Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Art interpreted in flower arrangements

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Here’s one example:

And here are a lot more. You can click a photo to enlarge, then to get back click the title of the page (on the left). You can also click on the enlarged image to get a slide show.

Written by Leisureguy

21 October 2021 at 10:47 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Ricky Jay

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Ricky Jay was amazing. Here are two:

Written by Leisureguy

19 October 2021 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life, History

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“Blinkety Blank” from the National Film Bureau of Canada

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From an Aeon article by :

The celebrated Scottish-Canadian animator Norman McLaren (1914-87) was known for experimenting with visual perception via film. In this short animation, which won the Short Film Palme d’Or at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, McLaren plays with ‘persistence of vision’, or how the human eye retains an image for a short period of time even after a stimulus is removed. The optical illusion explains why we don’t experience total darkness every time we blink – our brains retain the visual information for a fraction of a second, giving us the impression of continuous light. McLaren’s Blinkity Blank pushes this concept in fun and inventive ways by alternating between the celluloid film’s empty black leader and abstract animations that have been hand-scratched onto the celluloid itself. Sporadic imagery resembling birds and fireworks are accompanied by an experimental, symphonic soundtrack by the Canadian composer Maurice Blackburn, as well as audible scratches made to the optical soundtrack by McLaren. The result is an audiovisual experience that’s sure to leave an impression – if only for a fleeting moment. For more inventive visuals from McLaren, watch Around Is Around.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2021 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Art, Movies & TV

The Gardiner Brothers

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If this works right, you’ll see a series of brief (20 seconds, roughly) dance routines by the Gardiner Brothers.  UPDATE: Well, it didn’t work. Go here and start watching to see the series play, one after the other, automatically.

Written by Leisureguy

11 October 2021 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life, Video

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Gustav Klimt’s Iconic Painting “The Kiss”: An Introduction to Austrian Painter’s Golden, Erotic Masterpiece (1908)

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This comes via a post in Open Culture:

Written by Leisureguy

6 October 2021 at 11:18 am

Posted in Art, Daily life, History, Video

How William Shakespeare and Duke Ellington are similar

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I had more thoughts on Octavian’s interview of James Shapiro about King Lear and Shakespeare, so I updated that post.  The similarities with Duke Ellington’s approach are probably the result of having to respond to similar creative (and business) pressures.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2021 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Art, Business, Daily life, Jazz, Music

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Ana Vidović – Classical Guitar

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Written by Leisureguy

1 October 2021 at 7:07 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life, Music, Video

James Shapiro on King Lear

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From Octavian Report:

William Shakespeare is rightly regarded as the greatest playwright in the English language. King Lear, his searing meditation on family, political life, and sanity, is considered by many to be his crowning work. The play was written in a miraculously fertile year for Shakespeare, 1606, when he also wrote Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. Renowned Shakespeare expert James Shapiro — whose book The Year of Lear is essential reading — here explains the play’s enduring power and examines what forces shaped and spurred on that singular moment in the Bard’s career. 

Octavian Report: What sparked your interest in Shakespeare?

James Shapiro: It’s probably easier to say what first turned me off of Shakespeare. I went to high school in Brooklyn in the early 1970’s and, like many others, was force-fed Shakespeare in a deadening way. I didn’t get it, didn’t get what the big deal about Shakespeare was, didn’t even get the dirty bits that some of my classmates picked up in Romeo and Juliet. I never really got interested in Shakespeare, never took a Shakespeare course when I went to college. My interest only developed later in the 1970’s when Freddie Laker was flying people back and forth across the Atlantic for $199 round-trip.

My brother and I went backpacking around Europe, found ourselves in London, and I found myself at the theater, seeing Shakespeare. It must have cost 50 pence to see a really great production and maybe another 50 pence to sleep in a youth hostel or church basement, and I was hooked. It was like a drug. I would hold down some job as a medical secretary or selling Guatemalan handicrafts for the first part of the summer, and then head over there every summer of my late teens and early 20’s for 20 or 30 days and see 20 or 30 plays. I kept doing that, and I probably saw, at that really formative time of my life, 200 productions, most of which were spectacular, and all of which were Shakespeare. That really has determined in a way probably different from most academics how I think about and respond to the plays.

OR: Is it more important to see the plays staged or to read them?

Shapiro: It is a choice, and there are really brilliant critics, like Harold Bloom, who brag about not having seen a play in a half-century. These were written to be staged, and the more I study and teach them — and I have been doing that at Columbia for 30 years — the more crucial it seems to me to see them realized on stage or at least to encourage readers, whether they are fourth-graders or college students or inmates at Rikers Island, to see them staged.

OR: What’s the best production you have seen?

Shapiro: Richard Eyre’s production of Hamlet, starring Jonathan Pryce, in the early 1980’s. Pryce played both Hamlet and his father’s ghost as a dybbuk or force within him: he was possessed by his father’s ghost. I remember the entire audience levitating when Pryce first spoke the ghost’s lines. It has stuck with me. I remember every line of that production. Almost everyone I know, when asked that question, will describe something that they saw in their late teens or early 20’s, and it is really important to see a memorable Shakespeare, early on. That was it for me.

OR: Whom do you think is the greatest Shakespearean actor?

Shapiro: There are a couple that rank at the very top of the game. One is Ian McKellen, who has been extraordinary. I saw him in Coriolanus in the 1980’s, and really never need to see Coriolanus again. My favorite, although my preference is shaped in part by my knowing him pretty well and getting to talk with him every once in a while, is Simon Russell Beale. His Richard III was as brilliant as any. His Thersites was probably the greatest since Shakespeare’s day. He has gone on to play Lear brilliantly.

Ian McKellen and Simon Russell Beale are the finest in the U.K. There is an also an American style of Shakespeare, and that is a little different. For my money, F. Murray Abraham was the greatest Shylock, and I have seen many Shylocks. John Lithgow played a brilliant, brilliant Lear at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. But there is a lot of talent out there, and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

OR: Are you a purist when it comes to questions of textual fidelity and production design?

Shapiro: One of my responsibilities at the Public Theater is . . .

Continue reading.

Full disclosure: I find it interesting to consider that the plays attributed to William Shakespeare (whose estate at his death included no books) might have been written by Emelia Bassano. See also this post. And it seems significant that much of King Lear concerns the way a father mishandles his relationship with his daughters. If you read the plays with the mindset that they were written by a woman of that time, you see different things in them. (I do agree that it’s much better to see the plays than to read them.)

Update: One interesting passage reminded me strongly of Duke Ellington, who knew so well the strengths and weaknesses of the musicians for whom he wrote his music. Ellington once remarked that one musician had five good notes he could play, and Ellington wrote for him music that used those five notes. Here’s the passage:

Shakespeare was never paid for writing a play. He made his money either from being a shareholder in this company or as a part-owner of the theater that they obtained in 1599, the Globe, and then a second theater, Blackfriars.

The Shakespeare that really ought to balance out that fantasy of the romantic artist is an investor who worked very closely with his team of actors, who met with them every morning to rehearse that day’s play. Audiences required — demanded, really — that the company put on a different play every day, in a repertory that had 20 old plays and perhaps 20 new plays a season.

They worked on that play in the morning, stopped for a meal, performed from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoon, and then, when the other actors went off to do what actors do, to drink and carouse, Shakespeare had to read and write late into the night to generate two or three new plays a season. Issues of perfectionism, issues of artistry, and issues of genius have to be balanced out against the need to earn a living, maintain the status of the company, create new plays, perform them well, and avoid censorship to get around the dangers of play closures. It was a really hard, hard life, and he was working 15-hour days for a quarter-century.

He understood the limitations and strengths of every writer of his day, and I think that he understood the weight each word carried, and he was extraordinary at telling stories and at rewriting stories that others had told. He was a master, in part because he was a trained actor and a skilled one, of understanding what his fellow artists, his fellow actors, needed. When he is writing plays, he is writing something for actors whose abilities he knows, whose talents he is trying to stretch and take advantage of, and he is writing for audiences that are exceptionally sensitive to changes in taste and genre. He is challenging them, too, so I think that he was a very self-aware artist, and he is also working in a very collaborative environment, both with his fellow actors, sometimes with other playwrights, and always with his audience.

And another thing in the interview that reminded me of Ellington:

OR: Who and what were Shakespeare’s influences?

Shapiro: Everything that was written that he could get his hands on, and everybody who was writing popular plays that were pulling his audiences away. All you have to do is look at his career and see what’s happening when Shakespeare is in his 40’s: he sees that edgier comedies by Middleton or tragicomedies by John Fletcher are the big hits of the day. And what does he do? He sits down and starts collaborating on plays like Timon of Athens with Middleton; he writes three of his last plays with Fletcher because he understands that you have to connect with new voices. Shakespeare understood that as well as any writer ever has.

. . . If Shakespeare spoke to that with great insight, then they would go to see his plays. If, at competing theaters, Marston or Dekker or Jonson spoke more powerfully to their concerns, they would go to those plays instead. The pressure was on Shakespeare to speak to the moment, and he responded very well to pressure.

This responsiveness to the changes in public taste and to evolving cultural standards was something Duke Ellington faced as well. From a brief biography of Ellington:

Jazz’s evolution moved so quickly from 1920 to 1970 that if a band stood still musically for more than five years, it would fall behind the times and sound dated. Most ensembles of the 1920s were largely obsolete by the swing era of the 1930s and nearly all of the swing bands fell out of favor by the late 1940s when bebop had become the mainstream. However, Ellington bucked all of the trends and, whether it was 1926, 1943, 1956 or 1973, his orchestra ranked among the top five in the modern jazz scene of the era. No other ensemble sounded so fresh, relevant and groundbreaking for such a long period of time. Ellington did this by never fitting into a restrictive category or chasing musical fads. He simply created the music that he believed in, regularly rearranging his most popular numbers so “Mood Indigo,” “Take The ‘A’ Train” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” still sounded modern decades after they were composed.

Written by Leisureguy

1 October 2021 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Art, Books, Daily life, History

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Mac Miller “Colors and Shapes”

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Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2021 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Art, Movies & TV, Video

“The Maze,” by Mary-Kim Arnold

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From here. The poem:

I dislike uncertainty. Take no pleasure in the element of surprise.
I’ll carry the clipboard and checklists around
at my own birthday party. No need to leave anything to chance.

It was my son’s idea of course. There was a plastic pirate out front
and the promise of treasure at the end. I paid, then
shuffled behind, his voice ringing out, follow me

All glass and mirrors. I saw myself reflected a thousand times
all of them weary, impatient. Some days motherhood is just
din and obstacle. I was thinking about

the letter I had received. Another dead end
in my family search. No contact information, no forwarding address.
No one—no one—had been looking for me.

At a certain point, I stopped trying. Extended my arms and felt
along the walls for edges. It was cheating maybe but plodding along
without pleasure or intent doesn’t get you to the end any faster.

It’s been forty-five years. My mother, my father, they
are not getting any younger. Perhaps I waited too long. Perhaps
if I had started earlier there would have been other options. Other

people to reach out to. I read once in my file that I had
a “very good memory,” that I memorized the names
of all the neighborhood dogs. I would like to know them now.

I saw him before he saw me. He was looking around and pacing
not panicked yet but on the verge. I stopped and watched him for as long
as I thought he could bear. He turned when I emerged at last

and ran up and showed me the flag he had won
for making it through first. You were so slow, he told me. It was so
easy. Next time, don’t take so long.

The author says about the poem:

“The poem itself is narrative, so I don’t have a lot to say about it except that I wrote it several years ago, and since then I’ve had a lot more practice living with uncertainty. My relationship to the idea of the future has changed, but probably the clipboard part is still true.”
Mary-Kim Arnold

And about the poet:

Mary-Kim Arnold is a Korean American poet and the author of The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press, 2020). She lives in Rhode Island, on Narragansett land.

Written by Leisureguy

29 September 2021 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Art, Books

Folding an origami knight from a single sheet of paper

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Thank heavens the video is speeded up — the actual process takes around 40 hours in real time.

Written by Leisureguy

24 September 2021 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Art, Daily life, Video

Madeline Miller on the Aeneid

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Octavian Report interviews Madeline Miller, of whom they write:

Classicist and best-selling novelist Madeline Miller is world-renowned for her books — The Song of Achilles and Circe — that reimagine and reshape epic poetry and myth into fascinating, rich worlds while casting an an eye on their resonances with contemporary questions of politics, morality, and society. This scintillating interview on the Aeneid dives deep into Virgil’s artistic and emotional mastery and the intricate cultural underpinnings of his masterwork. And if you haven’t subscribed already to WHY THE CLASSICS? you should click here — that way you’ll never miss our newsletter, hitting inboxes every Thursday.

The interview begins:

Octavian Report: What drew you to Virgil, and which of his works do you admire the most?

Madeline Miller: I love them all. But I always have to have the Aeneid first in my heart. I would say that the Aeneid is one of the most amazing pieces of complex, subtext-filled poetry that I have ever read. It functions on so many levels. I think when you compare the Iliad and the Odyssey to the Aeneid, you can really see that oral tradition versus one intellect shaping a poem obsessively over 10 — or maybe more — years, and building in all these very deliberate echoes, resonances, and links between sections. When I was first reading it in high school, I finally understood how to analyze poetry in English by working with Virgil because it was like working with this complete masterpiece of poetry which succeeds at every possible level. It’s an exciting and moving story, and an interesting story. It has really big ideas. It’s absolutely gorgeously written, both in meter and in how Virgil rings the chimes of the Latin language all the way through. It’s a masterpiece of poetry.

I am definitely one of those people who believes that this is not a piece of pure Augustan propaganda, but is in fact in many ways questioning some of Augustus’s ideas and message and some Roman cultural methods and ideas. One of the things I find so interesting about Virgil is that he was born into a republic when Catullus could write a nasty, smirking poem about Caesar and not be the worse off for it but he himself had to write the Aeneid with Maecenas and Augustus literally breathing down his neck: funding him, sponsoring him, wanting to see early drafts. I am fascinated by what it means as a poet to go from writing in a republic to writing under an empire — indeed, under the first emperor of Rome — and how he must’ve felt constricted and watched and aware.

Of course there are moments where you see really fulsome praise of Augustus or of Roman progress; at the same time, Aeneas himself is such a flawed hero. He fails in his mission, which his father gives him at the end of book six: “[Your art] is to rule the people with power . . . to place a custom for peace, to spare the suppliant, and war down the proud.” Again and again in books seven through 12, we see Aeneas fail to spare those who have been made subject and cast down. What does that mean about Roman mercy? I think Virgil tells us at the beginning of the Aeneid. “Of such a weight it was to found the Roman race.” This is the story of what the cost was of founding Rome. For me, the implication is always, “It had better be worth it. Here is what had to go on in order for Rome to come into being.”

I love all those aspects of it. I love that it ends on such a disturbing note, that it ends with Aeneas in a moment of rage killing someone who has surrendered to him. I know people have made the argument that it’s not finished. I believe that is absolutely where Virgil meant to leave it. The Italian poet Maphaeus Vegius tried to write the 13th book, where everything ended happily. But what a great moment Turnus’s death is to end on! If you are going to rule by conquest, that means things might be good for you, but they’re not good for everybody.

OR: What do you make of the fact that at the height of its power, Rome was tracing its founding to the Trojans — the losers in the Iliad? . . .

Miller: I think the Romans always felt a little bit inferior to the Greeks culturally, which Virgil acknowledges in that same passage: “Others are . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 September 2021 at 7:28 pm

Posted in Art, Books, Daily life, History

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Is the Three-Minute Song Bad for Music?

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Ted Gioia has a very interesting video, along with a transcript that includes at the end some additional thoughts that didn’t get mentioned in the video. Here’s the video, but click the link for the transcript and the additional thoughts.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2021 at 2:51 pm

Old Rockin’ Chair’s Got Me … and it does a world of good.

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A reader reminded me (thanks, Joanne!) that rocking chairs have significant health benefits. And those are not all — there are more. And specifically for elderly women. (Some overlap will be seen. You can find more with a search.)

Moreover, rocking chairs can be not only comfortable and healthful but also beautiful (example at right from Brian Boggs Handmade Furniture, profiled in Craftsmanship magazine).

At one time, every front porch — remember those — had at least one rocking chair, and the front porch at the general store would have a line of them. There’s no doubt that they are relaxing — a grateful pause in the hurly-burly of daily life — and they they actually carry serious health benefits when used consistently over time is a big bonus. (I found it reassuring that inthe first article linked above it was stated that dementia patients improved by having less agitation and greater calmness after using a rocking chair for six weeks. That time span — not an instant change, but a gradual change, at the speed of growth — makes intuitive sense, whereas a claim of instant improvement would arouse suspicion as being contrary to the nature of rocking-chair time.)

At any rate, the season of gifts is not far off, and it occurs to me that a good rocking chair would be an excellent gift to oneself or even to another. 

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2021 at 12:36 pm

The hypnotic beauty of money

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One of my favorite lines, in the movie Heist (2001): Danny DeVito’s character Bergman says,

Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it “money.”

Written by Leisureguy

16 September 2021 at 12:29 pm

“Galaxy Quest” from a Don Quixote perspective

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I have seen Galaxy Quest before — an excellent movie, particularly for Star Trek fans, which stars Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Tim Allen. It’s currently available on Netflix, and having just been discussing that thinking about Don Quixote, I saw it through that lens — and it works.

If you’ve read Don Quixote, watch Galaxy Quest with Don Quixote in mind. It enriches the movie immensely.

Update: For example, the aliens took the TV series as historical documents, but then they make the fictional real.

Written by Leisureguy

10 September 2021 at 10:14 pm

Posted in Art, Books, Movies & TV

Ilan Stavans on Don Quixote

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Bronze statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, at the Plaza de España in Madrid, Spain. 2010. Photo by רנדום.

I am a big fan of the book Don Quixote, and I am just one fan among millions of others. (Indeed, it is probably time to read the book again.) In Octavian, Ilan Stevens writes about the book:

More than 400 years ago, an aging and obscure Spaniard named Miguel de Cervantes published a novel that would change the course of literature (and come to be regarded as perhaps the greatest of all novels by numerous critics): The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, more commonly known as Don Quixote. Rich, strange, nearly infinite in its influence, the book offers us a profound understanding both of humans and of the stories they tell. This brilliant essay by Ilan Stavans  critic, essayist, translator, Octavian board member, and publisher of Restless Books imagines the Quixote as a nation unto itself, one whose ambassadors have spread its magic through space and time. 


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It has been described as the most influential novel in the history of the form. It is also among the bulkiest, longer even than David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. It is the steadiest of bestsellers, only outshined by the Bible (speaking of which, the 19th-century French critic Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve once called it “the secular Bible of humanity”). It has been translated into English a total of twenty times, more than any other novel. The first appeared in 1613, while its author Miguel de Cervantes was still alive.

Don Quixote of La Mancha, in other words, is a book one should love without restraint. It is moody and unpredictable. It is formally idiosyncratic. It moves easily between the highest and lowest of tonal registers. It possesses an uncanny ability to weed out unwelcome readers. Its 381,104 words, 8,207 periods, 40,617 commas, 690 exclamation points, 960 question marks, and 2,046 semi-colons draw those readers it does welcome into a labyrinth not only of signs but of images and emotions. To find one’s way through this requires intellectual stamina, psychological alertness, and — paradoxically — a willing credulity. After all, the book is a collection of bizarre episodes, some comic, some pathetic, some utterly disengaged from the rest, all connected by the thread of its two wandering protagonists, a slim, laid-back hidalgo who does nothing but spend his idle hours reading tales of adventure, and his squire, Sancho Panza, an almost illiterate field laborer and family man who believes he’s a practical fellow when he isn’t. It’s hard to know which of the two is more cuckoo: the foolish señor who is convinced he can change the world by becoming a superhero, or the silly employee who wastes his time following him.

This already complex structure exists, as well, in four dimensions — it changes with time. Come to the book when you are young and you will discover in it the endless ebullience of youth; read it again in your fifties (about the age of its protagonist, Don Quixote de la Mancha, also known as the Knight of the Mournful Countenance) and you will see a subtle and empathetic portrayal of a man in the grip of a midlife crisis. Return again in your old age, and find the Quixote transformed into a book on how to deal with the end that awaits us all, a well-tempered look into the face of death.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Cervantes completing the novel’s manuscript. If the definition of a classic is a book that passes the test of time, this one has succeeded with flying colors. But I want to propose a different definition: a classic is a book capable of building a nation around itself. This one has. The world may be divided by flags, currencies, borders, and governments, but the realest nations congregate around mythologies. Unquestionably there is a Quixote nation, made up of the millions of readers who have fallen under its spell. It includes an assortment of admirable names: Lord Byron, Gustave Flaubert, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz Kafka, William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges, Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí, Miguel de Unamuno, and Pablo Picasso (whose 1955 ink study, also undertaken as an anniversary commemoration, of the knight and his squire still amazes the eye today). George Washington, who helped build his own republic of the imagination, read the book and loved it. But more admirable than these are the countless readers of the book whose names are lost to history — the true creators of a homeland for the knight and his servant.

The Quixote’s birth was far from certain. Prior to starting work on what would become his magnum opus, Cervantes was a soldier (he fought in the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks, a heroic yet humbling experience: he was injured and lost much of the use of his left arm), a captive at war, and a lousy tax collector who ended up in jail for mishandling funds. He was also a rather limited author, a poet and playwright (he also wrote novellas), whom, I suspect, posterity would ignore if, about a decade before his death in 1616 at 69, he hadn’t stumbled on the idea of exploring the limits of parody. Still, he was penniless in the end, never suspecting for a minute the global impact his work would have. Indeed, I often imagine the surprise on his face (none of the portraits available were done while he was alive) had he realized the whole period he belonged to would be called “the age of Cervantes.” Not the age of Lope de Vega, the most successful and prolific of all playwrights who were his contemporaries? Not Quevedo or Góngora, two astonishing sonnetists?

The majority of readers, at least American readers, first learn of Don Quixote through Man of La Mancha, a syrupy and formulaic Broadway musical that in most ways could not be more distant from the antinomian spirit of the book. The one consolation to be drawn from this fact is that, for all its flaws, Man of La Mancha does manage to communicate an essential truth about the novel — the essential truth, in fact: both are driven by the restless and infinite imagination of Don Quixote, who dreams, in the words of the song, the impossible dream. (One is tempted to quote Picasso here: “Everything you can imagine is real.”) Indeed, no book addresses with a more penetrating eye the freedom dreams grant us. (Sorry, Freud!) Consider the arch-famous episode of the windmills, which should be seen as a clash between a decrepit feudalist and the most innovative energy technology of the time. Don Quixote is convinced these magisterial structures are giants whose intent is to conquer the earth, whereas Sancho knows (and so does the narrator) that they are far more mundane than that. Or the puppet theater performing a tale of adventure and submission which the knight confuses with real events, jumping on the stage and destroying the marionettes. Or the group of prisoners in transit whom Don Quixote liberates because he believes them to be innocent. Or the Cave of Montesinos, a dark and frightening place where Don Quixote has a mystical experience. The list of such incidents is long.

True, Cervantes wasn’t a good stylist. There are bumpy parts in Don Quixote, in which the author seems asleep at the wheel. He is sometimes repetitive. He forgets crucial details, such as the name of Sancho’s wife, calling her variously Juana and Teresa. But novels, especially lasting ones, don’t need to be perfect. What they need to be, of course, is . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

And read — or listen to — Don Quixote. The Edith Grossman translation is serviceable.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2021 at 10:36 am

Geometric Shapes and Three-Dimensional Illusions Disrupt Existing Architecture in Peeta’s Anamorphic Murals

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Colossal has a collection of photos of stunning murals, the preface to which reads:

Italian artist Peeta (previously) uses the interplay between shadow and light to turn flat, monochromatic planes into deceptive three-dimensional murals. His large-scale works sever residences and public buildings with curved ribbons, angular shapes, and geometric blocks of color that appear to jump out from or be built directly into the existing architecture. Spanning locations across Europe, the spray-painted works shown here are some of the most recent additions to Peeta’s extensive archive of abstracted illusions, which shift in perspective depending on the viewer’s positions.

In September, the prolific artist will travel to Fidenza Village in Fidenza, Italy, for his next project, and you can follow progress on that piece on Instagram. Until then, check out his shop for prints, posters, and the sprawling fragmented sculptures that inform his murals.

Take a look at the murals in Colossal. Absolutely amazing.

Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2021 at 10:10 am

Posted in Art, Daily life

Two letters from Louise Bogan to Theodore Roethke

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Shaun Usher has a newsletter and website, Letters of Note, in which he provides some context and then presents notable letters. In a recent newsletter, he writes:

Born in Maine in 1897, Louise Bogan was 48 when she became the fist woman to be appointed Poet Laureate in the U.S. These letters of advice were written ten years earlier to Theodore Roethke, a friend and fellow poet who had lost his way and turned to drink, and who, in 1954, would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Should you love these letters even half as much as I do, I strongly recommend getting hold of the criminally under-appreciated book, What the Woman Lived: Selected Letters of Louise Bogan. It’s up there with the best.

Following that, the newsletter has two letters from Louise Bogan: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

29 August 2021 at 4:30 am

Why it took us thousands of years to see the color violet

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Allen Tager, a Russian American artist and cognitive scientist, currently leads an international study aiming to identify the brain centres responsible for the activity of each mode of human thinking: instinctive, intellectual, and intuitive. He has an intriguing article in Psyche. It begins:

As a schoolboy in Soviet Russia in the 1960s, my hands were almost never clean. Don’t get me wrong – I washed them as much as anyone else. But the school rules made us practise our penmanship in ink, which came in violet. It was the only colour of ink allowed, and it was precariously stored in a small jar, along with a wooden pen with replaceable metal nibs. Ink jars had a bad habit of constantly falling over, squirting my hands, face, uniform, notebooks and textbooks with violet blots that stayed for days. The blots, and my endless violet scribbles, are the main memories of my early education. Why did the USSR’s Communist Party leaders opt for violet ink to teach the young generation? That’s a mystery we might never be able to crack.

In contrast, though, outside of school, violet was hard to find, be it in paintings or everyday life. I am a painter, and early in my career I noticed that neither the teachers in my painting classes nor my fellow students used violet pigments.

Decades later, walking along Oxford Street in London one rainy day in the late 1990s, I was stunned to see that shops were brimming with women’s clothing in a myriad of violet shades. My mind went back to my Soviet childhood and those everlasting violet smudges on my hands, and to my art classes. I realised that, in my childhood, I’d never seen anyone in a violet blazer, shirt, tie or dress, holding a violet umbrella.

Intrigued, I went to the National Gallery in central London and, after checking the entire collection, found just one violet painting made before the Impressionist era began in 1863. Strangely, it looked like the greatest artists of the past epoch had ignored this colour – until the French Impressionists embraced it. Why so? I decided to find out.

Over the past 20 years, I visited 193 museums in 42 different countries. Equipped with 1,500 Munsell colour chips – the world-standard samples for colour science – I examined 139,892 works of art, searching for violet. I concluded that there were indeed only a very few artworks before the 1860s that contained this colour from my childhood. But from the second half of the 19th century, violet became very popular. This striking conclusion made me wonder why the status of violet had changed so drastically, at such a well-defined point in time? Clearly, more research was needed, and I was determined to do it.

Along with two colour scientists, Eric Kirchner and Elena Fedorovskaya, I selected 14 of the world’s largest art museums that had made large parts of their collections available in high resolution online. We collected hi-res digital photographs from a total of 4,117 paintings. We included objects from ancient civilisations, and from the Middle East and Asia, dating from the 4th century up to the mid-19th.

We also needed a definition of violet. Developments in colour science led to reliable image analysis tools to recognise the colour categories red, orange, yellow, green and blue. However, no such algorithm existed yet for violet. To make matters worse, international surveys showed that people tend to be unsure about exactly what constitutes the colour violet. The same person who describes an object’s colour as violet today might describe it as purple, blue, magenta, fuchsia or burgundy tomorrow. Language plays a role, too – there’s a difference even between British English and American English. The colour beyond blue on the spectrum is called purple in the US, but violet in the UK. Reddish-purple is sometimes called violet in the US, but hardly so in Britain. The complete range of colours between red and blue is often called purple in British texts, but sometimes the word violet is used, too.

Our research led us to a first working definition for the colour violet: all mixtures of red and blue for which blue dominates. We observed more than 1,500 colour chips from the Munsell colour system in a light-booth, ensuring well-defined light, and selected 51 colour chips that we thought of as violet.

As we examined paintings using this definition, we confirmed my prior findings. Until the mid-19th century, the colour violet had appeared in fewer than 4 per cent of paintings. But in the second half of the 19th century, this rate quickly rose to 37 per cent, and spiked to 48 per cent in the 20th century. We still didn’t know what sparked that sudden change, so we looked for some explanations.

First, we considered that colours might have faded over the centuries. But . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

25 August 2021 at 7:51 pm

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