Posts Tagged ‘Jean-Paul Sartre’

In the Twilight Between Sartre and Heidegger

May 14, 2014
Beginning a Watercolor of the Fort Worth Scat Lounge

Beginning a Watercolor of the Fort Worth Scat Lounge

Thinking is hard work. It’s why so few people do it.
– Henry Ford

As reported in earlier posts, I have been engaged in a couple of larger watercolors that I could not post to the blog because there was not very much to see at that point–light pencil sketches and very little color.  Now I can finally publish this commencement of the Fort Worth Scat Lounge, a substreet-level jazz club in an alley on the south side of Fort Worth’s re-energized Sundance Square.  I have always loved the darkness of this alley and the lighted neon sign suspended above.  It’s fun to take the elevator down to the club proper when you enter from the alley at night.  For several years I have taken photos of this sign but never seemed to have the courage to begin.  So I finally thought, “Why not?  What have I got to lose?  I’ve made bad watercolors before and I can do it again.  I have the guts to make a bad watercolor.”   I have found working over this one to be deeply enjoyable so far, even though the image is emerging very, very slowly.  The overall composition is of substantial size, and will probably be cut to 16 x 20″.  I began last week with the careful pencil sketch, then made a decision to lay in a dark, warm background.  I applied a wet-on-wet coat of Aureolin (yellow) first.  One day later, I added a second wet-on-wet coat of the same.  On the third day (always making sure I was giving it 24 hours to dry on this 300-pound D’Arches cold-press paper surface) I applied a mixture of Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Green, Transparent Yellow, Winsor Red, Winsor Blue (Green Shade) and Cadmium Red.  Finally I’m getting that dark brick color I’ve been needing for three days.  I just needed the patience to let the layers of pigment do their work.  This evening I began work on the crimson part of the sign.  I will probably have to lay this aside now, because I have plenty of other (not as interesting) tasks to tend tonight.

I am also working on a Philosophy lecture for Friday morning, introducing Martin Heidegger.  In my high school classes, I haven’t discussed Heidegger (or Sartre) for at least three years.  Both thinkers I find too difficult to discuss, and I hate to simplify and distort them.  But I sucked it up and delivered the Sartre lecture this morning, and was pleasantly shocked at the level of interest and reception.  So, I decided to soldier on and see how it goes with Heidegger on Friday.

I would be lying if I reported that I’ve read and understood Being and Time.  My interest in Heidegger comes primarily from secondary sources about his life and work.  The only writings of his that I have enjoyed are his translations and meditations over the Greek Presocratic fragments.  I have loved the Greek language since my seminary days, and have spent as much time over the past couple of decades translating Homeric, Presocratic and Classical texts than New Testament passages.  What I love about Heidegger is the way he lingered over these ancient texts, expecting some kind of oracular encounter.  That is my own lifestyle as well, and I cannot put those emotions into words. But they are precious moments, and every time I read something significant from his hand that emerged from the words of Anaximander, Heraclitus or Parmenides, I feel as if he is in the same room with me, conversing over these fragments.  The word is indeed a living power.

Tonight I’m going to try and read Heidegger’s essays “The Thinker as Poet” and “The Origin of the Work of Art.”  I’m approaching them with a sense of expectancy.

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 Modern Re-Formation of the Parisian Cafe

May 15, 2013

Eight days have passed since my last blog post.  I was struck down by a viral infection, my entire body ached, and headaches prevented me from using my eyes to read or paint.  But I had plenty of time to think (and sleep).  First, I thank all of you readers who found out I was ill, and reached out to me with gracious words.  That gesture of kindness set off a litany of thoughts that I’m still trying to sort out, and hope to set forth in tonight’s post.

I’m thrilled to report that my sickness has apparently passed, and though quite weak, I at least am able to read and write again, and look forward to painting as soon as possible.  I was in the mood to paint this evening, but storm watching took precedence.  Forty-five minutes ago, a tornado passed over my neighborhood, fortunately not touching down, but the local sirens blasted for a good ten minutes until certain that the menace had departed.

Getting back to the well-wishers from the blogosphere, people I have not even met personally–I could never adequately tell you how much I appreciate your good will, and how your kindness has put some things in perspective for me.  For years I have assembled, through my studies, all these fascinating pieces to a puzzle of Parisian café life in the 1920s and 30s.  I was engrossed in the general daily cycle of Picasso’s life, as he painted in the studio all night long, went to bed in the wee hours of the morning, rose and went to the café to socialize with other creative spirits, then returned to the studio in the late afternoon or early evening to begin the cycle anew.  He balanced his creative solitude with his social needs.

I have always regarded the making of art as a solitary enterprise, and that is where I spend long hours in my special Cave, making art, reading, journaling, always thinking and planning anew.  My daily round of public school teaching surrounds me with people, and I do enjoy the bond of exchanging ideas with students, lighting fires and watching them respond with enthusiasm.  But I really do not thrive any longer in the work environment.  I make my living there, do my duties there, and try to have a good time while educating students.  The blogosphere has become my Parisian café, and I never really realized it until this time of illness.  There are scores of blogs that I have to visit daily, and I am always amazed at the ideas, the poetry, the images, the songs that soar through those blogs.  And I occasionally post comments and some of those actually germinate into an ongoing dialogue with that creative spirit/blogger.  And I try to answer every single post on my blog, and there are a number of those creative spirits who continue to “talk” to me.  Always I have found encouragement and gleaned new ideas through these encounters.  But I guess it wasn’t until I became ill, stopped blogging (too sick even to think about writing), that I was shocked to receive words of encouragement from other bloggers who had “missed” my daily posts.  What a surprise, how unspeakably touching that was!  It was then that I realized that I had finally found a “café” where I could commune with other creative spirits.

In the days ahead, I hope I’ll be able to find quality time to integrate all my scattered notes and files from over the years, studies I had done of those café spirits of Paris—Picasso, Hemingway, Stein, Joyce, Anderson, Sartre, and see if I can find a way to consolidate the visual and literary arts the way this generation managed to do.  I feel privileged to sample this synergy of the Parisian café.   My heartfelt thanks goes out to this corner of the blogosphere.  You do make a difference—at least you have for me.  I can’t wait to re-join you in the next conversation.  I cannot wait till the next moment when I stride into the cafe and take my seat among these artistic spirits.  We’ll join in the spirit of Picasso and his literary friends as we exchange our views and encourage one another to continue on in this enterprise.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog, knowing full well that I am not alone.