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Saturday, September 24, 2005

From that wonderful, strange little book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Perhaps you will ask me, "Why are there no other drawings in this book as magnificent and impressive as this drawing of the baobabs?" The reply is simple. I have tried. But with the others I have not been successful. When I made the drawing of the baobabs I was carried beyond myself by the inspiring force of urgent necessity.
"Children", I say plainly, "Watch out for the baobabs!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings.
W.H. Auden

Monday, September 19, 2005

Young existentialist girls

Have you been in the bookstore and wondered whether the Ladies' Detective Agency books (Kalahari Typing School for Men, Tears of the Giraffe, etc) by Alexander McCall Smith are any good? Well, they are. Here's a brilliant passage from the third in the series, Morality for Beautiful Girls. If you are short on time or have a weevilesque attention span, just read the last terrifically tongue-in-cheek paragraph on 'existentialism':

Mma Ramotswe knew that there was a great deal of debate about morality, but in her view it was quite simple. In the first place, there was the old Botswana morality, which was simply right. If a person stuck to this, then he would be doing the right thing and need not worry about it. There were other moralities, of course; there were the Ten Commandments, which she had learned by heart at Sunday school in Mochudi all those years ago; these were also right in the same, absolute way. These codes of morality were like the Botswana penal code; they had to be obeyed to the letter. It was no good pretending you were the High Court of Botswana and deciding which parts you were going to observe and wich you were not. Moral codes were not designed to be selective, nor indeed were they designed to be questioned. You could not say that you would observe this prohibition but not that. I shall not commit theft -- certainly not -- but adultery is another matter: wrong for other people, but not for me.

Most morality, thought Mma Ramotswe, was about doing the right thing because it had been identified as such by a long process of acceptance and observance. You simply could not create your own morality because your experience would never be enough to do so. What gives you the right to say that you know better than your ancestors? Morality is for everybody, and this means that the views of more than one person are needed to create it. That was what made the modern morality, with its emphasis on individuals and the working out of an individual position, so weak. If you gave people the chance to work out their morality, then they would work out the version which was easiest for them and which allowed them to do what suited them for as much of the time as possible. That, in Mma Ramotswe's view, was simple selfishness, whatever grand name one gave to it.

Mma Ramotswe had listened to a World Service broadcast on her radio one day which had simply taken her breath away. It was about philosophers who called themselves existentialists and who, as far as Mma Ramotswe could ascertain, lived in France. These French people said that you should live in a way which made you feel real, and that the real thing to do was the right thing too. Mma Ramotswe had listened in astonishment. You did not have to go to France to meet existentialists, she reflected; there were many existentialists right here in Botswana. Note Mokoti, for example. She had been married to an existentialist herslf, without even knowing it. Note, that selfish man who never once put himself out for another -- not even for his wife -- would have approved of existentialists, and they of him. It was very existentialist, perhaps, to go out to bars every night while your pregnant wife stayed home, and even more existentialist to go off with girls -- young existentialist girls -- you met in bars. It was a good life being an existentialist, although not too good for all the other, nonexistentialist people around one.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Ella took this one

Another pic from Butchart

Friday, September 16, 2005

malcandrian foliage?

frog heaven

An artist is never poor.
--Babette's Feast

Monday, September 12, 2005

Purdy flowers. We were in Butchart Gardens on Saturday -- what a place. Worth every shocking penny.

Another studio picture -- this one is kind of ambient and I like the little piece of garden outside. If you could see the true state of it (the garden) you would be dismayed. Not enough hours in the day!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Malacandra excerpt for language lovers

Then something happened which completely altered his state of mind. The creature [. . .] was talking. It had language. If you are not yourself a philologist I am afraid you will have to take it on trust the prodigious emotional consequences of this realization in Ransom's mind. A new world he had already seen -- but a new, an extra-terrrestrial, a non-human language was a different matter. Somehow he had not thought of this [. . .] now, it flashed upon him like a revelation. The love of knowledge is a kind of madness. In the fraction of a second which it took to decide that the creature was really taking, while he still knew that he might be facing certain death, his imagination had leaped over every fear and hope and probability of his situation to follow the dazzling project of making a Malacandrian grammar. An Introduction to the Malacandrian language -- The lunar verb--A concise Martian-English Dictionary. . .the titles flitted through his mind [. . .] Unconsciously he raised himself on his elbow and stared at the black beast. It became silent. The huge bullet head swung round and lustrous amber eyes fixed him. There was no wind on the lake or in the wood. Minute after minute in utter silence the representatives of two so far-divided species stared each into the other's face.

From: Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

Monday, September 05, 2005

Bobrinskoy's The Compassion of the Father

An amazing book. I finally finished it last night after stalling (!) near the end a few weeks ago. I did the same with Return of the King about a decade ago-- read the whole trilogy except stalled halfway through Mordor and didn't finish it for a couple of years. That was an extreme case. Anyway! Here is some gold from Bobrinskoy:

In Orthodoxy, the Tradition is alive. It is a permanent miracle in which the Church does not pretend to possess the truth, but rather is possessed by it.


We should recall that in God -- and consequently in the depths of our being -- truth and life are but one, truth and love are but one, truth and holiness are but one, and lastly, truth and beauty are but one. Beauty is one of the most important aspects of the divine glory which sets the word ablaze. We discover it each flower, in each herb, in every living being -- animal or man. For God is at the same time one and three. The Trinity is one divinity and at the same time the infinite fullness of life, of the gift and of energy. In God all is one, in God all is fulness.

For we have the certainty that heaven, which opened three times in the unfolding of the mystery of salvation, remains henceforth open forever. Nothing and no one can recontruct the barrier that the sin of the first man erected between God and man. No one can excavate again the abyss which Jesus has filled between heaven and earth.

Another beginning -- St Barnabas. This stage is always agonizing -- if you like the drawing you are so afraid to mess it up, to lose the quality. You just have to take deep breaths and plow ahead. Fear has no place in our lives, and it is especially poisonous for artists!

Monastery fare. Mmmmmm. That cheese was mind-altering.

Okay! Proof I am still working. The beginning stages of my St Arseny icon. I have made quite a bit of progress since then. I like these messy desk scenes for photos but in truth I feel it's better to be very orderly when you work so that, in the words of Stephen Pressfield, "the muse may enter and not soil her gown".