Archive for August, 2013

Cygnus Loop Supernova

August 31, 2013 7 comments

File:Cygnus Loop Supernova Blast Wave - GPN-2000-000992.jpg


Whoa, what happened here? Five to ten thousand years ago, a massive star exploded, sending out shock-waves in all directions, creating the Cygnus Loop. The blast shell is currently expanding at 370,000 mph and emits energy across the electromagnetic spectrum: radio, visible, x-ray, and ultra-violet. Some of the ejecta material, however, is travelling faster: the violet streak of light near the top of the image marks the path of a knot of gases moving at nearly 3 million mph. This image is a combination of three photographs: one capturing green light (hydrogen atoms), one, blue light (oxygen atoms); and the last, red light (sulfur atoms). 

The visible part of the Swan Loop is called the Veil Nebula, and was discovered by William Herschel in 1784.


RT’s Related Posts: 1) Guest Star.


Photo: Cygnus Loop Supernova Blast Wave (1993); Hubble Space Telescope. Author: NASA, J.J. Hester Arizona State University. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Along Floats the Mangled Kahuna–A. Manookian

August 31, 2013 2 comments

File:Along floats the mangled Kahuna on the sea-caves calm water near to the sitting Marin whose spark of life has just flickered out.jpg

Wandering, rather in the manner of an 18th-century mariner, RT has stumbled across a treasure trove. In Hawaii, of course, though nothing else in this story is quite what one might have expected.

The clue that let RT know he had found something amazing is the above drawing, by one Arman Manookian and exhibited at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. The full title alone is enough to give the viewer pause: Along floats the mangled Kahuna on the sea-caves calm water near to the sitting [Francisco de Paula] Marin whose spark of life has just flickered out. A tale (or more than one) surely hangs on this title. Scurrying through the pages of Wikipedia, RT has assembled some data to help us decode the drawing: 1) a kahuna is a Hawaiian priest or magician; 2) Francisco de Paula Marin was an influential figure in the Kingdom of Hawaii under its first and perhaps greatest monarch, King Kamehameha I. FdPM is, among other achievements, responsible for introducing pineapples and coffee to Hawaii. But so far, RT has been unable to discover much about FdPM’s death other than its date–1837.

Arman Manookian seems a less legendary figure (if such is possible in this tale): Armenian, born in Constantinople in 1904, he survived the Armenian Holocaust and made his way to the United States, where he studied art. After graduating, he joined the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in Honolulu. He began to practice art, and his talent attracted significant commissions. Sadly, he committed suicide at 31. Today, his work, and especially his oil painting. is highly valued in Hawaii.

Hawaii, which RT visited several years ago, is an amazing place, and its history since discovery by Captain Cook is one of the most remarkable testaments to the resourcefulness of a native people dealing with the political realities of the 18th and 19th centuries. Why should we wonder that this period has produced illustrations worthy of an episode from Moby Dick? There is more poetry in life than we imagine.   RT

DrawingAlong floats the mangled Kahuna on the sea-caves calm water near to the sitting [Francisco de Paula] Marin whose spark of life has just flickered out, Arman Manookian; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

In Memoriam, Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet

August 30, 2013 4 comments

File:Antoni Milosz & Seamus Heaney 2004.jpg

Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate in Literature (1995) and the greatest living Irish poet, has died. He was 74.

RT only encountered Heaney’s work about 12 years ago, but was immediately impressed. The dignity of Heaney’s voice, his material rooted in the deep culture and history of Ireland, and his command of a prosody that seems older than the old–Beowulf and Sweeney Astray are fine examples of Heaney’s work–lend his poems a power and beauty seldom achieved.  Certainly, they are among the greatest ever penned in an island where people sing like birds in a tree.

“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.”

from “Digging”

The Irish poet passes, but the song remains….  RT

Photo: Seamus Heaney (middle right) with Antoni Milosz (son of Czeslaw Milosz), Cracow, 2004. Author: Mariusz Kubik. WikiCmns; Public Domain w/ Attribution.


…not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…

August 28, 2013 Leave a comment


his prophet voice rings loud… RT

Photo: Martin Luther King Memorial; Author: Pete Stewart, Perth, Australia. WikiCms; CC 2.0 Generic.



An inseparable bond.

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment


florescent beauty…  RT

(reposted from mo’s musings)


An inseparable bond..

A Dollar in Dimes (A Poem)

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment

DCF 1.0

RT likes to listen to music when he gets up in the morning; today the selection was a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” on Jane Monheit‘s album Come Dream with Me. Monheit’s gorgeous vocals, backed only by guitar and a superb fretless bass, left RT deeply pensive–one of the moods that has been known to produce poetry in him.  This morning proved no exception, and so RT offers his latest poetic endeavor below:

A Dollar in Dimes


counting them out calms me

in my apartment, its old hardwood

floors, its views of the rooftops &

the sky’s selection of cloud and light

& i

thought of the day i drove my

brother all the way up

Connecticut Avenue to interview

a retired supreme court Justice and


our whole life waited for us, him

to lecture at thunderbird and me

with my guarded memories of

the far away & long ago.


So this is what it’s come to: an

arrangement of coins on my desktop

& the voice of an old song &

the thought of holding you–


& maybe

it will last, the long, slow

rhythm of the train, the bump

of pigeons against the window,

& you breaking out into

your smile, tiny kisses

on your belly.

Photo: Dime depicting Franklin Delano Roosevelt; author: User talk: Fg2. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Gospel of the Egyptians–Reconstruction of a Fragment

August 27, 2013 1 comment


Salome is one of the New Testament’s more enigmatic figures. Rarely mentioned, she nonetheless is recorded in the Gospel of Mark as one of the women who witnessed the Crucifixion and is numbered among the women who went to prepare Jesus’s body for burial. Some traditions make her the mother of the sons of Zebedee. An important figure, certainly, but perhaps not part of Jesus’s inner group of followers.

Things are more perplexing when we consider the records that survive of her outside the canon. She turns up in documents as disparate as the Secret Gospel of Mark and the Pistis Sophia. A logion in the Gospel of Thomas is devoted to an exchange between Salome and Jesus, and perhaps records their first meeting.

But the reference that had drawn RT’s interest are the mentions of Salome in the Gospel of the Egyptians, a gospel known only through the fragments preserved in the writings of Clement of Alexandria. These are typically given as individual quotes from the writings of Clement, but RT could not help but note that all of these quotes mention Salome, and that they all seem to refer to a single exchange between Jesus and Salome. Well, this was a situation that RT thought could be helped by assembling the pieces of this dialog into a coherent whole. What follows below is RT’s reconstruction:

Fragment from the Gospel of the Egyptians (as quoted by Clement of Alexandria in his writings)


After Jesus finished discoursing on the end of the world, Salome asked him: “How much longer will people keep dying?”

“As long as women give birth,” Jesus replied.

“And so I’ve done right to not give birth?”

Jesus said, “You may eat any plant except the one that tastes bad.”

Then Salome asked the Word when these things would become generally known. Jesus answered:

“When you trample on the garment of shame, and when the two become one. And when the man together with the woman are not man or woman.”


RT will close by noting that the fragment sounds strange, unlike what readers know of Jesus through the Four Gospels, but the themes touched on in this fragment are attested in other non-canonical material: the trampling of shameful garments, the notion that Jesus has come to “destroy the works of the female.” and male and female becoming the same. In the Gospel of Thomas, Peter says that “women are not worthy of life.” To which Jesus replies that he will help make women become like men. And yet this must be set against moments like the “Parable of the Leaven,” a teaching that turns women’s work (and implicitly, pregnancy) into a symbol of the Kingdom of God. I think this is one of Jesus’s more difficult teachings; his understanding of women evolved considerably during his ministry.   RT


Russian Icon: Wives at the Grave (18th century); anonymous. WikiCmns; Public Domain.


Snack Attack!!! Crepe Suzette…

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment


RT reckons that all this talk of 19th-century glamour and elegance has left his sweet tooth hankering for the finer things in life, such as this delicious item from New Zealand. Dig in!    RT

PhotoCrêpe Suzette au Citron with visible flame as served by Torchon Crêperie, Auckland, NZ. Author: Antilived. WikiCmns; CC Generic 1.0.


Sarah Bernhardt–1860

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment


Here is the great tragedienne, Sarah Bernhardt, at a mere 16 years of age, yet already beautiful and imperious. Of all the photographs taken of the great lady, RT freely admits that the only ones he really likes are by Felix Nadar, who had a remarkable gift for portrait photography; he brought out the inner person. To RT’s sensibilities, the Divine Sarah at her best manifested a classical beauty, worthy of Sappho’s poetry (or Racine‘s theater, for that matter). As France struggled through the final states of its extended Revolution (which from RT’s view, ended with the establishment of the Third Republic in 1870). RT feels that this period (or even SB herself) has something to teach us contemporaries as we struggle with the problems of a mostly unrestrained international arena. We also are lurching towards a resolution of social and political revolution (in our case, initiated in the 1960’s). A world government charged with controlling climate change, eliminating nuclear weaponry, protecting and feeding refugee populations, and requiring political negotiations before a war breaks out? May the memory of Ms. Bernhardt guide us in the right direction…  RT


RT’s Related Posts: 1) Empress Eugenie’s Diadem.

PhotoSarah Bernhardt in the Role of Junie in “Britannicus” by Jean Racine (c. 1860). Felix Nadar. WikiCmns; Public Domain.


“Evening” by Rainier Maria Rilke

August 25, 2013 1 comment


File:Rainer Maria Rilke, 1900.jpg



enjoy….  RT



The bleak fields are asleep,
My heart alone wakes;
The evening in the harbour
Down his red sails takes.

Night, guardian of dreams,
Now wanders through the land;
The moon, a lily white,
Blossoms within her hand.

–Rainier Maria Rilke, (trans. Jessie Lamont, 1918). Project Gutenberg, Public Domain.