japonisme: 9/21/08 - 9/28/08

27 September 2008

...speaking of moose....

we have seen here before the wonders wrought by the conjunction of railroads, a middle class, and entrepreneurs, and the beautiful pacific northwest of the united states joined the phenomenon as well.

in their comprehensive new book, the arts and crafts movement in the pacific northwest, lawrence kreisman and glenn mason trace for us every bough and twig of this branch of the international movement.

as we have seen before, the line, as it transversed the world, looked different wherever it happened to manifest. modernisme in spain looked different from art nouveau in france; stile florale in italy and jugendstil in germany were quite different.

similarly, "the line" transmogrified itself in the different regions of the US as well. yes, it all falls easily under the umbrage 'arts & crafts.' but each also belongs to its own region as well (and each with it's own book. look for books with individual titles for, in addition to the pacific northwest: california, new york, minnesota, and, i'm sure, now, many more.

the thing is... every region deserves its own focus, as this book amply illustrates. each form resembles the rest, but holds some of its own personal secrets. in the arts of the era, mountains surrounded by pines are only appropriate in some areas -- and clearly not in others!

and moose.

and while the seascape will differ, we see imagist photos; could this have been taken by gertrude kasebar just as easily?

and even as we see the mountains of washington, of oregon, we can sense the heritage they bring from fuji, and regions east.

and as i suggested at the beginning, the railways and steamships could just as easily bring the seattle residents to new york and then to paris, as it brought the latest style inspirations to them. we see subject matter and style that tied this corner of the us to the rest of the world.

thus was pollination crossed.

feel for your- self some of the unique flavor of that corner of the states in 'historical seattle' at the 2008 bungalow fair.

or better yet, check out this book, and name these subtle differences for yourself. (timber press)


26 September 2008

the human heart, too, soars

for Jordan

Damn the rain any- way, she says,
three years old, a hand planted on her hip,
and another held up and out
in the mimic of a gesture
she knows too well --
adult exasperation, peevish,
wild-eyed, and dangerous.
But the mangy stuffed bunny belies it all,
dangling by an ear, a lumpy flourish.

And so again i am warned about language,
my wife having just entered the room
aims a will-you-never-learn look my way
and I'm counting myself lucky. She missed me,
hands to the window, imploring the world,
Jesus Christ, will you look at the fucking rain!

And because this is western Oregon, and the rain
blows endlessly in from the sea, we let her out to play
in the garage, where i peer balefully
into the aged Volvo's gaping maw
and try to force a frozen bolt, that breaks,
my knuckles mashed into
the alternator's fins
bejeweling themselves with
blood and grease.

And what stops my rail against the Swedes,
my invective against car salesmen. my string
of obscenities concerning
the obscenity of money,
is less her softly singing presence there
than my head slamming into the tired, sagging hood.
I'm checking for blood
when i feel her touch my leg.

What tool is this, Daddy? she's asking,
holding a pliers by the business end. Then
what tool is this? Channel locks. And this?
Standard screwdriver, sparkplug socket,
diagonals, crimper, clamp,
ratchet, torque wrench,
deep throw 12-millimeter socket, crescent,
point gauge, black tape, rasp--

but suddenly the rain's slap and spatter
is drowned in the calling of geese,
and I pick her up and rush out, pointing,
headed for the pasture and the clearest view.
And rising from the lake, through rain
and the shambles of late morning fog,

vee after vee of calling Canadas,
ragged at first, then perfect and gray and gone
in the distance. They keep coming and coming,
and pretty soon we're soaked, blinking,
laughing, listening. I tell her they're geese,
they're honking, and she waves and says honk-honk.
She says bye-bye, geese; she says wow; she says Jesus.

Robert Wrigley

from In the Bank of Beautiful Sins, copyright Robert Wrigley, 1995

amadare wa tsuki yo nari keri kaeru kari

the bright moon in raindrops
from the eaves...
the geese depart


yuku kari ya hito no kokoro mo uwa no sora

traveling geese--
the human heart, too


yuku na kari dokko mo bara no ukiyo zo ya

don't go geese!
everywhere it's a floating world
of sorrow


Issa uses "floating world" (ukiyo) in the old Buddhist sense: the world is temporary and imperfect. Literally, he advises the geese (or goose) that it's the same imperfect world of "thorns" (bara) everywhere, implying that there's no point in moving on. 1

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24 September 2008

heavens to murgatroyd

23 September 2008

we were a passionate couple

[This was Lawrence's first book, a first edition with 1910 date on the copyright page. It was quickly changed to 1911. Apparently only a handful of copies in the first issue state are known to exist.

The United States' first appearance was significant since it contained sexually explicit passages considered too suggestive for the time and were taken out and/or revised for the first British edition, which didn't appear until later.

The original had pages 227 and 230 revised for the British issue, including
p. 230 originally as: "God! – we were a passionate couple – and she would have me in her bedroom while she drew Greek statues of me…"; and was changed to: "Lord! – we were an infatuated couple – and she would choose to view me in an aesthetic light…."] 1


We got married. She gave me a living she had in her parsonage, and we went to live at her Hall. She wouldn't let me out of her sight. God! -- we were a passionate couple -- and she would have me in her bedroom while she drew Greek statues of me -- her Croton, her Hercules! I never saw her drawings. She had her own way too much -- I let her do as she liked with me.

Then gradually she got tired -- it took her three years to have a real bellyful of me. I had a physique then -- for that matter I have now."

He held out his arm to me, and bade me try his muscle. I was startled. The hard flesh almost filled his sleeve.

"Ah," he continued, "You don't know what it is to have the pride of a body like mine. But she wouldn't have children -- no, she wouldn't -- said she daren't. That was the root of the difference at first But she cooled down, and if you don't know the pride of my body you'd never know my humiliation. I tried to remonstrate -- and she looked simply astounded at my cheek. I never got over that amazement.

She began to get souly. A poet got hold of her, and she began to affect Burne-Jones -- or Waterhouse -- it was Waterhouse -- she was a lot like one of his women -- Lady of Shalott, I believe. At any rate, she got souly, and I was her animal -- son animal-son boeuf. I put up with that for above a year. Then I got some servants' clothes and went.

I was seen in France -- then in Australia -- though I never left England. I was supposed to have died in the bush. She married a young fellow. Then I was proved to have died, and I read a little obituarynotice on myself in a woman's paper she subscribed to. She wrote it herself -- as a warning to other young ladies of position not to be seduced by plausible "Poor Young Men."

Now she's dead. They've got the paper -- her paper -- in the kitchen down there, and it's full of photographs, even an old photo of me --" an unfortunate misalliance." I feel, somehow, as if I were at an end too. I thought I'd grown a solid, middle-aged- man, and here I feel sore as I did at twenty-six, and I talk as I used to.

One thing -- I have got some children, and they're of a breed as you'd not meet anywhere. I was a good animal before everything, and I've got some children."

He sat looking up where the big moon swam through the black branches of the yew.

"So she's dead -- your poor peacock!" I murmured.

He got up, looking always at the sky, and stretched himself again. He was an impressive figure massed in blackness against the moonlight, with his arms outspread.

"I suppose," he said, "it wasn't all her fault."
"A white peacock, we will say," I suggested.

D. H. Lawrence

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22 September 2008

museum monday

This exhibition includes about 120 works by the leading designers and fabricators of late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century Art Nouveau jewelry. Although many of these artists acquired their skills in traditional, high-style jewelry houses, they found inspiration in the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, the philosophy of John Ruskin (1819–1900), the paintings and poetry of the symbolists, and the arts of Japan.

For motifs, they looked to the flora (orchids, lilies) and fauna (dragonflies, butterflies) of the natural world and the sensuality of the female form.

This new aes- the- tic was, in large measure, a reaction against nineteenth century historicism, industrialization, and the “tyranny of the diamond,” and these Art Nouveau artists chose to interpret nature rather than imitate it. 1

MFA Boston • Avenue of the Arts • 465 Huntington Avenue • Boston, Massachusetts 02115-5523 • 617-267-9300

a couple of exciting exhibitions at the MOMA almost worth flying to new york for (also remember):

Batiste Madalena: Hand-Painted Film Posters for the Eastman Theatre, 1924–1928 October 15, 2008–April 6, 2009

Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night

September 21, 2008–January 5, 2009

check out the wonderful site

MOMA • 11 West 53 Street • between Fifth and Sixth avenues • New York NY 10019-5497 • 212- 708-9400

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21 September 2008

I turn to ducks



——I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comic things
Sleeping or curled
Their heads beneath
white wings
By water cool,
Or finding
curious things
To eat in
various mucks
Beneath the pool,
Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
—Left! right! —
with fanlike feet
Which are for steady oars
When they
(white galleys) float
Each bird a boat
Rippling at will the sweet
Wide waterway . . .
When night is fallen you creep
but drakes and dillies
Nest with pale water-stars,
Moonbeams and shadow bars,
And water-lilies:
Fearful too much to sleep
Since they've no locks
To click against the teeth
Of weasel and fox.
And warm beneath
Are eggs of cloudy green
Whence hungry rats and lean
Would stealthily suck
New life, but for the mien,
The bold ferocious mien
Of the mother-duck.


YES, DUCKS ARE valiant things
On nests of twigs and straws,
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When that the
sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colours cool.
And when beneath the pool
They dabble,
and when they swim
And make their
rippling rings,
O ducks are beautiful things!

But ducks are
comical things:—
As comical as you.
They waddle round, they do.
They eat all sorts of things,
And then they quack.
By barn and stable and stack
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
Triangular and clear
They leave their curious track
In mud at the water's edge,
And there amid the sedge
And slime they gobble and peer
Saying “Quack! quack!”


WHEN GOD HAD finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion
little ones,
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made,
and then
He made the comical ones in case
the minds of men
Should stiffen
and become
Dull, humourless
and glum:
And so forgetful
of their Maker be
As to take even themselves—
quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns.
All God's jokes are good—
even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, I think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day he fashioned it.
And He's probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill.

Frederick William Harvey

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