This Date in Art History: Born 14 December 1824 – Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, a French painter and illustrator.
Below – “Hope”; “Meditation”; “Homer: Epic Poetry”; “The Balloon”: “Young Girls by the Sea”; “The Happy Land.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 14 November 1941 – Ellen Willis, an American essayist, journalist, activist, feminist, and pop music critic.
Some quotes from the work of Ellen Willis:
“My deepest impulses are optimistic; an attitude that seems to me as spiritually necessary and proper as it is intellectually suspect.”
“Whatever their limitations, Freud and Marx developed complex and subtle theories of human nature grounded in their observation of individual and social behavior. The crackpot rationalism of free-market economics merely relies on an abstract model of how people ‘must’ behave.”
“Some conservatives have expressed outrage that the views of professors are at odds with the views of students, as if ideas were entitled to be represented in proportion to their popularity and students were entitled to professors who share their political or social values. One of the more important functions of college is that it exposes young people to ideas and arguments they have not encountered at home.”
“The goal of the right is not to stop abortion but to demonize it, punish it and make it as difficult and traumatic as possible. All this it has accomplished fairly well, even without overturning Roe v. Wade.”
“Under present conditions, people are preoccupied with consumer goods not because they are brainwashed but because buying is the one pleasurable activity not only permitted but actively encouraged by our rulers. The pleasure of eating an ice cream cone may be minor compared to the pleasure of meaningful, autonomous work, but the former is easily available and the latter is not. A poor family would undoubtedly rather have a decent apartment than a new TV, but since they are unlikely to get the apartment, what is to be gained by not getting the TV?”
“What turns me on is erotica; what turns you on is pornographic.”
“For democrats, it’s as crucial to defend secular culture as to preserve secular law. And in fact the two projects are inseparable: When religion defines morality, the wall between church and state comes to be seen as immoral.”
“A triumphalist corporate capitalism, free at last of the specter of Communism, has mobilized its economic power to relentlessly marginalize all non-market values; to subordinate every aspect of American life to corporate efficiency and the bottom line; to demonize not only government but the very idea of public service and public goods.”
Below – “Large Peaceful Forest”; “Succulent Cascade”; “Echevera Perla”; ““Yoga Room Two”; “Yoga in the Desert”; “Yoga Moontide.”
“Mother Washing Dishes”
by Susan Myers
She rarely made us do it—
we’d clear the table instead—so my sister and I teased
that some day we’d train our children right
and not end up like her, after every meal stuck
with red knuckles, a bleached rag to wipe and wring.
The one chore she spared us: gummy plates
in water greasy and swirling with sloughed peas,
globs of egg and gravy.
Or did she guard her place
at the window? Not wanting to give up the gloss
of the magnolia, the school traffic humming.
Sunset, finches at the feeder. First sightings
of the mail truck at the curb, just after noon,
delivering a note, a card, the least bit of news.
Below – Maciek Jozefowicz: “Woman Washing Dishes”
Contemporary Israeli Art – Jonathan Liron
Below – “Longing in time”; “A port tale”; “The slide”; “The moment before”; “Beauty session.”
This Date in Literary History: Died 14 December 2001 – W. G. Sebald, a German novelist, poet, essayist, and author of “On The Natural History Of Destruction.”
Some quotes from the work of W. G. Sebald:
“It is thanks to my evening reading alone that I am still more or less sane.”
“We learn from history as much as a rabbit learns from an experiment that’s performed upon it.”
“In my photographic work I was always especially entranced… by the moment when the shadows of reality, so to speak, emerge out of nothing on the exposed paper, as memories do in the middle of the night, darkening again if you try to cling to them.”
“One has the impression that something is stirring inside [photographs] – it is as if one can hear little cries of despair, gémissements de désespoir… as if the photographs themselves had a memory and were remembering us and how we, the surviving, and those who preceded us, once were.”
“I have always kept ducks, even as a child, and the colours of their plumage, in particular the dark green and snow white, seemed to me the only possible answer to the questions that are on my mind.”
“We all have appointments with the past.”
“I suppose it is submerged realities that give to dreams their curious air of hyper-reality. But perhaps there is something else as well, something nebulous, gauze-like, through which everything one sees in a dream seems, paradoxically, much clearer. A pond becomes a lake, a breeze becomes a storm, a handful of dust is a desert, a grain of sulphur in the blood is a volcanic inferno. What manner of theater is it, in which we are at once playwright, actor, stage manager, scene painter and audience?”
Below – “Between Sea & Sky”; ““Wild Orchid”; “Paradise Found”; “Northern Lights”; “Seashell”; “Beneath the Sun.”
“The Yellow Bowl”
by Rachel Contreni Flynn
If light pours like water
into the kitchen where I sway
with my tired children,
if the rug beneath us
is woven with tough flowers,
and the yellow bowl on the table
rests with the sweet heft
of fruit, the sun-warmed plums,
if my body curves over the babies,
and if I am singing,
then loneliness has lost its shape,
and this quiet is only quiet.
Below – Ivan Clarke: “Still Life with Plums in a Bowl”