Archive for Peter’s Crazy Aunt

Ka Yan #2: Peter’s Crazy Teacher

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by spinoza1111

Edward G Nilges, “Even When Peter’s Crazy Teacher Ka Yan Teaches Us Mathematics, Ka Yan Admonishes Us, and Teaches Us the Way of All Things”, pencil on paper, A4 size, 18 April 2012. Moral rights asserted, which means that if you copy the image with attribution, God bless yer pointy little head, but if you copy it without attribution, damn your eyes. In other words, show some class.

The Line must be gotten right. The asymmetry has to be turned into a genuine tilt of her head in the light that would naturally create a different line on either side of her face as it catches the light, from what side? Vermeer, he knew all about this stuff, how in his quiet studio on a sunlit afternoon, time stopped.

Schopenhauer thought music superior to painting, damn his eyes, but painting’s task is the opposite of music’s. Music is all Time, painting stops it. Same deal, really.

My use of words is sometimes very confusing, as if I’m some sort of time traveler who uses them in old ways. Can’t be helped. “Admonish” used to mean something halfway between “teach” and “scold, morally chastise”.

The backstory is that Ka Yan works for the same UN agency as Peter’s Crazy Aunt and they are friends. The kids love her. I’m not sure what Ka Yan’s ethnicity is yet, and I may never be, for there are so many beautiful children and grown-ups where I live who are Mischling. Ka Yan’s name is Chinese yet she looks South Asian. Besides my understanding from talking with friends is that Ka Yan’s off the shoulder look is not as popular among Hindu women as it used to be and is certainly not Islamic.

Fashions have become more “modest”. Jackie Kennedy wore a Beirut look in 1961 in Beirut when she revealed her tummy. She could not do so today. But Ka Yan, while possessed of a deep respect for life, is not religious.

And it is this slowly growing crowd of people who are precisely ignored by racists, aren’t they, who want to herd us all back into Kraals, damn their eyes. All men (all people) are endowed by their Creator with rights according to our Declaration of Independence. This means something.


Peter’s Crazy Aunt (Completed): This and Better May Do, This and Worse Will Never Do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by spinoza1111

Listen to Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou!
Listen to Glenn Gould who will not let thee go save thou bless him!

Edward G. Nilges, “Peter’s Crazy Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou”, acrylic on canvas, 20 * 60 cm, January 29 2012 AMDG

Note: if the painting is truncated, click above on “Spinoza’s Blog” to see the post with other posts. I haven’t mastered how WordPress treats pix, nor how Apple handles them on a Powerbook.

I have decided to declare victory: this painting is done, and, as the Scots say, “this and better may do, this and worse will ne’er do”. The figure is colorful and this rather large (60 * 80 cm) canvas lights up the room with the way she leaps as an hart.

The numerous deficiencies cannot obscure the life in this thing nor its evocation of the bell-like tones of Poussin. Particularly noble is the twisting motion of the abdomen.

I am not bullshitting here. I like this painting and would pay big money for it if I were a collector. This artist, dammit, has thought about the play of light even if he manages to preserve every single mistake he makes, and he makes a lot, by means of translucent paint and cartoon transfer.

Besides, making art makes me feel good. Pity I didn’t put my foot down and do what I had to do years ago but there’s no point in crying over the past. Peter’s Crazy Aunt certainly doesn’t.

Zey vill laff at me at zee Zalon undt der Royal Academy but I shall show zem!

My next project is “Mama Kanumba del Cucamonga takes the Children to Power Station Beach” because I want to see the profile I drew realized in paint. I need to do more plein aire work on Lamma to get a better feel for our wonderful if abused natural environment, which is something I could only imagine when I was a kid in the Midwest, sketching maps of places, anywhere but around Lake Michigan, carved, unlike Lake Michigan, into all sorts of hidden coves and mysterious mountains.

Basically, the geologic youth of the Great Lakes isn’t their fault. They are big melting ice cubes from the recent past, whereas Lamma Island is the forbidden and mysterious peak of a great Mountain that used to oversee a Plain.

I like Peter’s Crazy Aunt’s expression, it isn’t crabby like the expression on my nude which I won’t post online…it is similar to PCA but naked, same overall colors, crabby expression. That’s because I was working full time when I painted on Dance of Victory.

I went dancing last night to an annual festival put on by a fellow Chicagoan. It was hard at first to foot it featly here and there like Ariel in the Tempest because I was on a wooden plank which moved slightly, it was cool (about 17 centigrade) and my feet were seizing up.

But o the power of music to move Helen, as William Kennedy wrote of Helen, in Ironweed, when she gets enough money for a hotel room and can play the Ninth symphony.

There was quite a large crowd of people and a bunch of Lamma kids who also danced. After the dance, three strangers congratulated my “performance” which surprised me because it wasn’t intended to be such, but, I was close to the band (Black Mariah). It gave them felicity which is the whole purpose of art. That was cool.

As I left I was cold and stiff. I started to walk down the steps like an old man but a far older man needed assistance. This always happens to me. On the MTR, a little girl gave me her seat last year but as soon as I, a weary Old Lo-Shih Teacher, took it, the Three Immortals, three really old Chinese guys, got on the train.

THAT is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

WB Yeats

A Note on Saving Western Civilization

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 28, 2012 by spinoza1111

Newt Gingrich now says he’s trying to save Western Civilization.

I got a hair up my ass about saving Western Civilization from the Paganorum thirty-five years ago, so I ruined the poor girl’s life.

This Republican primary is what it must be like for some female to have to listen to her drunken husband’s bullshit on the phone at three o’clock in the morning, or to be forced to read my collected Works (gesammelte Schriften) on the Trans-Siberian Express, as opposed to dipping into them at Starbucks’s for the amusing or naughty bits, and the pix of hot girls.

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Sweet Zy-deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King (le Roi) of the Bayou’ as of Jan 20 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60*80 cm

Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 22 January 2012: Before I Got My Eye Put Out

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by spinoza1111


Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and to the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier (the KING of the Bayou)’ as of 22 January 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60 * 80 cm

Before I got my eye put out,
I liked as well to see
As other creatures that have eyes,
And know no other way.

But were it told to me, to-day,
That I might have the sky
For mine, I tell you that my heart
Would split, for size of me.

The meadows mine, the mountains mine, —
All forests, stintless stars,
As much of noon as I could take
Between my finite eyes.

The motions of the dipping birds,
The lightning’s jointed road,
For mine to look at when I liked, —
The news would strike me dead!

So safer, guess, with just my soul
Upon the window-pane
Where other creatures put their eyes,
Incautious of the sun.

Emily Dickinson

Come on, come on, you bastards: Vorwart! This ain’t no pork chop, this is Chloris, this is Pandora, this is Artemis, this is Chang-Er, Goddess of the Moon, and I’se Jade Rabbit.

Over and over again. Painting on the floor, me dancing around like Jackson Frigging Pollock…love his work, could never accomplish something like that…but no wonder he smoked…I pound Nicorette.

If you’re glazing (dark and transparent over light) or scumbling (light and translucent over dark) you have to be an Action Painter at this phase despite the realism of the work, for there are patches of light in darkness and darkness in light. You need not be afraid of the way the Light shoots (zuschammen) into the darkness and the way the darkness climbs towards the light as in Milton:

Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven firstborn,
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblam’d? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.

Constant glazing and scumbling. NO GOUACHE, as Daniel V Thompson, author of The Practice of Tempera Painting said, “we are not here to paint with poster paints, dammit.”

In The Lady’s Not For Burning the Lady says why was I born why did I give my mother pain. Why did you buy the pure white gesso canvas?

My painting series as displayed on wordpress are what Henry V would call “another Fall of Man” in th’old play when the King arraigns Cambridge, Scroop and Grey:

I will weep for thee;
For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like
Another fall of man.

I mean, generally speaking the earlier versions are better, and I care not, because it is Man’s Fate to Outsmart Himself. This painting has suffered less of a decline than my painting of the Holy Terror of Chattanooga, dancer, artist, activist Lana Sutton. That started out great and went to hell you ask me. I was lucky to preserve its grisaille.

And the intersecting glazes and scumbles are slowly fusing the thing. There is a single column of highlight that starts at the top of her head and goes all the way down, it’s her Soul, it’s her pillar of fire: but matching it is a single Shadow and a deep vermilion middle tone (that Vermilion I got in place of Cadmium Red, which sucks, is working out well).

Sir Joshua Reynolds would simply darken the background with tinted varnishes made of ground bones of Egyptian Mummies. Sir Joshua was an idiot and Benjamin West, the first real American painter, was way better.

Sfumato, the smokiness of tone that strangely makes form more and not less distinct. Leonardo strove for this in La Joconde but succeeded in Virgin on the Rocks.

Modern materials make his effects easy. The question is where the sfumato goes.

I’m thinking once in Italy of continuing to do the Grisaille in acrylic but the svelatura in oil. I’m up against the limitations of a petroleum byproduct. But I need to be more familiar with different oils and drying agents.

We admire a van Eyck because it has the appearance of a manufactured product: this is of a piece with the fact that, in Adorno’s reading of Odysseus and the Sirens, the old myths were a proto-science, a way of controlling reality. But the difference between what’s sitting in my flat and what you see is that in the actual art object there’s a piece of me, a secondary Soul in the Buddhist sense. A sort of Buddhist, I believe that living things have souls, and that first-order handicrafts have a secondary soul. Whereas, as I discovered to my dismay as a software engineer, technology is always such a collective venture as to be a sarcophagus, the trace of dead souls.

A new way of authenticating artworks has been found: the artist’s fingerprints as verified from a known attribution where all of most of the fingerprints are known to be his. Perhaps also fragments of sweat, blood and tears, that is, DNA.

We cleanse our world of aura, the human stain, and wonder why we’re so discontented. Mediaeval man on the other hand prized the skin and bones of saints as holy relics. Perhaps even piss and shit, we don’t know.

Keeping everything transparent & translucent has preserved the nobility of the line drawing. That’s all one can do. Richard Strauss risked his life protecting his Jewish grandchildren during the War and went on to write Four Last Songs. I can draw a line in the sand and preserve it, highlight it, glorify it. Unum necessarium.

When I stop painting and photograph the painting for upload here I usually do a Hitler Video, fuming with rage. This is because anything to do with technology fills me with anger. All programmers seem like incompetent little lower-middle class dweebs, probably because I wasted so much time programming. That little “rainbow spinner” on the Mac really, really sets me off. I gotta cool it since my landlord doesn’t like it when he hears me raging.

I knew it long ago. I might not have talent but I gots duende, the magic fire, up the ass: unlike some art students I have something to “say”, a “vision thing”. Dang, one leg is still bigger than the other (needs to be adjusted in the old style, glazing and scumbling, like Wellington at Waterloo): but every time I look at the damn thing that gal LEAPS out. It expresses for me the fact that I’ve been leaping as an hart ever since I left my kids thirty years ago, as if my ex wife cursed and blessed me at one and the same time: he will run and not stop running hee hee until he wises up. Which he won’t.

Go straight for the feeling, the jugular, the bone. Learn tricks of the trade but don’t worry about them too much. Every time we know we feel every time we feel we know: this is University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s point in Upheavals of Thought: a physical feeling is identical to a physical fact but an emotional feeling is based on what we believe to be true. “I have a headache” is different from “I am sad that my father has died” because if in fact your father has not died, your sadness would go away…whereas the fact of the headache is ONE fact.

Therefore in any image or text there’s a sort of grisaille backstory, the emotional trace. Shakespeare’s life story isn’t known in detail but we get a good feeling from it, because he left his wife and kids and succeeded as an entrepreneur whilst ripping Early Modern English a new asshole. Of course, jagoffs like Emmerich, being jagoffs, like to destroy this trace in that new movie Anonymous. They confuse knowledge with lack of feeling.

The ancients knew this. It wasn’t history if it didn’t either edify or instruct through pity and terror. The modern, scientific (or pseudo-scientific) distinction between emotion and cognition was to them unknown.

Therefore I think I’ve communicate a feeling. And without being “painterly” or overtly clumsy in the modern way. I love Matisse and Leroy Nieman, the guy who paints the Super Bowl, ain’t all bad, but never wanted to paint like them.

Which probably means I should. Sometimes I do. We have to turn ourselves inside out.


Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 17 Jan 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 17, 2012 by spinoza1111


Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand, to the Music of Bach, and the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou’ as of 17 Jan 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60 *80 cm

This is the hard part for I am continually refining her skin tone and the shadows and highlights of the jungle. You keep realizing there’s a whiter white to go inside the highlight, and a blacker black for the shadow.

PROP. XXXIX. He, who possesses a body capable of the greatest number of activities, possesses a mind whereof the greatest part is eternal.

Proof.—He, who possesses a body capable of the greatest number of activities, is least agitated by those emotions which are evil (IV. xxxviii.)—that is (IV. xxx.), by those emotions which are contrary to our nature; therefore (V. x.), he possesses the power of arranging and associating the modifications of the body according to the intellectual order, and, consequently, of bringing it about, that all the modifications of the body should be referred to the idea of God; whence it will come to pass that (V. xv.) he will be affected with love towards God, which (V. xvi.) must occupy or constitute the chief part of the mind; therefore (V. xxxiii.), such a man will possess a mind whereof the chief part is eternal. Q.E.D.

Note.—Since human bodies are capable of the greatest number of activities, there is no doubt but that they may be of such a nature, that they may be referred to minds possessing a great knowledge of themselves and of God, and whereof the greatest or chief part is eternal, and, therefore, that they should scarcely fear death. But, in order that this may be understood more clearly, we must here call to mind, that we live in a state of perpetual variation, and, according as we are changed for the better or the worse, we are called happy or unhappy.

Spinoza, Of Human Freedom


Who knows his manhood’s strength,
Yet still his female feebleness maintains;
As to one channel flow the many drains,
All come to him, yea, all beneath the sky.
Thus he the constant excellence retains;
The simple child again, free from all stains.

Who knows how white attracts,
Yet always keeps himself within black’s shade,
The pattern of humility displayed,
Displayed in view of all beneath the sky;
He in the unchanging excellence arrayed,
Endless return to man’s first state has made.
Who knows how glory shines,
Yet loves disgrace, nor ever for it is pale;
Behold his presence in a spacious vale,
To which men come from all beneath the sky.
The unchanging excellence completes its tale;
The simple infant man in him we hail.

Lao Tse

Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of January 15 2012: She Never Stumbles, She Got No Place to Fall

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by spinoza1111


Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, Le Roi du Bay-oo’ as of 15 January 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60 * 80 cm.

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, Le Roi du Bay-oo’ as of 15 January 2012”, acrylic on canvas.

Poussin decomposes on close examination in the Louvre to a clumsy hesitancy in the details, especially in his nonetheless sublime Inspiration of the Poet.

Whereas the forgotten Vouet, who conspired against Poussin in Paris, is perfect down to the brush stroke.

But Poussin had *Duende* and Vouet was a hack.

Moral: even if your “friends” say, “your band sucks, man” and you nonetheless want to BLOW, kid, then you gotta WAIL. It’s the closest damn thing for a man to giving birth, luckily without the pain for the most part.

When I drew this somewhat graceless and antique step, a step from the 18th century, I knew I was going all the way.

Because dang, you feel clumsy even at a Rave especially if you’re an old guy, and you start dancing by yourself, a gesture I pioneered in Jersey at Rave ups sponsored by my recovery group.

Felt faint during today’s session even though I’d eaten because I put the painting on the ground and, danced around the sucker and knelt on the hard floor to do details, reasoning that if Michelangelo could paint lying on his back I could genuflect. Noted down this health data point for follow up in my diary.

Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 14 January 2012: The Painted Veil

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 14, 2012 by spinoza1111

Listen! And, I must confess, I like Kitschy Native American Great Spirit (WeltGeist) art, and I miss the American land.

Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and, to the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou’ as of 14 January 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60 * 80 cm.

Edward G. Nilges, “In-situ State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Nuts Flibbertigibbet Knucklehead Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and, to the Sweet Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the King of the Bayou’ as of 14 January 2012”

I had to take a shower after today’s session, for to save my clothes, I paint in shorts like hers. And, my method requires a very careful adjustment of the “charge” or amount of paint on the brush, so I am continually wiping the brush on a rag or my body to adjust this. I ended up savagely painted. Fortunately, acrylics are washable, especially with a stiff “loofa” style wash cloth such as I have.

Part of the romance of art is to go about paint-splattered as by a god, and to dwell in chambers smelling of turpentine, although my room does not so smell, for acrylics are far safer as regards fumes.

The goal is to reconcile Modernism and the Traditional, for the next step are color-form planes that reconcile things far-distant. There’s this incredible Shadow that unites her twisting dancing body, and it has to be echoed by the plunge you cannot make, on the Island whereupon I live, into the monsoon forest, at least, without a machete and boots like to destroy it (stay on the causeway). This plunge is into shadow.

I walked to the beach for a memorial get-together for a Scotsman today, and once again noticed the way in which the Banyan seeks the light. Used to be one of my father’s books, The Cypresses Believe in God. Written by a right wing Spaniard, but a great title all the same.

Buddhist ontology: discussing this with a Lamma mate: Buddhist ethics based on the idea of many souls in living things. A 747 has no soul, but a tree does. But so does a limb, a branch, and a leaf, each regarding itself as an end in itself, like an actor with a bit part who think that Romeo and Juliet is about this Apothecary.

The Painted Veil: to get to the thing in itself, the person you’re married to. Kitty, in the Maugham novel, pierces a veil of illusion when she realizes her Hong Kong lover was a fat fuck and her husband, who dragged her to a cholera-ridden mainland hole, was a good man, and, upon return to England, she asks her father, appointed to be the Governor of Bermuda, if she can not accompany him, and she says, o let us be good to one another.

Easier said than done in my experience. There’s this (German?) rage for pure Recognition which has to be calibrated at all times perfectly to the Recognition you give the other. Spielberg shows how dysfunctional this got in the German psyche, in that shocking (almost unendurable) scene where Ralph Fiennes as Amon Rath torments the naked Jewish woman.

This may have to do with Germany’s experience after the Battle of Jena and before 1870, a time of Idiocracy when my patrilineal ancestors had to play feudal roles in a bourgeois economy. Beethoven resolved this after “letting go”, in the modern parlance, of his nephew Karl, and the “letting go” became movements of his final quartets of unspeakable tenderness and beauty.

The joke in painting a female in sexy clothes, for me, is that I can slowly, slowly, build a radiant and saintly expression. The women on the Web sites, whom I do not use to get off, look so damned tired when in search of “pretty nudes” such as are marketed by Peter Hegre that damned Japanese web site cuts in. And, of course, the commercial Web sites aren’t two way. So there’s a complete absence of mutual Recognition, which is what the male porn consumer wants…the Benthamite Power to see while being unseen.

Whereas I can make her see by way of a careful analysis, in paint alone, of the inexhaustible bones of the eye and mouth, and how they interplay in complex planes of shadow and light. Digital technology pretends it can reduce this essentially to a single large “Godel” number, the exponential sum, if you must know, of all the bit values in a digital photograph. So, I have to stay one step ahead of the digital daemon. My daemon can beat up your daemon.

It’s absurd commodity fetishism to think of even an iPod reproduction to be “the same”, “effectively the same”, “ceteris paribus and kiss my ass, the same” as going to the symphony. I went to the symphony recently and noticed that one ear could apprehend not only sound but the exact distance between itself and the instruments. It made a difference that the Hong Kong symphony places the second violins where traditionally the cellos go.

Albert Borgmann’s Crossing the Postmodern Divide names American depression as a commodious depression. We’ve been sold ersatz lives, I told myself that a software career was just as good as being a doctor or artist, and I was lying to myself. We do this because the cash nexus makes things of the same price the same and dis-enchants the world.

Ironically, my Yuppie generation knew this, and refused to wear polyester. But as Adorno knew, “authenticity” can always be prefixed with “pseudo” because the very concept of Authenticity is post-lapsarian.

[In simpler English: “organic whatever” contains the memory of the whatever in the sense that the person buying the authentic stuff is paying a premium whereas her housekeeper is buying the dreck.]

To return to the gaze of Peter’s Crazy Aunt: it is breaking a boundary, it is a moment of insight and Spinoza’s Knowledge which was mathematically the same as Love.

I do not know what she’s looking at.

Poussin’s triumphant final painting: the God, who’s in a tree gazes upon the nymph but she not on him, for she grieves, for, I think, her father. As mon cher Maitre’s sight failed, his paintings, such as Blind Orion in Search of the Rising Sun, were more and more about vision. God does not see Adam and Eve, the Winter of the Flood is blindness and dark water, Boaz recognizes his servant Ruth as a human being.

I have dirt cheap reader eyeglasses bought at stands and slowly their magnification increases as I get older. I have to think about Poussin, who could not get eye-glasses in Rome: they were a high tech rarity primarily available a bit later in the 17th century from lens-grinders like Spinoza. I have also to think about Chief Dan George, who plays the Lakota chief in Little Big Man, who says, thank you for my blindness for in it I have learned to see.