Don’t Be Too Quick to Draw…

“Don’t be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. Otherwise it will be too easy for you to look with blame… at your past, which naturally has a share with everything that now meets you.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Drawing Hands, M.C. Escher, 1948

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I Pray Again, You Illustrious One

Les Vacances de Hegel (Hegel’s Holiday),  René Magritte, 1958

 

ICH BETE WIEDER, DU ERLAUCHTER

 

Ich bete wieder, du Erlauchter,

du hörst mich wieder durch den Wind,

weil meine Tiefen nie gebrauchter

rauschender Worte mächtig sind.

Ich war zerstreut; an Widersacher

in Stücken war verteilt mein Ich.

O Gott, mich lachten alle Lacher,

und alle Trinker tranken mich

 

__________________________

 

I pray again, you Illustrious One;

do you hear me again through the wind

because from my unused depths

mighty words are rushing.

  I was dispersed; to the adversary

my self was given in pieces.

O God, I laughed all laughter,

  and all drunkards drank me.

 

Le clef des champs (The Key to the Fields) , 1936

 

Ich war ein Haus nach einem Brand,

darin nur Mörder manchmal schlafen,

eh ihre hungerigen Strafen

sie weiterjagen in das Land;

ich war wie eine Stadt am Meer,

wenn eine Seuche sie bedrängte,

die sich wie eine Leiche schwer

den Kindern in die Hände hängte.

 

__________________________

 

I was a house after a fire,

 where only murderers sometimes sleep,

and their hungry punishments

pursue them through the land;

 I was like a city on the sea,

pressed by a plague,

 which like a heavy corpse

hung the children in the hands.

 

Not to be Reproduced (La reproduction interdite), a portrait of Edward James by René Magritte, 1937

 

Ich war mir fremd wie irgendwer

und wußte nur von ihm, daß er

einst meine junge Mutter kränkte,

als sie mich trug,

und daß ihr Herz, das eingeengte,

sehr schmerzhaft an mein Keimen schlug.

 

 __________________________

 

I was a stranger to myself as one

of whom I knew only that he

once offended my young mother

as she carried me

and that her heart, thus constricted,

throbbed achingly about my sprouting self.

 

Rind, M.C. Escher, 1955

 

Jetzt bin ich wieder aufgebaut

aus allen Stücken meiner Schande

und sehne mich nach einem Bande,

nach einem einigen Verstande,

der mich wie ein Ding überschaut, –

nach deines Herzens großen Händen –

(o kämen sie doch auf mich zu)ich zähle mich, mein Gott, und du,

du hast das Recht, mich zu verschwenden.

 

 __________________________

 

Now I am rebuilt

from all the pieces of my shame

and yearn for a bond,

 for a unified understanding,

which regards me as one thing

 – as I yearn for the big hands of your Heart [to

me]

  (oh, let them draw near me)

I count myself, my God, and you,

You have the right, to waste me.

 

Rainer Maria Rilke

From The Book of Hours

Translation by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

I Am, You Anxious One

Dream, M.C. Escher, 1935

 

ICH BIN, DU ÄNGSTLICHER

“Ich bin, du Ängstlicher. Hörst du mich nicht
mit allen meinen Sinnen an dir branden?
Meine Gefühle, welche Flügel fanden,
umkreisen weiß dein Angesicht.
Siehst du nicht meine Seele, wie sie dicht
vor dir in einem Kleid aus Stille steht?
Reift nicht mein mailiches Gebet
an deinem Blicke wie an einem Baum?

Wenn du der Träumer bist, bin ich dein Traum.
Doch wenn du wachen willst, bin ich dein Wille
und werde mächtig aller Herrlichkeit
und ründe mich wie eine Sternenstille
über der wunderlichen Stadt der Zeit…”

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

_________________________

 

“I am, you anxious one. Do you not hear me
with all my senses rush to claim you?
My feelings, which have found wings,
spin whitely about your countenance.
See you not my soul, how close it stands
in front of you in a garment of stillness?
Does not my Maytime prayer ripen
in your glance as upon a tree?

When you the dreamer be, I am your dream.
If only you would wake, I’d be your will,
and become master of all splendor
and I grow to a sphere, I am like still stars,
over the singular City of Time.”

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Cover artwork by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

The Catapult of Desert, René Magritte, 1926

 
 

Booklet

 
 

 Rind, M.C. Escher, 1955

 
 

LP featuring alternate artwork inspired by M.C. Escher

 
 

Tales of Mystery and Imagination Edgar Allan Poe, is the debut album by the progressive rock group The Alan Parsons Project, released in 1976. The lyrical and musical themes – retellings of horror stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe — attracted a cult audience. The title of the album is taken from a popular title for a collection of Poe’s macabre tales of the same name, Tales of Mystery & Imagination, first published in 1908 and reprinted many times since.

Musicians featured on the album include vocalists Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown on The Tell Tale Heart and Terry Sylvester of The Hollies on To One In Paradise. The complete line-up of bands Ambrosia and Pilot play on the record, along with keyboardist Francis Monkman of Curved Air and Sky.

The Raven features actor Leonard Whiting on lead vocals, with Alan Parsons performing vocals through an EMI vocoder. According to the album’s liner notes, The Raven was the first rock song to feature a digital vocoder.

The Prelude section of The Fall of the House of Usher, although uncredited, is inspired by the opera fragment La chute de la maison Usher by Claude Debussy which was composed between 1908 and 1917. The Fall of the House of Usher is an instrumental suite which runs 16 minutes plus and takes up most of Side 2 of the recording.

Critical reaction to the album was mixed; for example, Rolling Stone’s Billy Altman concluded that it did not completely accurately reproduce Poe’s tension and macabre fear, ending by claiming that “devotees of Gothic literature will have to wait for someone with more of the macabre in their blood for a truer musical reading of Poe’s often terrifying works”.

Nevertheless in July 2010, the album was named as one of Classic Rock magazine’s “50 Albums That Built Prog Rock”.

In 1987, Parsons completely remixed the album, including additional guitar passages and narration (by Orson Welles) as well as updating the production style to include heavy reverb and the gated reverb snare drum sound, which was popular in the 1980s. The CD notes that Welles never met Parsons or Eric Woolfson, but sent a tape to them of the performance shortly after the album was manufactured in 1976.

The first passage narrated by Welles on the 1987 remix (which comes before the first track, A Dream Within a Dream) is sourced from an obscure nonfiction piece by Poe – No XVI of his Marginalia (from 1845 to 1849 Edgar Allan Poe titled some of his reflections and fragmentary material Marginalia.) The second passage Welles reads (which comes before The Fall of the House of Usher (Prelude), seems to be a partial paraphrase or composite from nonfiction by Poe, chiefly from a collection of poems titled Poems of Youth by Poe (contained in Introduction to Poems – 1831 in a section titled “Letter to Mr. B———–“; the “Shadows of shadows passing” part of the quote comes from the Marginalia.

Surrealist Dinner Party

Château de Ferrières, the suburban Parisian mansion of Baron Guy de Rothschild and Marie-Hélène

 

 

On December 12, 1972, Baron Guy de Rothschild and his wife Marie-Hélène hosted a costumed ball stranger than fiction. Château de Ferrières was on fire, sleeping cats the size of men littered the staircase, and all-enveloping cobwebs lined the hallways.The acid-laced zeitgeist of the 70s had trickled up and finally reached the ranks of the Parisian elite in the form of the Rothschilds’ theatrical Dîner des Têtes Surréalistes.

 

The MenuMenu

 

Detail of a table with a fur dish, Mae West red lips and blue bread

 

the dîner des têtes surréalistes invitation with reversed writing inspired by a magritte sky

 

The invitations for the ball—scrawled backwards so that it had to be read in a mirror—stated simply: black tie, long dresses, and Surrealist heads. When such requests are made of those with limitless time and money, the results are impressive. What manifested at the chateau that evening was a trippy tableau vivant comprised of the most notable personalities in the worlds of art and literature and their perception-bending headdresses.

 

 

The actress Jacqueline Delubac came as René Magritte’s Son of Man painting, a large green apple hiding her face. Audrey Hepburn’s head was ensnared in a bird cage. There was a two-headed woman, a horse, a grotesque Mona Lisa, and more than one bouquet of flowers. Not to be outdone, the hostess wore a giant stag’s head that wept diamond tears. And, of course, the master of Surrealism himself was there—Salvador Dalí came dressed as himself.

 

Audrey Hepburn

 

The Baroness Thyssen-Bornemizza & Guy Baguenault de Puchesse

 

Salvador Dalí and the Italian princess Maria Gabriella de Savoia

 

Charles de Croisset, Marisa Berenson snd Paul-Louis Weiller

 

Claude Lebon and Charlotte Aillaud

 

Hélène Rochas & François-Marie Banier

 

For desert: a sugar made woman laying in a bed of roses

 

Table of the swaying dolls

Sunflower Sutra

Sunflowers, M.C. Escher, 1918

 
 

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry.

Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.

The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.

Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust—

—I rushed up enchanted—it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake—my visions—Harlem

and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past—

and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye—

corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb,

leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,

Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!

The grime was no man’s grime but death and human locomotives,

all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt—industrial—modern—all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown—

and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos—all these

entangled in your mummied roots—and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!

A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!

How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of the railroad and your flower soul?

Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?

You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!

And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!

So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,

and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul too, and anyone who’ll listen,

—We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not dread bleak dusty imageless locomotives, we’re golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our own eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.

Allen Ginsberg

Berkeley, 1955

Three Sources of Gravity

Relativity, M. C. Escher, 1953

 
 

Relativity depicts a world in which the normal laws of gravity do not apply. The architectural structure seems to be the centre of an idyllic community, with most of its inhabitants casually going about their ordinary business, such as dining. There are windows and doorways leading to park-like outdoor settings. All of the figures are dressed in identical attire and have featureless bulb-shaped heads. Identical characters such as these can be found in many other Escher works.

In the world of Relativity, there are three sources of gravity, each being orthogonal to the two others. Each inhabitant lives in one of the gravity wells, where normal physical laws apply. There are sixteen characters, spread between each gravity source, six in one and five each in the other two. The apparent confusion of the lithograph print comes from the fact that the three gravity sources are depicted in the same space.

The structure has seven stairways, and each stairway can be used by people who belong to two different gravity sources. This creates interesting phenomena, such as in the top stairway, where two inhabitants use the same stairway in the same direction and on the same side, but each using a different face of each step; thus, one descends the stairway as the other climbs it, even while moving in the same direction nearly side-by-side. In the other stairways, inhabitants are depicted as climbing the stairways upside-down, but based on their own gravity source, they are climbing normally.

Each of the three parks belongs to one of the gravity wells. All but one of the doors seem to lead to basements below the parks. Though physically possible, such basements are certainly unusual and add to the surreal effect of the picture.

This is one of Escher’s most popular works and has been used in a variety of ways, as it can be appreciated both artistically and scientifically. Interrogations about perspective and the representation of three-dimensional images in a two-dimensional picture are at the core of Escher’s work, and Relativity represents one of his greatest achievements in this domain.

Metamorphosis in Three Stages

Metamorphosis I, Maurits Cornelis Escher, 1937

 
 

The concept of this work is to morph one image into a tessellated pattern, then gradually to alter the outlines of that pattern to become an altogether different image. From left to right, the image begins with a depiction of the coastal Italian town of Atrani, Coast of Amalfi.

The outlines of the architecture then morph to a pattern of three-dimensional blocks. These blocks then slowly become a tessellated pattern of cartoon-like figures in oriental attire.

 
 

Metamorphosis II, 1940

 
 

Like Metamorphosis I, the concept of this piece is to morph one image into a tessellated pattern and then slowly alter that pattern eventually to become a new image.

The process begins left to right with the word metamorphose (the Dutch form of the word metamorphosis) in a black rectangle, followed by several smaller metamorphose rectangles forming a grid pattern. This grid then becomes a black and white checkered pattern, which then becomes tessellations of reptiles, a honeycomb, insects, fish, birds and a pattern of three-dimensional blocks with red tops.

These blocks then become the architecture of the Italian coastal town of Atrani. In this image Atrani is linked by a bridge to a tower in the water, which is actually a rook piece from a chess set. There are other chess pieces in the water and the water becomes a chess board. The chess board leads to a checkered wall, which then returns to the word metamorphose.

 
 

Metamorphosis III, 1968

 
 

This is Escher’s largest print. It was printed on thirty-three blocks on six combined sheets and mounted on canvas. This print was partly colored by hand.

It begins identically to Metamorphosis II, with the word metamorphose (the Dutch form of the word metamorphosis) forming a grid pattern and then becoming a black-and-white checkered pattern. Then the first set of new imagery begins. The angles of the checkered pattern change to elongated diamond shapes. These then become an image of flowers with bees. This image then returns to the diamond pattern and back into the checkered pattern.

It then resumes with the Metamorphosis II imagery until the bird pattern. The birds then become sailing boats. From the sailing boats the image changes to a second fish pattern. Then from the fish to horses. The horses then become a second bird pattern. The second bird pattern then becomes black-and-white triangles, which then become envelopes with wings. These winged envelopes then return to the black-and-white triangles and then to the original bird pattern. It then resumes with the Metamorphosis II print until its conclusion.

The Sensitive Dependency on Initial Conditions

“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.”

M. C. Escher

 
 

Photo by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependency on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations equating to the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.The idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events first appears in A Sound of Thunder, a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury about time travel.

In 1963 Lorenz published a theoretical study of this effect in a well-known paper called Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow. Elsewhere he said that “One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull’s wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.” Following suggestions from colleagues, in later speeches and papers Lorenz used the more poetic butterfly. According to Lorenz, when he failed to provide a title for a talk he was to present at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1972, Philip Merilees concocted Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? as a title. Although a butterfly flapping its wings has remained constant in the expression of this concept, the location of the butterfly, the consequences, and the location of the consequences have varied widely. The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in another location. Note that the butterfly does not power or directly create the tornado. The Butterfly effect does not convey the notion – as is often misconstrued – that the flap of the butterfly’s wings causes the tornado. The flap of the wings is a part of the initial conditions; one set of conditions leads to a tornado while the other set of conditions doesn’t. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events (compare: domino effect). Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different – it’s possible that the set of conditions without the butterfly flapping its wings is the set that leads to a tornado. The butterfly effect is most familiar in terms of weather; it can easily be demonstrated in standard weather prediction models, for example.

Best Recognized from Above

Emblemata-Butterfly, 1938

 
 

Butterflies, 1950

 
 

Circle Limit with Butterflies, 1950

 
 

Symmetry Watercolor 70 Butterfly, undated

 
 

In 1948, the Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher created his Regular Division Drawing number 70, a repeating Euclidean pattern of butterflies.Escher was well known for his repeating patterns, which had two characteristics: they filled the plane without gaps or overlaps, and they exhibited color symmetry. M. C. Escher became fascinated with the geometric processes of tessellation and his imagery took a biased towards asymmetrical natural forms of which insects were often his subject matter. He made the comment that insects are generally best recognized from above.

The Artistic Side of Death

View of a Skull, Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1489

 
 

Saint Francis in Meditation, Caravaggio, 1605

 
 

Skull, Albrecht Dürer, 1521

 
 

La Calavera Catrina (Dapper Skeleton or Elegant Skull), José Guadalupe Posada, 1910-1913.

Much memento mori art is associated with the Mexican festival Day of the Dead, including skull-shaped candies and bread loaves adorned with bread “bones.”

 
 

Self-portrait With Death Playing the Fiddle, Arnold Böcklin, 1872

 
 

Engraving by M.C. Escher, 1919

 
 

Untitled-Death Outside the Head-Paul Eluard, Salvador Dalí, 1933

 
 

Head with Broken Pot, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1942

 
 

Sin esperanza (Without Hope), Frida Kahlo, 1945

 
 

Detail of Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central, Diego Rivera, 1946-1947

 
 

Three Study Portraits of Lucian Freud, by Francis Bacon

 
 

Artwork by Sergio Toppi

 
 

Drawings by Edward Gorey

 
 

Knowledge of the Past Is the Key to the Future: Some Afterthoughts on Discovery, Robert Colescott, 1986

 
 

Riding with Death, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1988

 
 

Black Kites, Gabriel Orozco, 1997

 
 

For the Love of God, Damien Hirst, 1997

 
 

The Orientalist, Walton Ford, 1999

 
 

Painting by Pascal Vilcollet

 
 

Confetti Death, Typoe, 2010

Out of the Rolling Ocean…

Dewdrop (1948), MC Escher

 
 

Out of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently to me,
Whispering I love you, before long I die,
I have travel’d a long way merely to look on you to touch you,
For I could not die till I once look’d on you,
For I fear’d I might afterward lose you.
Now we have met, we have look’d, we are safe,
Return in peace to the ocean my love,
I too am part of that ocean my love, we are not so much separated,
Behold the great rondure, the cohesion of all, how perfect!
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate us,
As for an hour carrying us diverse, yet cannot carry us diverse forever;
Be not impatient–a little space–know you I salute the air, the
ocean and the land,
Every day at sundown for your dear sake my love.

 

Walt Whitman