Sentient in San Francisco – 3 June 2020

This Date in Art/Entertainment History: Died 3 June 1987 – Will Sampson, a Native American painter and actor best known for his performance as Chief Bromden in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Below (Six of Will Sampson’s paintings. The titles for most of them were not available) – “Dangerous Crossing”; “Buffalo Kill”; N/A; N/A; N/A; N/A.

This Date in Literary History: Died 3 June 1924 – Franz Kafka, a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short story writer. Like many people, I still recall my sense of wonder and admiration the first time that I read “The Metamorphosis,” especially it’s unforgettable opening line (the first quote listed below).

Some quotes from the work of Franz Kafka:

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
“It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”
“I no longer know If I wish to drown myself in love, vodka or the sea.”
“Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.”
“Isolation is a way to know ourselves.”
“Anybody who preserves the ability to recognize beauty will never get old.”
“If the literature we are reading does not wake us, why then do we read it? A literary work must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.”
“Paths are made by walking.”

Contemporary Canadian Art – Peter Horvath

Below (photographic collage) – “Captain America RIP”; “Channel Surf”; “The Lovers”; “The Waiting Game”; “Wish You Were Here”; “Lift.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 3 June 1926 – Allen Ginsberg, an American poet and recipient of the National Book Award. “A Supermarket in California” is one of my favorite poems.

“A Supermarket in California”
by Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Below – Nathan Gelgud’s drawing of Ginsberg and Whitman at the supermarket.

Contemporary Canadian Art – Amanda Beakes: Part I of II.

Below – “Harmony”; “Sunshine I”; “Comfort in being free”; “The dock”; “Be kind.”

A Poem for Today

“To The Stone-Cutters”
by Robinson Jeffers

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you foredefeated
Challengers of oblivion
Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
The square-limbed Roman letters
Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as well
Builds his monument mockingly;
For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun
Die blind and blacken to the heart:
Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found
The honey of peace in old poems.

Contemporary Canadian Art – Amanda Beakes: Part II of II.

Below – “Inner peace”; “Tranquil moments”; “Reflection”; “The brave.”

A Poem for Today

“The Guardians”
by Jill Bialosky

All day we packed boxes.
We read birth and death certificates.
The yellowed telegrams that announced
our births, the cards of congratulations
and condolences, the deeds and debts,
love letters, valentines with a heart
ripped out, the obituaries.
We opened the divorce decree,
a terrible document of division and subtraction.
We leafed through scrapbooks:
corsages, matchbooks, programs to the ballet,
racetrack, theatre—joy and frivolity
parceled in one volume—
painstakingly arranged, preserved
and pasted with crusted glue.
We sat in the room in which the beloved
had departed. We remembered her yellow hair
and her mind free of paradox.
We sat together side by side
on the empty floor and did not speak.
There were no words
between us other than the essence
of the words from the correspondences,
our inheritance—plain speak,
bereft of poetry.

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