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Poetry for Personal Change: Discovery and Wholeness

19 Aug

poetry-river

Poetry for Personal Change: Discovery and Wholeness

by Miranda Barnes

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Part of my current research is exploring how the subjective, human experience creates this place within poetry that is “both.” Both a place of mystery, permeable and open, shifting like a ghost. A place where we receive. But also simultaneously a place that insists on precision, microscopic focus, finding the exact way to say a thing, so fiercely accurate that it is not repeatable. Clarity and accuracy meeting what cannot be pinned down, on the head of a pin.

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Something happens at the meeting point, a dialogue between the hemispheres of the brain. A dialogue between mind and spirit. A place where our connections increase, both within ourselves and to the world around us.

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I have heard it said that the creative impulse begins with the hunger for, or attraction to, what is beautiful. While passion for beauty is certainly a part of the truth for most creatives, I find that what is more powerful is the hunger for meaning. Meaning and significance. Meaning-making is the business of poetry, and when we connect to this meaning within ourselves, we find significance.

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Poetry, and more broadly literature, has always offered more than just the benefit of something to read. From encounters with good literature, good poems, we find ourselves altered and awake to the dilemmas of human existence. Through adjacency with the stories of others we view our own significance, within the expansiveness of life. And the way a poem condenses meaning into the boldest, most impossibly true little mouthful of language, this leads us to eureka. Through the discovery of something so true, so profound, we find out just how big and how small we are at once.

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I wouldn’t be the first to assert that exposure to the arts and humanities gives people a renewed sense of individual purpose and meaning. But in a current world climate where the importance of these studies seems to be declining, it’s even more urgent point out their powerful affects on people’s lives. One example comes out of Stanford University in California. Their Program in Ethics in Society offers humanities courses in the arts, philosophy, and history to residents of Hope House, an addiction treatment and recovery facility for women. The residents here learn the stories of historical female figures such as Emily Dickinson, Hildegard of Bingen, and Sojourner Truth.

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The impact of these courses on the participants goes much further than traditional addiction treatment alone. Through the study of humanities subject matter the Hope House students encounter ethical dilemmas and philosophical questions, encouraging deep thinking and interaction with their own humanity. Over the course of the studies, each of these women are able to see herself as more than just an addict or an alcoholic, a shamed or reduced self, but again as a whole person. Rob Reich, who is a Stanford professor and director of the program, says of the course’s impact: “Because ‘the  humanities revolve around questions every human being grapples with,’ study of humanities subjects creates ‘a sense of possibility and agency that many [of the Hope House students] haven’t experienced in a long time.’”

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Poetry specifically does accomplish something unique. The way poetry is composed, both in the context of its musicality (the meter and rhythm) and also its often surprising use of language, has an intriguing effect on the brain. It very literally spikes the brain’s electrical activity. In new research from Liverpool University, reported on by the Telegraph in January of this year, exciting brain imaging studies were done on readers who read passages of poetry and literary prose, versus more simplified prose with the same meaning.

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The scans revealed that areas of intense brain activity lit up in both sides of the brain: the left part concerned with language, as expected, but also areas of the right hemisphere that relate to autobiographical memory. What this activity in the brain suggests, in response to the poetic language, is that poetry triggers what are called “reappraisal mechanisms.” These cause the reader to reflect on his or her own personal experiences and think of them in a new way, in light of what they are reading. The leaders of this research, including scientists, psychologists and English academics, plan further brain imaging study using the work of additional poets. Hope is that there will be real evidence of a therapeutic benefit to poetry that could be applied in future treatment. Philip Davis, Professor of English at Liverpool University and one of the university’s academics who has worked on the study, says of the study’s implications: “This is an argument for serious language in serious literature for serious human situations, instead of self-help books or the easy reads that merely reinforce predictable opinions and conventional self-images.” Clearly many different methods of treatment and therapy are needed across the board for the large spectrum of individuals who require it, but this research sheds light on poetry’s potential role in the future.

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Poet and neuroscientist Sean Haldane (more officially a clinical neuropsychologist for the NHS) has been practicing in the fields of psychology and neuropsychology for many decades. However, he has been a poet for even longer, and amidst an interesting time for official poetry posts in the UK, he was interviewed for The Guardian’s Observer column . Therein he discussed the power of poetry to change an individual.

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Haldane works primarily now assessing diseases of memory and dementia, but was trained in Reichian psychoanalytic therapy and has written a psychological crisis handbook called Emotional First Aid. In spite of his many years of professional practice, he seems to know that poetry has a strength that does even deeper: “In fact, I now think poetry has more capacity to change people than psychotherapy. If you read a poem and it gets to you, it can shift your perspective in quite a big way, and writing a poem, even more so.”

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A further point of interest that Haldane mentions in this interview regarding the neuroscience of poetry is that a poem may activate the same portions of the brain that react when a child experiences separation from its mother, “A deep sense of separation and longing.” Perhaps there might even be some poems that activate a sense of recognition, or of reunion, of closure. Hopefully future studies will continue to examine the ways that our brains respond to poetry, and maybe even what occurs in the writing of a poem.

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While Haldane wouldn’t recommend poetry at a therapeutic practice (“Never.”), nor would many folk (both participants as well as practitioner) suggest that poetry is any sort of replacement for therapy, there is something to its power. I am just beginning to dig into the many ways that poetry finds its way to the heart behind the mind, or through. But both writers and readers of poetry have always known the impact of a powerful poem to change their lives.

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For some, the act of writing poetry has been a significant part of therapy, and possibly the most successful component. A reporter for the BBC’s  coverage in Iraq, journalist Patrick Howse found poetry a primary part of his pathway to healing through episodes of acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which he developed while in the war zones of Iraq. He was recently featured on PoetryZoo.com discussing how the act of writing his poems, by articulating his experiences and giving them representation, allowed him to process the trauma that he was constantly reliving.

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For Patrick Howse, the process of writing poetry was pivotal to him making sense of what happened to him, the events and images that lead to his constant state of sleeplessness and fear. By combining images of his own making with the feelings experienced in the traumatic events, and by aligning these images to the images from reality that he took in, he was able to come to terms with something that penetrated his world so vitally. Because of the intimacy that poetry can offer us with ourselves, this pathway to understanding can be incredibly healing.

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Howse refers to a quote by UK poet Cecil Day-Lewis which is personally significant to him: “We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” He says he wrote his poems for himself, in order to understand, first and foremost.

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I personally object to Day-Lewis when it comes to the notion that we do not write in order to be understood, but only to understand. The creative act is a combination of both. In fact, a great deal of what comes with the human need for connection is that very thing: to be understood. The pathway to healing for many necessitates increased connection to find wholeness.

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Sherwin Nuland, American surgeon, author, and professor of bioethics at Yale, has written a number of books examining the mysteries of the human body and the processes endured at death, among many other celebrated texts. In How We Die, Nuland shares personal stories of his life, including that of his grandmother. He received many letters from readers thanking him for this inclusion, as they saw someone of their own in her description. From this experience, he found that “The more personal you are and the more intimate you are willing to be about the details of your own life, the more universal you are.” And while Nuland is not a poet, what he says rings true for what makes poetry so powerful: personal experience.

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In an interview with the renowned Krista Tippett, published in the lovely collection of her interviews titled Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit, Sherwin Nuland speaks candidly about what he has found to be pivotal to every human soul. He says that once a person can recognize that the experience of pain, and the human response to pain, is universal, there’s a shift. A recognition. Understanding. And with this, we change how we treat each other, and move toward healing. As Nuland puts it, “You know what everybody needs? You want to put it into a single word? Everybody needs to be understood.”

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Indeed. And couldn’t poetry bring us closer to recognizing each other?

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To be understood is to be recognized. To be recognized, by yourself and by others, pulls you from a one-dimensional, reduced existence to a three-dimensional creature bestowed with possibility. And how important it is to find pathways to this wholeness. In both the acts of reading and writing of poetry, there is certainly much to be gained by the participant.

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One cannot say that all poetry can produce a certain effect, or accomplish a specific thing or set of things. Some poetry is certainly more successful than others at creating that moment that I call “the punch in the gut,” the moment of visceral recognition that, for me, so often precipitates the instant of being changed. But a truly good poem at the right time can certainly be a powerful catalyst for transformation.

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Jane Hirshfield, one of my favorite poets writing today, is author to a magnificent book of essays titled Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, which deftly investigates the art and craft of poetry and the depths of our interaction with it. In the first essay, “Poetry and the Mind of Concentration,” Hirshfield strikes at the heart of some of poetry’s power:

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“Every good poem begins in language awake to its own connections…It begins, that is, in the body and mind of concentration.” She clarifies: “By concentration, I mean a particular state of awareness: penetrating, unified, and focused, yet also permeable and open.”

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The concentration that poetry requires is a wakefulness of mind and spirit, an alert consciousness, an attentiveness to the connection to everything in the self and outside the self. A willingness to receive, a lack of rigidity. This sort of duality is part of the secret of poetry, these seemingly opposing states of being intently focused, precise, but also an openness. And isn’t this mindset the perfect place to allow oneself to be changed?

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Hirchfield also says this of poetic concentration: “In the whole-heartedness of concentration, the world and self begin to cohere. With that state comes an enlarging: of what may be known, what may be felt, what may be done.” Possibility and agency are a natural part of the mind of concentration.

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Our participation in poetry offers the promising possibility of finding a place where we cohere the parts of ourselves and simultaneously, a place of enlarging of our own possibilities. But maybe what makes poetry so powerful is that the thread of it comes in through the mind with language, words that make meaning out of our perceptions, but the whispers to us gently to engage us in a way that can be deeply unexplainable. Like knowing. Like being. Poetry, good poetry, can change us. Sometimes right when and where we need to be changed.

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You can follow Miranda on Twitter here:

https://twitter.com/petalsandflames

Who Are You Really?

23 Apr

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‘Imperfection is not a personal problem, it is a natural way of existing’. (Tara Brach)

This is a post about imperfection and perfection and how this relates to creativity. At first glance it may seem like a splaying, disability spiel but I assure you this is not its intention.

So I’ll begin….

I was born with cerebral palsy, when I came out of my mother’s womb not enough oxygen got to my brain quickly enough and the right side of my cerebral cortex was affected, which means that I have permanent decreased mobility on my left side- a hand that spasms, a bent elbow and a ‘tricksy’ left  hip and leg which means I limp. Luckily, I was not cognitively impaired as a lot of people with cerebral palsy are. The physical manifestations of my disability didn’t come out until I was 9 months old.  So everybody thought I was ‘normal’ for a while. I should have been walking but instead I was still sliding around on my bottom smoothing museum floors.

As I grew up my disability began to manifest itself more significantly but it’s never been severe. It’s only ever affected my left side so if I choose to I can hide the fact there’s something wrong. If I move my left hand under my arm you wouldn’t know there was anything awry. I can mask it if I so choose.  This has always been a problem for me- ‘to show-or not to show’. To reveal who I am from the beginning;  be courageous and truthful, or to protect myself a bit; pave the way, make sure you like me first and then show there’s something wrong.

I have struggled with this dilemma consistently throughout my life and sometimes I have used my creativity to try and understand this conflict within me. At worst, I’ve used it negatively to validate myself as ‘spastic’, not normal; I’ve used it negatively to put myself down and to undermine the value of what I produce. There can be a kind of shame attached to imperfection, of not being perfect and this can also be manifested in what we produce as artists and writers. My body, for me, has always curiously represented this human artistic dilemma; the tightrope between that which craves perfection and that which chastises imperfection.

So how does this imperfect/perfect dichotomy affect our creativity?

I think in order to create and to produce from a place of integrity, we have to write from the place deep within us that is our imperfection; who we are.  And if we begin that creative process we also, by association, gradually reveal our perfection, what matters to us, what makes us unique and whole. Both are needed to shape a creative entity; a piece of art. We don’t need to be ashamed of imperfection or flaws.  There is nothing wrong with exposing them within what we write or shape as long as we’re not doing it for ulterior motives: to punish ourselves or chastise ourselves- to splay instead of celebrate our complexity- the balance of perfection and imperfection within us.

It took me years to overcome this idea of myself as ‘a spastic’. My psychiatrist said I let my disability ‘creep over me like ivy’, and she was right, I did. I twisted it and let it define me.

As creatives it is often our imperfections that inspire us, that allow us to connect with others and to make us want to share and explore that through the work we produce.  There is a need in us all to engage with these areas because it is through this engagement with the flawed that we also engage with the positive and the whole. One does not exist without the other.  However, it’s somehow easier creatively to mulch ourselves down into the dark rather than the light, but the light is what makes life worth living; it’s what sustains us and allows the dark to exist in contrast (and maybe not in antithesis).

I don’t know quite what made me stop thinking of myself as something incomplete or not normal; and in all honesty even now when I walk into a room I will probably, more than likely, protect myself. It’s a fight or flight thing, a natural protective instinct that I can’t override intellectually; and, I’ve come (I think) to maybe accept that. And that’s okay.

So,  equally, when we create as artists or writers maybe it’s also okay to write and hold a bit of ourself back;  to not pour every ounce of ourselves into our creative work. Maybe it’s okay to choose to keep  the nub of us within (whether that be the positive or the negative bit).There’s nothing wrong with that in essence. Or,  if you are one of those  explore- everything, exposing writer/artists you have to be extremely conscious of the intention behind what you’re doing so you don’t harm yourself or delude yourself or forego your right to a form of personal creative privacy.

023Even now I wish I could walk into a room and not be self-conscious, to not slightly look down and see if my hand is twitching or watch your eye-line to see if you’ve noticed. But actually, if I look deep within my creative soul, I have come to appreciate the imperfect/perfect difference because it’s a constant reminder of what makes us human, unique and creative and what makes us explore and express.

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As John Ruskin says, ‘to banish imperfection is to destroy expression’ and I have no wish to do that

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Weekend Showcase: Lisa Risbec (Artist)

5 Apr

Spotlight

Every Friday, 1 artist/painter/poet/writer, letting their work speak for itself.

nb. This week we are doing something slightly different in as much as Lisa has chosen more than one piece to represent herself. This is a direct reflection of her present state in transition as an artist

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Lisa Risbec

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I am an artist (it has taken me a while to say that and I still struggle to say it out loud!) and my work flows between textiles, crafted piece, photography, collage, drawing, printmaking and animation. I create surreal worlds, dreamlike images and handmade oddities and objects. Using vivid colours and rough textures I like to explore the unseen and the hidden.

I studied Photography and filmmaking at university 6 years ago, and I have been searching for another way to express my creativity, and keep coming back to making things by hand. I have made films using images and textures and taken photographs of musicians incorporating handmade elements.

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the_moss_witch2

Still image from The Moss Witch

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Image of musician Gwendolen

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I’m experimenting with printmaking and art journaling and taking photographs of things that inspire me and I also sing and have begun to experiment with music and writing, mainly stream of consciousness and poems to try to work into songs.

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Art Journal page3

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I am currently part of Islington Mill Art Academy, which is a ‘a peer-led experiment into alternative modes of art education.’ http://islingtonmillartacademy.blogspot.co.uk/

Using this group as support, and learning from them, I am attempting to school myself in fine art, and develop my artistic practice into something that fits with the kind of artist I am. As part of this I am working on a project at the moment and have begun documenting some wasteland near to my studio, mainly the nature that persists there. I’m still working out how to express my thoughts and findings in a visual way. I’m also designing and making work to sell in my online shop ‘Thinking of Foxes’ I love making something out of nothing and finding inspiration in many places especially new places.

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Wasteland project

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Swedish Forest Quilt

Swedish forest quilt

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This is on top of running an art workshop and having a part time job! I definitely need to pace myself! I have my fingers in a lot of pies and my aim is to simplify everything down into an artistic practice where I can follow my current interests and express myself in whatever medium feels right at the time, without feeling the pressure of trying to do everything all at once. And I’m still trying to work out how! Any tips much appreciated 

www.lisarisbec.co.uk contains links to the films, blog and etsy shop

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Do get in touch via the Comment box or @ArtiPeep if you would like to be showcased. You’d be welcomed!

My Dead Poet’s Society: Walter Pater

1 Mar
Walter Pater

Walter Pater

T.S Eliot coined the phrase the dead poet’s society when he wanted to try and articulate the impact of the accumulated heritage of writers, artists and poets on the literary and poetic traditions of his day. In coining this phrase he was attempting to deal with how the past impacts on the present. How all our influences coalesce within us, and within the culture that surrounds us, and informs what we make shape and do. Reading about this  has inspired me to look back and see who and what has most influenced me. I’ve written a little sequence of blogs on each and this is one of them. A little taster of a man who not only had a magnificent moustache but who also influenced the whole tradition of aestheticism; and who was was very much appreciated by Oscar Wilde. On a personal level, Pater has influenced the way I try and approach everything in my life whether it be creative or otherwise.  

Walter Horatio Pater (1839-1894) was a Victorian aesthete and writer with a deep love of nature and art. He questioned the nature of life and art in relationship to the individual and not to morality or the morays of society. Art for beauty and for itself. Meaning was to be found in the moment of perception as it goes by. These precious moments must not be missed. Now I can totally see the problematics of this take on life. It dismisses context, promotes idealism. But there’s something there that hooks me to him every time nevertheless. I came to him as an undergraduate; and I think it was the way in which he described his ideal that did it for me. I pencilled in the quote below on the inside of one of my college exercise books and it is a quote that goes with me everywhere. It might not be 100% achievable but it will take you a long way:

‘Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive to us…Not the fruit of experience but experience itself is the end. A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated, dramatic life..How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in the purest energy? To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame is to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life’ (The Renaissance (1872)

Although Pater is all about movement and flux and being part of the ebb and flow of life, he also wants you to be right at the centre of that flow; right in the middle of it all. It’s not about being dead to things, or ignoring life, or being noncommittal. It’s about being there. Now, he wrote the  paragraph above in the conclusion of a book of essays about art (see The Renaissance) but I think, the aesthetic ideal outlined can be stretched beyond anything intellectual and used as guideline for life; or, at least that’s how I’ve used it. Pater for me is about grasping and seeing things and doing everything with your whole being. Or, at least, having that as your ideal. Nothing wrong with that, I think.

To Experience and to burn; to burn, to experience and to maintain that experience that became my goal as soon as I’d really absorbed Pater’s words, and I have always attempted to let that feed every creative project I’ve ever done.  Of course it’s impossible to maintain the ‘ecstasy’. You can’t always be up there and in there- but the notion, the notion of being here, in the now, experiencing what your experiencing vividly and with a whole heart is a brilliant one.  We can use it like a guiding light, to root and to move us towards what we can be. Even if we shoot off in different directions.

He also qualified and brought to my attention the essential charge energy can bring to your life. The joy of energy and all that it can expose. Energy can shape and shift and move you forward. It is, however, something you have to fan like a fire, and dedicate yourself to if the fuel tank is low. It’s energy that can feed creativity.  In a world where so much is being forced upon us in a controlling, prescriptive way to have Pater’s words slap bang in the middle of my consciousness is a way to keep optimism and openness to experience right in the centre of me. The flame can extinguish itself, but it always, always can be re-lit again. It maybe an ideal but it can take you a long, long way in real terms.

Something For the Weekend #7

19 Jan

Horizons

It is the function of creative men to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different and to be able to combine them into some new form’. William Plomer

Some inspirational snippets and recommendations for your weekend

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Something to Watch:  

DVD:  Let the Right One In

INTIMATE, DENSE, IMAGINATIVE

Let the Right One InA  film  directed by Tomas Alfredson  with a screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist (adapted from his book of the same name ) from 2008 starring  Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson. A  sensitive and lyrical  horror film (yes, they can be) about a  young boy Oskar  and his blossoming friendship with Eli which becomes a tale of life and death.

Why you could watch it:

For its subtlty,  sensitivity and lyricism.  It has a few vampiric moments but it’s actually an egrossing tale about friendship, love  and not fitting in.  Elements of our lives that we have all shared. And the young leads are great too.

Here’s the author, Lindquist, talking about his book:

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Something To Listen To: 

Gavin Bryars: Jesus’ Blood Never Left Me Yet

MESMERISING, SOULFUL, DELICATE

A piece composed from a drunken song he heard being sung by a person living rough on the streets in London. Looping the words round and round he created this:

  Official Website

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Something To Look At:

George Braque (1882-1963)  

SPLITTING, RESTORING, DEFINING George Braque

20th century French painter and sculptor, who along with Pablo Picasso developed the art style known as Cubism

Once an object has been incorporated in a picture it accepts a new destiny. 
To define a thing is to substitute the definition for the thing itself.

 
An Interesting Mini-Audio on Georges Braque’s, Mandoline à la sonate
2554_14_Braque_Mandoline-à-la-sonate

Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s autioneers discusses Mandoline a la Sonate
http://www.christies.com/features/audio-georges-braque-mandoline-a-la-sonate-2266-4.aspx


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Something To Read:

Gertrude Stein

(1874-1946)

Gertrude Stein
American
Modernist experimental writer of prose and poetry;
and art collector
EXPERIMENTING, QUESTIONING, EXCHANGING
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Here’s an Audio Biography of Stein:
http://www.biography.com/people/gertrude-stein-9493261

 

And Excerpts from Tender Buttons (1914)

From ‘Objects’

A Long Dress

What is the current that makes machinery, that makes it crackle, what is the current that presents a long line and a necessary waist. What is this current.  What is the wind, what is it.  Where is the serene length, it is there and a dark place is not a dark place, only a white and red are black, only a yellow and green are blue, a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color. A line distinguishes it. A line just distinguishes it. 

 A Red Hat

   A dark grey, a very dark grey, a quite dark grey is monstrous ordinarily, it is so monstrous because there is no red in it. If red is in everything it is not necessary. Is that not an argument for any use of it and even so is there any place that is better, is there any place that has so much stretched out. 

For more see:

http://www.bartleby.com/140/
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Here’s an online version of her famous Cubist influenced novel Three Lives (1906):
http://www.bartleby.com/74/

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Something To Think About:

FLUX, PATHS, FLUIDITY

Heraclitus (c535 BCE-c475BCE)

A Greek Philosopher
Heraclitis and Democrotius by Salvatore Rosa

Heraclitis and Democrotius by Salvatore Rosa

famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe

Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character. 

Much learning does not teach understanding.

Knowing not how to listen, they do not [know] how to speak

Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/heraclitus.html#5LqJL3LAH517voLr.99 

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A Reading on Heraclitus from Bertand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy:

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Something For You:

Inspired  Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred. Thich Nhat Hanh    

Something For the Weekend #6

12 Jan

Horizons

It is the function of creative men to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different and to be able to combine them into some new form’. William Plomer

Some inspirational snippets and recommendations for your weekend

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Something to Watch:  

DVD:  The Page Turner

The Page TurnerA  film  written and directed by Denis Dercourt  from 2006  starring Catherine Frot and Deborah Francois. A film about a 10 year old butcher’s daughter who holds revenge at the core of her heart until it is released as an adult as a page turner against the pianist who rejected her as a child.

Why you could watch it:

For the slowly ratcheted tension that is built up throughout the film, and the two female leads particularly Deborah Francois whose cultivated stare is pitched perfectly to get under your skin.

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CINEMA

The HobbitHere’s another great film review of The Hobbit by the tale of bengwy

http://bengwy.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey/

 

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Something To Listen To: 

1. The Cocteau Twins– Song To the Sirens

2.Song To the Moon by Anton Dvorak from Rusalka

3. Sharon Van Etten, Live ‘Give Out’

Just discovered Sharon this morning. Beautiful

http://sharonvanetten.com/

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Something To Look At:

Robert Delauney

(1885-1941)

Robert Delauney

 

 French artist

 Cofounded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes…His key influence related to bold use of colour, and a clear love of experimentation of both depth and tone.

Click link (left) under name for more…

I am very much afraid of definitions, and yet one is almost forced to make them. One must take care, too, not to be inhibited by them.
Robert Delaunay 

Read more at 

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/robert_delaunay.html#ZPbICX3XCDfhj6PR.99 

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Something To Read:

Hugh MacDiarmid

(1892-1978)

Hugh MacDiarmid

Scottish poet, attempted to revive the Scottish language in poetry as a means of asserting Scotland’s artistic independence from England and re-invigorating a literature suffering from sentimentality. 

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It is time we in Scotland put England in its proper place and instead of our leaning on England and taking inspiration from her, we should lean and turn to Europe, for it is there our future prosperity lies.
Hugh MacDiarmid 

Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/hugh_macdiarmid.html#g30bTUm2KISLmRyX.


Completely beautiful articulation of national identity:

Scotland

by Hugh MacDiarmid

It requires great love of it deeply to read

The configuration of a land,

Gradually grow conscious of fine shadings,

Of great meanings in slight symbols,

Hear at last the great voice that speaks softly

See the swell and fall upon the flank

Of a statue carved out in a whole country’s marble,

Be like Spring, like a hand in a window

Moving new and old things carefully to and fro,

Moving a fraction of a flower here,

Placing an inch of air there,

And without breaking anything.

So I have gathered unto myself

All the loose ends of Scotland,

And by naming them and accepting them,

Loving them and identifying with them,

Attempt to express the whole.

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From Complete Poems, edited by Michael Grieve and W.R. Aitken (Carcanet Press, 2 vols., 1993-4)

Reproduced by permission of the publisher

See:

http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/scotland-0

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Hugh MacDiarmid Reading the Watergaw:

http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=1558

 

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Hugh MacDiarmid: A Portrait by Margaret Tait (1964)

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 Something To Think About:

Arthur Schopenhauer

(1788-1860)

German Philosopher


Arthur Schopenhauer

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Without books the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, “Lighthouses” as the poet said “erected in the sea of time.” They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind, Books are humanity in print.” 

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“Hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability. ” 

For quotes see:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/11682.Arthur_Schopenhauer

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Schopenhauer, BBC, Sea of Faith with Don Cupitt

http://www.doncupitt.com/don-cupitt

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Something For You:

Inspired

 

‘If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise. Robert Fritz

 

Something For the Weekend #5

5 Jan

Horizons

It is the function of creative men to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different and to be able to combine them into some new form’. William Plomer

Some inspirational snippets and recommendations for your weekend

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Something to Watch:  

DVD:  PERSONA

PersonaA  film  written and directed by Ingmar Bergman from 1966  starring Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson. One of Bergman’s most influential films charting the startling merging of two women’s personalities and identities

Why you could watch it:

For the sheer innovation of the cinematography and camera angles, and for the intensity of the female leads and the morphing face frame which is incredibly powerful

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 Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
Ingmar Bergman 


Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/i/ingmar_bergman.html#K8VAzzsscTTU023B.99 

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Here’s  the first part of an interview with Bergman . 

Here are the other 5 links to the other parts of the interview: 

Part 2: http://youtu.be/51WUgKcIXBw

Part 3: http://youtu.be/YRS6Uu9-OPk

Part 4: http://youtu.be/ROQZLJZ6aSs

Part 5: http://youtu.be/xt6UwqHPp54

Part 6: http://youtu.be/90CCPSAF4Zw

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CINEMA

Life of Pi

Here’s another great film review of Life Of Pi by the tale of bengwy: 

http://bengwy.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/life-of-pi-gonna-need-a-bigger-boat/

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Something To Listen To: 

JOYCE GRENFELL

(1910-1979)

Joyce Grenfell  an English actress, comedienne, monologist and singer-songwriter

Happiness is the sublime moment when you get out of your corsets at night. 
Joyce Grenfell 

*

Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/joyce_grenfell.html#4jClv7ijypO1ZoWX.99

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One of Grenfell’s comic monologues animated….

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Something To Look At:

M.C Escher

(1898 – 1972)

M.C. Escher

‘known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. These feature impossible constructions,explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations’. See link, left.

Official Website: http://www.mcescher.com/

‘He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder.’

Read more at:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/m_c_escher.html#ijyRMKx9KTmI3CWQ.99 

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We adore chaos because we love to produce order. 

Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/m_c_escher.html#ijyRMKx9KTmI3CWQ.99 
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My work is a game, a very serious game. 


Read more at: 

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/m_c_escher.html#ijyRMKx9KTmI3CWQ.99 

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Escher Inspired Animation:

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Something To Read:

Margaret Attwood

http://www.margaretatwood.ca/

Margaret Atwood

‘Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It’s like the tide going out, revealing whatever’s been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.”  ― Margaret AtwoodCat’s Eye

Cat’s Eyes is one of my favourite books of Atwoods; it  made a real impression on me when I was younger, it helped….. 

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3472.Margaret_Atwood

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In the Secular Night

by Margaret Atwood

In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It’s two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up the chimney,
and cried for a while because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled with purple.


Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it’s baby lima beans.
It’s necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them carefully,
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the bowl,
talking to yourself out loud.
You’d be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.


There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, The sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn’t now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone’s been run over.
The century grinds on.

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/in-the-secular-night/

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 Something To Think About:

Tillie Olsen

(1912-2007)

American writer and feminist 

Tillie Olsen

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From Silences (1962) ….Literary history and the present are dark with silences: some the silences for years by our acknowledged great; some silences hidden; some the ceasing to publish after one work appears; some the never coming to book form at all. What is it that happens with the creator, to the creative process, in that time? What are creation’s needs for full functioning? Without intention of or pretension to literary scholarship, I have had special need to learn all I could of this over the years, myself so nearly remaining mute and having to let writing die over and over again in me. These are not natural silences….

For more go to:

 http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/olsen/silences.htm

Time granted does not necessarily coincide with time that can be most fully used. 

Tillie Olsen


Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/tillie_olsen.html#XIZOYRGU8mItrKtT.99

I know that I haven’t powers enough to divide myself into one who earns and one who creates.
Tillie Olsen 


Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/tillie_olsen.html#62K8b2okBR34aBvK.99

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Something For You:

Inspired

…Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Viktor Frankl, from Man’s Search For Meaning

 

Something For the Weekend #4

29 Dec

Horizons

It is the function of creative men to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different and to be able to combine them into some new form’. William Plomer

Some inspirational snippets and recommendations for your weekend

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Something to Watch:  

DVD:  PLEASANTVILLE

PleasantvilleA  film  written and directed by Gary Ross from 1998  starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen,  multi-layered, aesthetically and emotionally ,  set in Pleasantville where there has never been any rain, aggression,  change, acceptance, passion or love. Until Now…..

Why you could watch it:

it grapples with our relationship to history and time; it addresses issues in relation to   feminism, race, art and writing.  It uses colour in an amazingly innovative delicate way too. And there’s Joan Allen and  William H Macy and the  makeup scene.   

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Here’s  a taster clip. 

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Something To Listen To: 

Kate Rusby

Kate Rusby

English Folk Singer From North Yorkshire

Simply beautiful, the song

….Underneath the Stars…..from Kate’s album Underneath the Stars 

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Underneath the stars I’ll meet you
Underneath the stars I’ll greet you
There beneath the stars I’ll leave you
Before you go of your own free will

Go gently

Underneath the stars you met me
Underneath the stars you left me
I wonder if the stars regret me
At least you’ll go of your own free will

Go gently

Here beneath the stars I’m landing
And here beneath the stars not ending
Why on earth am I pretending?
I’m here again, the stars befriending
They come and go of their own free will

Go gently
Go gently

Underneath the stars you met me
And Underneath the stars you left me
I wonder if the stars regret me
I’m sure they’d like me if they only met me
They come and go of their own free will

Go gently
Go gently
Go gently

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Something To Look At:

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Frida Karlo

I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration. 
Frida Kahlo 

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Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/f/frida_kahlo.html#oJBvyK8peZt0PyMX.99 

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Something To Read:

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin

(1922-1986)

 

Everyone should be forcibly transplanted to another continent from their family at the age of three.” 
― Philip LarkinPhilip Larkin: Letters to Monica

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Best Society

When I was a child, I thought,
Casually, that solitude
Never needed to be sought.
Something everybody had,
Like nakedness, it lay at hand,
Not specially right or specially wrong,
A plentiful and obvious thing
Not at all hard to understand.


Then, after twenty, it became
At once more difficult to get
And more desired – though all the same
More undesirable; for what
You are alone has, to achieve
The rank of fact, to be expressed
In terms of others, or it’s just
A compensating make-believe.


Much better stay in company!
To love you must have someone else,
Giving requires a legatee,
Good neighbours need whole parishfuls
Of folk to do it on – in short,
Our virtues are all social; if,
Deprived of solitude, you chafe,
It’s clear you’re not the virtuous sort.


Viciously, then, I lock my door.
The gas-fire breathes. The wind outside
Ushers in evening rain. Once more
Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.

 

http://www.poemhunter.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Larkin

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Philip Larkin Sunday Sessions (Extract)

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Something To Think About:

George Steiner

(1929-)

literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, translator, and educator.

George Steiner

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Language can only deal meaningfully with a special, restricted segment of reality. The rest, and it is presumably the much larger part, is silence. 
Read more at

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_steiner.html#1vwq3rhl8CHhkpc1.99 

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The most important tribute any human being can pay to a poem or a piece of prose he or she really loves is to learn it by heart. Not by brain, by heart; the expression is vital.
Read more at

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/george_steiner.html#1vwq3rhl8CHhkpc1.99

http://www.superfluitiesredux.com/2011/05/17/quotes-george-steiner/

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CHRISTMAS PICTURE QUIZ: Who is Who?

The Answers. Mouse over the bottom of each picture

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Something For You:

InspiredJoy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity. Rollo May

Something For the Festive Weekend #3

22 Dec

Horizons

It is the function of creative men to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different and to be able to combine them into some new form’. William Plomer

Some inspirational snippets and recommendations for your weekend

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Something to Watch:  

DVD:  REQUIEM FOR A DREAM

Requiem_for_a_dream

A Darren Aronofsky film from 2000 starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto & Jennifer Connelly, on the surface a high octane tale about drug addiction.

Why you could watch it:

because it’s actually an edgy panoramic tale about love and identity that draws you in powerfully despite the uncomfortable moments; and it has an amazing performance by Ellen Burstyn

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Here are a few clips. It’s harrowing but it’s worth sticking with:

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Something To Listen To: 

Ralph Vaughan Williams 

(1872-1958)

Ralph Vaughan Williams

But in the next world I shan’t be doing music, with all the striving and disappointments. I shall be being it.  Ralph Vaughan Williams 

 

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Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ralph_vaughan_williams.html#sY7c64lHtu939SIC.99

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Christmas Songs

Lark Ascending

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DESERT ISLAND DISKS – Annie Lennox

Desert Island Disks

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/desert-island-discs/castaway/a3635f2a#b00b6x4g

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Something To Look At:

Edward Hopper (182-1967)

American Realist painter

Truthful, Insightful, As Is, Elegant 

Automat 1927

Automat 1927

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See For more information:

http://poulwebb.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/edward-hopper.html

 

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Early Sunday Morning 1930

Early Sunday Morning, 1930

Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.  Edward Hopper 

 

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Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/e/edward_hopper.html#GRhoK45ddZTFllAg.99

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Something To Read:

William Blake

(1757-1827)

William Blake

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Holy Thursday (Innocence)

Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean
The children walking two & two in red & blue & green
Grey headed beadles walked before with wands as white as snow
Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow


O what a multitude they seemed these flowers of London town
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own
The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs
Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands


Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven among
Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door

*

Holy Thursday (Experience)

Is this a holy thing to see.
In a rich and fruitful land.
Babes reduced to misery.
Fed with cold and usurous hand?


Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!


And their sun does never shine.
And their fields are bleak & bare.
And their ways are fill’d with thorns
It is eternal winter there.


For where-e’er the sun does shine.
And where-e’er the rain does fall:
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.

 

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/holy-thursday-experience/

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/holy-thursday-innocence/

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Something To Think About:

1. Albert Camus

Albert Camus

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.  Albert Camus 

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Read more at:

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/albert_camus.html#BU5Cl0r81ct9vg8c.99

In Our Time: 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008kmqp

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2. OSHO

oshoEXPRESS YOURSELF IN AS MANY WAYS AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT FEAR.THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR.THERE IS NOBODY WHO IS GOING TO PUNISH OR REWARD YOU. EXPRESS YOUR BEING IN ITS TRUEST FORM, IN ITS NATURAL FLOW, YOU WILL BE REWARDED IMMEDIATELY, NOT TOMORROW BUT TODAY, HERE & NOW. YOU ARE PUNISHED ONLY WHEN YOU GO AGAINST YOUR NATURE. BUT THE PUNISHMENT IS A HELP. IT IS SIMPLY AN INDICATION THAT YOU HAVE MOVED AWAY FROM NATURE, THAT YOU HAVE GONE A LITTLE ASTRAY-OFF THE ROAD-COME BACK. PUNISHMENT IS NO REVENGE.NO, PUNISHMENT IS ONLY AN EFFORT TO WAKE YOU UP: ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’ . SOMETHING IS WRONG, SOMETHING IS GOING AGAINST YOURSELF. THAT’S WHY THERE IS PAIN, THERE IS ANXIETY.

  EVOLUTION IS INTRINSIC TO MAN’S NATURE, EVOLUTION IS HIS VERY SOUL, AND THOSE WHO TAKE THEMSELVES FOR GRANTED REMAIN UNFULFILLED. THOSE WHO THINK THEY ARE BORN COMPLETE REMAIN UNEVOLVED. THEN THE SEED REMAINS THE SEED. IT NEVER BECOMES A TREE AND NEVER KNOWS THE JOYS OF SPRING AND THE SUNSHINE AND THE RAIN AND THE ECSTASY OF BURSTING INTO MILLIONS OF FLOWERS.   From The Book of Understanding

http://astrodreamadvisor.com/OSHO_Quotes.html

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CHRISTMAS PICTURE QUIZ: Who is Who?

Answers given in the next snippet. Or take a stab yourself and leave your answers in the reply box ! 

Something For the Weekend #3

15 Dec

Horizons

‘It is the function of creative men to perceive the relations between thoughts, or things, or forms of expression that may seem utterly different and to be able to combine them into some new form’. William Plomer

Some inspirational snippets and recommendations for your weekend

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Something to Watch: 

DVD:  THE APARTMENT

Dvd ApartmentA Classic Billy Wilder Film made in 1960 starring Shirley Maclaine and Jack Lemmon.

 Why you could watch it:

 Brilliant script; poignant moments; tempered, delicate direction; great performances; and well, that spaghetti scene…

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The Original Trailer

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Something To Listen To:

Almost the most beautiful piece of music on earth. It takes your heart and soul somewhere exquisite and then leaves it there.  Lucky us. Try looking at the larger picture below whilst listening …it works…

 

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Something To Look At:

PIET MONDRIAN (1872-1944)

Piet Mondrian

Truthful, Complex, Transparent, Necessary De Stjil

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A picture composed out of 2 Mondrian like patterns. See link below  for more

Fractal Mondrian

From: http://www.algorithmic-worlds.net/blog/blog.php?Post=20110201

‘The emotion of beauty is always obscured by the appearance of the object. Therefore the object must be eliminated from the picture.’ (Piet Mondrian) From: http://quote.robertgenn.com/auth_search.php?authid=65

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Something To Read:

Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Heaven-Haven

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.


And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

From: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/heaven-haven/

More info : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Manley_Hopkins

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Something To Think About:

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

 

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. 
Bertrand Russell 

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/bertrandru101364.html#CecKlJLQMB5o8RLV.99 

In Our Time:

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01p8fsr/In_Our_Time_Bertrand_Russell/

Philosophy Resource: 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/greatest_philosopher_bertrand_russell.shtml

Have a great Weekend!

ArtiPeep Signature 2

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