Archive for January, 2015

Warmth from the Parisian Cafe

January 24, 2015

Friday Night

Friday Night

“I was never interested in their pessimism, or editorializing.  You have to have time to feel sorry for yourself if you’re going to be a good abstract expressionist.  And I think I always considered that a waste.”

Robert Rauschenberg, Pop Artist, commenting on the Abstract Expressionist painters preceding him

Hello. It is Friday night, and the Texas temperatures outside this cold, wet night are hanging around thirty-five degrees. Finishing an arduous week of school, I now enjoy my payoff—a weekend without appointments. The coffee is poured, and as I think over the satisfaction of my Philosophy class today during their Socratic dialogue and subsequent Presocratics research, I am filled with a state of eudaimonia. Already I’ve enjoyed an evening of books and playing my guitars. Now I’m taking careful notes from a DVD, “Painters Painting.” I feel the company of these artists who flourished in New York City from the 1940s to the 1970s, and am enjoying what I’m hearing.

I posted the Rauschenberg quote above, because I’m laughing at the silly self-absorbed notion of an American artist brooding in his studio, alone, on a cold winter Friday night. I am personally annoyed when I read a blog, or hear an original song performed at an open mike that focuses on the depression and alienation experienced by its creator. Having said that, I have always tried to avoid publishing brooding, self-obsessed, navel-gazing, self-pitying blog posts. I think I am honest when I say that I appreciate life as a Gift, with its multitude of opportunities to explore, and its countless avenues for growth.

Per the title I’ve posted, I feel a genuine warmth over friends I’ve had the privilege of meeting in person and online the past couple of weeks, and feel (finally) that I am settling into a lifestyle comparable to what was experienced in the Parisian cafes from the 1920’s onward, where people from diverse walks of life met to discuss their creative observations, work on new art forms, and draw encouragement from one another. I had always wanted this to happen in schools where I have taught throughout the years, but it just hasn’t for reasons I don’t really care to explore tonight.  I’m just glad to be aware now of people all around and accessible who have that same thirst for conversation and exchange of perspectives. Though I have a weekend stretching before me that is virtually empty of appointments, it just feels good to know that I can reach out in a multitude of directions and draw energy from others. We truly live in a remarkable age where we can connect online and communicate without that annoying cost of long-distance telephone charges, or waiting on the postal service to deliver our stamped mail. One can be alone physically, but accompanied and enriched spiritually by the presence of conversation from kindred spirits through a multitude of avenues not available twenty years ago.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


A New Chapter. A New Dream.

January 19, 2015

Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds

Barnett Newman

The statement above from Barnett Newman drew a good laugh from me, seeing that I’ve been focusing on trying to establish some kind of working theory of aesthetics to understand better what I’m trying to do as a painter.  My sentiments have been close to his, as I’ve painted for years, not feeling bound by some kind of aesthetic code.  Still, I’m interested in listening to theories on aesthetics, and still am trying to come up with a statement of my own.  Rising at 6:00 this morning, I was delighted to enter my study and begin work afresh, knowing there is no school until tomorrow.  And as I thought of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, my thoughts drifted toward the power that drives revolutionary figures such as he and the other heroes we teachers salute as we enter the classroom daily, holding up to our students the leading thinkers of our civilization who have had the courage to make their ideas known.

A couple of years ago, I began organizing my computer files around ideas about art and what goes into making it.  I smilingly filed these under “Notes for a Book,” not taking myself seriously as one to publish an actual book.  But early this morning, I took a new turn: rather than try to write a book, I re-entered those files today with a mind toward organizing them into lectures, public speeches and essays with a mind toward publishing in magazines or journals, or giving some public talks on these matters.  At the very least, they could be served up as fodder on this blog, or become teaching units in my classroom at school.  At this time, I can say it felt good to see the first two pages of text rolling off my printer, knowing these were my words, my ideas, heaped and composted over the past couple of decades, compliments of all the great minds I’ve been privileged to read and hear.  Perhaps Tennyson was onto something with his line from “Ulysses”–I am a part of all that I have met.

The morning has been a very rewarding one, thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myselrf that I am not alone.

Symphonious Stirrings

January 18, 2015

Ah, when the friendly lamp is glowing

Again within our narrow cell,

Through heart and bosom light comes flowing

If but the heart knows itself well.

Then Reason once again discourses

And Hope begins to bloom again;

Man yearns to reach life’s flowing sources,

Ah! to the Fount of Life attain.

Goethe, Faust

Too often I overlook the Gift of a good night’s rest.  Waking shortly before 9:00 this morning, with the sun sweeping all over my room, it felt nice to remain under the warm quilts and let the thoughts sift slowly through my awakening consciousness. I let that happen for about thirty minutes before rising to put on coffee, shower quickly, and take a comfortable seat in my study, re-open some volumes that have absorbed my attention this weekend, pick up the pencil, and begin scribbling beginnings of thoughts, ends of thoughts, summations of thoughts, just scribbling and enjoying the sounds of classical music drifting through the silent corridors of my house.

After writing the above, I packed my watercolor supplies and headed to north Arlington to lead a group lesson at a birthday party.  Some laughingly said we would be doing Painting with a Twist, but it actually turned out to be a very satisfying watercolor session.  I wish I had taken more photos in retrospect, but below are a few examples of what they did this afternoon:

At the Still Point of the Turning World

January 17, 2015

At the still point of the turning world.  Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is.

T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

From the moment I awoke this Saturday morning, I saw my bedroom bathed in bright sunlight, and my blood was stirred by these sentiments gleaned last evening from T. S. Eliot.  Words for the Sublime will apparently never exhaust our vocabulary–God, Religion, Art, Spirituality,Truth, Enlightenment.  But since I’ve been meditating on Eliot’s “Four Quartets” I’ve been jolted by his hints of “those rare moments when eternity intersects the temporal continuum, while treating also the relations between those moments and the flux of time.”  And now, reading this poem that calls these sublime, transcendent moments “the dance”–what a word to describe the primal ecstasy I’ve known my entire life and have read with pleasure from the writings of Emerson, Thoreau and the British Romantic poets.

In Friday’s philosophy class, while contrasting Plato’s eternal with Aristotle’s movement, we pushed our research backward into the Presocratic fragments, and I chose to take my Heraclitus texts home with me to translate and to read essays on his work from Eliot and Heidegger.  For years I’ve played with the notion of flux in Heraclitus and the explanation that nothing in life remains constant, but recently I’ve been reading critical works pointing out his obsession to know the underlying unity beneath the flux.  As I spent hours yesterday and today translating ancient Greek texts discussing the source as well as the destiny of life, I found myself returning to T. S. Eliot repeatedly to read his comments that follow a number of Presocratic utterances–the end is already in the beginning.  At my current age, this resonates with me more than ever before.  I think that many of us during these senior years are puzzling out just exactly what our sense of purpose has been in this life, and how early we intuited that purpose.  As we take our retrospective looks at our personal odysseys, we tend to extract meanings to the things we’ve done and are now doing.  And I believe there is much reward in thinking over these things.

I apologize if these comments are scattered.  I’m still puzzlling it all out, and plan to continue in this endeavor.  So far, this is turning out to be one of my better holiday weekends on record, and I’m thankful for the time and space to read, reflect and write on these things.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

A Soothing Abyss

January 16, 2015
Beginning the 3-Day Weekend in the Quiet of My Study

Beginning the 3-Day Weekend in the Quiet of My Study

Tillich loved the “experience of the abyss,” or what he also called the “holy void.” . . . These terms refer to Dantean realms of semidarkness filled with chaos cloaked in mist and vapor, but–and this was most important–a chaos crying, like clay on the sculptor’s bench, to be made into form.

Rollo May, Paulus: Reminiscences of a Friendship

Though my blog has lain dormant for the past week, my mind has not.  Daily it has surged with ideas, but a hectic schedule, accompanied by the tragic murder of one of our high school students, has kept me away from writing and composing my thoughts.  Now, the three-day weekend begins (Martin Luther King Day on Monday) and I’m ensconced in my study with no other interest but to think, to write, to blog.  Thank you, readers, for your patience with my hiatus.

At this point, I wish I had more substance to post.  My night of reading and reflection has not been linear.  All I can say is that my Philosophy class today focused on the work of the Presocratics, and ideas brought up in class clung to my memory, plunging me into an intense reading of T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” as soon as I got home from school to begin this three-day weekend.  Eliot’s poem led me to the Presocratic fragments of Heraclitus, which then led me to an essay by Martin Heidegger, which then led me to the Book of Ecclesiastes and translations from the Septuagint, which ultimately led me to this book on the life of Paul Tillich.  I previously thought that I would paint tonight–the watercolor brush has not been picked up in a week–but the ideas have been so rich and the search so invigorating that the hour is getting late, the coffee is tasting better, and I feel that I won’t leave the study to enter the art studio until sometime tomorrow.

I have had a rich correspondence the past couple of weeks with a blogging colleague whose work I greatly admire, Corey Aber (, and he has provided rich inspiration for my recent attempts to develop a clear philosophy or aesthetic summing up what I am trying to accomplish through my scholarship, painting and blogging.  If I don’t get something on the blog tonight, then I’m confident that I will get my words to fly in formation by tomorrow.  For the time being, all I can say is that I’ve been floating in a foggy abyss of ideas tonight and haven’t felt anything negative from the experience.  It’s nice not to have deadlines pending, and no school until the following Tuesday.  The contemplative life has been very pleasing to me tonight, and I am confident that it will continue.  I feel that there is something in this formless environment of ideas swirling about me this evening that I will be able to manipulate into some kind of meaningful formula.

Thanks always for reading.  I’ll return soon . . .

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Sweet Friday Night Winter Solitude

January 9, 2015
Painting Friday Evening in a Wintry Cold Studio

Painting Friday Evening in a Wintry Cold Studio

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.

Graham Greene

I did manage to escape into the cold garage studio for a little while this evening and chip away at this watercolor that has been hanging around for awhile now. I added some rust-stained washes to the screen door backdrop, and then spent the rest of the evening texturing the white frame of the screen door, trying to reproduce the scratches, knicks and stains that show the multi-layered history of this door and what it endured in someone’s home. Before stopping for the night, I also reworked the wooden floor beneath the apples, in an attempt to make the masqued areas look more like scratches and indentations in the wood surface.

Now I’m back inside my warm home, glad that it is Friday night, and even more glad that an open weekend stretches out before me. I’m in the mood for reading, writing and reflection–in a word, solitude. I’ve been re-reading sections of Anthony Storr’s Solitude: A Return to the Self and Rollo May’s, The Courage to Create. The week in school has been a spastic one, and I took personally the line from the William Butler Yeats poem that I recorded in a blog earlier tonight, concerning the frenetic pace of society that consistently manages to flit past “monuments of unageing intellect.” Without apology, I do not choose that path. To me, worship is pausing to accept the quiet gifts offered in the center of this quick-paced life on earth.

Perfect Evening for Writing and Reflection

Perfect Evening for Writing and Reflection

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember. 

I journal to celebrate solitude.

And I blog to remind myself that I am not really alone.

The Wandering Aramean, Simple in Source, Complex in Destiny

January 9, 2015
One of My Early Collages of Gerhard von Rad

One of My Early Collages of Gerhard von Rad

A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.

Deuteronomy 26:5

Tributaries. My daily navigations through the classroom drift me down meandering tributaries that often appear disconnected from one another. But many times, connections seem to emerge anyway, and I enjoy examining the links. Today in art history, we explored the art and ideas of ancient Byzantium, and I could not resist opening my Powerpoint with the caption: “No Country for Old Men.” As expected, the students verbally jumped onto the famous Coen brothers film. After they got that out of their system (and no, I’m not convinced they figured out what the title meant in relation to the film’s plot), I introduced them to William Butler Yeats’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium,” with its opening words: “That is no country for old men.”

With a few lines from the poem, I tried to prod them into the exotic world of the Greek Christians who populated the eastern half of a decaying Roman Empire, managing to build a magnificent empire of their own, rich in philosophy, theology, architecture and mosaics–all combining to form Art. This Byzantine world would stretch over a millenium before the collapse of Constantinople in 1453. The centuries of the empire no doubt swept by like a turbulent river, with citizens daily flowing in that current, never really seeing the rising edifice of this Art at their core that would endure for all eternity. They were no doubt caught up in their own frantic life details, as we are today.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unageing intellect.

My observation could be wrong, but I feel that our current population is busy with frenetic details, always moving, always alluring, and most often unfulfilling.  I always return to that mantra of Matthew Arnold:

Art still has truth, take refuge there.

As the classes rolled by today, I felt that I was fleshing out the notion of creativity, beautifully stated by Arthur Koestler:

Creativity: a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

When my classes finally broke, I felt the need to pursue my own personal education for awhile, and found myself reaching for volumes by Gerhard von Rad, an existential theologian of the 20th century who was frequently brought up in my graduate school seminars.  I pulled three of his works from my classroom shelves on Old Testament Theology, Genesis and Deuteronomy, and began reading at my desk, postponing lunch for awhile.  Von Rad constructed a theory known as Credo, taking a text from Deuteronomy (I cited the first verse above) and arguing that this historical confession of the ancient Hebrews predated the literary sources behind the first six books of their Bible. The narrative sets forth Jacob (Israel) as a “wandering Aramean” who sojourned into Egypt as a small family, and eventually grew into a great and mighty nation.

For years, I have carried that passage in my consciousness, focussing on that wandering, odyssey motif.  It was easy to do, connecting this Credo with Homer’s Odyssey, Joyce’s Ulysses, etc.  And still I work at tracing out those threads of our existence on this planet set forth in poems, essays and novels as restless spirits journeying through life, zigzagging so to speak, like Emerson’s reference to the ship tacking back and forth, eventually resolving these jerky movements into a straight line that points successfully toward one’s destiny.  Re-thinking Byzantium, I could see those patterns as the ethos of ancient Greece, Rome and Byzantium evolved in jerky, shifting paths, trying to find a workable way to live on this earth.

But then things began to shift as I re-thought what was said yesterday in the Philosophy class while looking over Husserl’s phenomenology, namely the perpetual argument that there is more than one way to interpret a subject under investigation. As I looked at this Credo in Deuteronomy again, I gazed past the “wandering” notion of Jacob/Israel, and focused more directly on his humble, simple origin and richly complex destiny.  He entered Egypt small in number and emerged as a mighty nation.  I then looked back at ancient Greece, Rome and Byzantium, chuckling at the old adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and marveled at the rising edifice of Art over the millenia. Composting takes time.  Evolution takes time. What begins as small and simple eventually grows large and complex. What appears to moving along in jerky fashion is actually making progress toward a goal.

Where is all of this going? Well, I live in the world of education, that is my profession. When young and full of gas, I would often sit in my pastor’s study and look across that vast array of volumes in his sprawling library. I would then helplessly say to this man, nearing his retirement, “I feel like I know nothing!” In response, he would always just beam and say, “It will come. Just give it time. Give it years.” As I pursued my education, I worked at acquiring vast numbers of facts to spill out onto exams, hoping to pass. But it wasn’t until I reached the classroom that I finally found my niche: assembling these diverse ideas into a model that works for me. My personal journals began in 1987 (I have over 130 volumes now), and they just overflow with notes from what I’ve read, thought and tried to put into a meaningful written word over the years. And now I have that privilege, daily, of assembling these scraps of data, these bundles of printed manuscripts, and setting them on fire in class, hoping enough students will gather round to watch them burn, hoping for some kind of Phoenix to rise in the midst.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not really alone.

Opening and Closing of a Door

January 8, 2015
Another Cold Winter Evening in the Garage Studio

Another Cold Winter Evening in the Garage Studio

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

Carl Sandburg

If we take Sandburg’s observation seriously, then today’s inaugural philosophy class was poetry. Thirty-one new students crowded into the classroom. As the bell sounded, there was the electric hush of expectancy that one feels on the first day of a new class. I felt the shudder of excitement as we explored the nature of the philosophic task, some modern views of Husserl along with some classic views of Plato. To me, the ninety minutes swept by like ten, and the eye contact with all the students, along with their non-verbal body language, seemed to indicate that they were enjoying the same kind of intellectual feeding frenzy that I myself felt. And then, class ended and they filed out, leaving me in a wake of good feeling, like soothing waves lapping the shore after the speedboat passes.

Of course the flow of a single day can be uneven. My high was followed by some matching lows, but I choose this night to write only of the highs. When Walt Whitman wrote his poetry about the ebb and flow, he acknowledged that the flow is always more engaging. I agree.

This Evening's Work

This Evening’s Work

The garage studio is frigid again, with temperatures outdoors stooping near freezing. For days now, I’ve been trying to solve the shadow problems in this composition. Shadows are something I haven’t given sufficient attention in still life drawing and painting. I purchased an excellent book over the holidays that discusses the finer points of rendering shadows. The longer I stare into this arrangement in my darkened garage, the more fascinated I become with the nuanced haloes deep in the shadow areas. This evening, I’ve reached back, again, into some words recorded by that focused mind of Leonardo da Vinci:

Remember: betwixt light and murk there is something intermediate, dual, belonging equally to the one and the other, a light shade, as it were, or a dark light. Seek it, O artist: in it lies the secret of captivating beauty. . . . Beware of the coarse and the abrupt. Let your shadings melt away, like smoke, like the sounds of distant music!

These intermediate areas between light and dark I’ve been trying to solve between the bucket and the shaded floor. I’m finding a world teeming with activity within those shadows. Again the T. S. Eliot line from “The Hollow Men” comes back to haunt me:

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the shadow.

With graphite, a pocket knife and watercolor, I’ve also been trying to texture the portion of the door frame and hinge to the left of the pail. This has demanded just as much drawing as painting, and I enjoy that kind of activity. I’ve always admired Andrew Wyeth’s drybrush watercolors for their drawing quality, and have always wished to rise to that level in my own pursuits.

It’s been an uneven day overall, but I’m grateful for all the good that has ensued. I cannot thank my students enough for “being there” in the academic arena, and I’m so grateful for a night of exploration in the painting studio. And I thank you for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.


January 7, 2015
Quiet Time in the Studio after the First Day of School

Quiet Time in the Studio after the First Day of School

He fumbled for some sheets of clean paper, forgetting where he kept them.  He had to write the editorial that would explain and counteract. He had to hurry. He felt he had no right to any minute that passed with the thing unwritten.

            The pressure disappeared with the first word he put on paper. He thought—while his hand moved rapidly—what a power there was in words; later, for those who heard them, but first for the one who found them; a healing power, a solution, like the breaking of a barrier. He thought, perhaps the basic secret the scientists have never discovered, the first fount of life, is that which happens when a thought takes shape in words.

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Throughout this day, I have been fumbling with words to couch the ideas tumbling about in my harried mind.  It was the first day of the spring semester, and a good one for me.  The three art history classes were huge, but we managed to study our content and struggled to organize it into meaningful structures. Today our key word in art history was axiology, the Greek term for the study of values. A close study of this word reveals the word logos for word, subject, study, etc. and the word axios from where we derive ideas like axis, axle, etc. The students had to stretch their imaginations to grasp this concept. As one looks at the hub, or center of the turning wheel, and realizes that it is the hub that creates the movement, the rotation, so also values are what move people and move cultures. We spent some time discussing the core values of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and finally the early Christians (today’s focus was on the first few centuries of Christian art). And I tried to prod the students toward the larger question of what values move our lives today. What exactly is it that drives us? What is the nature of our motor? What force lies at the core of our everyday behaviors and aspirations?

As the day progressed, I kept thinking about the notion of tributaries and how our scattered thoughts appear as tributaries, teasing us with the possibility that there is a common source from which they’ve sprung, or a destination to where they are all converging as a delta. And I wondered about what it is exactly that lies at my own core? What is my base of operation? What moves me? And of course, with a brand new semester of philosophy dawning tomorrow, I find myself thinking about the source and the destination. What exactly is my ultimate value, and does it lie at the beginning of my action, or does it stand at the goal and pull me toward that destiny? Currently, there are so many ideas, like tributaries, fighting for my attention daily, even hourly, and I am now wondering what exactly lies at the core of all this.

As I turned to the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, I found this from an 1873 essay of his:

That my life has no aim is evident even from the accidental nature of its origin; that I can posit an aim for myself is another matter.

Later, in his seminal work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he recorded these words in the prophet’s sermon:

The time has come for man to set himself a goal. The time has come for man to plant the seed of his highest hope. His soil is still rich enough. But one day this soil will be poor and domesticated, and no tall tree will be able to grow in it.

Currently, I am looking for a source to unite the scattered streams of ideas that I have accumulated with interest throughout my years, and hoping at age sixty that my intellectual soil is still fertile enough to grow this new tree (ugh! that’s an unattractive mixed metaphor!).  Oh well, this is a blog, right?  Let’s try this one again: I’m hoping to unite these tributaries into a single source, the seat of my values (better!). And when it comes to values, I have thought in recent years that I may uncover the ultimate meaning of all this as I pursue the making of art.

Oh yes, the painting above.  Most of what I’ve been hammering out in today’s blog has been clattering in my mind since I returned to my cold garage studio this afternoon (27 degrees is cold by Texas standards–glad I have a decent electric space heater to help me here).  I’m finding a genuine delight as I tinker with this watercolor and am really trying to give it daily attention now.  Today, I sketched in the hinge on the left-hand side of the screen door, then laid my first wash of shadow behind the door to make a dark frame on the left side of this composition.  My plan is for this to be the darkest part of the picture. I then laid some shadows to the left of the pail. I re-worked the shadows beneath the apples and laid some new washes on the shaded side of the apples themselves, relying for the most part on Winsor Violet. I peeled away quite a few layers of masquing to reveal where I want the scratches to show on the surface of the wooden floor beneath it all. Finally, I flooded the pail with water and began darkening and texturing the exterior of it and tried to define the ridges around the side as well as at the base of the pail. To someone looking at this painting since yesterday, perhaps it isn’t changing much. But I can see a world of difference emerging from the details, and hope that all these “tributaries” will unite to create an attractive painting ultimately.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am never quite alone.

Life is Short, Art Long

January 6, 2015
Some Stolen Moments in the Studio this Evening

Some Stolen Moments in the Studio this Evening

Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.


The first day of school begins tomorrow. I have spent the large part of the past two days getting my online college course ready to launch, though college starts a week later.  I have Advanced Placement Art History tomorrow, so a large part of today was spent refreshing my memory on the material we’ll cover in tomorrow’s sessions.  Following that, I had some household chores to tend.  Finally, this evening for about an hour, I was able to settle into the garage studio and return to work on this still life I abandoned a few days ago.  I felt no need to rush things, and worked on transparent glazes on the three apples, tweaked the screen backdrop a bit, and then did some serious texturing work on the white door frame visible beneath the screen.  I also took time to lay in some shadows beneath the apples and to work further on the pail handle.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that I worked all over this cotton-pickin’ composition!  It was a good moment of quiet in the studio, and I regret that the door is closing on moments like this.  My high school and college courses will come on with a vengeance, and I have a few art festivals pending this spring.  But one way or another, I will fight my way back into the studio and find the time necessary to keep my brush dipped in the arts.

Thanks for reading.  The day has been long and spastic, but at least I got a little work done in art.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am never really alone.