Wandering in Woodacre – 12 September 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 12 September 1829 – Anselm Feuerbach, a German painter.

“Young Girl at a Stream”; “Iphigenia”; “Portrait of a Lady Wearing a Pearl Necklace”; “Spring”; “Portrait of a Girl”; “Ana Risi with Mandolin.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 12 September 2008 – David Foster Wallace, an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and author of “Infinite Jest.”

Some quotes from the work of David Foster Wallace:

“Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.”
“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”
“I do things like get in a taxi and say, ‘The library, and step on it.’”
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
“You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.”
“It did what all ads are supposed to do: create an anxiety relievable by purchase.”
“If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.”
“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”
“We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we’ve never even met?”
“‘Mario, what do you get when you cross an insomniac, an unwilling agnostic and a dyslexic?’
‘I give.’
‘You get someone who stays up all night torturing himself mentally over the question of whether or not there’s a dog.’”

Contemporary Russian Art – Aleksey Mikheev

Below – “autumn”; “Julia”; “Delicious”; Untitled; “russian Campbell’s.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 12 September 1934 – Nellie Wong,, an award-winning American poet and social activist.

“Typewriter Keys Pantoum”
by Nellie Wong

Typewriter keys dance to human fingers
Attached to hands searching for love
Amid a chorus of harmonious singers
Digging underground for a treasure trove.

Attached to hands searching for love
Perfume of stargazers captivates the body whole
Digging underground for a treasure trove
Villages and cities alight with rapturous glow

Perfume of stargazers captivates the body whole
Moving in concert with the forces of labor
Villages and cities alight with rapturous glow
Workers’ councils gather neighbor to neighbor

Moving in concert with the forces of labor
Solving problems with cooperation and care
Workers’ councils gather neighbor to neighbor
With food and water and dwellings to share

Solving problems with cooperation and care
Indigenous people no longer asunder
With food and water and dwellings to share
Mountains and rivers but two of nature’s wonder

Indigenous people no longer asunder
Earth’s inhabitants strive to live side by side
Mountains and rivers but two of nature’s wonder
Expropriating property far and wide

Earth’s inhabitants strive to live side by side
Playing bamboo flutes both young and old
Expropriating property far and wide
Free to nourish children, humanity’s gold

Playing bamboo flutes both young and old
Amid a chorus of harmonious singers
Free to nourish children, humanity’s gold
Typewriter keys dance to human fingers

Below – Jeff Watts: “Old School”

Contemporary American Art – Patty Rodgers: Part I of II.

Below – “Pamet Beach”; “Flowers and Cattails”; “Lemons and City View”; “Prairie Stripes with Trees”; “Interior with Cape Landscape”; “Dog Under Chair.”

This Date in Literary/Cultural History: Born 12 September 1880 – Henry Louis Mencken, an award-winning American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, and scholar of American English.

Some quotes from the work of H. L. Mencken:

“As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”
“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
“Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
“The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not so much a war as an endless standing in line. The objection to it is not that it is predominantly painful, but that it is lacking in sense.”
“The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.”
“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong.”
“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”
An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”
“Equality before the law is probably forever unattainable. It is a noble ideal, but it can never be realized, for what men value in this world is not rights but privileges.”
“The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.”
It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed moral code and a fixed theology which robbed the human race of a thousand years by wasting them upon alchemy, heretic-burning, witchcraft and sacerdotalism.”


Contemporary American Art – Patty Rodgers: Part II of II.

Below – “Dogs in the Sun”; “Summer Bay”; “Drafting Table with Objects”; “By the Railroad Tracks, Texas”; “Boats at Wellfleet Harbor”; “Low Tide at Pamet.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 12 September 1977 – Robert Lowell, an American poet and recipient of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

“Skunk Hour”
by Robert Lowell

(for Elizabeth Bishop)

Nautilus Island’s hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son’s a bishop. Her farmer
is first selectman in our village,
She’s in her dotage.

Thirsting for
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria’s century,
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.

The season’s ill—
we’ve lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.

And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall,
his fishnet’s filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler’s bench and awl,
there is no money in his work,
he’d rather marry.

One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill’s skull,
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
My mind’s not right.

A car radio bleats,
‘Love, O careless Love . . . .’ I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat . . . .
I myself am hell;
nobody’s here—

only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
They march on their soles up Main Street:
white stripes, moonstruck eyes’ red fire
under the chalk-dry and spar spire
of the Trinitarian Church.

I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air—
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.

Below – Marmont Hill: “Skunk Family”


Contemporary French Art – Dorina Costras

Below – “Poem at Twilight”; “Daydream Spring”; “Day dreaming 1”; “Day dreaming 2”; “Glimmering”; “Brightness”; “Romance with a Chimera.”


A Poem for Today: Izumi Shikibu (Japanese, c. 974 – c.1034)

translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani

What is it
about this twilight hour?
Even the sound
of a barely susceptible breeze
pierces the heart.

Below – Llewellyn Berry: “Twilight” (photograph)

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