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August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

sweep me away… RT (via surf, salt & sand)

Surf, Salt & Sand

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Romney wants to get rid of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood

August 29, 2012 3 comments

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Great bumper sticker, folks…(& here’s to the suspicion that national health insurance may not go away)…RT  [reblogged from Under the Mountain Bunker]

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Romney wants to get rid of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

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August 27, 2012 Leave a comment

something to bend your mind a little…bravo, R’r Blog & Kitasone Katue (the author) [trns. John Solt] !!!…RT

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The Nude, the Naked, the Beautiful

August 27, 2012 6 comments

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One of the more interesting observations RT has been able to draw from his work on Gilgamesh is the importance of the nude body to civilization, right from its very origins. Whether we are talking about madonna statuettes from prehistory, depictions of dancing girls from Egypt or Mohenjo Daro, or classic Greek sculpture, the body has been one of the principal subjects of art. Even an emphasis on heavily clothing the body (climate issues aside) betrays a fascination with our physical being.

It’s probably not going too far to infer that feelings on this subject have always run high. 1) Is the subject of the nude image being exploited? 2) Is the depiction (or lack thereof) of the nude form inherently offensive to religion? 3) Is there an element of beauty in nude art that transcends procreation? 4) If so, just what is this kind of beauty?

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God is in the details. Probably this adage is no where truer than in discussing this subject. RT ventures the following   answers to his questions: 1) the more friendly and trusting the relationship between artist and model, the less likely the artwork is to be exploitative; 2) within reason, the depiction of the nude form signals an appreciation of life and the world, and thereby, of their creator; 3) the nude form is capable of leading people to an appreciation of more abstract forms of beauty, such as poetry and abstract design and painting; 4) this appreciation is an elevated state of consciousness that brings us closer to the truth of things.

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It is therefore with a discerning eye that we must approach the nude offerings available on the net. RT notes that he at an extended juncture in his life was a weekly practitioner of life drawing, a period which left him with some considerable appreciation of the importance of the relationship between the artist and model. He divides the spectrum of acceptable depictions of the body into three categories: 1) the nude (art inspired by classical and ancient depictions of the body); 2) the naked (art focused more on the physical body, but tending to draw us to an appreciation of the model as a person; and 3) the beautiful (or sublime): art that carries us into a higher awareness of ourselves and the world. He offers a list of sites or blogs on the net that fall into one or another of these categories:

A. The Nude

1. Rickfoto. Classic glamour. This blog emphasizes technique, beautiful women, and the body’s abstract beauty. You would have to search far to find a more professional, exacting approach.

2. Oomwah. Drawing and painting. Superb technique here, grounded in the dedicated study of the Old Masters. This artist draws out the model’s mood and character even as he focuses on the body.

3. One Street Shy. Drawings. A delicate sensitivity at work here, a variety of relaxed poses. A woman’s eye, to be sure.

B. The Naked

1. Gallerycy. Drawings and paintings. I love this artist’s approach–direct, simple, factual yet gorgeous. A great skill at work here, one that relies more on immediate apprehension, less on instruction (or at least it seems to RT).

2. Nuit de Pluie. Photography. Humor, vision, and groundedness…the nudes are simply amazing (and more than occasionally, hilarious). Wow!

3. Pigment Pondering. Drawings. Whoa, watch out for this artist. Intensity, color, and energy characterize these drawings, which get the viewer down into the nitty-gritty of women’s bodies even as they turn women into modern angels. The artist’s poetry complements the images.

C. The Beautiful

1. Women Painting Women. This site undercuts a lot of the stereotypes about nude art, and especially that it is the product of the voracious male eye exploiting women. Here we have a wonderful variety of styles and moods, women clothed and unclothed, with the emphasis on the model. Particular favorites include Natalie Richy (focus on classical methods); Aleah Chapin (a dedication to the physical reality of women’s bodies, at all ages); and Andrea Kowch (an intense, mystical approach).

2. Dane Dakota’s Art. Photography. Something otherworldly, mystical is at work in these photographs. Ethereal might be a good description, except that this work is too intimate, lifting the viewer up. Transcendental.

3. Nazario Art Painting. Painting. Powerful use of color here, a woman’s perspective. Energy. A developing vision included as part of her visual diary.

4. Sharon Sieben. Painting. The Brooklyn Bridge, figure studies, riffs on Norman Rockwell, a whole site devoted to skeleton painting. Humor here, a knowledge of death and beauty.

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Just for the sake of argument, here’s a site devoted to the male nude:

5. Douglas Simonson. Paintings. One of the world’s best-known interpreters of the male nude, this artist has an interesting story to tell and a direct, factual approach to his work. Watch out! You will encounter men in the buff.

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That’s all folks (for the moment)…RT

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Painting: Mata Moana. Henri Robert. WikiCmns. Public Domain.

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The Human Brain–The Quaggas of Creativity 2

August 26, 2012 3 comments

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RT has addressed some fairly ambitious topics before, but this one may take the cake: the human brain. Fortunately, the Quaggas of Creativity are here to help; this particular quagga is taking time off from a lovely romp in the African sun to give us some insights on this demanding topic. What do we say? Baie Dankie!! (“Thank you very much” in Afrikaans).

What makes our brains special is not just their size, but also their complexity. Our brains are both the largest of any animals in ratio to our body weight and contain the largest number (88-130 billion) of neurons.

But these facts are just the tip of the iceberg.

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A. Brain structure 

The structure of the human brain is enormously complex (and scientists are by no means finished describing it). To begin with, the cerebral cortex, the site of abstract thought, is divided into four lobes: a) the frontal  (blue area in diagram, vital to short-term memory, planning, and motivation), b) parietal (yellow area, vital to spatial sense and navigation), c) occipital (pink area, vital to processing of visual information), and d) temporal (green area, contains the  hippocampus and is vital to the formation of long-term memory). But the cortex has also been divided into 52 functional areas by the anatomist Korbinian Brodman–for instance, Brodman areas 41 and 42 (in the temporal lobe) related to hearing.

Two separate areas are necessary to the processing of language: Werneicke’s area (located in the rear of the parietal lobe, it controls the deciphering of language sounds) and Broca’s area (located in the left side of the frontal lobe, it produces language sounds).

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B. Brain Function

Different areas in the brain are responsible for processing information for single senses; how does the brain combine this information into consciousness?

This is the $64,000 question, and some progress has been made in answering it. For instance, in audiovisual integration, the brain can adjust audio input to match visual information, which is generally more reliable. When we listen to TV, for instance, we hear a person’s voice is coming from the screen image, when in the TV speakers produce it; our brains are set to expect a human voice from the mouth, and that is what we think we hear.

Or again, by touching objects with their hands or feet, infants build a map of what is and isn’t them. The combination of touch and sight is basic to building a “core’ feeling of self.

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C. Reflections

1) Mind. Mental processes, as RT noted in another post, are characteristic of many species. Complex language is unique to people, but many other mental phenomena (for instance, names, which bottlenose dolphins produce in the form of signature whistles) are not human monopolies.

2) Complexity. Not only are human brains enormously complex, able to handle a huge variety of information input, but brain complexity increases as we travel along the timeline from the brain’s origin (575 million years ago). RT suspects that this is so because the complexity of the environment has steadily increased over time.

3) What Works, Works. We need the brain’s complexity to achieve apparently simple tasks, such as building our understanding of what is and isn’t us. This complexity only multiplies as we deal with more and more subtle questions and issues. Everything in the physical structure has a purpose, and can serve a useful end.

You never know with a quagga; this one might be withholding information, on the theory that it’s better to learn a difficult topic bit by bit. So RT may be returning to the human brain again, if the quagga divulges more on the subject. Still, the broad day is beckoning, and RT is tempted to spend some time in the open, horsing around 😉 …  RT

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RT’s Related Posts: 1) The Brain–Quaggas of Creativity 1; 2) Near People–Bottlenose Dolphins and Others

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All images: WikiCmns, Public Domain. Top: CAT scan of the human brain; middle: diagram showing the four brain lobes; bottom: diagram showing the Broca and Werneicke areas.

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Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012

August 26, 2012 2 comments

Mr. Armstrong dared death many times. He knew the truth: the only way to get there is by going. Best wishes to him on his latest voyage!   RT

Photo: Neil Armstrong After his First Moonwalk; WikiCmns; NASA/JPL; Public Domain w/ attribution.

Tao Te Ching: Chapter : 20 : wandering : taste of TAO

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

folks: amazing images & something to reflect on (from RamORam)…enjoy!   RT

Tao Te Ching: Chapter : 20 : wandering : taste of TAO.