This Date in Art History: Born 19 July 1834 – Edgar Degas, a French painter, illustrator, and sculptor.
Below – “The Dance Class”; “A Cotton Office in New Orleans”; “L’Absinthe”; “At the Cafe-Concert: The Song of the Dog”; “Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers (Star of the Ballet)”; “La Toilette (Woman Combing Her Hair).”
This Date in Literary History: Born 19 July 1952 – Jayne Anne Phillips, an award-winning short story writer, novelist, and author of “Sweethearts” and “Lark & Termite.”
Some quotes from the work of Jayne Anne Phillips:
“If all stories are fiction, fiction can be true — not in detail or fact, but in some transformed version of feeling. If there is a memory of paradise, paradise can exist, in some other place or country dimensionally reminiscent of our own. The sad stories live there too, but in that country, we know what they mean and why they happened. We make our way back from them, finding the way through a bountiful wilderness we begin to understand. Years are nothing: Story conquers all distance.”
“Towns change; they grow or diminish, but hometowns remain as we left them.”
“Literature can teach us how to live before we live, and how to die before we die. I believe that writing is practice for death, and for every (other) transformation human beings encounter.”
“A song moves a story fast or slow like the river moves the water.”
“The writer’s first affinity is not to a loyalty, a tradition, a morality, a religion, but to life itself, and to its representation in language.”
“The afternoon has closed down, gone purple, coaxed and sucked dark by the storm.”
“I think about going away myself, living a whole different life, like I could exist on a different planet and this life wouldn’t know about me, and I wouldn’t know about it.”
This Date in Art History: Born 19 July 1895 – Xu Beihong, a Chinese painter.
Below – “Galloping Horse”; “Portrait of a Young Lady”; “Grazing Horse”;“Portrait of Ms Jenny”; “Two Magpies and Red Plum Blossom”; “Buffalo.”
A Poem for Today
“To the Reader”
by Denise Levertov
As you read, a white bear leisurely
pees, dyeing the snow
and as you read, many gods
lie among lianas: eyes of obsidian
are watching the generations of leaves,
and as you read
the sea is turning its dark pages,
its dark pages.
Below – Aflatun Israilov: “Ocean Wave Crash”
Contemporary French Art – Jim Celadon
Below – “Week-end”; “Cold summer”; “Currents change”; “Paradise Lost”; “Shades fade”; “A kind of Magic.”
“The Evil Seekers”
by Anne Sexton
We are born with luck
which is to say with gold in our mouth.
As new and smooth as a grape,
as pure as a pond in Alaska,
as good as the stem of a green bean-
we are born and that ought to be enough,
we ought to be able to carry on from that
but one must learn about evil,
learn what is subhuman,
learn how the blood pops out like a scream,
one must see the night
before one can realize the day,
one must listen hard to the animal within,
one must walk like a sleepwalker
on the edge of a roof,
one must throw some part of her body
into the devil’s mouth.
Odd stuff, you’d say.
But I’d say
you must die a little,
have a book of matches go off in your hand,
see your best friend copying your exam,
visit an Indian reservation and see
their plastic feathers,
the dead dream.
One must be a prisoner just once to hear
the lock twist into his gut.
After all that
one is free to grasp at the trees, the stones,
the sky, the birds that make sense out of air.
But even in a telephone booth
evil can seep out of the receiver
and we must cover it with a mattress,
and then tear it from its roots
and bury it,
Below – Michel Devanakis: “Good and Evil Staring at Each Other”