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January 2018
Vol. VIII, No. 302

January 2018

Aesthetic Arrest

“Approach of The Simoon,” by David Roberts (1796–1864).

“Approach of The Simoon,” by David Roberts (1796–1864).

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: For this first issue of 2018, I asked Weekly Hubriss writers to think back and recall for us an encounter with a specific genre of the human arts,” a discrete work of art, or a particularly arresting artist . . . something or someone that stopped them in their tracks and (perhaps) changed the trajectory of their lives (or, at least, diverted them). Your jaded editor here had no idea what a bounty would cross her transom, from Diana Farr Louis on Pariss famed Cordon Bleu to Ross Konikoff riffing on Tempest Storm (the stripper, Dear Reader). Between Louis and Konikoff: Anita Sullivan discusses a detour into mediocre literature; Jerry Zimmerman looks up, in perpetuity, at The David; Claire Bateman introduces us to poet Luke Hankins; Dr. Guy McPherson turns aside sharply from both myth and science; William A. Balk, Jr. muses on the skilled curation of multiple art works; Dr. William Ramp confronts ageing, and its imaginings; Helen Noakes swoons over Klimt and Beethoven; Alexander Billinis follows in the large steps of Patrick Leigh Fermor; Jean Carroll Nolan approaches the assigned topic, and promptly throws her rider (into the Elysian Fields); and I, myself, recall a bottle of scent labeled Wind.

Detail from Notre Dame, one of the things I came to love in Paris, nowhere near Boulevard Haussmann.

Detail from Notre Dame, one of the things I came to love in Paris.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“An Institution of Higher Learning,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—“I’m sorry, but in order to take this job in my house as a jeune fille au pair, you must be enrolled in an institution of higher learning. That’s my policy. To help genuine students. Language classes do not count.” It was October 1963 and, after a blissful summer in Greece, I was about two weeks into my dream of spending a year in Paris, the City of Light and of Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and friends, Edith Piaf and Jean-Paul Belmondo, just to mention a few of my idols. I’d had a gentle start, staying with my favorite cousin and his family in a posh flat in the 16th Arrondissement, but it was time to spread my wings, get a job, and perfect my French. After nine years of school, I still had trouble finding words much less understanding the ratatatat of Parisian parlance. (Read more . . .)

In producing true mediocrity on purpose, one always remains a novice.

In producing true mediocrity on purpose, one always remains a novice.

The Highest Cauldron

“On the Pleasures of Writing Mediocre Literature,” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018— A fellow writer called me a few months ago with a proposition easy to resist. “A few of us are going to write a joint novel,” she said, “nothing serious, just good fun. We need a fifth; would you join us?” “Well, I’m really awfully busy!” “We’re all busy,” she shot back. “Look, you don’t have to do any revising. In fact, it’s forbidden. When it’s your turn for a chapter, you just sit down and crank it out on auto-pilot, like you would do with any first draft. We’re not planning to publish the thing, after all. Think of it as free-writing, it’ll be good practice. Pleeeeze!” “Uh, what kind of novel?” I was stalling. I was thinking about my high literary standards. Good practice for what? What if I get corrupted by allowing myself to temporarily aspire to this kind of slapdash, all-mouth-and- no-brain kind of writing? Besides, how can you write good fiction without revising? (Read more . . .)

The head of David, by Michelangelo.

The head of David, by Michelangelo.

Squibs & Blurbs

“The Big Guy, My Favorite Art in the World,” By Jerry Zimmerman

TEANECK New Jersey—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2018—I have been an art student, an art teacher, a commercial artist, and an art lover my whole life and, over and over again, with everyone, artists and non-artists alike, this question always comes up: What is Art?An excellent question! After developing my skills to create art to my highest ability; after endless discussions with peers and professors; after seeing countless museums and galleries and art books; after spending almost 20 years teaching art to freshman at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, which involved, almost daily, if not hourly, discussions and explanations as to why a student’s painting of a green baby might be considered “Art” or perhaps something really quite a bit NOT “Art”; after a lifetime of trying to understand what “Art” is . . . I am ready and willing to give you my answer: David, David, David! (Read more . . .)

Luke Hankins.

Luke Hankins.

Speculative Friction

“Luke Hankins’ ‘A Shape with Forty Wings,’” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—Luke Hankins was born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1984 and grew up in Pineville, Louisiana before moving to his current home in Asheville, North Carolina. He attended the Indiana University MFA Program in Creative Writing, where he held the Yusef Komunyakaa Fellowship in Poetry. His first collection of poems, Weak Devotions, was published by Wipf & Stock Publishers in 2011. He is also the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets, published by Wipf & Stock in 2012. His latest book, The Work of Creation: Selected Prose, was released by Wipf & Stock in 2016. Hankins’ second poetry collection manuscript, Radiant Obstacles, was shortlisted for the 2016 Periplum Poetry Book Competition (Plymouth University, UK). (Read more . . .)

“Saint Paul the Hermit,” by Jusepe de Ribera (1640), Museo del Prado, Madrid.

“Saint Paul the Hermit,” by Jusepe de Ribera.

Going Dark

“Human Constructs: The Inspiration & Disaster of Myths,” By Guy McPherson

SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—I was taught to believe a myth created by humans: A god will protect us. I believed this story through my teens. Now, I’m certain humans created God in our own image. I later learned another human construct would protect us: science (and its outcomes, including technology). I held onto this myth through my early 30s. Now, I’m convinced that reason and techno-toys have brought us to the brink of extinction. The life of a social critic has a significant cost: I have many acquaintances, but I’ve managed to offend most of my former friends. As an equal-opportunity offender ever willing to speak truth to power, I’m largely an ascetic. To an increasing extent, I live as we all must die: alone. (Read more . . .)

“Terence Stamp.” (By Allan Warren)

Terence Stamp and Monica Vitti.

Epicurus’ Porch

“Cinema Verité,” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—There was a time when film—cinéma—was filled with experimentation, when traditional narrative was often discarded in favor of other values exploring symbolism or emotion or the mechanics of the camera. Often the script was diminished to a minor part of the filmmaker’s intent, letting the setting or the inner conflict of the characters assume primary duties. University communities became natural centers for exploring this new wave of filmmaking, and even at smaller traditional universities, such as the University of South Carolina, film societies sprang up to bring these hard-to-see works to campus. Many of these films were from European filmmakers, although American experimental filmmakers were beginning to show in the new film festivals.  (Read more . . .)

“Atropos/The Fates,” by Francisco de Goya,  (1819-23), Museo del Prado.

“Atropos/The Fates,” by Francisco de Goya.

Small Things Recollected

“Not Well Aged,” By William Ramp

LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA Canada—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018— Not well aged. Let’s begin with the dark scene above. You could be forgiven, on first glance, for mistaking Goya’s “Atropos” for a black and brown ink wash, so devoid is it of any enlivening color. It’s one of a set of Goya works known collectively as the “black paintings,” both for their hue and for the bleakness of their subject matter. This painting takes as its subject the Moirai or fates who govern the span of life: Clotho, who holds the distaff from which the living thread is spun, Lachesis who measures and spins, and Atropos, who cuts. A fourth figure in the foreground has its hands bound, unable either to flee or to affect the making of the inexorability with which it is confronted. Death comes for all of us, the painting says, and it is not pretty. How is it measured? In progressive ugliness. (Read more . . .)

Gustav Klimt’s The Knight of the Beethoven Frieze, purported to be a portrait of Gustav Mahler.

Gustav Klimt’s The Knight of the Beethoven Frieze.

Waking Point

“Ludwig, Two Gustavs & Me,” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—When I first heard it, I was ten, and living in a two-story house in Yokohama, Japan. It was a fall evening. Our view of the ocean through the front windows, of distant Mount Fuji to our south, had been eclipsed by the night. My Great Uncle, Costas, was having an after dinner chat with my grandmother, at the dining room table. My mother was fussing with one household chore or another. Our radio, which sat on a lamp table next to a blue leather sofa, was tuned, as usual, to Armed Forces Radio. Since it was a Sunday evening, the scheduled program was Live from Carnegie Hall. The orchestra, I don’t remember which, was performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.(Read more . . .)

Leigh Fermor, on Ithaki, 1946.

Leigh Fermor, on Ithaki, 1946.

Roaming East Roman

“The Leigh Fermor Effect,” By Alexander Billinis

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—How did I miss him? How did I even avoid him? How could our paths not have crossed, even by chance, when we waked the same paths? Too often, though, gold is hidden in plain sight. We walk by in our haste, or are blinded culturally to what lies just beyond our narrow, particular focus. It is a problem for us all. I cannot fathom, however, how it took me over 32 years of a very Greece-oriented life to discover the works of Patrick Leigh Fermor. “Paddy” was one of the greatest biographers of Modern Greece, and of that shatter zone comprising the Balkans and Eastern Europe but, until early middle age, I had never read him. We haunted, he and I, many of the same lanes in Athens and in the villages of the Peloponnese. I had a house on Hydra, where my father was born and where Leigh Fermor had lived. (Read more . . .)

Wreathed Lion, Art Institute of Chicago.

Wreathed Lion, Art Institute of Chicago.

More Light

“Stockholm Syndrome,” By Jean Carroll Nolan

SEASIDE California—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—You know those pictures of a fly’s eye? The ones in which the eye looks like a geodesic dome or a disco ball? That is how I feel looking back over my life, trying to pick out a seminal event, the piece of art that opened the door for all the others to follow. Each mirrored, angular lens of the eye is filled with a different image, no one, as Napoleon the Pig would note, more equal than the others. So, with all due respect to my editor, I have chosen a coward’s way out. In art, you see, I want to demand a gateway piece in each discipline. I cannot find “the one.” And this is not intellectual laziness. It is simply the result of having been so constituted as to encounter each school with what my son’s Aikido dojo used to call a “beginner’s mind.” (Read more . . .)

“Daedalus and Icarus,” Charles-Paul Landon. 

“Daedalus and Icarus,” Charles-Paul Landon.

By Way of Being

“A Vial of Wind: “Homo articus”,By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

LIMBEAU Florida(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018—Here in my tiny Floridian office, I sit facing a white wall. I roll my eyes up, up, above the bright screen, and back, as though gazing at mountains, and I am . . . elsewhere. As Deputy Editor of The Athenian: Greece’s English Language Monthly, I spent much of the 1980s at a small desk in The Plaka, marking up copy and meeting with writers. We were located just off Filomousou Etairias Square (named for The Society of the Friends of the Nine Muses) and, from our long, penthouse balcony, there was a clear view of the Acropolis. Our Masthead ran to only two or three permanent staff, but the publisher, Sloane Elliott—my living, breathing Philhellenic-Google-before-Google and walking Style Manual—was there almost daily. I enjoyed him so: Sloane was witty, kind, learnèd, and a paragon of East Coast Brahmin tact (useful in an office of Greek women given to speaking in decibels above 70). (Read more . . .)

The inimitable Tempest Storm.

The inimitable Tempest Storm.

West Side Stories

“View From the Fridge,” By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—January 2018— Should you someday find yourself loitering near the icebox in my kitchen, (and why shouldn’t you?) one glance out my kitchen window might reveal anything from the mundane, say some grizzly old guy in his shorts, standing at the window smoking a cigarette while scratching his fundament, to the magnificent, an example being that young blonde over in 5C treating herself to a sensual shower, her bathroom window flung wide. As a trumpet player, I can recall a few stand-out moments of inspiration in my formative years. One was listening to Miles Davis perform the most profound solo on the song “My Funny Valentine,” another was watching Maynard Ferguson as he displayed his unmatched strength and range on the horn. Yet another was hearing a symphony orchestra play Mahler’s Fifth in a major concert hall, but none compares to my favorite life-altering experience, one that arrived in the form of a 39-year-old woman named Tempest Storm. (Read more . . .)

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