4.17.2022 – story starts at inn

story starts at inn
with no vacancy, story
ends with vacant tomb

First there is no room.

Then there is lots of room.

Symmetry.

Bookends.

The Christmas Story and the Easter Story.

Works for me.

I never thought I would end up in a Southern Baptist Church.

For 10 years in Atlanta, not only did we attend an SBC Church but one pastored by a one time President of the SBC.

And I liked the Pastor.

The style of the SBC is to welcome visitors each and every Sunday and to invite visitors to stick around and meet the Pastor.

We had been looking for a church for a couple of years down here and on most visits we took the time to meet the Pastor of the church.

One Sunday we attended a fairly large church.

It was big and it was SBC and visitors were invited to stick around after church and meet the Pastor.

We got in line, and pretty soon it was a long line, to meet Dr. James Merritt at CrossPointe Church in Duluth, Ga.

He greeted us and asked us a couple of questions and when he learned we were new to the area he looked us in the eye and said, “Would you please consider me your Pastor, would you let me be your Pastor. If you need a Pastor for prayer or anything, would you consider me your Pastor.”

That made me feel think.

I have met a lot of Pastors and Preachers and I think this was the first time anyone had said anything like that.

Pastor Merritt liked to say that there were a lot of religions in the world and a lot of religious figures in the world that had developed a deep and committed following.

For himself, Dr. Merritt would say, “I am going with the guy who came back from the dead.”

I liked that.

I like that.

As Sheriff Taylor of Mayberry might say, “I’ll hold with Pastor Merritt.”

And the story continues …

3.19.2022 -saudade, long lost

saudade, long lost
irretrievable but
the dream of it

” … there is a word in Portuguese called saudade that appeared to represent the farm and our lives, a homesickness or longing for something vital that had been irretrievably lost and only the dream of it could be recovered.”

From “The Road Home” by Jim Harrison.

The online dictionary defines saudade (sau – da – de) as a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament.

Wikipedia says, “Saudade is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for something or someone that one cares for and/or loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again.”

Then Wikipedia adds this.

Saudade is a word in Portuguese and Galician that claims no direct translation in English.

However, a close translation in English would be “desiderium.”

Desiderium is defined as an ardent desire or longing, especially a feeling of loss or grief for something lost.

Desiderium.

Not a bad word.

Desiderium.

But it smacks of things other than the heart some how.

Desiderium.

No, I will take saudade.

I keep saudade in my head for those moments when there are no words.

Somewhere along the line of my life I came across the singing of Cesaria Evora.

Her song Sodade is a saudade put to music.

I am not sure what it is called when a feeling, an outlook, a word and a song all combine the same way.

Jenny Lawson writes in ‘Furiously Happy” that when there are no words, she has license to make one up.

For me then, when a feeling, an outlook, a word and a song all combine the same way I call in omniaonomatopoeia.

In Portuguese it comes out as saudade.

In English, there is no translation.

2.14.2022 – place where love begins

place where love begins
a touch of two hands that foils
all dictionaries

For Valentine’s Day, 2022 from Carl Sandbug.

Explanations of Love
Carl Sandburg

There is a place where love begins and a place
where love ends.

There is a touch of two hands that foils all dictionaries.

There is a look of eyes fierce as a big Bethlehem open hearth
furnace or a little green-fire acetylene torch.

There are single careless bywords portentous as a
big bend in the Mississippi River.

Hands, eyes, bywords–out of these love makes
battlegrounds and workshops.

There is a pair of shoes love wears and the coming
is a mystery.

There is a warning love sends and the cost of it
is never written till long afterward.

There are explanations of love in all languages
and not one found wiser than this:

There is a place where love begins and a place
where love ends—and love asks nothing.

And, BTW, this is the poem that Leslie agreed to have printed on the back our the program guides that were passed out at our wedding.

10.26.2021 – is temporary

is temporary
continued postponement still
necessary … what?

I admit it.

My faith in the Government of the United States has been, well, shaken, stirred, somewhat less that it might have been?

Yes yes yes, I told all the jokes.

Quoted Ronald Reagan, “The scariest words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the Government and I am hear to help.'”

Mark Twain’s, “Suppose I was insane and suppose I ran for Congress. But, wait, I repeat myself.”

And not to forget Mr. Jefferson’s, “The Government that governs least, governs best.”

STILL.

I like my country.

I like my government.

All its faults, it is what it is.

But of late I worry about it.

It is just not the same.

Then along comes a document and some of that old buddy-buddy goofy gotcha feeling was little bit restored.

Did you see it?

It was a document released by the White House as an official “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies” dated October 22, 2021.

In part it stated:

Temporary continued postponement is necessary to protect against identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.

This is such a wonderful collection of words of multi syllables hammered together in such a wonderful way that it, in part, restored my faith in my government to respond like a government.

It could have been said by Humphrey Appleby.

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
I foresee all sorts of of unforeseen problems.

Jim Hacker:
Such as?

Sir Humphrey Appleby:
If I could foresee them, they wouldn’t be unforeseen.

My old Government!

It can still sling out the verbiage with the best of them.

Temporary continued postponement is necessary.

Just say that out loud.

It’s … it’s … Shakespearean!

Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations.

I am not talking about names or personalities here, but the monolithic double speak that is written by the body of government, the all inclusive, corporate beast that mandates or tries to mandate things like Fair Labor, Un-American Activities, Interstate Commerce and the Services of Internal Revenue through the use of the English language.

I don’t know.

Harm that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.

See that all inclusive, military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations!

The use of OR here is magnificent.

Somehow restores my faith in Government you know?

Lets not leave out what the memorandum is about.

The full title is, in all its’ governmentalease glory, “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Temporary Certification Regarding Disclosure of Information in Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated back in 1963.

More than 60 years ago.

Lee Harvey Oswald was one of the youngest people in the story,

Oswald would be 84.

Anyone in else involved the conspiracy, planning and or coverup is most likely … dead.

Yet our Government is telling us that they HAVE documents about the conspiracy, planning and or coverup, that if released would cause identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or the conduct of foreign relations that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.

The mind boggles.

Did LBJ do it?

Did Lady Bird do it?

Are we at a point that I have to explain who LBJ and Lady Bird were?

Are they now as obscure as Babushka Lady, Umbrella Man and the Three Tramps?

I have to interject, those are all real personages in the JFK assassination story.

Good ahead and do the Google if you have to.

But come on.

Identifiable harm of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest?

Oh I don’t know.

Somehow it was reassuring that the government had not lost its touch.

As Mr. Twain writes in The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, “There is nothing in the world like a persuasive speech to fuddle the mental apparatus and upset the convictions and debauch the emotions of an audience not practiced in the tricks and delusions of oratory.”

I won’t hold my breath but maybe the next time we can get, permanent temporary continued postponement.

4.10.2021 – Would you, could you fix

Would you, could you fix
Van Gogh? Destroy his art? save …
Vincent or the cat?

You are in a burning house and you can save one thing as you run out.

There is a Van Gogh painting on the wall.

There is a cat on the sofa.

Do you save the Van Gogh … or the cat?

So the conundrum goes.

Don’t come looking for an answer today though.

But as a twist on this question consider this.

I was reading this morning a wonderfully written essay on the what-might-have-been of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

The writer states, “I have a weakness for alternative histories that play on the idea of fixing a past wrong.”

As an example she uses a clip from the TV Show, Dr. Who, where the Doctor shows “Vincent van Gogh how beloved he would one day be.”

In this scene, the actor Bill Nighy, playing an art museum curator, relates the importance of the Van Gogh to the world in 100 words.

What Mr. Nighy does not know is that is is explaining this to Van Gogh.

I am sorry if you want me to explain how this all works because I can’t.

If this is important to you all I can recommend is that you don’t watch Dr. Who.

Mr. Nighy’s character says, “He [Van Gogh] transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again.

From my point of view and history and such, I can’t argue with this statement.

I wouldn’t want to.

But here is the point.

If you could show Van Gogh how much his painting meant to world.

If you could ease his pain. (Wasn’t that also a line from the feller in the corn field in Iowa?)

If you could remove his torment.

Would you do it?

Understanding that it was his passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, if you remove the passion and pain, do you remove the motivation for the art?

Do you fix Vincent but destroy his art.

If you destroy his art, do you destroy Vincent?

Growing up, I was lucky that my father had a friendship with a painter in the Grand Rapids Michigan area by the name of Armond Merizon.

Most people I know knew his brother who taught for years at Grand Rapids Central High School.

Mr. Merizon would come by our house and bring along a few of his latest works to show my Dad.

I would sit nearby and listen to the conversation.

On one visit, Mr Merizon related a recent trip to Chicago to see a Van Gogh show.

Mr. Merizon told how overcome he was by the passion, the pain and the torment in the paintings.

Mr. Merizon was hit so hard by the pain that he said as he got closer to the end of the show, knowing how the story would end, he could not go on, and he had to leave the museum.

The passion, the pain and the torment was too much.

There are indeed artists who had the passion but not the pain.

Consider John Singer Sargent.

His life was nothing like Mr. Van Gogh.

According to some accounts, Mr. Sargent averaged a portrait commission a month at a modern day $150,000 per commission.

The pain Mr. Sargent went through as he put it, was having to talk with these people to get them to smile.

Andy Warhol famously commented on John Singer Sargent that, “made everybody look glamorous. Taller. Thinner. But they all have mood, every one of them has a different mood.”

But they all have mood.

Everyone one of them.

Has a different mood.

Like the other architect said about Frank Lloyd Wright, “I don’t know who it does that. If I did, I would do it.”

Nancy Langhorne, Viscountess Astor by John Singer Sargent (1909)

Motivation is the thing.

As Abraham Lincoln put it, that grub that gets to gnaw at you.

I have a weakness for alternative histories that play on the idea of fixing a past wrong.

I am exploring motivation and lost motivation.

So much motivation seems to be grounded in torment, passion and pain.

If I had a choice to be ‘creative’ but the price was pain, what would I choose.

Do you save the Van Gogh or the cat?

I will continue my exploration.

But it will continue at the beach.

4.6.2020 – See with closed eyes

See with closed eyes
Learn to see and to feel life
Learning never ends

Paging through a book of photographic portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson, I came to a picture of Josef Albers.

I remember well the first time I was introduced to his series, Homage to the Square.

It was in a lecture on modern art.

A slide of one of his works was displayed on the screen.

It was 4 different colored squares inside each other.

Before the professor could say anything, I sputtered out, “Oh sure, gimme a break.”

Which got a laugh and a smile from the Professor and a titter from a the class.

The Professor went on to describe the work.

To describe Josef Albers.

To describe Josef Albers and his work.

It wasn’t what was portrayed but the colors and the relationship of the colors to each in the square.

That was where the art was if we could see it.

I listened and looked.

And looked some more.

The color in each square was the same.

But where the color touched another color, at the top or the inside edge, the color WAS different.

How was this possible?

Albers’ said, “If one says ‘red’ – the name of color – and there are fifty people listening, it can be expected that there will be fifty reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.”

Josef Albers by Henri Cartier-Bresson

But that isn’t what I was seeing.

I was seeing that the same color was different depending on where I was looking.

How to solve this?

Albers’ also said, “Science aims at solving the problems of life, wheras art depends on unsolved problems.”

The best I could do was come away knowing that Albers was right.

I got his art.

I got an appreciation of his art.

An appreciation I hold to this day.

I got to think about seeing new ways.

Seeing with my eyes closed.

In 1980, the United States Postal Service came out with a Josef Albers stamp.

The stamp was simple.

It was a reproduction of one of his squares, titled ‘Glow.’

And it had text below the square.

“Learning never ends.”