Advertisement for the "Uncle Sam" Range, Manufactured by Abendroth Bros., New York City (1876)
The menu in the world's hand reads:
BILL OF FARE
For the Uncle Sam Range.
Saddle de Horse
Donkey a la Mode
Rats Fricassed with Watermelon Seeds
Friday, May 30, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, a lover's quarrel with the world. In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role. If Robert Frost was much honored in his lifetime, it was because a good many preferred to ignore his darker truths. Yet in retrospect, we see how the artist's fidelity has strengthened the fibre of our national life.
If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.
If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. And as Mr. MacLeish once remarked of poets, there is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style. In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society—in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost's hired man, the fate of having "nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope."
John F. Kennedy, Remarks at Amherst College in memory of Robert Frost (October 26, 1963)
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee—
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters wash’d them power while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts:—not so thou;—
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play—
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,—
Calm or convulsed—in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime,
Dark-heaving—boundless, endless, and sublime,
The image of eternity, the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto IV, Stanzas 182-183
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Thy glasse will shew thee how thy beauties were,
Thy dyall how thy pretious mynuits waste,
The vacant leaues thy mindes imprint will beare,
And of this booke, this learning maist thou taste.
The wrinckles which thy glasse will truly show,
Of mouthed graues will giue thee memorie,
Thou by thy dyals shady stealth maist know,
Times theeuish progresse to eternitie.
Looke what thy memorie cannot containe,
Commit to these waste blacks, and thou shalt finde
Those children nurst, deliuerd from thy braine,
To take a new acquaintance of thy minde.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt looke,
Shall profit thee, and much inrich thy booke.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet LXXVII
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Idle curiosity is an ineradicable vice of the human mind. All of us like to discover the secrets of our neighbors, particularly the ugly ones. This has always been so, and, probably, always will be. What is relatively new, however—it is scarcely to be found before the latter half of the eighteenth century—is a blurring of the borderline between the desire for truth and idle curiosity, until, today, it has been so throughly erased that we can indulge in the latter without the slightest pangs of conscience. A great deal of what passes today for scholarly research is an activity no different from that of reading somebody's private correspondence when he is out of the room, and it doesn't really make it morally any better if he is out of the room because he is in the grave.
Introduction to Signet Classic edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1964)
From the series: Auden