This Date in Art History: Born 21 July 1866 – Carlos Schwabe, a Swiss Symbolist painter and printmaker.
This Date in Literary History: Born 21 July 1933 – John Gardner, an American novelist, essayist, literary critic, and author of “Grendel.”
Some quotes from the work of John Gardner:
“Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
“i understand that the world was nothing: a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. i understood that, finally and absolutely, i alone exist. all the rest, i saw, is merely what pushes me, or what i push against, blindly – as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back. i create the whole universe, blink by blink.”
“When I was a child I truly loved:
Unthinking love as calm and deep
As the North Sea. But I have lived,
And now I do not sleep.”
“So childhood too feels good at first, before one happens to notice the terrible sameness, age after age.”
“Stars, spattered out through lifeless night from end to end, like jewels scattered in a dead king’s grave, tease, torment my wits toward meaningful patterns that do not exist.”
“I look down past the stars to a terrifying darkness. I seem to recognize the place, but it’s impossible. “Accident,” I whisper. I will fall. I seem to desire the fall, and though I fight it with all my will I know in advance I can’t win. Standing baffled, quaking with fear, three feet from the edge of a nightmare cliff, I find myself, incredibly, moving towards it. I look down, down, into bottomless blackness, feeling the dark power moving in me like an ocean current, some monster inside me, deep sea wonder, dread night monarch astir in his cave, moving me slowly to my voluntary tumble into death.”
“They watch on, evil, incredibly stupid, enjoying my destruction.
‘Poor Grendel’s had an accident,’ I whisper. ‘So may you all.’”
Below (mixed media) – untitled; “Chip Away”; untitled; Untitled ; “isolation”; “Eunah 2.”
This Date in Literary History: Died 21 July 2015 – E. L. Doctorow, and American novelist, short story writer, author of “Ragtime,” “World’s Fair,” “Billy Bathgate,” and “The March,” recipient of the National Book Award, and three-time recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award.”
Some quotes from the work of E. L. Doctorow:
“I am often asked the question How can the masses permit themselves to be exploited by the few. The answer is By being persuaded to identify with them.”
“The difference between Socrates and Jesus is that no one had ever been put to death in Socrates’ name. And that is because Socrates’ ideas were never made law. Law, in whatever name, protects privilege.”
“It was evident to him that the world composed and recomposed itself constantly in an endless process of dissatisfaction.”
“Stories distribute the suffering so that it can be borne.”
“Because like all whores you value propriety. You are creature of capitalism, the ethics of which are so totally corrupt and hypocritical that your beauty is no more than the beauty of gold, which is to say false and cold and useless.”
“I watched bulls bred to cows, watched mares foal, I saw life come from the egg and the multiplicative wonders of mudholes and ponds, the jell and slime of life shimmering in gravid expectation. Everywhere I looked, life sprang from something not life, insects unfolded from sacs on the surface of still waters and were instantly on prowl for their dinner, everything that came into being knew at once what to do and did it, unastonished that it was what it was, unimpressed by where it was, the great earth heaving up bloodied newborns from every pore, every cell, bearing the variousness of itself from every conceivable substance which it contained in itself, sprouting life that flew or waved in the wind or blew from the mountains or stuck to the damp black underside of rocks, or swam or suckled or bellowed or silently separated in two.”
“The three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport, and a library card.”
Below – “A Fraction of Light”; “Something is Gone”; “A Look Through a Memory”; “La espera en un lugar sin mombfe”; “Watercolor study 2”; “Conversations with Absent People.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 21 July 1945 – Wendy Cope, an English poet and critic: Part I of II.
Wendy Cope has a delightful sense of humor, and that fact is evident in her parody of T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”
“Waste Land Limericks”
by Wendy Cope
In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful;
Clairvoyantes distress me,
Commuters depress me—
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.
She sat on a mighty fine chair,
Sparks flew as she tidied her hair;
She asks many questions,
I make few suggestions—
Bad as Albert and Lil–what a pair!
The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep;
Tiresias fancies a peep—
A typist is laid,
A record is played—
Wei la la. After this it gets deep.
A Phoenician named Phlebas forgot
About birds and his business–the lot,
Which is no surprise,
Since he’d met his demise
And been left in the ocean to rot.
No water. Dry rocks and dry throats,
Then thunder, a shower of quotes
From the Sanskrit and Dante.
Da. Damyata. Shantih.
I hope you’ll make sense of the notes.
Below – Wendy Cope.
Below (photographs) – “Ocean View 20/20”; “Fall”; “White on Blue”; “Ghamishloo, twin peaks”; “Early spring morning by Lake Chaghaxor”; “1980’s arcade sunset.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 21 July 1945 – Wendy Cope, an English poet and critic: Part II of II.
by Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
Below – Billing Brandi DeVillez: “An Orange”