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  • feedwordpress 08:01:11 on 2019/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , Humansism, , Mt. Ventoux, Petrarch, ,   

    “I like a bad reputation”*… 


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    middle-ages

     

    There can be few more damning or more useless terms than “the Dark Ages.” They sound fun in an orcs‐and‐elves sort of way and suggest a very low benchmark from which we have since, as a race, raised ourselves up into the light—with the present day using as its soundtrack the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth. But the damage the term does is immense. A simple little mental test is just to quickly imagine a European scene from that era. Now: was the sun shining? Of course not. The default way of thinking about the long, complex era that lasted from the final decades of the Roman Empire to somewhere around the Battle of Hastings is to assume it all looked like the cover of a heavy metal album.

    One problem is that the older the period the more chances there are for its material production to be destroyed. Across Lotharingia [ed. note: one of three filial kingdoms born of the Carolingian Empire]  there has been century after century of rebuilding (with the re‐use of every available piece of old dressed stone) with most evidence of earlier churches and palaces removed in the process. In practical terms one cannot imagine that the vast, humorless bulk of Cologne Cathedral is merely the latest in a series stretching back to a Roman temple. Many of the great religious buildings of the Rhine have a display table showing somewhat conjectural models of their ancient predecessors, usually starting with a patronizing little wooden block, looking something like a skew‐whiff Wendy-house.

    So great is the weight of “the Dark Ages” on our shoulders that it is almost impossible not to think of the makers of this wonky church slithering about on the mud floor cursing the way the roof was leaking and how nobody could design a door that shut properly, resigned to the occasional fiasco when the walls would simply fall in on the gurning, fur‐clad, battle‐axe‐wielding communicants. In practice, these now non‐existent buildings would have been extremely beautiful—drawing on Roman and Byzantine models, and stuffed with all kinds of wonderful stuff from the Roman Empire which now no longer exists…

    History flickers in and out of darkness, regardless of the period: “The ‘Dark Ages’ weren’t as dark as we thought.”

    * Joan Jett

    ###

    As we rehabilitate history, we might recall that it was on this date in 1336 that Petrarch— the father of Humanism, and the man whom many credit with launching the Renaissance– climbed Mt. Ventoux…  not because he needed to, but because he wanted to experience it.  His letter recounting the ascent, still widely cited in books and journals devoted to mountaineering, is cited by scholars as a “strikingly modern” attitude of aesthetic gratification in the grandeur of the scenery.

    But more importantly, Petrarch climbed with a copy of St. Augustine’s Confessions.  He read from it on his trek, and wrote

    I closed the book, angry with myself that I should still be admiring earthly things who might long ago have learned from even the pagan philosophers that nothing is wonderful but the soul, which, when great itself, finds nothing great outside itself. Then, in truth, I was satisfied that I had seen enough of the mountain; I turned my inward eye upon myself, and from that time not a syllable fell from my lips until we reached the bottom again. […] [W]e look about us for what is to be found only within. […] How many times, think you, did I turn back that day, to glance at the summit of the mountain which seemed scarcely a cubit high compared with the range of human contemplation…

    James Hillman argues that this rediscovery of the inner world is the real significance of the Ventoux event. The Renaissance begins, Hillman suggests, not with the ascent of Mont Ventoux but with the subsequent descent—the “return […] to the valley of soul.”

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:37 on 2019/04/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , Petrarch, , ,   

    “Life without industry is guilt; industry without art is brutality”*… 


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    People walk past the Egyptian Theatre along Main Street before the opening day of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City

     

    It is often said that art feeds the soul. But culture and the arts also fuel the economy directly: The arts contribute more than $800 billion a year to U.S. economic output, amounting to more than 4 percent of GDP.

    That figure is based on detailed data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (part of the Department of Commerce) and the National Endowment for the Arts, summarized in a report released earlier this month.The report tracks the aggregate performance of 35 key arts-and-culture fields, including broadcasting, movies, streaming, publishing, the performing arts, arts-related retail, and more…

    chart

    The contribution of culture and art to the U.S. economy is bigger than the economic output of Sweden or Switzerland; learn more at “The Economic Power of American Arts and Culture.”

    * John Ruskin

    ###

    As we see to our souls, we might spare a pining thought for Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca); it was on this date in 1327, after he’d given up his vocation as a priest, that he first set eyes on “Laura” in the church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon– an encounter that awoke in him a passion that spawned the 366 poems in Il Canzoniere (“Song Book”).

    Considered by many to have been “the Father of Humanism,” and reputed to have coined the term “Renaissance,” Petrarch was most famous in his time for his paeans to his idealized lover (who was, many scholars believe, Laura de Noves, the wife of Hugues de Sade).  But Petrarch’s more fundamental and lasting contribution to culture came via Pietro Bembo who created the model for the modern Italian language in the 16th century largely based on the works of Petrarch (and to a lesser degree, those of Dante and Boccaccio).

    Laura de Noves died on this date in 1348.

    Lura de Noves

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    Petrarch

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:44 on 2016/04/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Petrarch, Poet Laureate, , ,   

    “When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change”*… 


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    Louise E. Jefferson, “Americans of Negro Lineage,” Friendship Press, 1946. (Used by permission of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. All rights reserved worldwide, 2016.) Larger version here.

    Women have been making maps for centuries. They have developed and applied new technologies, data collection techniques, and visual presentations to their maps as they charted new terrain, illustrated historical narratives, and pushed political and social agendas. In the 20th century, women mapmakers continued this work in larger numbers than ever—and no short post can account sufficiently for all of their contributions over a century that saw technological and social revolutions, one after another.

    Examining just a small sample of the many compelling maps made by North American women in the 20th century, a theme emerges: aesthetic mastery.

    In the days before the women’s liberation movement (except for a brief moment during World War II), most women didn’t have access to technical training in cartography. “Civil engineering, where topographic drafting was taught, was not a ‘girls’ subject,” writes Judith Tyner, a professor emerita of geography at California State University, Long Beach, in a presentation given at mapping conference earlier this year. But this didn’t stop women from participating in cartography. It simply meant that many who did started with a background in the arts…

    More of the story– and several beautiful examples– at “How 20th-Century Women Put the ‘Art’ in Cartography,” the third installment in a series on women and maps; see also Part 1 and Part 2.

    * Ursula Le Guin

    ###

    As we contemplate cartography, we might spare a thought for Francesco Petrarca– Petrarch:  on this date in 1341, he became the first poet laureate since antiquity, crowned by Roman Senatori Giordano Orsini and Orso dell’Anguillara on the holy grounds of Rome’s Capitol.  Considered by many to have been “the Father of Humanism,” and reputed to have coined the term “Renaissance,” Petrarch was famous for his paeans to his idealized lover “Laura” (modeled, many scholars believe, on the wife of Hugues de Sade, Laura de Noves, whom he met in Avignon in 1327, and who died in 1348).  But Petrarch’s more fundamental and lasting contribution to culture came via Pietro Bembo, who created the model for the modern Italian language in the 16th century based largely on the works of Petrarch (and to a lesser degree, those of Dante and Petrarch’s frequent corespondent, Boccaccio).

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:48 on 2015/07/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , Future Library, , , Katie Paterson, , , Petrarch, ,   

    “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential”*… 


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    In 2014, in a forest at the location above, Scottish artist Katie Paterson launched Future Library

    … a public art project that begins with a thousand trees planted in the Norwegian forest of Normarka. After a century of growth, these trees will be cut down, pulped, and turned into a collection of books to be housed at the New Public Deichmanske Library in Oslo, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

    During each year of the forest’s growth, one writer will contribute a text to be published in the anthology. The writing will be unseen by the public until the book collection is created in 2114. So far, two prominent writers have announced their involvement: Canadian author Margaret Atwood and British novelist David Mitchell. Both authors have either won or been shortlisted for the Booker Prize on numerous occasions…

    Read more at “How to Harvest a Library in Just 100 Years.”

    * Winston Churchill

    ###

    As we take the very long view, we might send a celebratory sonnet to Francesco Petrarca– Petrarch; he was born on this date in 1304.  Considered by many to have been “the Father of Humanism,” and reputed to have coined the term “Renaissance,” Petrarch was famous for his paeans to his idealized lover “Laura” (modeled, many scholars believe, on the wife of Hugues de Sade, Laura de Noves, whom he met in Avignon in 1327, and who died in 1348).  But Petrarch’s more fundamental and lasting contribution to culture came via Pietro Bembo who created the model for the modern Italian language in the 16th century based largely on the works of Petrarch (and to a lesser degree, those of Dante and Boccaccio).

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:28 on 2014/04/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Petrarch, , , , ,   

    “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons”*… 


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    The title of this post is one of the 365 fashion quotes paired with 365 fashion ads dating from the 1900s to the 1990s (the above quote went with a 1966 ad for Eye-catchers Panty Hose that was targeted towards teens) in Fashion Ads of the 20th Centuryby Jim Heimann and Alison A. Nieder.

    Because ads are created with wads of money, meticulous planning, and highly creative talent, the ads that color these pages make for a gorgeous, provocative book, and the accompanied quotes are clever, humorous, and revealing.

    But beyond the surface of beauty and frivolity, this collection of ads also gives us a glimpse of our changing cultural norms throughout the last century. For instance, up until the 1970s, the term girl was used frequently for woman, especially when referring to women as amusement for men, such as, “From morn, ‘til night, at work, at play, be a dream girl too, the Formfit way” (from a Formfit bra ad of 1942). And although not nearly as often, boys was used in place of men when referring to a gang of mischievous young lads out for a good time.

    In the 1930s, the Depression was reflected in ads such as the do-it-yourself Simplicity Patterns ad above, while by the 1980s we started seeing independent-looking women in business suits, or a suit-like dress with very wide padded shoulders. (Of course these more feminist-minded ads were overshadowed by sensual, nearly naked women in other ads). One of the biggest changes between pre-and post-1970s were the incredible number of ads that included both women and men who were sexually charged, wearing very little, if any clothes at all.

    Of course the differences in ads between the decades pale in comparison to the big similarity: sex, sex, sex. As the old saying goes, “Sex sells,” and that is pronounced over and over again as you flip through Fashion. Even though this isn’t new news, it’s fascinating when you witness the craft behind ads in such a visual compilation as this book…

    Read more about Fashion Ads of the 20th Century– which functions as either a coffee table book or an “undated calendar”/day book– at Wink Books… an invaluable site that celebrates “remarkable books that belong on paper.”

    * Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in Mad Men

    ###

    As we contemplate our costumes, we might spare a pining thought for Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca); it was on this date in 1327, after he’d given up his vocation as a priest, that he first set eyes on “Laura” in the church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon– an encounter that awoke in him a passion that spawned the 366 poems in Il Canzoniere (“Song Book”).

    Considered by many to have been “the Father of Humanism,” and reputed to have coined the term “Renaissance,” Petrarch was most famous in his time for his paeans to his idealized lover (who was, many scholars believe, Laura de Noves, the wife of Hugues de Sade).  But Petrarch’s more fundamental and lasting contribution to culture came via Pietro Bembo who created the model for the modern Italian language in the 16th century largely based on the works of Petrarch (and to a lesser degree, those of Dante and Boccaccio).

    Laura de Noves died on this date in 1348.

    Lura de Noves

    source

    Petrarch

    source

     

     
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