Friday, May 22, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Philip Pearlstein

Philip Pearlstein is an American painter, born
on 24 May 1924 in Pittsburgh, PA. He's known best for reinventing figure painting, a definite diversion at a time when Abstract Expressionism was the
"in thing".

Instead of writing more, or snipping sections from online pieces, I can do no better than post the following 10 minute YouTube video about Philip Pearlstein and his work. It tells us most of what we really need to know, in a nutshell, and offers a look at some of his paintings. Lots more of his work can be seen via Google Image.

His natal chart, set for 12 noon as no birth time is available.
Born on 24 May 1924 in Pittsburgh, PA

This is a chart where time of birth would be especially helpful. Rising sign and exact position of Moon can't be pinpointed.

Sun in Airy Gemini seems to be without aspect according to what there is to work with, but it does blend, broadly, with Moon which is likely to be somewhere in Aquarius - another Air sign. A Gemini/Aquarius blend signifies a mentally oriented personality, likely to be versatile and fluently communicative.

Venus, planet of the arts is conjunct Pluto in Cancer and sextile Mercury in Taurus, also forming part of a Yod with its apex at Jupiter in Sagittarius (see left). Jupiter also sextiles Mars in Aquarius and forms another Yod with apex at the Venus/Pluto conjunction (left below). So, Jupiter, in its sign of rulership, Sagittarius, is fairly significantly highlighted, but I can't link it especially to the artist's major choice of subject matter: the naked body. Perhaps that choice relates to the Venus conjunction with Pluto? Though I don't see his paintings (at least as far as they appear on a computer screen) as erotic - that would be a Pluto "influence". They seem, to me, to be too matter of fact to be intentionally erotic.

Natal Moon, if in late-ish Aquarius, could make a semi-sextile aspect to Aquarius' modern ruler, Uranus in Pisces, indicating a rather unusual set of sensitivities.

Finally, just one of his many paintings - I especially like those which include some choice objects along with the body, as in this case.

Hat-tip HERE

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Astrologer's Words of Wisdom ~ On the topic of aspects

A few years ago I would do the occasional post under the heading Astrologer's (or Astrologers') Words of Wisdom: pertinent quotes from astrologers' books, articles or print-outs of their lectures. I haven't posted one of these for a while, but on reading once again the introduction to an old book I have on my astrology shelf, I decided to revive that Words of Wisdom idea, once more. The points made are a fairly obvious, once given a bit of thought, but do bear repeating.

From The Astrological Aspects by C.E.O. Carter (published 1930 - 1969)

From the book's Introduction:
 Hat-tip for image to  Astro-wiki
The difficulties of writing anything reliable and capable of helping the practical student are great. For, while we can understand the abstract significance of the planets and so form a conception of the theoretical meaning of each aspect, it still remains true that when we descend from these abstractions to the effects of the aspects in actual life we find ourselves confronted with a very intricate task. That which is unitary above becomes many below; the trend of manifestation is always towards increased diversity. Thus, even in terms of character, the same aspect exhibits great differences in manifestation according to the almost innumerable possible concurrent circumstances that may arise. When we seek to determine the probable external form of the aspects in the affairs of life, we meet yet greater variation. What is more absurd than to suppose that the same aspect (whether radical or progressed) will manifest in the same way in the case of a convict serving a life-sentence, a millionaire financier, a Bohemian artist, or a soldier on active service?
A little further on in the Introduction he writes (or scolds a wee bit):

I must frankly say that I doubt if anything has done sane Astrology more harm than our constant prating about "good" and "bad" aspects, like children talking of "lovely sweets" and "nasty medicine". Such a point of view is debilitating and unworthy, and it implies that astrologers are people whose chief concern in life is to find ease and comfort and avoid hardships. I do not mean that astrologers are of this frame of mind, but our language leads others to this conclusion. We must indeed employ the terms of ordinary language, but there is no need to speak as if comfort were the one good thing, and discomfort the one evil.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letterman's Last Stand

Tonight will be David Letterman's last live appearance on The Late Show on CBS, the show hosted by him for the past 33 years. A string of his favourite guests have graced his show for the past week or two. Of Letterman’s final show, tonight, CBS hints that it will be an hour "filled with surprises and memorable highlights".

We've watched The Late Show intermittently during my years in the USA. Though Johnny Carson was husband's true favourite late show host, Letterman seems to have been, for him, the next best thing.

As Letterman's show tonight will be filled with "memorable highlights", might as well link to three posts of mine featuring David Letterman which will have to stand in for Letterman's "highlights" on this humble blog.

Letterman and Guess Who (2007)
Letterman's Unfunny Palin Jokes (2009)
Letterman etc. (2009)

It appears Letterman's successor, Stephen Colbert, will not be taking over the show until September, until then I don't know what's to happen; guest presenters perhaps, and/or lots and lots of repeats.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Conceits - Concepts of the Mind

Opening C.E.O. Carter's Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology at random, I landed on the page containing his thoughts on "Conceit". I'll begin with those, but conceit is a tricky word, there's more to be investigated.
Intellectual conceit is most often found under a Virgo ascendant. Although generally retiring, in a physical sense, the natives of this sign are generally blessed with "a good conceit of themselves" - to do them justice, not often without grounds, so far as mentality goes. This conceit is probably at bottom compensatory in nature, i.e. the native is conscious of his shyness (which is an instinctive fear of others) and compensates himself with an inner conviction of superiority. Further, Virgo, as a general rule, does not reap in material things the success to which its intellect would appear to entitle it, and again conceit arises as an inner compensation for outward failure.

Jupiter square Sun in mutable signs often bestows mental conceit. The same aspect in fixed signs gives rise to a feeling of general self-laudation, and this finds clearest expression if Leo rises. Falling in cardinal signs there is generally too great self-confidence and a conceited belief in one's own powers of doing things, and this is most clearly seen if Aries rises.

Sun weak in Pisces often gives vanity and too great self-satisfaction, and Moon weak in Leo often has the same effect.

It is probable that in those respects Neptune acts much as Jupiter does, but more subtly, often through forms of imaginative self-flattery and self-glorifying daydreams.
I'll make no comment on the above, other than that I suspect the position of Mercury and aspects to it must have a big part to play, conceit being a concept of the mind about oneself. I can't think, immediately, of anyone with whom I've been closely associated who I considered to be conceited, so I'm unable to decide how accurate Mr Carter's assessments were. A passing reader with relevant experience might have other ideas.

The word conceit, wearing another hat, has meanings not always as immediately clear-cut as when wearing its better-known hat of "excessive pride in oneself".
Oxford dictionary:
conceit :: noun
1. excessive pride in oneself : he was puffed up with conceit. See notes at egotism, pride.
2. a fanciful expression in writing or speech; an elaborate metaphor : the idea of the wind’s singing is a prime romantic conceit.
• an artistic effect or device : the director’s brilliant conceit was to film this tale in black and white.
• a fanciful notion : he is alarmed by the widespread conceit that he spent most of the 1980s drunk.
I always look for a word's origin to assist in its understanding. Conceit, the noun, comes from a Latin verb meaning "to conceive", it works on a pattern similar to the words deceive/deceit, receive/receipt. So, when wearing its other hat (or both hats really, I guess) conceit relates broadly to something conceived by the mind - a conceit: a conception, an idea, an opinion, an imagination, a device, a fanciful invention. Stretched somewhat in this way, its meaning hasn't always been crystal clear to me.

Skimming through Google links I picked up a few uses of the word wearing its secondary hat:

the conceit of self-loathing (HERE)

Could be taken two ways - is it conceit as in a kind of inverted pride, or conceit as an idea?

That show, titled, suitably enough, ‘The Apparent Author’, adhered strenuously to a single conceit, albeit with subtle variations. Every sentence had been plucked from the Oxford English Dictionary, composed for the very purpose of illustrating – exemplifying – the given meaning of a listed word. Ringborg had then taken each sentence and dislocated it from its original intent, wedging it into a new context where it was made to perform differently, and made to mean something else. (HERE)

It is no mere conceit that poets have long attributed their craft to something akin to a mystic trance brought about by their Muse.......... So it takes more than a facility with language, a good memory, and the gentle conceit that we would like to share our cleverness with an admiring public. (HERE)

Both hats in use there!

Part of the unspoken contract we make as members of an audience is putting aside our knowledge that these are actors playing roles, and accept the conceit that we are seeing the characters. It's called suspension of disbelief, and it is something we choose to do. (HERE)

Hawking's Fatal Conceit: Is science even capable of showing that God is out of a job? (HERE)

It's one of the great gifts of having so little money that you are able to make these kinds of radical conceits that you could never afford to do had you had a reasonable budget. (Quote by - Todd Solondz. HERE)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Music Monday ~ Songs about Workers

There were a couple of songs about the lives of workers in last Monday's post - those on the trucker and the lineman. Here's another good workers' song, written and sung by the late Rita MacNeil.

From the Rita MacNeil Wikipedia page linked above:
"Working Man" is a song that sparked from a visit to the Princess Colliery in Sydney Mines. For Rita MacNeil it was the stories of hardships the miners had faced on a daily basis, the prompted her to write this song. In her autobiography she notes that the tour guide was suffering from Throat Cancer, and she had remembered her mother's struggles with it, and as he talked the melody for the song began in her head, complete with lyrics. The song would eventually become a world wide sensation, peaking at number 11 in the UK charts, and the unofficial anthem for coal miners everywhere.

Thinking on that song, and the photographs in the video, reminded me of another video I featured in an archived post about a lovely semi-classical piece, Concierto de Aranjuez HERE

SNIP from that post:
Of all the beautiful renditions of Aranjuez available on video, from classical through middle-of-the-road to jazz-inspired, I've picked the one that made me weep as I listened and watched the images. Reading comments afterwards, it appears that I wasn't the only one. It's the "Orange Juice" version by Yorkshire's Grimethorpe Colliery Band, featured in the movie
Brassed Off, with images of Yorkshire and from the British miners' strikes in 1984/5. Dark days. Many in Britain will never forget them. A way of life for a generation of brave men was lost then, as the Conservatives' economic policies closed coal mines around the country in favor of nuclear power. Our strong support for the miners meant exactly nothing to demon Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. I still cringe at the thought of her - to this day! Nowadays coal mines are not the way ahead, but for decades we depended on what those men risked their lives to provide.

I believe Rodrigo would be pleased that this music can still help to evoke strong emotion.
Are there songs about workers that you find especially memorable?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Netflixing ~ The Homesman

We Netflixed into the movie The Homesman one night this week. Tommy Lee Jones is always good value, and in this case he not only took a leading part in the film, he directed it, and co-wrote the screenplay. The film is an adaptation of Glendon Swarthout's novel of the same name, a novel that has, I understand, been waiting for years for its transition to film. Originally the rights were owned by Paul Newman, then Sam Shepard, but neither was able to gave it the push it needed. If Newman or Shepard had intended taking the leading male role, much as I admire(d) both actors, in my opinion they'd not have made as good a "George Briggs" as did Tommy Lee Jones.

The film is one of those "warts an' all" stories of how the west - or west-ish - territories of the US were trying to be "won" by intrepid 19th century pioneers. The Homesman tale begins in the wild empty expanse of Nebraska territory in the 1850s. A small community of settlers has sprung up in Loup, near the Loup River. A few families are trying to survive amid devastating conditions, high winds, snow, ice, dust, poverty, on small farms, a long distance from the next small town.

In Loup we meet Mary Bee Cuddy, a farmer, she's living alone, unmarried, a former teacher from New York. She is relatively successfully farming her own small spread. Not all the females of Loup are coping as successfully as Cuddy though. Three (four in the novel, I think) have completely lost their sanity from trying to cope with the harsh conditions, loss of multiple children from disease (diphtheria), loss of love for their husbands many of whom have grown coarse and unfeeling, and ultimately loss of all hope. The townspeople, under advice from their church minister, have decided that the three women must be escorted back eastward to Iowa, where another minister's wife has established a help centre for the mentally unstable.

The men refuse the task of homesman (escorting immigrants back to their previous homes, or to another location). Mary Bee Cuddy (played by Hilary Swank) volunteers for the job. Cuddy has, not so secretly, wanted to marry, has even proposed marriage to single male neighbours, but has been turned down more than once due to her perceived bossy nature and plain appearance. She's not pretty-pretty, but she certainly ain't exactly plain to my eye. Ironically, the guy we see turning her proposal down is plug-ugly (as they used to say) himself, but that didn't matter, did it? Maybe they didn't have mirrors!

Cuddy realises almost immediately after setting out on her homesman duties that she'll need help. Fate or fortune brings her onto a path where a claim jumper, seated on a mule, has been left to hang. Cuddy persuades him that if she rescues him he must accompany and help her. "George Briggs" as the claim jumper calls himself is played by Tommy Lee Jones, of course, and is at his surly best.

I'll not give away the continuing storyline. There are lots of good reviews, of varied opinions, on line for anyone interested and unlikely to read the book or see the film.

The film reminded me of several others. First off I thought of Lonesome Dove, due mainly to the fact that both stories involve a long journey across wild territory, both with Tommy Lee Jones involved. Then, the unlikely mix of personalities portrayed in The Homesman: educated, bordering on sophisticated Mary Bee Cuddy and unruly, unprincipled, wild-eyed George Briggs simply had to bring to mind the pair of characters in that classic movie African Queen. Another "warts an' all" western, of more recent years, Unforgiven - a Clint Eastwood film - came to mind also.

The harshness of life for women pioneers was never properly addressed in all those sentimental, comfortable early western movies with which we grew familiar in the 1950/60s, and even later than that. There's a lovely statue/sculpture up in Ponca City, Oklahoma titled "Pioneer Woman", erected in honour of such women, but even the woman in the statue looks well-fed and prosperous compared to the women of The Homesman.

As we watched the movie I recalled a tiny group of marked graves we came across several years ago beside Talimena Drive, on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Someone had left a plastic covered note on one of the small graves telling how it marked the resting place of a child of 6 years who had been killed by wolves, after her parents, pioneer settlers, had died. I've never forgotten that telling marker.

In The Homesman a nice point is made about civilisation in general. Harsh and crude as conditions were for early settlers, who themselves often descended into hardness and crudeness, there was still a kind of unspoken code of ethics and morality going on. People would help each other, come to aid of anyone when in difficulty, for instance. But, in an oddly out-of-place segment of The Homesman story, Tommy Lee Jones' character, transporting the three deranged women, comes upon a rather fancy hotel in the middle of nowhere (quite literally middle of nowhere).

A snazzily dressed would-be nobleman, in charge of the hotel (Irish accent clunkily affected by the otherwise wonderful James Spader) refuses food and rest to the starving travellers who haven't eaten for three days. The reason, he offers: he awaits a group of investors who will fill the hotel, speculators aiming to build a new "civilisation" in this wilderness. A huge spread of good food is awaiting the expected guests. After gentle, and not so gentle, begging by George Briggs, for at least some food for the women, Spader's character remains unmoved and refuses. So this is going to be the flavour of new "civilisation": cold, unfeeling, grasping. (This thought must have crossed Tommy Lee Jones' mind as director, and that of his fictional character, George Briggs).

It's not a great movie, but it's a good one for anyone interested in US history - the quiet, unsung history, not the well-known razzmatazz variety. Even if not historically-minded though, there are interesting relationship issues, civilisation issues, personality issues, redemption (or not) issues, women's issues to be discovered and pondered upon, all barely under the story's surface.