Sunday, March 12, 2017

To Savannah with Love

It was exhilarating to be in Savannah with so many friends, those pictured here and a few not photographed. Darryl and I enjoyed afternoon tea at the lovely, light-filled home of Benjamin Head. Earlier, some of us lunched with Edwin G. Reynolds, with a lively, witty discussion of current events. A tour of alligators in the Savannah Wildlife Refuge brought to mind Republicans wallowing in the mud. Dar and I are grateful to Wolfgang Bosch and Sebastian Brandt for dinner at the historic Pink House. We bid Lee and Karen Killian a fond farewell until the summer, when we return to Tybee, and observe the Zone of Totality in the mountains of North Georgia. John Miller shared in our merriment and dining delights, including Coco's Sunset Grill, Vic's on the River and the Flying Monk.

Image may contain: plant, tree, flower, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: plant, flower, tree and outdoor

With Love,


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Blame Democrats, Right?

Trump's military build up will probably lead to war. We have yet to see the scale of that war; but it could even involve nuclear weapons. The Republican war on the environment will lead to ecological catastrophe and the projected global extinction of half the species on Earth by century's end. The attack on medicare, healthcare generally, and social security will lead to sickness and suffering all across the country. The hate of Trump's followers and the bigotry of many Republicans are spreading, not only against Muslims, but against Jews, African-Americans, and immigrants, not to mention gays. These are the realities. Yet people are still attacking HRC and the Democrats, saying they are the same as Republicans. There may no longer be an opposition party in the near future, and we shall live in a totalitarian, one party state. As a democratic socialist, I'd love to see an egalitarian state run by those who care deeply about peace, erasing poverty, and universal healthcare and protection from pollution. But we are not going to get anywhere near those goals by attacking Democrats. Sanders and Ellison realize that.
But many of their followers are still spewing their venom that is poisoning the rest of us and the planet. We are doomed, as I see it, because of such self-righteousness. We are faced with two choices, live in an Epicurean Garden (which faces the same fate as that of the Finzi-Continis) or sit naked like Diogenes in a tub and wait for the end.
(like) Michael Carroll, Marcia Kendle and Richard Funderburke 



Tuesday, February 07, 2017

San Francisco's Keystone Korner and Bill Evans

(photo: Wikipedia)

From Journal 23 (Aug.-Nov. 1980)

Sept. 4, 1980
Last night, after spending time at Cafe Vesuvio with Diane Zimmerman, recalling 1977 with Jake in New Orleans (It was Jake's birthday), I went to the 11:30 performance of Bill Evans at Keystone Korner. I sat in the intimate space no more than 20 feet from the Evans Trio. 

The house was full, of course, and eager for the music. At moments during the performance, I was enraptured and wondered how I could ever leave San Francisco. The bass player, on two numbers, moved into an ecstasy of deep melody, motion, and expression-- outdoing even Evans. 

Afterwards, I walked up Lombard Street, up Russian Hill, to my home overlooking the Bay. Despite the chilly mist, I was glad to be here. I tossed another log on the fire when I got home.

Here is a better, more detailed account of the performance by Sascha Feinstein:

"Imagine, for a moment, the young bassist Marc Johnson beneath the giant mandala, his eyes half shut, almost rolled back. Drummer Joe LaBarbera's to the right of the stage, and to Marc's left, behind the piano, sits their leader, Bill Evans. During his week—long engagement in 1980, the trio plays several versions of "Nardis." Early in the week, he looks through the smoke and says, "We're going to conclude this set with an extended version of something that's been in our repertoire from the beginning . . . We've learned from the potential of the tune, and every once in a while a new gateway opens. It's like therapy, this tune." On September 8, his last night of the engagement, he closed with another version of "Nardis," almost twenty minutes long. "We've had a very nice engagement here," he tells the crowd. "You people in the audiences have been wonderful, and I hope we'll be back soon." On September 15, he died." This was the intimate performance I attended in that sweet club. My journal is witness to the transcendence.

Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club jazz article by Sascha Feinstein, published on October 26, 2011 at All…

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How to Act in the time of T.

A large crowd walks down Pennsylvania Avenue after the start of the Women's March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 21. Organizers said the march is sending a message to Donald Trump that "women's rights are human rights." Similar protests unfolded across the country.

Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.  - 

Hsin Hsin Ming

Now that Mr. T. and his Cabinet of Deplorables is taking and consuming Power, the question arises: How are those of us who are opposed to his capitalist, oil-loving regime to act? 

We have gone over, ad nauseum, the reasons he won the Electoral College despite losing the election by 3 million votes. The blood of Democrats stains the country. We know now, as we should have known in 2000, that the EC is undemocratic and stacked in favor of Republicans. It can be changed easily: 

The question here, though, is how are we to act, given that we cannot do anything about the federal government until 2018. 

The Women's March in Washington, echoed in marches all over the world, even in small town America, were a start. They revealed visibly the lie that T. is popular with everyone, the lie that his inauguration was a success, the lie that T. has any kind of mandate in his attack on the social programs, the health care, the social security, and the interests of ordinary people. He is a flunky for billionaires, banks, corporations,and worst of all, the oil companies. So, yes, the March was important, vital for a growing resistance to his rule.
The web site link above offers more to do.

If there is to be any hope at the bottom of Mr. T.'s Pandora Box, it has to come from persistent protests and mobilization. As we go about our ordinary lives, work, family, creating and appreciating the arts, or whatever normal life we lead, there must always be awareness, our encouraging Congressional opposition, speaking out, supporting new legislators from the local level up. 

It is difficult for me to maintain any optimism as the two major destructive forces occur, climate change and war. Mr. T. and cabinet are hell-bent on more pollution and war on the environment. With his fanatic love of the industrial-military complex, T. increases the likelihood of more war, expanded conflict, even the use of nuclear warheads. 

All I can think of, never get out of my head, is the prophesy of Allen Ginsberg :

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smoke-stacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! 

-- Jameson

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Thrasymachus Refuted: NCLB and DT

Thrasymachus in the School of Athens

From: The School of Athens

(Thoughts inspired by a thread.)

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)  had a worthwhile aim but the method it proposed was deeply flawed and produced the opposite of genuine education and learning. We should be helping students discover the joys of learning, creating life-long learners and readers. It is a tall task in the age of cell phones. NCLB worked not to promote individual development but rather conformity in which all students study for taking the same standardized tests. The result was to destroy the love of learning and the sort of natural curiosity and thinking for oneself that is essential in college. Here is a good article on the details

Donald Trump is an example of education gone wrong. All he has learned is materialism, bullying, egotism, selfishness, and aggression. He has no ethical sense, no respect for learning that is other than business, no sense of fairness and, worst of all, no compassion for others. Learning can provide the essential quality of empathy, especially in reading literature, that seems to be utterly lacking in DT. Don't you wish you could sit him down, get him to read Plato's Republic, and explain to him why Thrasymachus is wrong?

Unfortunately, as Aphrodite Kavyas remarked, DT  "is Pacman - - never stops moving or reflecting, just devouring." 


Monday, January 02, 2017

Speak No Evil

It is impossible and immoral to stop seeing the actual path of the next 4-8 years. Liberals and moderates keep writing about opposition and resistance to Trump, claiming Bernie or Warren or the Senate will halt the coming onslaught. We shall survive Trump, they say. Every day, every tweet, every appointment, every indication points not to a passing few years of trouble, but rather to an irreversible catastrophe. T. and his team stand for and have fought for years to repeal the Great Society of Johnson and the progressive achievements of FDR. We shall see a radical dismantling of social programs. We shall see enormous infringements of civil rights, especially of Muslims and African Americans. We shall see nothing short of war on the environment, undoing protections to water and air, giving free reign to the oil companies, chemical companies, and the military-industrial monolith. It will be a war on science across the board. Religious fervor will be encouraged, especially by the fanatical Pence. Some of T.'s team  want to bring on the religious apocalypse. Really. And that leads to a war on Islam. It leads to a possible nuclear war with Iran or N. Korea. Is that what we shall survive? Will we be able to make everything OK again in 2020 or 2024? The biggest danger of all is complacency, thinking we can weather T. as we weathered Matthew and other natural disasters that will be increasing exponentially. Where is the evidence that Democrats will regain popularity and majorities? The election was not about T. nearly so much as it was about the millions of Americans who live in the South, the Mid-West and the entire middle of the country. They are the ones who have made the Electoral College such a farce; a nod to slavery that has, over the years, disenfranchised millions of voters in both the Red and the Blue states, ignoring a three million vote majority for the other candidate. Most Americans don't even understand the process. We are a stupid, complacent, superstitious people, afraid to admit and face the truth. We have condemned wildlife, threatened the lives of millions of people around the world, unraveled the possibility of saving the planet from ecological disaster. We are not only stupid and selfish, we are evil. Until we see that evil and overcome it, all of our positive thinking, optimism, and professions of love for humanity and the beauty of nature  are delusions and lies.  

Above: My photograph of the Three Monkeys at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Japan


From the Guardian:

World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns

Living Planet Index shows vertebrate populations are set to decline by 67% on 1970 levels unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact

A victim of poachers in Kenya: elephants are among the species most impacted by humans, the WWF report found. 
Photograph: image BROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Monday, December 26, 2016

Art and Bourgeois Values

Pan and Psyche by Aristide Maillol. (a gift of Dr. James Land Jones)

How fortunate it is to be brought up by parents who appreciate art and music. My mother was a fine art painter and my father was an admirer of art and music. Mom adored Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Dad liked to listen to Stravinsky. There were always art books in our house to peruse, and as a child, I had the good fortune to hear the Savannah Symphony play the classics for my school class, taken by bus downtown, regularly. As a teen, I visited the Telfair Art Museum on occasion, enjoying the Ashcan painters and the marvelous works by Kahlil Gibran.  Later, in my early twenties, I actually lived in the house once owned by his beloved Mary Elizabeth Haskell.

24 West Gaston St. (my photo)

When I left for college, it was to study math and science. When I returned to Savannah to live, it was with a Ph.D. in philosophy of art. I spent some 20 years teaching at art colleges, including SCAD and the Atlanta College of Art. Best of all, I created the position of Art Librarian at the High Museum of Art to accompany my teaching at ACA. The wonderful and brilliant Gudmund Vigtel loved my proposal. During my seven years at the High, I was able to design and occupy a new Library space and to create a library/publication exchange program with many major museums in the U.S. and Europe.

Therein, we find my bourgeois delights. Almost daily in my new office, looking down on the High Museum across the street, I would open some magnificent catalog from MOMA, the Metropolitan Museum, the Tate, The Boston Museum... The publications from the High were rather marvelous too, often in collaboration with other institutions. Both the Library and I received copies of these latter publications of which I still own many-- a signed copy of the Avedon catalog, for instance. I often met and talked with top living artists at patron receptions.

As a member of ARLIS, I attended conferences in cities around the country where we had receptions in the best museums and art spaces, with visits to galleries and the like. The meals at receptions were feasts. At the Heard Museum in Phoenix we were greeted with margaritas in hand-blown glasses at the entrance, with Tex-Mex delights on silver trays within. One of my fondest memories is having the National Gallery in D.C. all to ourselves during the splendid Matisse in Nice show. I wandered happily from room to room of those divine paintings of open windows to the Mediterranean.

(From a recent New Yorker)

Here are some of the spaces ARLIS enjoyed in the years I attended: MOMA, The Metropolitan Museum, The National Gallery, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Heard Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Art, The Getty Museum, The Kimbell Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Nelson-Atkins... We met in New York twice during my years at the High. Every conference included side trips to such places as Taliesin West, art galleries and the like. There were also regional conferences in New Orleans, Charlotte, Raleigh, Birmingham, and of course, Atlanta.

Darryl at Taliesin West.

In other words, I loved the bourgeois privilege of having private art viewings, of grand parties, and best of all, an office I designed myself in an art library I designed, filled with gorgeous books of art and even some rare, very valuable catalogs with hand-tipped plates of the work of Kandinsky or other artists. The rare books were locked in a fine, antique book shelf in my office. In fact, the entire office was decorated with overflow furniture from the museum's exquisite Decorative Arts collection. From my days at ACA and the High until today, art has enriched my life. Travel has added the art of so many museums, galleries, and architecture.  From Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, and the art of Frida Kahlo to Nara and Tokyo to the Parthenon and the Pantheon; from FLW's Falling Water and the Sydney Opera House, to the Frick and the Uffizzi, I have had the blessing and the bliss of great art.

Should I be ashamed or proud of my exclusive and privileged access to art and parties created in artistic settings? Often, I've told the story that when I was working on my dissertation, I asked to see the famous portrait of Gertrude Stein  by Picasso at the Metropolitan. The Picasso galleries were closed at the time. A friendly curator asked a guard to escort me to the painting in question, and I had Miss Stein all to myself, with all the Picasso galleries, in fact. I felt that I had arrived in the World of Art, then. And the world of art has opened its doors to me so many times. Nonetheless, I do feel that we who love art, whatever our station in life or accomplishments, ought to be able to delight in such art as fully as possible. The Dalai Lama has said that the meaning of life is to be happy. I cannot imagine happiness without all of the arts: literature, music, and all of the visual arts.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Darryl on Hitchens and Mencken

Comments from 2011:

News Fee

How fragile we are... A great Loss.

Mr. Hitchens wrote in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell and trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy…
Polly Richards Babcock and Stan Wood

Darryl Gossett One of the great journalistic curmudgeons -- the HL Mencken of our day.

December 16, 2011 at 11:40pm ·

Teresa Roney Oh, no - so much more than that. He cared enough about logic, reason and civilization - and used his only weapons - verbal swords, humor, and intelligence, to slash away at illogical and perversely irrational reasoning and actions. He didn't do this in a void. Rather, he realized that it affects the human condition, and that we suffer when issues and problems are dealt with illogically and irrationally. He understood that it matters, and that someone had to do it. It must have been painful and, perhaps, lonely at times for him, because there are so many ghastly idiots all over the place. He was a true member of the intelligentsia, and a brave, courageous soldier in that small army. He deserves the highest Medal of Honor, but I doubt that he would care about anything so ridiculous as a medal. I am in mourning.

Darryl Gossett There is nothing that you have said about Hitchens, Teresa, that is not equally true -- at least -- about Mencken. (Notwithstanding that Mencken also found time to write the seminal work on American English, to exert a profound influence on American literature in his role as literary critic and editor of "The Smart Set" and "The American Mercury," to set the model for New Journalism in his onsite coverage of the Scopes Trial [which he coined 'The Monkey Trial'], to write the first scholarly analysis of Nietsche in the English language, and to tackle over a 50-year career such topics as prohibition/temperance, women's suffrage, the idea of democracy, and ... of course, religion and its role in American life. His views on religion, and the manner in which he expressed those views were cited as inspirational by none other than Mr. Hitchens himself when he publiched "God Is Not Good."

Darryl Gossett Mencken's views on religion (particiularly the American expression of evangelical Christianity) were every bit as caustic as Hitchens', and were expressed 60 or 70 years earlier. To wit, here is his classic recap of the whole matter:To sum up:
1. The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute.
2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.
3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride.

Darryl Gossett Anyway, my point is that I intended the comparison as high praise of Hitchens, particularly in regard to the pugnacious, adversarial, fearless quality of his writing. While I take issue with some of Hitches' politics (and certainly with some of Mencken's), and with the tone of callous elitism that unfortunately crept into the writing of both men, they are both thinkers that I quite enjoy taking issue with ... and I can think of no others whose words more gleefully challenge their readers to do just that.

Teresa Roney Oh I know. I'm just in mourning. I love you, Dar!