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

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The Invention of Life

The Invention of Life, René Magritte, 1928

 
 

René Magritte was born in Lessines, in the province of Hainaut, Belgium, in 1898. He was the oldest son of Léopold Magritte, a tailor and textile merchant, and Régina (née Bertinchamps), who was a milliner before she got married. Little is known about Magritte’s early life. He began lessons in drawing in 1910. On 12 March 1912, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre. This was not her first attempt at taking her own life; she had made many over a number of years, driving her husband Léopold to lock her into her bedroom. One day she escaped, and was missing for days. Her body was later discovered a mile or so down the nearby river.

According to a legend, 13-year-old Magritte was present when her body was retrieved from the water, but recent research has discredited this story, which may have originated with the family nurse. Supposedly, when his mother was found, her dress was covering her face, an image that has been suggested as the source of several of Magritte’s paintings in 1927–1928 of people with cloth obscuring their faces, including Les Amants, but Magritte disliked this explanation.

The Illusion of Depth

Concept and design by Storm Thorgerson

 
 

The sleeve of the Alan Parsons album Try Anything Once recalls at least two recurring elements of Magritte’s works, the man with the hat and the white sphere.

 
 

The Ignorant Fairy (1950)

 
 

Golconde (1953)

 
 

There is an easter egg inside the inlay. One of the pictures is a stereogram; when the viewer looks at it correctly, an image of a man and woman upside down will appear, similar to the other pictures in the album’s artwork.

Stereoscopy (also called stereoscopics or 3D imaging) is a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by means of stereopsis for binocular vision. The word stereoscopy derives from Greek στερεός (stereos), meaning “firm, solid”, and σκοπέω (skopeō), meaning “to look, to see”. Any stereoscopic image is called stereogram. Originally, stereogram referred to a pair of stereo images which could be viewed using a stereoscope. Magritte made several studies of stereograms in some paintings (for instance, Man with a Newspaper, The Menaced Assassin, A Taste of the Invisible, Portrait of Paul Nouge, and many others).

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.

From the Domain of Arnheim

The Domain of Arnheim, René Magritte, 1962

 
 

“And so that all these ages, these years
we cast behind us, like the smoke-clouds
dragged back into vacancy when the rocket springs –

The domain of Arnheim was all snow, but we were there.
We saw a yellow light thrown on the icefield
from the huts by the pines, and laughter came up
floating from a white corrie miles away, clearly.
We moved on down, arm in arm.
I know you would have thought it was a dream
but we were there. And those were trumpets
-tremendous round the rocks-
while they were burning fires of trash and mammoths’ bones.
They sang naked, and kissed in the smoke.
A child, or one of their animals, was crying.
Young men blew the ice crystals off their drums.
We came down among them, but of course
they could see nothing, on their time-scale.
Yet they sensed us, stopped,
looked up-even into our eyes.

To them we were a displacement of the air,
a sudden chill, yet we had no power
over their fear. If one of them had been dying
he would have died. The crying
came from one just born: that was the cause
of the song. We saw it now. What had
we stopped but joy?
I know you felt the same
dismay, you gripped my arm, they were waiting
for what they knew of us to pass.
A sweating trumpeter took
a brand from the fire with a shout and threw it
where our bodies would have been –
we felt nothing but his courage.
And so they would deal with every imagined
power seen or unseen.
There are no gods in the domain of Arnheim.

We signaled the ship; got back;
our lives and days returned to us, but
haunted by deeper souvenirs than any rocks or seeds.

From time the souvenirs are deeds.”

Edwin Morgan

First published in The Second Life (1968)

Home of the Eagle

“…the world has never seen–and…unless through some series of accidents goading the noblest order of mind into distasteful exertion, the world will never see–that full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer domains of art, of which the human nature is absolutely capable.”

“…from the violation of a few simple laws of humanity arises the wretchedness of mankind–that as a species we have in our possession the as yet unwrought elements of content–and that, even now, in the present darkness and madness of all thought on the great question of the social condition, it is not impossible that man, the individual, under certain unusual and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy.”

Edgar Allan Poe
The Domain of Arnheim
1847

 
 

From the series The Domain of Arheim, by René Magritte

 
 

The Domain of Arnheim (the word is German for “Home of the Eagle,”) is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s lesser-known stories. The critics have taken little notice of it, and when they do, it’s generally interpreted in vague terms of death imagery, or as a treatise on gardening. It is actually one of Poe’s most profound and beautiful works, and one of the very few where we are given a glimpse into his true inner self.

On the surface, The Domain of Arnheim is a tale of a fantastically wealthy man the unnamed narrator calls only “Ellison,” who desires to express “the true character, the august aims, the supreme majesty and dignity of the poetic sentiment.” He achieves his goal through creating “Arnheim,” a castle and landscape-garden of supreme loveliness. As Ellison says, man can’t affect the “general condition of man,” but must be “thrown back…upon self.” The first half of the story is a discussion of Ellison’s philosophies about man and nature, the second a detailed description of Arnheim itself.

The story is, in brief, Poe acting as our tour guide through the human mind and soul. The unprecedented beauty and serenity of Arnheim–the domain of the soaring eagle–is accessible to each individual who follows the path Poe blazes within the realm of imagination. He states that “in landscape arrangements alone is the physical nature susceptible of imagination.” These landscapes, as we see them in nature, are all susceptible to improvement. Ellison explains that “there may be a class of beings, human once, but now invisible to humanity, to whom, from afar, our disorder may seem order–our unpicturesqueness picturesque; in a word, the earth-angels, for whose scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death-refined appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array by God the wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres.” Man, by improving the arrangements in nature, in a way that “shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or superintendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to humanity” can create “nature in the sense of the handiwork of the angels that hover between man and God.” Perfecting these landscapes in our eyes–thus being able to see them as the angels do–brings us closer to these higher beings.

Poe uses the physical description of Arnheim as an analogy for what human beings can do in their mind’s eye. By creating a mental “domain,” by using meditation to create an inner “landscape-garden,” one grows closer to the world of the spirit. The visitor’s lengthy journey to Arnheim in the story’s closing paragraphs is a journey to the higher recesses of the mind. The traveler who reaches that destination has achieved a genuine meditation–found Nirvana. Upon departing for “the Paradise of Arnheim,” the visitor is “bidden to be of good cheer–that the fates will take care of him” as he finds the true expression of the “poetic sentiment” among the seeming “phantom handiwork, conjointly, of the Sylphs, of the Fairies, of the Genii, and of the Gnomes.”

 
 

To read Poe’s short story, click on the next link: http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-domain.htm

In Tribute to Magritte and Kintrye

MULL OF KINTRYE

“Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

Far have I traveled and much have I seen
Darkest of mountains with valleys of green
Past painted deserts the sun sets on fire
As he carries me home to the Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

Sweep through the heather like deer in the glen
Carry me back to the days I knew then
Nights when we sang like a heavenly choir
Of the life and the times of the Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

Smiles in the sunshine and tears in the rain
Still take me back where my memories remain
Flickering embers go higher and higher
As they carry me back to the Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre”

 
 

45 Single front cover artwork inspired by Magritte

 
 

Mull of Kintyre is a song by Paul McCartney and Wings, written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine. The song was written in tribute to the picturesque Kintyre peninsula in Scotland, where McCartney has owned High Park Farm since 1966, and its headland, the Mull of Kintyre. The song was Wings’ biggest hit in Britain where it became the 1977 Christmas number one, and was the first single to sell over two million copies nationwide.

McCartney explained how the song came into being:

“ I certainly loved Scotland enough, so I came up with a song about where we were living; an area called Mull of Kintyre. It was a love song really, about how I enjoyed being there and imagining I was travelling away and wanting to get back there”

Mull of Kintyre was recorded in August 1977 in London, during a break in recording the London Town album caused by Linda McCartney‘s advanced pregnancy, which led to the departure of Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English from Wings. Bagpipes from Kintyre’s local Campbeltown Pipe Band were included as a prominent part of the recording.

 

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A Painting Within a Painting

The Human Condition (1933)

 
 

One of René Magritte‘s most common artistic devices was the use of objects to hide what lies behind them.

In The Human Condition, the cover-up appears in the form a painting within a painting.

Magritte had this to say of his 1933 work:

 

In front of a window seen from inside a room, I placed a painting representing exactly that portion of the landscape covered by the painting. Thus, the tree in the picture hid the tree behind it, outside the room. For the spectator, it was both inside the room within the painting and outside in the real landscape.

 
 

The Human Condition (1935)

 
 

The Key to the Fields (1936)

 
 

The Call of the Peaks (1942)

 
 

The Domain of Arnheim (1942)

 
 

The Fair Captive (1947)

 
 

Euclidean Walks (1955)

 
 

Evening Falls (1964)

 
 

Paintings within paintings appear frequently in Magritte works. Euclidean Walks  is a work perhaps most like The Human Condition. It places a canvas in front of a high window depicting the tower of a close building and a street below. In The Fair Captive, there is a beach scene with an easel set up. As in the previous cases it holds a canvas depicting what the viewer might expect to be behind it. This time though, flames from a burning tuba in front of the frame are seen “reflected.” The Call of the Peaks (1942) shows a mountain canvas in front of a mountain background which is buffeted on the right by a curtain.

The list of similar works can easily be extended to include such paintings as The Key to the Fields, its reincarnation Evening Falls and The Domain of Arnheim, all of which feature broken windows whose shattered glass pieces on the floor still show the outside world they used to conceal.

 
 

The Alarm Clock (1957)

 
 
Another series of pieces which show both strong similarities and strong differences from The Human Condition are the works titled The Alarm Clock. In these works, a painting is placed on an easel in front of a window or on a balcony with a simple landscape in the background. However, the painting does not show what may possibly be behind, but is instead an upside-down basic fruit still life.

To Bring into Confusion

The Great War on Façades, René Magritte, 1964

 
 

The English word war derives from the late Old English (c.1050) words wyrre and werre; the Old French werre; the Frankish werra; and the Proto-Germanic werso. The denotation of war derives from the Old Saxon werran, Old High German werran, and the German verwirren: “to confuse”, “to perplex”, and “to bring into confusion”. Another posited derivation is from the Ancient Greek barbaros, the Old Persian varhara, and the Sanskrit varvar and barbara. In German, the equivalent is Krieg; the Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian term for “war” is guerra, derived from the Germanic werra (“fight”, “tumult”). Etymologic legend has it that the Romanic peoples adopted a foreign, Germanic word for “war”, to avoid using the Latin bellum, because, when sounded, it tended to merge with the sound of the word bello (“beautiful”).

People who need war for psychological or/and material profit (to feel themselves greater and to make themselves richer) always embellish and glorify war to recruit the young people for possible victimization. To make the young kill and be ready to die in the process the war decision-makers offer satisfaction to youth’s unconscious narcissistic need to be admired for their self-sacrificial heroism. Young people, after the endless wars of human history and their passionate aggrandizement by social leaders throughout the centuries, developed the masochistic taste for exchanging their self-sacrifice for people’s grateful admiration.

René Magritte has represented War as an unattainable woman, seducing us with her very inaccessibility. Her face, so we believe, should be as beautiful as her garment. We dream to enjoy seeing it but this pleasure is never available – even the most obvious, the most justifiable wars are ambiguous! Wars are always too costly in terms of lost lives and bodily mayhem. A war is never won, it is just a Pyrrhic victory.

A Pyrrhic victory inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit (another term for this would be “hollow victory”). The phrase Pyrrhic victory is named after Greek King Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War.

 
 

Guinevere van Seenus photographed by Tim Walker, Vogue Italia, December 2006

The Perpetual Tension Between the Hidden and Visible

“Those of my pictures that show very familiar objects, an apple, for example, pose questions. We no longer understand when we look at an apple; its mysterious quality has thus been evoked. In a recent painting, I have shown an apple in front of a person’s face at least it partially hides the face. Well then, here we have the apparent visible, the apple, hiding the hidden visible, the person’s face. This process occurs endlessly. Each thing we see hides another, we always want to see what is being hidden by what we see. There is an interest in what is hidden and what the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a fairly intense feeling, a kind of contest, I could say, between the hidden visible and apparent visible”.

René Magritte

 

René Magritte photographed by Bill Brandt, 1963

 

The apple is one of the most frequent and recognizable of Magritte’s motifs, appearing in various guises such as a floating orb in the sky, a masked entity, and perhaps most famously hiding the face of a man wearing a bowler hat. The ambiguity of its role in the present scene invites the viewer to contemplate possible interpretations without ever offering a definitive meaning, sustaining a sense of enigma that the painter prized above all else. For Magritte, the apple came to symbolize this perpetual tension between the hidden and visible, and he even used it to obscure his own visage in some of his self-portraits.

Suzi Gablik suggests that “Magritte’s paintings are a systematic attempt to disrupt any dogmatic view of the physical world. By means of the interference of conceptual paradox, he causes ordinary phenomena to inherit extraordinary and improbably conclusions. What happens in Magritte’s paintings is, roughly speaking, the opposite of what the trained mind is accustomed to expect. His pictures disturb the elaborate compromise that exists between the mind and life. In Magritte’s paintings, the world’s haphazard state of consciousness is transformed into a single will”.

Magritte’s transformation of a humble apple into an impressive boulder also reflects the enduring impact of the Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico‘s pittura metafisica on his oeuvre. De Chirico’s images such as Le Chant d’amour (1914), which was a seminal discovery for Magritte during the early years of his career, portrays inconsequential objects such as a ball or a glove as monumental symbols with mysterious and ultimately indeterminate import. Similarly, Magritte confers the qualities associated with rocks, such as heaviness and immobility, to the apple, creating a seemingly permanent monument to what is ordinarily a highly perishable foodstuff.

 

Postcard (1960)

 

The Beautiful World (1962)

 

The Straight Path (1962)

 


The Taste of the Invisible (1964)

 

The Song of Love I (1963)

 

Fine Realities (1964)

Turned to Stone

La parole donée (The Pledge or The Word Given), René Magritte, 1950

 
 

La parole donnée is part of a series of twenty paintings depicting organic objects turned to stone that René Magritte started in 1950. Sometimes referred to as his “stone age pictures,” these works celebrate Magritte’s love of paradox; the first of these images, for example, depicts a monumental stone chair whose aura of primeval significance is undercut by the minuscule wooden chair that is perched delicately upon its enormous seat. This punning yet eerie transformation of mundane objects through alterations in scale and material also occurs with living things such as a large petrified fish that would undoubtedly sink if plunged into water and the giant stone apple seen here, whose leafy stem underscores both its arrested growth and its incongruous presence amongst forebodingly angular outcroppings of mottled grey stone. Indeed, Magritte regarded the state of petrification as a visual expression of disaster and death. As Abraham Hammacher has stated, “One can trace this preoccupation with a petrified world in all. Magritte’s works Magritte did not regard petrification as a process, but as a kind of catastrophe, like that at Pompeii, when lava transfixed the world and brought all movement to a halt”. As David Sylvester notes, the preternatural calm displayed by these four images possesses an eerie quality, and he has commented that “La parole donnée has the violence of an earthquake at the start of time”.

 
 

From the series The Great Table, c. 1963

 

The Ongoing Conflict of a Voyeur

Le Viol (The Rape), René Magritte, 1934

 
 

The Rape, one of Surrealism’s most powerful images — Georges Bataille could never suppress a nervous laugh whenever he was confronted by this painting — likewise works with a subversive idea. The selection of the work’s title indicates the ongoing conflict of a voyeur; René Magritte comes very close here to Hans Bellmer’s erotic perversion, albeit without the latter’s sadness.

In 1935, Andre Breton published his speech Qu’est-ce que le Surrealisme? with Magritte’s drawing, Le Viol on its cover. The image, a view of a woman’s head in which her facial features have been replaced by her torso, was meant to shock the viewer out of complacent acceptance of present reality into “surreality,” that liberated state of being which would foster revolutionary social change. Because Le Viol is such a violently charged image and because of the claims made for it by Magritte for its revolutionary potential, the drawing has been the subject of many arguments, both for and against its effectiveness. The feminist community has had a particular interest in this image (and in Magritte’s work as a whole) not only because of the controversial treatment of the female subject in Le Viol, but also because of the ways in which our culture has been so easily able to strip surrealist images of their political content and subsume them back into mainstream culture for use in those very categories of social practice which Surrealism wanted to eradicate.

 
 

Single sleeve

 
 

Angie is a song by the rock band The Rolling Stones, featured on their 1973 album Goats Head Soup.

Contrary to popular belief, the song was not about David Bowie‘s first wife Angela or Angie Dickinson; nor was it about Keith Richards‘ first daughter, Dandelion Angela. The song was written before the sex of his upcoming baby was known. He says in his memoir, Life: “I just went, ‘Angie, Angie.’ It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like ‘ohhh, Diana.’ I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote Angie. In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out. In fact, Anita named her Dandelion. She was only given the added name Angela because she was born in a Catholic hospital where they insisted that a ‘proper’ name be added.”
(Life, p. 323, Ch. 8.)

 
 

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