Thursday, April 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Les petites faunesses.
watercolour over pen and ink, depiting two young fauns gambolling by a wooded lakeside
originally an illustration for the poem by Pierre Loüys, Les Petites Faunesses (The Young Girl Fauns) which appeared in the first edition of 'L'Image'. It was later printed in colour using six blocks by Eugène Froment.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
translated from the Greek and with a
foreword by Jack Lindsay
"Lysistrata" is the greatest work by Aristophanes. This blank and rash statement is made that it may be rejected. But first let it be understood that I do not mean it is a better written work than the "Birds" or the "Frogs", or that (to descend to the scale of values that will be naturally imputed to me) it has any more appeal to the collectors of "curious literature" than the "Ecclesiazusae" or the "Thesmophoriazusae". On the mere grounds of taste I can see an at least equally good case made out for the "Birds". That brightly plumaged fantasy has an aerial wit and colour all its own. But there are certain works in which a man finds himself at an angle of vision where there is an especially felicitous union of the aesthetic and emotional elements which constitute the basic qualities of his uniqueness. We recognize these works as being welded into a strange unity, as having a homogeneous texture of ecstasy over them that surpasses any aesthetic surface of harmonic colour, though that harmony also is understood by the deeper welling of imagery from the core of creative exaltation. And I think that this occurs in "Lysistrata". The intellectual and spiritual tendrils of the poem are more truly interwoven, the operation of their centres more nearly unified; and so the work goes deeper into life. It is his greatest play because of this, because it holds an intimate perfume of femininity and gives the finest sense of the charm of a cluster of girls, the sweet sense of their chatter, and the contact of their bodies, that is to be found before Shakespeare, because that mocking gaiety we call Aristophanies reaches here its most positive acclamation of life, vitalizing sex with a deep delight, a rare happiness of the spirit.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
A Satyr Family: From the series Scherzi di Fantasia, ca. 1743–57
Sergei Sergeivich Solomko (1867-1928), a prominent book illustrator and watercolor painter, graduated from the Moscow School of Painting and St. Petersburg Academy of Art; a fashionable artist of the early 1900s whose watercolors were reproduced in huge numbers on postal cards of the period.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
1898. In addition to designing several full-page illustrations and numerous initial letters, Beardsley also intended to write an extended critical essay, by way of introduction to an edition of Volpone to be published by Leonard Smithers. Volpone proved to be Beardsley’s last work, however, and he had completed only a handful of the designs before his death. The book appeared posthumously, with Robert Ross’s “Eulogy of the Artist”; in the event, the essay was written by Vincent O’Sullivan. Smithers printed Beardsley’s perceptive notes on the play, together with the ravishing illustration of Volpone Adoring his Treasure, as a prospectus for the book.
The Courts of Love
The courts of love are fair to see
Built of shining masonry
Quaintly carved in olden day
By the fairies’ hands they say.
Underneath the arching trees
Gentle lovers take their ease
Chanting songs of Ladye Love,
Whilst the birds which flit above
Make the golden courts to ring
With the joyous song they sing.
“Love is Lord of everything”.
Maidens in the Month of May
Watch the Knights who ride that way
Who for noble deeds and name
Are received with fair acclaim.
At the court they linger long,
Rest is sweet and Love is strong.
Then at quiet eventide
Lovers through the gardens glide
Speaking softly, whilst a ring
Of twilight fairies strangely sing
“Love is Lord of everything”.
* 1891 Presumed to have been composed by Beardsley himself, these twenty-two lines—somewhat in the manner of the Pre-Raphaelite poet William Allingham’s archly pretty fairy songs—come from a page of illuminated verses embellished with two illustrations and other decorative designs. The original was one of a number of early drawings which Beardsley’s school master, A. W. King attempted to sell for him. This sheet, one of the few actually sold, was purchased by Richard Haworth, a local picture-framer and “art-dealer”, and one of King’s acquaintances.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
A view of the sea is the beginning of the journey. An image of Columbus, starting out from the abyss, enters the left hemisphere. Profusion of languages out of the blue. Bluster, blur, blubber. My father was troubled by inklings of Babel and multiplication on his table. Afraid that an overload of simultaneous neural firings would result in an epileptic convulsion. The explorers’ attention, like the foot of a snail, held on to the planks of their vessels, not communicating. Too intent on the physical fact, waves, whales, or poison arrows. Later, though, poured forth stories never dreamed of by the natives. As if languages were kidnapped as easily as green shady land profuse of flowers.
Pigafetta in the Philippines, Antonio, the exception. Amid sharks and shattered masts sharpened his pencil. For if a man has not learned a language can he have memories? Pointed at parts of the body and shaped a body of words: samput, paha, bassag bassag, buttock, thigh, shank, the “shameful” parts, utin and bilat, as well as ginger, garlic, cinnamon. The natives stared at the document. Unblinking. Thinking, my father thought, to distinguish its parchment body from blemishes in ink rather than title, preamble, or appendices. Perhaps rather troubled with doubt. Scorching air may refute grammatical relationship as much as movement from Vicenza to Mactan, though the speed of nerve signals increases if the organism gets warm, and the creature becomes excited, perhaps delirious. Yet when an object has never been seen back home what good is a word? You have to bring the thing itself and empty your bag to make conversation.
Merchants of language travel with paper currency. Columbus’s fleet had no priest, but had a recorder. Transactions with eternity less pressing than “legality” secured by writing. The power to name. When I was ten I read Westerns by Karl May and with him crossed the border between Mexico and Canada. Columbus erased heathen names like Guanahaní. Christened the islands to become king of the promised land. As Adam, who “called the animals by their true names,” was thereby to command them. San Salvador. Salvation, salve, salvage, salvo. The power to name is power. Especially when backed by guns.
The history of discoveries is Columbus’s story of traps, mishaps, constant hurt. Of loaded dice. Outcome like reflection of clouds on ice. And once he set foot back on the continent of the past tense, the kingdom of certainty: what had Columbus found? For Ferdinand and Isabella who hoped to travel to the Indies? A packet of islands off China, vulgar pebbles a dog might worry in hot weather. Though pearls for eyes that see his steering wheel environ a round earth turning on its axis like a wheel of fortune on which more than limbs are broken. The rhythm of the midriff so closely linked to vapors of the mind. Diaphragm, frenzy, frantic, phrenology (discredited), and schizophrenia. And on the next page, my father says, a wall is still a wall, but rivers and crocodiles enlarge the landscape.