Stella Simon, 6th Avenue c. 1930-32. From Le Clown Lyrique
It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.
You will know love when the mind is very still and free from its search for gratification and escapes. First, the mind must come entirely to an end. Mind is the result of thought, and thought is merely a passage, a means to an end. When life is merely a passage to something, how can there be love? Love comes into being when the mind is naturally quiet, not made quiet, when it sees the false as false and the true as true. When the mind is quiet, then whatever happens is the action of love, it is not the action of knowledge. Knowledge is mere experience, and experience is not love. Experience cannot know love. Love comes into being when we understand the total process of ourselves, and the understanding of ourselves is the beginning of wisdom.
Ilonka Karasz (1896-1981) 12 Days of Christmas 1949
Ilonka Karasz was the foremost woman modernist designer in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. She designed wallpaper, wrapping paper, textiles, furniture, interiors, nurseries, book jackets, and magazine covers, among other things.
The Twelve Days of Christmas (1949) was named by The American Institute of Graphic Arts as one of the fifty books of the year for 1949. The New York Times called it “a miracle of design and imagination.”
See the rest of the set courtesy of Ariel S. Winter on Flickr.
In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
what do we know.
Painting: Ivan Shishkin, In the Wild North, 1891.
I find some of my new works disturbing, just as I find nature as a whole disturbing. The landscape is often perceived as pastoral, pretty, beautiful – something to be enjoyed as a backdrop to your weekend before going back to the nitty-gritty of urban life. But anybody who works the land knows it’s not like that. Nature can be harsh – difficult and brutal, as well as beautiful. You couldn’t walk five minutes from here without coming across something that is dead or decaying.
One doesn’t need to go anywhere special to be aware of beauty or truth. Even here, as I am writing this in my office, among the noise and clatter of the city, it’s all here. Maybe all that is required is to drop all of my unnecessary chatter, worries and concerns to allow the seemingly ordinary to become extraordinary.
In Herzog, author Saul Bellow writes: “Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is.”
So for me the question is: How to give myself to this life, to its harshness and its beauty, and allow for these intrusions of the unexpected to penetrate. How do I move forward into the mystery like the Persian poet Rumi said: “Attar roamed the seven cities of love — We are still just in one alley.”
Speaking of beauty, the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Parabola is on newsstands and in mailboxes around this big blue planet or ours, and it’s a real beauty.
Don’t miss it! Pick up your copy now or subscribe online.
From the Parabola Newsletter: “Cities,” November 26, 2010.
Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. It’s true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above the ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away - an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost the sense of something that lives and endures beneath the eternal flux. What we see is blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.