Monday, November 21, 2011


Self Portrait
Owner: In Kunstnarliv
Original uploader was Clemens Alexander
Source/Photographer aus Melkild, Kunstnarliv

Hans Dahl (19 February 1849, Granvin – 27 July 1937) was a Norwegian painter. He was famous for his paintings of Norwegian fjords and surrounding landscapes. He was born in the village of Granvin, on the Hardangerfjord, in the county of Hordaland in Norway.
His talent was already evident when Dahl was 16 years old. However, it was only after service in the Swedish army that Dahl received artistic education. He was educated first to become an officer and became a lieutenant in 1871. He served in the Bergenske Brigade until 1874.
After leaving the army, he apprenticed with Johan Fredrik Eckersberg and Knud Bergslien. He went to Karlsruhe, where he studied under Hans Fredrik Gude and Wilhelm Riefstahl and then to Düsseldorf, where his teachers included Eduard von Gebhardt and Wilhelm Sohn. His art became associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting, which was characterized by finely detailed yet still fanciful landscapes.

By The Fjord
uploaded by user:Staszek99

Girl in a Field

On The Banks of the Fjord
From ARC at

The Fjord

An Alpine Landscape With A Shepherdess And Goats

In The Mountains

Returning From the Fields

By the Water's Edge

Dahl painted the spectacular scenery of the western part of Norway - vestlandet - and often put beautiful, blond girls in national costumes in his paintings. Dahl was well known abroad; he was a close friend of the German emperor and was well liked in the village. 
He had his first exhibition in Düsseldorf in 1876. Already then he had found a style and subjects which he later kept to. He lived in Germany from 1888 but every summer he went to Norway to make sketches of the "vestland" scenery.
In the 1890s a new school of art arose, and artists like Dahl were not very popular in the leading circles in the capital. He was particularly criticised by the art historian Jens Thiis. There are no paintings by Hans Dahl in the National Art Gallery. They were much opposed to his kind of painting. The artist Christian Krogh also disapproved of the so-called Düsseldorfers. Hans Dahl however, maintained his opinion of art. He had good writing skills and enjoyed a debate. In the publication "Malerne og publikum" he wrote that he wanted art to be comprehensible to ordinary people. He did not want it to be highbrow culture for the elite. Dahl often described the scenery of the western part of Norway in brilliant sunshine with smiling people in national costumes. He was not highly valued as an artist by art critiques in his own time. However, he had a large market with private collectors. In the 1980s paintings by Hans Dahl have fetched prices around 200000 kroner.
Hans Dahl was concerned with his health. He often slept on the veranda in winter time. Both his beard and bed clothes were rime frozen in the morning. However, Dahl dressed in woollen cloths and thought wool particularly important to people's health. He wrote both articles and a small book about this. In the publication "How to strengthen ones Health and Work Capacity" he puts forward his thoughts and in 1928 he gave a lecture in Oslo. He thundered against the medical experts who were present. Dr. Tannberg said: "I am no supporter of all this wool." Dahl did not change his mind because of this. He was otherwise a light-hearted man. "Keep a cheerful mind in Storm as well as in Sunshine" he once wrote.

Faraway Thoughts

Faraway Thoughts

Dahl specialised in painting the beautiful landscapes of Norway depicting the monumental mountains and fijords. Unlike his contemporary Normann, who also painted the fijords, Dahl nearly always included figures in his landscapes. In this magnificent painting, above, the charming young peasant girl is wistfully gazing over the water, perhaps thinking of her beau in the distant boat. This gives a romantic element to the painting which contrasts well with the grandeur of the landscape. The perspective in the painting is executed with masterly precision and ones eye is drawn towards the centre of the work by the dramatic diagonal lines and then on to the far shore. The sky is very atmospheric and the artist's use of light is highly skilful. Dahl painted many works throughout his life but this work shows Dahl at his very best. Exhibited : Berlin (Art Academy), Munich, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Philadelphia

Hans Dahl at Villa Strandheim
German Federal Archive

The German emperor was an annual summer guest in Balestrand until World War I. He liked both Dahl and his work. Dahl's home was in many ways also the Emperor's home when he visited Balestrand. Dahl was the emperor's good friend. He also acted as a consultant when Wilhelm started the work with the statues in Balestrand and Vangsnes.
Every summer there were garden parties in Dahl's garden. Then Dahl acted as host and the Emperor was the guest of honour. Ladies from the upper classes in Bergen had come to Balestrand. On the other side of the picket fence the wide-eyed villagers were watching.
Dahl kept in contact with the Emperor throughout his life, and we expect that this was a deep personal friendship. He was highly valued both by Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II. Wilhelm II bought many paintings from Dahl. In 1910 Dahl was appointed Royal Prussian Professor of Art.
On the19th of February 1919, Hans Dahl was 70 years old. He celebrated by throwing a party in his villa. Sigurd Kvikne was one of the guests and said in his speech that Hans Dahl had made Norway known abroad and that Balestrand owed him great thanks because so many visitors had come there. While Dahl lived in Balestrand, he made many travels in the district. He went to both the mountains and the different arms of the fjord in search of subjects to paint. He often brought girls with him as models. The persons who modelled for him characterised him as a nice man, kind and understanding. Dahl usually employed two girls as models. He paid them 80100 kroner a month. "It was a lot of money in those days", said a woman who worked as a model for many years. Hans Dahl died in Balestrand in 1937.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011


Much of the trouble, vexation, and misery of which men are the cause to themselves is due to cowardice, or the false shame which results from attaching undue importance to custom, fashion, or the opinion of others, even when that opinion is not confirmed by their own reflection.
Shame is an invaluable protection to men, as a restraining feeling. But the objects to which it properly attaches are wrong-doing, unkindness, discourtesy, to others, and, as regards us, ignorance, imprudence, intemperance, impurity, and avoidable defects or misfortunes.
As soon as a man begins to care about what others will say of circumstances not under his own control, such as his race, his origin, his appearance, his physical defects, or his lack of wealth or natural talents, he may be laying up for himself a store of incalculable misery, and is certainly enfeebling his character and impairing his chances of future usefulness. It is under the influence of this motive, for instance, that many a man lives above his income, not for the purpose of gratifying any real wants either of himself or his family, but for the sake of 'keeping up appearances,' though he is exposing his creditors to considerable losses, his family to many probable disadvantages, and himself to almost certain disgrace in the future. It is under the influence of this motive, too, that many men, in the upper and middle classes, rather than marries on a modest income, and drop out of the society of their fashionable acquaintance, form irregular sexual connections, which are a source of injury to themselves and ruin to their victims.
We at one time think ourselves or others more, and, at another time, less blamable for the self-same acts, or we come to regard some particular class of acts in a different light from what we used to do, either modifying our praise or blame, or, in extreme cases, actually substituting one for the other. Human nature, in its normal condition, is so constituted that the remorse felt, when we look back upon a wrong action, far outweighs any pleasure we may have derived from it, just as the satisfaction with which we look back upon a right action far more than compensates for any pain with which it may have been attended.
A man must; ultimately, be the judge of his own conduct, and, as he acts or does not act according to his own best judgment, so he will subsequently feel satisfaction or remorse. We have a variety of appetites and desires, which centre in ourselves, including what has been called rational self-love, or a desire for what, on cool reflection, we conceive to be our own highest good on the whole, as well as self-respect, or a regard for our own dignity and character, and for our own opinion of ourselves. When any of these various appetites or desires is gratified, we feel satisfaction, and, on the other hand, when they are thwarted, we feel dissatisfaction.
Similarly, we have a number of affections, of which others are the object, some of them of a malevolent or resentful, but most of them of a benevolent character, including a general desire to confer all the happiness that we can. Here, again, we feel satisfaction, when our affections are gratified, and dissatisfaction, when they are thwarted.
We praise a man who, by due economy, makes decent provision for himself in old age, as we blame a man who fails to do so. Quite apart from any public or social considerations, we admire and applaud in the one man the power of self-restraint and the habit of foresight, which enable him to subordinate his immediate gratifications to his larger interests in the remote future, and to forego sensual and passing pleasures for the purpose of preserving his self-respect and personal independence in later life. And we admire and applaud him still more, if to these purely self-regarding considerations he adds the social one of wishing to avoid becoming a burden on his family or his friends or the public. Just in the same way, we condemn the other man, who, rather than sacrifice his immediate gratification, will incur the risk of forfeiting his self-respect and independence in after years as well as of making others suffer for his improvidence.
A man who, by the exercise of similar economy and forethought, makes provision for his family or relations we esteem still more than the man who simply makes provision for himself, because the sacrifice of passing pleasures is generally still greater, and because there is also, in this case, a total sacrifice of all self-regarding interests, except, perhaps, self-respect and reputation, for the sake of others. Similarly, the man who has a family or relations dependent upon him, and who neglects to make future provision for them, deservedly incurs our censure far more than the man who merely neglects to make provision for him.
The ancient morality, which was the product of the patriarchal form of society, when the patria potestas was still in vigor, laid peculiar stress on the duties of children to parents, while it almost ignored the reciprocal duties of parents to children. When the members of a family were seldom separated, and the pressure of population had not yet begun to be felt, this was the natural order of ideas with respect to the parental relation. But now that the common labor of the household is replaced by competition amongst individuals, and most young men and women have, at an early age, to leave their families and set about earning their own living, or carving out their own career, it is obvious, on reflection, that parents are guilty of a gross breach of duty, if they do not use their utmost endeavors to facilitate the introduction of their children to the active work of life, and to fit them for the circumstances in which they are likely to be placed. To bring up a son or daughter in idleness or ignorance ought to be as great a reproach to a parent as it is to a child to dishonor its father or mother. And yet, in the upper and middle classes at all events, there are many parents who, without incurring much reprobation from their friends, prefer to treat their children like playthings or pet animals rather than to take the pains to train them with a view to their future trials and duties.
It ought to be thoroughly realized, and, as the moral consciousness becomes better adapted to the existing circumstances of society, it is to be trusted that it will be realized, that parents have no moral right to do what they choose with their children, but that they are under a strict obligation both to society and to their children themselves so to mould their dispositions and develop their faculties and inform their minds and train their bodies as to render them good and useful citizens, and honest and skilful men.
(Adapted from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Progressive Morality, by Thomas Fowler)

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Imprisoned at Tsarkoe Selo
The Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”

The painter of Imprisoned at Tsarkoe Sel, above, is Pavel Ryzhenko, a Russian artist (born in 1970) and professor at the Russian Fine Arts Academy. He specializes in historical & religious paintings. Ryzhenko has been critized for some historical errors.....In an interview the painter said he wanted to show the Tsar returning home in March 1917 after his abdication, but Alexei looks much younger than 11, he wasn’t suffering from an hemophilia attack at the time and no rooms in the Imperial Family private quarters looked like that. Anyway he didn't intend to be historically accurate, but rather to give an idea of what happened and convey feelings, emotions. The Empress is holding the Holy Bible in her hands: her reading was interrupted by the arrival of her husband which can’t hide his despair from the intruder. This painting is part 2 of a 3 part series called Imperial Calvary (Martyrdom) done by the artist after he went to visit the field where the Imperial Family was buried outside Ekaterinburg. He wanted to depict 3 of the most tragic moments in Nicholas II’s last 18 months on this earth.
(Posted by Daniel Briere, June 17, 2009 at

Nicholas II bidding farewell to his Troops
The Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”

Part 1 is this stunning painting titled Nicholas II bidding farewell to his Troops (at Stavka after his abdication) which is also quite moving. Nicholas II isn’t wearing the same uniform he actually did on that awful day (as someone pointed out)…..H e didn’t review his Escort Cossacks on the day he left (he had taken his leave from them the day before, but yes they wore the Revolution’s red ribbon, and yes, some of them had cried and one had collapsed before the Tsar) but in any case it’s quite effective.
(Posted by Daniel Briere, June 17, 2009 at

Farewell to the shoulder straps

Triptych The Russian Century

Another moving painting is the Civil War-time ‘Imperial Shoulder boards’ depicting an Officer burying his shoulder boards and a handkerchief embroidered by Tsarina Alexandra. “Triptych The Russian Century” looks like a photo shoot that would have been taken on the Borodino battlefield at the Centennial celebrations in 1912, with many officer in splendid uniforms, and quite good portraits of the 4 grand-duchesses, Their Majesties, with Alexei between them - in his War-time khaki coat & Medal of St. George! – and besides Anastasia…a younger Alexei in some parade uniform, partly conceiling an even younger Alexei in his sailor suit from the Standart!! Only then I understood the true intention of this artist. His painting wasn’t meant to be a photo, but rather a metaphor of the glorious Russia which had vanished : the representative of the Church, some old veterans, all those devoted soldiers and officers of various Guards regiments, even a cavalry officer from the 1812 War! It really is an ode to an Empire that is no more. Oddly enough almost all of the participants are looking towards the camera. But the photographer isn’t there. But pay attention to the Imperial Family : they’re not looking at the camera (except for the 2 younger Alexei who aren’t really there – only a figment of your imagination) : they’re looking at YOU, and they’re smiling. YOU are the photographer and you’re looking at THEM. What are you thinking? Are you smiling too?? …Brilliant painting!
(Posted by Daniel Briere, June 17, 2009 at

The Ipatiev House
After the Murder of the Imperial Family

On a more tragic note, here is a large photo of part 3 of the Nicholas II’s triptych: The Ipatiev House after the murder of the Imperial Family. It’s, quite gruesome and moving too, with personal items left over after the Bolsheviks' ramsack : papers, photos & books, dolls & eyeglasses, a woman’s boot, the Tsar’s greatcoat, with one his shoulder-board and his Cross of St. George which his captors wanted him to remove, and then Alexei’s toy soldiers, chessboard, his sailor cap…The artist said the white chair was a symbol of the Russian throne, on which only a toy soldier remained as a Tsar-pretender while, in the back, one of the new masters of Russia was looking at what he had just accomplished.
(Posted by Daniel Briere, June 17, 2009 at

Malyuta Skuratov

A Moment of Royal Contemplation

The Battle of the Kalka River

The Battle of the Kalka River took place on May 31, 1223, between the Mongol Empire (led by Jebe and Subutai) and Kiev, Galich, and several other Rus' principalities and the Cumans, under the command of Mstislav the Bold and Mstislav III of Kiev. The battle was fought on the banks of the Kalka River (in present-day Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine) and ended in a Mongol victory. Following the Mongol invasion of Central Asia and the subsequent collapse of the Khwarezmian Empire, a Mongol force under the command of generals Jebe and Subutai advanced into Iraq-i Ajam. Jebe requested permission from the Mongol leader, Genghis Khan, to continue his conquests for a few years before returning to the main army via the Caucasus. While waiting for Genghis Khan's reply, the duo set out on a raid in which they attacked Georgia and killed its king. Genghis Khan granted the duo permission to undertake their expedition, and after making their way through the Caucasus, they defeated a coalition of Caucasian tribes before defeating the Cumans. The Cuman Khan fled to the court of his son-in-law, Prince Mstislav the Bold of Galich, who he convinced to help fight the Mongols. Mstislav the Bold formed an alliance of the Rus' princes including Mstislav III of Kiev. The combined Rus' army, at first, defeated the Mongol rearguard. For several days, the Rus' pursued the Mongols but became spread out over a large distance. The Mongols stopped and assumed battle formation on the banks of the Kalka River. Mstislav the Bold, with his Cuman allies, attacked the Mongols without waiting for the rest of the Rus' army and were defeated. In the ensuing confusion, several other Rus' princes were defeated, and Mstislav of Kiev was forced to retreat to a fortified camp. After holding for three days, he surrendered in return for a promise of safe conduct for himself and his men. Once they surrendered, however, the Mongols slaughtered them and uted Mstislav of Kiev. Mstislav the Bold escaped, and the Mongols went back to Asia, where they joined Genghis Khan.


Overflowing Its Banks

A Country Road


The Victory of Peresvet

Alexander Peresvet, above, also spelled Peresviet, was a Russian Orthodox Christian monk who fought in a single combat with the Tatar champion Temir-murza (known in most Russian sources as Chelubey or Cheli-bey) at the opening of the Battle of Kulikovo (8 September 1380), where they killed each other. The champions killed each other in the first run, though according to a Russian legend, Peresvet did not fall from the saddle, while Temir-murza did.

Alexander Jaroslavovich Nevsky

Triptych Repentance-Strike the bell

Battle of the Neva

The Battle of the Neva was fought between the Novgorod Republic and Swedish armies on the Neva River, near the settlement of Ust-Izhora, on July 15, 1240. The purpose of the Swedish invasion was probably to gain control over the mouth of the Neva and the city of Ladoga and, hence, seize the most important part of the Trade Route the Varangians to the Greeks, which had been under Novgorod's control for more than a hundred years. The battle was part of the medieval Swedish-Novgorodian Wars. Existence of the battle is only known Russian sources. First to mention the battle is the Novgorod First Chronicle the 14th century. According to the chronicle, on receiving the news of the advancing Swedish fleet, the 20-year-old Prince Alexander Yaroslavich of Novgorod quickly moved his small army to face the enemy before they had reached Lake Ladoga. The chronicle described the battle as follows: "Swedes came with a great army, and Norwegians and Finns and Tavastians with ships in great numbers, Swedes with their prince and bishops, and they stayed on the Neva, at the mouth of the Izhora, willing to take Ladoga, and to put it short, Novgorod and all of its lands. But still protected the merciful, man-loving God us and sheltered us the foreign people, and the word came to Novgorod that Swedes were sailing to Ladoga; but prince Alexander did not hesitate at all, but went against them with Novgorodians and people of Ladoga and overcame them with the help of Saint Sophia and through prayers of our lady, the Mother of God and Virgin Mary, July 15, in the memory of Kirik and Ulita, on Sunday, (the same day that) the 630 holy fathers held a meeting in Chalcedon; and there was a great gathering of the Swedes; and their leader called Spiridon was killed there; but some claimed that even the bishop was slain; and a great number of them fell; and when they had loaded two ships with the bodies of high-born men, they let them sail to the sea; but the others, that were unnumbered, they cast to a pit, that they buried, and many others were wounded; and that same night they fled, without waiting for the Monday light, with shame. Of Novgorodians there fell: Konstantin Lugotinitch, Yuryata Pinyashchinich, Namest Drochilo, Nesdylov son of Kozhevnik, but including the people of Ladoga 20 men or less, God knows. But Prince Alexander came back home with Novgorodians and people of Ladoga……” Later, Prince Alexander Yaroslavich was nicknamed "Nevsky" (of Neva) for his first significant victory. Two years later, Alexander stalled an invasion of the Livonian Knights during the Battle on the Ice. Despite the victories, there were no Novgorodian advances further west to Finland or Estonia. (

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Friday, November 18, 2011


Without undue sensationalism it may be said that this is an age of doubt. Wherever one looks in journeying through the different departments of life one sees doubt. And one sees, too, some of the blight which doubt produces, although the blight is by no means all that one sees.
We would often hide it from others, not to say from ourselves, but it is there, and we all know it to be there. In a fable, never in real life, a man might get the smell of burning wood in his house and refuse to recognize the danger because of the inevitable delay to his business which the alarm of fire would involve.
Doubt is not less real nor less dangerous, nor even less capable, when under control, of useful applications. Any danger, too, squarely faced is at least half met. Why, then, be so impracticable, so like characters in fables, as to overlook or turn one's back upon the doubt of the day, refusing it a place and a part in real life? Our life is ever cherishing what we are pleased to call its verities, some in religion and morals, some in politics, some in mathematics and science, some in the more general relations to nature, but what elusive things these verities are! How shallow, or how hollow all of them are, or at one time or another may become.
Self and society, love and friendship, mind and matter, nature and God have again and again been subjected to essentially the same questioning. The verities of life, all the way from simple words used every day to the great things of our moral and spiritual being, have lost, sometimes slowly, sometimes very suddenly, the reality with which we have supposed them endowed, and although we may still bravely believe we find ourselves crying out passionately for help in our unbelief. There certainly are the verities; not one of them can possibly fall to the ground; yet these very verities are never quite in our experience.
Still the world has its thoroughly confident people. Every one of us has met some of those estimable beings to whom doubt seems wholly foreign, people who assert with trembling voice and sacred vow that their convictions, political perhaps or religious, are unassailable, and that they must hold them to the grave.
Moreover, positive people under any standard are notoriously as fearful as they are dogmatic.
Fear is often, if not always, the chief motive of dogmatism, and fear is hardly the most natural companion of genuine confidence. The eyes may have been moved and the head turned, but in spite of the impulses present in them the legs have not been used to bring the observer nearer to the object seen, nor have the arms and hands been raised to secure a contact with it, and perhaps a tracing of its lines, although some stimulus for such contact and tracing must be always present as a part of the actual or possible value of the experience. It may be objected that at times men, individually or collectively, seek not something else, but simply more of something already secured; more money, it may be, or more learning, or more territory, or more pleasure.
There is, however, in spite of man's many conceits to the contrary, no change that is purely quantitative. More is also different or other. Accordingly, we both always find, and, what is even more to the point, always seeking a real change whenever we do anything. Life, then, is a game, and the game of life, doubts and all, is a real interest as well as a necessity. We are creatures of habit, but we have, and we cherish, no habit stronger or more essential than the habit at once of adaptation and variation. Doubt is necessary to life, to real life, to deep experience. Doubt is but one of the phases of the resistance which a real life demands. Real life implies a constant challenge, and doubt is a form under which the challenge finds expression. The doubter is a questioner, a seeker; he has, then, something to overcome; he fears, too, as well as hopes.
Man ever confidently seeks what man has lost. Dependent man and doubting man must have society. Now, there are five things, some of them already foreseen, that seem worth saying here of the essential habit of self-contradiction, and they seem worth saying because so effectively and so comprehensively they warrant the conclusion that even upon our strongest reason for doubt we may rest a genuine case for belief.
Have you ever climbed a mountain up and up and up, through thick woods, over rough, almost impassable trails, into clouds dense and chilling, stormy and angry, over treacherous snows and frightful cliffs, and come out at last on the very top to see both earth and heaven, yourself between, the clouds dispersed, the hardships and dangers all forgotten, the whole world real and yours? Well, that is doubt become achievement.
Have you worked at some problem of everyday life, or a problem of science or philosophy, patiently or impatiently applying all the rules and precepts at your command, trying every resort known to you, and in final desperation many you only guess at, and then, when failure seems almost certain, caught a glimpse of the real meaning and the real way, attaining to an insight that reveals a new world to you? That, too, is doubt rewarded. Have you ever suffered a great heartrending disappointment or a great personal loss, and found it seemingly impossible to return to the routine of your former life, but nevertheless, almost imperceptibly, come into a sense of presence and gain from the very thing that seemed taken from you? That, once more, is doubt without its sting, robbed of its victory.
Does it hurt your business to doubt it sufficiently to make you able to sympathize with the interests of another? Does it hurt your politics, if you can lose enough of the partisan's conceit or the jingo's bombast to sympathize with the other parties or the other nations? The value of real independence in politics is one answer, and the idea of federation among competing states, or of international polity as a basis of successful national life, is another. Does it hurt your understanding to outgrow your own profoundest ideas and see some validity in the doctrines and formulæ of others?
So we find ourselves well upon our way in the world of the doubter—and what a world it is! No finality, because so much reality. Conflict is forever necessary to its effective realization. Relativity is finiteness, of all things, of all things in it, just for the sake of its own true absoluteness, just to conserve its own actual infinity. And, also, in such a world human life, individually and socially, gets new interest and vitality. There is given to human life so much fellowship, and yet, at the same time, so much hostility and competition. Society and the individual, though neither loses its own peculiar importance, are so vitally intimate with each other.
The confession of doubt, which we set out to make with all possible candor, is now nearly concluded even to the harvesting of the promised fruit. The confession began, as will be remembered, with recognition of certain general and easily demonstrated facts, of which there were five, as follows: (1) We are all universal doubters. (2) Doubt is essential to all consciousness. (3) Even habit, though confidence be the horse, has doubt sitting up behind. (4) Like pain or ignorance, doubt is a condition of real life. (5) And the sense of dependence, so general to human nature, gives rise to doubt, although also, like misery, it always seeks company—the company of nature, of man, of God.
Then, after this beginning, which left us by no means so hopeless as might have been expected, we proceeded to try the doubter, nay, to try ourselves, first before the court of ordinary life with its ordinary views of things, and secondly, before the court of science, and, in both trials, we found the doubting justified. We believe through our doubts; we believe, not in something apart, but in the very things we doubt.
Certain people have cried illusion and unreality at things political or moral or even at things physical, but only in the end to feel, and to make others feel, first, their evident narrowness, if not their actual dishonesty, and then their need of a more hospitable idea of what is valid and real.
Nothing can be, or ever has been, unreal. At once opponents and companions—this is the truth about the doubter and the believer. Consider how taken alone neither would be quite justified, while together both are justified. Perfect approval or, for that matter, perfect disapproval, can belong to neither singly, in our doubting, even though we fully confess, nor yet to him who hides his doubts in an outward show that almost deceives him as well as others.
Of course in all matters as well as in this of intellectual honesty, the conceit of individual righteousness or individual possession is a very strong one, but it is "easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye" than for a man who is anything or has anything to himself alone, to enter into any kingdom. Is not life everywhere a movement and a struggle? And who is there, rich or poor, law-abiding or lawless, righteous or unrighteous, faithful or treacherous, believing or doubting, who can stand aloof, or who needs to stand aloof, and say to himself: "I personally, within my own nature, have no part in the struggle; for good or for ill, I am just what I am, and with him that is against me I have and can have no dealings"?
The doubter, then, and the believer may have to look askance at each other; the looking askance may be quite appropriate to the conflict in which each has and must feel his social role, but, at most and worst, they are only jealous lovers. They may be given, and profitably given, as much to quarrelling as to gentleness, but they love still, and, to borrow part of a line from a familiar college song, their battling love affords just one more view of that which "makes the world go 'round"—instead of off at some tangent.
(Adapted from The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Will to Doubt, by Alfred H. Lloyd)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


A VERY wise physician has said that “every illness has two parts—what it is, and what the patient thinks about it.” What the patient thinks about it is often more important and more troublesome than the real disease. What the patient thinks of life, what life means to him is also of great importance and may be the bar that shuts out all real health and happiness.
The great roots of worry are conscience, fear, and regret. Undoubtedly we ought to be conscientious and we ought to fear and regret evil. But if it is to be better than an impediment and harm, our worry must be largely unconscious, and intuitive. The moment we become conscious of worry we are undone.
SINCE our minds are so constantly filled with anxiety, there would seem to be at least one sure way to be rid of it—to stop thinking. A great many people believe that the mind will become less effective, that life will become dull and purposeless, unless they are constantly thinking and planning and arranging their affairs. The mind may easily and wisely be free from conscious thought a good deal of the time, and that the greatest progress and development in mind often comes when the thinker is virtually at rest, when his mind is to all intents and purposes blank. The busy, unconscious mind does its best work in the serenity of an atmosphere which does not interfere and confuse. A man is not necessarily condemned to tortures of mind because he must rest for a week or a month or a year. There must be anxious times, especially when idleness means dependence, and when it brings hardship to those who need our help. But the invalid must not try constantly to puzzle the matter out. If we do not make ourselves sick with worry, we shall be able sometime to approach active life with sufficient frankness and force. It is the constant effort of the poor, tired mind to solve its problems that not only fails of its object, but plunges the invalid deeper into discouragement and misunderstanding.
How cruel this is, and how unfortunate that it should come more commonly to those who try the hardest to overcome their handicaps, to throw off the yoke of idleness and to be well. It is not so much the idleness, then, as the attempt to overcome its irksomeness that makes this condition painful. The invalid in bed is in a trap, to be tormented by his thoughts unless he knows the meaning of successful idleness. This knowledge may come to him by giving up the struggle against worry and fret; but peace will come surely, steadily, “with healing in its wings,” when the mind is changed altogether, when life becomes free because of a growth and development that finds significance even in idleness, that sees the world with wise and patient eyes. Unfortunately, the idleness of disability often means pain, the wear and tear of physical or nervous suffering. That is another matter. We cannot meet it fully with any philosophy.
Patients very often beg to know the best way to bear pain, how they may overcome the attacks of “nerves” that are harder to bear than pain. The time to bear pain is before and after. Live in such a way in the times of comparative comfort that the attacks are less likely to appear and easier to bear when they do come. After the pain or the “nervous” attack is over, that is the time to prevent the worst features of another. Forget the distress; live simply and happily in spite of the memory, and you will have done all that the patient himself can do to ward off or to make tolerable the next occasion of suffering. Pain itself, pure physical pain, is a matter for the physician’s judgment. It is his business to seek out the causes and apply the remedy.
The rules we have wittingly or unwittingly broken are often unknown to us, but they exist in the All-Wise Providence, and we may guess by our own suffering how far we have overstepped them. If a man runs into a door in the dark, we know all about that,—the case is simple,—but if he runs overtime at his office and hastens to be rich with the result of a nervous dyspepsia—that is a mystery. Strangely enough, the sense of effort and the feeling of our own inadequacy damage the nervous system quite as much as the actual physical effort. The attempt to catch up with life and with affairs that go on too fast for us is a frequent and harmful deflection from the rules of the game. Few of us avoid it. Life comes at us and goes by very fast. Tasks multiply and we are inadequate, responsibilities increase before we are ready. They bring fatigue and confusion.
We cannot shirk and be true. Having done all you reasonably can, stop, whatever the consequences may be. To do more is to drag and fail. The trouble is that we look at our work or our responsibility all in one piece, and it crushes us. If we cannot arrange our lives so that we may meet their obligations a little at a time, then we must admit failure and try again, on what may seem a lower plane. That is the brave thing to do. We would honor the factory superintendent, who, finding himself unequal to his position should choose to work at the bench where he could succeed perfectly. The nervous person is often morose and unsocial—perhaps because he is not understood, perhaps because he falls so short of his own ideals. Often he does not find kindred spirits anywhere. We should not drive such a man into conditions that hurt, but if he is truly artistic, and not a snob, he may lead himself into a larger social life without too much sacrifice. The nervous temperament under irritation is very prone to become selfish—and very likely to hide behind this selfishness, calling it temperament.
The man who flies into a passion when he is disturbed, or who spends his days in torment from the noises of the street; the woman of high attainment who has retired into herself, who is moody and unresponsive,—these unfortunates have virtually built a wall about their lives, a wall which shuts out the world of life and happiness. From the walls of this prison the sounds of discord and annoyance are thrown back upon the prisoner intensified and multiplied. The wall is real enough in its effect, but will cease to exist when the prisoner begins to go outside, when he begins to realize his selfishness and his mistake. Then the noises and the irritations will be lost in the wider world that is open to him. After all, it is only through unselfish service in the world of men that this broadening can come. The person who thinks little of his own attitude of mind is more likely to be well controlled and to radiate happiness than one who must continually prompt himself to worthy thoughts. The man whose heart is great with understanding of the sorrow and pathos of life is far more apt to be brave and fine in his own trouble than one who must look to a motto or a formula for consolation and advice.
Deep in the lives of those who permanently triumph over sorrow there is an abiding peace and joy. Such peace cannot come even from ample experience in the material world. Despair comes from that experience sometimes, unless the heart is open to the vital spirit that lies beyond all material things, that creates and renews life and that makes it indescribably beautiful and significant.
Experience of material things is only the beginning. In it and through it we may have experience of the wider life that surrounds the material. Life is serious—alas, too serious—and full enough of pathos. We cannot joke about its troubles; they are real. But, at least, we need not magnify them. Why should we act as though everything depended upon our efforts, even the changing seasons and the blowing winds. No doubt we are responsible for our own acts and thoughts and for the welfare of those who depend upon us. The trouble is we take unnecessary responsibilities so seriously that we overreach ourselves and defeat our own good ends.
We have all about us instances of the effectiveness of the lighter touch as applied to serious matters. The life of the busy surgeon is a good example. He may be, and usually is, brimming with sympathy, but if he were to feel too deeply for all his patients, he would soon fail and die. He goes about his work and he puts through a half-dozen operations in a way that would send cold shivers down the back of the uninitiated. And yet he is accurate and sure as a machine. If he were to take each case upon his mind in a heavy, consequential way, if he were to give deep concern to each ligature he ties, and if he were to be constantly afraid of causing pain, he would be a poor surgeon. His work, instead of being clean and sharp, would suffer from over-conscientiousness. He might never finish an operation for fear his patient would bleed to death. Such a man may be the reverse of flippant, and yet he may actually enjoy his somber work. Cruel and bloodthirsty? Not at all. These men—the great surgeons—are as tender as children. But they love their work; they really care very deeply for their patients. The successful ones have the lighter touch and they have no time for worry. 
There is a natural gayety in most of us which helps more than we realize to keep us sound. The pity is that when responsibilities come and hardships come, we repress our lighter selves sternly, as though such repression were a duty. Better let us guard the springs of happiness very, very jealously. The whistling boy in the dark street does more than cheer himself on the way. He actually protects himself from evil, and brings courage not only to himself, but to those who hear him.
Do not hold for false cheerfulness that is sometimes affected, but a brave show of courage in a forlorn hope will sometimes win the day. It is infinitely more likely to win than a too serious realization of the danger of defeat. The show of courage is often not a pretense at all, but victory itself. The need of the world is very great and its human destiny is in our hands. Half of those who could help to right the wrongs are asleep or too selfishly immersed in their own affairs. We need more helpers like the skylights. Most of us are far too serious. The slumberers will slumber on, and the worriers will worry, the serious people will go ponderously about until someone shows them how ridiculous they are and how pitiful.
THE unrepentant sinner walks abroad. Unfortunately for us moralists he seems to be having a very good time. We must not condone him, though he may be a very lovable person; neither must we altogether condemn him, for he may be repentant in the very best way of all ways, the way that forgets much and leaves behind more, because life is so fine that it must not be spoiled, and because progress is in every way better than retrospection. The fact is, that repentance is too often the fear of punishment, and such fear is, to say the least, unmanly.
We would rather be a lovable sinner than one of the people who repent because they cannot bear to think of the consequences. Knowledge and fear of consequences undoubtedly keep a great many young people from the so-called sins of ignorance. But there must be something behind knowledge and fear of consequences to stop the youth of spirit from doing what he is inclined to do. Over and over again we must go back to the appreciation of life’s dignity and beauty in the world if we are to find a balance and a character that will “deliver us from evil.” Many a man has followed the best of advice for a time, and has become discouraged because the promised results did not materialize. It is disappointing, surely, to have lived upon a diet for months only to find that you still have dyspepsia, or to have followed certain rules of morality with great precision and enthusiasm without obtaining the untroubled mind.
We are accustomed to see results in the material world and naturally expect them everywhere. The trouble is we do not always recognize improvements when we see them, and we insist upon certain preconceived changes as a result of our endeavors. The physician is apt rashly to promise definite physical accomplishments in a given time. He is courting disappointment and distrust when he does so. We all want to get relief from our symptoms, and we are inclined to insist upon a particular kind of relief so strongly that we fail to appreciate the possibilities of another and a better relief which may be at hand. The going astray in this particular is sometimes very unfortunate.
There was a man to rush frantically from one doctor to another, trying to obtain relief for a particular pain or discomfort, unwilling to rest long enough to find out that the trouble would have disappeared naturally if he had taken the advice of the first physician, to live without impatience and within his limitations.
A man grows better, more human, more intelligent, as he practices the virtues. He is safer, no doubt, and the world is better. It is even true that, by the constant practice of virtues, he may come finally to espouse goodness and become thoroughly good. That is the hopeful thing about it and the reason why we may consistently ask or demand the routine practice of the virtues.
(Adapted from The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Untroubled Mind, by Herbert J. Hall)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Avatar Wallpaper

Zoë Saldaña (Neytiri) & Sam Worthington (Jake Sully)

Director James Cameron had many reasons to be happy the morning that the Oscar nominations for 2010 were announced: His blockbuster movie “Avatar” tied for the most with nine, including best picture and best director. But he was dismayed that his cast, including stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver, was shut out.
In fact, unlike the great majority of best picture nominees, the “Avatar” actors have not nabbed one major critic’s award, or guild prize. The snubs reflect the apparent ambivalence of the film community — especially actors — to “Avatar” and its revolutionary use of “performance capture,” a new technology that combines human actors with computer-generated animation to create the blue, 10-foot-tall creatures who are the heart of the movie.
To the uninitiated, it raises basic questions: Is this acting, or is it animation? And, does this suggest that actors could become obsolete? It’s an issue that provokes a strong response from Hollywood figures, from best actor nominees Jeff Bridges and Jeremy Renner to directors Cameron and Steven Spielberg.
“I’m sure they could do it now if they wanted. Actors will kind of be a thing of the past,” Bridges told Tribune Newspapers the day nominations were announced. “We’ll be turned into combinations. A director will be able to say, ‘I want 60 percent Clooney; give me 10 percent Bridges; and throw some Charles Bronson in there.’ They’ll come up with a new guy who will look like nobody who has ever lived and that person or thing will be huge,” he said.
(Tribune Newspapers writers Richard Verrier, Amy Kaufman and Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report at Some people are science fiction enthusiasts of the highest order. However, great films are not strictly confined to one genre. You can find them anywhere. STANLEY KUBRICK’S 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is so amazing and original that it blows almost everything else to hell. Nothing can ever scale the heights of the original STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. They possessed an epic sweep and fabulous characters that you could become emotionally invested in. Both trilogies in the series are noteworthy for obvious reasons. The first two ALIEN movies (particularly the one that Mr. Cameron directed) are incredible. AVATAR is a cross between DANCES WITH WOLVES and PLANET OF THE APES. In case you were wondering, that’s not a good thing.

Jake Sully 


No one in the universe has the imagination of James Cameron, and if they do, they don’t have the ability to convey it into the world of film. Not like he does. Avatar was the best film of 2009, and one of the best films to come out this entire decade…. You’ll eat up what’s been fed with a smile on your face, because it’s that damn good. Avatar is unlike any movie….. Cameron takes a simple, almost cliché story, and makes it an authentic tale about two races, two people, and the world that lives and breathes around them. The fairyland of Pandora becomes a reality and you as a viewer are lucky enough to have been invited to see it through the eyes of Jake Sully.

Jake Sully, a paralyzed marine

Avatar is the biggest money-making film of all time, earning nearly $2.8 billion worldwide at the box office. It is also the top-selling Blu-Ray disc in history. Cameron said, "It is a rare and remarkable opportunity when a filmmaker gets to build a fantasy world, and watch it grow, with the resources and partnership of a global media company. Avatar was conceived as an epic work of fantasy – a world that audiences could visit, across all media platforms, and this moment marks the launch of the next phase of that world. With two new films on the drawing boards, my company and I are embarking on an epic journey with our partners at Twentieth Century Fox. Our goal is to meet and exceed the global audience's expectations for the richness of Avatar’s visual world and the power of the storytelling. In the second and third films, which will be self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of Avatar’s visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world. I'm looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild."
(Mark Moring at
In the year 2154, ex marine JAKE SULLY (SAM WORTHINGTON) is a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. He lacks the financial resources for an operation that would allow him permanent mobility.
Jake’s brother was a scientist working with a team on the cutting edge of some remarkable technology. Though he has no training, Jake eagerly accepts his late sibling’s mission in exchange for financial compensation that will restore the use of his legs.
With the rest of his intellectually focused companions, he travels to the moon Pandora, which is several light years from Earth. The scientists are studying the Na’vi, the indigenous people who inhabit the planet. They are strange looking creatures: long and slender, approximately ten feet tall, bright blue with glittering golden eyes (complete with tails). They resemble enormous athletic azure kitty cats.
Jake is to infiltrate the population and get to know the Na’vi on their own level. But because the planet’s atmosphere is hostile to humans, the scientists have an innovative idea. A body (referred to as an avatar) has all ready been prepared for Jake’s sibling. They were identical twins. So the scenario fits perfectly. The physical structure is a mix of several kinds of different DNA. If Jake were an authentic Na’vi living on Pandora, that is precisely what he would look like. In reality, Jake will be lying in an unconscious state in a pod inside their spacecraft. But the representational avatar will be roaming throughout the planet as long as Jake is in a motionless state. When he gets up from his station, the avatar is lifeless until he returns.

Sully and Neyriti

We are soon privy to the knowledge that it’s not just a scientific exploration, but a military program with the intent to mine the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. Jake is asked by his military commander to find any Intel that would help them infiltrate the precious land, and force them off. Colonel Quaritch offers Sully the surgery to return his legs to him in return, but Sully has begun to understand the Na’vi, and more so he has begun to develop an affection for Neytiri , who has been teaching him the ways of their people and land. An epic battle is eminent, but the trip to get there is gripping.
(Posted by Heather at

The Battle

The Battle

The Battle

Avatar came, spread its magic and conquered! Avatar has been the talk of the town long after people have left the theaters. Critics from around the world are talking about the revolutionary 3D and CGI work but one thing that most have missed out is the story. Director James Cameron has tried to depict the US Marines as brutal hordes of soldiers who enjoy shedding blood and this is what should have caught the senses of the moviegoers. The popular critics, though spared a lot of thought for the graphics, could have manged to put in a little thought on the real meaning of the story.
Avatar is a film that has not only conquered our hearts but was also set to walk away with all the awards and now the word is out that the Charismatic James Cameron is penning its prequel. Jon Landau, the producer of Avatar said Cameron is penning the prequel of the film and this time it is going to be much bigger in terms of the extravaganza and the twists of events that are taking place in Pandora’s world. The book would be about the events that led to the story of Avatar, and Cameron seems to be devoting a lot of his time into penning his thoughts.
James Cameron will begin work on Avatar sequel script (due in 2014) early 2011, with the production set to being at the end of 2011. Judging from the fact that Avatar began filming in April 2007, and was only released 2.5 years later, we might possibly expect a similar time-frame again. On the other way, because Cameron and his crew are going to make two films during this period of time (the third part of the trilogy being planned for release in 2015), perhaps that might take a bit more. Anyway, Sam Worthington whose acting schedule seems to be pretty much determined by the upcoming shoots, has recently given an interview where he said that James Cameron had some great ideas about the 2nd and 3rd parts of Pandora adventures.
If Sam Worthington isn’t a household name after this movie, we don’t know what it will take to make it one. He was the best part of Terminator Salvation and is also starring in the upcoming remake “Clash of the Titans”. In spite of all the brilliant other points of Avatar, it was a success because he was the right guy for the role. Handsome, but with eyes opening his soul to you, he was all the charisma and energy this film needed. Another piece of new and different. Coupled with ZoeSaldana as Neytiri , who completely blew us away with her performance through the special effects. Unlike Worthington, we never see her human face, and don’t need to. Her character, her voice, and her movement was remarkably expressive and unique. Grounding this massive film was the talents of Sigourney Weaver. Her face was a welcome each time she was on screen. With subtle strength she played perfectly against Sully’s over enthusiastic childlike behavior. Her character went by the name of Grace, and it suited her role with perfect reflection.
(Posted by Heather at
Cameron said that he fully intends to make Avatar 2 & 3 at 48 or 60 fps. Movies at 48 or 60 looks different and way more alive. 3D shows a window into another reality. The higher frame rate will take the glass out of the window. It is really stunning, and becomes very real.
DreamWorks Animation CEO, Katzenberg, revealed that he is working on scalable multicore processing, a "quantum leap" in computer processing speed. For years, the animators have been waiting hours upon hours for the computers to render. With the new processes, the animators will be able to create their work in real time, and see the results in seconds. That will make a milestone in the storytelling of movies. An extraordinary and revolutionary help in the process, which will have a positive creative effect, and at the same time, rapidly speed up the creation of a movie.
Having explored Pandora's ground-level flora and fauna in the first Avatar movie, James Cameron wants to go to the distant moon's and the deep watery depths of the oceans in the sequels. He will be able to conjure something new and amazing once again, with aquatic alien life forms and underwater landscape.
Avatar 2 will mainly focus on the oceans of Pandora. And those seas will be just as rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative as the fantastic rain forest from Avatar. There will of course be scenes from the Pandora we already know too, but the waters will hold the secrets and mysteries of the 2nd movie. Cameron's fascination with oceans stretches 2 decades back, where he developed most of the 3D technology used in Avatar, while working on his Titanic documentary "Ghosts of the Abyss" and afterwards took the audience beneath the sea, in "The Abyss". Avatar 3 will take the audience to whole other planets, with new and different environments and life forms.

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