whereon thou standest is holy ground

One viewer who did not dismiss Millet was Vincent van Gogh. In 1875, he visited a large auction show of the artist’s late pastels. Van Gogh, who had not yet fully embraced his own artistic vocation, was smitten. When he entered the room, he later wrote his brother Theo, “I felt something akin to: Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

Van Gogh was not alone in his reaction. Millet’s pursuit of humble subject matter and his skill as a draftsman would influence artists for decades. Pastels facilitated his innovations with perspective. Requiring no drying time, they were easy to rework, encouraging spontaneous expression. They also made him a virtuoso of green. “Path Through the Wheat” (c. 1867) abounds in sunlit grassy hues. Forest tones anchor two companion pieces, “Primroses” and “Dandelions” (both 1867-68), which Millet seems to have composed while lying on his stomach in the shade.

~ M.J. Anderson, from ‘French Pastels: Treasures From the Vault’ Review: Delicate and Delightful. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts presents works by Degas, Millet and others, rarely shown due to the fragility of their powdered surfaces. (wsj.com, July 14, 2018)


Notes:

  • Photo 1: ‘Path Through the Wheat’ (c. 1867), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 2: ‘Primroses’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet
  • Photo 3: ‘Dandelions’ (1867-68), by Jean-François Millet

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Art:  Esa Riippa with NENÄLLEHYPPIJÄ1978. (Translated by Leena Gonzalez as “Jumping on the Nose.”) Riippa is a Finnish visual artist who was born in 1947. (via Carnet Imaginaire)

Silience (135 sec)


silience:

n. the kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of anonymous users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect.

Running. With Ghosts.

Friday morning weigh-in: 2 pounds up. Disgusting. Shameful.

It’s 5:25 a.m. 58º F. I’m out the door.

Memorial Day weekend.  Squirrel lays in the gutter on Post Road, its claws tucked inward, no defense against Auto.  The mind leaps to the Thursday morning commute, a large doe lies on the shoulder of I-95 S, a fresh kill – no chance against Semi. Shake it off. A few hundred feet further up, road refuse, a MacDonald’s Big Mac carton and an empty plastic soft drink cup. The mind leaps again, this time to Ben‘s comment on an older post – his boys have returned from visiting a turtle hospital in the Florida Keys where they watched the creatures suffer from ingesting plastic drinking straws. They’re quick to anger at the waiter who sets two plastic straws on the table in front of them. Boys. They get it. This world still has a chance.

My pace slows, with the mind leaping from black to blacker blacks, gulping energy, sapping strength. Shoulders and legs are heavy, they sag. I’m winded.  GPS: 1.5 miles out. It’s mental DK. It’s mental. Alter the narrative, Damn it. Alter the narrative.

I round the corner to exit Post Road to Cove Road.

My head is down. I don’t notice low tide. I don’t see 100’s of geese floating in silence. What do you think you will see looking down at the asphalt.

And here it comes. From somewhere.  Chögyam Trungpa’s inclination. “You have an inclination: In the flash of one second, you feel what needs to be done. It is not a product of your education; it is not scientific or logical; you simply pick up on the message. And then you just act: You just do it…that basic human quality of suddenly opening up is the best part of human instinct.”

I don’t look right towards the homes, the driveways, the spray from the automatic sprinkler systems in the front yards. [Read more…]

Running. With Mint Chocolate Chip.

Here we go again.

Up 10 lbs in less than 30 days. No walking, no step challenges, no running, no elliptical, no treadmill. How easy to Quit. Devilishly insidious. One day. And then a week. A Month. And counting. How fast it all comes apart.   

Laying in bed, skimming blog posts, RSS feeds, morning papers – words skittering by, wispy clouds, digesting nothing. I pull the covers up. I’ll run this afternoon. Maybe. Sure I willNo I won’t.

I’m out the door, Running.

Mile 1: Cool, 50 F. Lower back stiff. Legs heavy. Can’t see 3 miles today. Hell, not sure I can see the end of 2.

Mile 2: Lower back loosening. Legs heavy. Stomach queasy. 7:30 PM yesterday. Snack run to Palmer’s Grocery. I cut through the rows to the freezer aisle. I wipe the condensation off the glass. Eyes move from Brand to Brand to Brand. Momentary calm settles in. I grab a pint of Häagen-Dazs Mint Chip Ice Cream. And then a pint of Talenti Gelato Mediterranean Mint. And then something called Graeter’s Handcrafted French Pot Mint Chocolate Chip. And a quart of Edy’s mint Chocolate Chip. Yep, 4 containers of Mint Chocolate Chip. [Read more…]

T.G.I.F.

As he grew older, his life turned into an agreeable routine, with enough human contact to sustain and divert, but not disturb, him. He knew the contentment of feeling less. His emotional life was recast as a social life. He was on nodding and smiling terms with many… He prized stoicism and calm, which he had achieved less through some exercise of philosophy, more from a slow growth within him; a growth like coral, which in most weathers was strong enough to keep out the ocean breakers. Except when it wasn’t.

~ Julian Barnes, The Only Story (Alfred A. Knopf, April 17, 2018)


Art: Phenomenon no. 1 by WanJim Gim (Seoul, Korea)

Sunday Morning

Theirs was then and remains even more today the stranger passion, the one little understood—or even comprehended as passion. Not erotic life, but the pleasure of the mind filling like the lower chamber of an hourglass with the slow-moving grains of a perfect day—sky, carnations, walking, reading, writing, Toasted Cheese, the presence of another who wishes to be so still, so silent too… It is possible to feel the fact of being alive as it breathes in, breathes out. It’s a life. It’s the life.

Patricia HamplThe Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)


Image: (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Saturday Morning

clouds

Still looking for bliss in nothing at all, the cloudy mind moving over existence, outside time.

Patricia HamplThe Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)


Notes:

  • Post Inspired by Patricia Hampl: “Daydreaming doesn’t make things up. It sees things. Claims things, twirls them around, takes a good look. Possesses them. Embraces them. Makes something of them. Makes sense. Or music. How restful it is, how full of motion. My first paradox. I couldn’t care less what it’s called. It’s pure pleasure. Infinite delight…This is what is called the life of the mind. It’s what I want to do. It’s where I want to be. Right here.” (Patricia Hampl, The Art of the Wasted Day)
  • Photo by Mikael Aldo (via see more)
  • Related Posts: Patricia Hampl

 

it never shuts up (never)

In case you haven’t noticed, you have a mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops. It just keeps going and going. Have you ever wondered why it talks in there? How does it decide what to say and when to say it? How much of what it says turns out to be true? How much of what it says is even important?…If you’re smart, you’ll take the time to step back, examine this voice, and get to know it better. The problem is, you’re too close to be objective…Notice that the voice takes both sides of the conversation. It doesn’t care which side it takes, just as long as it gets to keep on talking…If you spend some time observing this mental voice, the first thing you will notice is that it never shuts up. When left to its own, it just talks. Imagine if you were to see someone walking around constantly talking to himself. You’d think he was strange…If you watch carefully, you’ll see that it’s just trying to find a comfortable place to rest. It will change sides in a moment if that seems to help. And it doesn’t even quiet down when it finds out that it’s wrong. It simply adjusts its viewpoint and keeps on going. If you pay attention, these mental patterns will become obvious to you. It’s actually a shocking realization when you first notice that your mind is constantly talking…

~ Michael A. Singer, from “Chapter 1: the voice inside your head” in the Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself


Photo: Le bain ©️David McTanné (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

When Aleksander Doba (70) kayaked into the port in Le Conquet, France, on Sept. 3, 2017, he had just completed his third — and by far most dangerous — solo trans-Atlantic kayak trip. He was a few days shy of his 71st birthday…He’d been at sea 110 days, alone, having last touched land that May at New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay. The trip could have easily ended five days earlier, when Doba was just a few hundred feet off the British coast. But he had promised himself, when he left New Jersey, that he would kayak not just to Europe but to the Continent proper. So he stayed on the water nearly another week, in the one-meter-wide boat where he’d endured towering waves, in the coffinlike cabin where he spent almost four months not sleeping more than three hours at a stretch, where he severely tried his loved ones’ patience in order to be lonely, naked and afraid. Then he paddled to the French shore…

 “The more you don’t believe in Polish people, the more determined we are. To prove themselves, Polish people will endure everything. If you aren’t willing to suffer, you can do nothing. You can sit and die. This is the only one thing you can do.”

Doba’s physicality is sui generis. His body appears to be assembled from parts belonging to people of vastly different ages. His skin looks 71. His chest looks 50. His hands and forearms look 30, straight off a Montana roper. His hair and beard appear to be taken from a Michelangelo painting of God.

Doba has a deep, almost performance-art-like sense of this. You can be made small by life or rage against it. “Nie chce byc malym szarym czlowiekiem,” he told me. “I do not want to be a little gray man.” This is a common expression in Poland — and a good motto for us all.

~ Elizabeth Weil, excerpts from Why He Kayaked Across the Atlantic at 70 (For the Third Time) (NY Times, March 22, 2018)


Thank you Rachel

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