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Posts Tagged ‘Art’

The Monarch Butterfly’s Spring Migration

April 9, 2014 6 comments

File:Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus on Echinacea purpurea 2800px.jpg

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The time is approaching for eastern Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) to return to the U.S. east coast from their wintering grounds in Mexico: a more beautiful visitor is hard to imagine. Though the population of the Monarch has declined significantly in recent years, a decline linked to several changes in the butterfly’s environment, the MB is not yet listed as endangered. Fortunately, several organizations are at work trying to protect the butterflies; RT offers links to a couple of them, Monarch Watch and Monarch Butterfly Fund. As is so often the case, the status of the most vulnerable members of a community is a good indicator of the community’s overall health.   RT

Photograph: A Monarch Butterfly on a Purple Coneflower (2007). Author: Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man). WikiCmns; License: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only. This image was selected as picture of the day on English Wikipedia, August 27, 2008.

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Reading a Book

March 24, 2014 4 comments

File:Karte Venedig MK1888.png

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Reading a book is like visiting a city you’ve never been to before. The city must be glamorous in some way, if not overtly, than in the details of its construction and history, the beautiful building or courtyard that reveals itself via a quick glance aside from the street, and the story that glance implies of the building’s occupants. The city may be dirty, crime-ridden, a den of vice, but it must be intricate. It must be a navel of the world.

You are being born again. Forget whatever has come before; it’s been reduced to a reference chart, an album of old photographs. This is the best kind of culture shock; you chose it.

Reading a book is always true. You the child progress through the pages. You learn and you grow, you marvel and you despair. Situations arise that you can’t understand or even comprehend. The woman who tells you she runs the large school you attend may be your mother. The man wearing the jacket of a naval captain may be your father. He may be going to his death. He gives you a silver coin.

Reading a book is like falling in love. Serendipity. Somebody is waiting for you, someone who stops you in argument or conversation. Outside the chocolate shop, at the old library, in an empty room. Someone calls out from an open window, asking about the bicycle you’re riding or offering to take you where you’re going in their boat. They are the person you can’t believe is interested in you, so different, so crazy you wonder how they can exist at all. They are the one who brought you here.

You are dying. You have no family, no friends, no work. You have only this passion.

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MapGerman map of Venice (1888). This image comes from the 4th edition of Meyers Konversationslexikon (1885–90). WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Anselm Feuerback–3 AM Madness Post

File:Anselm Feuerbach - Self-Portrait - Google Art Project.jpg

Surely one of the finest portraits painted during the 19th century! Anselm Feuerbach, superb colorist and classically inspired painter, deserves to be remembered among the greats.   RT

Painting: Self-Portrait, Anselm Feuerbach (1873). Alt Nationalgalerie, WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Reflections from the Martian South Pole

March 13, 2014 2 comments

File:Carbon Dioxide Ice in the Late Summer Mars South Pole.jpg

RT has been busy cleaning up the duplex he shares with his mom, translating a difficult but very beautiful Chinese poem, doing laundry, and listening to the fierce wind outside (temps are dropping precipitously–it’s not quite spring yet).

In the middle of all this, he ran across the above photo, sent back from Martian orbit by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on 29 July 2011.

RT notes with distress the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The process of global harmonization that has been moving forward by fits and starts (RT also notes the International Criminal Court’s recent conviction of Germain Katanga on five counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity) since the creation of the United Nations, is surely filled with moments of dismay.

Why are we still in the game? The universe is only beginning to reveal its wonders (and unexpected happy endings) to us…   RT

PhotographCarbon dioxide ice in the late summer of Mars’s South Pole, part of the permanent polar cap. MRO/HiRISE (7-29-11). NASA/JPL/University of Arizona. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Jonah: The Elohist Strikes Again!

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RT is continually amazed by the richness of Biblical stories; reading one is often like sifting through an archaeological dig, going down through layers and layers of writing, spotting priceless and beautiful artifacts along the way.

But when RT began re-reading The Book of Jonah, he wasn’t expecting to run across signs of the Elohist! The evidence?

1) Jonah is almost pure narrative, the only example of nearly unbroken storytelling in the minor prophets. But storytelling is a hallmark of the Elohist.

2) Jonah’s story has been heavily edited, and in fact consists of two original, much older, stories: a) the escape to Tarshish and 2) the prophesy against, and God’s forgiveness of, Nineveh. The two stories reached their combined final form in the book about 500-400 BCE.

3) The appearance of elements suggestive (at least to RT’s eyes) of the Elohist Psalter (roughly, psalms 42-83); sorry, at the moment, without further study, RT can only call this a hunch.

4) The fact that God does not destroy Nineveh. The second half of Jonah must predate the destruction of the northern kingdom, and probably dates from the era when Israel was a client state of the Assyrians. 

The first half of Jonah is even older than the Elohist, RT senses, its roots stretching back into the lost world of the Samarian prophets. How this story relates to the rest of the E author’s work is a question that might be worth pursuing.

RT

ImageThe Prophet Jonah, as depicted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel (1471 – 1484). WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Mrs. Fiske & Earlier Broadway

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment

File:Minnie Maddern Fiske.jpg

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All the research that RT is doing on his acting granddad may have to do with more than family genealogy. Broadway before the Depression was an amazing place. Take, for instance, this picture of Minnie Maddern Fiske, famous actress and wife of one of the more important men on Broadway at the turn of the century, Harrison Grey Fiske. And what about the photographer? He was Fred Holland Day, a significant, if not very well known, photographer on Broadway. The connections go on and on…what a world!   RT

File:Fred Holland Day 1911.jpg

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Photos:

topActress Minnie Maddern Fiske (between 1895 and 1912). LOC. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

bottom: Fred Holland Day (1911).  From the Louise Imogen Guiney Collection (Library of Congress). WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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still life…chairs and table…

February 25, 2014 Leave a comment

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a beautiful photograph for the afternoon… RT

(reposted from t smith knowles)

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still life…chairs and table….

The Cradle of European Poetry, Part 1

February 19, 2014 3 comments

File:Spanish - Chess Piece of a Queen - Walters 71145 - Three Quarter.jpg

Manners: 3 a. The socially correct way of acting; etiquette. b. The prevailing customs, social conduct, and norms of a specific society…

Moral: 1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: 2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior…

(TheFreeDictionary.com)

So, this post is going to be a little complicated: RT is warning folks that there’s a lot of territory to cover. On the plus side, we’re going to be looking at how poetry arrived in western Europe and how poetry is connected to other, important aspects of behavior, such as 1) deciding on the right course of action and 2) minding our manners.

A. Europe in its Cradle

Dark ages are never fun. One civilization collapses and over a period of centuries another rises up from the ruins. Along with the usual payback, rapine, and despair, the conquerors mimic or forget the finer accomplishments of the former time. Something new is struggling to be born, and like any act of creation, it is attended by the most basic considerations: survival and the preservation of what has already been achieved. Nobody has time for poetry.

In the case of Europe, after the final collapse of the Roman Empire in 476, the single most important change was the incorporation of northern Europe into the cultural world established by Rome; the center of Europe was no longer Rome, but the Rhine River. But northern Europe immediately began exerting its cultural differences from the south, perhaps most importantly, in the struggle between the Arian aristocracy of the new Germanic kingdoms and the Catholic Church centered in Rome. By the 8th century, this conflict had been resolved in favor of Rome. And with the defeat of Muslim armies at the Battle of Tours in 732, Europe as a cultural entity was confirmed. Still, on the northern frontier, the Vikings began their long series of raids and invasions, engaging part of the new culture’s military strength until the 12th century.

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Great poetry, RT notes, did in fact continue to be written in vernacular languages: Beowulf, the Ulster Cycle and the Mabinogion, and the mythology of the Vikings. But these works were all the product of the dying pagan societies of pre-Christian Europe. So far, no great works written in Latin or its descendant languages had yet been created. No one had found a voice for Europe’s new feudal society, which began to emerge in the 9th century. In fact, the modern languages of Europe were still evolving out of Latin.

B. Reversal of Fortunes

Until the 11th century, Europe was tightly constrained by its powerful neighbors: the Vikings in the north, the Abbasid Caliphate in the south, and the Byzantine Empire in the east; indeed, few would argue that Constantinople and its magnificent cathedral, Hagia Sophia, constituted the center of Christian culture in those years.

File:BnF Fr232 fol323 Alp Arslan Romanus.jpg

But power rarely lingers in one place for long: the conversion of the Sweden to Christianity by the 12th century, the collapse of the unified Caliphate of Cordoba in 1031, and the destruction of the Byzantine army by the Seljuk Turks at Manzikert (1071), started a process of cultural migration and absorption that prepared the ground in Europe for the Renaissance. And perhaps no clearer sign of the quickening of Europe could have been given than the Crusades.

C. The Crusades 

Persecution strengthens community. As long as a clear threat exists, any community will huddle together and work to make the danger pass. When the problem goes away, people start to argue with each other. Then they need diplomatic skills to heal the wounds.

But the clock is ticking away, and RT has a busy day tomorrow. The story of how Europe fell into disunion even as it acquired its poetic sensibilities will have to wait till later…

Photo, top: Queen, Spanish Chess Piece; 12th century, Walter Art Museum. WikiCmns; Public Domain. BroochAnglo-Saxon openwork silver disk brooch, from the Pentney Hoard. Author: Johnbod. WikiCmns; CC 3.0 Unported. Illustration: The Seljuk Turk Alp Arslan Humbling Romanus IV. 2nd quarter of the 15th century; Bibliothèque nationale de France, manuscrit Français 232, folio 323. Author: Boccace, De Casibus. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Ancient Beauty…

February 15, 2014 2 comments

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Cycladic pottery…someone’s tribute to the universal and the beautiful…  RT

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PhotoClay”frying-pan” with spirals, “Feminine” type. Early cycladic II period, 2800-2300 BC. National Archaeological Museum Athens, N 6177. Author: Zde; CC 3.0 Unported.

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Babes in Toyland, 1903

February 14, 2014 Leave a comment

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Some fun on a snowy night:  William Norris as one of the living “toy soldiers” from the 1903 production of the operetta, “Babes in Toyland.” Enjoy!   RT

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Photograph:  from the original production of Babes in Toyland, 1903. WikiCmns. Public Domain.

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