Port 2”; “Maurilia.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 2 June 1962 – Vita Scakville-West, an English author, poet, and avid gardener. In the words of one writer,
“Sissinghurst Castle Garden, at Sissinghurst in the Weald of Kent in England, was created by Vita Sackville-West, poet and writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. It is among the most famous gardens in England and is designated Grade I on Historic England’s register of historic parks and gardens. It was bought by Sackville-West in 1930, and over the next thirty years, working with, and later succeeded by, a series of notable head gardeners, she and Nicolson transformed a farmstead of ‘squalor and slovenly disorder’ into one of the world’s most influential gardens.”

From “The Land”
by Vita Sackville-West

She walks in the loveliness she made,
Between the apple-blossom and the water–
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.

Below – Sissinghurst Castle Garden.

Contemporary French Art – Rebecca Driffield

Below – “Through the Eyes of the Poet”; “Going, gone”; “Big Mining”; “Traquee.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 2 June 1840 – Thomas Hardy, an English novelist and poet: Part I of II.

A timely quote from the work of Thomas Hardy:

“If a path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Anna Khaninyan

Below – “Bull”; “Bright house”; “Armenian girl portrait”; “Antique woman statue.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 2 June 1840 – Thomas Hardy, an English novelist and poet: Part II of II.

“The Darkling Thrush”
by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

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