Monday, September 24, 2012

Executive Responsibilities

David Gilmour Blythe, "President Lincoln, writing the Proclamation of Freedom" (January 1st, 1863)
Adalbert John Volck (1864)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why We Cheat

Dan Ariely, "The Honest Truth About Dishonesty"
...because we can "rationalize" it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

To the Fairest

Now Award to the Appropriate Recipient
An apple of discord is a reference to the Golden Apple of Discord (Greek: μήλον της Έριδος) which, according to Greek mythology, the goddess Eris (Gr. Ερις, "Strife") inscribed "to the fairest" and tossed in the midst of the festivities at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, thus sparking a vanity-fueled dispute between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite that eventually led to the Trojan War (for the complete story, see The Judgement of Paris). Thus, "apple of discord" is used to signify the core, kernel, or crux of an argument, or a small matter that could lead to a bigger dispute.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shadows of Life

Part II
"The difference between the living and the dead is - the GAZE. - Alberto Giacometti (1952)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reliving a Summer's Day in 1812

Carl Rohling, "The Incident in Teplitz" (1887)
Going back to Beethoven’s stay at Teplitz, it is safe to say that during the first days he lived alone, solely minding his health. The atmosphere there created by the gathered aristocracy annoyed the composer. On July 14th he wrote to an acquaintance about Teplitz: " There are few people and among these, none of them stands apart. That is why I live alone! Alone! Alone!" Nevertheless, his solitude soon ended. On July 24th Bettina Brettano and her husband came to Teplitz. His greatest joy, however, was around July 15th when Goethe came to visit him. Goethe wrote down in his journal several meetings he had with the composer. On July 19th the poet visited him and wrote to his wife: "I have never met such solemn an artist, so energetic and so profound. I can only imagine how amazing he behaves with those around him." The next day they both took a long walk.

On July 21st, after his second visit to Beethoven, Goethe wrote in his journal: " He played wonderfully." On July 23rd, the poet visited the composer again. But by the end of Beethoven’s stay at Teplitz the relationship between the two deteriorated. Two weeks after his meeting with Goethe, Beethoven wrote in a letter: " The atmosphere at court is much to the liking of Goethe, more than a poet should. Is there any point in talking about the ridiculous infatuation of virtuosos, when poets, who should be regarded as the nation’s first tutors, forget everything for the sake of their own pleasure?"

In his turn, in a letter to a friend, composer Zelter from Berlin, Goethe let him know of his meeting with Beethoven: " I met Beethoven. His talent astonished me; nevertheless, he unfortunately has a tumultuous personality, which is not completely wrong in thinking the world repulsive, but undoubtedly he makes no effort to render it more pleasant to himself or to others. He must be shown forgiveness and compassion, for he is loosing his hearing, thing that affects less his musical side, but more his social one. As laconic as he usually is, he is even more so due to his disability."

The Separation of Two Great Minds

But the event that permanently altered the relationship between the two was the encounter of a group of aristocrats on the streets of Teplitz. Bettina Brettano tells the story of that encounter as such: " As they were walking together, Beethoven and Goethe crossed paths with the empress, the dukes and their cortege. So Beethoven said to Goethe: Keep walking as you did until now, holding my arm, they must make way for us, not the other way around. Goethe thought differently; he drew his hand, took off his hat and stepped aside, while Beethoven, hands in pockets, went right through the dukes and their cortege, barely miming a saluting gesture. They drew aside to make way for him, saluting him friendlily. Waiting for Goethe who had let the dukes pass, Beethoven told him: " I have waited for you because I respect you and I admire your work, but you have shown too great an esteem to those people. "

Clearly, this led to a tacit rupture in their relationship. Subsequently, Goethe never mentioned Beethoven’s name again and after a few years he never returned one of the composer’s letters. Nevertheless, Beethoven held the highest respect for the poet, even trying to rekindle the old friendship, but his efforts were in vain.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Poseidon v. Athena - A Change of Season

And if longing seizes you for sailing the stormy seas,
when the Pleiades flee mighty Orion
and plunge into the misty deep
and all the gusty winds are raging,
then do not keep your ship on the wine-dark sea
but, as I bid you, remember to work the land.
- Hesiod, "Works and Days"
William Bouguereau, "The Lost Pleiad"

Francis Penrose, a British archaeologist studying the Parthenon in 1891, suggested that the site is oriented towards the rising of the Pleiades in the constellation of Taurus