Monthly Archives: June 2014

Running off to join the circus

A Party of Charlatans in an Italian Landscape (1657) by Karel Dujardin

This painting makes me want to run off and join the circus. Or join this band of quacks. Travelling from village to village, passing these landscapes and ruins.

I’m also fascinated with the Scaramouche man in black, standing on tiptoe and stooping his head. He reminds me — obliquely, always obliquely — of Antoine Watteau’s L’indifférent picture.

The colours are unfortunately not ‘true’. The original is much darker I presume. Perhaps more like this one[1].

Concerning the true color of paintings online. Consider this for example[2]. Notice how the colors vary? It’s impossible to find out the true color of the painting unless you visit the website of the museum where the painting is located.

I wonder if Google Art Project has a policy?

World music classic #883

I sometimes jog, usually along the Antwerp quays, from the Ledeganckkaai to the D’Herbouvillekaai and back.

While running this morning “Walk On By,” a song on lovesickness by Dionne Warwick popped into my head. Do not ask me why, because I’m not particularly lovesick. Maybe running reminded me of walking.

Anyway. Lovesick. Sick of love. The first time I heard someone saying that love is a mental illness was by Thomas Szasz.

Love being a mental illness is a view on romantic love reflected in common parlance in expressions such as “I love you madly” and “I’m crazy about you.”

PS. “Walk on By” is now ‘World music classic‘ #883 and sits next to “Wake the Town” and “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.”

World music classic #882

Smokestack Lightning” (1956) by Howlin’ Wolf (1910 – 1976) is ‘world music classic‘ #882.

“Smokestack Lightning”  is on the soundtrack to The Wolf of Wall Street, a boring film about boring people who think they are interesting because they are high.

It’s astonishing how cocaine has shaped the history of the West since the 1970s.

The Wolf of Wall Street reminded me of American Psycho.

I liked American Psycho a lot better.

Other 1956 ‘world music classic’ compositions include “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley, “Fever” by Little Willie John and “Love Is Strange” by Mickey & Sylvia.

Gaston Bachelard @130

Gaston Bachelard by Jean Philippe Pierron (2012) with illustrations by Yann Kebbi
[] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Happy birthday Gaston.

Gaston was a philosopher so sui generis that he is indefinable.

He would have turned 130 today had eternal life been possible.

His intellectual heir is Peter Sloterdijk.

Update: I accidentally posted this several days early.

Listen to this drawing

The Music of Gounod” illustrates liminality, which in a previous post I called neither fish nor fowl, something inbetween.

At the same time it illustrates something non-existent, an impossible object, like music for the deaf or for people who are tone deaf. The aural experience has been synaesthetically translated in a visual experience.

Listen to this drawing, it seems to say.

I am reminded of the dictum by Walter Pater: “all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” And of medium specificity.

The red splodge representing the reign of Ivan the Terrible

The red splodge representing the reign of Ivan the Terrible in Gustave Doré’s ‘The History of Holy Russia’

Via via I discover Gustave Doré‘s The Rare and Extraordinary History of Holy Russia (1854), an illustrated book with 500 drawings executed by Doré when he was just 21.

Doré was a genius, perhaps only equaled by Grandville (thirty year’s Doré’s senior).

The History of Holy Russia features a number of experimental and metatextual elements which are as surprising as the black page in Tristram Shandy.

The red splodge above represents the reign of Ivan the Terrible.

The caption reads:

“Suite du règne d’Ivan le Terrible. Devant tant de crimes, clignons l’oeil pour n’en rien y voir que l’aspect général.”

English translation:

“Continuation of the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Faced with such crimes, let’s blink our eyes to not see anything than the broad picture.” (tr. J.W. Geerinck)

John Bulwer’s alphabetic ‘chirogram’

John Bulwer‘s alphabetic chirogram from Chirologia found via Victor Stoichita.

I’m fascinated by sign languages. I guess that’s because it’s one of those border states, a grey area of something neither fish nor fowl, something unclassifiable.

Sign languages are languages that do not make sound, they can be read but also felt. They involve lots of symbolism.

Oliver Sacks in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985) mentions fascinating cases of deafblindness where tactile sign language is used.

This particular ‘chirogram’ was designed as a rhetorical aid.