This is a little bit of beauty for a Sunday. It is always good, especially in the age of Harvey Weinstein, to reassert the value of good erotic art. An erotic sculpture, painting or photograph is something to be valued, even if just in private. A good erotic image should show the beauty of the human form, and instill within us some pleasant feeling of the goodness of creation. Good erotic art is meant to uplift and celebrate our humanity and the pleasures of love, and not, as Harvey Weisntein and most of his Hollywood ilk do, debase and sully what is supposed to be a beautiful gift from God.
Fra Angelico (1395-1455) was an early Italian Renaissance painter. He was also a Dominican Friar who spent his the greater part of his life in the friary of St. Marco in Florence, Italy. According to the Giorgio Vasari, who wrote a famous work on Italian Renaissance painter, The Live of the Artists, “It is impossible to bestow too much praise on this holy father, who was so humble and modest in all that he did and said and whose pictures were painted with such facility and piety.” He also said Fra Angelico painted with a “rare and perfect talent”.
The above painting is of the Transfiguration of Christ. This is told at today’s Catholic mass. Basically, it is the moment when Jesus went up to a high mountain with three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, and was “transfigured” before them. According to the Gospels, his physical appearance changed, as he “was transfigured before them; his face shining as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.” Then, a shining cloud appeared above his disciples, from which they heard a voice, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him”. It is one of the most intriguing moments in the Gospels.
It has also been a favorite scenes of many artists. Raphael painted perhaps the most famous depiction, which I posted on a few years ago. Today’s post celebrates the painting by Fra Angelico, who, as mentioned above, was one of the most spiritual of all Renaissance artists. He has even been named as “Blessed” by Pope John Paul II in 1982, which is a mark of high sanctity and is one step removed from formal sainthood.
Fra Angelico’s paintings are wonderful depictions of the life of Christ. In their calm and simplicity, their peaceful quiet and solid beauty, they reflect the deep spiritual soul of their creator. Not only can they be enjoyed simply as nice works of art, they also can be used as aides to prayer and meditation. In many ways they are a bridge between the more traditional Byzantine, icon style paintings of medieval art, and the emerging naturalism of the Renaissance. In fact, most of his painting were done in his friary, St. Marco, and were, like most religious art, intended as spiritual aids, rather than simply as sources of aesthetic pleasure. Fra Angelico was a great influence on the next generation of Italian Renaissance painters, such as Leonardo and Raphael.
His painting may be difficult for modern eyes to understand and appreciate, but for me their beauty and sense of spiritual truth far excels so much of weirdness and ugliness that exists in most modern art.
This is a nice work from one of my favorite artists, Raphael (1483-1520). It is appropriate for a Sunday: calm, peaceful and full of beauty!
What is nice about Raphael’s works, especially as representative of the Renaissance art, is the lovely balance and smooth, fluid harmony that they possess. This is a wonderful example of that. Religion should bring us a certain amount of peace, and this painting is quite peaceful.
Great art is always a wonderful nourishment for the soul! It is a great expression of the God’s presence in the world. With all the negativity and bizarre things out there, we need that.
Dover Beach is one of the great poems in the English language. Written by Mathew Arnold (1822-1888), known more for his great cultural and literary criticism rather than his poetry, this poem nevertheless is a gem of beauty. It may been known to many people, but in today’s educational and cultural environment, I would not be surprised if many students graduating from a university with a degree in English have never even read this. After all, Arnold was not a black lesbian; rather, as a white male he is officially one of the great enemies of the modern Leftist zeitgeist which dominates nearly all of academia.
Still, great poetry fortunately transcends the idiocies of modern thought. What is hauntingly beautiful about his poem is the deep melancholy expressed, a melancholy which is born from the deepening lack of religious faith that Arnold saw overtaking his society. The world in which this poem was written, that of Victorian England at its most glorious, might seem today exceedingly religious. And yet for Arnold, it was not. Imagine what he would think of today’s world.
In addition to a poem about faith, it is also a love poem. Arnold is addressing his young wife in the poem, “Ah, love, let us be true/ to one another!” and he appeals to the power of love to help overcome the dissolution of religious belief.
The beauty of great poem does wonders for the soul. Like good music, it is really not something that can be truly quantified, but rather, it is better simply to appreciate it, to let it infuse the mind and heart with whatever nuances and images and verbal rhythms and echoes it possesses. And this poem possesses all that to the full.
Now that we are in the depths of January, it is good to remember that even winter possesses its own kind of beauty. Yes, it is cold and icy, and now that the happy joy and light of Christmas and New Year’s have passes, it seems there is nothing to look forward to until spring, which seems quite far off. Still, even in the darkest days of winter we can find beauty.
The above photo is quite nice, a stunning juxtaposition of a woman’s soft warmth enclosed within an exotic world of cold and ice. The forces of winter often bring strange and difficult changes in our environment. They do not last though, at least until the next ice age descends upon us.
Now, the ice princess is often a difficult creature to deal with, but we must work with what winter gives us…
The 1981 version of Clash of the Titans is a fun film. Made at a time before CGI, it was not so dependent upon the big screen stunning visuals that are so much a part of today’s cinema, but rather it focused more on the story of Perseus and Andromeda. This ancient Greek myth has always been a favorite story for thousand of years, as it is really a simple fairly tale or love story between a noble hero, Perseus, and a beautiful princess, Andromeda, who is in need of rescue from a sea monster. Although the 1981 film is really a mishmash of various Greek mythological stories, none of which have any relation to each other in traditional mythology, the finished product remains one of the great testimonies to the enduring power of these ancient Classical myths.
The actress who played Andromeda in the movie is the lovely Judi Bowker. Although she made few films, she is fairly well known for this one role, especially for those of us who grew up watching this movie on television, especially in the days before cable. She was the perfect, almost traditional princess in this movie: soft, feminine, vulnerable, and endowed with a gentleness that is attractive to all men. It is interesting to contrast her traditional femininity, so lovely and alluring, with the hardness and barren masculinization of so many contemporary females. Like the myth itself, she seems to belong to an age which has vanished.
Films should be fun. They are entertainment. Too many of today’s movies, even the ones that are attempting to be simple stories, are so infused and saturated with social justice PC bullshit that they are unbearable to watch. I go to a movie to escape from the world, not to be lectured to by snobbish and insufferable Hollywood elites about every latest Leftist fad and cause.
So this movie, like the myth itself, was and remains a great piece of entertainment. It is free from all the nonsense of contemporary cinema, and presents a simple, traditional story, as just that, a simple, traditional story. And the simple, traditional beauty of Judi Bowker only makes the film that much more delightful.
It is always a great pleasure to see such beauty, whether in film or real life!
I am not sure if I have posted this image before, but this is one of my favorite drawings by one of my favorite artist, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). What I find so alluring about his works is his ability to capture a kind of strange, other worldliness, and to do so with the most exquisite beauty imaginable. Although Leonardo was at best an agnostic, his works still reflect the deep religious feelings of his time, especially in Catholic Italy of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. When I see his works I am reminded that, at least for me, we are physical beings journeying through a world of spirit and and transcendent mysticism.
This is merely a sketch. And yet is has such beauty, evocative and alluring and even mystical, that is really cannot be explained in words. Most great art cannot.
Sometimes the most simple images are the most erotic. This is merely a sketch, but it is quite evocative. Since love and sex are often imbued with many mysteries, a simple sketch as this, which leaves much to the imagination and yet still expresses pure sexual passion, is quite nice. A few simple lines of art can say quite a bit, which is why art is such a powerful force of expression for all the wondrous aspects of life.
Odysseus was a great figure from Greek mythology: he was the king of Ithaca who fought in the Trojan War for ten years; after the war he spent the next ten years attempting to return home while enduring many trials and tribulations, not only among cannibals and cyclopes, sea monsters and sirens, but also among lovely women such as Circe and Calypso. The painting above is of Odysseus and Calypso. I am not sure who the artist is, but it looks like something from the 19th century.
There were different attitudes towards Odysseus in the ancient world: the Greeks both loved and hated him, since he was the prototype of not only a great war hero, but also of an amoral man who would say or do anything to achieve his goals. The Romans simply hated him, as they saw him as a symbol of what they considered the sleazy and duplicitous character of the Greeks in general.
There are many different depictions of Odysseus throughout the history of literature, but my favorite depiction of Odysseus is that of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the two great, ancient Greek epic poems at the fountain head of all Western literature. In these poems Odysseus is not only a great man of action but also a man of great intellect: two things which have always been prized, but especially so in the ancient Greek world. The fact that he endured many things, journeyed to many different places, and had to suffer much before he could return home from the Trojan War has always caught the imaginations of generations for over three thousand years.
There is a classic epithet used for Odysseus by Homer, the poet behind the Iliad and Odyssey: “polytropos” which roughly means “a man of many turns”. This is often interpreted as either “a man who is much traveled or wandering” or “a man who is wily and crafty”. The meaning is ambiguous, and deliberately so, since Odysseus was all of these things. Which shade of Odysseus one prefers, is usually left up to the reader of whatever work in which Odysseus is being portrayed.
What I like is that Odysseus had to go through many things in life, and although my life is certainly not as glamorous as his, the story of someone having to endure different trials is one with which most people can identify. This is one of the reasons why Odysseus has been and remains to this day one of the most enduring figures in all of literature. It is one of the reasons I have chosen to use his name as my moniker. It seems appropriate at this point in my journey of blogging.
The Gothic cathedral is one of the great wonders and creations of Western Civilization. Along with the great Pyramids of Gaza, they stand out as testament to an age of deep religious faith, an age when love for things divine drove men to create magnificent structures of such beauty. It has hard to imagine in today’s world entire cities and societies laboring together to create any structure, but in the Medieval period this is exactly what was needed in order to build the cathedrals. Often it took decades, even centuries to complete one. People spent their entire lives working on them.
The Cathedral shown here is the famous Cathedral of Chartres, in France. Begun in 1194, it was most likely finished around 1260, although one of the bell towers was a later addition, as can be seen by the different size and style of the two towers. Today it is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Gothic cathedral can’t really be described in words: the only way to really appreciate one is to simply experience it in person. Photographs do poor justice to how powerful these structures are as an expression of religious faith. In addition, the light that flows from the wonderful stained glass windows can never be appreciated except, again, by being in a cathedral. What can be appreciated even from a distance is the complexity of the structure, the skill and dedication required to build such a monument to faith, and the faith of the age that created it. To the medieval mind God was always present, and the cathedral is the ultimate expression of man’s longing for union with the divine.
Even though we are separated in today’s world by these great buildings by more than seven centuries, and a vastly different culture, these cathedrals are still living spaces, still used for religious services, still part of the heritage that binds us to the people who once spent their entire lives creating such wonders of pure, awe inspiring beauty.