Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Radiant and Evanescent


The maples don
their finest colors
flaming their way
into oblivion,
the long winter's
coma until spring
quickens their
roots and veins,
nourishing them through
the green and leafy
until autumn
returns again.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This sign was on the bikepath. It is eloquent.

I remember where I was when the Twin Towers went down. It was a defining moment, and it's hard to believe it was nine years ago.

I decided to take a break from the political posturing and the religious rantings, from the insanity and hypocrisy of the news, from the chaos of the public discourse, and I took a bike ride instead.

It is a ragingly beautiful day: bright sun, partly cloudy (very partly), cool with a nice breeze, best at your back, pushing you, rather than in your face, slowing you.

The bike path follows an old railroad track, still in use, but nowhere near as frequently as in the past. The easment along the tracks is as natural as can be within the metroplex, but one of the most interesting things about the Twin Cities is how closely and quickly you can be enveloped by nature, which twists through the cities, a complex living organism of lakes and rivers and creeks and meadows, thick, dense old trees with deep, cool shade.

It was a pleasure to experience these things. The trail was quiet, and each turn presented new vistas of reeds and flowers, trees and water, reflections and striking juxtapositions of modern architecture and thick vines, trees, lily pads.

Seen this way, the world is an extraordinary place, inexpressibly beautiful. Music can come closer than words to expressing the experience of life's beauty. There were moments, last night (SPCO, Mozart, Don Giovanni), when artists, composer, and audience were fused together in a magic space where tears and laughter flowed in rich and piquant harmonies. I laughed. I wept. The tears were not sadness; au contraire, they were tears of joy.

These are the moments that make life extraordinary; our brushes with the sublime. They alone can put into context and perspective the old and unyielding human complexities, the insane recurrence of religious wars and militant religions, and the greed, pure and simple, that appears to tower over all politics and all power. Shakespeare saw it, Christ spoke of it in New Testament; greed is wrong; generosity, unqualified and unlimited, is sublime. Christ Militant, like St. Francis Militant, like Allah Militant, is an oxymoron. We have been around too long and seen too much to believe otherwise.

Hope does spring eternal, but the source is love, not hatred; generosity, not selfishness, compassion, not scorn.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What bliss...

In London last March I was thrilled to see the Raphael cartoons for the Sistine Chapel tapestries at the Victoria and Albert Museum; but I had never seen the tapestries.

Now four of them will be displayed with their cartoons at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

They were commissioned by Pope Leo X in 1515 and "cost about three and a half times the amount Michelangelo was paid for painting the Sistine Chapel's ceiling." You can read more about them here.

Although taking pictures is prohibited, I snuck a quick one of this particular cartoon because it was so overwhelmingly gorgeous. Please pardon, hence, the blur; and note how the cartoon is the reverse of the tapestry, as in print-making... It is interesting to compare the color and texture of the (chalk) caroon with the woven tapestry. I remember that on the signage for the cartoons it said that Leo X requested the most possible gold thread be used, he wanted to outHerod Herod, as it were, and have his grand luxe woven into every inch.

The exhibition runs until October 13.