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Month: November 2009

Van Gogh’s Letters

Van Gogh’s Letters

Van Gogh, self portrait. 1887.
Van Gogh, self portrait. 1887.

This past October, we were blessed with a remarkable collection of Van Gogh’s letters, newly translated and complete, without censorship:

Vincent van Gogh: The Letters: The Complete Illustrated and Annotated Edition (Vol. 1-6) (Hardcover)
~ Nienke Bakker (Editor), Leo Jansen (Editor), Hans Luijten (Editor)

The collection contains pretty much every one of his paintings, is heavily annotated, and runs to more than 2000 pages. It will certainly revolutionize our understanding of one of the greatest and most misunderstood artists of all time.

For those of you who would rather not buy the book, his letters are now online at vangoghletters.org. Will blog a bit about the collection after I return from holiday excursions.

__________

 

 

The Temptation

The Temptation

Moonlit Seascape With Shipwreck, by Ivan Aivazovsky. 1863
Moonlit Seascape With Shipwreck, by Ivan Aivazovsky. 1863

 

The Trick

 


The payment came too late
To avoid eviction

He gave her the red red rose
Before I could

I chase trains daily
With each slipping out
Of my overstretched hands
Like a moon on temporary
Leave from wave duty

Like a moon traversing
Its promise of rhythm
And light for the clergy

Day after day she cried
And stopped when I walked in

Books strewn on rolled up carpet
As if she were ready to go

Sometimes I think everyone is happy
They’re just
Pretending to have
This massive empty place

They’re just pretending
To need other people
Food and shelter and warmth
In the white nights of December

If they could write a song
Or make a painting
Or build a wall

It would just have to be
Trains they could catch
With ease in a blacklit
Night with Marissa

 

 

— by Douglas Pinson

 

Act II: Strictly Joyful

Act II: Strictly Joyful

Strict Joy, by The Swell Season. 2009
Strict Joy, by The Swell Season. 2009

Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard have followed their wonderful music from Once with another exceptional effort. It’s actually more assured, and shows greater musical variety and instrumentation, if not the appealing rawness of their first effort. They show no signs of a sophomore slump, nor any ill effects from their recent break up. Markéta, in fact, sounds far more in control of her own sweet vulnerability, and her fragile voice sounds further depths, especially on “I Have Loved you Wrong”. The ending moments of that song finds both Markéta and Glen harmonizing to soulful effect, reminiscent of African chants and Paul Simon.

The title, Strict Joy, continues their connection with literature, as it comes from a book of poem from 1931 by James Stephens. The name of their band, The Swell Season, is taken from a novel by the Czech writer, Josef Škvorecký.

Here’s one of the rowdier songs on the … Click to continue . . .

The Wall

The Wall

The wall came down 20 years ago today. Just one. We had millions then. Perhaps billions. We still do. You see, even if there is a physical divide, it came about for reasons solely in our minds. Just in our minds. Not real. Not physical. Not necessary.

Fear, ignorance, stupidity, obstinate disregard for others, for the truth, for reality. Reality being, we need to get along to survive on this planet. We just do. We need to get along, work together, protect each other, and protect this planet. From the worst in all of us. From our worst impulses.

We have one home, one life, one chance.

They build walls to keep peace from settling into its natural place in our lives. They build walls, wage wars, spread hate, ignorance and despair, so that fewer and fewer people control more and more wealth and power. So that “the masses” become even more divided from each other and our natural place … Click to continue . . .

The Survivor

The Survivor

Il Divo, a film by Paolo Sorrentino. 2008
Il Divo, a film by Paolo Sorrentino. 2008

2008 was a very good year to be at the Cannes Film Festival. Among many excellent films, such as Waltz With Bashir; Synecdoche, New York; A Christmas Tale; and Adoration, Il Divo stands out. It’s about a real person, his actual life, told with speed, cunning and a measured rawness that made me think of Coppola’s The Godfather, but with better camera work. Il Divo is a rare film, exciting, visionary, all of a piece, a world unto itself and true to that world.

Based on the life of Giulio Andreotti, one of the most powerful politicians in post-war Italy, Il Divo is a movie of sharp, often stunning contrasts. Andreotti, played with mesmerizing, uncanny understatement by Toni Servillo, is the calm eye of the storm, while death, destruction and endless palace intrigue whirl around him. His strange body shape, his odd gestures, his sudden, though calculated … Click to continue . . .