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Archive for the ‘FF. The Re-emergence of the Goddess’ Category

Tom Palumbo, Vogue, July 1, 1961

gorgeous…  RT

(reposted from Pleasurephoto Room)

Tom Palumbo, Vogue, July 1, 1961.

Kohl Spoon

June 8, 2013 4 comments

File:Gazelle Kohol spoon E11123 mp3h8749.jpg

There are moments when we transcend ourselves. This kohl spoon from ancient Egypt speaks of so many things: the desire for beauty, the patience to attain it, the wisdom to know where to find it. We see ourselves in the world, the world rediscovers itself in our mind. What an amazing transformation…  RT

Photo: Gazelle Kohl Spoon; source/photographer: Rama. The Louvre. WikiCmns, CC 2.0 France.

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Sappho, honest and intense

File:Catfighting women..jpg

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There’s a tendency with Sappho, RT thinks, to see her either as a mistress of the erotic or a wise and perceptive philosopher. But at bottom, she was simply a great poet, loyal to her experiences, passionate in her dealings with others, committed to telling the truth. She was a living woman and her voice echoes down the years. Here is RT’s version of one of her fragments, which reminds us of the towering anger that great people sometimes feel:

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And now: you’ve been seen

with the beautiful people—not one

of them decent or generous—

and told your friends

to clear out.

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Worse: you’ve attacked me,

told me to my face that I’m

an embarrassment. Well, then:

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be a smug little bitch!

Just remember, I’m not likely

to tolerate a child’s anger.

Get out! No . . .

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Drawing: Catfighting Women. Author: Peter van der Sluijs. WikiCmns; CC 1.0 Generic.

“Carthago delenda est.”

March 26, 2013 3 comments

Cato the Elder

“Carthage must be destroyed.” RT well remembers how silly and useless our lessons on the Punic Wars seemed to his classmates in High School; who cared what happened in the Mediterranean basin thousands of years ago?

But of late, RT has not been so sure that this major series of wars between Rome and Carthage, fought between 264 and 146 B.C., deserves only a footnote in the history books. Nobody, for starters, believes that these wars, which Rome won, didn’t leave the Roman Republic the dominant power in the Mediterranean, poised to conquer the entire region and become a world empire.

But why did Rome prosecute the wars with such ferocity? RT can think of no reason for the total of destruction of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War–all of Carthage’s inhabitants were either killed or enslaved and its ruins sowed with salt. Why not simply reduce Carthage to a client state? Why not maintain the illusion of independence while wielding the real power?

Rome and Carthage shared much in common–both were former monarchies that had become republics, farming communities on the edge of their cultural spheres that grew to become formidable powers. Both had been self-governing for centuries and were of necessity military powers commanding large armies and navies. It is true that Rome lay within the cultural sphere of the Etruscans and ultimately, of Greece, while Carthage was a colony of Tyre and thus a part of Phoenician society, but how much difference can there have been between the two, each worshiping a related pantheon of gods as it did.

And yet Cato the Elder (234-149 B.C.), a Roman Senator, ended most of his speeches with the slogan, “Carthago delenda est.” Why had the phrase become a byword in Rome?

The short answer is: RT thinks an examination of the struggle between Rome and Carthage will help clarify the transition from ancient Mesopotamian society to the helennization of the ancient world. Stay tuned for more…

RT

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Image: WikiCmns, Public Domain.

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Beauty and Women

March 22, 2013 8 comments

File:Lady Godiva (John Collier, c. 1897).jpg

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The interest is obsessive, the power not to be denied. How much of our life revolves around the irresistible beauty of women? Power, territory, body hunger, reproduction, and that most elusive quality of all, feminine energy, all are bound up with the image of the nude woman.

File:ADORNED FOR MARRIAGE.jpg

If we ask someone what beauty is, chances are he or she thinks first of a woman. But what is it that makes a woman beautiful?

RT has suggested elsewhere that all women are beautiful. Surely, our first sense of satisfaction and comfort is felt in the arms of a mother or nurse. Nursing (or merely being cradled by arms) is an experience so immediate and physical that (at least to some extent) it defines feminine energy–the power to nourish and heal. The power of touch and sympathy.

It’s difficult to imagine how we extend such happiness to more distant and abstract realities. It helps to remember that there is such a thing as masculine beauty, defined by its own set of physical memories and characteristics. Some of the common traits of attractiveness have been defined as proportion, order, harmony, and unity. All of these things have to do with the principles of art.

But when we enter the realm of art, we have escaped an exclusively feminine notion of beauty; art can express both feminine and masculine energy.

File:A cone being held by a woman.jpg

What does the student of beauty bring to his or her understanding of women? A much broader sympathy to the wide variation in women’s appearance (and to the differences in their energy as well). This may be why, as we age, that we can appreciate the beauty in older women, tied once again to feminine energy, but not one so explicitly bound up in reproduction. Wisdom, as Socrates would point out, can be beautiful too.

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Images: top: Lady Godiva, John Collier (1898) ; middle: Adorned for Marriage, Northcote Thomas (1922); bottomA woman holding a cone. Author: tomwsulcer. All images: WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Princess Grace in Empress Josephine’s Coronation Tiara

March 16, 2013 2 comments

legendary ladies and a radiant tiara… RT

(reposted from tiaras and trianon)

Princess Grace in Empress Josephine’s Coronation Tiara.

Celts & the Exile of Poetry

March 14, 2013 8 comments

File:Sanzio 01 Socrates.jpg

OF THE many excellences which I perceive in the order of our State, there is none which upon reflection pleases me better than the rule about poetry.

To what do you refer?

To the rejection of imitative poetry, which certainly ought not to be received; as I see far more clearly now that the parts of the soul have been distinguished.

What do you mean?

Speaking in confidence, for I should not like to have my words repeated to the tragedians and the rest of the imitative tribe– but I do not mind saying to you, that all poetical imitations are ruinous to the understanding of the hearers, and that the knowledge of their true nature is the only antidote to them.

(Socrates speaking to Glaucon, from the opening of Book X, Plato’s Republic)

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We are over fathomless waters here. The banishment of the poets from Socrates’ ideal city has had immense consequences for the practitioners of the art (and in the end, RT suspects, for all artists, whatever their medium). Here Poetry, and by extension all “imitations” of nature, is condemned as fundamentally uncivilized and destructive to its audience’s understanding, filling the mind with obstructive figments that may please for a moment but serve in the long run only to confuse people’s thinking.

And RT thinks it is no coincidence that Plato (424-348 B.C.) who lived to see the Celt’s sack of Rome and other depredations, may have been speaking not only of Homer and Greek poetry, but of the Celt’s poets, who formed a highly disciplined guild of practitioners, headed by a High Poet (or at least in ancient Ireland). Plato cared deeply for the city, believing it to be capable of producing the best human life possible. The Poets, as far as he could see, advocated an uncivilized life ruled by fancy and belief–the life lived by the Celts at the time, a life lived in the midst of nature.

The debate has raged down the centuries, Philosopher vs. Poet, hard reasoning vs. inspiration. The current state of things would suggest a nearly complete victory for the Philosophers, with enormous cities spread across the globe and poetry seen as an idle past-time, the Celts pushed to the edge of Europe, their languages besieged by the current koine, English.

How much discipline is good? When do we need to stop and feel the richness of experience? Certainly science has brought many miracles; but the argument for the survival and restoration of the Celtic speech must take into account the possibility that there is something good in the magic of poetry–and of language.    RT

Painting: The School of Athens, detail showing Socrates; Raphael, 1509, oil on canvas. WikiCmns, Public Domain. Text from Book X: Wikisource. Public Domain.

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