Thursday, November 30

a faith in possibility

Abstraction has been less a search for the ultimately meaningful . . . than a recurrent push for the temporarily meaningless: that is, things that are found not often in exotic realms but rather on the edges of banality, familiarity, and the man-made world. It is the production of forms of order that are not recognizable as order, but vehicles of feeling that appear utterly dumb. Abstract art is a symbolic game, and it is akin to all human games: You have to get into it, risk and all, and this takes a certain act of faith. But what kind of faith? Not faith in absolutes, not a religious kind of faith. A faith in possibility, a faith not that we will know something finally, but a faith in not knowing, a faith in our ignorance, a faith in our being confounded and dumbfounded, a faith fertile with possible meaning and growth.

-- Kirk Varnedoe Pictures of Nothing

Kirk Varnedoe video
(Lecture at the National Gallery of Art )(Quicktime)

Tuesday, November 28

the clouds drift, the seasons drift

the clouds drift, the seasons drift ©2006 RosebudPenfold


The life we forget to live is our own. The craft most urgently needed is to attend life's unfolding with the same care as one has for the borrowed lamp on the living room table. It is priceless and must be returned in a while. It is a beauty (born the same day love was conceived) that stops the eye, even as nicks of time appear--a devil wind spilling it, overzealous polishing, a child's ball. That craft finds a way to love what comes, with joy or sorrow. Never forced or contrived, it remains in a fluid state. Never consumed, it is deprived of nothing, but rather increased, by its object. It remains forever in the background, a penumbral glow to the dawn and dusk of experience.

This craft, of love, of urgency, is that of real desire. Desire lives in the absence of its fulfillment and grows fuller. Since what it seeks can never be won, desire moves restlessly about, "a mighty hunter, and a master of device and artifice" (Plato, Symposium). Most energetic in a still moment of existence, its ceaseless pursuit of that which lives beyond--Life--nourishes the world. Its transit of the space of its longing opens a heart to what there is. A faintest glimpse of its object intensifies yearning, loosening bonds of petty thoughts and vain appetites. What is this craft, and how does a householder practice it? He carefully wipes dust from the window each morning to let the sun in. Shining through, the sun illuminates the care with which the home is kept.

-- David Appelbaum Everyday Spirits

Sunday, November 26


perfume ©2006 RosebudPenfold

Thursday, November 23


You are the bread and the knife.
The crystal goblet and the wine.
-- Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass,
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's teacup.
But don't worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--
the wine.

-- Billy Collins

Wednesday, November 22

Larry's horses ©2006 RB All rights reserved
 Larry's horses  

a glimpse

There is a singular effect oftentimes when, out of the midst of engrossing thought and deep absorption, we suddenly look up, and catch a glimpse of external objects. We seem at such moments to look farther and deeper into them than by any premeditated observation; it is as if they met our eyes alive, and with all their hidden meaning on the surface, but grew again inanimate and inscrutable the instant that they become aware of our glances.

-- Nathaniel Hawthorne The Marble Faun

Tuesday, November 21

American Color

In everything beautiful there is something strange.

-- Constantine Manos

Colors: Constantine Manos

Monday, November 20

like the beads

You have observed quite rightly that my burghers are arranged according to their degree of valour. As you know, to emphasize this effect, I wanted to set my statues in a line at ground level right in front of the Calais town hall, like the beads in a rosary of suffering and sacrifice. My figures would thus have seemed to be heading from the Town Hall to the camp of Edward III. And the citizens of Calais today, almost rubbing elbows with them, so to speak, would have felt the traditional bond of solidarity that ties them to these heroes.

-- Auguste Rodin, quoted in Art: Conversations with Paul Gsell
Translated by Jacques de Caso and Patricia B. Sanders

The Burghers of Calais

Friday, November 17

night in the desert

Dark clouds sailing overhead across the fields of the stars. Stars which are unusually bold and close, with an icy glitter in their light—glints of blue, emerald, gold. Out there, spread before me to the south, east, and north, the arches and cliffs and pinnacles and balanced rocks of sandstone (now entrusted to my care) have lost the rosy glow of sunset and become soft, intangible, in unnamed unnameable shades of violet, colors that seem to radiate from—not overlay—their surfaces. A yellow planet floats on the west, brightest object in the sky. Venus. I listen closely for the call of an owl, a dove, a nighthawk, but can hear only the crackle of my fire, a breath of wind.

-- Edward Abbey Desert Solitaire

Wednesday, November 15

no matter

When the image mirrors the man
And the man mirrors the subject
Something might take over

When you try to photograph something for what it is, you have to go out of yourself, out of your way, to understand the object, its facts and essence. When you photograph things for what Else they are, the object goes out of its way to understand you.

No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen.

-- Minor White, quotes from mirrors messages manifestations

Tuesday, November 14

the source

One lives within a pattern: to ignore this is to take many false directions, but the moment the hidden movement is respected, it becomes the guide, and in retrospect one can trace a clear pattern that continues to unfold . . . The director must have from the start what I have called a "formless hunch," that is to say, a certain powerful yet shadowy intuition that indicates the basic shape, the source from which the play is calling to him. What he needs most to develop in his work is a sense of listening. Day after day, as he intervenes, makes mistakes, or watches what is happening on the surface, inside he must be listening, listening to the secret movements of the hidden process. It is in the name of this listening that he will be constantly dissatisfied, will continue to accept and reject until suddenly his ear hears the secret sound it is expecting and his eye sees the inner form that has been waiting to appear.

-- Peter Brook The Open Door

Friday, November 10

New Colors Coming

Color your dreams, not like a baby.
You can see further.
Of course, most paintings are about paint,
and it takes ignorant poets to claim
there are new colors coming:
colors like on a bubble bursting,
colors left when the invisible dries up.

Homer thought the Black Sea really was,
yet the Pacific was blue for Balboa
and, looking out at Catalina,
I'd say it's getting brighter.
The Hopi said the rainbows are growing.

Me, I'm eager for the nights more colored;
I imagine us all sitting transfixed
as by firelight
by things that now seem black.
I imagine me on my knees. I'm on my knees.
I imagine me standing, seeing further.
I imagine signs of life, unfinished.
I imagine man.
I imagine the light of man.

-- Randall Goodall, from The Rainbow Book, ed. F. Lanier Graham

Thursday, November 9

where is it?

Where is it, this present? It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.

-- William James

Wednesday, November 8

take almost any path

Say, you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region.

-- Herman Melville Moby-Dick

Monday, November 6

the difficulty

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

-- Thomas Mann

It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

--- Winston Churchill

Saturday, November 4

like well water

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

-- Annie Dillard, via Whiskey River

Friday, November 3


I am led into this conjecture, by having remarked, that though love, friendship, esteem, and such like, have very powerful operations in the human mind, interest, however, is an ingredient seldom omitted by wise men, when they would work others to their own purposes. This is indeed a most excellent medicine, and, like Ward's pill, flies at once to the particular part of the body on which you desire to operate, whether it be the tongue, the hand, or any other member, where it scarce ever fails of immediately producing the desired effect.

-- Henry Fielding Tom Jones

Wednesday, November 1


Now, which are you anxious to see—
A bogie, a sprite, or a gnome?
If a spectre should drop in to tea,
Would you like him to find us at home?
Or a mermaid with mirror and comb,
In her have you plenary faith?
Or a lemur of classical Rome,
Or a common respectable wraith?

-- Andrew Lang, from 'Ballade of a Choice of Ghosts'

Andrew Lang's Fairy Books