Archive for the ‘Goethe Month’ Category

Winter of my discontent: Inaugural edition feat. Goethe throwback

January 12, 2011


Photographed by Ffion on the flickr.

Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom?, but we hope it, we know it.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.)

Honestly, I could do, like, three more Goethe Months, and maybe someday I will, but for now, I hate January and I want to do something about it.

The Wonder Woman project helped me appreciate and understand her better; the William S. Burroughs project opened me up to new ideas and biographical facts I’d never known nor even heard of; and the NSFW November project — well, the NSFW November project had boobs.


Photographed by Eros Turannos on the flickr.

So this January I will be seeking out deep, positive messages about Winter along with photographs that show me more than bleak snow and the dull, same ol’-same ol’ that the cold weather serves up to me in my perception, and try to draw some conclusions about just why exactly I wake up on January 1st feeling particularly low and the mood does not lift until late February.

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Heaven

December 15, 2010


via.

Disagree in the literal interpretation. Please see The Eternal Feminine, or, “Heaven is a hell of a party,” entry from Goethe Month (“the invisible stereo plays only ODE TO JOY, the good part, OVER AND OVER, forever and instead of the pastel cloud you are instantly transported to the front row of an endless big bang!, watching the universe eternally fling fire and stars at itself! for all time,” etc).

As for the other interpretation, that it is nothing happening which makes it heaven, because when things happen, it makes life messy and complicated? Yeah, maybe, but good christ, why do you want to be bored? What kind of dull, hidden life is immersing yourself in nothing? Way to spit in the face of creation. Get out there and set some fires, numbnuts!

So I disagree with this sign, no matter what.

But lights — shiny. Pretty.

Goethe Month: Sometimes it is good to be wrong featuring guest artist Landy Wardoll

July 30, 2010

Goethe Month coda and art by that One Guy.

The website from which I took this picture says:

This screenprint is based on a painting by the German artist Johann Tischbein. It depicts Johann von Goethe, a key figure in German literature as a traveller in a landscape of ruins. Warhol has cropped the original composition so as to create a head and shoulders portrait of the writer. Goethe had contemplated painting as an early career choice and published a book on the theory of colour. As the first person to study the psychological affects of colour, it is interesting to think what he would make of Warhol’s representation of him as a Pop icon.


via warholarts.com.
Near the end of his life, Goethe wrote to his friend and editor Eckermann,

My dear friend, I will tell you something that may be of use to you, when you are going over my works.

They will never become popular; there will be single individuals who will understand what I want to say, but there can be no question [that the work will be unpopular].

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, letter to Johann Peter Eckermann.)

Sometimes it is good to be wrong. Farewell, Goethe Month.

Who’s next?

Goethe Month: Das Märchen [von der grünen Schlange und der schönen Lilie]

July 29, 2010


Rachel Weisz for Esquire.

“Remember the Snake in honour,” said the Man with the Lamp; “thou owest her thy life; thy people owe her the Bridge, by which these neighbouring banks are now animated and combined into one land. Those swimming and shining jewels, the remains of her sacrificed body, are the piers of this royal bridge; upon these she has built and will maintain herself.”

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Das Märchen/The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, 1795. Translated by Thomas Carlyle, 1832.)


[Das Märchen] portrays in imaginative form Goethe’s impressions of [Friedrich] Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a series of Letters. The story revolves around the crossing and bridging of a river, which represents the divide between the outer life of the senses and the ideal aspirations of the human being.

(the wiki)


“Goethe’s Ferryman, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.” William Sauts Netamuxwe Bock.

The heroes of Goethe’s very atypical fairy tale are an elderly couple and a female snake. There are also four kings in an underground temple: one king is gold, another silver, the third bronze, and the last a mix of the three. The kings are pushy and really argumentative. I don’t want to judge, but I need to say that they just seem to disagree and threaten much more than necessary.


Cast of the short-lived TV series Four Kings (2006).*

Also featured: a dog named Mops; cabbage; onions and onyxes; a pair of tricky will o’ the wisps; and a dashing prince who is captivated by a beautiful flower. Their love is mutual but the lily is poisonous to anyone who touches her so, to their poignant agony, the lovers can’t consummate their passion. I think that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the complications a prince and a flower might encounter, sexwise, but again — I try not to judge.


“Goethe’s Beginning, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.” William Sauts Netamuxwe Bock.

It’s actually kind of murky in Goethe’s story whether she’s a flower or a woman, for the record. Everyone calls her the fair lily and she has flowerlike attributes but she’s also got hands and can talk, and she is traditionally portrayed in illustrations as an actual woman. There is a modern opera based on this fairy tale, but I’ve never heard it. However, I predict the part of the fair lily is played by a human and not a flower. Flowers simply do not have the range for the coloratura compositions that had become the neoclassic fashion in the 1960s.


Beautiful Maria, patronest saintest of all my patron saints.

Look — Callas lily. Get it? God, I’m so awful. All done.




*I will never pass up an opportunity to post up pictures of Seth Green and I am neither sad nor proud about that. Also, Scrubs supafly ukemaster Kate Micucci, she of the brain-asplodin’ cuteness, was on Four Kings. Such a woeful disappointment that the show was canned.

Goethe Month: The true poetic art

July 28, 2010


Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin in If Don Juan Were A Woman (Vadim, 1973).

Faust: My heart’s on fire — let us depart!

Mephistopheles: This is the true poetic art
and I have never met with prettier poets;
Could they but keep the secrets of their trade.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust. Part I, Act 1, Scene 3: “Witch’s Kitchen.”)

Goethe Month: One life to live

July 27, 2010


Marcello Mastroianni biting Natassja Kinski’s ass. They were having a “whose-name-is-more-difficult-to-pronounce” contest and Marcello won.

One lives but once in the world.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Clavigo, Act I, Scene 1.)

We only have one life. So we must really live it. No pressure.

Goethe Month: Imagine me and you

July 26, 2010


Photographed by Jimmy Backius, via feaverish.

The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, and though distant, is close to us in spirit — this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Lehrjahre: Bk. VII, Ch. 5.)

Goethe Month: Extraordinary men … have ever been decried by the world as drunken or insane

July 24, 2010


The good doctor was such a cute baby. Boys. Please keep an eye on your drug use — it does exact a toll.

Ich bin mehr als einmal trunken gewesen, meine Leidenschaften waren nie weit vom Wahnsinn, und beides reut mich nicht: denn ich habe in meinem Maße begreifen lernen, wie man alle außerordentlichen Menschen, die etwas Großes, etwas Unmöglichscheinendes wirkten, von jeher für Trunkene und Wahnsinnige ausschreien musste.


giant picture via blogbroadway right here on the wordpress.

I have been more than once intoxicated, my passions have always bordered on extravagance: I am not ashamed to confess it; for I have learned, by my own experience, that all extraordinary men, who have accomplished great and astonishing actions, have ever been decried by the world as drunken or insane.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther.)

Goethe Month: Another sort of woman

July 23, 2010


She has a masculine spirit, and is another sort of woman from us housewives and seamstresses. She is great, steadfast, resolute. A majestic woman! I should dread to appear before her.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Egmont. Act III, Scene 2.)

Oh, no, she is another sort and majestic.


The selection of screencaps of Immortal Beloved on the net we call inter is so shitty that I feel I have no choice but to remedy the dearth myself sooner than later. Look for it in the quite near future By Name

When the play Egmont debuted in 1787, Jam Master LVB, known to lesser mortals as “Beethoven,” was pretty danged impressed indeedy and, around 20 years later, set Egmont to music. No Big Deal. (except yes.)

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 7 — *fin*

July 22, 2010

The afore-promised celebrity criticisms of the Farbenlehre.


“Wake up, Dr. S — there is science afoot!” via.

Goethe delivered in full measure what was promised by the title of his excellent work: data toward a theory of colour. They are important, complete, and significant data, rich material for a future theory of colour. He has not, however, undertaken to furnish the theory itself … but really postulates it as a phenomenon, and merely tells us how it originates, not what it is.

(Arthur Schopenhauer, Über das Sehn und die Farben/On Vision and Colors. 1810.)

Which fact we have already seen well-defended by my b’loved Werner H. so I will not dwell on Schopenhauer’s criticism other than to say I generally like the things he has to say on just about any subject and agree with him here as usual.


“One of the most important works.”

(Wassily Kandinsky, qtd. in Rowley, Allison. “Kandinskii’s theory of colour and Olesha’s Envy.” Canadian Slavonic Papers. September-December 2002.)

A Russian artist and one of the famous Blue Four, Kandinsky is the father of abstract painting and was an instrumental theorist and professor for the Bauhaus before the National Socialists destroyed a bunch of their compositions. Kandinsky taught the most basic design courses at Bauhaus and used Goethe’s color wheel in his avant-garde art theory lectures. Also, note the hotness. Girls Like a Boy Who Reads [scathing criticisms of Nazis and protests against the public destruction of his art which eventually lead him to flee to Paris ahead of persecution by said Nazis]!


“Farbenkreis zur Symbolisierung des Menschlichen Geistes und Seelenlebens,” Goethe, 1809. This is the aforementioned color wheel that art rebel hottie Wassily Kandinsky would use in lecture.

Can you lend me the Theory of Colours for a few weeks? It is an important work. His last things are insipid.

(Ludwig van Beethoven, Conversation-book, 1820.)

Love how he goes from wanting to read Goethe because he considers his work important to “His last things are insipid.” Man, Beethoven had such an attitude.

He was such a crazy deaf grump by the time he died. Amazing and bittersweetly comical that a creative genius was also so churlish and curmudgeonly — like he genuinely made other peoples’ lives hard despite bringing beautiful music in to our world. The generosity of his composition and fame in the wide world is so jarring in juxtaposition with his infliction of discomfort and temper on the people close to him. The complexity intrigues me and also amuses me somehow but makes me sad too. That reminds me: I need to plan an Immortal Beloved Movie Moment.

Shit, now I’ve given over most of the last entry on Theory of Colours to talking about Beethoven. What can you do. Thoughts happen.

Fin!

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 6 — We are dazzled

July 21, 2010


If we keep the eyes open in a totally dark place, a certain sense of privation is experienced. The organ is abandoned to itself; it retires into itself.

If we pass from a totally dark place to one illumined by the sun, we are dazzled.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre/Theory of Colours, 1810 transl. Charles Eastlake. John Murray Publishing: 1840. pp. 3-5.)

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 5 — Goethe vs. Newton and a whole lot of Heisenberg with bonus Fermi hotness

July 20, 2010


A famously uncertain doc.

Goethe’s colour theory has in many ways borne fruit in art, physiology, and aesthetics. But victory — and hence, influence on the research of the following century — has been Newton’s. (60)

(Werner Heisenberg, “Bermerkungen zur Theorie der Vielfacherzeugung von Mesonen.” Die Naturwissen-schaften Vol. 39. 1952)
.

Heisenberg was deeply interested in Goethe’s Farbenlehre. He delivered a lecture in 1941 on the differences between Goethe’s and Newton’s color theories, in which he essentially argued that both were right but that what Goethe had done was outline very specifically and accurately the phenomenon of human perception of the spectrum, while Newton’s thrust was more toward definition and demonstration of the spectrum’s essence and proveable existence itself.


Fermi, Heisenberg, and Pauli. Fermi was such a tragic hottie. Do you think he killed himself? I kind of do.

The views Heisenberg espoused of Goethe’s experiments being valid insomuchas they are observably repeatable and scientifically sound have fortunately come to be the modern perception of Goethe’s color theory research — that Goethe was accurately exploring the definition of a physiological, human sense of color and drew credible conclusions about colors and the human eye.

Prior to a re-surge of interest in Goethe’s color theory that began in the 1930’s and was legitimized largely by Heisenberg’s lecture and writing, Goethe’s work had been suffering for most of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century under something of a cloud of suspicion due to his theory’s eclipse by Newton’s with popular physicists. In his book Goethe Contra Newton, British physicist and scholar Dr. Dennis Sepper beautifully describes the shadow of early, dichotomous criticism which hung over Goethe’s Farbenlehre and was part of a larger debate in science:



A characterological or typological trait of the poet prevents him from grasping the real essence of science. On the other hand, the scientist must, to some extent, be open to the demands of spirit, and science is fundamentally part of a grand ethical quest. Goethe’s apparent inability to grasp the essence of Newton’s science reveals the chief differences between those who cultivate imagination and human truth and those who pursue objective truth in nature.

(Sepper, Dennis L. “The Critical Dilemma.” Goethe Contra Newton: Polemics and the Project for a New Science of Color. Cambridge: University Press, 1988. 6.)


via.

I feel like these different thrusts of firstly poetry and science, and secondly the science of physiology and psychology, faith and beauty-based, rather than a perception of a more “hard” science are completely exemplified in the above shot.

A flock of pigeons takes off from the steps of the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Istanbul.

Here is hard, natural science, pure biology, that is also poetry — a bird in flight — and all against the backdrop of human faith as symbolized by the cathedral, which is furthermore situated in one of the oldest cities in modern existence, through which millions of human feet have passed. That is one fucking deep picture of pigeons. Am I right?

That was fun. I think I’ll suss out and post up some other famous critical responses a different day.

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 4 — Reciprocal evocation, or, Goethe’s color wheel

July 19, 2010


The colours are here arranged in a general way according to the natural order, and the arrangement will be found to be directly applicable in the present case, for the colours diametrically opposed to each other in this diagram are those which reciprocally evoke each other in the eye.


Thus, yellow demands purple; orange, blue; red, green; and vice versa: thus again all intermediate gradations reciprocally evoke each other; the simpler colour demanding the compound, and vice versa.


The cases here under consideration occur oftener than we are aware in ordinary life; indeed, an attentive observer sees these appearances everywhere.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre/Theory of Colours, 1810 transl. Charles Eastlake. John Murray Publishing: 1840. pp. 20-22)

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 3 — A rainbow ain’t shit if it ain’t got red in it

July 18, 2010

Favoritest color in the world. And may I add that this journal is now going to be the first blog entry to get a Pulitzer prize due to my stunning combination of “rainbow” and “shit” in the same sentence?*


While therefore we may assert that the chromatic scale produces an agreeable impression by its ingredient hues, we may here remark that those have been mistaken who have hitherto adduced the rainbow as an example of the entire scale …


… for the chief colour, pure red, is deficient in it, and cannot be produced, since in this phenomenon, as well as in the ordinary prismatic series, the yellow-red and blue-red cannot attain to a union.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre/Theory of Colours, 1810 transl. Charles Eastlake. John Murray Publishing: 1840. p. 320.)

Take that, Newtonian spectral reasoning. Goethe was all like, “I’m no physicist but guess what? Suck iiiiiit.” Just kidding. They were both kind of right and kind of wrong. And I admit Goethe was slightly wronger.



*Actually once I knew this beagle that ate a half a box of crayons and later on his shit had faint waxy rainbows in its sheen, and I’ve frequently reported this to friends in pretty much exactly that wording (often predicated on only the most tenuous of topical connections — what can I say? It’s a good story and I’m not exactly a class act). So I suppose in truth now I have twice used rainbow and shit in a sentence, it’s just that this is the first time I’ve ever written it down.

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 2 — On the catalytic moment

July 17, 2010


But I was astonished, as I looked at a white wall through the prism, how it stayed white! That only there where it came upon some darkened area, it showed more or less some colour, then at last, around the window sill all the colours shone, in the light grey sky outside there was no colour to be seen.


“L’arcobaleno” by anglerfishies.

It didn’t take long before I knew here was something significant about colour to be brought forth, and I spoke as through on instinct out loud, that the Newtonian teachings were false.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre/Theory of Colours, 1810 transl. Charles Eastlake. John Murray Publishing: 1840.)

Fun bonus picture: I am not a big one for .gifs but obey this one and enjoy the result.

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 1 — Give to Nature praise and honor

July 16, 2010


Should your glance on mornings lovely

Lift to drink the heaven’s blue
Or when sun, veiled by sirocco,
Royal red sinks out of view —


Give to Nature praise and honor.
Blithe of heart and sound of eye,
Knowing for the world of colour
Where its broad foundations lie.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre/Theory of Colours, 1810 transl. Charles Eastlake. John Murray Publishing: 1840.)

Goethe Month: Thus one goes through the world

July 15, 2010


James Dean thinks you are No. 1.

Getting along with women,
Knocking around with men,
Having more credit than money,
Thus one goes through the world.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Claudine von Villa Bella, 1776.)

Goethe Month: Roman Holiday edition

July 14, 2010


Outtake of Audrey on a Vespa for Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953).

Though you’re a whole world, Rome, still,
without Love,
The world isn’t the world,
and Rome can’t be Rome.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Roman Elegies, 1789.)

Goethe Month: HST edition

July 13, 2010


Mixed-media self-portrait by Hunter S. Thompson, 1976.

Bin ich ein Gott? Mir wird so licht!

Am I a god? I see so clearly! / Light fills my mind!

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Act I, Scene 4, 439-40.)


At Big Sur, 1961.

Allwissend bin ich nicht; doch viel ist mir bewußt.

I am not omniscient, but I know a lot.

(Ibid.Act I, Scene 7, 1582.)

The speaker of the first quote is Faust; the second speaker is Mephistopheles. I feel like both or either quote could be attributed to Hunter Thompson and no one would think that out of his ordinary style. I’ve been thinking a lot about him and the things his writing has always made me feel, I suppose it’s more acute than usual with his birthday coming up soon. R.I.P. is I guess all I can say.

Goethe Month: Shadow and light and lick my ass

July 12, 2010


“Shadow and light” by slagophoto on the da.

There is strong shadow where there is much light.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Götz von Berlichingen, Act I)

Götz von Berlichingen had an iron prosthetic arm and was quite the dude. In 1773, Goethe wrote a popular play based on von Berlichingen’s life story. And it was not all highblown beautiful truths about light and dark, either — he coined a famous German vulgarity.

Two acts after the poetic quote above, when asked to surrender to Bamberg, Götz says, “Er aber, sags ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!” According to the wiki,

This is the first recorded instance of a phrase now in common use as “Leck mich am Arsch” (literally “lick me on my arse”, i. e. “kiss my ass”).

Bonus “Dudes Named Wolfgang” connection:*

Mozart wrote two canons in 1782, Leck mich im Arsch and Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber.

Ah, haha. Of course he did. He was Mozart for crissake. No one ever says of a budding and arrogant young prodigy, “He’s quite the young Bach, isn’t he,” or “My, what a Handel you have!” It’s always Mozart. The dude is sick as hell.



*Chef Wolfgang Puck, do you have the balls to step up and add to the “lick my ass” legacy?