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  • Archive for June, 2011

    Every Day Heroes?

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 14th June 2011 (All posts by )

    I am sure I will get some flack for this one, but here goes.

    I understand that police and firefighters have relatively dangerous jobs. I really do. But their level of danger (at least here in Madison) must certainly be far lower than a HVAC mechanic, an electrician or a sheet metal worker. Every single day the tradesman faces potential electrocution, handles acetylene torches that could misfire, and in general deals with things that could easily maim or kill them every day of their working lives if they are not careful.

    In contrast, yes, firefighters are brave souls that could possibly enter a burning building, but this doesn’t happen every day. Cops sitting in the cruiser handing out speeding tickets aren’t exactly living on the edge. Don’t get me wrong, cops do have to make arrests and deal with a lot of crap that I would rather not.

    But it seems in the narrative of today that firefighters and police are held up to some sort of hero status at all times. The word hero is used far too much. Every time I see an obese police person or firefighter, I wonder how safe I would really be in the event I actually needed their presence at my house to help me.

    Maybe I am crazy and they really are heroes all the time.

    What this post is really about is that soon I believe that Scott Walker is going to take on the police and firefighter unions so our state doesn’t sink under an absolute mountain of debt. I already know what the narrative will be – “Scott Walker takes benefits from everyday heroes”.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Politics | 27 Comments »

    Duz Web Mak Us Dumr?–continued

    Posted by David Foster on 14th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Back in 2008, I posted Duz Web Mak Us Dumr?, which explores the impact of communications technologies on human thought and perception. Comes now David Solway, with a post about what he sees as the devolution of both spoken and written language among America’s young.

    Not sure how much of his analysis I agree with, but I thought it was interesting enough to put up for discussion. Many of the comments are pretty thoughtful as well.

    Posted in Music, Photos, Tech, USA | 5 Comments »

    Republican “Debate” Bleg

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 14th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Did anyone see the “debate” last night? I didn’t. I am in particular wondering how Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain did.

    Posted in Politics | 10 Comments »

    Nice High Definition Version of the Gadsden 2012 Logo

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 13th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Jeff from The Right Logic sent a nice version he describes thus: “I updated it a bit by recreating the numbers so that they were crisp around the edges. I also updated the Gadsden logo with one that wasn’t blurry. I figured if this thing takes off at least we will have a high resolution version to distribute for people to use electronically. Here is a link to my blog with the logo.”

    His version is here. It is also here and below the fold.

    Thanks, Jeff.

    (As noted, you can now buy stuff with one or another version of the 2012 Gadsden logo. I cannot yet vouch for the quality, but I ordered a bumper sticker and I will report on it when it arrives.)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Obama, Politics, USA | 4 Comments »

    “Tending Cows”

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 13th June 2011 (All posts by )

    I have learned a lot with our hobby farm. I learn the most from discussions I have with farmers – I mean guys who do it for a living every day. I ask a lot of questions because things that they do so naturally I have to think about and read up on.

    Ann Althouse linked this piece by Meredith Small, who is a professor of anthropology at Cornell University. In the piece is this bit:

    That cultural expectation is now creeping earlier and earlier as 3-year-olds go to preschool and 4–year-olds start kindergarten. Everyone sits quietly at their desks, thinking and thinking, just when they’d rather be out tending cows or weeding the garden.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Personal Narrative | 26 Comments »

    The Scots & Energy

    Posted by Ginny on 13th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Arthur Herman’s How the Scots Invented the Modern World, in his description of Watt (“Practical Matters: Scots & Industry”) reminds us of that great industrial moment. In the “modern consciousness” was firmly “the idea of power not in a political sense, the ability to command people but the ability to command nature: the power to alter and use it to create something new, and produce it in greater and larger quantities than ever before” (278). To create something new.

    We might oppose that to the stimulus; Fitzgerald summed up the end of that old bubble in “Babylon Revisited”: “the catering to vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale and he suddenly realized the meaning of the word dissipate – to dissipate into thin air; to make something of nothing.” But wasn’t the desire, always, of this politics to control others, not to create nor to make. And how many Middle Eastern palaces are likely to fall into ruin by the end of the next century. The self-indulgent life is often described as dissipated – but how much worse a dissipated culture.

    Roy Lofquist’s point that space meant clans didn’t bump against each other may well be first cause of respect for others here; the building of the west by both north and south surely was helpful in healing those raw mid-nineteenth century wounds. But in the end, we were founded in the mercantile era and capitalism – which turns us to look at what we can do to please and entice another. Frances Hutcheson would argue as my more religious friends do – we serve ourselves by serving others. That felicity is enlarging. Our natural desire to extend our self – to create, to leave a mark – can come from good works and procreation and art. But it can also come from creating a business, creating a product. Ford’s desire to make a product all could buy was capitalist, creative, and productive. Building a bigger oven and planting more wheat is better than fighting over the pieces of one pie.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Business, Civil Society, Energy & Power Generation | 2 Comments »

    Gadsden 2012 Stuff Now Available!

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 13th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Liberty Jane left a comment saying you can now get 2012 Rattlesnake stuff, which she was up into the wee hours putting together. Mighty fist bump to her for jumping on this so fast.

    The link is here.

    The stuff looks cool.

    Here is a nice bumper sticker.

    (I ordered one, and I will report on the service and quality.)

    I look forward to other people working with this image, or variants including words, etc.

    Disclaimer. Neither I nor the ChicagoBoyz blog get any money from any sale of Liberty Jane’s stuff. We are not partners or professionally associated in any way. I don’t know her and I never heard of her until she left her comments here.

    Posted in Advertising, Elections, Obama, Politics | 3 Comments »

    Chicago Tribune Finally Wakes Up On Our Dismal Energy Future

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 12th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Over the last few years I have written many articles about power and electricity, and in particular how transparently wrong the “dreams” and plans are for alternative technologies or the re-birth of nuclear power (although that makes me sad, for I am a big supporter of nuclear power).

    A large part of the problem is that there are many variables that need to be understood in order to see what is likely to occur in the future in the energy industry. These include:

    1 The motivation of key players, whether they are utility companies, government entities like the TVA or the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

    2 The financial capabilities of the key players, because often the ones with the largest amount of available funding are unlikely to “risk it all” for uncertain financial gains

    3 The role of state regulators, since the utility industry still has a very strong state orientation, particularly in Texas, which has its own grid (except for El Paso)

    4 The role of Federal regulators, who have can order components of deregulation which have shaken up the industry for better and for worse

    5 The role of Federal agencies, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which for the most part has rubber-stamped nuclear re-licensing so far (prior to Japan), and the Department of Energy which has spectacularly failed with the Yucca Mountain storage project for nuclear waste. Also the EPA with particulate emissions

    6 The role of special interest groups, particularly those against new construction of nuclear or coal plants, or transmission lines to connect the grid. These interests have won huge and damaging victories such as the demented Shoreham situation and the transmission line under Long Island that can’t be powered on

    7 How electricity works (and gas, for they are intertwined), with the key note being that it is a “peak” business and not having the right amount of power in the right place makes for bad outcomes (blackouts)

    8 That “classes” of rate payers such as industrial titans (aluminum plants), companies, government entities and residents have different motivations and goals. One of the most insightful things I heard in a rate case proceeding was “I don’t care if you raise utility rates, just don’t raise them on my class of service”

    9 The different segments of utility operations, from generation to transmission to distribution, and how each has different economics and “closeness” to customers (you may hate your local distribution utility, but it is the generation and the lack of transmission that is driving the rates that they must charge)

    10 The role of individual politicians, such as prominent ones from either party that come into power and proclaim that they can “change” the system or achieve a particular type of transformation

    11 The fact that utilities are regressive in that an increase in utility rates disproportionally impacts the poor because it can represent such a big portion of their expenses and the utility actually takes action if you don’t pay (one of my first encounters in the industry happened when a small child on a plane asked if I was the guy who “turns off the power” when I said I worked in the electricity industry)

    12 The availability and impact of alternatives of which the most important by far is decline in the price of natural gas for generation or to a lesser extent the fact that gasoline powered generators for home backup were once rare but are getting more common, and that many major businesses simply have to purchase parallel backup power units(quite expensive) because they can’t rely on the “dirty” power from their local utility

    13 The advancement of technology captures the popular imagination, but I hardly pay attention to it at all. Our energy infrastructure is ancient; our hydro faculties may as well have been built by the ancient Egyptians, and the vast, vast majority of our nuclear plants are running on technology designed 30-40 years ago. Items like smart metering and “alternative” technologies are a drop in the bucket and don’t solve our fundamental issues of lack of base-load power and properly placed and sized transmission lines

    14 The cost & availability of money whether measured in interest rates or in availability of credit or buying power is very important to capital-intensive businesses; in the 70’s during high inflation up to 25% or more of the cost of a major investment such as a nuclear power plant was just capitalized interest which was driven by the high cost of money

    15 The motivation of oligopoly players is important since major utilities are adjacent to one another and tend not to compete in the other guys’ backyard; the most famous example of this was AT&T which was broken up in the classic Judge Greene decision in 1982 and then regrouped slowly over the next 25 years as shown in this hilarious but true Colbert bit

    Of all the variables… the popular imagination tends to favor #13 “new technology” with magazines like Popular Mechanics talking up new reactor designs and other cool advances as well as #10 when the incoming administration talked of a (never-gonna-happen) “nuclear renaissance” in 2008.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Energy & Power Generation | 24 Comments »

    Bleg: How to Turn the Rattlesnake Logo into Real Stuff

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 12th June 2011 (All posts by )

    We got a nice response to my initial bleg to make a logo that is a hack of the Obama reelection logo, including an instalink.

    Ambisinistral came through with some good versions of it, which I posted here and also here. We may also have a few more suggestions coming along, which I will post.

    In the comments to the foregoing posts, people have expressed an interest in having bumper stickers, and have proposed various tweaks and variations, including color changes and text.

    Bottom line, I am not in a position to manufacture the thing myself. Instead I hereby request that our readers leave comments suggesting ways to turn these images, or similar ones further hacked to your own liking, into real, existing bumper stickers, t-shirts, or what have you. If there is some vendor you have used, or some service that will make them, please let me know. I will do a further post listing them all.

    In the meantime, please feel free to put these images on your websites, blogs, Facebook pages, email footers, etc.

    We cannot let the Obama team dominate the memetic / visual space for the next year until the GOP has its own candidate. They are in full campaign mode. By swamping people in Obama images they can create a sense of inevitability.

    UPDATE: Gadsden 2012 Stuff Now Available!

    Posted in Elections, Obama, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Bulb Wars

    Posted by David Foster on 12th June 2011 (All posts by )

    The Federal Government has adopted standards which will effectively prohibit the sale of incandescent bulbs for most purposes, beginning next year. Virginia Postrel has an excellent piece on the problems with this idea, in which she makes several important points.

    I suspect that many if not most people believe that reducing electricity consumption, via more efficient bulbs or otherwise, has something to do with reducing oil consumption—but in reality, as Virginia points out, “electricity comes mostly from coal, natural gas and nuclear plants, all domestic sources.”

    Much more important, though, is the bulb ban’s interference with individual choice. Different people value different things, and for some individuals, the quality of light in their houses or apartments is aesthetically important. As Virginia notes:

    Maybe I want to burn a lot of incandescent bulbs but dry my clothes outdoors and keep the air conditioner off. Maybe I want to read by warm golden light instead of watching a giant plasma TV.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Obama Logo Hacked! Rattlesnake Logo New and Improved!

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 12th June 2011 (All posts by )

    >

    Or this:

    More nice ones from “ambisinistral”.

    The snake with less yellow manages to look more like the original Obama logo, and to avoid looking too much like a commie flag.

    This one is getting awfully damn close to the memetic WMD I wanted.

    UPDATE: (Please note bleg to turn this into real stuff.)

    UPDATE II: Gadsden 2012 Stuff Now Available!

    Posted in Elections, Politics, USA | 26 Comments »

    Obama Logo Hacked! Rattlesnake Logo Launched!

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 11th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Nice.

    Please spread this widely. I am already seeing the Obama 2012 logo all over the place. We need to counteract it with our own powerful memetic superweapons.

    (In this post I asked for a hack of the Obama poster, and “ambisinistral” from Flares into Darkness sent several versions. Thanks, dude. You da man. See also three other versions below the fold. I like the one above best.)

    UPDATE: This is the new and improved version.

    UPDATE II: (Please note bleg to turn this into real stuff.)

    UPDATE III: Gadsden 2012 Stuff Now Available!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Elections, Obama, Politics, USA | 21 Comments »

    Bleg for a Hack of the Obama 2012 Logo

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 11th June 2011 (All posts by )

    I was at a very interesting meeting today, of local Democrats getting organized to reelect Obama in 2012. I sat in and mostly listened. Bottom line, they are energized, but kinda bummed about the whole rotten economy and no jobs thing. They have an impressively large number of people already committed to working hard to reelect Obama, a year and a half before the election.

    One thing I am noticing is that there are already lots of Obama 2012 bumper stickers, t-shirts, and posters all over the place, with this image. While I was at the meeting I got an Obama poster and I was thinking of a way to hack it to serve our own purposes.

    I am hereby requesting that someone with awesome skilz make a version of the Obama logo but changed in the following ways. (1) take out the text; (2) make the blue background red; (3) take out the current zero with the Obama logo, and replace it with a yellow circle with the Gadsen Flag Rattlesnake. Keep the white border and the same typeface so it is clearly a satire of the Obama image.

    Below the fold is my scissors version to get an idea of what I mean by (3), but the zero should be yellow with a black snake and a green branch underneath, like the typical Gadsden flag.

    The idea here is to create an image that is in opposition to Obama’s reelection, that draws on Tea Party imagery, and the GOP “color” but is not associated with any candidate, since we don’t have one yet. Plus, the rattlesnake is directed against not just Obama, not just the Democrats, but against go-along-to-get-along Republicans as well. The total absence of text allows it to assume a range of meanings.

    I think it is important to start getting countervailing images out so that Obama and his supporters do not have all the visual space for the next year before a GOP candidate is selected.

    If anyone does make this, please send us a link or an email via the blog.

    UPDATE: (Please note bleg to turn this into real stuff.)

    UPDATE II: Gadsden 2012 Stuff Now Available!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Elections, Leftism, Obama, Politics, USA | 4 Comments »

    Around Chicago June 2011

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 11th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Upper left that sticker on the window says “I love manboobs and I like to cry”. No idea what to make of that but it is damn funny. Middle top – you can’t have a party without throwing a couple cans of PBR down, apparently. Upper right the ad is for a “cheap and tacky 2 bedroom” and the yellow sign is kind of tacky, too. Lower left – all you can eat sushi? Does that sound like a good idea? Didn’t they see that episode where Homer “denuded” the all-you-can-eat shrimp bar? Lower right – I see a lot of graffiti but this is pretty funny and not your usual tagger someone added “Got any dr*gs?” to the Chanel model.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Humor, Photos | 2 Comments »

    Death of a Chestnut

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 11th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Last week, the sinister Dr. Kissinger was interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show about his new book On China.

    The Charlie Rose Show is the hour of television that America’s brain dead elites watch to reaffirm the tired cliches that constitute their provincial cosmopolitan worldview. Rose himself, the favored Mouth of Elite Opinion, is the ultimate nadir of the American elites’ corruption of the traditional American can-do spirit. Rose constantly badgers his guests about what the solution is to intractable problems.

    For instance, Rose incessantly asks what the solution to the Israel-Palestinian issue is, implicitly assuming it’s the two-state solution where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in peace. Some guests dutifully echo the conventional elite wisdom that all that has to happen is happy reason to infect a brave Israeli leader and a brave Palestinian leader and peace will break out all over. This ritualistic performance of elite liturgy is usually sufficient to satisfy Rose and his audience’s need for cliche validation.

    Some guests, however, occasionally accidentally hint that they know the real solution will be one of two outcomes:

    1. Israelis in the Mediterranean
    2. Palestinians in the Syrian Desert

    Ted Koppel once had the bright idea of having a televised “town meeting” that was half-Palestinian and half-Israeli. The concept was based on the naive elite view that, once you eliminate the misunderstood, whatever’s left, however improbable, must be unconditional love. Even Koppel, with Reality Elimination Field turned to full power, was taken aback by the crackling energy of the hatred in the room. There was dark primordial enmity there that does not sleep, even under the tender ministrations of American elite enlightenment.

    At the two minute mark in his interview with Dr. Kissinger, Rose asks the good Doctor about one of the Twenty Key Quotes that make up conventional American historical wisdom. Dr. Kissinger once supposedly asked Chou En-lai, one of Mao’s chief stooges, what he thought the impact of the French Revolution would be. The story goes that Chou face assumed a wise and inscrutable look as he answered, “It’s too soon to tell”.

    Or, as a laundry detergent commercial of my youth jingled, “Ancient Chinese secret”.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History | 10 Comments »

    D3

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 10th June 2011 (All posts by )

    The fashion for calling our current economic climate a “second Great Depression” or the second Great Depression or, following the DotComish naming of community organizer/grizzly bear wrestler John Robb, D2, is more evidence of the fundamental lameness of American LegacyThink™.

    The vacuum of imagination revealed in American naming of current events is staggering. Take the initial name of this crisis: “global financial crisis”. That name is little more than lexicographic inertia left over from the “global” naming fad of the 1990s: “globalization”, “global war on terror”, “global climate change”, “global village”, and other such rubbish. Compare this to the vivid nineteenth century genius for retrospective naming of historical episodes revealed in names like the “Hundred Years War“, “Pilgrimage of Grace“, or “Rough Wooing“.

    Even the most commonly advanced alternative to “global financial crisis” is lame: “great recession”. Recession is a gray word; it’s more accounting identity than description. It’s no more exciting than its gray dawn. Imagine: somewhere deep in the bowels of the sinister National Bureau of Economic Research, an econometrician checks off a few boxes in a spreadsheet and finds with barely concealed glee that gross domestic product has declined for two consecutive quarters.

    This glee is why econometricians have been a barely tolerated and often persecuted minority of the population throughout history.

    If we insist on retelling history as a series of sequels, and that is the habit of this decadent age, then we are currently living through the third Great Depression. The first episode of economic contraction called the Great Depression by its contemporaries was the period of economic contraction from the Panic of 1873 to c.1896. Some historians, if they believe in it, now call this period the “Long Depression” to distance it from its more vivid sequels. This follows the logic used to name Batman Returns, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight. However, the Long Depression is too vague. We should call this period Great Depression I or D1.

    D2 is easy: Great Depression II was the definitive macroeconomic collapse, lasting from 1929 to c. 1944. This would leave the current economic unravelling we’re living through Great Depression III or D3.

    History without hip catchy abbreviations may be cursed to decay into a dreary march of endless retreads. Unconscious human masochism may have made us like D2 so much that we decided to make a sequel. Human experience may be cursed to occur first as tragedy, second as farce, and third as a whimper.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, History | 9 Comments »

    Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915-2011), Writer, Soldier

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 10th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Rest in peace, sir.

    I recently read Fermor’s two travel books, set during his walk from Holland to Constantinople in 1933-34, A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube

    Fermor’s greatest feat was kidnapping the German commander on Crete during World War II.

    This site is dedicated to Fermor’s life and career.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Biography, Book Notes, Britain, Germany, History, Military Affairs, Obits | 10 Comments »

    Sarah Palin: Opposition Party Leader

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 10th June 2011 (All posts by )

    When you see an out of power politician saying important things on important issues, showing important people in the midst of a political scandal and silliness he knows what is important and what isn’t, you are seeing that politician act as the opposition party leader.

    If such a politician isn’t the opposition party leader when he is saying those important things, that politician just announced his intent to pursue the position.

    Gov. Sarah Palin did just that with this recent Facebook post Another “WTF” Obama Foreign Policy Moment*.

    Very few people in the midst of the current Congressional sex scandal saw this UK Guardian article titled “The day after Iran’s first nuclear test is a normal day” that was a headline over on the Hot Air blog.

    Iran announced to the world that it is thinking of testing a nuclear weapon.

    Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is thinking of giving American anti-missile technology to the Russians, who are one of Iran’s chief suppliers of long range ballistic missile technology. This Obama Administration initiative represents a grave threat to America’s national security and Sarah Palin was the only serious American opposition party figure who commented upon it.

    Whatever Gov. Palin was looking for on her northeastern bus trip, she came away from it with a decision to run for President.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Elections, International Affairs, National Security, Politics, USA | 46 Comments »

    Interesting Data

    Posted by David Foster on 9th June 2011 (All posts by )

    A visualization of the U.S. labor market over the past 150 years.

    Posted in Business, Economics & Finance, USA | 6 Comments »

    Going out of fashion, fast…

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 9th June 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — humor, analytic indicators, fashion, dictators ]
    .
    It seems likely from the first of these two images [Ben Ali, Saleh, Qaddafi, Mubarak, April] that manner of dress may be a valuable early indicator of how long a given dictator can hold onto power in the Middle East —

    quo-vogue.jpg

    — but where does that leave the lovely Asma al-Assad [in Vogue this February] today?

    Answer:

    oops.jpg

    Posted in Humor, Middle East | 3 Comments »

    What someone else does or thinks doesn’t risk my soul – what I think does

    Posted by Ginny on 8th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Looking at the bridges from the Puritans to the American Enlightenment, I came upon this (probably read long ago by other Chicagoboyz). Internalizing (as much as universalizing) means a country of multiple religious beliefs can be tolerant without its citizens feeling that their souls are risked if this is the assumption. And proselytizing to save others’ souls will also be ones of arguments, examples, words rather than of intolerance. Of course, implicitly a religion with an external locus is less likely to be tolerant – nor feel toleration is good.

    In the second place. The care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate, because his power consists only in outward force; but true and saving religion consists in the inward persuasion of the mind, without which nothing can be acceptable to God. And such is the nature of the understanding, that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by outward force. Confiscation of estate, imprisonment, torments, nothing of that nature can have any such efficacy as to make men change the inward judgment that they have framed of things.

    Locke

    Posted in Americas, Human Behavior, Political Philosophy, Religion | 1 Comment »

    Old Mastery

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 7th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Wise words from two old masters…

    Posted in Arts & Letters, India, Japan, Music | Comments Off on Old Mastery

    Inspiration

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 7th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Teamwork

    Posted in Humor, Obama, Quotations | 5 Comments »

    D-Day

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 6th June 2011 (All posts by )

    Posted in Anglosphere, Europe, France, Germany, History, International Affairs, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 19 Comments »

    With Greco: two views of Toledo

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 6th June 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit — perception, painting, pre-modern, modern, post-modern, heaven, sky, simulation, John Donne, El Greco ]

    .

    It is Sunday.

    I find it powerfully interesting that the sky as perceived by painters (our “seers” par excellence) used to be filled with supernatural beings and is currently filled with natural ones — a clear sign that our culture has effectively  moved from what one might call a theological vision of the world to a meteorological one (with astronomical trimmings under a clear sky)…

    And I see that transition captured very precisely in four words, when John Donne writes:

    At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow
    Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise
    From death, you numberlesse infinities
    Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe…

    The “round earth” is that of modern science, the “imagin’d corners” those of pre-modern maps – and angelology.

    *

    I have to admit, therefore, that I was surprised yesterday evening to come across an El Greco painting of Toledo that featured the blessed Virgin Mary over the city.

    I have long been familiar with his better known View of Toledo, which is entirely naturalistic unless you want to consider storm-clouds as portents of a divine presence —

    quo-sky-over-toledo.jpg

    but the second of these images, from the View and Plan of Toledo, came as quite a surprise…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Christianity, History, Miscellaneous, Poetry, Religion | 3 Comments »