27 December 2011

Forever strange ...

"The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits might be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew that it was only an illusion. The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place." 

Michael Chabon

19 December 2011

Stars in my pocket like grains of sand ...

"Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why." 

Kurt Vonnegut

17 December 2011

Shame ...

"My secret is that I need God -- that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love." 

Douglas Coupland

 The Girl by the Window by Edvard Munch

14 December 2011

The orange girl ...

"I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you." 

Frida Kahlo

10 December 2011

Uncommon thoughts on common things ...

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." 

Maya Angelou 

09 December 2011

The story girl ...

"Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them." 

Paulo Coelho

06 December 2011

Bliss ...

"I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen." 

J.G. Ballard

05 December 2011

Collection of little lives ...

"And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered. But most of all, I learned that life is about sitting on benches next to ancient creeks with my hand on her knee and sometimes, on good days, for falling in love." 

Nicholas Sparks

04 December 2011

Girl with Dogs by Charles Burton Barber

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." 

Milan Kundera

01 December 2011

Stardust ...

"He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does." 

Neil Gaiman

29 November 2011

Patiently accept the inevitable for it is Maktub ...

"Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed." 

Alexander Pope

Mean Flower by Joe Henry

27 November 2011

The deal ...

"To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." 

Neil Gaiman

By Jim Zuckerman

24 November 2011

Silent conversation ...

"My mind then wandered. I thought of this: I thought of how every day each of us experiences a few little moments that have just a bit more resonance than other moments—we hear a word that sticks in our mind—or maybe we have a small experience that pulls us out of ourselves, if only briefly—we share a hotel elevator with a bride in her veils, say, or a stranger gives us a piece of bread to feed to the mallard ducks in the lagoon; a small child starts a conversation with us in a Dairy Queen—or we have an episode like the one I had with the M&M cars back at the Husky station. 

And if we were to collect these small moments in a notebook and save them over a period of months we would see certain trends emerge from our collection—certain voices would emerge that have been trying to speak through us. We would realize that we have been having another life altogether; one we did not even know was going on inside us. And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real—this clunky day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small silent moments which are the true story-making events of our lives." 

Douglas Coupland 

22 November 2011

The land of tears ...

“Sadness of the intellect ... 
Sadness of being misunderstood; 
Humour sadness;
Sadness of love without release; 
Sadness of being smart; 
Sadness of not knowing enough words to express what you mean; 
Sadness of having options; 
Sadness of wanting sadness;
Sadness of confusion; 
Sadness of domesticated birds, 
Sadness of finishing a book;
Sadness of remembering; 
Sadness of forgetting;
Anxiety sadness...”

Jonathan Safran Foer


Arvo Pärt - Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten

21 November 2011

Strange angels ...

"Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colours to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. Such life saving power when you smile."
 Henry Rollins

20 November 2011

Contemplation by Andrew Atroshenko

"Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death... others through sheer inability to cross the street." 

James Thurber

17 November 2011

The lost fox ...

"I remembered the fox. One runs the risk of crying a bit if one allows oneself to be tamed." 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince)

16 November 2011

The burning bridge ...

"There are a hundred things she has tried to chase away the things she won't remember and that she can't even let herself think about because that's when the birds scream and the worms crawl and somewhere in her mind it's always raining a slow and endless drizzle. 

You will hear that she has left the country, that there was a gift she wanted you to have, but it is lost before it reaches you. Late one night the telephone will sign, and a voice that might be hers will say something that you cannot interpret before the connection crackles and is broken. 

Several years later, from a taxi, you will see someone in a doorway who looks like her, but she will be gone by the time you persuade the driver to stop. You will never see her again. 

Whenever it rains you will think of her. " 

Neil Gaiman

One inch of Heaven - The Silencers

14 November 2011

Eyes like stars ...

"Silent desperation of everything they never said - gaps and absences in every conversation, the past circumscribing the present, the future hemming in the past." 

Anthony Doerr

Joe Henry - Like She was a Hammer

11 November 2011

House of leaves ...

"Sometimes when I am alone out there, or even here in my house, it seems almost possible that I might lose myself: there in that silence where there is no need of words or discourse. I have heard it said that there are men who have lost their minds to it, reason drained away into the dissolving space of sea and sky. And indeed while there are times when this place is full of life, a raucous cavalcade, even then there is a sense of emptiness, as if some ancient silence lingers in the fabric of this place, something alien, and unknowable. 

Thomas F. Monteleone

09 November 2011

Intermission ...

"You perceive the world with your five senses. When your mind perceives the world, then the world exists before you. But if we are born without any senses, then how could we perceive the world except as a dream in our minds? But then...dreams often seem as real as the world we see now. Look...If I touch you with this hand, I can remember touching you, but I can't ever prove I did. If reality is nothing more than what is in our mind, then what is the difference between this world and a dream?" 

Kaori Ozaki

L'Etoile by Edgar Degas

08 November 2011

The alchemist ...

"The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus. 

The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus. 

But this was not how the author of the book ended the story. 

He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears. 

'Why do you weep?' the goddesses asked. 

'I weep for Narcissus," the lake replied. 

'Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,' they said, 'for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.' 

'But... was Narcissus beautiful?' the lake asked. 

'Who better than you to know that?' the goddesses asked in wonder. 'After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!' 

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said: 

'I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.' 

'What a lovely story,' the alchemist thought." 

Paulo Coelho

Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse

07 November 2011

Invisible monster ...

"I am a rare species, not a stereotype." 

Ivan E. Coyote

06 November 2011

Swiss Guards - Vatican City

The Swiss Guards are a small force responsible for the security of the Vatican city with various task including guarding the entrances to the Vatican as well as ensuring the personal safety of the Pope. Today being a Swiss guard at the Vatican city is largely a ceremonial role; However the history of the Swiss guards corps is a long one involving many real military campaigns.

History of Swiss Guards at Vatican City

The origins of the Swiss guards at the Vatican dates back nearly six hundred years. 
Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) formed a pact with the Swiss Confederation and constructed military barracks in Via Pellegrino after predicting that it would be useful to recruit Swiss mercenaries. The pact was renewed by Innocent VIII (1484-1492) in order to use the Swiss guards against the Duke of Milan. It should be remembered that in those days Italy was not a unified country but rather a series of independent city states that often fought with each other. Alexander VI (1492-1503) used the Swiss mercenaries during their alliance with the King of France. During the time of the Borgias, however, the Italian Wars began in which the Swiss mercenaries were a fixture in the front lines among the warring factions, sometimes for France and sometimes for the Holy See or the Holy Roman Empire.

Swiss Guards Regiment Size

The number of Swiss guards at the Vatican has varied over the decades and at one time was even been disbanded. The first real war experienced by the Swiss guards was in 1527 when 147 of the 189 Guards, including their commander, died fighting the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V during the Sack of Rome in order to allow Clement VII to escape through the Passetto di Borgo, escorted by the other 40 guards. The last stand battlefield is located on the left side of St Peter’s Basilica and can still be seen today on a visit to the Vatican City.

The Swiss Guard has served the popes since the sixteenth century. The Swiss Guard used to share duties at guarding the Pope along with the Palatine Guard and Noble Guard, both of which were disbanded in 1970 under Paul VI. Today the Swiss Guard are the only corps who carry out ceremonial roles of the former Vatican units, serving now as the army of the sovereign state of the Vatican. At the end of 2005, there were 134 members of the Swiss Guard. This included a Commandant a chaplain, three officers, one sergeant major 30 NCOs, and 99 privates or halberdiers as they are known.

Swiss Guard Eligibility

Swiss guards at the Vatican must be Catholic, single males with Swiss citizenship who have completed basic training with the Swiss military and can obtain certificates of good conduct. New recruits must have a professional diploma or high school degree and must be between 19 and 30 years of age and at least 174 cm tall.

Qualified candidates must apply to serve. If accepted, new guards are sworn in every May 6 in the San Damaso Courtyard in the Vatican. The chaplain of the guard reads aloud the oath in the language of the guard (German,  French and Italian).

04 November 2011

One minute of wisdom ...

"Life sometimes takes us down a path where our desires are attained, and some passions are left untouched, hidden but not forgotten." 

Penelope Dianne Williams

 Path by Apocalyptica

02 November 2011

Recollections ...

“I imagine the feelings of two people meeting again after many years. In the past they spent some time together, and therefore they think they are linked by the same experience, the same recollections. The same recollections? That's where the misunderstanding starts: they don't have the same recollections; each of them retains two or three small scenes from the past, but each has his own; their recollections are not similar; they don't intersect; and even in terms of quantity they are not comparable: one person remembers the other more than he is remembered; first because memory capacity varies among individuals (an explanation that each of them would at least find acceptable), but also (and this is more painful to admit) because they don't hold the same importance for each other. When Irena saw Josef at the airport, she remembered every detail of their long-ago adventure; Josef remembered nothing. From the very first moment their encounter was based on an unjust and revolting inequality.”

Milan Kundera

31 October 2011

Vanishing acts ...

"We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them."

 Anaïs Nin

28 October 2011

Fragile Things ...

"The majority of people dismiss those things that lie beyond the bounds of their own understanding as absurd and not worth thinking about. I myself can only wish that my stories were, indeed, nothing but incredible fabrications. I have stayed alive all these years clinging to the frail hope that these memories of mine were nothing but a dream or a delusion. I have struggled to convince myself that they never happened. But each time I tried to push them into the dark, they came back stronger and more vivid than ever. Like cancer cells, these memories have taken root in my mind and eaten into my flesh."

Haruki Murakami 

27 October 2011

Fables and Reflections ...

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” 

Neil Gaiman

26 October 2011

In Praise of Melancholy ...

"There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing. There is the silence that comes with morning in a forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city. There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo." 

Beryl Markham

25 October 2011

I see you tonight ...

"It’s strange how dreams get under your skin and give your heart a test for what’s real and what’s imaginary." 

Jason Mraz

23 October 2011

Uncollected pieces ...

“We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it had."

Milan Kundera

  4 Wings - "Penelope" (radio edit)

21 October 2011

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosh Final

It was 1517, the time of the Reformation. Catholics and Protestants were at war. How did The Garden of Earthly Delights survive this difficult time ? 

The Garden of Earthly Delights can seem profound to different people, for different reasons, and even to different societies and different eras. The next chapter of the story of this painting is about a quite an amazing turn around in how it was perceived. 

Hendrik III of Nassau kept the painting safe until 1938 when the Nassau family completely lost their power. The picture was inherited from Hendrik III of Nassau by his nephew William "The Silent", the protestant rebel who attempted to get Catholic Spain out of Netherlands. In this religious war that lasted 80 years works of art and books of knowledge were destroyed, burned in great public bonfires. Bosh's painting was a product of a liberal Catholic Renaissance. It could afford a degree of experimentalism that would be much more difficult once catholic protestant wars broke out, and fundamentalism was the score on both sides. 
In 1568 The Garden of Earthly Delights which might well have been in danger from its protestant owner, was confiscated from the Nassau Palace by Spanish troupes. In 1591 it entered the art collection of the Spanish king Philip II. He was Catholic and wanted to beat down the rise of the Protestantism, and he used the offices of the inquisition to do it. For Phillip II Bosh's art was basically, propaganda for Catholic values, besides The Garden of Earthly Delights, the king acquired other religious works painted by Bosh, including thi table top:

This curious work pictures heavenly goodness around the corners, Jesus ruling in glory on right corner, but he is also pictured in the centre, in the pupil of an eye and going around, the pictures of earthly badness. The seven deadly sins. Together they sum up the things we must not do. What will happen to us if we do it ? Where human existence is leading to ? What are the aims of God ? Where do we stand with those aims ? We all must be moral, we all must look within, and it is that moral imperative that those pictures are reminding us of. 

For the sin of lust, aristocrats feed each other, court each other and listen to the sound of aristocratic music, represented by the instruments in the picture. 

When Philip turned to the Garden of Earthly Delights, he saw that Bosh painted music as torture. Musical instruments, become torture instruments. 

And the theme of feeding was painted as a sign of sensuality, extended in the painting in many ways ... 

When humans gather in clusters, ready for food, is almost as if they have been grown themselves, like human fruit, fresh bodies ready for other bodies to enjoy. 
It is amusing for contemporary people, but for Philip II it was really serious, it was art exposing religious wrong doing. 

It was a time of religious high anxiety, people were checked for wrong thinking. For heresy they were often tortured. Paintings were checked for heresy and often they were burned. The inquisition went about this business with great enthusiasm and it was on this climate that The Garden of Earthly Delights with all this unpredictable weirdness and colours, sensuality, giant birds dropping fruits into the mouths of nude humans ... in the climate of religious paranoia, The Garden of the Earthly Delights survived. 

The inquisition office officially cleared Bosh's painting from heresy ... but how come if there is a picture of pig dressed as nun ...?

It is a beautiful pig seducing a man to sign a legal document, presumably signing away all his money. It is only right to satirize church corruption, the inquisition said. Church dogma can never be questioned, but actual church practice must always  be monitored. 

The Garden of Earthly Delights did not always have that title, we don't know what Bosh called it, but we do know that Phillips officials called it The Strawberry Painting. 

The key to this painting's power is that Bosh shows us that is possible to look inside your head without morality and come up with a picture for that feeling ... the art of the unconscious ... when the feelings we have but we don't know we have are shown by art. 

19 October 2011

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosh Part 5

The history of humanity begins with the creation of Adam and Eve, God comes down in His earthly bodily form as Christ the son and gives to Adam and Eve the gift of love.

The medieval mind thinks - the sin has arrived. But Bosh's Renaissance mind it is all about reinterpreting the old traditions, it sees the next step in the history of humanity, full of raising new life, sometimes natural, sometimes anti-natural, men riding beasts in an anti clock wise direction. It is our basic instincts, not enough ruled by God, too much ruled by the devil. 

The sad look of Christ at the sinfulness of man ...

... is counted by the cool and dispassionate look of the tree man ...

... which again is counted by the cruel look,  the black eye of the devil in hell. 

And hell is not the usual hell ... 

Bosh's paint does not portrait the conventional last judgement, it shows heaven and hell as places that your soul may not go to, it is about a state of  being. 
What are you ? You will have to look within ... 

Continues ...

17 October 2011

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosh Part 4

Bosh invented puzzling symbols to question the world and the puzzle extends to how he presented himself as an artist. We know he took his artistic name from the town where he lived 's-Hertogenbosch. 
In the 1960's Bosh's art was seen as mad, druggy and even satanist, but in fact he was a very religious man. He belonged to an association called The Brotherhood of Our Lady. The brotherhood's activities were centered in the medieval statue of Virgin Mary in the church. The brotherhood was an important social network, the measure of Bosh's respectability is that its members were mostly magistrates, clergy and nobility. They did good deeds in the town, like paying for hospital beds for the poor, they provided paintings for the church done by Bosh, all lost now, probably burned during religious wars after Bosh's death. The brotherhood's membership extended all over Europe, up to very high levels of power, it was through these connections that Bosh got his clients. 
Here he is, his real name was Hieronymus van Aken, born around 1450. In this self portrait, he is in his 60's .

But other self portraits by Bosh are much less realistic. It takes form by strange symbols that have to be worked out. 

The name of Bosh's city 's-Hertogenbosch, means the The Duke's Woods. Bosh born in that town, gave himself that word as his name - Bosh, bosh equals woods. Bosh was very interested in identity, so he draws a self portrait, a portrait of his artistic self that he had constructed, a very strange picture that combines images and words in a weird mix. 

The human soul, what really goes on back there? 
Bosh's symbolic self portraits were about "seeing" , his sense of art was peculiarly psychological to use artistic inventions to penetrate where people usually did not want to go. 

One of the most famous symbols of The Garden of Earthly Delights is this, hollowed out human being ... with tree trunks for legs ... this is Bosh, the tree-man, seeing in the darkness. Bosh is in the picture.

Continues ...

16 October 2011

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosh Part 3

Is Earth between heaven and hell ... where good and evil exist together?
We can look for clues in these other pictures painted by Bosh, where religion is more centre stage. When Bosh painted religious art, like many others renaissance artists, he placed religion within the humble textures of everyday life. The ordinary and the marvelous painted with amazing beauty. 

Prado Epiphany Triptych (central panel)

But in the same picture, there is a creeping sense of evil ... and it is beautifully painted as well. 

In the other religious picture, the Haywain, violent scenes go with sinister ... while presiding all the scenes, is Jesus infinite goodness above, and down below brute, hopeless badness - painted just as delicately as Jesus image. 

Back to the The Garden of Earthly Delights, detail and beauty are the most distinct features of this painting. In art, beautiful does not mean the thing depicted, but they way anything is depicted is done, beautifully, whether is a disturbing thing or a divine thing. 
The divine is absolute present on  The Garden of Earthly Delights, fused with the earthly and the hellish by beauty. 

When Bosh painted evil he looked for an inspiration in nature, Bosh painted unconventional demons. 

In the Renaissance times, religion starts to be what art says it is ... and Bosh started a tradition, a tradition of art that says something, but something that only the  artist knows. 

Continues ...