Archive for Poussin

Workout Log 9 Oct 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 8, 2012 by spinoza1111

Still in recovery from trip back to USA, will wait to workout until 12 Oct when I don’t have to go into Central. Home from hospital spent 16 hours sleeping much refreshed but now need to go back in for a bone scan today, a tutorial tomorrow, and a Urology followup on Thursday. Now need deep rest.

I keep recalculating the number of kids I have.

My son believed in an “austere” lifestyle as I did in Evanston in 1962, I, for Catholic reasons, my son in 1988, for reasons that I think had to do with 19th century French poetry. He’d like Poussin’s fable of Diogenes who, when he sees a beggar drinking with his hands, gets rid of his cup.

I’d tell my son to dress more warmly, layer up, and wear a hat such as a beret for practical reasons as well as a chick magnet. For he’d get sick, and look like Wee Wullie, the Collier’s Dying Child in a panto. Which in my experience is only a short-term chick magnet.

Workout 1 September 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 1, 2012 by spinoza1111

Nicholas Poussin, Apollo and Daphne, 1664

Primus amor Phoebi Daphne Peneia, quem non
fors ignara dedit, sed saeva Cupidinis ira,
Delius hunc nuper, victa serpente superbus,
viderat adducto flectentem cornua nervo
“quid” que “tibi, lascive puer, cum fortibus armis?” – Ovid

40 minutes Frei Tanz: free dance with weights.

The neurologist at Bangkok Samui Hospital last week gave me a thorough neurological examination before prescribing pain medications. This included a set of probes that found that pain could be induced only at the top of the left gluteus. This implies that all other pains are referred for a running injury pain, for example, would either be at a site all the time, or could be induced, since the location of the pain == the location of the pathology.

Doogie Hauser MD, that’s me…seriously the patient is where the Object and Subject dialectically converge.

The Dr recommends an MRI to confirm the absence of sciatica which would focus all future treatments on referred pain caused by tumors or pre-tumoroid lymph vessels. Meanwhile my job is to keep the cancer inside the lymphatic system where it seems at this time to be, unless the soft indentation in my stomach wall as seen in yesterday’s endoscopy is a non-lymphatic tumor. But it was soft to the Doctor’s probe which implies tentatively that it is a lymph node with extra material in it.

“Narrative” medicine is a fascinating topic, although in my illness last summer I missed the deadline for applying for the Columbia program I may try next summer. This is because in my early running days I discovered the “running journal” concept.

I was already working (circa 1980) for an unusual, rather innovative, but at the same time fraudulent and brutal Chicago consulting firm which stressed written logs of client interactions. Most of my fellow employees were bottom feeding Cobol programmers who thought they were slick and exploiting the fact that at that distant date, programmers could command high salaries when in fact they created the mechanisms that have long since destroyed most of their lives. They blew off the writing requirement with half literate jottings.

I wrote everything carefully and precisely, but the Chicago client manager was pissed off at me early in the game because I refused to continue working at Motorola on her team, after I discovered that the Motorola team, in the process of actually and for real inventing the first mobile phone, hated me because I wore a suit. The Chicago client manager, a rather interestingly tall, grey-haired and slender woman whose role model unfortunately seemed to be Ayn Rand, breezily described my careful journals as “verbose”, and, assisted by my drinking, down the tubes I went…to recover and get a much better job in compilers in Silicon Valley, minus my family.

Another factor in the long-past degringolade was, according to a witty, acerbic and elegantly dressed manager at the same firm with whom I shared a taste for a well-built Martini,that I’d failed to screw a family member and firm principal who wanted my newly hot body. I was, despite my pose of Martini-imbibing urbanity, shocked, saying, but I’m married, like Danny deVito in A Solitary Man.

But then I left my wife and went right out into that world of betrayal only to find California, fortunately, and a company with some real community and some family-friendliness, that encouraged my efforts to stay connected with the kids. I discovered that real life isn’t the movies, it’s having to make the liquor store by two AM because in California that’s when it closes, and it sucks to be so overdetermined. In a few years I was freed of that stuff and remained free for nine years.

I wasn’t innocent, in other words. But I was stupid, which is a different thing. I still can be naive as a defect of character.

But back to writing…

I discovered that journaling running injuries, and ordinary fevers, caused me to recover more quickly whence this journal. Of course, it may not be of any use but one does what one can.

Et in Arcadia Ego: workout log 7 July 2012

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 7, 2012 by spinoza1111

Nicholas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego (I, too, was [is] in Arcadia), 1637/8, Louvre

I think the Poussin scholar (and traitor, sad to say) Anthony Blunt was the one who noted that the name of the painting is ambiguous. It could mean either, I too was also in Arcadia, or I too (death?) is also here, in Arcadia. Literally I think it means “and in Arcadia I”.

Is Poussin mourning a former inhabitant of the land of Arcadia, the Isle of the Blessed, or, is he saying that Death is also in Arcadia? Actually, wikipedia’s article does a fairly good job on the meaning of the theme which indeed probably is that even in the sheltered, aristocratic and Arcadian world, death is a reality.

Be that as it may, another terrific morning, with the humidity lessened by a cleansing shower and breeze as I walked to Hung Shing Yeh Beach for a 30 minute water dance and swim. The elephant ears and banana trees were gleaming wet and dripping and all was most glorious indeed.

Nuts! “It was all…shining, it was Adam and Maiden…the spellbound horses walking warm…out of the whinnying green stable…on to the fields of praise” (Dylan Thomas).

Water a little dirty since this is what happens when it rains here but in this down-market Beggar’s Arcady, one can’t be too fussy.

Somewhat of a dirty night, sleeplessness, no pain. Quit Stilnox, had, as expected, rebound insomnia. Dealt with it using cognitive therapy:

1. When you are lying still you only think you’re not getting sleep usually are getting some

2. You often enter a state that was common before electric light one of watchful wakefulness, where people in “a world lit only by fire” would rise around midnight to talk and pray quietly until about one AM. This state is very useful for serenity and well-being in my experience because I’ve experienced it in Yosemite, and Minnesota, in the wilderness where there’s no electric light.

3. Don’t count sheep.

4. A window is best for looking out at the night. Most films (including, for me, last night, that Franco-American modern silent, The Artist) are either so good they’ll keep you up or so bad you’ll throw up.

5. Eventually, everyone except perhaps Funes the Memorious, a character in a Borges short story who remembers everything and cannot sleep owing to that fact, falls asleep. Insomnia, like many other diseases, is a self reflexive thing: the rash cannot dry and yet will not be healed by moisture, in insomnia we have to think about insomnia. We never feel ourselves let go, in general, although the physicist Richard Feynman did claim to know the moment of sleep, and I sensed it under heavy pain medication last month.

It might even be what Kant meant by the thing in itself which the sensory organs can never perceive.

So I just lay there and allowed myself to drift as the day came. I’ll probably get loads of sleep tonight and the goal is not to have to depend on an artificial sleeping aid. The last artificial sleeping aid for me, after all, was Jim Beam in 1984 and while Mr Beam has his charms he is a hard taskmaster even with club soda…you know, where you ride the bubbles down…ah yes…even though Mr Beam is a charming gentleman Mr Beam always gets paid.

I did go back to “Tramadol” a mild “opioide” with warm milk just at night, tho alongside Panadol. I have a considerable supply. This may be misuse since it’s for pain not sleeping, and the sciatic pain is almost gone. The goal remains getting rid of all pain meds followed by a sixty minute test run and evaluation to see if I’ll ever run again. But I had this irritating cough located in the throat based possibly on aspirating a little vomitus last week. It went away.

I need a personal physician but that again would be exploitation for it’s an infinite regress. It is cruel mockery in Republican BS about health care to speak as if the ordinary American is a sweet old lady who “wants to talk to her doctor” and is scared of death panels with Negroes on them (for this manipulation of white fear goes back to Reconstruction).

For one thing, the ordinary American ain’t exactly what you’d call a sweet old lady. For another, he don’t got no doctor except his new best friend, Dr Patel, in the ‘mergency room.

True story: I was getting my father’s medications in 2003 in the Valparaiso (IN) Walgreens, and had noticed with disgust “Easter baskets” for boys with guns in them. An actual sweet old lady is in line before me. Pharmacist sends her away empty handed since the medication wasn’t covered by her insurance and off she went.

In all fairness this was rectified shortly thereafter for some sweet old ladies by a much-ballyhoo’d Republican plan.

My personal health care mega-solution was something a little shop soiled since it’s out of the 1980s, it was just running my head off. It is true that this pretty much ended all forms of infectious disease in my case for twenty years. But it induced a complacency about getting regular medical checkups and now I’m perhaps paying the price…although many cancers are not caught in standard tests.

The Western world certainly thought its shit didn’t stink in the 1980s.

Peter’s Crazy Aunt as of 13 January 2012: Chloris Eram

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2012 by spinoza1111


Edward G. Nilges, “State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the KING of the Bayou’ as of 13 January 2012”, acrylic on canvas, 60 * 80 cm

Edward G. Nilges, “Final Grisaille State of ‘Peter’s Crazy Aunt Dances on the Strand to the Music of Bach, and the Zy-Deco Sounds of Clifton Chenier, the KING of the Bayou’ as of 13 January 2012”, acrylic grisaille on canvas, 60 * 80 cm

Nicholas Poussin, Empire [or Triumph] of Flora: 1631, Dresden, Gemäldegalerie

Chloris eram, quae Flora vocor. Corrupta Latino
Nominis est nostri littera Graeca sono.
Chloris eram Nymphe campi felicis, ubi audis
Rem fortunatis ante fuisse viris.
Quae fuerit mihi forma, grave est narrare modestae:
Sed generum matri repperit illa deum. 200
Ver erat: errabam: Zephyrus conspexit. Abibam:
Insequitur; fugio. Fortior ille fuit.
Et dederat fratri Boreas jus omne rapinae,
Ausus Erechthea praemia ferre domo.
Vim tamen emendat dando mihi nomina nuptae: 205
Inque meo non est ulla querela toro.
Vere fruor semper: semper nitidissimus annus.
Arbor habet frondes, pabula semper humus.
Est mihi fecundus dotalibus hortus in agris.
Aura fovet; liquidae fonte rigatur aquae.
Hunc meus implevit generoso flore maritus:
Atque ait, Arbitrium tu, dea, floris habe.
Saepe ego digestos volui numerare colores;
Nec potui; numero copia major erat.

I who now am called Flora was formerly Chloris: a Greek letter of my name is corrupted in the Latin speech.23 Chloris I was, a nymph of the happy fields where, as you have heard, dwelt fortunate men of old. Modesty shrinks from describing my figure; but it procured the hand of a god for my mother’s daughter. ‘Twas spring, and I was roaming; Zephyr caught sight of me: I retired; he pursued and I fled; but he was the stronger, and Boreas had given his brother full right of rape by daring to carry off the prize from the house of Erechtheus.24 However, he made amends for his violence by giving me the name of bride, and in my marriage-bed I have naught to complain of. I enjoy perpetual spring; most buxom is the year ever; ever the tree is clothed with leaves, the ground with pasture. In the fields that are my dower, I have a fruitful garden, fanned by the breeze and watered by a spring of running water. This garden my husband filled with noble flowers and said, ‘Goddess, be queen of flowers.’

Ovid: Fasti V

My Favorite Paris Drawings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2011 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges, “Assemblage of My Paris Sketches”, from drawings made in 2004, 2008 and 2009 in pencil, ink, wash, some modified using Gimp.

Clockwise from upper left hand corner:

1. A woman pauses in front of a painting in the Louvre. Her kid is a real rascal who is for the moment quite pleased with himself.

2. Two gentlemen in the cafe

3. A snooty French girl sees me drawing her, probably thinks I’m a Yank who doesn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground

4. The large blue and highlighted drawing is after Poussin’s Rebecca at the Welll

5. A Sabine Woman interposes herself between the Romans and the Sabines in Jacques-Louis David’s large painting

6. Top to bottom, a girl with big hair notices me drawing her in the Louvre cafe, a Senegalese guy is attentive and still, an aging Frenchman smokes.

7. Athena

To the Unknown Helper #27: reflections on Mahler

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

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!”

(Emily Dickinson)

Of course, the first applications of color are ragged, but this gives life to later modeling. The point being to avoid any part of the canvas turning opaque save perhaps the highest lights. Everything must be a “glaze” (darker transparent or translucent paint over light) or a “scumble” (lighter paint over dark, but applied drily so that the warp and weft of the canvas catches the paint only).

Which means that the painting is a memory of the clear white gesso ground which can never match its purity but tries anyway.

A painter of the Umbrian school
Designed upon a gesso ground
The nimbus of the Baptized God.
The wilderness is cracked and browned

(TS Eliot: Mr Eliot’s Sunday Morning Service)

Up until the late 18th century, a painting was a transparent or translucent record, a “written” record, of a labour process. What you did mattered and if you messed up you had to resolve it by doing even better in the pentimento, even as the Church had confession. What people hate about Poussin is that he did stumble, whereas that psycho Caravaggio had an unerring instinct, but only within a narrow and sado-masochistic range.

But, as a Marxist would say, economic relations became ever more complex and as what Ezra Pound called “usura” entered the market the painter began to think of painting as covering up, obscuring, mystifying the base by the grand superstructure.

Fra Angelico’s paintings in egg tempera allow us to see straight through to the light of primal creation, everything is silly, saelig, holy, blessed.

Sir Joshua Reynolds painting in the last gasp of the ancien regimes piles mud, bitumen, and ground up Egyptian Mummies in an attempt to make Lady Sarah Bunbury of all people look like a mythical creature.

The time was ripe for the Impressionists to say merde, and say, what you see is what you get, and once again let the light from the canvas through.

The skin tones are going to take work to use the roughness and the redness to give life to later glazes. I started out at the top of the forehead forgetting how powerful Winsor and Newton’s “cadmium” (nonpoisonous) red is but lightened this. I can use this redness along with siena glazes, because she is brown from the sun. I see more red in her hair while keeping it blonde.

I picked up the wrong blue, a “Winsor” blue but it turned out to be perfect for the chiton-sari. I realized that the entire garment needs to be this color in reference to the Virgin Mary, rather than a multicolored sari which just seems too garish in my coloured pencil studies.

I have a jar of Winsor and Newton’s gloss medium which is good for details. The nose and face have a subtle bone architecture which needs to be brought out.

with usura

hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall
harpes et luthes
or where virgin receiveth message
and halo projects from incision,

(Ezra Pound Canto LXV)

Edward G. Nilges, “State of the Unknown Helper as of 5 Aug 2010”: Acrylic on canvas, 50*60 cm, photo taken with cheapassed digital camera and computer enhanced.

Edward G. Nilges, “Detail of State of the Unknown Helper as of 5 Aug 2010”: Acrylic on canvas, 50*60 cm, photo taken with cheapassed digital camera and computer enhanced.

To the Unknown Helper #25: reflections on Mahler

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by spinoza1111

Edward G. Nilges “State of the Unknown Helper as of 1 August 2010”.

The Grisaille is almost finished…but not quite. There is a banana tree and there are elephant ear leaves in the same plane as the Helper and the little girl and they need to form a space with respect to the rest of the landscape. The lower elephant ears need to catch some light but have been shadowed by the upper in the subtropical monsoon forest that I recreate from the forests in which I live.

In the distance is a lava flow type of rock formation such as I’ve seen and a beach, and then the Tin Hau temple I see at Tung O Wan.

The problem of the Mountain. The mountains of Lamma are covered with trees to the very top but they are of a dark green that doesn’t catch the light.

Balancing the eyes of the child, and gradually bringing out Hello Kitty behind her, my version of her pet cat. I do not even pretend to be able to draw animals worth dick.

Ay will tell you,
The Barge she sat in, like a burnisht Throne
Burnt on the water: the Poope was beaten Gold,
Purple the Sailes: and so perfumed that
The Windes were Loue-sicke.
With them the Owers were Siluer,
Which to the tune of Flutes kept stroke, and made
9The water which they beate, to follow faster;
As amorous of their strokes. For her owne person,
It beggerd all discription, she did lye
In her Pauillion, cloth of Gold, of Tissue,
O’re-picturing that Venus, where we see
The fancie out-worke Nature.

Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

The Helper has found an antique stone bench, nondescript like certain indigenous houses at Tung O, but bearing marks of workmanship.

Principes que tout homme capable de raison peut apprendre

Il ne se donne de visible sans lumiere
Il ne se donne de visible sans moyen transparent
Il ne se donne de visible sans terme
Il ne se donne de visible sans couleur [a bonne temps, MCM]
Il ne se donne de visible sans distance
Il ne se donne de visible sans instrument

Nicholas Poussin, lettre A M. de Chambray, Rome 1er Mars 1665

Edward G. Nilges “Detail of State of the Unknown Helper as of 1 August 2010”.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:1 (no I’m not a Christian: no I’m not a commodity)

Edward G. Nilges “Detail of State of the Unknown Helper as of 1 August 2010”.

It is to raise a question
That raises Ripples on the Pond
Of notions of which we are fond:
What if all was meant to be
Nothing more than you and me
A face, suffused with grace?

Poussin it appears used a middle tone from which to start, deepening the shadows and highlighting. This meant skimping on the monotone grisaille and the result was less close up resolution. However, the great Tiziano Vecelli had taught Europe to get their noses out of the paint and stand back.

One senses that Poussin was torn between Titian’s cheerful proto-Romanticism, in which man actively creates the world, and a classicism which he saw in marble and not in paint: the Roman and Greek world of the given, objectivity. Which is the reason for the close up clumsiness of Poussin’s figures who inhabit a different world than ours, a failed Gnostic attempt to make a better world…that produced instead not a world-that-sucks, just an island with its own problematic.

The nymphs are pleased enough to receive Bacchus to raise, but as “lotus eaters” out of time, they don’t know how to handle the situation on the right side: the death of Narcissus.

But anything is better than Carravaggio, who’s wildly popular today because he’s precise and brutal. Now, Adorno said that gestures, in industrial civilization, become precise and brutal. I’d change that to just brutal, where brutality is ersatz precision.

Computers in fact imprecise (32 or 64 bits for very large or very small numbers is not enough). But they allow us to beat each other with concept clubs such as “internet troll” and this seems precise.

At the cost of being a drawing and not a painting, Botticelli uses the pure egg tempera method that Daniel V. Thompson at Yale derived from Vasari’s and Cennini’s handbooks. The problem with using what would otherwise be the ideal method, tempera and then oil, is that canvas is too flexible to be a safe ground for tempera. You need a wood panel which is heavy and hard to store and ship.

Of course, I use acrylic and not oil since I need the fast drying properties of the former in order to lay down translucent layers quickly. This may present an environmental problem since acrylic gets its marvelous permanence for the same reason there’s a “gyre” of plastic junk in the Pacific. Acrylic is petroleum based.

The most environmentally friendly solution? To be as good with pure yegg tempera as American artists Wyeth and Tooker. You use the yolk which strangely doesn’t make the color yellowish. You can drink the egg whites. But you’re limited in size. The pre-oil masters used fresco for big works and here, you need an entire building.

Computers? You have to start with hand work and upload it or scan it.