Monday, November 16, 2020

Truth revealed in art


     The poet John Keats said something to the effect, that the beauty of art 

reveals truth, and that beauty and truth are much the same.   In our country, truth's

beauty has had its image greatly tarnished lately.  For the past four years, we have 

all been listening to a steady stream of lies, pouring out from the highest elected office 

in our country.  The lies have never been told with any great degree of artfulness, 

skill or believable substance.  The verbal delivery has always been like the stance

of a child, who thinks that if he tells his lies loudly enough and repeats them often 

enough,everyone will have to believe him.  And at times, the lies have been spoken 

even more crudely, as if from a dictator, who has the unquestioned, full command 

of the country.

      Now that this totally inept and fraudulent leader of the nation has been truly

and unquestionably voted out of office, his infantile behavior is running true to form.

Just as expected, he is acting like a child, having a royal tantrum, to try and get

what he wants.  No doubt he will go on for the rest of his life, claiming that our

elections have all been rigged, and that he actually won the presidency for another 

four years.

     His term in office has clearly demonstrated that he lacked the ability to change

his life-long, narcissistic behavior, and then try to grow into a more creditable, 

altruistic human-being, worthy of the office of the presidency.  That life-long, juvenile

behavior has been on view to the world for four or five decades, and for years it has 

made him the frequent target of columnists, writers and cartoonists.  It has often been 

 the truth of the images and words of these individuals, which have most truly revealed

the childish character of Donald Trump.

     Recently, I ran across an old cartoon which is another example of that long. 

public awareness of Trump's childish, self-centered behavior.  The cartoon is a 2007 

selection from the comic-strip Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, a true master of that 

art form.  In the cartoon, Santa Claus has just completed his annual Christmas 

delivery of gifts and toys to all of the good little girls and boys, and he has returned 

home to the north pole.  Santa is resting in his big chair, with his boots off and his 

legs up on the foot-stool when the phone rings and Mrs Claus has answered and 

tells him who is calling.  That is when Santa leans back and says " Yes, I know 

Donald Trump didn't get what he wanted again."   

     So, clearly, very early in this century, Donald Trump's narcissistic behavior 

was already so well known by then, that the cartoonists didn't even have to draw 

him into their satirical panels, in order to create laughter.  All they had to do was 

to put his name in their punch lines, and the reader's knowledge of Trump would 

provoke their laughter.

    I don't recall what all it was that Trump was squawking about, in the news, at that

time period.  Perhaps it was one of his bankruptcies or one of his gambling casino,

resort failures, which may have been getting a lot of publicity then, but whatever the 

disaster was, Trump was sure to have been loudly denying any responsibility, for all 

the claims against him.  

     It is now abundantly clear to the nation and to the world, that Trump will never tell

the truth, even if his life should depend on it.  Lying is such an integral part of his nature

that he can not change that, anymore than a leopard can change it's spots.  Some

people would describe his perpetually untruthful behavior as simply pathetic.  My 

description of such a total fraud would be a great deal less charitable than that, and 

perhaps not printable for readers of tender years.

     On the twentieth day of next January, when the truth enters the White House again, 

life will become more beautiful again, for all of us, even for those who can't distinguish 

between the new genuine honesty, and the past, destructive, four-year long, unbroken-

string of lies.









Friday, October 30, 2020

Ozymandias, and, Signs Of Our Time


     In 1818, Shelley published his famous sonnet called Ozymandias.  The poem is the 

tale of an egotistical, narcissistic king, who once ruled a vast, wealthy kingdom, with a 

capitol of great temples and palaces, all of which have been swept away by the ravages 

of time, and swallowed by desert sands.  The only visible remnant is a colossal, fractured 

statue of the king.  The top half of the figure is lying face-up, on the sand, where the 

king's "frown, wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command", can still be seen.  And  still 

inscribed on the towering, but crumbling legs of the king, is the proud declaration, 

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

     Sooner or later, time does have a way of bringing down dictators and egotistical

monarchs, no matter how much they do to retain their power, by building many giant, 

intimidating statues and portraits of themselves.  It is no different today than it was in 

ancient Egypt.  For example, the multi-story portraits of the Saudi royals, hanging on 

the faces of tall buildings, which seem to be regular features of the landscape, in Saudi 

Arabian cities.  And it is the same in Iran, where the giant portraits of ruling, religious 

chieftains, glare down at the people like the wrath of doom. 

     These past several months, have been the season of political portraiture in America.

We see the faces of candidates for office, everywhere around us now.  From millions of

yard signs to giant sign-boards, rising above the rooftops, their faces stare at us, with

snappy, printed slogans, trying to convince us to give them our votes.  But I wonder if

some voters opinions of candidates might change a bit, if those signs featured photos

which revealed more of the true character of an egotistical narcissist like Donald Trump.

Would some people feel differently about him, if they compared his behavior to that of

some of the most despicable tyrants of recent history?  This sign-board shows just a

few of the easily available images, of telling similarities, between tyrannical despots. 

     The pigeons are a welcome addition to this scene.  Having them roost on the top

of the sign-board, and poop on the faces of the monumental egotists below them, 

seems like the perfect tribute. 

                                                          ( Click on image to enlarge )

     Some people will say that it is not fair to compare Trump with men who are personally

responsible for the deaths of unknown numbers of their fellow human beings.  Such 

people should remember that Trump withheld vital information, early this year, about the 

deadliness of the coming pandemic, and failed to mount an aggressive plan of defense 

against it, because he thought that would hurt his chances of being re-elected.  He has no

empathy for the sufferings of the sick and dying.  He always puts his own self-interests 

ahead of the lives of others, and because of that, nearly a quarter million Americans 

have gone to early graves.   As Trump's own sister says, he thinks only of himself, and 

no one else.

     Even now, with the plague infection rate, and the death rate, on the rise again, our 

perpetually lying president continues to tell the mask-less crowds at his rallies, that the 

pandemic will soon vanish around some invisible corner, and that a vaccine will be 

available in a matter of days.   When, in truth, the pandemic is only getting worse, and

an adequate enough supply of vaccine, to give inoculations to everyone, is not likely 

to be available until well into next year.  

     There a number of other noticeable similarities Trump has in common with other

such narcissistic sociopaths.   He has cozied-up with some of the murderous thugs

who rule other countries, while at the same time he has decimated our own diplomatic 

corps, and sown mistrust of our own intelligence agencies and F.B.I.   Anyone in his 

administration who has ever demonstrated any sign of independent competence, has 

been fired for not licking his boots and praising him like a loyal slave.   He has replaced 

those ethical executives with sycophants and toadies, who will do whatever he tells 

them to do, no matter how wrong or harmful that action may be.   

     Eventually , Trump's fraudulent schemes, and corrupt and treasonable behavior

 will be fully exposed, and then it will all come home to roost on him, like a flock of 

pooping pigeons.  But now we need to remove him from office as quickly as possible, 

so that he will no longer have the power of the presidency, to help him avoid paying 

the price for his crimes. 

     I'm rooting for the pigeons.




Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What's the matter with Kansas? - and, Sunflower Daze

                                             ( I have previously shown this painting on the blog, but I

                                              am using it again here, as a stand-in for a new painting of 

                                             a large field of sunflowers, of which I do not  as yet have 

                                             good photograph.  I'll try to have the new painting up soon. )


     Some viewers of this blog may be wondering about the choice of title, for this entry, 

and why the field of flowers.  Most people will assume that the inspiration comes from

the fact that fields of sunflowers have been in full bloom, putting on a fine show across 

the mid-west.  That was partially my motive, but I was also interested in the symbolism 

of these large fields of tightly packed, flower-faces, standing together, like gatherings

of crowded, open-faced people, waiting to hear important words.  Perhaps I will say

more about that later.

     The title of this entry is a fairly well-known quote which dates back to well over a 

century ago, when a small-town, newspaper editor in Kansas, took a hard look at his

fellow Kansans, and what he saw made him angry.  He decided to write and print a 

harshly critical editorial, which he titled "What's the matter with Kansas?".  That new

editorial was picked up and reprinted by newspapers all across the country, and it 

made that editor famous.  That man's name was William Allen White, the owner and

publisher of the Emporia Gazette, and he became known a the sage of Emporia.

He was a frequently quoted, influential political figure, and associate of major political

figures, for the first half of the twentieth century, including presidents of the country.

     So, what was it about his fellow countrymen which sometimes caused his ire and

harsh criticism?  He was particularly concerned with political movements known as

populism, and with how thoughtless voters were so easily led to follow their worst 

instincts, by frauds and charlatans.  A look at the history of the period, provides us 

with two prime examples: first was White's battle with the KKK, which had taken 

political control of the southern states and Indiana, and was on track to control Kansas, 

and second, his war against the fraudulent, goat-glands doctor, Dr. Brinkley, who came

close to being voted into the office of governor of Kansas. 

     By the early nineteen twenties, right-wing populism was surging across Kansas.

The organizers of the KKK, were taking the opportunity to enrich themselves, by

appealing to the prejudices and fears of the xenophobic citizens, charging them the

equivalent of three hundred dollars, for membership in the Klan.  (The question of 

why anyone needed some "official" stamp of approval, to parade around in a sheet, 

shouting ethnic and racial slurs, didn't seem to occur to the members.)  Power hungry 

men have always encouraged people to blame all of their country's troubles on 

"the other", the citizens who have the wrong religion, or the wrong ethnicity, or the 

wrong skin tone, or anyone who somehow doesn't "belong" in their country.  

( The members of the Klan chose to forget the fact that they were all immigrants 

or descendants of immigrants to this country.)   As the Klan's membership in Kansas, 

swelled past forty thousand, politicians began to bow to the pressure of the Klan's 

demands.  Even as White was fighting to eliminate such influence, the mayor and police 

chief of his own town, granted permission for the Klan to parade through the streets 

at their will.  During the nineteen twenty four election campaign, for the governorship 

of the state, both the Republican and the Democratic candidate, were accepting 

support from the Klan.  As election day neared, White stepped forward to offer 

his name as a write-in candidate for governor.  He didn't win the election, but he 

won such a large percentage of the votes, that the new governor realized that the 

Klan didn't have the power to control his governorship.

     In the nineteen twenties, there was another opportunistic fraud in Kansas,

who was taking advantage of gullible fools nationwide.  He became famous

as Dr. Brinkley, "the goat doctor", because of his widely promoted "cure" to 

restore virility in men, which consisted of the surgical implanting of goat testicles 

into his patients.   He achieved his fame because he had his own radio station,

 broadcasting his propaganda across the country, gathering a steady stream of

revenue, and hopeful fools to undergo the surgery.  Such opportunists who want 

to appeal to the populist mind-set, have always found it useful to have their own

active, propaganda machine, similar to Donald Trump's trumpeting from Fox,

while they constantly claim that reports from reliably truthful, news sources, are

"fake news".  ( Joseph Goebbels would have felt right at home at Fox. )

     White was in the forefront of sensible people who were telling the public 

that Brinkley was a total fraud, but the goat-doctor was unwilling to give up

his lucrative scam.  In nineteen thirty, he decided to use his propaganda 

machine for an additional self-promotion, by running for governor, and  he 

appealed to his right-wing, religious base by denouncing the theory of evolution.     

White wrote opposition editorials, refuting Brinkley's false propaganda as lies

"irresistible to the moron mind", and calling Brinkley's supporters "a great,

seething, moronic underworld".   Brinkley supporters who evidently didn't 

know the definition of the word "moron", but who thought they knew what 

White meant by his use of the "underworld" reference, wrote angry letters to 

the editor, proclaiming themselves to be "good Christian people".   So, White 

had to correct their misunderstanding, by saying "I didn't mean that you were 

wicked.  I meant that you were dumb!"  

     As things turned out, Brinkley actually got enough votes to have been

declared the winner, if the vote counting system had not been changed, shortly

before the election. So, he might well have been the governor, when his final

exposure as a fraud occurred, and we can imagine what  political chaos that

would have created.  

      Now that I have rattled on for longer than most viewers probably cared to

read, maybe I should try to get around to the point of what I want to say.  We

are now taking part in the most important presidential election, to the future of 

our nation and the world, that we are ever likely to have in our lifetime.

The man who becomes president for the next four years, may well determine

whether or not life as we know it, will be able to survive on this planet.  If some

aggressive steps are not taken soon, to reverse global warming, we will pass 

the tipping point, leaving our children and grandchildren with no world to inherit,

but the man who holds that office now, does not believe in science. 

     What is true of Kansas is also true all across our nation.  Too many of us 

have lost our sense of idealism, and are now too easily misled by frauds, and  

 too willing to give in to our worst instincts, as exemplified by Donald Trump. 

 George Washington signed a pact, dedicating his life, his fortune and his sacred 

honor, to his country.  Donald Trump has no honor, and he has dedicated his life 

to getting whatever he wants for himself, no matter what it costs everyone else.  

He has no sense of civic duty or responsibility: he takes pride in avoiding paying 

his income tax, saying that such maneuvers makes him "smart".  He encourages

the white-supremacists and other hate groups, who feel emboldened by his 

endorsement.  He withheld vital information from the American people, about 

the deadly severity of our pandemic, because he thought it would damage his

reelection campaign.  And, he specifically endangers the lives of his own, duped

followers, by politicizing the plague and discouraging the use of the proper safety 

measures, to limit the spread of the disease. 

      What could be a better example of Trump's indifference to the life or death of 

of others, than his political rallies, with his mask-less fans so tightly packed together, 

like those fields of open-faced sunflowers, receiving all of the viruses and lies being 

shouted their way? 

     Now, we are about to decide who will be in the White House for the next four

years, making critical decisions for our nation.  We can choose a racist narcissist, 

who thinks only about himself, or we can choose his opponent, Joe Biden, who 

has spent his life in public service, and who strives to achieve a better, more idealistic 

America for everyone.

     Anyone who thinks that we don't have a clear choice this time, must be one of

William Allen White's morons.                                               







Monday, August 31, 2020

Horatio's service to the nation

     Those of you who are familiar with this blog may recall my past references to the visits
from my little, quixotic friend, aspiring actor and occasional model, Horatio H. Hamster Esq.
I never know when to expect him, and after so many months of his absence, I was
surprised again yesterday, when he stopped in to say hello.
    We exchanged our mutual greetings and gratitude for surviving the pandemic thus far,
while he was maintaining the proper social distance. I couldn't avoid noticing that he was
wearing his laurels, and I wondered if that represented a new academic achievement of
some kind, or perhaps a costume for a play by Euripides.   Since I was aware that all
of the performances at his theater, ( the unique Quadruped Playhouse ), had been
cancelled due to the plague, his overall classical persona peaked my curiosity.
So, I asked him how he had been spending his time.
     The distance between us made it a bit difficult to hear exactly what he was saying,
so it sounded to me like he said, that he had been paying tribute to the enduring legacy
of the hypocritic oaf.


     "Did you say,"hypocritic oaf",  I asked?
     "No, no!", he shouted.  "I said Hippocratic Oath!" And then he added a further,
distinct correction, saying " The hypocritic oaf is what lives in the White House!"

     I apologized for my mistake, and invited him to come closer, so that he wouldn't
have raise his voice, as he told me about his latest efforts to help defeat the pandemic.
His reference to the Hippocratic Oath, provided a clue to what the middle initial "H" in
his name stands for, at the present time. That part of his identity always seems to change,
in accordance with his involvement, in each, new crusade.   So I asked him if that
middle "H" could possibly stand for Hippocrates, and he admitted that, yes indeed,
the name was that of the famous Periclean Greek Asclepiad , who was the father
of modern medicine.
     When I asked him if he had any personal association with Hippocrates, he said
only that it was an old family name, and that a distant branch of his family still lives on
the Greek island of Kos, where Hippocrates was born.  He added, that during this
world-wide crisis, the name had provided extra incentive, for him to help promote
better health-care, and therefore he had been very busy, giving staged readings of
the Hippocratic Oath, to graduating classes of doctors.
     I was hesitant to question his idealistic efforts, but I did ask if he was being well
received.  He then acknowledged that his reception had been a mixed bag: some
young doctors thought he would be more useful in medical research departments,
and some others failed to give him the proper attention during his heart-felt recitations.
I could understand his difficulty.  I would never be so impolite as to mention
anything about his size to him, but there is no denying that he is vertically challenged.

     Even so, despite some rejections, he said his dedication to the cause, has not
wavered.  He remains determined to continue to promote the truth of the scientific
approach to the study of medicine, which was begun by Hippocrates, even before
the existence of the modern, scientific instruments of our medical practice today.
Horatio struck as dignified a pose as he could muster, and he proclaimed that we
must do all that we can, to counter the lies about the deadly coronavirus, and the
claims of false cures, which eminent daily from the nation's White House!
Referring again to the noble oath of Hippocrates, he said that it's foremost tenant
is to, "first of all, do no harm", but that the sociopathic oaf in the White House is
doing just the opposite, issuing steady streams of false information and continually
promoting false cures, all for his own political benefit.

     I couldn't help but be impressed by Horatio's steadfast and unwavering loyalty,
to the crusade for scientific truth in medicine, as this deadly plague rages on.

     His visit was short, as usual when he is involved in a noble, patriotic cause.
And then later, as he was preparing to leave, I asked him if he had gathered a
general consensus, about the health of our nation, from all of the doctors he had
talked with, during his tour of medical colleges.  He replied that he had gathered
just such an accepted and factual diagnosis of what is ailing all of us, and he gladly
summarized the diagnosis for me.

     "The doctors agree that, for the past four years, we have all been suffering from
one gigantic and unrelenting pain-in-the-ass!" he said.  "It has kept us all in a long,
constant state of such stressful anxiety and depression, that we haven't been able
to sit down and rest comfortably, in that whole time!"  
     "But fortunately, as they all are reminding us, we now have an important, federal,
doctor's appointment, to keep, in early November, to get that big, ugly, and inflamed,
orange boil, lanced and removed, so that we will all once again be able to sit down
and comfortably relax!"
      "There is no excuse for anyone to miss that medical appointment", he concluded.

     I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Welcome To Carnival - Reprise

     In my blog entry for last weekend, my thoughts about the poor response we have
made, to abate the pandemic, became my primary focus, so once again I didn't say
much about the painting.  I will try to correct that now, but I have to first take note
of some of the developments which have occurred this week.
     Things seem to be growing a bit darker with each passing day.  The death toll is
now nearly one hundred and fifty thousand, and we are loosing over a thousand more
victims every twenty four hours.  If that continues, more than a quarter million Americans
will have perished before our presidential election in November.  If we think about that,
it will be as if all the people in an American city of a quarter million, were wiped out
in just a matter of seven or eight months time, leaving nothing behind but the forgotten
dreams of its citizens, and a dead and abandoned city.
     Trump's falling, popularity-pole numbers have convinced his new campaign team,
that he has to start acting like he is concerned with the health and welfare of people
other than himself for a change.  So, he is finally saying that we should wear masks,
to slow the spread of the infections, but when he says that, his hollow sincerity level
is something like what we might hear if Pinocchio were president.

     Now, as to my choice of subject matter for the painting Welcome To Carnival,
the theme is probably self explanatory to some viewers, but some additional, factual
references and information may be helpful.  The well known Carnival of Venice, is a
popular, annual event in that fabled city.  During Carnival, people compete to win the
competitions for the most elaborate masks and costumes.  One of the more frequently
seen mask and costume variations, is that of the court jester or "fool", and another is
the mask of the plague doctor, a visual reference to the long history of plague in Venice.
The combination of those two characters seemed to reflect what is happening in
America today.   They symbolize the foolish, suicidal behavior in which some of us
are engaged, while our health-care professionals are struggling to cope with the mounting
toll of infections and deaths.
     I chose to leave the face mask of the fool, plain and undecorated, rather than
painted and jeweled, because I wanted to place the emphasis on the eyes of the
person, peering out of the holes, with a perhaps sinister motive, as he or she invites
the viewer to come to Carnival.
     The background figure is a hybrid combination of monk and plague doctor.
During the plague pandemics of Venice and the rest of Europe, the monks and other
tender, care givers were among those most likely to fall victim to the disease, because
of their close contact with infected patients.   It was the plague doctors who wore
the face and head covering masks, with the big, bird beaks and goggle eyes.  They
also wore an outfit of full, protective covering, from head to toe, including boots
and leather gloves.  They stuffed their beaks with fragrant herbs or vinegar soaked
sponges to ward off the smells, which they considered the possible sources of the
infection, and they carried canes to uncover and examine patients from a distance.
There is an engraving by Paul Furst, from about 1791, of a plague doctor in Marseilles
he called Dr. Beeky of Rome.   I 'm showing that image here.

     Now that we better understand the origins and causes of new contagious diseases, our
dedicated, modern scientists are working rapidly to try and come up with a preventative
vaccine, and there seems to be some hope that this medical miracle could be available
next year, or even a bit earlier.    But in the meantime, an increasing number of homes
across America, will have newly vacant chairs around their dinner tables, and nightly,
tear-stained pillows on their beds.

Friday, July 17, 2020

To mask, or not to mask? - and, Welcome To Carnival

                                                  Welcome To Carnival
                                                  An original acrylic painting, on primed canvas panel
                                                  24" X 20", unframed

                                                   ( click on image to enlarge )

     "To be, or not to be?"  That was the question that Shakespeare's Hamlet posed for
himself, and that life-or-death question is still the one which remains for us today,
although in a slightly different form.  Now the debate asks, "To mask, or not to mask?".  
     Masks seem to have become as much of a political issue as they are a beneficial
means of reducing the spread of the pandemic.  The irrational refusal of some people
to comply with such a sensible precaution, seems to be increasing exponentially with
the surging rise of infections and deaths.  The most shocking examples are the reports
of people entering stores and brandishing weapons, demanding to shop without the
inconvenience of wearing masks.

     The madness of crowds is also still evident in some areas, despite the efforts of
some governors to restore a shutdown of bars and clubs.  Our nightly newscasts
continue to show us examples of happily, oblivious party-goers and revelers, gathered
in crowds, without a sign of masks.  When these new groups are questioned about
their irresponsible behavior, they tend to proclaim that they have the constitutional and
God-given right to risk their lives in any manner they choose.  Again, they don't seem
to give any thought to the notion that their actions could put other people's lives in
danger, nor do they question what kind of God it would be, who would condone
their possible transmission of this lethal disease to dozens of their fellow party-goers.

     Some unbelievable examples of this kind of stupidity, are the stories about the people
who attend "covid-19 parties", where the first one in the group to catch the virus is the
"winner".  If we did not know it was true we would swear it was fiction.  It sounds a bit
like some kind of drunken, Russian roulette game, where a revolver, with only one of it's
bullet-chambers loaded, is given a spin and passed around to see which man would get
the final, fatal pull of the trigger.

     One man who became seriously infected at one of the covid parties, said that he
had thought the disease was a hoax.  We can all recall where he may have gotten that
warped idea.  One of Donald Trump's first claims about the spread of the virus was
that it was a hoax, created by "the Dems", as a political attack on him.  How insane does
a man have to be, to say that some mysterious, political entity created a world-wide
pandemic, just as a personal attack on him?  And yet he still continues to try and hide the
truth about the growing danger to all of us, by weakening and hindering the work of the
Center For Disease Control, and making personal attacks our medical authorities, just
because they are telling us the truth about what we need to do, to slow the spread of the
     Trump expresses no empathy for the victims of this cruel pandemic.  His attitude
is much like that of the observations of Samuel Pepys during the Great Plague of
London ( 1665 - 1666 ).  Pepys wrote in his diary, about the inconvenience to him,
of having to step over the bodies of plague victims, which would accumulate in the
streets at night.  Because of that hazard, he tried to leave earlier from his government
office in the evenings, when there would be fewer corpses cluttering up his route home.
     Trump continues to act like this disease is simply going to melt away, and that we're
all going to get back to normal, with everyone working, and the economy booming,
before the November elections.  He doesn't talk about about the true nature of plagues.
The history of plagues shows us that they can linger for years, and then come back
again, in repeated waves of death and disaster. The Italian peninsula was struck by
outbreaks of plague in sixty eight percent of the years between 1348 and 1600.
There were twenty two outbreaks of plague in Venice between 1361 and 1528.
An especially deadly outbreak struck in the republic of Venice from 1478 to 1482.
During those years, in the Venice-an territories, well over three hundred thousand
people died.
     Now, with Trump's encouragement, the madness continues.  He holds his
no-mask political rallies, like a performing, court jester, where hundreds of people
can sit side by side to applaud his clownish inanities, while some giant amusement
parks are also opening to senseless crowds of people.  It's party time!
     So, come one, come all! Come to the party. It's Carnival!  Don't sit at home!
Drop all your cares and worries and join in the fun.  There's nothing to fear. Just drop
those masks and join all the  people.  Listen to the bands, drink the wine, spend some
money and have a good time.
       "Welcome to Carnival!" ...........( Or should that be, "Welcome to Cabaret?",
and should I be singing that, in English, French and German? )
     Oh, and by the way, don't pay any attention to the guy in the plague-doctor mask.
he's a real party-pooper!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Mort Noire - second page

     I am adding this second entry to my post from yesterday, because my post became
so long-winded with my thoughts about irresponsible people spreading the pandemic,
that I failed to say anything about the woodblock print in the title.   But at least, in the
hours since I posted my views, I am glad to see that the governors of some states are
now closing down some of the bars and clubs where the most thoughtless individuals
have been congregating. ( That's not to say that my words have any influence anywhere
or on anything. )

     The woodblock print is an old one: it dates back to a time when I still had some
living grandparents, and before the horrors of Vietnam, and more decades ago than
I like to calculate.  I ran across the print in storage recently, and since the image of
the dark, mask-hidden figure, seemed to fit in with my observations about all the troubles
our nation is having now, I decided to include the print in yesterday's, blog posting.

      Artists have always used the death figure as subject matter in their work.
The traditional image is a usually a skeletal, shrouded figure, carrying a scythe
and an hourglass, to symbolize lives being cut off, as our time on earth runs out.
Sometimes the artist's used such simple reminders as skulls, placed somewhere
in their compositions, perhaps labeled vanitas, or perhaps  Thanatos, for the Greek
god of death.
       It is those imponderable questions of life and death, which always occupy the
minds of our philosophers, poets, composers, playwrights and artists.  It is not
just how long we live which is their major question, but how well we use the time
we are given to be on this earth, and then how well we face our deaths, when our
time comes to go.  We see the results of their thoughts about those questions,
when we see their creative work, on stage, or on canvasses, or in great books,
or when we listen to their music.  Those great questions may not always be overtly
visible in the work, but they are always there, at least in subtext, or else the work
will seem fairly shallow.

     The woodblock was never really completed.  In my youthful enjoyment of all
things dark and macabre, I hadn't considered the idea that most art collectors
might not find death to be an appealing theme, no matter how abstract and
strong the artist's composition might be.  At the time that I was cutting the design,
I was planning to add other elements, including a skeletal hand emerging from
the robe, to hold the mask, and a skeletal foot below the robe's bottom hem.
Later on, as I was beginning  to have second thoughts, I decided that perhaps
I should change those particular elements to be a gloved hand and a fancy,
dress shoe.  But then, before I could continue, as so often happens, there were
interruptions of some kind, and the block was stored away, to be finished at a
later time, and then it was eventually forgotten.
       After I discovered the print, I went digging to see if I could find the
woodblock, and to my surprise, I found that I do still have it.  So now comes
the question of whether or not it has been worth keeping it all these years.
Is it likely that I will ever pick up the block and work on it again, after all this time?
Who knows? ........But I'm not dead yet.