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

Friday, January 31, 2014

From Strindberg's "The Father"

Went from Miss Julie to The Father. Haven't researched this hymn fragment (I don't know it), but I enjoyed it.

NURSE. Ah, yes, ah yes!

[Reads half aloud]

Ah woe is me, how sad a thing
Is life within this vale of tears,
Death's angel triumphs like a king,
And calls aloud to all the spheres --
Vanity, all is vanity.
Yes, yes! Yes, yes!

[Reads again]

All that on earth hath life and breath
To earth must fall before his spear,
And sorrow, saved alone from death,
Inscribes above the mighty bier.
Vanity, all is vanity.
Yes, Yes.


Vincent van Gogh - Sunflowers, 1889 at the Museum of Art Philadelphia PA

Sunflowers in San Pedro

With all the concrete around, these flowers have helped soften the landscape. Of course I always think of Van Gogh.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mozart's Requiem

Heard live only once: in Prague. St. Nicholas Church in the Old Town (if memory serves). Literally: I was transported. I heard it this morning on the radio and remembered (half-remembered) the past.


The Requiem Mass in D minor (K. 626) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791 and left unfinished at the composer's death on December 5. A completion dated 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem mass to commemorate the February 14 anniversary of his wife's death.

The autograph manuscript shows the finished and orchestrated introit in Mozart's hand, as well as detailed drafts of the Kyrie and the sequence Dies Irae as far as the first nine bars of "Lacrimosa", and the offertory. It cannot be shown to what extent Süssmayr may have depended on now lost "scraps of paper" for the remainder; he later claimed the Sanctus and Agnus Dei as his own. Walsegg probably intended to pass the Requiem off as his own composition, as he is known to have done with other works. This plan was frustrated by a public benefit performance for Mozart's widow Constanze. A modern contribution to the mythology is Peter Shaffer's 1979 play Amadeus, in which a mysterious messenger orders Mozart to write a requiem mass, giving no explanation for the order; Mozart (in the play) then comes to believe that the piece is meant to be the requiem mass for his own funeral.

The Requiem is scored for 2 basset horns in F, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets in D, 3 trombones (alto, tenor & bass), timpani (2 drums), violins, viola and basso continuo (cello, double bass, and organ). The vocal forces include soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass soloists and an SATB mixed choir.


St. John's Day

Midsummer, also known as St John's Day,[1] is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 21 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures. Because he was alleged to have been born on that day, the Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John's Day begins the evening before, known as St John's Eve. These are commemorated by many Christian denominations.[2] Midsummer is especially important in the cultures of Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltics. In Sweden the Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been serious discussions to make the Midsummer's Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of 6 June. It may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.


In modern Sweden, Midsummer's Eve and Midsummer's Day (Midsommarafton and Midsommardagen) were formerly celebrated on 23 June and 24 June, but since 1953 the celebration has been moved to the Friday and Saturday between 19 June and 26 June with the main celebrations taking place on Friday. It is one of the most important holidays of the year in Sweden, and probably the most uniquely Swedish in the way it is celebrated. When Sweden got its National day (6 June), discussions were held about making Midsummer the Swedish national day because of the strong civil celebration on this day.

Raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång) is an activity that attracts families and many others. Before the maypole is raised, greens and flowers are collected and used to cover the entire pole. People dancing around the pole listen to traditional music and sing songs such as Små grodorna associated with the holiday. Some wear traditional folk costumes or crowns made of wild springs and wildflowers on their heads. The year's first potatoes, soused herring and pickled herring, chives, sour cream, beer, snaps and the first strawberries of the season are on the menu. Drinking songs (snapsvisor) are also important at this feast, and many drink heavily.

Because Midsummer was thought to be one of the times of the year when magic was strongest, it was considered a good night to perform rituals to look into the future. Traditionally, young people pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse. In the past it was believed that herbs picked at Midsummer were highly potent, and water from springs could bring good health. Greenery placed over houses and barns were supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues, even though most don't take it seriously. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to may) and may be the origin of the word majstång, maja coming originally from the month May. Other researchers say the term came from German merchants who raised the maypole in June because the Swedish climate made it impossible to find the necessary greens and flowers in May, and continued to call it a maypole. Today, however, it is most commonly[citation needed] called a "midsommarstång" (literally midsummer pole).

In earlier times, small spires wrapped in greens were erected; this probably predates the maypole tradition, which is believed by many to have come from the continent in the Middle Ages. Others argue that some form of Midsummer pole occurred in Sweden during the pre-Christian times, and was a phallic fertility symbol, meant to impregnate the earth, but as there were no records from those times it cannot be proven, and this idea might just be a modern interpretation of the pole's form. The earliest historical mention of the maypole in Sweden is from the Middle Ages. Midsummer was, however, linked to an ancient fertility festival which was adapted into St. John's Day by the church, even though it retained many pagan traditions, as the Swedes were slow to give up the old heathen customs. The connection to fertility is naturally linked to the time of year. Many young people became passionate at Midsummer, and this was accepted, probably because it resulted in more childbirths in March which was a good time for children to be born.

In Denmark and Norway midsummer is referred to as the eve of Skt. Hans but it's only in Sweden that it has kept its original name.

In Sweden and parts of Finland, the tradition of bonfires is not part of Midsummer but rather of the "Valborg's" evening festivities, when winter leaves are burned for summer.

[From Wikipedia:]

Still Delving into Strindberg

He's still holding my attention -- both as an author and personality.

Just finished The Son of a Servant and am back to the plays: Just started Miss Julie.

JEAN [Inquisitive but polite]. Is it some troll's dish that you are both concocting for mid-summer night? Something to pierce the future with and evoke the face of your intended?

Rhetorica Christiana's "Great Chain of Being"

[From Wikimedia Commons]

Horton Hears a Who

Saturday, January 25, 2014

More on the Elusive Palm Rose

I bet neither William S. or Rilke fathomed its beauty (not to mention smell). The homeless guy who made it said he learned the trade in Santa Barbara. He didn't have a vendor's license but said I could leave a "donation" if I wished. Hey, it's something.


Friday, January 24, 2014

2nd Street Souvenirs

Was waiting for my dinner (tgif). Why not?


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Long Beach in Afternoon Fog (1/22/14)

Coming over the bridges from San Pedro (missed a lot of good photos because I was driving) I thought it could be a toxic yellow smoke from somewhere in the harbor. Weirdest thing, but wonderful.








Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Allusion to Beskow

[From Sweden and the Holy Land: pietistic and communal settlement, by Ruth Kark]

"August: Osage County" and T.S. Eliot

This is hardly a review (I wouldn't need to see the film again), but I thought I'd reproduce Eliot's "The Hollow Men" (Sam Shepard quotes from it at least twice: Life is very long and Here we go round the prickly pear...).


The Hollow Men

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


Gustaf Emanuel Beskow

Can't find much on him in English, but this seems to be the Beskow Strindberg is alluding to.


[From Pilgrims and Travellers in Search of the Holy, edited by Rene Gothoni]

From Strindberg's "The Son of a Servant"

     He was also a pietist from spiritual pride, as all pietists are. Beskow, the repentant lieutenant, had come home from his pilgrimage to the grave of Christ. His Journal was read at home by John's stepmother, who inclined to pietism. Beskow made pietism gentlemanly, and brought it into fashion, and a considerable portion of the lower classes followed this fashion. Pietism was then what spiritualism is now--a presumably higher knowledge of hidden things. It was therefore eagerly taken up by all women and uncultivated people, and finally found acceptance at Court.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

R L Swihart's in MadHat 15: Eye on the World

Not sure exactly when they landed (just discovered it myself), but I have two poems -- "Where's Waldo Now" and "Killing Me Softly" -- up at MadHat 15: Eye on the World.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

From Strindberg's "The Son of a Servant"

     These memories lie in confusion, unformed and undefined, like pictures in a thaumatrope. But when it is made to revolve, they melt together and form a picture, significant or insignificant as the case may be.



A thaumatrope is a toy that was popular in Victorian times. A disk or card with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to combine into a single image due to the phi phenomenon and persistence of vision.[1]

Examples of common thaumatrope pictures include a bare tree on one side of the disk, and its leaves on the other, or a bird on one side and a cage on the other. They often also included riddles or short poems, with one line on each side. Thaumatropes were one of a number of simple, mechanical optical toys that used persistence of vision. They are recognised as important antecedents of cinematography and in particular of animation.
The coined name translates roughly as "wonder turner", from Ancient Greek: θαῦμα "wonder" and τρόπος "turn".

The invention of the thaumatrope is usually credited to either John Ayrton Paris or Peter Mark Roget[citation needed]. Paris used one to demonstrate persistence of vision to the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1824[citation needed]. He based his invention on ideas of the astronomer John Herschel and the geologist William Henry Fitton, and some sources attribute the actual invention to Fitton rather than Paris. Charles Babbage reported being introduced to the concept by Herschel and Fitton[2]
In 2012, it was reported that a prehistoric thaumatrope had been discovered in caves in France, particularly the Chauvet Caves.[3]

[From Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bolsa Chica (1/11/14)

Picked up my car (it was in the shop for 3 days!) and zoomed down to the coast. Birds weren't as "present" as in the past. Still took a few photos. It was enough to merge with the landscape. Exercise.















Augenrund V

Impression, Sunrise (Colorado Lagoon)

Got this on the way back from Starbucks.

Strindberg's "The Son of a Servant"

Have left the plays for now (I've read three thus far) to return to Strindberg's autobiographical work.

The beginning of The Son of a Servant:

     In the third story of a large house near Clara Church in Stockholm, the son of the shipping agent and the servant-maid awoke to self-consciousness. The child's first impressions were, as he remembered afterwards, fear and hunger. He feared the darkness and the blows, he feared to fall, to knock himself against something, or to go in the streets. He feared the fists of his brothers, the roughness of the servant-girl, the scolding of his grandmother, the rod of his mother, and his father's cane....

From Strindberg's "The Dance of Death"

ALICE. Riddles! Riddles! But do you notice that there is peace in the house now? The wonderful peace of death. Wonderful as the solemn anxiety that surrounds the coming of a child into the world. I hear the silence -- and on the floor I see the traces of the easy-chair that carried him away -- And I feel that now my life is ended, and I am starting on the road to dissolution! Do you know, it's queer, but those simple words of the Lieutenant -- and his is a simple mind -- they pursue me, but now they have become serious. My husband, my youth's beloved -- yes, perhaps you laugh! -- he was a good and noble man -- nevertheless!