Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE WORLD



No man demands what he desires; each man demands what he fancies he can get. Soon people forget what the man really wanted first; and after a successful and vigorous political life, he forgets it himself.
In the modern world we are primarily confronted with the extraordinary spectacle of people turning to new ideals because they have not tried the old. Men have never wearied of political justice; they have wearied of waiting for it.
We are bewildered on every side by politicians who are in favor of secular education, but think it hopeless to work for it; who desire total prohibition, but are certain they should not demand it; who regret compulsory education, but resignedly continue it; or who want peasant proprietorship and therefore vote for something else. It is this dazed and floundering opportunism that gets in the way of everything. If our statesmen were visionaries something practical might be done. If we ask for something in the abstract we might get something in the concrete. As it is, it is not only impossible to get what one wants, but it is impossible to get any part of it, because nobody can mark it out plainly like a map. If we are made to walk the plank by a pirate, it is vain for us to offer, as a common-sense compromise, to walk along the plank for a reasonable distance. There is an exquisite mathematical split second at which the plank tips up. Our common-sense ends just before that instant; the pirate's common-sense begins just beyond it. Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf.
An act can only be successful or unsuccessful when it is over; if it is to begin, it must be, in the abstract, right or wrong. There is no such thing as backing a winner; for he cannot be a winner when he is backed. There is no such thing as fighting on the winning side; one fights to find out which is the winning side.
It is not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay, a difference of creed unites men—so long as it is a clear difference. A boundary unites. Our political vagueness divides men, it does not fuse them. Men will walk along the edge of a chasm in clear weather, but they will edge miles away from it in a fog. So a Radical can walk up to the very edge of Socialism, if he knows what Socialism is. But if he is told that Socialism is a spirit, a sublime atmosphere, a noble, indefinable tendency, why, then he keeps out of its way; and quite right too.
The really burning enthusiast never interrupts; he listens to the enemy's arguments as eagerly as a spy would listen to the enemy's arrangements. But if you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will find that no medium is admitted between violence and evasion. You will have no answer except slanging or silence. A modern editor must not have that eager ear that goes with the honest tongue. He may be deaf and silent; and that is called dignity. Or he may be deaf and noisy; and that is called slashing journalism. In neither case is there any controversy; for the whole object of modern party combatants is to charge out of earshot.
Men need not trouble to alter conditions; conditions will so soon alter men. The head can be beaten small enough to fit the hat. Do not knock the fetters off the slave; knock the slave until he forgets the fetters. To all this plausible modern argument for oppression, the only adequate answer is, that there is a permanent human ideal that must not be either confused or destroyed. The most important man on earth is the perfect man who is not there.
The last few decades have been marked by a special cultivation of the romance of the future. We seem to have made up our minds to misunderstand what has happened; and we turn, with a sort of relief, to stating what will happen—which is (apparently) much easier. The modern man no longer presents the memoirs of his great grandfather; but is engaged in writing a detailed and authoritative biography of his great-grandson. Instead of trembling before the specters of the dead, we shudder abjectly under the shadow of the babe unborn.
The modern mind is forced towards the future by a certain sense of fatigue, not unmixed with terror, with which it regards the past. It is propelled towards the coming time; it is, in the exact words of the popular phrase, knocked into the middle of next week. And the goad which drives it on thus eagerly is not an affectation for futurity does not exist, because it is still future. Rather it is a fear of the past; a fear not merely of the evil in the past, but of the good in the past also. The brain breaks down under the unbearable virtue of mankind. There have been so many flaming faiths that we cannot hold; so many harsh heroisms that we cannot imitate; so many great efforts of monumental building or of military glory which seem to us at once sublime and pathetic. The future is a refuge from the fierce competition of our forefathers. The older generation, not the younger, is knocking at our door. We can make the future as narrow as ourselves; the past is obliged to be as broad and turbulent as humanity. And the upshot of this modern attitude is really this: those men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.
Now in history there is no revolution that is not a restoration. Among the many things that leave us doubtful about the modern habit of fixing eyes on the future, none is stronger than this: that all the men in history who have really done anything with the future have had their eyes fixed upon the past, not to mention the Renaissance, the very word proves the case. The mildness of poets absolutely arose out of the mildness of antiquaries. For some strange reason man must always thus plant his fruit trees in a graveyard. Man can only find life among the dead. Man is a misshapen monster, with his feet set forward and his face turned back. He can make the future luxuriant and gigantic, so long as he is thinking about the past. When he tries to think about the future itself, his mind diminishes to a pin point with imbecility, which some call Nirvana. To-morrow is the Gorgon; a man must only see it mirrored in the shining shield of yesterday. If he sees it directly he is turned to stone. This has been the fate of all those who have really seen fate and futurity as clear and inevitable.
People will often tell you (in their praises of the coming age) that we are moving on towards a United States of Europe. But they carefully omit to tell you that we are moving away from a United States of Europe, that such a thing existed literally in Roman and essentially in mediaeval times. Or again, they will tell you that there is going to be a social revolution, a great rising of the poor against the rich; but they never rub it in that France made that magnificent attempt, unaided, and that we and the entire world allowed it to be trampled out and forgotten. Nothing is so marked in modern writing as the prediction of such ideals in the future combined with the ignoring of them in the past. Anyone can test this for himself. Read any thirty or forty pages of pamphlets advocating peace in Europe and see how many of them praise those people for keeping peace in Europe. Read any armful of essays and poems in praise of social democracy, and see how many of them praise those who created democracy and died for it. These colossal ruins are to the modern only enormous eyesores. He looks back along the valley of the past and sees a perspective of splendid but unfinished cities. They are unfinished, not always through enmity or accident, but often through fickleness, mental fatigue, and the lust for alien philosophies. We have not only left undone those things that we ought to have done, but we have even left undone those things that we wanted to do.
The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as freer from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what will be as for what has been; he cares only for what ought to be. If we are to discuss what is wrong, one of the first things that are wrong is this: the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible. There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, "You can't put the clock back." The simple and obvious answer is "You can." A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed. There is another proverb, "As you have made your bed, so you must lie on it"; which again is simply a lie. If we have made our bed uncomfortable, we will make it again. It might take some time to do, and it might be very inadvisable to do it; but certainly it is not impossible as bringing back last Friday is impossible.
No one will pretend that the ideal exists at all in the haute politique of any country. All national claims to political incorruptibility are actually based on exactly the opposite argument; it is based on the theory that wealthy men in assured positions will have no temptation to financial trickery. Whether the history of the English aristocracy, from the spoliation of the monasteries to the annexation of the mines, entirely supports this theory we are not now inquiring; but certainly it is our theory, that wealth will be a protection against political corruption. The English statesman is bribed not to be bribed. He is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so that he may never afterwards be found with the silver spoons in his pocket. So strong is our faith in this protection by plutocracy, that we are trusting our country more and more in the hands of families which inherit wealth without either blood or manners. Some of the political houses are par venue by pedigree; they hand on vulgarity like a coat of-arms. In the case of many a modern statesman to say that he is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, is at once inadequate and excessive. He is born with a silver knife in his mouth. But all this only illustrates the English theory that poverty is perilous for a politician.
We may now return to the purpose of our awkward parenthesis about the praise of the future and the failures of the past. A house of his own being the obvious ideal for every man, we may now ask (taking this need as typical of all such needs) why he hasn't got it; and whether it is in any philosophical sense his own fault. Now, in some philosophical sense it is his own fault, in a yet more philosophical sense, it is the fault of his philosophy. Man has always lost his way. He has been a tramp ever since Eden; but he always knew, or thought he knew, what he was looking for. Every man has a house somewhere in the elaborate cosmos. Man has always been looking for that home. But in the bleak and blinding hail of skepticism to which he has been now so long subjected, he has begun for the first time to be chilled, not merely in his hopes, but in his desires. For the first time in history he begins really to doubt the object of his wanderings on the earth. He has always lost his way; but now he has lost his address.
(Adapted from Project Gutenberg's What's Wrong With The World, by G.K. Chesterton)


Monday, November 29, 2010

BRITISH MODERNISM




Harold Gilman and wife Gladys
From c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com


The British artist Harold John Wilde Gilman (11 February 1876 – 12 February 1919) was a founder-member of the Camden Town Group. Developing an interest in art during a childhood convalescence period, he began his artistic training after a non-collegiate year at Oxford University (again cut short by ill health) and time working as a tutor to an English family living in Odessa. Studying at the Hastings School of Art (1896) and then the Slade School of Fine Art (1897–1901), he then spent over a year studying the Spanish masters (Velázquez as well as Whistler were major early influences).
(en.wikipedia.org)
The principal artists responsible for the inception of the Camden Town Group were Walter Sickert, Spencer Gore, Charles Ginner, Harold Gilman and Robert Bevan. All five attended the regular meetings of the informal 'Fitzroy Street Group', from which the idea of forming the Camden Town Group was conceived. Although joined by other sympathetic players such as Malcolm Drummond, these were the key figures around whom the main activities, character and fame of Camden Town painting revolved.
Stylistic similarities within these portraits reinforce the common aesthetic ground shared by the core members. One of the points on which they agreed was a desire to rejuvenate British art by responding to recent developments in modern European art. Their works reveal the deliberate absorption of pictorial devices such as the Impressionist rendering of light, Divisionist dabs of paint, Fauvist chromatics and Post-Impressionist decorative form.
(tate.org.uk)
Gilman's early career was frustrated by lack of financial and artistic success. In 1907 he met the painter Walter Sickert and became a founder member of the Fitzroy Street Group, later joining the Camden Town Group in 1911. Both groups advocated local unglamorous subject matter and Gilman's work was strengthened by both associations. His concentration on domestic interiors, painted with subtle, unemphatic realism was a departure from the conventions of English painting at the time, as was his use of bright, pure colour. U
(collection.britishcouncil.org)


Madeleine Knox
Oil on canvas, 1910-11
Allocated to the Tate Gallery 2010
From tate.org.uk


Leeds Market
Oil on canvas, circa 1913
Presented by the Very Rev. E. Milner-White 1927
From tate.org.uk


Study for `Leeds Market'
Pen and ink on paper
Purchased 1957
From tate.org.uk


Gilman was a member of the Camden Town group of artists who painted images of urban life. Leeds Market was painted from a detailed drawing made on the spot during a visit to Leeds.The vibrant, working-class life of the market (above) provided subject matter for several Camden Town painters. They were influenced by the Impressionists and their followers such as Van Gogh and Gauguin. This can be seen here in the strong colours and use of small, regular brushmarks. These give the painting a tight structure which is complemented by the pattern of iron struts of the market’s roof.
(From the display caption July 2007, tate.org.uk)


Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord
Oil on canvas, circa 1913
Retrieved from Tate gallery, 15 September 2008
From en.wikipedia.org


Study for `Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord'
Pen and ink on paper
Purchased 1955
From tate.org.uk


Gilman visited Scandinavia in 1912 and 1913, and may have travelled with the artist William Ratcliffe, who had relations there. Gilman made studies of the environment, and painted Canal Bridge, Flekkefjord, an accurate depiction, whose subject is likely to have been inspired by Vincent van Gogh's depiction of a similar bridge in Provence. Gilman had rejected Van Gogh's work when he first encountered it, but later became a strong admirer and, according to Wyndham Lewis, keeping postcards of Van Gogh's work on his wall and sometimes hanging one of his own works next to them, if he was especially satisfied with it.
(en.wikipedia.org)


The Blue Blouse Portrait of Elene Zompolides
From wikigallery.org


Woman Sitting at a Table
From 1st-art-gallery.com
oil on canvas, circa 1913
From npg.org.uk


Miss Ruth Doggett, c. 1915
Retrieved from Easy Art, 15 September 2008
From commons.wikimedia.org

Under Walter Sickert's influence he was encouraged to experiment with new subjects such as the nude and interiors, and he became a detached observer of the world of London eating-houses, furnished rooms, landladies and parlours of the mid Edwardian years: these subjects he made his own. An impressive series of portraits (above) from 1913 revealed Gilman's degree of physiological insight and sympathy, particularly with the denizens of working-class London, portrayed with a clear-eyed lack of sentimentality.
(collection.britishcouncil.org)


Mrs. Mounter
Location Tate Gallery, London
Source/Photographer The Yorck Project
From commons.wikimedia.org


'Mrs. Mounter' is one of a series of images of Gilman's landlady in Maple Street that he painted between 1914 and 1917. This painting was probably painted around 1916/17. A smaller slightly earlier oil version without the chair is in the Tate, and pen and ink studies are in the Ashmolean Museum and the Walker Art Gallery.
There is also another oil painting of Mrs Mounter in the Leeds City Art Gallery.
During his career Gilman came increasingly to paint and draw the surrounding subjects that were important and dear to him. Mrs Mounter is not glamorised; he wanted to recreate specific real characters on canvas. This approach derived from his admiration not only of Van Gogh's directness in portraiture but also that of Cézanne and Gauguin. Therefore the same motifs of Mrs Mounter, the patterned wallpaper and crockery feature repeatedly in his later work.
(liverpoolmuseums.org.uk)
This portrait is the artist's masterpiece. We might expect a woman in a portrait to look beautiful, rich or talented. This portrait does not make Mrs. Mounter look any of these things. Instead the artist tells us quite a lot about her through her face and surroundings.
Mrs. Mounter probably did not commission (pay for) this painting. She does not look comfortable being in this portrait. The painting also has quite an unusual, experimental look, using vivid colours and light.
The wallpaper in the background and the cups at the front of the painting are of the same brightness. We would usually expect the background to be darker than the foreground (front of the painting). Instead Gilman shows depth by making the cups and teapot at the front larger to make them seem nearer.
This is quite an ordinary room but the colours and the patterns in the painting brighten it considerably. The painting is typical of an artist who liked to paint pictures without natural colours. The walls glow turquoise and even the teapot and cups sparkle like jewels. The paint has been put on the canvas very thickly, creating lots of layers that reflect light. This effect can be seen particularly on Mrs. Mounter's face. It is a patchwork of colours that are reflected from the room in which she sits. However, despite being a rather harsh painting Gilman still manages to show his respect and sympathy for his landlady. She looks solid, homely and gentle.
Gilman produced lots of paintings like this one, of everyday people in ordinary streets and rooms. He did not use paint to imitate the real colour and texture of things. Instead he used bright, pure colour with unusual contrasts.
like Van Gogh and Gaugin.
(liverpoolmuseums.org.uk)
Gilman has combined the structural elements of draughtsmanship that he learnt as a young man at the Slade School of Art, with a more restrained handling of the colour and impasto that he had been experimenting with from 1913, resulting in his distinctive mosaic-like style. The paint carefully applied in flat planes and definite vertical of the doorway counteract the strong colouring resulting in this balanced composition. The influence of Matisse is evident in the outlining of Mrs Mounter, thus containing the colour as in a stained glass window. 'Mrs Mounter' has a sense of monumentality and tranquillity akin to Johannes Vermeer's paintings of women in simple interiors that also have a strong geometric element, such as 'Young Woman with a Water Pitcher' c.1660-7. 'Mrs Mounter' is highly finished and very worked up yet it remains an intimate portrait.
Gilman developed a very individual style that had gone largely unnoticed when he died suddenly during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1919. He sold very few works during his lifetime and it was not until the 1955 Arts Council exhibition of his work that he began to receive recognition for his short-lived but significant contribution to British modernism.
(liverpoolmuseums.org.uk)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

FIRST GENERATION OF THE HAGUE SCHOOL




Self portrait
Oil on canvas, undated
Private collection
Source "Het Haagse School boek"
From wikimedia.org


Pieter Florentius Nicolaas Jacobus Arntzenius (9 June 1864 – 16 February 1925) was a Dutch painter, water-colourist, illustrator and printmaker. He is considered a representative of the younger generation of the Hague School.
Arntzenius was born in Surabaya on the island of Java where his father served in the Royal Dutch East Indies Army. In 1875, at the age of 11, he was sent to the Netherlands to Amsterdam to live with his aunt and uncle in order to complete his education.
In 1882 he became a student of Frederik Nachtweh. Under Nachtweh's supervision he gained admission to the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten. During his time at the Rijksacademie, from 1883 to 1888, his teachers included August Allebé and Barend Wijnveld, and amongst his fellow students were Isaac Israëls, George Breitner, Willem Witsen and Jan Veth.
In 1892 his mother became widowed and moved to The Hague and Arntzenuis also moved there to keep her company. Around the same time his former fellow students Isaac Israëls and George Breitner left The Hague for Amsterdam to be a part of the capital's more vibrant artistic climate. At The Hague the established painters of the first generation of the Hague School dominated artistic life.
(en.wikipedia.org)


Figures On The Noordeinde, The Hague
Watercolor
Private collection
From ARC


A Busy Street, The Hague
Watercolour
Private collection
From ARC


Spuistraat, The Hague
Watercolor and gouache, undated
Source Harmonie en contrast
From wikimedia.org


Spuisraat in Den Haag
From museummesdag.nl


After moving to The Hague in 1892, Arntzenius became rather successful and popular both in Holland and internationally. At that time he began painting spontaneous impressions of the busy city life in The Hague. He particularly excelled in depicting the city during times of inclement weather – often during rainy spells or when the snow had recently fallen.
(alazraki.com)


Mored boats in The Hague
Mixed techniques on paper
From larawijsmuller.com


Rental coaches in the snow
Oil on panel
Source Harmonie en contrast
From wikimedia.org


Plowing farmer in undulating landscape
Watercolor and charcoal
Source Harmonie en contrast
From wikimedia.org


Street in Hoorn (named "West")
View of the cheese weighhouse
Watercolor
Source Harmonie en contrast
From wikimedia.org


A View of A Canal, Scheveningen
Oil on canvas
From wikigallery.org


An Elegant Company On The Beach
Oil on canvas
From wikigallery.org


Dagelijkse dingen
From simonis-buunk.nl


Korte Voorhout, Den Haag
From simonis-buunk.nl


Winderige dag op het Scheveningse strand
From simonis-buunk.nl


Kunstbeschouwing
Source Kunstbeschouwing (Floris Arntzenius) 1888
Author Joop anker
From commons.wikimedia.org


Brouwersgracht te Den Haag
From Peter Pappot Art Gallery's photostream


On the Beach
From artmight.com


Arntzenius was an accomplished artist in several mediums, but especially his watercolours gained high praise. During his first years in The Hague, he painted landscapes in the typical Hague School style. He later switched to mainly painting cityscapes and street scenes, just like Israëls and Breitner made in Amsterdam. Arntzenius' cityscapes were painted mainly in misty or rainy weather; he made use of these weather conditions to have his subjects be reflected on the wet asphalt. He also painted a lot in Scheveningen, which had changed from the poor fishing village it was in the time of Jozef Israëls and Hendrik Willem Mesdag, into a popular seaside resort.
(wikipedia.org)


Portrait of Lide Arntzenius-Doorman
Oil on canvas, undated
Source "Het Haagse School boek"
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
From wikimedia.org


Arntzenius became a member of the artist's society Pulchri Studio in The Hague in 1892. From 1893 to 1895 he shared Bernard Blommers' former studio with Cornelis Antonie van Waning. He also contributed illustrations to Elsevier Geïllustreerd Maandschrift from 1892 to 1894. In 1896 he was admitted to the Hollandsche Teeken Maatschappij, a society that promoted the medium of watercolours among its members. He got married in 1900, to Lide Doorman, a talented painter of floral still lives, who lived in the house opposite of Arntzenius' mother, together they had four daughters, who he frequently painted.
Though Arntzenius isn't considered to be a relevant artist nowadays, he was appreciated in his own day. He won prizes at the exhibitions of Munich, Venice, Pittsburgh and Brussels and his works sold well during his lifetime. His friends in The Hague included Willem Maris, Willem Bastiaan Tholen, Bernard Blommers and Herman Johannes van der Weele. In 1910 he opened a studio and started taking in students. During this time he mostly painted portraits in commission of wealthy patrons. This he continued to do until he died of tuberculosis in 1925, at the age of 60.
(wikipedia.org)


Saturday, November 27, 2010

THE FREE PRESS



If we want to know what to think of a fire which has taken place many miles away, but which affects property of our own, we listen to the accounts of dozens of men. We rapidly and instinctively differentiate between these accounts according to the characters of the witnesses. Equally instinctively, we counter-test these accounts by the inherent probabilities of the situation. An honest and sober man tells us that the roof of the house fell in. An imaginative fool, who is also a swindler, assures us that he later saw the roof standing. We remember that the roof was of iron girders covered with wood, and draw this conclusion: That the framework still stands, but that the healing fell through in a mass of blazing rubbish. Our common sense and our knowledge of the situation incline us rather to the bad than to the good witness, and we are right. A man has seen a thing; many men have seen a thing. They testify to that thing, and others who have heard them repeat their testimony.
When people talked of the newspaper owners as "representing public opinion" there was a shadow of reality in such talk, absurd as it seems to us to-day. Though the doctrine that newspapers are "organs of public opinion" was (like most nineteenth century so-called "Liberal" doctrines) falsely stated and hypocritical, it had that element of truth about it—at least, in the earlier phase of newspaper development. There is even a certain savor of truth hanging about it to this day.
There was (and is) a further check upon the artificiality of the news side of the Press; which is that Reality always comes into its own at last. You cannot, beyond a certain limit of time, burke reality. In a word, the Press must always largely deal with what are called "living issues." It can boycott very successfully, and does so, with complete power. But it cannot artificially create unlimitedly the objects of "news."
The idea of the Press as "an organ of public opinion," that is, "an expression of the general thought and will," is not only hypocritical, though it is mainly so. There is still something in the claim. A generation ago there was more, and a couple of generations ago there was more still.
The Free Press gives you the truth; but only in disjointed sections, for it is disparate and it is particularist: it is marked with isolation—and it is so marked because its origin lay in various and most diverse propaganda.
For long the owner of a newspaper had for the most part been content to regard it as a revenue-producing thing. The editor was supreme in matters of culture and opinion. True, the editor, being revocable and poor, could not pretend to full political power. But it was a sort of dual arrangement which yet modified the power of the vulgar owner. The editor became (and now is) a mere mouthpiece of the proprietor. Editors succeed each other rapidly. Of great papers to-day the editor's name of the moment is hardly known—but not a Cabinet Minister that could not pass an examination in the life, vices, vulnerability, fortune, investments and favors of the owner.
Men owning the chief newspapers could be heard boasting of their power in public, as an admitted thing; and as this power was recognized, and as it grew with time and experiment, it bred a reaction. The sheer necessity of getting certain truths told, which these powerful but hidden fellows refused to tell, was a force working at high potential and almost compelling the production of Free Papers side by side with the big Official ones. That is why you nearly always find the Free Press directed by men of intelligence and cultivation—of exceptional intelligence and cultivation. And that is where it contrasts most with its opponents.
It is humiliating enough to be thus governed through a sort of play-acting instead of enjoying the self-government of free men. It is worse far to be governed by a clique of Professional Politicians bamboozling the multitude with pretence of "Democracy." Men had for some time made it a normal thing to read their daily paper; to believe what it told them to be facts, and even in a great measure to accept its opinion. A new voice criticizing by implication, or directly blaming or ridiculing a habit so formed, was necessarily an unpopular voice with the mass of readers, or, if it was not unpopular, that was only because it was negligible.
There are some men who will read anything, however much they differ from its tone and standpoint, in order to obtain more knowledge. The Free Press is rigorously boycotted by the great advertisers, partly, perhaps, because its small circulation renders them contemptuous (because nearly all of them are of the true wooden-headed "business" type that go in herds and never see for themselves where their goods will find the best market); but much more from frank enmity against the existence of any Free Press at all. We must remember that the professional politicians all stand in together when a financial swindle is being carried out. There is no "opposition" in these things. Since it is the very business of the Free Press to expose the falsehood or inanity of the Official Press, one may truly say that a great part of the energies of the Free Press is wasted in this "groping in the dark" to which it is condemned. At the same time, the Economic difficulty prevents the Free Press from paying for information difficult to be obtained, and under these twin disabilities it remains heavily handicapped.
So long as the lawyers support the politicians you have no redress, and only in case of independent action by the lawyers against the politicians, with whom they have come to be so closely identified, have you any opportunity for discussion and free trial. The old idea of the lawyer on the Bench protecting the subject against the arbitrary power of the executive, of the judge independent of the government, has nearly disappeared. You may, of course, commit any crime with impunity if the professional politicians among the lawyers refuse to prosecute. But that is only a negative evil. More serious is the positive side of the affair: that you may conversely be put at the risk of any penalty if they desire to put you at that risk; for the modern secret police being ubiquitous and privileged, their opponent can be decoyed into peril at the will of those who govern, even where the politicians dare not prosecute him for exposing corruption. Once the citizen has been put at this peril—that is, brought into court before the lawyers—whether it shall lead to his actual ruin or no is again in the hands of members of the legal guild; the judge may (it has happened), withstand the politicians (by whom he was made, to whom he often belongs, and upon whom his general position to-day depends). He may stand out or— as nearly always now—he will identify himself with the political system and act as its mouthpiece. It is the prevalence of this last attitude which so powerfully affects the position of the Free Press.
Now, it is evident that, of all forms of civic activity, writing upon the Free Press most directly challenges this arbitrary power. There is not an editor responsible for the management of any Free Paper who will not tell you that a thousand times he has had to consider whether it were possible to tell a particular truth, however important that truth might be. And the fear which restrains him is the fear of destruction which the combination of the professional politician and lawyer holds in its hand. There is not one such editor who could not bear witness to the numerous occasions on which he had, however courageous he might be, to forgo the telling of a truth which was of vital value, because its publication would involve the destruction of the paper he precariously controlled. There is no need to labor all this. The loss of freedom we have gradually suffered is quite familiar to all of us, and it is among the worst of all the mortal symptoms with which our society is affected.
The first thing to note is that the Free Press is not read perfunctorily, but with close attention. The audience it has, if small, is an audience which never misses its pronouncements whether it agrees or disagrees with them, and which is absorbed in its opinions, its statement of fact and its arguments. Look narrowly at History and you will find that all great reforms have started thus: not through a widespread control acting downwards, but through spontaneous energy, local and intensive, acting upwards. You cannot say this of the Official Press, for the simple reason that the Official Press is only of real political interest on rare and brief occasions. It is read of course, by a thousand times more people than those who read the Free Press. But its readers are not gripped by it. They are not, save upon the rare occasions of a particular "scoop" or "boom," informed by it, in the old sense of that pregnant word, informed:—they are not possessed, filled, changed, molded to new action. One of the proofs of this—a curious, a comic, but a most conclusive proof—is the dependence of the great daily papers on the headline. Ninety-nine people out of a hundred retain this and nothing more, because the matter below is but a flaccid expansion of the headline. Now the Headline suggests, of course, a fact (or falsehood) with momentary power. So does the Poster. But the mere fact of dependence on such methods is a proof of the inherent weakness underlying it.
You have, then, at the outset a difference of quality in the reading and in the effect of the reading. The Free Press is really read and digested. The Official Press is not. Its scream is heard, but it provides no food for the mind. One does not contrast the exiguity of a pint of nitric acid in an engraver's studio with the hundreds of gallons of water in the cisterns of his house. No amount of water would bite into the copper. Only the acid does that: and a little of the acid is enough.
The man who tells the truth when his colleagues around him are lying, always enjoys a certain restricted power of prophecy. If there were a general conspiracy to maintain the falsehood that all peers were over six foot high, a man desiring to correct this falsehood would be perfectly safe if he were to say: "I do not know whether the next peer you meet will be over six foot or not, but I am pretty safe in prophesying that you will find, among the next dozen three or four peers less than six foot high." If there were a general conspiracy to pretend that people with incomes above the income-tax level never cheated one in a bargain, one could not say "on such-and-such a day you will be cheated in a bargain by such-and-such a person, whose income will be above the income-tax level," but one could say; "Note the people who swindle you in the next five years, and I will prophesy that some of the number will be people paying income-tax."
This power of prophecy, which is an adjunct of truth telling, affects people very profoundly. It will succeed at last in getting the truth told pretty openly and pretty thoroughly. It will break down the barrier between the little governing clique in which the truth is cynically admitted and the bulk of educated men and women who cannot get the truth by word of mouth but depend upon the printed word.
(Adapted from The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Free Press, by Hilaire Belloc)


Friday, November 26, 2010

PROBLEMS IN AMERICAN DEMOCRACY - PART I



There are four reasons why democracy developed early in America. The first is to be found in the conditions of pioneer life in the colonies. The selected character of the colonists is a second reason for the rise of democracy in America. It should be remembered, thirdly, that the English colonists brought with them very definite ideas as to the rights of man. The concessions granted by the Magna Charta were made an essential part of their political philosophy. A fourth explanation of the rise of democracy in America is that, left to themselves, the settlers came to feel that self-government was morally right.
Largely removed from the traditions of monarchy, they soon realized the elemental significance of government. Seeing government as a device to help people get along together, they concluded that that government is best which most helps the masses of the people. The existence of a British monarch was a small factor in the everyday life of the early settlers, and from this it was a short step to asserting that his control over them was unjust.
It has often been said that for a considerable period prior to the American Revolution, the thirteen colonies were in reality self-governing states. For most practical purposes they were independent, indeed, some American patriots insisted that they were only nominally subject to England. In each colony there was an assembly chosen by a restricted number of voters. This popular assembly championed the cause of the colonists against the governor, who in most of the colonies was primarily an agent of the Crown. After the middle of the eighteenth century, the struggles between assembly and governor increased in number and in intensity, and victory rested more and more often with the assembly.
Democracy, at first weak and ill diffused, had been spreading steadily during the preceding century, and when at last the break with England came, it found the states trained in self- government and able to conduct their own affairs. In many cases the Revolution simply erased the name of the king from documents and institutions already American in spirit and character. The states either retained their old charters as constitutions or framed new constitutions based upon the experience of colonial government. The popular legislative assembly was everywhere retained. The common law of England continued in force, and the system of courts was retained in practically its pre-Revolution form. The basis of state government had been laid long before the Revolution, the new states simply accepting the basic political principles with which they, as colonies, had long been familiar. The defeat of English claims was only an incident in the irresistible progress of American democracy.
The outbreak of the American Revolution proved that the colonies were so deeply attached to democracy that they were willing to fight for it. But the spirit which animated the Revolution was local, rather than national. The colonial protests which in 1776 reached their climax in the Declaration of Independence had to do almost entirely with the rights of the colonies as individual states, and with the determination of those states to defend the principle of self-government.
The form of government established by the Constitution of 1787 is known as a republic. A republic may be defined as a representative democracy, or, in the popular sense of the term, simply as a democracy. Now, to point out that a government is democratic does not necessarily mean that it is a sound government. Granting that self-government is morally right, the fate of a democracy will depend, partly upon the character of the people, and partly upon the nature of the governmental machinery through which that people expresses its will. The proof of democracy is in its workings.
The government established by the Articles of Confederation had a number of grave defects. The fundamental difficulty was that the central government had no real authority or power. The Congress of the Confederation could reach individuals only through the action of the state governments, and these it could not coerce. Thus the Congress could declare war, and make requisitions upon the states for troops, but it could not enlist a single soldier. It could make laws, but had no power to enforce them. It could make treaties with foreign governments, but could not oblige the states to respect those agreements. The central government could not levy taxes, but was obliged to accept whatever sums the states chose to contribute. The Confederation government could not even protect itself, or the states, against violence. It lacked force, and without the ability to exert force, a government is a government in name only.
Not only did the central government fail to enlist the respect and support of the states, but it could not induce the states to respect or support one another. Congress had no power to regulate either foreign or domestic commerce, each state being free to control the commercial activities of its citizens as it saw fit. In many cases the states engaged in trade wars, that is, they levied heavy duties upon the commerce of one another, or even refused to allow their citizens to buy goods from, or sell goods to, persons in neighboring states. Matters calling for unity of action and friendly cooperation, such as roads and canals, were ignored or neglected because of interstate jealousy. Whereas they should have united against the grave dangers of the period immediately following the war, the states often wasted time and energy in controversy and strife.
The failure of the Articles of Confederation is one of the most discouraging chapters in the development of American democracy. And yet it is an indispensable chapter, for it demonstrated, far more convincingly than could any theoretical argument, that there must be one great American nation rather than thirteen or more unrelated republics. Six years of practical experience with the Articles of Confederation taught the absolute necessity of a strong central government. The weaknesses of the Confederation government constituted the most spectacular of the forces favoring union in 1787, and yet these forces were negative in character: the states accepted the Constitution of 1787 not so much because they were attracted by it, as because they saw little chance of getting along without it. It should be noted, on the other hand, that for a long period previous to the adoption of the Constitution of 1787, certain positive forces were impelling the states toward union. In their Old World homes most of the settlers had occupied somewhat the same social position, and had been used to somewhat the same economic conditions. This common background constituted, in their New World homes, a unifying force of great importance.
In spite of the numerous jealousies and rivalries among the various sections of the country, there were at work forces which tended to break down the spirit of localism or provincialism. Though the Revolution established thirteen separate states, the war had encouraged the Americans to feel that they were a single people with a common destiny. The soldiers of various sections had rubbed elbows with one another during the French and Indian wars, and during the Revolution. This had served to encourage a feeling of comradeship between the inhabitants of different communities. The population of the country was doubling every twenty years, and groups previously isolated were coming into contact with one another. Interstate cooperation was not only more necessary than ever before, but it was less difficult to bring about. Highways were being improved, and the postal service gradually extended, with the result that a more wholesome social life was made possible.
The states technically abandoned state sovereignty when they accepted the Constitution of 1787, but not until the Civil War had been won was permanent union assured. Most important of all, American democracy was in 1787 only a political concept. There was at that time no suspicion that democracy was later to be expanded into a philosophy of life, applicable not only to purely governmental affairs, but to the individual in his economic and social relations as well.
In many of the ancient republics the powers of government were so unequally and so indefinitely divided that republican government degenerated either to despotism or to anarchy. Within the last century many Latin-American republics have modeled their governments after US, and yet some of these republics are constantly threatened by either revolution or despotism. The explanation of this, according to Elihu Root, is that these republics have adapted US check and balance system so carelessly that they find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a really stable government.
The separation of Federal and state functions is not always clear, but such matters as contracts, property rights, crime, and education are probably best administered by the state. There is, similarly, no sharp dividing line between the functions of state and local governments, but at present it appears that the local authorities are the most efficient administrators of roads and bridges, water and paving, the elementary schools, and similar concerns. The essential economy of this threefold division of functions is that each of the three sets of officials tends to concern itself with those matters with which it is best acquainted, and which are most advantageously administered by it.
The earlier European critics of US government declared that the division of powers between Federal and state governments would encourage civil strife. It is true that this division of powers has resulted in a decentralized rather than in a centralized form of government. It is equally true that the quarrel over states' rights was the fundamental cause of the Civil War. But that war settled the question of states' rights once and for all and there has never again been any serious question as to the proper status of states and Union. American democracy has been found compatible with unity.
(Adapted from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Problems in American Democracy by Thames Ross Williamson)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

THE HAMMER OF THOR




The Hammer of Thor
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ingemar Johansson
Author Jowil
Source commons.wikimedia.org
Jens Ingemar Johansson (September 22, 1932 – January 30, 2009) was a Swedish boxer and former heavyweight champion of the world. Johansson was the fifth heavyweight champion born outside the United States. In 1959 he defeated Floyd Patterson by TKO in the third round, after flooring Patterson seven times in that round, to win the World Heavyweight Championship. As a result, Johansson won the Hickok Belt as top professional athlete of the year and was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year".
He enjoyed a successful career as a heavyweight. When he retired in 1963 he had a record of 26 wins, 17 by KO, and only 2 losses. He called his right fist "toonder and lightning" for its concussive power (it was also called "Ingo's Bingo" and the "Hammer of Thor"), and in 2003 he was ranked at #99 on The Ring's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.
(en.wikipedia.org)
Brought up in a pacifistic country whose traditions are highly inimical to boxing, Ingemar Johansson did not have the successful introduction to boxing at Olympic level that is, these days, considered the prerequisite for future success.
He was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1932. Leaving school at 15 he had worked in a road gang while learning to box, and at only 17 was amateur heavyweight champion of Sweden, though he only weighed in as a middleweight. He had then done well as a member of the European team which went to challenge America’s Golden Gloves squad in Chicago 1951, knocking out his opponent in the second round.
But his career then went into reverse when he made a bad impression at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. In the final, against the huge American Ed Saunders, he was disqualified for “not trying hard enough”.
(timesonline.co.uk)
Johannson rarely threw a punch during the bout, and the referee felt that the boxer was not giving his best. This fight damaged Johansson’s reputation, and not until 1982 did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) award Johansson the silver medal he was denied at the 1952 Games.
(britannica.com)
The chairman of the Swedish Boxing Association wrote of him that he “was a plain coward, who brought shame to the Swedish name”. The American press dubbed him “the fleeing rat” and when his name later came up as a “soft” opponent for the until then unconquered Patterson, the label was not forgotten. Johansson was deeply hurt by these attacks which, somewhat unjustly, did not acknowledge the fact his opponent had done as little as the Swede to make a fight of the final. Johansson eventually received his silver medal 30 years later.
After going into seclusion for six months, during which he came close to abandoning boxing for good, Johansson returned to the ring and turned professional in 1952. Under the wise guidance of the Swedish publisher and boxing promoter Edwin Ahlquist, he won his first 21 professional fights. He took the Scandinavian heavyweight title in 1953 and in September 1956 knocked out Italy’s Franco Cavicchi in 13 rounds in Milan for the European title.
He defended this against Britain’s Henry Cooper, whom he knocked out in five rounds in Stockholm in May 1957 and against Joe Erskine whom he beat in 13 rounds in Gothenburg in February 1958. By now, boxing writers were speaking of his thunderous right hand as “the hammer of Thor” — or more lightheartedly as “Ingo’s bingo”.
(timesonline.co.uk)


Johansson vs Eddie Machen
From boxrec.com


Nevertheless, when he was accepted as a challenger for Patterson’s world title in 1959, few American fight commentators gave him any chance, though they might have done had they fully absorbed the implications of his first-round victory over the then No. 1 contender, Eddie Machen, in September 1958. But that fight had taken place in Gothenburg and attracted little attention in the US.
(timesonline.co.uk)


1959 World Heavywieght Championship
From blog.americanmemorabilia.com


Ingemar Johansson and Floyd Pattersson 1959
Author SCANPIX
Source hd.se
From en.wikipedia.org


Ingemar Johansson and Floyd Pattersson
From adressa.no


Ingemar Johansson and Floyd Pattersson
From snaphanen.dk


Floyd Patterson vs Ingemar Johnasson
From cyberboxingzone.com


In the run-up to his world title challenge Johansson’s rather relaxed-sounding training regime also gained wide publicity. Pictured living comfortably at home on mother’s cooking or out dancing with his fiancée, Birgit Lundgren, he gave the impression that he was completely unprepared for the mayhem of the American ring.
In fact, Johansson climbed through the ropes at Madison Square Garden on June 26, 1959, in trim condition and within three rounds had confounded boxing pundits. After stemming the champion’s rushes for two rounds Johansson opened up in the third, and before long had floored Patterson with a tremendous right-hand punch. It was to be the first of seven trips Patterson made to the canvas before the referee stepped in to halt the bout in 2 min 3 sec of the round with the champion in a clearly helpless condition. The crowd, at first stunned, rose to greet the new champion.
(timesonline.co.uk)


Johansson after his defeat to Floyd Patterson
antekprizering.com


Floyd Patterson Vs. Ingemar Johansson
From morrisonhotelgallery.com


In the June 20, 1960, rematch, which took place at the Polo Grounds in New York, Patterson seemed to have learned from his mistakes. Johansson was knocked out in the fifth round. On March 13, 1961, at Miami Beach, Florida, Johansson made another attempt to regain the championship but failed when Patterson scored a sudden knockout in the sixth round.
(britannica.com)
Johansson became a businessman after finishing his boxing career. He owned a fishing boat and a bar called "Ingo's" in Goteborg, Sweden's second-biggest city. He later moved to Florida, where he operated a hotel in Pompano Beach and started playing golf. He also completed the Stockholm Marathon before hundreds of thousands of spectators in 1985.
In 2000, the Swedish Sports Academy selected Johansson as Sweden's third-best athlete of the 20th century, behind tennis star Bjorn Borg and Alpine skiing great Ingemar Stenmark.
He was married and divorced twice, and is survived by six children.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press)


Ingemar Johansson
From ullamontan.com


Ingemar Johansson posing
From theepochtimes.com


IN LATER YEARS, and in certain of the early ones, Ingemar Johansson ate with more hands than he punched with. But that right mitt, when used in the ring anyway, earned him all the fame he'd ever need. The burly Swede, who died on January 30,2009 at the age of 76, called his right fist "toonder and lightning" for its concussive power, although not all his opponents either heard or saw it coming. He used it to forge a record of 28--2 with 17 knockouts, one of them most notably delivered on a rainy night in Yankee Stadium.
(sportsillustrated.cnn.com)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

IMPRESSIONIST GIVERNY



Lured by the ineffable beauty represented in Claude Monet's art and the promise of painting en plein air, artists from America and across Europe flocked to the French village of Giverny in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, transforming it from a sleepy hamlet to a colorful and thriving artists' community.
(albanyinstitute.org)

John Leslie Beck
From newtonma.gov
John Leslie Breck (1860-1899) was an early American exponent of the "new painting", avant-garde style, of Impressionism. Born at sea on a clipper ship in the South Pacific, he had a father who was a captain in the U.S. Navy. He grew up in the Boston area. He obtained his art training at the Munich Royal Academy, learning rapid brushstroke and dark Tonalism. Beginning in 1886, he studied at the Academie Julian in Paris Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, and soon became one of the original settlers of the important Impressionist art colony.
(Indianapolis Museum of Art).
He spent many years living and working with Impressionists in Giverny, France. Growing up in a metropolitan area exposed Breck to international art and culture at an early age. He was greatly attracted to the Impressionist movement, thriving in European cities and decided to travel to Giverny, France to work with Claude Monet.
(artexpertswebsite.com)


The river Epte, Giverny
Oil on canvas
From artnet.com


Giverny welcomed hundreds of artists from the late 1880s through World War I. Though Claude Monet did not encourage others to follow him to the village where he settled in 1883, Giverny quickly became a popular destination for international artists and students. Many artists stayed for long periods, socializing at the Hôtel Baudy, painting in and around the town, and often purchasing homes and studios, ultimately transforming the village into a flourishing artists’ colony.
(giverny.org)


Portrait of John Leslie Breck
By J. Carroll Beckwith
Collection of Margaret and Raymond Horowitz
From nga.gov


The mural painter and portraitist J. Carroll Beckwith spent the summer of 1891 in France, a visit that included a month or so in Giverny. His particular friend there was the American painter John Leslie Breck, and on September 2, as Beckwith recorded in his diary, he "began a little head of Breck." It is a strikingly warm and sympathetic painting, and a token in those respects of their close friendship; it is also a very faithful likeness, as a more formal portrait photograph of Breck shows.
(Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr.Senior curator of American and British paintingsat nga.gov)


Garden at Giverny
Oil on canvas, c. 1887
Terra Museum of American Art
Chicago, Illinois, United States
From ARC


The Gilded Dome, Spring
Oil on canvas, ca. 1893-1894
Private collection
From mcculloughsite.net


Grey Day on the Charles
Painting - oil on canvas, 1894
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (United States)
From the-athenaeum.org


Wetlands
Oil on panel, 1894
Private collection
From the-athenaeum.org


Early Snow
Oil on canvas, 1894
Private collection
From the-athenaeum.org


Giudecca Canal, Venice
Oil on canvas, 1897
From newfocuson.com


The Cliffs at Ironbound Island, Maine
Oil on canvas, 1898
Public collection
From ARC


Breck became personally involved with the Monet family through his relationship with Monet’s stepdaughter, Blanch Hoschedé. After Breck’s relationship with Hoschedé ended, he returned to United States and settled in Boston, where he exhibited at the St. Botolph Club. His impressionist style received much attention in American art communities. In both Boston and New York, artists and critics flocked to see Breck’s Impressionist paintings.
(artexpertswebsite.com)


Daffodils in Japanese Vase
Courtesy of Brown Corbin Fine Art
From .ci.newton.ma.us


Landscape
Oil on canvas
From artnet.com


Apple Tree
Painting was found in North Carolina
Remained in same family since original purchase
Original label from Boston framer William Allerton
Canvas stamp of Paul Foinet
From woodsideantiques.com


He continued to paint in avant-garde style. His Impressionist canvases provoked lively response in Boston and New York. His premature death in 1899 elicited a memorial exhibition at the St. Botolph Club, at which time the leadership and direction of the Boston school had been assumed by Edmund Tarbell.
(Indianapolis Museum of Art).


Santa Maria della Salute by Moonlight
Oil on canvas, 1897
From 1stdibs.com


View of Ipswich Bay
From artexpertswebsite.com


Ipswich
From artexpertswebsite.com


Some of Breck's most memorable canvases were executed after his return to America. He spent the remainder of his life painting along the Massachusetts coast, and some of his best work includes views of Ipswich. Moonlight, Ipswich clearly reflects the palette of Monet but also demonstrates Breck's masterful assimilation of Impressionist brushwork and strong sense of composition.
(Indianapolis Museum of Art).