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“One of the reasons why Medieval and Renaissance architecture is so much better than our own is that the architects were artists—individual artists of genius. The master masons of the Gothic cathedrals started as carvers working on the portals; in the Renaissance, Brunelleschi was originally a sculptor, Bramante a painter. […] And this has given to their work a power of plastic invention, a sense of proportion and articulation based on the study of the human figure, which knowledge of the tensile strength of steel and other prerequisites of modern building doesn’t always produce.”


—Lord Kenneth Clark, Civilisation (Episode 7: Grandeur and Obedience)

“One of the reasons why Medieval and Renaissance architecture is so much better than our own is that the architects were artists—individual artists of genius. The master masons of the Gothic cathedrals started as carvers working on the portals; in the Renaissance, Brunelleschi was originally a sculptor, Bramante a painter. […] And this has given to their work a power of plastic invention, a sense of proportion and articulation based on the study of the human figure, which knowledge of the tensile strength of steel and other prerequisites of modern building doesn’t always produce.”

—Lord Kenneth Clark, Civilisation (Episode 7: Grandeur and Obedience)

02:17 pm: philokales1 note

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'We couldn't save the Pieta,’ says Colin, ‘It was already smashed by the time we got there.’
 — screenplay: Children of Men
While searching online for a painting depicting King David’s dance-fueled return of the Art of the Covenant to Jerusalam, I happened by chance to come across a still from the 2006 film Children of Men. Having seen the film a few years after it was released, I was arrested again by this image of Michelangelo’s towering nude of the shepherd (and future King) David set in dramatic antithesis: dogs lounging insouciantly at its base, backlit and framed by the hard angles of modernist architecture, and approached mysteriously by a suited man in silhouette. A few online clicks led me to stumble on a short video of philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s commentary on the film:

"I think that the film gives the best diagnosis of the ideological despair of late capitalism, of a society without history. This I think is the true despair of the film. The true infertility is the very lack of historical experience, and that’s why I love this elegant point in the film of importing all the works of art. All those classical statues are there, but they are deprived of a world, they are totally meaningless—because what does it mean to have a statue of Michelangelo or whatever? It only works if it signals a certain world, and when this world is lacking, it is nothing."

Zizek goes on to offer some sharp commentary on a few other aspects of the film—the significance of the story being set in England; the impotence and failure of 60s radicalism—most of which I find myself agreeing with. At this point, Zizek offers an interpretation of the symbol of the boat at the end of the movie: the boat floats on the water, without roots, carrying the woman and the life she carries in her womb to safety, because, “The condition of the renewal means that you cut your roots. That is the solution.” 
Whether this is Zizek’s personal viewpoint, or simply his reading of the viewpoint of the filmmaker, remains unclear. We could of course just as easily read the boat gliding to safety over the water as a symbol of the new man traveling through the waters of birth (or re-birth)—birth being a process which is at least as much about connectivity and dependency, as it is about any sort of cutting of ties.
If I read Zizek correctly on these last points—if he does believe man’s way forward necessitates a cutting of roots—then I must declare myself as holding rather the opposite position. Without roots, man has no memory beyond the confines of his own narrow experience, place, and time. Without memory, man loses both his collective identity (culture) and his self identity (consciousness). Man’s rediscovery of himself must come then not through the cutting of roots, but rather through their reconnection. Man’s rediscovery of himself must come by rediscovering the longer line of his collective memory.
Memory as central to man’s identity and consciousness: this was a major theme of the work of Pope Emeritus Benedict, both from his days as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as well as through his pontificate as Pope Benedict XVI. In Lumen Fidei—a joint work by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis—the theme of memory is given central place vis a vis the questions of truth and faith:

"The question of truth is really a question of memory…for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path."

But the development of this theme here must remain a subject for another day. This is just a simple posting: Michelangelo’s David sculpture, missing part of its leg, set in a glass terrarium.
Oh—and a Pieta, shattered somewhere off-camera.
JG

'We couldn't save the Pieta,’ says Colin, ‘It was already smashed by the time we got there.’

— screenplay: Children of Men

While searching online for a painting depicting King David’s dance-fueled return of the Art of the Covenant to Jerusalam, I happened by chance to come across a still from the 2006 film Children of Men. Having seen the film a few years after it was released, I was arrested again by this image of Michelangelo’s towering nude of the shepherd (and future King) David set in dramatic antithesis: dogs lounging insouciantly at its base, backlit and framed by the hard angles of modernist architecture, and approached mysteriously by a suited man in silhouette. A few online clicks led me to stumble on a short video of philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s commentary on the film:

"I think that the film gives the best diagnosis of the ideological despair of late capitalism, of a society without history. This I think is the true despair of the film. The true infertility is the very lack of historical experience, and that’s why I love this elegant point in the film of importing all the works of art. All those classical statues are there, but they are deprived of a world, they are totally meaningless—because what does it mean to have a statue of Michelangelo or whatever? It only works if it signals a certain world, and when this world is lacking, it is nothing."

Zizek goes on to offer some sharp commentary on a few other aspects of the film—the significance of the story being set in England; the impotence and failure of 60s radicalism—most of which I find myself agreeing with. At this point, Zizek offers an interpretation of the symbol of the boat at the end of the movie: the boat floats on the water, without roots, carrying the woman and the life she carries in her womb to safety, because, “The condition of the renewal means that you cut your roots. That is the solution.” 

Whether this is Zizek’s personal viewpoint, or simply his reading of the viewpoint of the filmmaker, remains unclear. We could of course just as easily read the boat gliding to safety over the water as a symbol of the new man traveling through the waters of birth (or re-birth)—birth being a process which is at least as much about connectivity and dependency, as it is about any sort of cutting of ties.

If I read Zizek correctly on these last points—if he does believe man’s way forward necessitates a cutting of roots—then I must declare myself as holding rather the opposite position. Without roots, man has no memory beyond the confines of his own narrow experience, place, and time. Without memory, man loses both his collective identity (culture) and his self identity (consciousness). Man’s rediscovery of himself must come then not through the cutting of roots, but rather through their reconnection. Man’s rediscovery of himself must come by rediscovering the longer line of his collective memory.

Memory as central to man’s identity and consciousness: this was a major theme of the work of Pope Emeritus Benedict, both from his days as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as well as through his pontificate as Pope Benedict XVI. In Lumen Fideia joint work by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis—the theme of memory is given central place vis a vis the questions of truth and faith:

"The question of truth is really a question of memory…for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path."

But the development of this theme here must remain a subject for another day. This is just a simple posting: Michelangelo’s David sculpture, missing part of its leg, set in a glass terrarium.

Oh—and a Pieta, shattered somewhere off-camera.

JG

12:14 am: philokales5 notes

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Sandro Botticelli: The Annunciation (c. 1489-1490)
Commissioned for the Cestello convent chapel, Florence.
Current location: Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
Dimensions: 59” H x 61” W

Sandro Botticelli: The Annunciation (c. 1489-1490)

Commissioned for the Cestello convent chapel, Florence.

Current location: Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy

Dimensions: 59” H x 61” W

03:31 pm: philokales

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Ex Opere Oprah

"A historian can’t help observing how the need for confession has returned even — or especially — in the land of the pilgrim fathers. The difference is that instead of confession being followed by a simple, comforting rubric which has behind it the weight of divine authority, the modern confessor must grope his way into the labyrinth of the psyche, with all its false turnings and dissolving perspectives. A noble end — but a terrifying responsibility. No wonder that psychoanalysts have the highest suicide rate of any vocation. And perhaps after all the old procedure had something to recommend it because, as a rule, it’s the act of confession that matters, not the attempted cure."
–•–•–•–
Lord Kenneth Clark: Civilisation (BBC: 1969) Chapter 7: “Grandeur and Obedience”.
11:37 pm: philokales

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video

As the day’s golden hour dies into lavender, one could do worse than listen to the Adagio of Beethoven’s Eb Piano Concerto, its heart-catching pivots to minor which break into counterpoint like glass shattering in slow motion.

For the last several weeks I’ve been listening to Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s recordings of the complete Beethoven concertos, but a pianist friend of mine also recommends Richard Goode’s versions.

Certainly two of the most important hands in the 20th century belonged to the Canadian piano virtuoso Glenn Gould. Though most well-known for his revolutionary (and technically dazzling) interpretations of Bach, in the video above he plays the Adagio to Beethoven’s Eb Piano Concerto. The audio is somewhat unsatisfying (a better, audio-only version of his studio recording can be heard here), but the video does offer a good look at Gould’s technique and intensity of focus. Though his technical mastery is not as showcased here as in say, his recordings of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, his absolute control in the trills near the middle of the movement (starting around 3:30) is stunning.

A bit of Gould for the golden hour. Or should I make that…the Goulden hour?

06:05 pm: philokales1 note

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The Irish poet and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature introduces and reads “Miracle”, a poem inspired both by the stroke which left him paralyzed and hospitalized, and the Gospel account of the men who cut a hole in the roof in order to lower a paralytic for Christ’s healing, here (Heaney’s introduction to the poem begins at the 3:00 minute mark).
Having recovered from the stroke, several years later Heaney was hospitalized after taking a fall outside a Dublin restaurant. He passed away the next morning, just before a scheduled medical procedure. 
His last words, sent from the hospital in a text to his wife, were “Noli timere” — the Latin form of the most frequently occurring command in the Bible: “Be not afraid.”

The Irish poet and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature introduces and reads “Miracle”, a poem inspired both by the stroke which left him paralyzed and hospitalized, and the Gospel account of the men who cut a hole in the roof in order to lower a paralytic for Christ’s healing, here (Heaney’s introduction to the poem begins at the 3:00 minute mark).

Having recovered from the stroke, several years later Heaney was hospitalized after taking a fall outside a Dublin restaurant. He passed away the next morning, just before a scheduled medical procedure.

His last words, sent from the hospital in a text to his wife, were “Noli timere” — the Latin form of the most frequently occurring command in the Bible: “Be not afraid.”

04:13 pm: philokales4 notes

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T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets: East Coker

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets: East Coker

04:48 pm: philokales1 note

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Rainer Maria Rilke: from Book of Hours (1905)

translated from German by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Rainer Maria Rilke: from Book of Hours (1905)

translated from German by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

02:43 pm: philokales1 note

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Tango Treatment

–•–•–•–

Can dancing provide healing from neurological conditions? If so, which styles or forms would be most effective?

One research doctor, as well as dance instructors from two separate continents, believe that dancing can provide just such treatment—and the dance singled out as particularly effective is the tango.

Tango therapy has recently become a new form of treatment in patients suffering from neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Patients afflicted with the diseases face a future of deteriorating physical and mental state and need a constant stimulation of the mind through for example music…

'We saw that the movements in tango proved helpful particularly regarding balance and walking backwards,' says Dr. Gammon Earhart, assistant professor at Washington University and author of the study. She explains that the motor skills of Parkinson’s patients vanish and especially movements like walking backwards and turning are hard to carry out, making it difficult to perform everyday chores.

image

After reading a study by Patricia McKinley at a conference of the Society for Neuroscience, which stated that tango improved mobility in generally frail elderly patients, Earhart decided to see if the same results could be achieved in patients with Parkinson’s. Together with Madeleine Hackney, a PhD student and professional ballroom dancer, they conducted a series of tests comparing tango to standard exercise regimes as well as more familiar dances for the Canadians like waltz and fox trot.

'All treatments had some result elements in common, but the treatment using the tango always proved either equal or superior to the other exercise methods,' said Earhart. Improvement in balance and more fluid movements was seen after as little as two weeks of exercise.

Earhart believes that there are some benefits found in dance in general, but that the tango contains some specific manoeuvres that are especially beneficent to people with Parkinson’s…

'…Through the close embrace with their partner, the patients feel safe and dare to move around more,' says Marisa Maragliano, secretary of Sentimiento Tango, who initiated the first international conference for tango therapy…

In light of recent studies which show that adding cinnamon to the diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s, I’ll be adding plenty of spice to my morning oatmeal, and taking regular mid-day dance breaks as a step toward my tango-filled twilight years.

Article extract and photo from Maria Buenos Aires

–•–•–•–

05:37 pm: philokales

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Recently I sat for some portraits to be used in a video for a friend, Vince Scheuerman (whose band is Army of Me). The video was directed and shot by another friend of mine, William Gene Price III

Beginning with a quote from 19th century Scottish author and theologian Ian MacLaren, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”, the video cuts between Vince singing close and direct to the camera, and video portraits of various individuals, mainly wearing white T-shirts, with flickering WWII archival footage projected on them.

10:01 am: philokales

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