Posts Tagged ‘Presocratics’

Conoco Remnants in Oklahoma

December 28, 2013
Sign Encountered During Oklahoma Odyssey

Sign Encountered During Oklahoma Odyssey

I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove, and am still on their trail.  Many are the travellers I have spoken concerning them, describing their tracks and what calls they answered to.  I have met one or two who had heard the hound, and the tramp of the horse, and even seen the dove disappear behind a cloud, and they seemed as anxious to recover them as if they had lost them themselves.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Each [Presocratic fragment] is a truncated monument of thinking.  Like the torso of a river god or the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, each fragment conveys a sense of loss, of tragic withdrawal and absence; yet each is a remnant of an exhilarating presence.

David Farrell Krell, Martin Heidegger: Early Greek Thinking

Remnants of an Oklahoma Conoco Station

Remnants of an Oklahoma Conoco Station

A couple of months ago, while retreating to southeastern Oklahoma for some fly fishing and relaxation, my heart felt heaviness at the sight of this solitary Conoco sign standing alongside Highway 37 about ten miles north of Clarksville, Texas, just south of the Oklahoma border.  I parked the Jeep, took over a dozen photographs, and walked among the weeds that covered what used to be the foundations of a gas station.  As I surveyed what was left of the parking lot entrance, I couldn’t help wondering if there were still children or grandchildren of this station’s proprietor still living nearby.  What would they think every time they drove past this site and remembered what it was like to see a gas station open for business, servicing passing motorists?  As I walked about this location, musing, I thought of the statements of Thoreau and Krell, and how it feels when we are confronted with significant loss.   I was on the brink of a lovely weekend of fly fishing and painting at Beaver’s Bend State Park, but the recollection of this Conoco sign would never leave me.

Conoco Recollections

Conoco Recollections

Over the Christmas holiday, I spent about a day working up this watercolor sketch from the photos I took.  It is 8 x 10″ and I tried to detail the damage on the sign’s surface as best I could.  Recently I have enjoyed working on gas station relics in watercolor.  The holiday visit with my parents was full of wonderful conversation, fattening foods, and plenty of space to work in watercolor.  I’ve had a most delightful Christmas break.

Fly Fishing at Beaver's Bend State Park, Oklahoma

Fly Fishing at Beaver’s Bend State Park, Oklahoma

Here is the painting I completed following my Beaver’s Bend fly fishing weekend.  I also enjoyed revisiting memories of this Evening Hole located in the Red Zone inside the Park.

Rainbow Trout in the Net at Beaver's Bend State Park

Rainbow Trout in the Net at Beaver’s Bend State Park

Don’t despair!  I released this beautiful rainbow trout after photographing him in my net.  He was one of several I managed to get in the net that afternoon.  All were given back their freedom.

A Presence Emerging from the Loss

January 15, 2013
Still Life with Pepsi-Cola Carrier

Still Life with Pepsi-Cola Carrier

Many fail to grasp what they have seen,

and cannot judge what they have learned,

although they tell themselves they know.


How splendid to be able to enter the Man Cave, having finished tomorrow’s school assignments by 8:30.  Temperatures hover around 34 degrees now, and are expected to drop to 25 by the time I rise to go to school in the morning.  Some freezing precipitation may occur, but not enough to close school–nothing would excite me more than to be given the Gift of painting in the Cave all day tomorrow.  But alas, I daydream.

My first class in the morning will be Philosophy, and we will begin research on the Presocratics (a real highlight for me).  Hence, I dropped a Heraclitus fragment above to open tonight’s blog.  And the quote has an amazing application to my current practice of still-life painting.  I acknowledge that I have failed in times past to grasp the objects before me when attempting to paint them, that I have assumed too much knowledge of art technique, and used that knowledge as a substitute for a basic apprehension of the nature of the objects before me–Mr. Scucchi, my first of four high school art teachers, said: “I am not teaching you to draw; I am trying to teach you to see.”  That stays with me.  In drawing and painting, vision is everything, the alleged steadiness of the hand is very little.  And I laugh when I recall a line from the motion picture Lust for Life, when Paul Gauguin criticizes Vincent Van Gogh, yelling: “You paint too fast!”  To which Vincent retorts: “You LOOK too fast!”  I stand guilty of the same.  So, tonight, I am spending more time staring at this doorknob and Pepsi-Cola carrier than actually drawing and painting.

And while I look at these antique objects, I feel something splendid as I contemplate the worlds from which these came, a world that is no longer here.  In preparing for tomorrow’s Presocratic lecture, I came across a statement concerning four Presocratic fragments that Martin Heidegger translated and published:

Four fragments of early Greek thinking dominate Heidegger’s thoughts in the present collection.  Each is a truncated monument of thinking.  Like the torso of a river god or the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, each fragment conveys a sense of loss, of tragic withdrawal and absence; yet each is a remnant of an exhilarating presence.

Loss and presence.  What a juxtaposition!  Of course, I have spent much of this evening thinking about Steve, my recently deceased artist friend whom I knew for fifty-four years.  I have lost him, but in the quiet of the studio, he is present.  Words he spoke, his laughter, our discussions of what we wanted from our art.  It’s all there.  He’s still here.  A loss, and at the same time, a presence, a comfort.  That is a Gift.

Thanks for reading.  I’m ready to go back and stare at these objects a little while longer before sleep overpowers me.