One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Zadkine by on1stsite.
Zadkine, a photo by on1stsite. on Flickr.
From Berger's essay "Zadkine":

Zadkine's  masterpiece remains his monument to the razed and reborn city of Rotterdam. This is how he wrote about it:
 It is striving to embrace the inhuman pain inflicted on a city which had no other desire but to live by the grace of God and to grow naturally like a forest . . . It was also intended as a lesson to future generations.

Ossip Zadkine (1890 - 1967)

Ossip Zadkine (Russian: Осип Цадкин; July 14, 1890 – November 25, 1967) was a Belarusian-born artist who lived in France. He is primarily known as a sculptor, but also produced paintings and lithographs.

Early years and career

Zadkine was born as Yossel Aronovich Tsadkin (Russian: Иосель Аронович Цадкин)[1][2] in Vitebsk (now Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire). His father was Jewish and had converted to the Russian Orthodox religion; his mother was of Scottish ancestry.[3]
After attending art school in London, Zadkine settled in Paris about 1910. There he became part of the new Cubist movement (1914-1925). He later developed his own style, one that was strongly influenced by African art.

Zadkine served as a stretcher-bearer in the French Army during World War I, and was wounded in action. He spent the World War II years in America. His best-known work is probably the sculpture "The Destroyed City" (1951-1953), represents a man without a heart, a memorial to the destruction of the center of the Dutch city Rotterdam in 1940 by the German Luftwaffe.[4]

[From Wikipedia:]

Sculpture (Peter Péri)

This sculpture--depicting a Friends/Quaker meeting--is located in Woodbrooke Study Centre, Birmingham.

I once observed (glimpsed) a Quaker meeting in Indiana. Early in the morning, in a small building surrounded by autumn woods. I'll never forget what I saw. What I think I saw.

Peter Peri (1899 - 1967)

From the beginning of Berger's essay, "Peter Peri":

I knew about Peter Peri from 1947 onwards. At that time he lived in Hampstead and I used to pass his garden where he displayed his sculptures. I was an art student just out of the Army. The sculptures impressed me not so much because of their quality -- at that time many other things interested me more than art -- but because of their strangeness. They were foreign looking. I remember arguing with my friends about them. They said they were crude and coarse. I defended them because I sensed that they were the work of somebody totally different from us.


Ladislas Weisz was born June 13, 1899 in Budapest, Hungary. Antisemitism caused his family to change their name to the more Hungarian "Péri". When he moved to Germany, he was known as Laszlo Péri. After he moved to England, he adopted the name "Peter Peri". His grandson, born in 1971, an artist, also has the name Peter Peri.


In Berlin, he joined the Der Sturm group of artists and in 1922, exhibited Constructivist sculpture in a joint show with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. He worked in an architectural office from 1924 to 1927, with a view to qualifying as an architect. He returned to sculpture in 1928, but in a realist style.

In 1935, he and his wife moved to Hampstead in London. In 1939, he became a British citizen and took the name "Peter Peri". He made etchings and continued to work in sculpture, producing groups of small figures, usually engaged in co-operative ventures. Many public buildings were adorned with his work. When the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum opened in 1960, Peri was commissioned to "represent the life and activities [of Coventry] in modern terms and materials"; the work is known simply as The Coventry sculpture [2]

Peri joined the Quaker faith and produced a small bronze sculpture of a Quaker Meeting, much loved by the students of Woodbrooke Study Centre [3], Birmingham, where it is now located [4].
He died January 19, 1967.

[From Wikipedia:]

Vera Pavlova

Discovered her fairly recently, in the April 2012 Poetry: 100 Years.

Jumping around in the slim volume I eventually found her, and probably gravitated to her, checked her out, because of her Russian name. What was she like? Was she the "real thing"? My tentative conclusion based on her work in Poetry (not in the Poems section but in the back, in the Comment section: her work is titled, Heaven is Not Verbose: A Notebook ): maybe. Subsequent research has led me to lower my expectations re her poetry (I started thinking: somewhat slight), but if I ever purchase a volume of her poetry (I think she is usually translated by her husband, Steven Seymour) and change my mind I'll let you know.

Anyway, I wanted to post some poetry this morning. Her "notebook" entries are bulletlike (reminding me of some of my own work), and often approach IMHO "poetry." I post only a select few (i.e., some of those that I underscored, asterisked, vertically squiggled).

From Vera Pavlova's Heaven is Not Verbose: A Notebook (translated by Steven Seymour):

  • How do I feel about people who do not understand my poetry? I understand them.
  • An ideal poem: every line of it can serve as a title for a book.*
  • To help a poem hatch, I went to get some groceries. Paid the cashier, got my change, came home with a finished poem and no groceries.
  • Mandelstam: "Poetry is the certainty of being right." Brodsky: "Poetry is the school of uncertainty." I am not certain about either assertion. 

*Note: The vertical squiggle on this one is connected by an arrow to a name: I wrote "H. Mueller" for Herta Muller (umlaut over the "u").

Thursday, June 28, 2012

John Berger's "Pierre Bonnard"

Just finished the short essay. For Berger Bonnard's nudes are "far and away the best pictures." He discusses several but ends on the Grand Nu Bleu (1924). Below the picture I quote from Berger's essay re why he thinks the nudes so important.

Grand Nu Bleu (1924)

From Berger:
     And now we come to the harsh paradox which I believe is the pivot of Bonnard's art. Most of his nudes are directly or indirectly of a girl whom he met when she was sixteen and with whom he spent the rest of his life until she died at the age of sixty-two. The girl became a tragically neurasthenic woman: a frightened recluse, beside herself, and with an obsession about constantly washing and bathing. Bonnard remained loyal to her.
     Thus the starting point for these nudes was an unhappy woman, obsessed with her toilet, excessively demanding and half 'absent' as a personality. Accepting this as a fact, Bonnard, by the strength of his devotion to her or by his cunning as an artist or perhaps both, was able to transform the literal into a far deeper and more general truth: the woman who was only half present into the image of the ardently beloved.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

L. S. Lowry (1887 - 1976)

Laurence Stephen Lowry (1 November 1887 – 23 February 1976) was an English artist born in Stretford, Lancashire. Many of his drawings and paintings depict nearby Salford and surrounding areas, including Pendlebury, where he lived and worked for over 40 years.

Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial districts of Northern England during the early 20th century. He had a distinctive style of painting and is best known for urban landscapes peopled with human figures often referred to as "matchstick men". He also painted mysterious unpopulated landscapes, brooding portraits, and the unpublished "marionette" works, which were only found after his death.

Because of his use of stylised figures and the lack of weather effects in many of his landscapes he is sometimes characterised as a naïve[1] 'Sunday painter' although this is not the position of the galleries that have organised retrospectives of his works.[2][3][4][5]

A large collection of Lowry's work is on permanent public display in a purpose-built art gallery on Salford Quays, appropriately named the Lowry.

[From Wikipedia:]

Art L S Lowry

art l s lowry by georgia white.
art l s lowry, a photo by georgia white. on Flickr.
I had never heard of L. S. Lowry before reading Berger's essay on the painter.

Grunewald, Matthias (1470c.-1528) - 1512-1516 The Temptation of St.Anthony - Isenheim Altar Panel ( Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar, France)

The "mythical sparrow-hawk" in Grunewald's Temptation of St. Anthony is the starting point for Berger's conjecture that the wounds on Grunewald's Christ are intentionally "suggestive of a bird that has had its feathers plucked."

Could be, I suppose. But does this idea go against the notion that Grunewald's Christ is suffering from St. Anthony's fire? Though Berger mentions the plague and syphilis, he is silent on the disease known as St. Anthony's fire (apparently now called ergotism) and its relation to this masterpiece.

Spain Madrid Prado Museum Goya Paintings Lady With and WithoutClothes "The Maja"

Read Berger's essay "The Maja Dressed and The Maja Undressed." Was at the Prado years ago, and I remember some Goyas but not these. Anyway, according to Berger--all conjecture--Goya first painted the dressed Maja and then imagined her naked to paint the undressed Maja, i.e., she (and who she is may never be known) never posed nude.

Monday, June 25, 2012

50+ Authors to Put on Your "Bucket List"

I thought it'd be fun to do. I started out going for a 100 books (the typical list, e.g., the BBC's), but decided (at least for me) it's a matter of authors more than books. I don't care about "cultural literacy" (whatever that is). I'm sure I've overlooked someone important, e.g., Herodotus, but I can always add to the list later (nothing magical about 50).

*In retrospect: the "Making of Lists" is in the playbook of The Theatre of the Absurd.

**The church is invisible; the list of authors is invisible--or at least subjective, ongoing, piling up, and probably missing some neglected-because-lost and some lost-because-never-found and some...

***Ergo the list becomes a metaphorical stack of books (the most recent find open and resting on its spine), and the reader, if so inclined, can extract a fraction of the list from my blogetic drivel and spat.

Stack of Books Pictures, Images and Photos

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Titian - The Venus of Urbino, 1538 - Uffizi Galleria Florence Italy

Titian - The Venus of Urbino, 1538 - Uffizi Galleria Florence Italy by mbell1975
Titian - The Venus of Urbino, 1538 - Uffizi Galleria Florence Italy, a photo by mbell1975 on Flickr.

Mark Twain's reaction (from his Tramp Abroad):

St. Peter's Square Obelisk

St. Peter's Square obelisk by pho-Tony
St. Peter's Square obelisk, a photo by pho-Tony on Flickr.
I believe this is what Cervantes is calling St. Peter's Needle (also sometimes called Caesar's Needle).

St. Peter's Needle and Julius Caesar

From Quixote:
Julius Caesar's ashes were placed on top of a vast stone obelisk now known in Rome as St Peter's Needle; . . .
From Renovatio Urbis by  Nicholas Temple (2011):

Sancho Tries to Outmalaprop Mrs. Malaprop

Throughout Quixote there are numerous proverbs and malaprops, which I'm sure present the translator(s) with various problems.
Anyway, it is Sancho Panza who seemingly attempts, anachronistically, to outmalaprop Mrs. Malaprop (though a character named Pedro Alonso also commits them). I present only a few examples here:

From Sancho:
     'Everything you've said so far,' said Sancho, 'I've understood very well, but all the same I'd like you to dissolve one doubt that's just found its way into my head.'
     'Resolve is what you mean to say, Sancho,' said Don Quixote. 'You are most welcome to ask, and I shall reply as best I can.'
     The young graduate was astonished to hear how Sancho Panza expressed himself, because even though he'd read the first volume of his master's history he'd never believed that Sancho was as funny as he's depicted there; but when he heard him talk about a will and codicil that couldn't be resinned instead of a will and codicil that couldn't be rescinded, he believed everything he'd read about him, and set him down as one of the greatest simpletons of modern times, . . .
'. . . She and her maids are all one blaze of flaming gold, all spindlefuls of pearls, they're all diamonds, all rubies, all brocade more than ten levels deep, with their hair flowing over their shoulders like sunbeams playing with the wind, and what's more each of them's riding her piebald poultry, a sight for sore eyes.'
     'I think you mean palfrey, Sancho.'
     'There isn't that much of a difference,' Sancho replied, 'between poultry and palfrey, but whatever they're riding they're as spruce and ladylike as you could ever wish, specially my lady Princess Dulcinea -- she fair takes your breath away, she does.'

From Pedro:
     'In particular, people said he knew all about the science of the stars, and what the sun and the moon do up there in the sky, because he used to tell us exactly when the clips were going to come.'
     'Eclipse is the word, my friend, not clips, for the obscuration of the two great luminaries,' said Don Quixote.
     But Pedro, not troubling himself with trifles, went on with his story:
     'And he also used to predict whether a year was going to be fruitful or hysterical.'
     'You mean sterile, my friend,' said Don Quixote.
     'Sterile or hysterical,' replied Pedro, 'it all boils down to the same thing. . . '


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 - 1904)

Jean-Léon Gérôme (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904) was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academicism. The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects, bringing the Academic painting tradition to an artistic climax. He is considered one of the most important painters from this academic period, and in addition to being a painter, he was also a teacher with a long list of students.

[From Wikipedia:]

Self-Portrait 1886
[From Wikimedia Commons]


Bathsheba by risotto al caviale
Bathsheba, a photo by risotto al caviale on Flickr.
Another memorable Gerome. This was not at the Getty exhibit and I don't believe I saw it at the D'Orsay. Not sure where it is but it is wonderful. Update: Just read on the Net that this piece is in a private collection. Lucky someone.

Jean-Leon Gerome

Jean-Leon Gerome by DayDreamPilot
Jean-Leon Gerome, a photo by DayDreamPilot on Flickr.
His name came up tonight. My daughter--a budding artist in her own right and poised to take AP Art History next school year--was asking about him (we saw an exhibit of his work last summer at the Getty). I pulled up the Jean and the Gerome, but it took a while to latch onto the Leon. I have a copy of Galatea above our dining room table.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Afterword and the Word "Stalker"

In my Kindle version of Roadside Picnic the text ends on p. 193 and, on the same page, begins an Afterword by Boris Strugatsky.

Lots of interesting tidbits here: re the writing and publishing of the novel in Soviet Russia, but I'll only allude to the interesting discussion of the word "stalker":
Apparently, the term "stalker" came to us in the process of working on the first pages of the book. As for the "prospectors" and "trappers," we didn't like those terms to begin with; I remember this well.
     We were the ones who introduced the English word "stalker" into the Russian language. Stalker--pronounced "stullker" in Russian--is one of the few words we "coined" that came into common use. Stalker spread far and wide, although I'd guess that this was mainly because of the 1979 film of that name, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and based on our book. . . . It would have been more correct to say "stawker" instead of "stullker," but the thing is, we didn't take it from a dictionary at all--we took it from one of Rudyard Kipling's novels, the old prerevolutionary translation of which was called The Reckless Bunch (or something like that)--about rambunctious English schoolkids from the end of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century and their ringleader, a crafty and mischievous kid nicknamed Stalky.

The Strugatsky Brothers: Arkady and Boris

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

The brothers Arkady (Russian: Арка́дий; August 28, 1925 – October 12, 1991) and Boris (Russian: Бори́с; born April 14, 1933) Strugatsky (Russian: Струга́цкий; alternate spellings: Strugatskiy, Strugatski, Strugatskii) are Soviet-Russian science fiction authors who collaborated on their fiction.

Life and Work

The Strugatsky brothers (Бра́тья Струга́цкие or simply Струга́цкие), as they are usually called, although also known as "Абээ́сы" ("Abeesy", from ABS, Arkadiy and Boris Strugatsky) in Russian, are perhaps the best-known Soviet science fiction writers with a well-developed fan base. Their early work was influenced by Ivan Yefremov. Their famous novel Piknik na obochine has been translated into English as Roadside Picnic in 1977 and was filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky under the title Stalker.

Several other of their works were translated into German, French, English, and Italian but did not receive the same magnitude of the critical acclaim granted them by their Russian audiences. The Strugatsky brothers, however, were and still are popular in many countries, including Poland, Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Germany, where most of their works were available in both East and West Germany.

The brothers were Guests of Honour at the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention, held in Brighton, England.

[From Wikipedia:]

Word Golf and Red Schuhart = Stalker

I think (if you tweak the rules slightly) you can easily get from Red Schuhart to Rex Swihart. Of course his full name is Redrick Schuhart and that would be a bigger stretch.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

From "Roadside Picnic"

A very easy and compelling read (and I generally don't like sci-fi). But IMHO not a whole bunch of quotable quotes. Here's one pretty good excerpt though (I think). Valentine Pillman, a scientist, a nobel laureate, is commenting on the Visit (an alien visitation) and its significance for humanity:

"We now know that for humanity as a whole, the Visit has largely passed without a trace. For humanity everything passes without a trace. Of course, it's possible that by randomly pulling chestnuts out of this fire, we'll eventually stumble on something that will make life on Earth completely unbearable. That would be bad luck. But you have to admit, that's a danger humanity has always faced." He waved away the cigarette smoke and smiled wryly. "You see, I've long since become unused to discussing humanity as a whole. Humanity as a whole is too stable a system, nothing upsets it."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Roadside Picnic" by the Strugatsky Brothers

Temporarily e-shelved Quixote (I'm more than half way through) to quickly read Roadside Picnic (I want to read it and then re-watch Tarkovsky's Stalker). Though the book and the film have similarities, I can certainly understand Tarkovsky's quip that they're nothing alike. Also, I probably half-agree with a friend who said she'd put Quixote down because it was too slapstick. I think it's more like: too much of a good thing is a bad thing. But that may also partly be a modern sensibility speaking. Anyway, I won't give up on the brave knight errant (seriously, though it takes some patience: I'm enjoying it), but I want him to rest before getting all banged up again.

I'm also enjoying Berger's selected essays: finished those from Toward Reality (Permanent Red in the UK) and have moved on to those from The Moment of Cubism. The only nits I have thus far are his "seeing things" in paintings and painters (he makes his evaluations sound so scientific, definitive) and the notion of movement = progress in relation to man (will this take more of a backseat in his later work--we'll see). Early Berger is a kind of Quixote.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Black-and-Whites from around the Shore III

What remains:

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Memorial Bench

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Magnolia I (Antiqued)

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Magnolia II (Antiqued)

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Old Drugstore Remnant I

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Old Drugstore Remnant II

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Fox Belmont is now Belmont Shore Athletic Club

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Gaytonia I

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Gaytonia II

Black-and-Whites from around the Shore II

Now let's move on to a more nautical theme:

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Back to the Slip

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Seal Beach Pier

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Second Street Bridge (from Marine Stadium)

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Flagwaver (Marine Stadium)

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Power Plant (from Marine Stadium)

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Kayaks, Paddleboards, Etc.

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Jetty I

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Jetty II

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Jetty III

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Being Followed I

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Being Followed II

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Mr. Krabs Jr.

Black-and-Whites from around the Shore I

Dusted off my old Minolta 35mm and got some black and white film (it'd been years so I also needed a new battery). Then it was just a matter of pointing and shooting.

The "selection" below was "digitalized" via my Samsung SH100 and wirelessly sent to Photobucket. A couple photos were "altered" beyond that.


Shades of Adirondack Chairs, Etc.

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Whale on the Rooftop House I

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Whale on the Rooftop House II

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Garden with Bird Bath

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Blind Life
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 Blind Life and Reflection I

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Blind Life and Reflection II

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Piero della Francesca, Resurrection

Piero della Francesca, Resurrection by julianna.lees
Thought it would be fun to juxtapose a portion of John Berger's essay "The Calculations of Piero" (1959) with Piero's painting Resurrection (a focal point of the essay).
Excerpt from Berger's "Calculations":
     Look, for instance, at the overall composition of this work. Its centre, though not of course its true centre, is Christ's hand, holding his robe as he rises up. The hand furrows the material with emphatic force. This is no casual gesture. It appears to be central to Christ's whole upward movement out of the tomb. The hand, resting on the knee, also rests on the brow of the first line of hills behind, and the folds of the robe flow down like streams. Downwards. Look now at the soldiers so mundanely, so convincingly asleep. Only the one on the extreme right appears somewhat awkward. His legs, his arm between them, his curved back are understandable. Yet how can he rest like that just on one arm? This apparent awkwardness gives a clue. He looks as though he were lying in an invisible hammock. Strung from where? Suddenly go back to the hand, and now see that all four soldiers lie in an invisible net, trawled by that hand. The emphatic grip makes perfect sense. The four heavy sleeping soldiers are the catch the resurrecting Christ has brought with him from the underworld, from Death. As I said, Piero went far beyond the pure harmonies of design.
     There is in all his work an aim behind his calculations. This aim could be summed up in the same way as Henri Poincare once described the aim of mathematics:
Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things. . . . When language has been well chosen one is astonished to find that all demonstrations  made for a known object apply immediately to many new objects. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"The Blindfolded Man III" by R L Swihart

My little poem, at least in part inspired by my recent visit to Chateau de Chillon (near Montreux, Switzerland), is up at Antioch University's Lunch Ticket:

John Berger: Festival Internazionale Ferrara 2011

John Berger's "Selected Essays"

I'd say a month or so ago I had no idea who John Berger was. I still have only an aqueous impression. I discovered him googling around re the Booker Prize.

Decided to start with his Selected Essays: John Berger (edited by Geoff Dyer) . Started reading only yesterday.


From the very first essay "Drawing" (1953):
     I looked at my drawing trying to see what had been distorted; which lines or scribbles of tones had lost their original and necessary emphasis, as others had surrounded them; which spontaneous gestures had evaded a problem, and which had been instinctively right. Yet even this process was only partly conscious. In some places I could clearly see that a passage was clumsy and needed checking; in others, I allowed my pencil to hover around -- rather like the stick of a water-diviner. One form would pull, forcing the pencil to make a scribble of tone which could re-emphasize its recession; another would jab the pencil into restressing a line which could bring it further forward.

Sonora Smart Dodd grave

Sonora Smart Dodd grave by Moun10Bike
Sonora Smart Dodd grave, a photo by Moun10Bike on Flickr.
RIP Sonora. And thanks for the day.