Wandering in Woodacre – 17 October 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 17 October 1859 – Frederick Childe Hassam, an American painter and illustrator: Part I of II.

Below – “Late Afternoon, New York, Winter”; “Rainy Day, Boston”; “The Water Garden”; “Snowstorm, Madison Square”; “The Avenue in the Rain”; “Montauk.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 17 October 1961 – David Means, an award-winning American short story writer, novelist, and author of “Hystopia.”

Some quotes from the work of David Means:

“I love the nooks and crannies of the American landscape; the back roads and back alleys, the places that are still untouched by the corporate gloss, the veneer of sameness that seems to be spreading across the country.”
“A good folk song tells you something you already know, in a form you’re already familiar with, on terms that were set down long before you were born – when the country was primarily windblown dust, open wagon trains, and dysfunctional towns like Deadwood.”
“Americans are pragmatic; we want quick, clean, simple solutions to vast problems. The paradox is that we’re a deeply confessional culture, but we’re not often contemplative.”
“Vietnam and Iraq are part of the same national trauma and delusion; we folded the war up when Reagan became president and unpacked it with Bush.”
“We believe in cures; we’re a quick-fix country, and we drive forward, and we eat up what we have extremely fast in terms of natural resources and also ideas and intellectual property. We’re kind of willfully stupid a lot of the time, anti-intellectual.”
“History is delusional. Not just an illusion, it’s a delusion. America is this giant country, so it has these big delusions, and history is where delusions play out.”


This Date in Art History: Born 17 October 1859 – Frederick Childe Hassam, an American painter and illustrator: Part II of II.

Below – “The Victorian Chair”; “Meadows”; “A Back Road”; “April – (The Green Gown)”; “Improvisation”; “Summer Sunlight.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 17 October 1938 – Les Murray, an award-winning Australian poet and critic.

“The Meaning of Existence”
by Les Murray

Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.

Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.


This Date in Art History: Died 17 October 1962 – Natalia Goncharova, a Russian painter.

Below – “Apelsinia”; “Street in Moscow”; “Still Life with Fruits”; “Orchard in Autumn”; “Gardening”; “Bluebells.


This Date in Literary History: Born 17 October 1903 – Nathanael West, an American writer, screenwriter, and author of “Miss Lonelyhearts” and “The Day of the Locust.”

Some quotes from the work of Nathanael West:

“Perhaps I can make you understand. Let’s start from the beginning. A man is hired to give advice to the readers of a newspaper. The job is a circulation stunt and the whole staff considers it a joke. He welcomes the job, for it might lead to a gossip column, and anyway he’s tired of being a leg man. He too considers the job a joke, but after several months at it, the joke begins to escape him. He sees that the majority of the letters are profoundly humble pleas for moral and spiritual advice, and they are inarticulate expressions of genuine suffering. He also discovers that his correspondents take him seriously. For the first time in his life, he is forced to examine the values by which he lives. This examination shows him that he is the victim of the joke and not its perpetrator.”
“Only those who still have hope can benefit from tears. When they finish, they feel better. But to those without hope, whose anguish is basic and permanent, no good comes from crying. Nothing changes for them. They usually know this, but still can’t help crying.”
“All their lives they had slaved at some kind of dull, heavy labor, behind desks and counters, in the fields and at tedious machines of all sorts, saving their pennies and dreaming of the leisure that would be theirs when they had enough. Finally that day came. They could draw a weekly income of ten or fifteen dollars. Where else should they go but California, the land of sunshine and oranges?
Once there, they discover that sunshine isn’t enough. They get tired of oranges, even of avocado pears and passion fruit. Nothing happens. They don’t know what to do with their time. They haven’t the mental equipment for leisure, the money nor the physical equipment for pleasure. Did they slave so long just to go to an occasional Iowa picnic? What else is there? They watch the waves come in at Venice. There wasn’t any ocean where most of them came from, but after you’ve seen one wave, you’ve seen them all. The same is true of the airplanes at Glendale. If only a plane would crash once in a while so that they could watch the passengers being consumed in a ‘holocaust of flame,’ as the newspapers put it. But the planes never crash.
Their boredom becomes more and more terrible. They realize that they’ve been tricked and burn with resentment. Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and went to the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars. Their daily diet made sophisticates of them. The sun is a joke. Oranges can’t titillate their jaded palates. Nothing can ever be violent enough to make taut their slack minds and bodies. They have been cheated and betrayed. They have slaved and saved for nothing.”
“Art Is a Way Out. Do not let life overwhelm you. When the old paths are choked with the débris of failure, look for newer and fresher paths. Art is just such a path. Art is distilled from suffering.”
“You once said to me that I talk like a man in a book. I not only talk, but think and feel like one. I have spent my life in books; literature has deeply dyed my brain its own colour. This literary colouring is a protective one–like the brown of the rabbit or the checks of the quail–making it impossible for me to tell where literature ends and I begin.”
“He Sat in the window thinking. Man has a tropism for order. Keys in one pocket, change in the other. Mandolins are tuned G D A E. The physical world has a tropism for disorder, entropy. Man against Nature…the battle of the centuries. Keys yearn to mix with change. Mandolins strive to get out of tune. Every order has within it the germ of destruction. All order is doomed, yet the battle is worthwhile.”

Contemporary American Art – Nancy Bossert

Below – “Red Koi 2”; “Covered Face Recline”;
“Seated Patches”; “Koi Duo”;“Pose 8”; “Nude and Tapestry.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 17 October 1900 – Yvor Winters, an American poet and literary critic.

“At the San Francisco Airport”
by Yvor Winters

“To my daughter, 1954

This is the terminal: the light
Gives perfect vision, false and hard;
The metal glitters, deep and bright.
Great planes are waiting in the yard—
They are already in the night.

And you are here beside me, small,
Contained and fragile, and intent
On things that I but half recall—
Yet going whither you are bent.
I am the past, and that is all.

But you and I in part are one:
The frightened brain, the nervous will,
The knowledge of what must be done,
The passion to acquire the skill
To face that which you dare not shun.

The rain of matter upon sense
Destroys me momently. The score:
There comes what will come. The expense
Is what one thought, and something more—
One’s being and intelligence.

This is the terminal, the break.
Beyond this point, on lines of air,
You take the way that you must take;
And I remain in light and stare—
In light, and nothing else, awake.

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