Archive for Emily Dickinson

28 Sep 2013: Things Fall Apart, the Center Cannot Hold

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 28, 2013 by spinoza1111

20 minute workout first thing. Only 126 steps using lowrise stepper since did not warm up properly and the fist 100 were painful in consequence. Duh, so warm up using supine aerobics first.

Plan for tomorrow: warm up, supine aerobics as needed to avoid todays problems. Go from a weightless supine warm up to one with weights to one sans weights with weights with 300 total motions, transitioning as needed. Then do 100 midrise steps. Then cool down supine with and then without weights. Shoot for 30 minutes.

I have fallen permanently behind on all my planned projects because of the demands of disease: things fall apart. I wonder what it’s like to flunk a MOOCC (Massively Online Open Courseware Course). Does one flunk “massively” with headlines all over the world, NILGES FLUNKS MODPO? For I definitely won’t be able to keep up with Al Filreis’ MOOCC based at Penn on Modern Poetry, owing to this “fell sergeant”, stage IV prostate.

My last effort was most of an essay on Emily Dickinson’s use of poetic levels (lexical in rhyme and scansion, grammatical and then in terms of meaning. But in the afternoon planned for writing I fell asleep.

I really hate being once again incomplete in justifying my demands for Recognition.

In seeking Recognition
As we always seem to do
Remember, ’tis Importunate:
To thine own Self be True.
And when the Self in search of wealth
Or what it always is in want, Approval,
Loses the thread behind the curtain
It must wait for rescue by a kitten.

Edward G. Nilges, with again profuse and by now insincere apologies to the Belle of Amherst


9 Sep 2013: Coursera che sera, sera

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 9, 2013 by spinoza1111

20 minutes first thing: 300 lowrise steps (a lot of pain at first), 100 movements without weights. Physio later today in all probability.

Have started Coursera MOOC (Massively Online Open Courseware): my trial class is Modern American Poetry. I shall need to manage expectations and not even try to overwhelm the class with my so-called brilliance: it is a reality distortion field that sucks the air out of the room, to use two metaphors (more precisely a simile and a metaphor); it creates resentment.

My main Coursera goal is to get a certificate for each class I take and this means quite a lot of boring work. It appears that the business model for Coursera is the crowd-sourcing of the testing of courseware so it can then be sold to universities and used in for-credit classes. Nothing is free, and the simultaneous benefit of a class and a piece of paper (that can be used to get jobs teaching creative writing in this class’ case) means I will get minimal access to poet and teacher Al Filreis at Penn.

I will be graded by my so-called peers and I am such a butt-awful snob that this could be a Coriolanus level disaster, meliorated only by my seeing it from far off this time. But I really hate it when the father-teacher abandons me to the siblings.

We start this week, however, with two poets I know and love: Emily Dickinson the introvert who like Rosalinde (As You Like It) doesn’t see the value of travel and Walt “Walt” Whitman who roars about and never met a man he didn’t like, who has wide sympathies. Emily would not use Facebook, Walt Whitman would love it. So while I love Emily the Ds poetry (many tough extravert guys strangely do) and while I can even pastiche it, Walt Whitman is for me in many ways more fundamental.

Meantime, my self-administered, pre-Coursera class in Kant, the ewige Kant class which like a constructive infinity or ABD PhD stretches out before me fading into the distance, since I haven’t yet, objectively speaking, understood the Transcendental deduction nor grokked the whole better than Heidegger or Strawson. What the heck, it’s fun.

My reading of Johansen by comparison as easy as pie as his magnificent chapters pass in review. I’m on Plato and shall be reading some dialogs as part of the “course”. I always get the sense when re-reading the Republic that it (philosophy) is all here in the sense that all remaining philosophy can be found in the Republic.

It is possible to overemphasize this. I was very glad to read Rawls and not Plato at that one class I was privileged to take at Princeton in political philosophy: yet Rawls is but a refinement of Plato in so many ways: the Rawlsian upper crust, whose income increase benefits the least well off with public libraries, public pools, and the Ginza mall in the poor community of Tin Shui Wai, can be considered a Guardian class. Indeed, I thought that the Yuppies were going to constitute a public-spirited Guardian caste. I was wrong.

The Guardians have left their posts.
Flit in and out of the desert temple,
Ravenous for soulmeat,
And brother feeds on brother,
A pile of books for sale with loose cigarettes, tobacco dust, chicken offal.

Lana Sutton #7: I’ll tell you how the sun rose

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “Final Grisaille State of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror and the Dancer of Dawn”, 19 Oct 2010, acrylic on canvas, 12×16 in

Edward G. Nilges, “State of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror and the Dancer of Dawn, as of 7:00 PM 19 Oct 2010”, acrylic on canvas, 12×16 in

Edward G. Nilges, “State of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror and the Dancer of Dawn, as of 19 Oct 2010”, acrylic on canvas, 12×16 in

Edward G. Nilges, “Three States of a Portrait of Lana Sutton, Holy Terror and the Dancer of Dawn, as of 19 Oct 2010”, acrylic on canvas, 12×16 in


I’ll tell you how the sun rose, —
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.

The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
“That must have been the sun!”

* * *

But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while

Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.

Emily Dickinson

The final severity of the grey goo is then followed by the dawn. You must control the brush to avoid having to scumble in form with white overmuch later on and to keep the freshness of the translucent colours.

You don’t want to remodel form later with opaque white. However, the feet will need some of this work.

The brush strokes recapitulate the history of Western art for they show dancing, intersecting planes of color-form, the common feature of Cezanne and Poussin.

The upper part of the sea needs work but I like the lower part, a dull green waiting for the sun, which shall illuminate its slight ebb and flow with rose scumbling.

The color of the dawn should be restrained for it will rain later.

Her face has to turn with colorform into the light.

The red of her red, white and blue must be more American. The white sash needs restrained impasto in pure white with a just-cleaned brush.

Her hair needs more lights on the right side for it is a feature of Native Son’s photographs.

Lana Sutton is a dancer, musician, gardener, environmentalist, activist, and holy terror in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who doesn’t mow her lawn. This painting is based on photography of Native Son.

Aung San Suu Kyi #3: reflections on Marina, princess of Tyre

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’ as of 24 Aug 2010”, acrylic on canvas 15 x 15 cm

Alter? When the hills do.
Falter? When the sun
Question if his glory
Be the perfect one.

(Emily Dickinson)

She looks a little posh
That look came hard to her
‘Twas her father’s struggle
Against the lathi rod and cosh

She got an Education
Abroad…they can’t forgive
That with such Gifts…she’ll give

Resentment unallayed
Is but a Tribute paid
By those who can no longer praise
The morning sun, its Rays

(Apologies to Emily Dickinson)

The photograph inferior, but the painting is changing. A fundamental feature of the dysfunction from which I still struggle to emerge is blindness to process. The painting is darkening and the brush strokes in the background, albeit abstract, are much more difficult to get right.

They need to literally represent the social struggle surrounding her. They are underpainting for what probably will be Asian yellow and the red of flames.

I always find abstraction harder than realism.

To the Unknown Helper #28: reflections on Mahler

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 5, 2010 by spinoza1111

I dreaded that first robin so,
But he is mastered now,
And I ‘m accustomed to him grown, —
He hurts a little, though.

I thought if I could only live
Till that first shout got by,
Not all pianos in the woods
Had power to mangle me.

I dared not meet the daffodils,
For fear their yellow gown
Would pierce me with a fashion
So foreign to my own.

I wished the grass would hurry,
So when ‘t was time to see,
He ‘d be too tall, the tallest one
Could stretch to look at me.

I could not bear the bees should come,
I wished they ‘d stay away
In those dim countries where they go:
What word had they for me?

They ‘re here, though; not a creature failed,
No blossom stayed away
In gentle deference to me,
The Queen of Calvary.

Each one salutes me as he goes,
And I my childish plumes
Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment
Of their unthinking drums.

(Emily Dickinson)

Edward G. Nilges, “State of The Unknown Helper as of 6 Aug 2010”, acrylic on canvas 50*60

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of State of The Unknown Helper as of 6 Aug 2010”, acrylic on canvas 50*60

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of State of The Unknown Helper as of 6 Aug 2010”, acrylic on canvas 50*60

To the Unknown Helper #23: reflections on Mahler

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 30, 2010 by spinoza1111

It might be easier
To fail with land in sight,
Than gain my blue peninsula
To perish of delight.

(Emily Dickinson)

Edward G. Nilges, “To the Unknown Helper as of 30 July 2010: Four Views”. Acrylic grisaille on canvas 50*60 cm.: photographs enhanced with Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

To the Unknown Helper #22: reflections on Mahler

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 29, 2010 by spinoza1111

A poor torn heart, a tattered heart,
That sat it down to rest,
Nor noticed that the ebbing day
Flowed silver to the west,
Nor noticed night did soft descend
Nor constellation burn,
Intent upon the vision
Of latitudes unknown.

The angels, happening that way,
This dusty heart espied;
Tenderly took it up from toil
And carried it to God.
There, — sandals for the barefoot;
There, — gathered from the gales,
Do the blue havens by the hand
Lead the wandering sails.

(Emily Dickinson)

Each painting session starts with using a small brush to “sharpen the contradictions” in the face, for Daniel V Thompson in The Practice of Tempera Painting emphasizes that in this medium (which I simulate in acrylic) “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not”: the mediaeval painter would shade the form all the way up to the highest lights and conversely spread a white that was neither opaque nor transparent down to the deepest shadows.

This was an application of Scholastic (anti-Platonist: Aristotelean) philosophy ideologically supported in the later middle ages by St Thomas Aquinas’ revival of Aristotle, for in Aristotle’s metaphysics, pure Forms exist only incarnate as in the “word made flesh”. Thus the Helper’s eyes are shadowed by her wild youth (perhaps she was a cocaine addled Bright Young Thing of the 1920s who became a missionary in the 1930s only to fall foul of the Japanese).

Major pentimento (correction)! The agony of da feet! I realized, d’oh, that Asian feelings of the sort Matteo Ricci encountered at the Ming court, that a teacher-helper would be paid just enough to afford shoes, could be reconciled with my desire, and hers, to cool her feet by giving her a nice pair of sandals, perhaps decorated with jewels. Oh dem golden slippers.

So, I did something I’ve always been afraid to do. I used Winsor’s titanium white to reprime the surface roughly and freehand drew her feet, and started to redo the wash shading.

At this time her farther leg may be coming in at the wrong angle and may need adjustment, and there may be a perspective issue in the nearer foot. You can make minor corrections to these angle issues because of mathematical necessity, a line drawn on a canvas, especially when inked with dark wash, is Heisenbergian/Bohrian: an expression of probability as to where the boundary is, which can be adjusted.

People who unlike me see with two eyes are forever seeing around these corners. I’d get the operation to restore full vision in my right eye, but I don’t have the money, and it might be disorienting.

Adjusting the child’s face with opaque black eyeballs, trying to match the almond eyes, and using horizontal shading. The devil of it being in the fact that the little girl has bone structure which is not completely obscured by baby fat, and she has a low-rising Asian nose which has to be modeled in subtle shades of white.

Looking at Asian Hair on the MTR to see how it catches the light, don’t have that right.

The magnificent robes of the Islamic world at the Dubai airport, the hijab, the head-scarf. The baring of one shoulder being the Helper’s affectation since it is not, in fact Islamic. It amazes me that the French want to ban head-scarves, for their Virgin Mary of their Catholic tradition was always portrayed in hijab.

A note on models. They are overrated and hard to get, as hard as girl-friends who aren’t psychos. I have to dig out “what she looks like” from my study of anatomy and my own kinesthetic sense from my own workouts, for my experience was that when I started to reduce my blubber through running in 1981, there was an ectomorphic crazy female which constituted my animating spirit.

But I realize one can make errors without models.

In the Tempest, Ariel is not subhuman. Instead, he’s pure super-ego made flesh: “you are men of sin”. Zizek writes that modern capitalism has replaced the super-ego with shopping and the worship of celebrities.