Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Memories of Youth

I remember that my friend Eddie Cullen had a copy of Phil Ochs In Concert (Elektra Records, 1966). In the liner notes, Ochs reprinted eight poems by Mao Tse Tung with the question, "Is This the Enemy?"

I thought it was hilarious when Eddie's sister Gina (or was it Ellen?) penned "Yes" on the album in answer to the question.

Here's one of Mao's poems (mentioned today on C. Dale Young's blog)which also appeared on the album:

CHANGSHA (Memories of Youth)

The immense river is a transparent green
and a hundred boats are racing by.
The eagles strike against the sky,
The fish swim in the shallows;
In the freezing air all creatures strive for freedom.
Alone in the desolate vastness,
I ask of the ageless earth:
"Who is the ruler of the universe?"
I remember a hundred friends coming here
during the crowded, eventual years;
All of them young and upright,
Gleaming with brilliance,
true to the scholar's spirit.
I remember how vivid they were
As they gazed upon rivers and mountains:
The Chinese earth gave strength to their words,
And they regarded as dung the ancient feudal lords.
Do you remember
How in midstream we struck out at the water,
And the waves dashed against the speeding ships?

-Mao Tse Tung

Better, Thank You

The formerly Constant Reader knows that I have not blogged much this fall and, in particular, that I haven't blogged at all for several weeks. The problem is that I haven't felt well and haven't had the energy to do much more than to attend to my day job and my teaching duties. A full recitation of my problems would drive away more readers than my inattention already has, but I have been on a strict diet and several medications for a bit more than a month and feel much better, thank you.

I am ready to resume blogging and writing. For me, at least, this is good news.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Albert York, Reclusive Landscape Painter, Dies at 80

Edge of the Forest (Ca. 1963)

Bread and Wine (ca. 1966)

I had not intended to come back on a sad note, but was sorry to learn of the death of Albert York, an American artist whose work I know primarily through a profile of him that appeared in The New Yorker in 1995.

Here's some of what The New York Times had to say in its obituary, published this morning:

Rarely measuring more than 12 inches on a side, Mr. York’s paintings evoke a world in which time and art seem to stand still or even move backward through history. His trees had the symmetry of those in Renaissance paintings. His images of a single cow or dog evoked the manner of Dutch or English painters. His occasional figures might be robed or turbaned as in earlier times, or accompanied by a skeleton signaling life’s brevity. He frequently zeroed in on small vases of flowers, recalling late Manet, and even went so far as to do his own rendition of Manet’s “Olympia.”

But his paintings’ geometric simplicity, flatness of form and workmanlike brushwork exuded a quiet modernity, as did their wholeness of composition and feeling. In the catalog to a 1975 York exhibition at Davis & Long, the critic and painter Fairfield Porter wrote, “Certainly part of the strong emotional appeal of these paintings” is that Mr. York “is not clever, and in no sense superior to the nature of his medium or the nature of the subject, but that he is at one with both.”

The Sea, East Hampton (ca. 1964)