Monday, January 31, 2005


I just saw this banner headline today: "Jennifer Aniston craves privacy." Irony, anyone?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Cynical Wednesday

It’s amazing how time gets away and you realize you haven’t posted anything in a week. Wow—how do I ever plan on getting regular readers? Anyhoo—

My cynical thought for the day is this: How self-serving are we? Recent news has led me to the unfortunate conclusion that we are, as a people, very self-serving. I thought I’d share some of the reasons I’m coming to this theory, and perhaps you can dissuade me.
I get my news through NPR. They just did a two-part story on the Amazonian Frontier and the farmers who are taming it. The story is rather involved, but the long and the short of it is that although the government is trying to stop people from clearing the rainforest, farmers are doing it anyway. They are also stealing land from each other, and pretending the law gives them the right to clear 80% of the forest, rather than 20% of it. Oops, read it wrong. So, the rainforest is dwindling, rains are more intense, as are the dry periods. And it's been proven that the reduction of the forest is creating more greenhouse gasses, contributing to less of the ozone layer, in turn causing more blindness and skin cancer in South America.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or what’s left of it) here in the good ol’ U.S.of A., Wal Mart is moving into small communities and destroying businesses. In one particularly heinous move, they open a small Wal-Mart in town to lure shoppers away and close businesses, then a super Wal –Mart on the edge of town. They then close the first Wal-mart, and everyone has now only one store, on the edge of town, that they can go to. They also are encouraging all of their Manufacturers to move to China, creating a middle class in China for the first time, but destroying any manufacturing jobs in ours. With the increasingly isolationist policies of our government, I think this will be causing us major problems. And nevermind the selfishness of the Walton family (who is doing this all for their own wealth), or their union-busting, or their underpayment of their employees--that’s expected from a big business owner. What gets me is that consumers know, and they still shop there. Because, if people have to choose in this country between a bargain and some sweat-shop worker in another country, or even the destruction of competition and small business in their own town, I think they will choose the bargain. In fact, I think if people have to choose between a 99 cent pair of panties and the death of a person in Asia, they’ll choose the panties.
Now, I don’t think that we’re bad people (or I’m trying not to), but I guess if you’re trying to feed and clothe your family and you’re looking for the cheapest way to do it, you will do what you have to. Ditto for the South American farmers. But when is that instinct for immediate gratification, for as many goods as possible, going to come back and bite us on the ass? Or has it already?
I was reading about the Neanderthals in Europe 13,000 years ago, who were eradicated by homo sapiens (us) moving up from the South. The Neanderthals had larger brains than we did, but were not intense hunters, and it was suggested in this book “they couldn’t even fish.” But I have in my head a scenario that perhaps the Neanderthals were intelligent quasi-vegetarians living on the land and small animals and we just came up behind them and beat them over the head. And that’s the way nature is. (It’s a completely unreal scenario, I know, but go with me). I’m just wondering if our instinct for immediate survival is threatening our long term survival. And that’s cynical.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bidloo head Posted by Hello

Magritte Posted by Hello

The Body Exhibit

I'm having trouble with this photo hosting thing, and unable to put three photos in one post. If you know the magic formula, let me know. Anyhow...

I went to see the Body Exhibit at USC and was amazed. And disturbed. And overwhelmed. And desensitized. And shamed. And creeped-out. So many things happen when you are witnessing an exhibit of real cadavers that have been made into plastic. And boy, I think, like everyone, I experienced all of them. A friend of mine put it best when she said it made her kind of melancholy; thinking "wow, we are so complicated!" and "gee, we're not that complicated" all at the same time. It's very true. And there is an element of seeing something you're not supposed to see. Especially knowing that it's going on inside of you at the same time.

I need to stop here for an ode to bones for a minute. How beautiful and sturdy. The hard exterior shell and the delicate cross-hatch of the inside. You couldn't come up with a better design. Spongy, resilient, hard, giving, fragile. Wow. I was knocked out by the bones.

There is really too much to explore in this exhibit, and I'm sure I will come back and add to this as my feelings coagulate/coalesce. At the moment, it's still slightly overwhelming. And even slightly ridiculous. A companion turned to another friend and said "does it smell like beef jerky in here?" And no, it didn't, but it looked like it at times, which was more than a little odd.

The thing that struck me the most was the differences in each of the specimens/cadavers. How they lived their lives were apparent in their bodies. There was a teacher who looked atrophied, a skate boarder, ballet dancer, a "yoga lady" and soccer player in peak form--all posed in their activities. Even a rider on a horse. (Though I do have to say it was a shock to see the skin left on the ballet dancer's genitalia, but nothing else. In her pose, it was quite apparent.

This leads me to the most surreal aspect for me--what was left on. The exhibit not only posed the figures, but chose how many layers of muscle and skin to remove, and where. So there was a man holding his skin, or dehydrated nipples on the breasts of the yoga teacher. Or hair left on different parts of different bodies. Which added to the macabre for me, somehow. Or perhaps made me realize how human these cadavers used to be.

Even more upsetting were the disembodied examples of lung tumors, liver disease, arteries and veins blocked and shunted, the list goes on. And on. I vowed for the moment to live healthier, to stretch and exercise and eat holistic foods. Then we went to dinner and I had a beer. but Salmon as well.

I need to take off, but the pictures on either side of the Magritte are from Gorev Bidloo, an academic and anatomist from Holland in the early 17th century. The piece I saw at the exhibit had partial faces sketched with skin flaps and nailed through the nose, as if hanging from a wall. And for some reason he really reminds me of the surrealists. I know there are better examples than the magritte, but you can see the echo of the head flaps in the sheeets on the lovers. Bidloo seemed a bit of a sadist from his drawings; one suspects he was interested in more than just drawing the human body for anatomical reasons. But he seems to have in common with the Surrealists the fetishism of the broken body--I'm thinking of Dali, especially, I suppose, but I know I have seen more elsewhere. I'll keep looking. Meanwhile--food for thought--there is nothing new--three centuries before it was being done.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Red vs. Blue

This is an email I sent to a friend who had a bit of post-election paranoia, and sent something out about the North being progressive, the whole anit/pro-slavery thing, and how the red states stood for one thing, and the blues for another. And then something about the social contract that was set up, or the one that is, when we set up a community, and how we should all get our visas in order and set up possibilites to live in a new country. As if. (It was actually an interesting email from an intelligent man, and I'm giving it somewhat short shrift, but I don't think we should all pack up and leave or give in to the paranoia). So--this is in response to that, but I think about perhaps (enough qualifiers there?) where we are as a country, or how I'm trying to make sense of it. I also was listening to the news the other day, and heard a bit about how the EU was trying to limit immigration. It occurs to me that they are becoming a conglomerate nation, like a corporation with subsidiaries, and I wonder if that corporate view is going to change completely the way states are structured in a global economy, so we are no longer states but subsidiaries of larger entities. The world as Apple v. Microsoft. Anyhow--I've been keeping that in mind along with thoughts below about the direction we're going in. If my history is off as well, please let me know.

I think the thing with the North and the South is a bit more complicated, of course. Rhode Island was the center of slave trading for most of the 18th century into the nineteenth with the trade in molasses and rum, which is downplayed the North seems to have always been about profit as well as Puritanism. I think it's also the difference between urban and rural--the South was not centered in the industrialization the way the North was, and I think this long-standing urban/rural divide that we saw in the last election is something that has never really left us. And let's face it, it's much colder up North, and so climate itself is a great motivator in creating community. You could literally die from the cold and the elements in the North in a way that's much more challenging to do in South Carolina.

That said, I think America is very fond of its lore, and I think this is part ofwhat we see as well right now and forever. Another facet of people leaving their homes to create a new "Social Contract" is dissatisfaction, and I think we are bred dissatisfied in this country--we are strivers. What happens, then is you have a country where people are constantly looking for something better and living in dreams--why do you think Hollywood is so popular? Where do you think advertising is from? We are all about making people dissatisfied, mostly to make money. Americans are the best at dreaming, whether those be fantasies of happiness (movies) or paranoia (Fox News).

There is an interesting book called The Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ullrich that talks about the myth of the American Family. (The book itself traces different pieces of material culture --clothes, furniture--and the individual history). I saw her speak, and one of the things she spoke of was this myth. When the Colonists boycotted British goods and had to start making their own cloth, one of the themes that emerges is the theme of the family-- pictures, needlepoint, etc., bear witness to this. In reality, though, the goods and the means of production as were too scarce for any one family to be able to hold all of the machinery or the parts they needed. People actually had to work together as a community to create cloth and goods that were necessary for survival. Interestingly, though, there came from this time the myth of the self-sufficient-ness of the American Family. I don't think we've ever been the best at looking at reality or admitting we need each other.

Which brings me to my theory--the family is dissolving perhaps, but more importantly I think community is dissolving. People are constantly buying the world view given to us from TV and advertising, proclaiming that the American Family is Paramount. Increasingly,though, the American Family is estranged within its own unit, unable to find commonground, talking on cell phones and at their computers. Meanwhile, people are unable to communicate with each other, becoming more computer-saavy, but lesssocially saavy--how many times have you seen people eating or walking together not talking to each other but on a cell phone? And unable to connect, people are getting lonelier and more paranoid (it seems if you listen to the news, but that could be another sales tactic). So to solve this, they think, it's easy to buy into lore that there are enemies all around, and that everyone is threateningthe family unit. And I don't mean to say this is just a conservative view, either. I think we've seen it in the way that people reacted to Bush and the election. Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of the fears are grounded, but I also think we are in a fascinating time of people grabbing onto whatever they feel is going to make them feel more secure, and that's why I think religion is becoming so prevalent in this country and others and more violent as well (but that's another email entirely!) So the easiest thing is to grab onto enemies, the twisted lore of the self-sufficientness of the American Family, and the biggest one we've seen in the past few months: football.

The red team and the blue team. And I think this is where we literally become divisive. Us and Them, Blue and Red. Hysteria on both sides. As much as the news would like you to believe that we are a country of two minds, one red and one blue, I think the electorate is much more complicated. Exit polls indicate that 60% of people favor some kind of civil union for gays. That's huge. There are signs that people are much more moderate than we are being lead to believe. I do think that Bush is a danger with that. I think you can see the seeds of the dissent that are beginning in the Repoublican party. But I think we all need to revise our us and them thinking-- me against the world, my family against the world, red against blue. America is, if anything, a glorious experiment in tolerance (though perhaps not acceptance as we'd like it to be - side by side, but not together). There has never been anything like it in the world. The terrifying thing about Bush seems to be his one vision of what America looks like or should look like, and his lack of tolerance for dissentor discussion. And for the past few decades, this has become the hallmark of theRepublican party; he is the unfortunate nadir. For all his talk of democracy,he has proven to be amazingly un-Democratic--you can see that with his cabinet leaving. And I think true democracy is challenging to people. NO one wants to take the time to listen to someone else's conflicting ideas and make room for them. I suppose I'm just saying that the Blue team is as guilty as the Red team in this (though not nearly as bad, as there isn't such a particular party line), and until we find a way to all get together and live with purple (to take the color metaphor too far out), we will have this push me pull you boomerang happening, and we will continue to lurch forward or sideways. I think we all need to manage our expectations and change our thinking, because America, as a dream, as lore, is a place for all people. I think that is one dream if we strive to keep alive, we can find room for everyone. As dangerous as our lore and dreams are, that one dream of America keeps people doing things that are more expansive than they would think were possible, more permissive than they thought possible,and ultimately on the road to making things better for everyone. I guess that's a faith I can have, and keep hoping to have. I don't have hopes that Bush will heal this rift in our country. But I do have hope that people will see the rift, and see that is has to be closed. Perhaps his actions will at least do that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Annie Dillard

I'm sure this is not allowed, but this is a piece of Annie Dillard's writing. I found it on Free Will Astrology, Rob Brezhny's wonderful astute astrology site, and just wanted to pass it on. It's from For the Time Being by Annie Dillard. I do love her writing. Go out and buy something of hers. Here--here's the link to Amazon. What a gift, that writing. Enjoy.

There were no formerly heroic times, and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been: a people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful and self-aware; a people who scheme, promote, deceive and conquer; who pray for their loved ones, and long to flee misery and skip death. It is a weakening and discoloring idea that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time -- or even knew selflessness or courage or literature -- but that it is too late for us. In fact, the absolute is available to everyone in every age. There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less.There is no less holiness at this time -- as you are reading this -- than there was the day the Red Sea parted, or that day in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as Ezekiel was a captive by the river Chebar, when the heavens opened and he saw visions of God. There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree by your street than there was under the Buddha's bo tree. There is no whit less might in heaven or on earth than there was the day Jesus said "Maid, arise" to the centurion's daughter, or the day Peter walked on water, or the night Mohammed flew to heaven on a horse. In any instant the sacred may wipe you with its finger. In any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in a tree. In any instant you may avail yourself of the power to love your enemies; to accept failure, slander, or the grief of loss; or to endure torture.Purity's time is always now. Purity is no social phenomenon, a cultural thing whose time we have missed, whose generations are dead, so we can only buy Shaker furniture. "Each and every day the Divine Voice issues from Sinai," says the Talmud. Of eternal fulfillment, Tillich said, "If it is not seen in the present, it cannot be seen at all."

Monday, January 10, 2005

A Series of Unfortunate Flying Phantoms

I saw a couple of movies in the last couple of weeks. Surprising dearth of anything interesting to see. I may be reduced to (gasp) renting. Yipes.

I saw the Phantom of the Opera at the Dome here in Hollywood, probably one of the best screens on which to view this overwhelmingly bloated self-important waste of time. What were they thinking? Is the novel this ridiculous? Granted, I never saw the play, and have found it impossible to listen to the entire thing, but I still thought the movie might be entertaining. Well, there were some fun questions that came up, and I enjoyed Minnie Driver. More of her. In fact, is there a movie with Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Ciaran Hinds, and Simon Callow? They are the only interest in this one, and I was thinking how much fun a movie with them might be, as I had a lot of time to think. Although, sadly, when Miranda Richardson’s Madame is telling us what a wonderful theatrical artist the beast, I mean Phantom, is (He designs! He directs!), she reminded me of Chloris Leachman in Young Frankenstien. But here are the other fascinating plot/design wierdnesses:
--If Christine’s Father was such a famous violinist, and had enough money to buy a gigantic tomb, how did she end up apprenticed to a ballet company as a poor orphan? And she still has money for fabulous clothes. Go figure.
--What the hell is happening beneath the theatre? Was it a medieval dungeon/outlet mall? The thing is like 16 stories. At some point, Raul (Patrick Wilson) is submerged in water 5 stories underground and the sun is shining—where is the light coming from? And Presumably, he is still stories above the lagoon. And how would the Phantom manage to get a giant clam shell and piano down there with no one noticing? It just goes on and on. I was told by some people who saw it that he was supposedly an architect. Huh.
--Hey, if there is a dead body hanging from the rafters of your theatre, and you’re trying to get away from the murderer, would you run up? to the roof? To sing? And speaking of that song, could Lloyd Weber not afford a different melody for All I ask of You? Did he have to use the same one as Music of the Night?
--Could anyone buy “Think of Me Fondly” as being from an opera in 1870? I couldn’t. But most of the music takes a healthy suspension of disbelief.
--Was the right side of the Phantom's face that bad? Because the rest of him was not hard on the eyes.
The director starts and ends the film with a candle, an homage to the Red Shoes, and basically steals from Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast with the candlebra arms, etc. Fitting, as the Phantom is just a reahash of the beast, and Svengali Lermontov in the Red Shoes. Do yourself a favor and see either or both of those better movies. And for a big laugh, read Anthony Lane’s review of Phantom in the New Yorker issue of Jan 3. One of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. I laughed out loud.

Another big fan of the Red Shoes, famously, is Martin Scorcese. I saw the Aviator last night. Boy, was it long. Now, I don’t mind long movies. I mean, I sat through La Belle Noiseuse, and am glad I did. But a lot of this seems unnecessary. There are some crackling wonderful things here, including the Senate hearing, dinner at the Hepburns, and some of the flight sequences. But all in all, this movie could have lost 45 minutes and no one would have been sad. Or had numb buttocks.
There are some great technical things—the colorization feel, especially with Hughes and Hepburn’s first golfing, is great. The flying is thrilling at times. But I don’t think Scorcese knows what story he wants to tell. It’s all laid out in front of us, and by the end, it’s a buffet you’re kind of sick of looking at. First it’s about his movie obsession, then his aviation obsession, his relationships, and then his plain obsession. Obviously he was mentally ill, which is shown in great detail, but never really explored in a way we know what's happening, perhaps because it’s rare to have a scene without Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) in it.
I liked the performances. Cate Blanchett is great as Hepburn, summoning her without really looking like her. Di Caprio is very good in an extrememly challenging role. He pulls it off for the most part, though some of the aging was difficult for me to buy. The only bothersome thing to me is Alan Alda. He’s good as Brewster, but in a film with most of the actors trying for transformation, it’s a bit jarring to see Alda as Alda. Was Brewster a New York Jew who happened to be elected to Congress from Maine? Could Alda not have tried to at least make us believe he was from Maine in the forties, instead of New York in the fifties? His manner, mannerisms and speech were all everything we always see from him. Although I liked that part of the story, his performance took me out of it. It just felt like more stunt casting.

And speaking of Stunt Casting—Jim Carrey in Lemony Snicket. Oh, there’s so much wrong with this film from beginning to end. To start with, it’s joy and whimsy free. As dark as the books seem, it’s their sense of humour and whimsy that makes them a hit. Sadly lacking in this incarnation. To begin, the whole film feels in service to Jim Carrey. I’m always on the fence about him. He tries really hard, and can be funny, but it’s so in your face and even angry sometimes I find it difficult to watch.
I suppose the feature I most miss about the books is the language. The play of language, the rhythm, the fun of it, makes the books enjoyable. Not so here. Jude Law is woefully wrong as the narrator. You want to hear Vincent Price, a droll narrator with a clipped resonant, stentorian tone in absolute control. Instead, we get an almost Cockney, laid-back, fully naturalistic narrator who sets the wrong tone. Add to that several actors who are all in different movies, and several who are wasted for no apparent reason (Jane Adams, Jennifer Coolidge, Luis Guzman, Dustin Hoffman [?]), you have one unfortunate adventure. If you’re going to the trouble of casting well-known supporting characters, why not use them? It just seems like some Hollywood in-party that everyone wants to be a part of, and a dreadful party at that. Meryl Streep is probably the most fun, and she has a good moment with Jim Carrey. Billy Connelly is a warm presence as usual, but misused. Ah well, at least I got to see the trailer for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which has Tim Burton, the king of this kind of whimsy, at it’s helm, and Johhny Depp as Willie Wonka. It’s coming out in July.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Ambassadors

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Okay--here is a painting by Hans Holbein the younger of Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selve. 15th Century. One was ambassador to France, and one to the vatican. It's pointed out the the broken lute string is a sign of possible religious discord. And then, and this is the best--the thing in between them on the floor is a skull! yes--a skull! You can't miss it. How freaky is that, though? When you stand to one side, it pops out, and is very obvious. Huge, even. But when you're not, when you're looking straight on, it seems to have nothing to do with the floor, almost as if it was painted later. Did one of these men die? Is it the painter's attempt at establishing the morality of these two self-important men? Did one kill the other one? And if so, which one? IT's time for some research. I think they were both in their late 20's when this was done. This is how pulp like the Da Vinci code gets started. Crazy.

Portrait of a man

Posted by Hello

I have been trying to get this saved to my profile, but no such luck. Ah, well. I love it, and I don't know why. And who cares? I love the look on his face. It's a great painting. Enjoy it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Line of Beauty

Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty is one of the best books I've read in sometime. I almost don't know how to start talking about it. On a plot summary level, it's about a young gay man just out of college and the relationship he has with a friend's family and other men during Thatcherite Britain of the mid-80's. So for plot summary, that's it.

IT's about, as you would expect, much more. I was mostly struck at it's frank depictions of gay sex, gay realtionships, and politics. I don't mean to sound like I'm doing a redux of the Almodovar film reaction here, or that this is somehow meant to be an exalting thing, but it's not simply a gay book. And I think that's one of the reasons it won the Booker. Or the Man Booker, excuse me. Must give the corporation its due.

There has long been a criticism of "gay" fiction or "gay" art that it will never be mainstream or matter enough, or be part of a larger cultural dialogue. Hollinghurst destroys that. I hate to use the word universal, because that's a crock (what does it mean?). He creates a character who is dealing with his sexuality, realtionships, and where he fits in the power structure in the world he is living in. And I do think that's universal. He also explores these same things with some of the straight characters. Nothing is easy or pat, and nothing comes out the way that people expect.

Like Howard's End (one of my personal, if not my most, favorite books-READ IT!) this book deals with relationships, money, power, race, politics, art. Not a small feat. Our hero, Nick Guest, spends all of the book being literally that, a guest, at the home of a rising MP in Thatcher's government. He is a friend of the son of the family from Oxford, and he is planning on only staying a few months. He stays for four years. That time, '82-'87, is explored. There is overwhelming conservativism, lots of money, lots of drugs. And lots of sex.

Hollinghurst does not shy away from the desires of the characters. And he does not shy away from exploring each characters' fantasies about themselves, crowned with Nick's own. Nick is working on a PhD on James, supposedly, but using it more as an excuse to have something to say while he walks through the rich and powerful world he now has access to, and to be impressed with his own cleverness. He becomes infatuated with a young black boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and then with a rich Lebanese closeted mulit-millionaire (another interesting aspect of the book is Nick fetishization of "dark" men). All the while he is expected to be caretaker to the bi-polar daughter of the wealthy family whose house he is living in. Boundaires blur. His place in the family, or what he believes it to be, blurs. This becomes a fascinating exploration of power, the abuse of power, the arrogance and entitlement of money, and sexuality. You can be rich or not, white or not, straight or not, and it seems the last is the most important, which Nick realizes by the end of the book. We have an outsider who is burned by his own assumptions. All of this is ratcheted up a notch with the advent of AIDS from when the book begins in 1983 and when it ends in 1987, near Black Monday.

It's hard not to think of Fitzgerald's Nick looking in on a world of money he does not have, ashamed of his won background. Or, indeed, of what those characters will do to protect their money and the rarified closed-club world that it lives in. Hollinghurst ups the stakes here, though, with the real Margaret Thatcher appearing in the book, and with Nick's own desires and need for love being a huge part of the novel. I keep thinking as well of the gay man as courtier, caretaker, jester, which comes up in the novel. Those who aren't either have money, are closeted, or both.

I have in the past found Hollinghurst's prose to be a bit, shall we say, self-consciously dense. It's fitting that Nick is working on a PhD on James. I found this prose to be rich, though, and not self-conscious at all. The author's constructions did not leap out at me to hit me over the head with their own cleverness, perhaps becuase many of the times that may have happened, words were filtered through Nick's creation. I won't tell you what the Line of Beauty is, as there are multiple meanings, and finding them is one of the delights of this rich book.

I could write much more on this, and have been thinking about it since I have finished the book, but what's the point? I'd rather not ruin any of it. Read it yourself. There are so many richly drawn characters, I wouldn't know where to start. And I think a mini-thesis could be written on anything from aesthetics to politics using this book as a starting point. It's that good. The character's are astounding: from Gerald, the pompous MP whose house Nick is living in, to Rachel, his wife; Catherine, the manic depressive daughter; Wani, the wealthy cad who Nick takes up with, addicted to cocaine and porn; Toby, the son of the family who Nick is unrequitedly in love with. I'm not sure that Nick is likeable, I'm not sure who is likeable in the book (the people seem outlandishly petty, selfish, racist, etc), but everyone is human. And that's a great, rare creation.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Dead Christ

Crivelli Christ Posted by Hello

I am completely stunned by this image. It wasn't until I read the title that I realized that Christ was dead (in the picture--I maybe dense, but wow). It strikes me as one of the most tender portrayals of Christ I have ever seen. Look at his hand--it's almost like a paw, as if the angel is helping him with a thorn. The look on the angels face is so sad as well--an overburdened child, and grief on a face that was never created for that emotion. Christ looks as if he's sleeping. The angels, children, seem to overwhelmed with the weight of it. How will they carry him? I'm haunted by this image. It's the most human image of Christ I have seen, or perhaps the most compelling, as it asks you to care for him, weep for him, help the angels to lay him down.

The Crivelli that I saw in the National Gallery were among the most exciting that I saw my whole trip. He took pieces of objects--glass, metal, a wooden key--and placed them in the painting (I thought Klimt was the first for that). The paintings are beatiful aesthetically and technically. There is a great St. Michael, with lions faces on his knee guards, holding scales, standing on a black clawed demon. There is also a St. Lucy with her eyes on a plate.

Pardon me, but if a contemporary woman ripped her eyes out because a pagan man complimented her beauty, would we be so quick Saint her? I'm not following. St. Crazy maybe? I am not out to offend Catholics, but I have never understood the zeal to self destroy under the guise of getting closer to God. I guess it's easier for us to understand self-mutilation as a path of self-destruction and self-hatred. But if say, you believe God creates all--including us, and all is sacred--including us, what part of destroying that creation makes you closer to God? It must be part of the hatred of the flesh. If it whos offense, rip it out--maybe she thought he was attractive as well. I'm sure St. Lucy did lots of other nice things, though. I'm sure ripping out her eyes is not the only thing she did to gain Sainthood. Just like Janet made a lot of music before she showed her boob, but you do have to wonder if that will eclipse her other achievements. And why a plate? All Saint images have them holding their mutilated body parts on plates. To serve them? Eeew. Or is it that they suffered for US? And they are offering them to us, as a token of how much they care?

But I digress--the Crivelli are beautiful images, many with gilt aspects that heighten the painted color, rather than detract from it. I am sure he is known everywhere, but this is my first exposure to him that I remember. I'm so glad I've had the pleasure.


Martyrdom of St. Sebastian by Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo Posted by Hello

I found the postcard of the painting I was talking about below (I don't know art...). You have to imagine it about 12' high , and then you'll get the sense of what I was talking about. It also has a lazy persecution about it. Look at Sebastian's face. It's as if he's saying "oh, no, not this again," while being pelted with arrows. It's as if this happens all the time, almost like a boy being beaten up in the schoolyard. And I guess Sebastian did, after he survived the arrows. Is he the Patron Saint of Homosexuals? There should be one. We should petition the pope. It looks like these guys are getting off on shooting their arrows. So much for high art criticism.