Posts Tagged ‘William Shakespeare’

Cozying into a Perfect Friday Night

January 8, 2016

foodieAs Texas temperatures drop to around forty tonight and into the twenties over the weekend,  I stacked the firewood in delightful preparation for a cozy weekend at home. School went very, very well this first week of the spring semester, and I celebrated by preparing one of my favorite meals.


Now I retire happily to my favorite piece of furniture in the house and spend quality time writing and digging into the delicious literary works from authors that drive my imagination (lately Joyce, Shakespeare and Marvell). The philosophy and art history classes this past week have lit a fire beneath me, and I’m grateful for time and space to explore new avenues.

tree january 8

I am re-posting this tree drawing I did early this morning before school, when things weren’t going as great.  I think drawing did a great deal to lift me into better spirits.  In many times, art has been a healing friendship that has improved my outlook on this world.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Saddling Up the Academic Donkey to Ride Back to School

April 5, 2015
Working to Distribute the Darks and Lights

Working to Distribute the Darks and Lights

I do recall one time when I got to know him a little better, he called me in the office one day and he says to me, “Brownie,” he said, “Can you give me your idea of what imagination is?” And I said, “No I don’t have any idea.” He said, “Well, why don’t you think about it a couple of days and come back and we’ll talk about it.” But he never brought the subject up again. I’m very thankful, too.

Lynn Brown Jr., recalling a conversation with poet Wallace Stevens while working at Hartford Insurance Group.

Easter morning found me engulfed in a fifty-degree dark and rainy environment. Putting on the coffee, I sat down with an open journal and began reading selections from Anthony Storr’s Solitude that I had marked from earlier readings. As Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E Flat played in the background, my reading pointed me toward Willam Wordsworth’s “Prelude”. From earlier bouts of teaching English, I had read about “Prelude”, but with the work being of such great length, I had never gotten past the first page or two. Noting its autobiographical character, I moved to the Conclusion, then began to work backward, reading Book Fourteen. The segment paying tribute to our twin inseparable gifts of Imagination and Intellectual Love penetrated to my core the way I wish all reading would. I could hardly breathe as I read the following section, again and again:

         This spiritual love acts not, nor can exist

Without imagination, which in truth

Is but another name for absolute power

And clearest insight, amplitude of mind,

And reason, in her most exalted mood.

This faculty hath been the feeding source

Of our long labor: we have traced the stream

From the blind cavern whence is faintly heard

Its natal murmur; followed it to light

And open day; accompanied its course

Among the ways of Nature; for a time

Lost sight of it, bewildered and engulphed;

Then given it greeting as it rose once more

In strength, reflecting from its placid breast

The works of man, and face of human life;

And lastly, from its progress have we drawn

Faith in life endless, the sustaining thought

Of human being, Eternity, and God.

Imagination having been our theme,

So also hath that intellectual love,

For they are each in each, and cannot stand

Dividually.—Here must thou be, O Man!

Powers to thyself; no Helper hast thou here;

Here keepest thou in singleness thy state;

No other can divide with thee this work;

No secondary hand can intervene

To fashion this ability; ’tis thine,

In the recesses of thy nature, far

From any reach of outward fellowship,

Else is not thine at all.

William Wordsworth, “Prelude” Book Fourteen

Those precious words washed over me in the dim light of this rainy morning, and whispered comfort to my soul throughout the day. And now, at the opposite end of the day, seated next to my studio windows admitting the waning remnants of the late afternoon light, I read again this marvelous oracle. Imagination and Intellectual Love are offered to us as inseparable abilities, and no one else can work these powers for us–if they could, then the gifts would not be ours.

Throughout this day, as I continued to work on the watercolor posted above, I thought about my own personal history, revisiting and interpreting the unfolding of those years in much the same manner as Wordsworth in his own personal Prelude. I thought of my own childhood, nurtured in solitude as I was the oldest of my siblings by four years, not living in a neighborhood where children were available nearby to play. When I entered school, I did not know how to bond with the other strangers in class who already knew each other from kindergarten or church. I the stranger never sought a way to fit in with the crowd already familiar with itself. Daydreaming supplanted the teacher’s voice on a daily basis. Because I had artistic skills, I was provided encouragement and instruction to grow in that craft. Higher education showed me how to stock a toolbox with a variety of academic skills. The teaching profession in the decades following provided a daily laboratory for the construction of ideas, enabling me to build pyramids of truth and cathedrals of thought. In every stage of my life, two inseparable companions, Imagination and Intellectual Love, have affirmed me and given me the strength to explore these creative corridors. I’m grateful for this splendid Easter Day offered as a Gift to my existence. Thinking back over the years, meditating over this marvelous oracular text, and gazing at a painting under construction have worked together to build a beautiful day.

The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to


 And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes, and gives to aery nothing

A local habitation and a name.

Such tricks hath strong imagination,

That if it would but apprehend some joy,

It comprehends some bringer of that joy . . .

William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

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.

Logic in the Shadows with Democritus Looking On

July 13, 2014
Studying Logic in the Shadows

Studying Logic in the Shadows

If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumb’red here

While these visions did appear.

And this weak and idle theme,

No more yielding but a dream,

Gentles, do not reprehend.

If you pardon, we will mend.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A retrospective look over my four-and-a-half day summer semester break is yielding up a satisfied sentiment for me as this summer afternoon stretches into the quiet midsummer evening.  Five thirty-gallon heavy-duty garbage bags are cinched and waiting at my curb for their morning pick up.  They are the refuse yielded up from two previously neglected rooms that I cleaned thoroughly over the holiday and then refurnished with heart-felt delight.  Fifteen new files of weekly lesson plans are also tucked into my external hard drive for an online Logic class this fall at the university which I will conduct for the first time.  I endured plenty of hours of sweat throughout the days in a darkened study, learning these structures well enough to manipulate into lesson plans.  My sculpture bust of Democritus looked at me out from under my study lamp with a look of bemusement, probably wondering if I could pull it off.  My acoustic guitar has been emitting melodies I have not heard in a long, long time.  Sometimes I cannot believe my own fingers are coaxing these sounds from the strings.  This too floods my heart with eudaimonia.  Melville’s Moby Dick and Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter” have transplanted my heart to tender nineteenth-century American affections I have not felt in awhile.  And they paved the way for me to re-open my studies of British literary romanticism in preparation for the second summer term that opens early in the morning.  And what would a holiday be without painting?  A student of mine from decades past, now an artist himself, cared enough to mail photos to me of my grandmother’s house that he found in his portfolio, left over from high school days.  And so with gratitude I begin another watercolor of one of my most cherished memories, this time with an excellent model to follow.  Thank you, Ian!  

Commencement on a New Watercolor

Commencement on a New Watercolor

This vacation has been a precious gift for which I cannot offer enough praise.  I’m satisfied with what I was able to accomplish, and still get some needed rest.  I’m ready for tomorrow.  Hopefully, the students will be able to sense a renewed teacher when I enter their arena.

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.


Thoughts Emerging Late in the Night

July 1, 2014
Continued Work on the Waxahachie Caboose

Continued Work on the Waxahachie Caboose

Last night, the hour stretched long past bedtime, but I could not “stop the machine.”  I recorded in my journal the ideas flooding my mind at the close of a long day of reading Shakespeare and Hemingway, and watercoloring as well:

Why merge disjunctive spirits as Shakespeare and Hemingway?  And why as artificer absorb the works of artists Robert Motherwell and Edward Hopper?  How do these disparate spirits conjoin?  They focused on the sere, rudimentary elements as they composed: words, colors, strokes of the pen, pencil and brush.  Erasing, effacing, distasting, they urged themselves on and on and on, never ceasing to believe, never ceasing to love.  Penetrating beneath the visible stratum, these excavating spirits focused on the underlying foundation, der Grund.  And, rising above this foundation, they erected their structure of words, drawings and brushstrokes, connecting the elements with strong yet supple tissue, allowing the composition to flex into its desirable form.

And so I look upon my own watercolor endeavor of the Waxahachie caboose,

Distinguishing warm reds from cool reds,

Jamming complementary reds and greens,

Contrasting darks and lights,

Cleaving between warms and cools.

All the time, stretching the flexible connecting tissue,

Examining links,


Punctuations, conjunctions, disjunctions.

Prufrock’s indecisons, visions and revisions.

Hopper identifies my style, but Motherwell shapes it, reminding me that two marks cry out for a third, and then the triad wants a fourth, and so on.  Cezanne also prompts me: the world is complicated, so the purpose of composition is to make the world less complicated.  He wanted to astonish Paris with an apple; I want to astonish my contemporaries with a caboose.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.


Ghosts of the New Isis Theater

July 1, 2013
New Issis Theater, Fort Worth Stockyards

New Isis Theater, Fort Worth Stockyards

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more.  It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

In summer school, we began studying Shakespeare this morning in preparation for the reading of Macbeth.  Part of our background study was the phenomenon of the Globe Theater in Shakespeare’s Renaissance England, with its magnetic pull on the surrounding population.  I came home this afternoon, took one look at this New Isis theater I began recently, and felt mingled emotions of sadness and comfort as I re-read its history.  I find it difficult to convey my feelings when looking on historic monuments such as this without resorting to some form of double-speak (funny to realize that Macbeth opens with three witches and their double-speak).  But my feelings are conveyed in this comment from David Farrell Krell in his Introduction to Early Greek Thinking: Martin Heidegger:

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–those are what I feel when I look at a building such as the New Isis, and feel the myriad of ghosts lingering in its midst.  How many first dates took place here?  How many times did a couple hold hands for the first time?  How many saw their first feature film here?  What famous films from cinematic history ran here?  Movie houses move me profoundly when I look upon their facades, and even more so when I study photographs I have taken and look more closely at the architectural details.

Macbeth, in his closing moments, mused about life strutting and fretting its life upon the stage.  Movie houses come and go, wax and wane, rise and fall, marking time much in the same way that we do.  As I look upon the New Isis, I feel many of the Wordsworthian sentiments expresssed in his Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.  One can look upon a structure such as this theater for a matter of minutes, take a few pictures, but carry the haunting and comforting sentiments in the heart for days and years afterward.  My only regret is that I never entered this movie house when it was open.  All I can do now is read of its past, and connect with parallel expeiences of my own, and then paint what remains.

I don’t intend for this to be my only attempt at rendering this historic structure.  But this first attempt has already flooded my being with plenty of reward, and for that I am grateful.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal because I feel that I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.