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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Afternoon Hike in Palos Verdes: Alta Vicente Reserve


Rousseau on Babble, Morality, and Predicting the Revolution

From Emile:

     I do not like verbal explanations. Young people pay little heed to them, nor do they remember them. Things! Things! I cannot repeat it too often. We lay too much stress upon words; we teachers babble, and our scholars follow our example.

The teacher's art consists in this: To turn the child's attention from trivial details and to guide his thoughts continually towards relations of importance which he will one day need to know, that he may judge rightly of good and evil in human society.

     You reckon on the present order of society, without considering that this order is itself subject to inscrutable changes, and that you can neither foresee nor provide against the revolution which may affect your children. The great become small, the rich poor, the king a commoner. Does fate strike so seldom that you can count on immunity from her blows? The crisis is approaching, and we are on the edge of a revolution.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Joseph Cornell

Joseph Cornell by eeekkgirl
Joseph Cornell, a photo by eeekkgirl on Flickr.

"Sun Box" (1956) by Joseph Cornell, 1903-1972

Rousseau on Discovery

From Emile:

     Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena of nature; you will soon rouse his curiosity, but if you would have it grow, do not be in too great a hurry to satisfy this curiosity. Put the problems before him and let him solve them himself. Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself. Let him not be taught science, let him discover it. If ever you substitute authority for reason he will cease to reason; he will be a mere plaything of other people's thoughts.

Blossoms, Beads, & Bandannas

My understanding is that there's an Irish pub up above and the patrons get a little crazy once in a while (e.g., on St. Patty's).


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rousseau on History

From Emile (in a footnote on Herodotus):

[Footnote: The ancient historians are full of opinions which may be useful, even if the facts which they present are false. But we do not know how to make any real use of history. Criticism and erudition are our only care; as if it mattered more that a statement were true or false than that we should be able to get a useful lesson from it. A wise man should consider history a tissue of fables whose morals are well adapted to the human heart.] 

Another Connection Between Tolstoy and Rousseau

From Emile:

     The indifference of children towards meat is one proof that the taste for meat is unnatural; their preference is for vegetable foods, such as milk, pastry, fruit, etc. Beware of changing this natural taste and making children flesh-eaters, if not for their health's sake, for the sake of their character; for how can one explain away the fact that great meat-eaters are usually fiercer and more cruel than other men; this has been recognised at all times and in all places. The English are noted for their cruelty [Footnote: I am aware that the English make a boast of their humanity and of the kindly diposition of their race, which they call "good-natured people;" but in vain do they proclaim this fact; no one else says it of them.]

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Best I Could Do

Walked around the lagoon a little before sunset. Best I could do: Bee or not to Bee.


Samuel Beckett, Randomness, and "Possible Lessnesses"

Wanted to generate random coordinates on the Cartesian plane. Apparently a bit more complicated than random positive integers. Anyway, in looking for possibilities I ran across "Possible Lessnesses."

Didn't write for my password (you need permission to generate a version of Beckett's short piece, "Lessness"), but maybe I will later.

Did drive me to put Rousseau aside for a few and read (reread) "Lessness."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Entrance to Pere Lachaise

entrance-pere lachaise by ...andtheswan
entrance-pere lachaise, a photo by ...andtheswan on Flickr.

Paris, Friedhof Père Lachaise, Monument aux Morts (Père LachaiseCemetery, Kenotaph by Albert Bartholomé)

We'll be close to Pere Lachaise the last few days. A few old friends I want to visit.

Doesn't Hurt to Dream II

IMG_7997.jpg by rrm998
IMG_7997.jpg, a photo by rrm998 on Flickr.
The Notre Dame Collegiate. I believe it'll be an easy walk from the Hotel Normandy.

Hotel Normandy - Vernon - "Normandy-Plaisance" - Place de Paris

This is where we hope to stay in Vernon (just the starting point for biking to Giverny, but supposedly a pretty old town). Yes, the hotel looks very different today (from what I've seen on the internet). Will try to take my own pictures.

Monet's resting place - Giverny, France

If we get the chance, we'll stop and say hello.

Doesn't Hurt to Dream I

Vernon - 09 by LittleMsMagic
Vernon - 09, a photo by LittleMsMagic on Flickr.

Bikepath from Vernon to Monet's Giverny. We're planning for mid-June.

Santee Alley in Downtown LA

Santee alley in downtown LA by Ekaii
Santee alley in downtown LA, a photo by Ekaii on Flickr.

Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles by Paul & Kelly
Downtown Los Angeles, a photo by Paul & Kelly on Flickr.
We went prom-dress shopping in Santee Alley. Ended up here for a nice lunch. Some live music. Some sort of Japanese pastry with red bean (seemed pretty popular, tasted pretty good). Home again, home again.

Tolstoy's "Hadji Murat"

Hadji Murat (or alternatively Hadji Murad, Turkish: Hacı Murat, although the first spelling better captures the original title in Russian: Хаджи-Мурат [Khadzhi-Murat]) is a short novel written by Leo Tolstoy from 1896 to 1904 and published posthumously in 1912 (though not in full until 1917). It is Tolstoy’s final work. The protagonist is Hadji Murat, an Avar rebel commander who, for reasons of personal revenge, forges an uneasy alliance with the Russians he had been fighting.


Tolstoy seems to have first heard of the historical Hadji Murad while he was serving in the Caucasus, according to letters he wrote to his brother Sergei. The thistle described at the opening of the story was actually encountered by Tolstoy near his country estate and led him to remember the character and create a story about him. The theme of struggle while remaining faithful resonated with Tolstoy even though he was in ailing health; later letters suggest this work gave him a brief, final moment of vigor. Just as the author was struggling with his near death, his extended meditation on the concept of the individual refusing to give in to the demands of the world helped him to complete the book, although he himself had no inclination to publish it and was only concerned with its completion. In addition to the theme of resistance, there are many other ideas that can be found in the novel, such as determinism; this echoes Tolstoy's major work War and Peace. An even clearer theme is the struggle between a Europeanized Russia and Muslim Chechnya, the classic West vs. East theme found in Russian history and many different stories and novels (and which is once again pertinent in light of First and Second Chechen Wars in Chechnya and Russia). The work is very similar to Alexander Pushkin’s work The Captain's Daughter in that it is a realist work based on actual people and events and has a similar direction, though the main character in this novel does not meet the same end. Tolstoy used material in Russian archives, including Hadji Murad's own account of his life.

[ From Wikipedia: ]

From "Emile"

A few bullets:

  • Definitions would be all very well if we did not use words in the making of them.
  • I have seen those little prodigies who are supposed to speak half a dozen languages. I have heard them speak first in German, then in Latin, French, or Italian; true, they used half a dozen vocabularies, but they always spoke in German. In a word, you may give children as many synonyms as you like; it is not their language but their words that you change; they will never have but one language.
  • You think you are teaching him what the world is like; he is only learning the map; he is taught the names of towns, countries, rivers, which have no existence for him except on the paper before him.
  • You will say I too am a dreamer; I admit it, but I do what the others fail to do, I give my dreams as dreams, and leave the reader to discover whether there is anything in them which may prove useful to those who are awake.  

Little Tokyo

little-tokyo by littlegirllost
little-tokyo, a photo by littlegirllost on Flickr.
A bit better take than mine (what do you expect from a "drive-by").

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"And the Days Are Not Full Enough"

A quiet lazy day. The coolness and the silvery marine layer (the sun keeps trying to come out but hasn't yet) add to the sense that it's still morning (when it's nearly 1:00 P.M.).

Anyway, don't know why Uncle Ezra came knocking (he's far from my fave and I only remember this one--though my mind wanted "long" not "full"--and "In a Station of the Metro").

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
                       Not shaking the grass. 

Bikes in Giverny

Bikes in Giverny by Cynthia Morris
Bikes in Giverny, a photo by Cynthia Morris on Flickr.
What we're hoping to do -- mid to late June. Haven't yet decided: with or without Fat Tire.

From "Emile"

Almost certain Tolstoy had imbided a little Rousseau (may look up the influences later) before he voiced a "cure" for Moscow's prostitutes (did I read it in his letters or Wilson's bio?): Take them out of the corrupting city and put them in the country.

Anyway, here's a bit of Rousseau on the ill effects of the city:

     Men are not made to be crowded together in ant-hills, but scattered over the earth to till it. The more they are massed together, the more corrupt they become. Disease and vice are the sure results of over-crowded cities. Of all creatures man is least fitted to live in herds. Huddled together like sheep, men would very soon die. Man's breath is fatal to his fellows. This is literally as well as figuratively true. 

Sofia - Symbolical Burial from the Varna Necropolis

Not the photo I really wanted (see Wikipedia for skeletal remains strewn with Varna gold), but I couldn't get a "manageable file" so I opted for this: still very interesting.


Found  the photo I wanted (minus the penis sheath, which has been chopped off from the right half of the photo):

Varna Necropolis

Didn't know about Varna or the "oldest golden treasure" till now (learned about it via a post on Google Plus).


Varna Necropolis

The Varna Necropolis (Bulgarian: Варненски некропол) (also Varna Cemetery) is a burial site in the western industrial zone of Varna (approximately half a kilometre from Lake Varna and 4 km from the city centre), Bulgaria, internationally considered one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory. The oldest golden treasure in the world, dating to 5,000 BC, was discovered at the site.[1][2]

[From Wikipedia:]

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Nottiteln I

Almost looks like it's waving.

National Poetry Month

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.


National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. It is celebrated every April in the United States and (since 1999) in Canada as well. Since 2000 Great Britain has celebrated a National Poetry Month each October.


National Poetry Month was inspired by the success of Black History Month, held each February, and Women's History Month, held in March. In 1995, the Academy of American Poets convened a group of publishers, booksellers, librarians, literary organizations, poets, and teachers to discuss the need and usefulness of a similar month long holiday to celebrate poetry.[1] The first National Poetry Month was held in 1996.

In 1998, the Academy joined the American Poetry & Literacy Project to distribute 100,000 free books of poetry from New York to California during National Poetry Month. On April 22, President Clinton and the First Lady hosted a gala at the White House that featured Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.[2]

For National Poetry Month in 2001, the Academy invited people to "vote" for poets they most wanted to have a postage stamp. More than 10,000 people cast ballots, with Langston Hughes receiving the most votes. The vote tally was sent to the United States Postal Service, which issued a Langston Hughes stamp in January 2002.[2]

On April 5, 2005 the Empire State Building was illuminated with blue lights to mark the 10th anniversary of National Poetry Month.[2]

Each year, a special poster is commissioned by the Academy of American Poets for National Poetry Month, with almost 200,000 copies distributed for free. In the past, posters have been designed by noted graphic designers such as Chip Kidd and Milton Glaser. The 2007 poster was designed by Christoph Niemann.[3]

This year, Jacqueline Woodson, Walter Dean Myers, Kathi Appelt, and April Halprin Wayland are some of the writers that will participate in 30 Poets/30 Days, a celebration of children's poetry during the month of National Poetry Month. Every day of April, author Gregory K. Pincus's GottaBook Blog and Twitter site will feature an unpublished poem by different poets. This feature is free and open 24/7. Pincus said that 30 Poets/30 Days was very successful last year. Many people read the poetry and schools incorporated this even into their lesson plans.

Numerous books and poetry compilations have been published acknowledging National Poetry Month, such as The Knopf National Poetry Month Collection by Random House and Celebrating National Poetry Month by children's book author and poet Bruce Larkin.

[Frfom Wikipedia:]

From "Emile"

     Man is born to suffer; pain is the means of his preservation. His childhood is happy, knowing only pain of the body. These bodily sufferings are much less cruel, much less painful, than other forms of suffering, and they rarely lead to self-destruction. It is not the twinges of gout which make a man kill himself, it is mental suffering that leads to despair. We pity the sufferings of childhood; we should pity ourselves; our worst sorrows are of our own making.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778)

Finished my re-reading of de Nerval (except for playing around with the bilingual sonnets). Wanted to try Rousseau's Julie (de Nerval alludes to Rousseau and his work quite often), but I've not yet found a free or reasonable Kindle version so I've opted for his Emile.

We'll see if I finish it. Thus far I've enjoyed the "breastfeeding plea":

But when mothers deign to nurse their own children, then will be a reform in morals; natural feeling will revive in every heart; there will be no lack of citizens for the state; this first step by itself will restore mutual affection. The charms of home are the best antidote to vice. The noisy play of children, which we thought so trying, becomes a delight; mother and father rely more on each to one another; the marriage tie is strengthened. In the cheerful home life the mother finds her sweetest duties and the father his pleasantest recreation. Thus the cure of this one evil would work a wide-spread reformation; nature would regain her rights.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (French: [ʒɑ̃ʒak ʁuso]; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism of French expression. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought.

Rousseau's novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. His sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise was of importance to the development of pre-romanticism[1] and romanticism in fiction.[2] Rousseau's autobiographical writings—his Confessions, which initiated the modern autobiography, and his Reveries of a Solitary Walker—exemplified the late 18th-century movement known as the Age of Sensibility, and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing. His Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and his On the Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought.

Rousseau was a successful composer of music, who wrote seven operas as well as music in other forms, and made contributions to music as a theorist. During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophes among members of the Jacobin Club. Rousseau was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794, 16 years after his death.

[From Wikipedia:]

An Eakins Moment


Friday, April 12, 2013

From "Old Dodu"

This is a short fragment from de Nerval's Sylvie (from the chapter called "Old Dodu"):
I was about to reply, I was about to throw myself at her feet and offer her my uncle's house -- which it was still possible for me to purchase, given that there were several of us in line for the inheritance and that the property had remained undivided -- but we were already back at Loisy by now. Dinner was waiting for us. The fine old country smell of onion soup was wafting through the air. Some neighbors had been invited over for this day-after of the festivities. I immediately recognized an ancient woodcutter, Old Dodu, who used to tell us such comic or terrifying tales long into the night. By turns shepherd, messenger, gamekeeper, fisherman and even poacher, Old Dodu whittled cuckoo-clocks and turnspits in his spare time. For many years he had acted as a tour guide in Ermenonville, showing British visitors the spots where Rousseau used to meditate and recounting his final days. It was he who had been the little boy whom the philosopher had employed to keep his herbals in order and whom he instructed to go out and gather the hemlock plants whose juice he extracted and mixed with his cafe au lait. The innkeeper of The Golden Cross contested this latter detail, which set off a long-standing feud. People had long been suspicious of a few innocent secrets Old Dodu possessed, such as healing cows with a spell said backwards and making the sign of the cross with his left foot, but he had quickly given up these superstitions -- thanks to the memory, he said, of his talks with Jean-Jacques.
     'Here you are, little Parisian!' Old Dodu said to me. 'You here to run off with our girls?'
     'Me, Old Dodu?'
     'You take them into the woods while the wolf's away?'
     'Old Dodu, if anybody's the wolf, it's you."
     'Well, I guess I was a wolf as long as I could find myself some lambs, but these days all I ever come across are goats, and they know how to take care of themselves! But you're a wily lot, you Parisians. Jean-Jacques was quite right to say: "Man is corrupted by the poisonous air of cities."'
     'Old Dodu, you know only all too well that man is corrupted everywhere.'

Time Capsules


Thursday, April 11, 2013