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Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

Karnak, Thebes, and the Hedjet

File:Karnakfrieze1.jpg

As May draws to a close, RT offers this photograph of a magnificent frieze at Karnak, the temple district of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Karnak is the largest ancient religious site in the world, and RT is beginning to suspect that Thebes played a primary role in the evolution of ancient Mediterranean religion.

In part, RT’s interest in Thebes is based on its frequent appearance in Greek myth, in part on the fact that the ancient crown of Upper Egypt, the Hedjet, looks remarkably like the crown worn by Baal, the chief god of ancient Phoenicia. Though Thebes was not the capital of pre-dynastic Upper Egypt, it was the administrative center of Upper Egypt under the Pharaohs (and is located not far from Nekhen, which was the capital of p-d Upper Egypt.) How did the epochal unification of Egypt (c. 3000 BC) under Narmer (or Menes), king of UE, affect developing religious beliefs?

Unfortunately, RT can say little at the moment about the significance of the scene recorded in the frieze, other than that it is located in the precinct of Amun-Re. A date and translation of the inscription would help greatly; there’s more research ahead for RT.

Photograph: Panorama of a frieze at Karnak. Author/Source: Bialonde. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Scala Choir Singing U2–Wow!

I simply have to share this; heartbreaking, beautiful!

enjoy!!  RT

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014

File:Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1984.jpg

It is with sadness that RT notes the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombian novelist and recipient of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.

In his early twenties, RT ordered a Quality Paperback Club set of four Latin American novels, which included One Hundred Years of Solitude. Now, RT won’t claim that reading 100 Years was a breakthrough experience for him, but this epic novel did set certain memories in motion, memories of amazing landscapes spied in Costa Rica and Trinidad. The survival of many native peoples in Latin America, moreover, gives the cultures of Latin nations a richness and beauty that can scarcely go unnoticed. GGM’s novels convey a good deal of the magic and vitality to be found in Central and South America. RT was affected to the point of finishing 100 Years and the other novels in the QPB set and reading several novels by the Brazilian Jorge Amado. Now the memory of reading them reminds him of his unfulfilled desire to return at least briefly to the places of his birth and childhood, a poet in a land of great writers.

Thank you, Gabriel Garcia Marquez!  RT

Photograph: Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1984); author: F3rn4nd0, edited by Mangostar. WikiCmns; CC 3.0 Unported.

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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Moonlight and Vines–A Book Review

 


 


 

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Carl_Gustav_Carus_-_Das_Kolosseum_in_einer_Mondnacht

A local friend turned RT onto Charles De Lint several years ago; he read De Lint’s short story collection Dreams Underfoot, and after finishing that book, bought a second-hand copy of another De Lint collection, Moonlight and Vines. He has been making his way through M&V at a leisurely pace.

RT, on a tight schedule with his domestic and literary obligations, doesn’t keep too many fiction works on his nightstand. Why has he made an exception for the writing of De Lint, whose work falls into the “urban fantasy” genre?

Part of the answer lies in the world that De Lint has created: the imaginary city of Newford, which lies, presumably, in the Great Lakes/southern Canada region. Newford, as far as RT has been able to ascertain, is not a mapped-out region, along the lines of Middle Earth, for instance. It is a modern city that offers layers of mythological history and a rather long list of mythological and fantastical creatures. On its human surface, it sounds rather like any other metropolis of the 199o’s, with businesses, nightlife, newspapers, bookstores, mental institutions, universities, and the like. If the population tend to be on the young side and have a bohemian feel, blame the 90’s. If various fictive creatures show up at least once in a story, well, they at least serve the story’s purposes (and are interesting as characters). After all, what is really important in De Lint’s world is the way that all Newford’s inhabitants help each other. If you want a less-than-50-word description of Newford’s atmosphere, imagine the opposite of an H.P. Lovecraft story, where everything, the people and their surroundings, is not just going to hell, but went there centuries ago without anyone realizing it. (And RT is not saying that HPL is anything less than a great fantasy writer.)

RT could take out his technical toolbox and give a scene-by-scene account of De Lint’s writing chops, which are plain impressive. But he will only note that CDL’s nuts and bolts are solid, thoughtfully crafted, and remain scrupulously behind the scenes, where technical underpinnings belong.

These stories are accessible, comfortable, and, on a regular basis, brilliant. In particular, RT will single out “The Big Sky,” which takes the reader over the great divide and into the land of the dead. The afterlife in this story is as dusty as it is often reputed to be, but there is hope arising from, of all sources, Buddhist teaching. RT will also point out that the story’s setting is an excellent description of the horrors of Major Melancholy, a demon by no means to be dismissed in our own waking world. And if you want sheer talent, in “Passing” CDL takes us into the world of Gracie Street’s girlbars to experience the difficulties and satisfactions of love seen in the Goddess’s mirror (and through the story of Excalibur).

In a literary culture that often focuses on the horrors of history (and the last century’s in particular), CDL gives his readers healing: happy endings, but maybe not of the old-fashioned sort. There are benign spirits at work here, God, gods, mermaids, nameless sweet fates, and the subtler therapies of music and poetry. It’s not that Newford never heard of the Atom Bomb, not that there is no pain or darkness, but rather that the city’s denizens are resolutely and convincingly working to put the Bomb and other, vaguer, terrors back in the Nameless Box they came from. De Lint has sifted the debris of contemporary despair to find a tender, surprising, and romantic world.    RT

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Painting: View of the Colesseum by Night (c. 1830). Carl Gustav Carus. 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.