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December 2019
Vol. IX, No. 9

December 2019

“Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.”
― “Separation,” By W. S. Merwin

(Our December issue is dedicated to Alan Ichiyasu, d. Nov. 16, 2019.)

“Figure in a Night Landscape,” 2017, oil on canvas, by Matthew Wong.

“Figure in a Night Landscape,” 2017, oil on canvas, by Matthew Wong.

“Night,” 2017, watercolor on paper, by Matthew Wong.

“Night,” 2017, watercolor on paper, by Matthew Wong.

We begin, this December, with two evocative, heart-split poems by Jean Carroll Nolan, written for her friend since childhood, “Samurai” (to whom this issue of Weekly Hubris is dedicated), and his beloved spouse, “French.” The Rev. Robin White follows on with a meditation on the Magnificat . . . and all our Marys. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring again remembers her first cousin, Dr. Jesse Steadman Robertson. And William A. Balk, Jr., intrepid winter gardener, celebrates his native flora. Dr. Guy McPherson writes, thoughtfully, of the estrangement of philosophy and science. Poet Claire Bateman offers us poems by Chicago’s Jacob Boyd. Diana Farr Louis again serves up spouse Harilaos Louis’ memories of Greek Christmases long past. Ross Konikoff, Manhattan satirist, eavesdrops on Trump (and the King of Saudi Arabia). And Assistant Editor Tim Bayer closes up December’s magazine with a North American mini-avatar of Sisyphus. We all here at Weekly Hubris wish you peace, hard won but deep, this holiday season.

About the artist featured on our December Home Page: Matthew Wong, a burgeoning artist early in his career, whose brilliantly colored pictures have reinvigorated landscape painting in recent years, in tones that can feel playful, mystical, and elegiac, often all at once, died on Wednesday, according to his New York gallery, Karma. He was 35. The cause was suicide. With just three solo shows and a handful of star turns in group exhibitions, Wong established himself as a quicksilver talent, with an almost preternatural sense for creating gripping, idiosyncratic scenes, which he sometimes populated with a solitary figure (or merely a trace of one, as in the footprints that lead over a snow-covered hill in Winter Nocturne, 2017). He borrowed slivers of ideas from painters of the past two centuries, and used them to create worlds that were strange and a little lonesome, exhilarating and new. Wong, who was based in Edmonton, Canada, came to his medium late. He was born on March 8, 1984, in Toronto and earned a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2007, before moving to Hong Kong, where he had grown up. (Read more of ARTnews Executive Editor Andrew Russeth’s feature story on Wong here.)

“The Samurai of Chicago.” (Photo: Julie Zerega.)

“The Samurai of Chicago.” (Photo: Julie Zerega.)

More Light

“Puzzle” & “Two Moons,” By Jean Carroll Nolan

SEASIDE California—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—Do you know it when you meet him? Do you see/Through the glowing filter of happy lust,/On down the twisted tunnel of the years,/The anguish and the shock of recognition—/The moment when, in simultaneous stroke,You and he have swum the river of time,/And found a flat topped rock, a sanctuary,/From horror, and from glory, and from sorrow,/But chosen, like the Buddha, to abide? (Read more . . .)

On Bangladesh’s border, Rohingya woman and her baby. (Photo: Reuters.)

On Bangladesh’s border, Rohingya woman and her baby. (Photo: Reuters.)

Wing + Prayer

“Singing the Faith (Luke 1: 39-55),By The Reverend Robin White

LAKE HARTWELL South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—I had probably driven by it a dozen times or more without noticing it. This time, however, it leapt out at me so that I nearly drove into the ditch!  Perhaps I noticed it this time because of the season. Perhaps I saw it because I had the Magnificat on my mind. Or perhaps, because it was some sort of signlike the rainbow after the flood, or the star over Bethlehem. It was a “sign,” after all! In fact, a billboard: red, white, and blue, a painting of the Madonna in all her glory. The caption read: “The Virgin Mary Speaks to America Today! Call 1-800-345-Mary.”   (Read more . . .)

Dr. Jesse Steadman Robertson. (Photo: Bebe Herring.)

Dr. Jesse Steadman Robertson. (Photo: Bebe Herring.)

By Way of Being

“The Color Orange & My First Cousin Steadman,” By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—Michael Mann’s 1992 film, “The Last of The Mohicans,” despite Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance as Hawkeye, is deeply flawed. It makes no difference, though: I cannot watch it, especially the last 15 minutes or so, when Chingachgook stands (outrageously, for James Fenimore Cooper fans) atop a mountain in the Great Blue Ridge, his only son, Uncas, having fallen in combat . . . because I, too, am the last living member of a very small tribe, now left upon the planet without grandparents, parents, siblings, or offspring. (Read more . . .)

Lilium superbum, the native Turk’s Cap Lily.

Lilium superbum, the native Turk’s Cap Lily.

Epicurus’ Porch

“The Natives Are Restless,By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—Who would have thought that we nice, quiet gardening folks would get worked up to such a furious tizzy about terribly esoteric subjects like “natives” vs “exotics?” We even fight over the definitions! But get us started on whether we are threatening the earth when we Lowcountry gardeners plant Lilium auratum instead of Lilium superbum, and you’d better be ready to choose sides. I’m not going to choose sides in that debatepartly because the sides keep moving; it is, though, a topic well worth exploring in these virtual pages. (Read more . . .)

Philosopher John Gray.

Philosopher John Gray.

Going Dark

“Philosophy & Conservation Biology,By Dr. Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—Asking a contemporary scientist with a PhD (i.e., a Doctor of Philosophy) about philosophy typically draws a blank stare or, occasionally, an inquisitive gaze. Philosophy rarely is taught in science classes at any level of education, including the PhD. Across campus, a dose of science is taught in the philosophy department, but practicing scientists rarely are involved in the conversation. (Read more . . .)

Jacob Boyd.

Speculative Friction

“The Poetry of Jacob Boyd,By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—Jacob Boyd lives in Chicago with his girlfriend, Katie, and their two dogs, Sappho and Sir Isaac Newton. He recently graduated from the PhD Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is now a Visiting Lecturer. He also holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Boyd is the author of Stilt House(Read more . . .)

The iconic Greek family at their dinner table.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Christmas in 1930s Athens: An Ancient Greek Reminisces,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—December  2019—Crises bring up memories of other crises, and this country has had more than its share in the past hundred years: world wars, Balkan wars, a civil war, dictatorships, and financial upheavals. But there have also been times of relative calm and prosperity, so let’s look back to the kinder, gentler Greece of the 1930s for a dose of Christmas cheer. These are the reminiscences of my husband Harilaos, known to some of you as “Joy of the People,” a rough translation of his name. As a very youthful octogenarian, he does not live in the past, but I compel him to tell his stories over and over. So, in his own words . . . (Read more . . .)

Sal and Don, in happier times. (Photo: aol.com.)

Sal and Don, in happier times. (Photo: aol.com.)

West Side Stories

“Trump to Salman, Trump to Salman, By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—Trump: Hello? Hello? This the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. I want to talk to President Salmon, or whatever. Salman: T-Man! It’s me! I’m the King now, you nut! Talk, baby talk! Trump: Hey, King, I’m glad I got you in. I figured you’d be back from church by now. Salman: (He covers the phone and says something to the others and the room erupts in laughter.) After church! Dotty, you’re killing me! Trump: How’re the kids? Salman: Thirteen of them are in Mecca and the other 17 are in Jeddah with their mothers. And how about your brood? I figured you’d be tied up with the whole Rosh Hashanah balagan, with Mel, Ivy, and that meeskite, what’s her name again . . . uh . . . Tiffany? (Read more . . .)

The invisible and formidable foe.

The invisible and formidable foe.

Won Over By Reality

“Face-off with a Formidable, if Invisible, Foe,” By Tim Bayer

BRIGHTON New York(Weekly Hubris)—December 2019—The wind had blown the empty trash-toter to the neighbors’ house. The steps for reinstating the status quo seemed simple enough: 1) Grab the toter; 2) Roll it back home. But there was the unseen adversary, an invisible but formidable foe. I admire determination. Here is an instance where determination is both impressive . . . and funny. (Read more . . .)

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