This Date in Art History: Born 28 July 1879 – Stefan Filipkiewicz, a Polish painter.
Below – “Meadow”; “Winter”; “Peonies in a Vase”; “Wood Creek”; “Early Spring in the Mountains.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 28 July 1927 – John Ashbery, an American poet, two-time recipient of the National Book Award, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.
by John Ashbery
These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance
To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try
To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.
And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges
A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.
Below – Eugenia Gorbacheva: “Winter forest in the sunlight 2”
Below – “Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2”; “Sonata”; “The Chess Game”; “Landscape at Blainville”; “Man Seated by a Window.”
Some quotes from the work of William t. Vollmann:
“Maybe life is a process of trading hopes for memories.”
“I studied Comparative Literature at Cornell. Structuralism was real big then. The idea of reading and writing as being this language game. There’s a lot of appeal to that. It’s nice to think of it as this playful kind of thing. But I think that another way to look at it is “Look, I just want to be sincere. I want to write something and make you feel something and maybe you will go out and do something.” And it seems that the world is in such bad shape now that we don’t have time to do nothing but language games. That’s how it seems to me.”
“Rising up, rising down! History shambles on! What are we left with? A few half-shattered Greek stelae; Trotsky’s eyeglasses; Gandhi’s native-spun cloth, Cortes’ pieces of solid gold (extorted from their original owner, Montezuma); a little heap of orange peels left on the table by the late Robespierre; John Brown’s lengthily underlined letters; Lenin’s bottles of invisible ink; one of Di Giovanni’s suitcases, with an iron cylinder of gelignite and two glass tubes of acid inside; the Constitution of the Ku Klux Klan; a bruised ear (Napoleon pinched it with loving condescension)… And dead bodies, of course. (They sing about John Brown’s body.) Memoirs, manifestoes, civil codes, trial proceedings, photographs, statues, weapons now aestheticized by that selfsame history – the sword of Frederick the Great, and God knows what else. Then dust blows out of fresh graves, and the orange peels go grey, sink, wither, rot away. Sooner or later, every murder becomes quaint. Charlemagne hanged four and a half thousand ‘rebels’ in a single day, but he has achieved a storybook benevolence. And that’s only natural: historiography begins after the orange has been sucked,; the peeler believes in the ‘great and beautiful things,’ or wants to believe; easy for us to believe likewise, since dust reduced truth and counterfeit to the same greyness – caveat emptor. But ends remain fresh, and means remain inexplicable. Rising up and rising down! And whom shall I save, and who is my enemy, and who is my neighbor?”
“We always see ourselves as constant, and others as less so, no matter what policy shifts we ourselves may have been guilty of.”
“Self-deception is a pessimistic definition of optimism.”
“Do you want to know what happiness is? Happiness is the absence of unpleasant information.”
Below – “Central Australian Landscape”; “River Gum Near Bitter Springs Gorge”; “Quarritana”; “Ridges a Ormiston”; “Central Australia.”
This Date in Literary History – Born 28 July 1931 – Alan Brownjohn, an English poet.
by Alan Brownjohn
It lies in strips on branches as if that were arranged
For somebody to paint them. It’s sprayed on the backs
Of four chairs left leaning over a garden table
When a meal was stopped by the August rain.
I need to be out, so get most carefully
Down the eight steps to the pavement and press a catch
To spread against the wind a black dome lacking
One spoke which is broken, at least protecting
One half of me, on a late March afternoon.
The snow sweeps at my ankles from where the street
Has been collecting it in the cause of silence.
Above my head the ceaseless pattering
Goes on, not like rain, like the lightest fingers
Come back to drum on a window expecting
To be let in and understood despite it all.
Below – Richard Szkutnik: “March Snow”
Contemporary Taiwanese Art – Chuan Cheng Chou
Below (photographs) – “Lovers who have not been reunited for a long time”; “Pure cultural tradition”; “Spring yellow”; “Spring and summer”; “Quality coffee is an art”; “Dreamland”; “Safflower.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 28 July 1866 – Beatrix Potter, an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist, and author of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.”
A note: The movie“Miss Potter,” a biographical film drama based on the life of Beatrix Potter directed by Chris Noonan, is an utter delight. Its cast includes Renee Zeilweger (in the title role), Ewan McGregor, Lloyd Owen, and Emily Watson.
Some quotes from the work of Beatrix Potter:
“I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense.”
“All outward forms of religion are almost useless, and are the causes of endless strife. . . . Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.”
“The place is changed now, and many familiar faces are gone, but the greatest change is myself. I was a child then, I had no idea what the world would be like. I wished to trust myself on the waters and the sea. Everything was romantic in my imagination. The woods were peopled by the mysterious good folk. The Lords and Ladies of the last century walked with me along the overgrown paths, and picked the old fashioned flowers among the box and rose hedges of the garden.”
“I remember every stone, every tree, the scent of heather… Even when the thunder growled in the distance, and the wind swept up the valley in fitful gusts, oh, it was beautiful, home sweet home.”
“If I have done anything, even a little, to help small children enjoy honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.”
“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were–Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter. ”