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Posted 5/20/2012 9:11pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Felix Edouart Vallotton, 1907

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the show which goes on through June 3, 2012, The Steins Collect, there hangs next to Pablo Picasso's frequently reproduced 1905-6 portrait this painting by Felix Vallotton which was also owned by Gertrude Stein.


Further, we might seek out the "most efficient beautiful image" that valorizes the most egregious content to the wealthiest and most influential beholders exclusively. In this category, I think we must acknowledge Picasso's Les demoiselles d 'Avignon—either as a magnificent "formal breakthrough" (whatever that is) or, more realistically, as a manifestation of Picasso's dazzling insight into the shifting values of his target market. So consider this scenario: Pablo comes to Paris, for all intents and purposes a bumpkin, with a provincial and profoundly nineteenth-century concept of the cultural elite and its proclivities—imagining that the rich and silly still prefer to celebrate their privilege and indolence by "aestheticizing" their surroundings into a fine-tuned, fibrillating atmosphere. He proceeds to paint his Blue and Rose period pictures under this misapprehension (pastel clowns, indeed!)—then Leo and Gertrude introduce him to a faster crowd.

He meets some rich and careless Americans and gradually, being no dummy, perceives among the cultural elite with whom he is hanging out, and perilously hanging on, a phase-shift in their parameters of self-definition. These folks are no longer building gazebos and placing symboliste Madonnas in fern-choked grottos. They are running with the bulls—something Pablo can understand. They are measuring their power and security by their ability to tolerate high-velocity temporal change, high levels of symbolic distortion, and maximum psychic discontinuity. They are Americans, in other words, post-Jamesian Americans in search of no symbolic repose, unbeguiled by haystacks, glowing peasants, or Ladies of Shallot. So Pablo Picasso—neither the first nor the last artist whom rapacious careerism will endow with acute cultural sensitivity—goes for the throat, encapsulates an age with a painting of French whores, and, through no fault of his own, creates the cornerstone of the first great therapeutic institution.

I have no wish to diminish Picasso's achievement by this insouciant characterization of it, but I do want to emphasize the fact that, during the period in which Les demoiselles was painted, pictures were made primarily for people, not against them—and to suggest further that if we examine the multiplication of styles from roughly 1850 to 1920, we will find, for each one of them, a coterie of beholders, an audience already in place. Thus, a veritable bouquet of styles, of "beauties," was invented, and none of them died, nor have they since. An audience persists for each of them, and if I seem to have splintered the idea of beauty out of existence by projecting it into this proliferation, well, that is more or less my point.

The Invisible Dragon, Essays on Beauty David Hickey 1993, 2000

Posted 5/20/2012 8:33am by Eugene Wyatt.
The Venetian landscape, on the other hand, has in its material conditions much which is hard, or harshly definite; but the masters of the Venetian school have shown themselves little burdened by them.
Of its Alpine background they retain certain abstracted elements only, of cool colour and tranquillising line; and they use its actual details, the brown windy turrets, the straw-coloured fields, the forest arabesques, but as the notes of a music which duly accompanies the presence of their men and women, presenting us with the spirit or essence only of a certain sort of landscape–a country of the pure reason or half-imaginative memory.

The School of Giorgione, 1877 from The Renaissance, Studies in Art and Poetry. Walter Pater.

Tags: Pater
Posted 5/20/2012 8:06am by Eugene Wyatt.

But although each art has thus its own specific order of impressions, and an untranslatable charm, while a just apprehension of the ultimate differences of the arts is the beginning of aesthetic criticism; yet it is noticeable that, in its special mode of handling its given material, each art may be observed to pass into the condition of some other art, by what German critics term an Anders-streben–a partial alienation from its own limitations, through which the arts are able, not indeed to supply the place of each other, but reciprocally to lend each other new forces.

The School of Giorgione, 1877 from The Renaissance, Studies in Art and Poetry. Walter Pater.

Tags: Pater
Posted 5/11/2012 8:48am by Eugene Wyatt.

artwork: Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox, Canyon de Chelly National Park Monument, 1937. - Photograph by Ansel Adams ©2011 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.- Courtesy of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

At Chelly National Park Monument, photograph by Ansel Adams 1937

"More than 50 photographs by Ansel Adams are on exhibit at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in downtown Tampa...through July 6."

Art Knowledge News


This photograph brings to mind that we rented a darkroom in North Beach and I learned how to develop and print black and white film from Noel, Ansel Adam's granddaughter.

Posted 3/14/2012 9:18pm by Eugene Wyatt.

We vaccinated the ewes with 2 ml of CD/T (Clostridium perfringins types C and D) vaccine SQ (subcutaneously). We vaccinate all sheep annually with CD/T. Most importantly we must vaccinate the bred ewes before lambing so they confer a passive immunity to the newborn lamb through its ingestion of colostrum, the first milk from the dam's udder, which conveys various antibodies along with those from the vaccination that will protect the lamb until its own immune system develops.

Death caused by Clostridium perfringins is rapid (within 24 hrs) but painful; when the symptoms are observable, treatments are usually in vain.

To vaccinate a sheep is to say, "Not yet Death, this sheep is not ready to die, we can live for a day, a month, a year, a lifetime even." We are Max von Sydow who plays a 15th century knight who plays chess with Death attempting to avoid life's inevitable and unavoidable checkmate, in Ingmar Bergman's film the Seventh Seal which was taken from the Book of Revelation. 

And when the Lamb (having seven horns and seven eyes) had opened the Seventh Seal, there was silence in heaven for half an hour. Revelation 8:1

What differentiates farming from other occupations, is that farmers determine when a living thing dies, be it a lamb that I take to the slaughterhouse or a carrot that a vegetable farmer pulls from the ground. Vegetables die anonymously; they fit well into the industrialized food machinery that Mark Bittman describes in The Human Cost of Animal Suffering, New York Times March 13, 2012.  

I like Mark Bittman for his column in the Times, The Minimalist which ran for 13 years; his recipe for a butterflied leg of lamb with pesto was memorable for the invention, the idea, the simplicity and of course the taste; he has given of us many good recipes including those which have meat as a component. Mark Bittman is a champion of animal welfare, a critic of the factory farm and of corporate agriculture in general that produces adulterated food as it generates cash flow. I applaud him for his work against industrial methods of food production; those applied to vegetables are bad and those applied to animals are worse.

But where I question him is his statement that killing animals is "maltreatment," I would agree with him when it comes to animals slaughtered in a conveyor belt factory of death for fast food chains and supermarkets which is the way most livestock meet their end, this is maltreatment.  Here is what he says in the Times:

None of which justifies egregious maltreatment. (Yes, vegan friends, I get that killing animals, period, is maltreatment. This ambivalence, or hypocrisy if you prefer, is for every ambivalent or hypocritical omnivore or flexitarian a puzzle, and scale is an issue.)  That maltreatment must first be acknowledged in order for us to alleviate it.

He is absolute: "killing animals, period, is maltreatment." He goes on to describe a middle ground that permits the killing of animals "that allows our children to make more humane decisions." Does he mean that, if our children are to continue as carnivores (which he supposes), this middle ground will allow humane ways of maltreatment?  

Is there a way to kill that is not maltreatment, how, how does one handle this killing, what does one do? It is this so called middle ground that has our answers. Mr. Bittman wrote another column on March 16th, No Surprise: Meat Is Bad for You.  

Then on March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day, Mark Bittman published a recipe in the Times for beef stew and he did not specify how the cow was to be killed for it's meat.  The recipe was delicious reading and I wonder how many of his readers, those who followed the recipe, bought beef from cows that had been killed in an industrial processing plant, one that, he abhors for the maltreatment inherent in the way they handle livestock and kill them. Perhaps it is the editorial policy that he couldn't specify in the recipe how the beef should be killed. It must be a difficult thing to believe one thing and to understand that you must hold your tongue and not voice your heartfelt opinions or be fired. What we must do for our paychecks!


I really wouldn't bring up my beliefs if it were not relevant to the topic at hand.  I am a bad Buddhist for reasons different from the many good Buddhists who believe me a bad one. 

Several years ago, Carol, a Tibetan Buddhist and a local sangha member, whom I'd invited over to the farm for two reasons (I was tempted to join a Buddhist sangha and I wanted her to let me touch her breasts), after smelling the complex living fragrances of a sheep barn, turned up her nose as if to say, it stinks of death here, and this fact of her being able to find unpleasant the odors that I find lovely, along with her telling me on the hillside above the sheep barn that the head monk of her sangha had told her I would not be a suitable member because I had sheep, I knew, looking down at the flock before the barn—a little intoxicated with their aroma—and smiling slightly but sadly, that not only had I been barred entrance to her sangha, I would never be able to touch her breasts. 

The Japanese Zen master Eihei Dōgen 永平道元 (1200-1253) said that, "Zazen is enlightenment." What did Dogen mean? Zazen is one of the the first practices taught to those starting on a Zen path; beginners are told to focus their attention on the breath as it goes in and out of the body—when you notice that your mind has wandered, you return your attention to the breath. And like the breath, the question a Zen practitioner keeps coming back to is, "Enlightenment, what is it?" If the Dalai Lama were not enlightened, who could be; or is he just the simple monk he says he is?

What progress toward Enlightenment does is to make us into the recipients of a gift: happiness is very bright to an unhappy person; it is warm and flashing viewed from the depths of despair, but there are other gifts that might be unseen in the giddy glare of happiness; they are almost unnoticeable because they are common. These smaller and more day-to-day gifts are aspects of life itself, so often overlooked in our busy pursuits of occupation and wellbeing. 

Some of these everyday gifts are thoughts about death. We live in a wake of death caused by simply going on from day to day, all of us: you, me, Mark Bittman, HHDL, Carol, members of her sangha, everybody. Life supports life; the taking of life perpetuates the living and the only way we can stay alive is by killing. And eating or, in reality, killing to stay alive requires an intention realized or not, but acted upon. Food died for you, you killed it as you bit into that apple; it gave you sustenance and the only things that can provide life to living things are other living things in and of themselves. All living things, in a broader sense, are cannibalistic devouring other living things to live.

Based on the common horror that we call eating you can see why people, when they even think of the food process at all, choose what they consider to be a lesser evil and eat only plants calling themselves vegetarians, why Mark Bittman calls the killing of animals, at the prompting of his vegan friends, "maltreatment," and you can see why Carol and her good fellow Buddhists frown upon keeping sheep. Abhorrence, denial, guilt and exclusion, or a modern day shunning, are several, and there are more, palliative, projecting or self blaming personal responses to the eating of meat. 

Yet, there is a satisfactory response, a singular way of successfully addressing the bestialities of life, like the taking of life to live, or as we euphemistically call it, eating; but I am loathe to name this solution because I might be imposing here in the same way my mother imposed on a young and errant me, not by silence, although that was a part of her change of tone coupled with a matter-of-fact look that made me feel alone and cold such that I would do anything to have her warm love—anything at all—I would even be a good boy. Ha! We never grow out of the need be more virtuous than we are, do we.


In a previous draft I'd mentioned a contest in a column of the New York Times, The EthicistTell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat. Having deleted the reference but now that the winner has been declared by the judges, one of them being Mark Bittman, I bring it up again because Jay Bost, writer of the winning essay, states what is paramount to sanely going about one's daily life and that is pertinent to this discussion; he, and only he, of the 6 published finalists from over 3000 entries submitted to the Times expressed a sentiment that should be common not only to the eating of meat but also to everything, and I do mean everything, that enters one's field of concern. 

It's best to read Jay Bost, but let me quote part of the last paragraph where he says that eating meat is ethical if three reasons are met,

First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet...Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food...  And third, you give thanks.

Reason number one, I described in different, probably much colder, words; and reason number three was what I was approaching in this attempt (essay), what Mark Bittman and so many others ignore: thankfulness and of course we will return to it as gratitude is tantamount, not only to eating, but to living as well; and last but not least reason number two, Mark Bittman understands "ethically raised food" well (I have no critique of him here); food ethics are his food politics and it mostly fills his column. That's why I enjoy reading him; he informs me and, more often than not, we agree.

But it's difficult to keep those three reasons in mind when we're hungry: We grab something to eat and really don't give much thought to the fact that what we're eating is alive, or once was, and who knows how this food was raised and consequently killed, ethically or otherwise (there were no or inadequate labels on it to specify how it was raised); and of top of all that, why should we be grateful, as if paying for the food and service weren't enough, and expensive it was too. Besides I always tip well, no matter the quality of the service.

Being thankful, to say thank you, is to express a debt that can never be paid so unlike the transactions where with the exchange of money renders debts paid in full and duly forgotten. To say thank you, to express gratitude, is to say I will always be in your debt. This is the key to living, to eating, to killing in order to live.

In the trailer at the small, humane slaughterhouse while we're waiting for the door to open I look into the eyes of my sheep and silently say thank you. And, that as a debt never to be paid, I say it again and if I forget to say it, or am too busy to, or distracted by something or my mind wanders, I eventually come back to gratitude like the breath in zazen.


As an afterword: On May 15th Mark Bittman mentions in his column in the Times, We Could Be Heroes the contest for which he was a judge about the ethics of eating meat. Yesterday we vaccinated the lambs with CD/T; they'll get a booster in 3 weeks. 

Posted 3/13/2012 10:21pm by Eugene Wyatt.

La Gioconda is, in the truest sense, Leonardo’s masterpiece, the revealing instance of his mode of thought and work...no crude symbolism disturbs the effect of its subdued and graceful mystery...
The presence that rose thus so strangely beside the waters, is expressive of what in the ways of a thousand years men had come to desire.

Hers is the head upon which all “the ends of the world are come,” and the eyelids are a little weary.

It is a beauty wrought out from within upon the flesh, the deposit, little cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite passions.

Set it for a moment beside one of those white Greek goddesses or beautiful women of antiquity, and how would they be troubled by this beauty, into which the soul with all its maladies has passed!

All the thoughts and experience of the world have etched and moulded there, in that which they have of power to refine and make expressive the outward form, the animalism of Greece, the lust of Rome, the mysticism of the middle age with its spiritual ambition and imaginative loves, the return of the Pagan world, the sins of the Borgias.

She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave; and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her; and trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants; and, as Leda, was the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne, the mother of Mary; and all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives only in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing lineaments, and tinged the eyelids and the hands.

The fancy of a perpetual life, sweeping together ten thousand experiences, is an old one; and modern philosophy has conceived the idea of humanity as wrought upon by, and summing up in itself, all modes of thought and life.

Certainly Lady Lisa might stand as the embodiment of the old fancy, the symbol of the modern idea.

The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry from the essay, Leonardo Da Vinci HOMO MINISTER ET INTERPRES NATURAE by Walter Pater 1869

"...probably still the most famous piece of writing about any picture in the world." Michael Levey, The Case of Walter Pater: a Biography 1974 

Posted 3/13/2012 10:00pm by Eugene Wyatt.

This the is second* time I've come across this usage.

On the other hand, those who have dwelt most emphatically on the distinction between prose and verse, prose and poetry, may sometimes have been tempted to limit the proper functions of prose too narrowly; and this again is at least false economy, as being, in effect, the renunciation of a certain means or faculty, in a world where after all we must needs make the most of things.

Style, Walter Pater from Appreciations 1889

Needs adv 

(preceded by must) of necessity; we must needs go we will go, if needs must

From The Free Dictionary

*a third occurs later in the essay.

Tags: Needs, Pater, Style
Posted 3/13/2012 9:57pm by Eugene Wyatt.

New from Dragon Lady Knits: the Market Day Cowl in a sport weight Saxon Merino yarn that will keep you warm and good looking on those still chilly Spring days. 


 Market Day Cowl

"The Half and Half on its own create’s a beautiful self striping design. I mixed it up by using an elongated slip stitch which created a fun “tie dye” effect. It takes just 2 skeins to knit up. You get a really large 44″ cowl that can be worn long or doubled for a little additional warmth." _Olivia Sethney


Red Half & Half

Buy the Market Day Cowl pattern at Dragon Lady and the Red Half and Half from the Catskill Merino Yarn Store.

Posted 3/13/2012 9:22pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Photo by Francesco Mastalia for his book on farmers and chefs of the Hudson Valley

Well, you can knock me down,
Step in my face,
Slander my name
All over the place.

Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh,
Honey, lay off of them shoes
Don't you step on my blue suede shoes.
Well you can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes.

Carl Perkins, 1955

Posted 3/13/2012 7:01pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) modeled Mrs Ramsay after her mother, Julia Stephen, in To The Lighthouse, which is a fictionalized reminiscence of the Stephen family summering on the coast of Scotland before the turn of the century, and set on two days, one before the Great War and one after.

Julia Stephen 1867, photographed by her aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron

No, she thought, putting together some of the pictures he had cut out — a refrigerator, a mowing machine, a gentleman in evening dress — children never forget. For this reason, it was so important what one said, and what one did, and it was a relief when they went to bed. For now she need not think about anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now she often felt the need of — to think; well, not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless. And to everybody there was always this sense of unlimited resources, she supposed; one after another, she, Lily, Augustus Carmichael, must feel, our apparitions, the things you know us by, are simply childish. Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by. Her horizon seemed to her limitless. There were all the places she had not seen; the Indian plains; she felt herself pushing aside the thick leather curtain of a church in Rome. saw it. They could not stop it, she thought, exulting. There was freedom, there was peace, there was, most welcome of all, a summoning together, a resting on a platform of stability. Not as oneself did one find rest ever, in her experience (she accomplished here something dexterous with her needles) but as a wedge of darkness. Losing personality, one lost the fret, the hurry, the stir; and there rose to her lips always some exclamation of triumph over life when things came together in this peace, this rest, this eternity; and pausing there she looked out to meet that stroke of the Lighthouse, the long steady stroke, the last of the three, which was her stroke, for watching them in this mood always at this hour one could not help attaching oneself to one thing especially of the things one saw; and this thing, the long steady stroke, was her stroke. Often she found herself sitting and looking, sitting and looking, with her work in her hands until she became the thing she looked at — that light, for example. And it would lift up on it some little phrase or other which had been lying in her mind like that —”Children don’t forget, children don’t forget”— which she would repeat and begin adding to it, It will end, it will end, she said. It will come, it will come, when suddenly she added, We are in the hands of the Lord.

But instantly she was annoyed with herself for saying that. Who had said it? Not she; she had been trapped into saying something she did not mean. She looked up over her knitting and met the third stroke and it seemed to her like her own eyes meeting her own eyes, searching as she alone could search into her mind and her heart, purifying out of existence that lie, any lie. She praised herself in praising the light, without vanity, for she was stern, she was searching, she was beautiful like that light. It was odd, she thought, how if one was alone, one leant to inanimate things; trees, streams, flowers; felt they expressed one; felt they became one; felt they knew one, in a sense were one; felt an irrational tenderness thus (she looked at that long steady light) as for oneself. There rose, and she looked and looked with her needles suspended, there curled up off the floor of the mind, rose from the lake of one’s being, a mist, a bride to meet her lover.

What brought her to say that: “We are in the hands of the Lord?” she wondered. The insincerity slipping in among the truths roused her, annoyed her. She returned to her knitting again. How could any Lord have made this world? she asked. With her mind she had always seized the fact that there is no reason, order, justice: but suffering, death, the poor. There was no treachery too base for the world to commit; she knew that. No happiness lasted; she knew that. She knitted with firm composure, slightly pursing her lips and, without being aware of it, so stiffened and composed the lines of her face in a habit of sternness that when her husband passed, though he was chuckling at the thought that Hume, the philosopher, grown enormously fat, had stuck in a bog, he could not help noting, as he passed, the sternness at the heart of her beauty. It saddened him, and her remoteness pained him, and he felt, as he passed, that he could not protect her, and, when he reached the hedge, he was sad. He could do nothing to help her. He must stand by and watch her. Indeed, the infernal truth was, he made things worse for her. He was irritable — he was touchy. He had lost his temper over the Lighthouse. He looked into the hedge, into its intricacy, its darkness.

Always, Mrs Ramsay felt, one helped oneself out of solitude reluctantly by laying hold of some little odd or end, some sound, some sight. She listened, but it was all very still; cricket was over; the children were in their baths; there was only the sound of the sea. She stopped knitting; she held the long reddish-brown stocking dangling in her hands a moment. She saw the light again. With some irony in her interrogation, for when one woke at all, one’s relations changed, she looked at the steady light, the pitiless, the remorseless, which was so much her, yet so little her, which had her at its beck and call (she woke in the night and saw it bent across their bed, stroking the floor), but for all that she thought, watching it with fascination, hypnotised, as if it were stroking with its silver fingers some sealed vessel in her brain whose bursting would flood her with delight, she had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!

He turned and saw her. Ah! She was lovely, lovelier now than ever he thought. But he could not speak to her. He could not interrupt her. He wanted urgently to speak to her now that James was gone and she was alone at last. But he resolved, no; he would not interrupt her. She was aloof from him now in her beauty, in her sadness. He would let her be, and he passed her without a word, though it hurt him that she should look so distant, and he could not reach her, he could do nothing to help her. And again he would have passed her without a word had she not, at that very moment, given him of her own free will what she knew he would never ask, and called to him and taken the green shawl off the picture frame, and gone to him. For he wished, she knew, to protect her.

To The Lighthouse 1927, Virginia Woolf