Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Power of a Saint

ST. CATHERINE, Bernardino Luini (1530)
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, November 25th is the feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria, who converted hundreds of Egyptians to Christianity in the 3rd century before being beheaded at the age of 18. The legend of her martyrdom may now be disputed, but 1100 years after her death she appeared in a vision to St. Joan of Arc, and for centuries after that she was still inspiring great artists like Luini. I love this subtle masterpiece. It radiates a quiet charisma and embodies the enduring power of myth. Click to enlarge.

Monday, November 6, 2017

True Love

In view of the daily revelations of sexual depredation, here's a reminder from the 18th century of the sublime nature of true love, the highest earthly expression of man's endless search for unity:
"I understand by this passion the union of desire, friendship and tenderness, which is inflamed by a single female, which prefers her to the rest of her sex, and which seeks her possession as the supreme or the sole happiness of our being. I need not blush at recollecting the object of my choice; and though my love was disappointed of success, I am rather proud that I was once capable of feeling such a pure and exalted sentiment."
~historian Edward Gibbon

Blue Guitar

"They said, 'You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.'
The man replied, 'Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.'" 
~Wallace Stevens, excerpt from The Man With the Blue Guitar

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Shakespeare on Self-awareness

"Speculation turns not to itself,
Till it hath travell'd and is mirror'd in another person's eyes, 
Where it may see itself."