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Month: March, 2016

carpe diem

still-life-food-glasses-and-a-jug-on-a-table-1640.jpg!Blog

 
                                              Pieter Claesz
 
                                                   _______
 
 

we were having dinner at an upscale
downtown restaurant, I was having
as appetizer wild prawns grilled 
on 
branch of rosemary with chickpeas,
all illuminated with a filigree of 
tahini,
as a main 
course a surf and turf of
crisp pork 
belly and wild Pacific
octopus with a square of 
grilled
polenta 
with again rosemary, Vickie,
a green salad 
with burrata, a cheese
she touted enthusiastically, 
to start,
then the same semolina 
gnocchi
with 
wild mushrooms and pecorino
my 
mother was having, as an entree,
though Mom’
d had a duck and chicken
liver pâté with rhubarb and orange
mâche salad as an opener  

after which we all enjoyed a blackcurrant 
curd for dessert, with burnt meringue 
over a lemon and orange glaze  
 
 
Vickie had had a difficult morning,
you need a foam roller, I repeated, 
a cylinder I use to relax, and which 
I’ve been recommending to all and 
sundry for some weeks
 
how do you feel now, I asked, as I
sipped a fine Platinum Chardonnay 
from the Okanagan Valley, she was 
having nothing other than water for 
a tetchy stomach, she complained, 
despite my several oenophilic, which 
is to say, wine-loving, exhortations, 
even having her smell the clean, 
crystalline aromas of my wine
 
sitting here, on this outdoor veranda,
in this company, among these glittering
wares, I elaborated
 
she toyed distractedly with her pasta
 
out of ten, I said, where ten is fabulous,
a word I usually avoid, but which often 
seems especially appropriate, what 
would you score
 
seven, she retorted, which I thought
acceptable
 
you, Mom, I asked, to which without 
batting an eyelash she replied, ten, 
teaching us both, Vickie and I, 
thereby, inadvertently, a lesson
 
I should’ve expected that, I said back,
you’re always a ten, I would’ve said 
seven, I declared, when not five
 
though sometimes I’ll admit to 
transcendental eleven, I had to 
add, when all of my stars fall right
 
 
later we each walked homewards
to our separate domiciles, stars 
were speckling, not, maybe, 
fortuitously, I noted, an unfettered 
night sky
 
 
Richard

2016, a rumination‏

warning-sign-2006.jpg!Blog

                                         Warning Sign (2006)
 
                                                      Banksy
 
                                                        ____
 
 
in an introspective moment, I mused
 
    the days move on, the years, it’s 
    2016, beyond what I could ever 
    have imagined, born as I was 
    before even television nearly, 
    1949, Israel was being invented, 
    the Geneva Conventions were
    being devised 
 
    the future had been predicted with 
    “2001” in 1968, Kubrick’s visionary
    masterpiece, if not quite with “1984“, 
    Orwell’s 1949 attack on imminent, 
    impending, totalitarianism 
 
    though that work was too close to  
    have significant impact, we still, by 
    that eponymous date, weren’t at all 
    aware of possible pervasive 
    personal monitoring, of even 
    entirely innocent transactions, 
    we were busy deregulating, 
    privatizing, ceding our patrimony
    to unscrupulous speculators, that
    which our forebears had even died 
    for, who once had been serfs and 
    as indentured
 
    Big Brother since has been 
    identified, verified, and you, we, 
    are the perpetually espied
 
    we are seduced by the idea that 
    our innocence will be our salvation, 
    though innocence, like beauty, 
    truth, is in the eye of the, not 
    necessarily impartial, beholder 
 
    and the beholder, the monitoring 
    eye, cannot be impartial
 
    see God
 
 
    we have ever been at the mercy 
    of not necessarily Reason, but
    inexorable Fate, though prayer, 
    I’ve found, has worked miracles
 
    it is the only hope we have
 
    I wish you miracles
 
 
    Richard
 
 
Richard

“Easter Oratorio”, BWV 249 – Johann Sebastian Bach‏

ascension-of-jesus.jpg!Blog

 
                                    El Greco
 
                                      ______
 
 
                        for Martha and Chris, who still go to Easter 
                        Mass, and whom Martha calls therefore  
                        relics 
 
                        and for Staf and Annemie, who live in 
                        presently beleaguered Belgium, and 
                        who must, at this time of distress, 
                        need our prayers
 
 
having long ago lost track of the Christian
calendar, I only this week found out 
Sunday ‘d be Easter, therefore Friday
Good Friday, not that this would much 
change my daily routine, but it set me 
perusing pertinent art, I knew I could 
count on Bach for an oratorio, and sure 
enough I found it
 
an oratorio, as I earlier explained, is an
opera without sets or costumes, usually
associated with religious services, but 
Bach had one for every Sunday and 
every Christian feast day
 
after an instrumental introduction, 
reminiscent of Handel, I thought, 
Bach’s “Easter Oratorio” slips into a
lovely adagio, notable for its exquisite
oboe obligato, where the innocence 
and purity of that wind defines the 
movement
 
the ceremonial pomp of the earlier 
section then returns to include 
chorus expressing triumph, the 
realization that the Lamb of God 
has returned
 
but soon enough, Mary, the soprano 
of a quartet of singers, each of the 
four singing according to their own – 
alto, Mary Magdalene, tenor, Simon 
Peter, bass, John the Evangelist  
voices, and accompanied by an 
utterly transcendental transverse 
flute, sings 
 
      “My soul, the spice that embalms 
       you shall no longer be myrrh. Only
       a crown of laurels can soothe your 
       anxious longing.”  
 
and knocks your socks off 
 
 
this week at market, stuffing my 
organic red pepper and a bag of 
handcrafted chips, barbecued,
designer, into my bagat their 
express counter, collecting my 
coins, my receipt, my change 
purse, my wallet, and last but not 
least, of course, my self, I sensed 
something of mine drop, looked 
dutifully aroundcould find 
nothing, wondered, and made to 
go
 
excuse me, sir, I heard behind me, 
you dropped something
 
a little boy, an urchin, blond hair, 
blue eyes, right out of Charles 
Dickens, I thought, eight maybe,
nine, held out a quarter, apparently 
mine
 
why thank you, I replied, enchanted
 
and you know what, I asked, I’m 
going to give this back to you, and 
put the quarter back into his hand
 
the last time I did something like 
that, I saw an angel, I remembered
but that’s another story
 
thank you, he said back, gleaming
with the maturity of his interaction, 
though I’m not sure he wasn’t 
himself in fact also a very angel
 
 
later I thought I should’ve sent him 
for a crème brûlée, a piece of carrot 
cake, a pastry, or something, and 
berated myself for the paucity of 
my recompense
 
 
but there is a link to Easter in my 
tale, the idea of hope, revival, 
regeneration, in the possibility of
goodness reentering the world, a
task inherited by the children, and 
whom we must not lead astray
 
apart from its more traditional 
associations, for perhaps the less 
observant, people of other creeds 
and faiths, if Easter means anything 
still, or has ever, it is about just that, 
hope, revival, regeneration, nor must 
we ourselves betray those ideals   
 
happy Easter 
 
 
Richard

a rumination on rain‏

spring-rain.jpg!Blog

                                                 Spring Rain 
 
                                        Erte (Romain de Tirtoff)
 
                                                    _________
 
 
since last November the days have 
been short, and have not hastened 
since winter to be longer, not 
helped either by the most recent 
time change, more than anything 
a biannual irritant  
 
nor has the rain stopped, apart from 
a few clement days, its persistent,
often pounding, onslaught
 
that’s me, above, expressing my 
displeasure
 
 
as usual, in distress, I turned to art 
to see, or hear, what others might 
have to say about my current 
dilemma, my chagrin du jour, if you 
like, in this instance, the Erte on rain 
took the sting out of the raindrops
 
others had inspired, a Gauguin,
unexpectedly grey, but haunting,
a Monet, of course, equally sombre, 
who painted in all weathers
 
Constable, uncharacteristically 
angry, was looking a lot like 
Turner, but more direct, accessible,
less oracular, more matter-of-fact, 
sensible, reading only the weather 
in the weather
 
Winston Churchill, of all people, 
gives us, incidentally, something 
in between
 
 
especially to my sense of poetry 
among the artworks I perused, 
someone I’ll have to further, for his 
tender homage to perhaps other 
colours than orange, explore
 
to me unknown, does a similar thing
in, essentially, a monochrome, with 
a fine mist standing in for ethereality
 
Miró is ever up to his old tricks, 
find it  
 
but Erte catches best of all my desire
for irony, sardonicism, self-criticism
 
in music I couldn’t think of anything 
other than Beethoven’s Der Sturm
to temper the weather, despite the 
fact that rain hadn’t been ever his 
inspiration, the title came from his 
publisher to increase sales, 
Beethoven wrote pure music, 
abstract, never specifically literally 
to describe, what is called program
music, his descriptions, his 
evocations, came unadulterated,
untransliterated, from the heart 
 
 
in literature nothing beats Somerset 
Maugham’s short story, Rain“, 
masterpiece of intrigue as well as 
literary prowess, searing substance 
married to superb style
 
the book was duly made into film,
and several times, with Gloria 
Swanson in 1928, Joan Crawford 
in 1932, and Rita Hayworth in 1953
none of these slouches
 
 
the clouds have now coincidentally
dispersed, the metaphorical ones, 
not so surprisingly, have been 
meanwhile displaced by my retreat 
into art, a recourse I’ve found to be 
always dependable, and, yet again, 
in this otherwise grim environment,
diverting and trustworthily inspiring
 
 
I wish you consequently, also, for 
similar reasons, art, a salve along 
life’s often obstreperous journey 
 
 
Richard
 

“The Afternoon of a Faun” – Vaslav Nijinsky‏

800px-Bakst_Nizhinsky

                           Program for L’après-midi d’un faune”  (1912)

                                                       Léon Bakst
 
                                                          _______
 
 
though the reference to Pan is not direct
in the title of Nijinsky‘s choreographic 
rendition of Debussy‘s 1894 symphonic
classic, itself a musical transposition
of Stéphane Mallarmé‘s 1876 poem, 
L’après-midi d’un faune“, or, in English, 
connections are unmistakably implicit, 
not only in the story which is told, but 
also in the elements of the dance, which 
borrows heavily from Grecian urns, their 
static, angular poses
 
also Mallarmé makes specific allusions to
Syrinx herself, among other nymphs, in his 
seminal work, not to mention to the deity’s
eponymous flute
 
the only change to the original production 
dancers, here, Rudolf Nureyev performs 
with the Joffrey Ballet, where Vaslav
Nijinskythe choreographer himself, 
danced with Sergei Diaghilev‘s Ballets
Russes in the show that made history, 
the sets and costumes by Léon Bakst 
remain also unchanged, this is what the 
audience saw May 12, 1912, at the very  
 
the piece shocked even irreverent Paris,
of course, for its overt and unapologetic
eroticism, it‘ll probably even shock you, 
still
 
I thought, this is what happened to Berlin 
after the First World War, a reconstructed
chthonic* resurgence at the death of an 
old order, the Age of Aquarius after the 
nuclear scare, “Hair
 
famously, Auguste Rodin loved it
 
 
Richard
 
chthonic: of what makes you snort, grunt,
   instinctive forces, the ones which make  
   a young man’s fancy turn to, well, love 
 
   or worse

“Pan and Syrinx” – Carl Nielsen

spam.jpg!Blog

                                                                “Spam

                                                          Andy Warhol

                                                               ________

at the food market at the corner, an
international conglomerate, which is
close, and consequently convenient,
despite its often ecologically
questionable products, they’ve put
up a placard to tout their healthy,
apparently, nevertheless, fare, a
dude in jeans, life size, greets us
with a smile to outshine the Mona
Lisa‘s

excuse me, I always say before I
realize he’s not real

each time 

later, as I’d payed for my generic
organic milk and coffee, one of
the cashier’s was from a distance
trying to delight a baby in a baby
carriage coming my way  

cuter than I am, I’ll bet, I said

hard to beat, she responded,
meaning me and not the baby,
I, from the playful twinkle in her
eye, duly and deferentially
surmised

she’s the one who taught me how
to use my credit card more efficiently,
brown hair tied back in a tight short
pony tail, eyebrows to match, and a
smile to light up a stadium

she made my Saturday night, which
at my age, a doddering 66, is all that
is required

meanwhile as I was being turned
into a teenager, Syrinx was still
being hounded by Pan

listen to Carl Nielsen‘s wonderful
evocation

Carl Nielsen, Danish, 1865, 1931 

Richard

“Syrinx” – Claude Debussy‏

big

         Syrinx (1892)
 
          Arthur Hacker
 
            __________
 
 
though Debussy would’ve called his
Syrinx “Flûte de Pan”, “Pan Flute”,
alas, the name had already been 
taken, he therefore came up with the 
much more inspired Syrinx
 
Syrinx, with the help of other nymphs, 
who’d come at her cry for help as she 
fled the god Pan, a pursuer, had been 
turned into a bush of reeds, its canes 
producing a song so sweet as to 
confound and disarm him, impelling
him to create of them that sublime 
instrument  
 
Hermes had been telling Argus, Argus 
Panoptes, the giant with the hundred 
eyes, the story about the pipes he  
was playing, an implement received 
from Jove, apparently, god of all the 
gods, who wanted him to kill Argus, 
for confining Io, who’d been turned 
into a heifer by Juno, Jove’s wife, 
who’d caught him chasing her, Io’s 
plaintive lows had been getting to 
Juno as Io fretted unfettered through 
the fields too close to Olympus 
 
when Hermes’ music finally closed the
giant’s last two eyes, he beheaded him,
but Juno, in merciful recognition of his
service, however ultimately ineffectual, 
set them into the variegated tail of the 
peacock
 
are you kidding me, I always think when
I read Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, and am
ever nevertheless entirely enchanted
 
a flute solo had not been composed in
over 150 years when Debussy composed
his Syrinx“, 1913, after C.P.E. Bach’s not  
at all unimpressive Sonata in A Minor 
of 1747, it duly set off a new life for the 
long overlooked flute, a reed which 
Mozart famously didn’t like
 
note the tonal, rhythmic, and repetition 
shifts from the rigid Classical model, 
where these are much more strict, 
Impressionism was not only breaking 
down pictures, the pictorial arts, but its
sound world as well, it was an utterly
new era, new sensibility, new zeitgeist, 
and you can feel it, though you might
not be quite able to immediately 
verbalize it, the arts were again, as
they ever ‘ve been, the canary in the 
gold mine
 
 
Richard
 
psst:
 
   The Transformation of Syrinx into Reeds 
 
Then Hermes thus: A nymph of late there was 
Whose heav’nly form her fellows did surpass. 
The pride and joy of fair Arcadia’s plains, 
Belov’d by deities, ador’d by swains: 
Syrinx her name, by Sylvans oft pursu’d, 
As oft she did the lustful Gods delude: 
The rural, and the woodland Pow’rs disdain’d; 
With Cynthia hunted, and her rites maintain’d: 
Like Phoebe clad, even Phoebe’s self she seems, 
So tall, so streight, such well-proportion’d limbs: 
The nicest eye did no distinction know, 
But that the goddess bore a golden bow: 
Distinguish’d thus, the sight she cheated too. 
Descending from Lycaeus, Pan admires 
The matchless nymph, and burns with new desires. 
A crown of pine upon his head he wore; 
And thus began her pity to implore. 
 
Now while the lustful God, with speedy pace, 
Just thought to strain her in a strict embrace, 
He fill’d his arms with reeds, new rising on the place. 
And while he sighs, his ill success to find, 
The tender canes were shaken by the wind; 
And breath’d a mournful air, unheard before; 
That much surprizing Pan, yet pleas’d him more. 
Admiring this new musick, Thou, he said, 
Who canst not be the partner of my bed, 
At least shall be the confort of my mind: 
And often, often to my lips be joyn’d. 
He form’d the reeds, proportion’d as they are, 
Unequal in their length, and wax’d with care, 
They still retain the name of his ungrateful fair.
 
                                                  Homer