Showing posts with label icarus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label icarus. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

more icarus (miscellaneous 5)

more icarus, since i forgot to add this latest work to the previous post:

icarus sans wings ~ frank waaldijk
icarus sans wings ii (own work, 2012, 32 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

more greek mythology: icarus (miscellaneous 4)

more greek mythology (see icarus on wikipedia):

icarus sans wings ~ frank waaldijk
icarus sans wings (own work, 2011, 21 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

from wikipedia:
Icarus's father, Daedalus, a talented and remarkable Athenian craftsman, attempted to escape from his exile in the palace of Knossos, Crete, where he and his son were imprisoned at the hands of King Minos, the king for whom he had built the Labyrinth to imprison the Minotaur (half man, half bull).
Daedalus, the superior craftsman, was exiled because he gave Minos' daughter, Ariadne, a clew[2] (or ball of string) in order to help Theseus, the enemy of Minos, to survive the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur with a sword which was used to stab the Minotaur in the neck.
Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son.
Trying his wings first, Daedalus before taking off from the island,warns his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight.
Overcome by the giddiness that flying lent him, Icarus soared through the sky curiously, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted the wax.
Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms.
And so, Icarus fell into the sea in the area which bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria, an island southwest of Samos.

dream of icarus ~ frank waaldijk
dream of icarus (own work, 2011, 40 x 41 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

(you may notice some subconscious, surreal elements... also see the starting post of this `miscellaneous´ thread)

the fall of icarus is usually associated with having too much hubris, being an irresponsible high-flyer etc. again there is an absolutely brilliant painting by pieter brueghel the elder depicting the fall of icarus. but, contrary to popular opinion under art historians, i think maybe brueghel´s intention was not to criticize icarus, but to criticize us, for not even noticing extraordinary events, for pretending not to see them, to not help people in distress, etc. (see my 2008 posts on brueghel´s painting)

pieter bruegel, the fall of icarus

pieter brueghel the elder, landscape and the fall of icarus (click on the image for an enlargement)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

quality & art 12: forgery 2

returning to `quality and art', although really this theme also underlies all the previous posts, i would like to add some extra background to the post on anonymous art and forgeries. [where anonymized art as well as forgeries are presented as methods to prick through the balloon of art legitimization. a balloon which floats most of the contemporary art scene. don't be impressed by it, is what i'm saying.]

so, forgeries. what do they have to do with quality?

suppose i would brilliantly forge a scarlatti sonata. [you should read this, to be honest about my musical ablities, as: suppose i COULD forge a scarlatti sonata ;-)]. i would claim i was cleaning some attic, conveniently dating back to the 18th century, when suddenly my eye fell upon...etc.

experts go wild. in all the texts 555 has to be replaced by 556. special performances are given all over the world. reviews are raving.

then, i'm found out. boohoo. BUT does it make the music any less beautiful? is its QUALITY any less for having been found out as a forgery?

well, in the visual arts this is not a question. so-called experts even frown upon this question. a forgery of a matisse, when found out, will be removed from the museum's exhibition. how hard is it to forge a matisse? well, to be honest, i don't think that should be too difficult.

henri matisse, icarus

henri matisse, icarus

in fact i have sold a number of...oh. perhaps i should wait a little with this revelation, since the centre pompidou is already in trouble with another suspected forgery, see below.

ralf kwaaknijd, paradise snake

ralf kwaaknijd, paradise snake / hidden in plain sight xxxiv, 2005, centre pompidou paris

rather exact replicas of this work from controversial dutch visual artist ralf kwaaknijd have been acquired by a number of other museums of modern art, raising serious questions as to its authenticity. [ralf kwaaknijd is preparing a statement on the issue, it is said. more work by kwaaknijd later.].

Saturday, June 21, 2008

icarus 5, multatuli 2

[just visited paris, stayed with a friend, which was very inspiring. talked about multatuli, for one. more on paris later.]

did multatuli's book max havelaar put an end to colonialism in the end? maybe. but not to economic slavery. how aware are we of the working conditions in china, india, pakistan, ... - where so much of our `cheap' goods & clothing come from? why is there still an organization called max havelaar trying to foster `fair trade'? are we more aware of the appalling amount of child labour than our 19th century predecessors?

i dare say not. or we have become more callous in these matters. how difficult is it REALLY to pressure governments into protecting at least the children of this world? i don't know. but a new multatuli would not be out of a job, of that i'm sure.

visiting amsterdam recently, i came across...the lauriergracht! readers of max havelaar will recall that lauriergracht no. 37 is the address of the satirical character droogstoppel, coffee-broker (makelaar in koffie, in dutch) with the firm last & co. i didn't know this canal (gracht means citycanal) really existed, but now of course i had to take my children to see no. 37...and to my surprise this is what i found:

lauriergracht no. 37, amsterdam

lauriergracht no. 37, amsterdam

if you look sharply, you will see the aged and faded letters on the stone read: last & co, makelaars in koffij. i can tell you, i was quite surprised. but some research showed me that the stone was placed later, at no. 37, as an ode to multatuli and his character droogstoppel. droogstoppel actually starts off max havelaar with:

I AM a coffee-broker, and live at No. 37 Lauriergracht. It is not my custom to write novels, or any such thing; so it was a long time before I made up my mind to order a couple of reams of paper and begin the work which you, dear reader, have just taken up, and which you ought to read if you are in the coffee business — or, in fact, if you are anything else. And not only have I never written anything which was in the least like a novel, but I don’t hold with even reading anything of the sort, because I am a man of business. For several years past I have been asking myself, What is the use of such things? And I am perfectly amazed at the impudence of poets and novelists in palming off upon you things which have never happened, and, for the most part, never can happen. Now, in my business — I am a coffee-broker, and live in the Lauriergracht, No. 37 — if I were to send in to a principal (a principal is a man who sells coffee) an account containing only a small part of the untruths which are the main point in all poems and romances, why, he would at once go to Busselinck & Waterman. (Busselinck & Waterman are coffee-brokers too; but it is not necessary for you to know their address.) So I take good care not to write any novels or send in wrong accounts. I have always noticed that persons who let themselves in for that kind of thing generally get the worst of it. I am forty-three, and have been at the Exchange for twenty years, so that I have every right to put myself forward when a man of experience is in demand. I have seen plenty of firms fail in my time; and usually, when I examined into the causes of their failure, it seemed to me that they must be sought for in the wrong direction given to most people in their youth.

I say, “Truth and sound sense!” And that I stick to. The mistake comes in, in the first place, with Van Alphen, even in his very first line about the “dear little creatures.” What on earth could induce this old gentleman to call himself an adorer of my little sister Truitje, who had sore eyes, or of my brother Gerrit, who was always biting his nails? And yet he says that “he sang these verses, compelled by love.” I used often to think, when I was a child, “Man, I should like to meet you, just for once; and then, if you refused me the marbles I should ask you for, or the whole of my name in chocolate letters, then I should consider you a liar.” But I never saw Van Alphen. I think he was already dead when he used to tell us that my father was my best friend — I thought far more of Pauweltje Winser, who lived next door to us — and that my little dog was so grateful for kindness! We never kept dogs, because they are dirty.

That is the way children are brought up; and later on, come other lies again. A girl is an angel! The man who was the first to discover that never had any sisters of his own. Love is bliss! One is going to fly, with one object or another, to the end of the earth. The earth has no ends; and, besides, love is madness. No one can say that I do not live happily with my wife. She is a daughter of Last & Co., coffee-brokers. I am a member of the most respectable club in Amsterdam. She has a shawl that cost ninety-two florins. And yet there was never any question between us of a foolish love like that, which insists on living at the very end of the earth! When we were married we made a little tour to The Hague; she bought some flannel there, and I am wearing undervests made of it to this day; but love never drove us out into the world any farther than that. Bah! it is all madness and lies!

It is not verses alone that seduce the young into untruthfulness. Just go to the theater and listen to the falsehoods that are being spread abroad there. The hero of the play is pulled out of the water by some fellow on the point of going into the bankruptcy court. Then he gives the fellow half his fortune. Why, such a thing could not possibly happen! Not long ago, when my hat was blown into the Prinsengracht, I gave the man who brought it back to me four cents, and he was quite satisfied. Of course I knew I should have had to give something more if it had been myself that he pulled out, but certainly not half what I possess. Why, it is clear that, on this principle, one need only fall into the water twice to be ruined! But the worst of it is, with such things represented on the stage, the public gets so accustomed to all these falsehoods that it thinks them fine, and applauds them. I should just like to throw a whole pit-ful of such people into the water, and see whose applause was sincere. I, who hold by the truth, warn every one that I am not going to pay so high a salvage for the fishing up of my person. Any one who is not satisfied with less may just let me stay where I am. On a Sunday, however, I should pay rather more, because then I wear my gold watch-chain and my best coat.

Yes, the stage ruins many — still more than the novels. It looks so well! With a little gold tinsel and paper lace things can be made so attractive — for children, that is to say, and for people who are not in business. Even when they want to represent poverty on the stage, the picture given is always a false one. A girl, whose father has gone bankrupt, is working to keep the family. Very good. There she sits, then, sewing, knitting, or embroidering. But just count the stitches that she takes in the course of the whole scene. She talks, she sighs, she keeps running to the window, but she does not work. The family who can live on such work as this must have few wants indeed. Of course a girl like this is the heroine. She has thrown several villains down the stairs. She continually calls out, “Oh, mother! mother!” and thus represents virtue. What sort of virtue do you call that, that takes a year to finish a pair of woolen socks? Does not all this give people wrong ideas about virtue and working for their living?

Then her first lover — he was formerly a clerk at the copying-book, but now a millionaire — suddenly comes back and marries her. Lies again. A man with money will never marry a girl from a house that has failed. And then, virtue rewarded! I have had plenty of experience in my time, but still it shocks me terribly when I see truth perverted in this way. Virtue rewarded! Isn’t it just like making a traffic out of virtue? It is not so in this world, and a very good thing it is that it is not. Where is the merit of being virtuous, if virtue is to be rewarded? Now, I am as virtuous as most people, but do I expect to be rewarded for it? If my business goes on well — which, in fact, it does; if my wife and children keep in health, so that I have no worry with the doctor and chemist; if, year by year, I can put away a little sum for my old age; if Fritz grows up a good man of business, so that he can step into my shoes when I retire and go to live at Driebergen — well, if all these things are so, I am quite content. But all that is a natural result of circumstances, and of my attention to business. I don’t ask any special reward for my virtue.

That I am virtuous is quite evident from my love for truth. This, next to my attachment to our orthodox belief, is my ruling passion. And I should like the reader to be quite convinced of this, because it is my excuse for writing this book.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

icarus 4: multatuli

ok. let me step outside of the visual arts for a moment, to introduce you to someone who is still -i believe- little known outside the netherlands:

statue multatuli amsterdam

statue of multatuli (by hans bayens) amsterdam

multatuli is seen by many as the greatest dutch writer ever, anyway i think he's a great writer [what great means i leave be, in the light of the ongoing chautauqua on quality; it looks like a gpr-qualification (gpr=generalized pagerank) but can also be simply personal, which is how i use it.]

although he is most famous for his revolutionary work max havelaar, or the coffee auctions of the dutch trading society, to which i will come back, his 7book work ideas is perhaps the most direct inspiration for this weblog to have seen some light of day (electrons of night is more accurate but would you get the analogy?).

to understand this, you should know that multatuli's numbered ideas are in their essence and form a weblog avant-la-lettre. but they date from the second half of the 19th century. they also contain a play and an entire, wonderful novel called woutertje pieterse.

yes, yes, you're getting impatient, i know. what the buzz does this multiperson have to do with icarus...

well, take the time to follow the links above, then you can read in what way multatuli was so far ahead of his time, and flying so much higher as to merit an association with icarus. in his ideas one can read also what his contemporaries write about him and his answers to this. and like boltzmann he put an imnsho lamentable amount of time and energy in trying to uplift his contemporaries to his own level. which, by sheer mass, results most often in being dragged down...

although? let me cite wikipedia on the longterm effects of max havelaar (written in 1860!):

The combination of these two strategies caused widespread abuse of colonial power, especially on the islands of Java and Sumatra, resulting in abject poverty and widespread starvation among the farmers.

Multatuli wrote Max Havelaar in protest against these colonial policies. Despite its terse writing style, it raised the awareness of Europeans living in Europe at the time that the wealth that they enjoyed was the result of suffering in other parts of the world. This awareness eventually formed the motivation for the new Ethical Policy by which the Dutch colonial government attempted to "repay" their debt to their colonial subjects by providing education to some classes of natives, generally members of the elite loyal to the colonial government.

Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer argued that by triggering these educational reforms, Max Havelaar was in turn responsible for the nationalist movement that ended Dutch colonialism in Indonesia after 1945, and which was instrumental in the call for decolonisation in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Thus, according to Pramoedya, Max Havelaar is "the book that killed colonialism".

to be continued.

Friday, June 13, 2008

icarus & spiritual growth: two-edged sword

icarus shot down at night (own work, 2006)

icarus shot down at night, own work 2006

i think the easily understood message of the icarus myth is: if you strive too high -egotistically- without regard for consequence and without a sense of balance, then you will crash. this seems actually the same as my `brave new world' feeling (science, apes fire) discussed in some previous posts.

but again i feel a bite to the the sense that the above is very often abused by people to bring down `highflyers'. act normal, they say. why don't you do as we do? you probably think you're better than we, don't you. but you're just an icarus, and you will crash.

so the spiritual growth that mankind -imnsho- desperately needs, is also stunted by the resistance of the group to anyone who wants to rise to a higher level of spirituality. in that sense the story of icarus could easily be a false account.

what if icarus designed the wings, and flew high? people got jealous, angry, frustrated, frightened by this new power, afraid of their hard-won positions in which they had become entrenched, scared they might lose their standing, their wealth,...

...and therefore they shot him down at night, and covered it up with a good story of melting wings...

icarus intermezzo 2: who is icarus anyway?

[this blog seems to be attracting quite a number of interested people from all over the world. amazing. but noblesse oblige: to be read means to be held to write.]

how did i get to icarus from science and apes...well that's not so difficult of course, since from greek mythology icarus is traditionally depicted as the foolish son of scientist/inventor/architect daedalus (and he's the one who built the palace on knossos with the labyrinth for the minotaur, and who was then marooned off on a deserted island with icarus, but contrived to escape using wings made of bird feathers and wax) who flew too close to the sun, thus melting the wax of his wings, thus crashing to his death in the sea below.

unwise use of science/technology. apes playing with fire...

but actually, i've always felt uncomfortable with the icarus story. the myth itself -though instructive- also begs for reinterpretation.
[i will -i promise- come back to the themes of quality & art, brave new world, personal fabrication, but i cannot leave poor icarus be]

the fall of icarus (own work, 2006)

the fall of icarus, own work 2006

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

icarus: reading about brueghel 2

in the train of thoughts that forms this chautauqua i'm reminded of rudy rucker's book as above, so below on the life of pieter brueghel the elder, one of my favourite artists. (first post here)

i find very revealing especially what the author makes pieter say about the following painting:

pieter bruegel, the fall of icarus

pieter bruegel, the fall of icarus

according to rudy, pieter paints this picture to show that icarus types can easily be missed from society. they do not contribute essentially, life goes on as usual with or without them. supposedly pieter brueghel adheres to simplicity of life, which prompts him to paint peasant scenes and peasant village landscapes, having little admiration for highflying `false' ideals.

of course i have no way of knowing pieter brueghel's mind when he painted the above. but rudy rucker's interpretation to me seems too easy. the real bite of the painting to me - and such a bite i consider pieter to be very capable of - is that the painting also depicts the narrow view of the worldly world. the farmer doesn't look up, not because he's knowingly not interested, but because he's too engrossed in his own world to notice anything out of the ordinary. the same for the herdsman, and the other (fisher?)man. the ship sails, but does not set out a rescue party for the person who has just crashed in the accomplishment of a miraculous feat. why not? well, there's time to consider, effort...and anyway these highflyers...have themselves to blame don't they? ignoring seems a safe bet.

i think brueghel in his time was a highflyer himself. the painting has this double edge, that it depicts what society (not brueghel!) thinks of real highflyers (not the happyfacehowdoyoudo (con)temporary stars of a given period) in their own era.

to be continued.