• Tag Archives Goya
  • Spiritual Resources for the Humanist

    Lughnasa                                                                Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    More butting my head against a language that any 4 year old in ancient Rome could speak and a reasonably intelligent 5 year old could read.  I guess there is a plateau affect here and I’m standing on one right now.  I can see the path I’ve taken to get here, off to my back, but the road ahead lies blocked, beginning at a point somewhere above me, as if I stand before a cliff.

    Not complaining, just observing.  I’m here by choice and I know that.

    Groveland asked me for a sermon topic, something I’m going to preach on October 9th, exactly a week before our cruise.  A month and a half is a long lead time, so I went back through this blog, hunting for a topic that interested me and one that might interest Grovelanders, too.

    Here’s what I sent them:

    Spiritual Resources for the Humanist

    What resources do we have, those of us no longer in the Christian faith?  Or those of us never in it?  What resources do we have to replenish the spirit and feed the Self?

    The Western cultural tradition, a great river of classical literature and fine arts has enough nourishment for several lifetimes.  We’ll explore works like the Bible, Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Dante’s Inferno and how to use them for our personal growth.

    I lifted the phrase the great river of the classics from one of my favorite authors, Camille Paglia.  Other eras have used the writings of the Greeks, the Jews, the Romans and the Italians in particular as stimulus for reflection, contemplation, meditation.  I’ll toss in a few later writers like Kafka, Camus, Goethe, Hesse, Tolstoy, Isaac Bashevis Singer, probably Rainer Rilke and Wallace Stevens, too.

    Might toss in a few works of art, perhaps Goya, the color field painters, Song dynasty potters and painters, perhaps a Tibetan Buddhist thangka.

    I suppose I’ll have to start by considering the nature of resources for spirituality, something I’ve come of late to define as enrichment, expansion, deepening of the Self.  But count on a Latin phrase or two, just because I can.


  • An Art Day

    Spring                                                             Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

    Two tours today, 2nd graders at 10:00 am and a group of seniors from Minnetonka at 1:30.  I took the kids through a mysteries of the ancient world tour.  I love 2nd graders.  They’re eager, uncensored, fun and often bright.  We learned how sculptures lose things that stick out, why the chinese used copper and tin for weapons, that folks have been fighting in Iraq for a really long time and that an artist 20,000 years ago made a small stone sculpture we could recognize today.

    With the seniors we toured Titian, going over, once again, the splendid century, filled with wealth and spices and great artists.  We wandered among these great stories, the Christ child, the Three Kings, the bella donna’s, the courtesan count, the transformation of actaeon into a stag and callisto into a bear.  The museum literally brings the world to us and allows those of who guide there to travel over it ever time we visit.  Today, for example, we went to China, Greece, Iraq, France, Mexico and Venice.  Plus Mexico and, by extension, Italy, Israel and Cyprus.  Not bad for a day’s work.

    This work is such a gift, a license to steal glances at objects made by some of the world’s great geniuses:  Goya, Rembrandt, Titian, El Greco, Bassano, Renoir, Gaugin, Monet, Van Gogh, Rodin.  The list goes on.  I visit Lucretia now as an ancestor who died tragically.  Germanicus, that brave general dying betrayed.  The sick Goya, nurtured by his doctor.  The Sufi crowd working themselves into ecstasy in Delacroix’s painting.  That wonderful brook by Thomas Moran.  Calypso mourning for her lost Ulysses.  So many, so wonderful.  Sometimes it takes my breath right away.

    Is it spiritual?  If, as I am beginning to take it, the spiritual moments are those moments that nurture our Self, that best and richest person we could be, want to be, then, yes, every visit to the museum affords a chance for the Self to grow further into its most creative and full expression, goaded on by others who tapped into the depths of their own Self and who gave us a choice to join them on their journey.

  • The Limits of Rationality

    Fall                                           Waxing Harvest Moon

    Gave Liberal II this morning.  Lot of conversation, a little consternation.  Best piece was a conversation with Ian Boswell, the music director.  We discussed the limits of rationality and the integration of reason and soulfulness that great music represents.  He pointed to the late sonatas of Beethoven.  This has given me food for thought for Liberal III:  The Future.

  • Goya’s Ghosts

    Beltane                                 Full Planting Moon

    I often see movies well past their sell-by date.  Tonight, for instance, I got around to seeing Goya’s Ghosts, a Milo Foreman piece from 2006.  This has Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgaard as Goya.  It must have been so named because the character Goya seems to have a very slight role in the movie, a go-between role between the church and the daughter of a wealthy family arrested by the Holy Office, aka the Inquistion, aka the predecessor office to the last job held by the current Pope, Benedict.

    How dangerous it is to have dogmatic or ideological people in power.  With no need for evidence or facts, with no system of truth seeking committed to verifiability the church, the monarchy and the aristocracy can be confident in their decisions with no checks or balances.  Goya’s Ghosts shows that much better than it shows much about Goya either as a man or an artist.

    It does show the suffocating nature of unchecked, self-righteous power as it also shows the dramatic political and military events through which Goya lived, again without illuminating Goya’s life.  A strange set of choices.

    As a costume drama focused on the turmoil of Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century, the movie worked for me.  As anything about Goya, it did not.

  • Practical Paranoia

    20  bar falls 30.52  1mph ESE  windchill 19  Samhain

    Last Quarter of the Dark Moon

    Second graders from a dual-language immersion school trailed after me through the museum.  We went up on the elevator, always a hit and proceeded once on the third floor to Tanguy.   Sophia, or was it Sarah, said, “It looks like the artist created a bunch of shapes so we could figure out what was there.”  Reasonable working definition of surrealism.

    At Ensor’s Intrigue we found a face on the painting that I’d never noticed, a face in the lower right hand corner.  Here the kids expressed concern about the baby slipping, “She’s not holding the baby very well, and the other people are yelling at her.”  Since this was a Spanish immersion school and since it was mid-November, the somewhat festive atmosphere and skeletons lead to a consensus:  Day of the Dead.

    At Dr. Arrieta, Jared, a small Mexican boy who spoke no English proudly read out the Spanish language inscription.  In this case the group decided Goya was a woman who looked old because she had gray hair and wrinkles.  At they didn’t say, really old.

    We were done after three pieces, but Kyle noticed Theseus and the Centaur, so we looked at it.  Camryn, who requires hearing augmentation (I wore a receiver/transmitter so she could hear me.), made this observation, “He’s trying to kill him because humans are not supposed to have horses legs.”

    As I left, Virylena, a sweet faced Mayan girl, said, “Wait. We don’t know the way out.”

    The teacher, however, assured her that she knew the way out.

    paranoia400.gifAfter the tour I waited in the coffee shop for Mike Elko.   He had an exhibit in the Minnesota Artists Exhibition space a month or so ago.  I bought a digital print of one of his pieces.

    We talked art for a while. He believes prints, and art in general, should be simple to read and grasp.  His work all has humor in it.  He showed Careen Heegard and me some pieces from an upcoming show at the HighPoint Print co-op.  He has taken pictures from old school dictionaries, like a bantam rooster and put a saddle on the rooster, complete with a child in riding gear ready to mount.

    I’m tempted to hang a sign under this piece once I get it framed that will read:  Never Again.  This period in our political history and in particular this aspect of it, the demagogic fear mongering, has weakened our democracy and attenuated our freedoms.