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Night’s Black Bird

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(Charles I, Melancholy, Music, Other Writ, Stuarts)

Flow my teares fall from your springs,
Exilde for ever: Let me morne
Where nights black bird hir sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorne.

Downe vaine lights shine you no more,
No nights are dark enough for those
That in dispaire their last fortunes deplore,
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pittie is fled,
And teares, and sighes, and grones
My wearie days of all joyes have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment,
My fortune is throwne,
And feare, and griefe, and paine
For my deserts, are my hopes since hope is gone.

Hark you shadowes that in darkesse dwell,
Learn to contemne light,
Happy that in hell
Feele not the worlds despite.

John Dowland : Flow My Tears

 

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Jenips & Ervin Lumauag

 
Girl in Black Dress

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Where Skims The Gull The Baltic Waves

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(High Germany, Music, Poetry, Self Writ)

WHERE is the German's fatherland ?
The Prussian land? The Swabian land ?
Where Rhine the vine-clad mountain laves ?
Where skims the gull the Baltic waves ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Bavarian land ? or Stygian land ?
Where sturdy peasants plough the plain ?
Where mountain-sons bright metal gain ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
The Saxon hills ? The Zuyder strand ?
Where sweep wild winds the sandy shores
Where loud the rolling Danube roars ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Then name, then name the mighty land !
The Austrian land in fight renowned ?
The Kaiser's land with honors crowned ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Then name, then name the mighty land !
The land of Hofer ? land of Tell ?
This land I know, and love it well;
But, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Is his the pieced and parceled land
Where pirate-princes rule ? A gem
Torn from the empire's diadem?
Ah, no, no, no !
Such is no German's fatherland.

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Then name, oh, name the mighty land !
Wherever is heard the German tongue,
And German hymns to God are sung !
This is the land, thy Hermann's land;
This, German, is thy fatherland.

This is the German's fatherland,
Where faith is in the plighted hand,
Where truth lives in each eye of blue,
And every heart is staunch and true.
This is the land, the honest land,
The honest German's fatherland.

This is the land, the one true land,
O God, to aid be thou at hand !
And fire each heart, and nerve each arm,
To shield our German homes from harm,
To shield the land, the one true land,
One Deutschland and one fatherland !

Ernst Moritz Arndt : Was ist das deutsche Vaterland ?

Arndt was not a good man, for he was a liberal; yet he partially atoned by proving that if the Devil must have the all good tunes, he also acquires striking lyricists to complement them well...

To demonstrate that the less mundane, and more subtle, system of absolute monarchism can subvert revolutionary liberal impulses and turn them to light, Franz Liszt --- above politics and kaisertreue, put the above anthem to music, dedicated to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV who then bestowed one of the earliest civilian Pour le Merites in return...

 
Poynter --- Cave of the Storm Nymphs

Edward Poynter -- Cave of the Storm Nymphs

 
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What Lives In Vegas, Dies Out of Vegas

One thing the world admires in Americans is that, despite the mistrust and fearfulness innate on a personal level, they retain a basic confidence in the group and retain an idealism in all matters of faith. As a realist I could scarcely maintain that most ideals are barely removed from derangement, but they make people happy --- and it is definitely preferable to be surrounded by optimists rather than equally delusional pessimists.

One aspect, faith in science and faith in government --- during the twentieth century these were so interwined as to become indistinguishable --- was exemplified by those so avid for entertainment and [ very ] momentary pleasure that they flocked from around the continent to ever-welcoming Las Vegas to stare at the mushroom clouds that blossomed in the 1950s. While this might seem to more critical minds the nadir of stupidity, I honestly have to confess that considering the loathliness of most activities that the city so famously offers it does seem an alternative --- if only for a blink of an eye.

The late Mr. Carlin, who performed last there just 12 days back, happened to describe it as "... the most dispiriting, soul-deadening city on earth." and a few years back expounded to the patrons watching his act there, "People who go to Las Vegas, you've got to question their fucking intellect to start with. Traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to essentially give your money to a large corporation is kind of fucking moronic. That's what I'm always getting here is these kind of fucking people with very limited intellects." which seems fair enough --- and almost sedulous in avoiding empty flattery. Yet, although personally oblivious to the pleasure of gambling for money, the faded rat-pack type entertainment seems yet more repellent. Essentially this demonstrates one problem with absolute freedom and happiness: with all you will ever need, how does one use that freedom to maintain happiness ? We may futurely discover that in any of the heavens promised by various faith: on earth it appears to involve sitting in exquisitely awful hotels, listening to Cool singers, and regularly giving even larger sums than most religions demand in blind faith that it will be returned a thousandfold.

This is quite an interesting site, Essays On Deep Las Vegas Culture; and although my liking for Elvis is nearly as tepid as my liking for the city, I find the song ok for it's remarkable vigour and structure --- written naturally by someone who had not been there, and lived in poverty; unlike the criminals who built the place --- and the fountain is tremendously pretty.

 

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Elvis Presley -- Viva Las Vegas -- Bellagio Water Show

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Like Spray

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(Melancholy, Other Writ, Poetry)

A wind comes from the north
Blowing little flocks of birds
Like spray across the town,
And a train, roaring forth,
Rushes stampeding down
With cries and flying curds
Of steam, out of the darkening north.

Whither I turn and set
Like a needle steadfastly,
Waiting ever to get
The news that she is free;
But ever fixed, as yet,
To the lode of her agony.

D. H. Lawrence : Patience

 

Japanese Crows

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People Power

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(Other Writ, Self Writ, The Building Blocks of Democracy)

Organised sport has always disgusted me: making all allowances for it's devotees' belief that it serves as a mimicry of warfare, spiritual and actual, without the latter's ontological import; and the fact that for the players --- who are undoubtedly, if only very minorly, skilled --- it improves health [ up to a certain point after which it diminishes it instead ] the idea of caring whether one bunch of eejits beat another bunch of eejits merely exemplifies the sadness of existence, no matter how preferable it is to not existing longer.

It is noticible that the rulers most scorned are the pacifically minded > few have been so thoroughly excoriated as James the First & Saxt, no matter how sensible his policy --- continued by his great son --- of avoiding direct participation in the Thirty Years War. Similarly, the Emperor Honorius is disliked for concentrating upon feeding his pigeons, maybe a rather expreme expression of Voltaire's advice to cultivate your garden... yet ending gladiatorial combat is definitely preferable to continuing to give people what they want... Animal games continued for a century or two though. Sport as religion is as tolerant of unbelievers, as full of fake moral ( social ) reasoning, and as empty as most real religions; yet if the participants enjoy it, let them, so long as they don't proselytize --- it's those who merely watch, live vicariously by giving it meaning it cannot possess, and pay for such imbecility who are still lesser beings. Is there any aspect of life in which democracy is not a wholly vile concept ?

 
John Waterhouse --- Honorius

John Waterhouse --- The Favourites of the Emperor Honorius

 
The musician was dead and the animals were fighting for the parts of his body strewn over the hillside. The crowd was weak from laughter and the girls on the barge were laughing too. The Master of the Games gave another signal.

This time nothing seemed to happen. Then one of the girls on the barge suddenly gave a shriek of terror. She was seated on the gunwale and the water in the arena was washing against her bare feet. The barge was sinking. The other girls took fright. Jumping up, they began screaming for help. A slave inside the barge had been watching through a knothole for the Master of the Games' signal. When it came, he gave orders to pull out the plugs and sink the vessel. The paddlers inside the barge had escaped through a hatch and were now feverishly swimming for the podium wall, praying that they could reach it before the crocodiles and hippos got them.

Hippos are by no means the big good-natured pig-like creatures that they seem. These animals were all bulls and in a very bad temper. A slave happened to touch one of the creatures. Instantly the hippo swung around, making the water swirl around him, and plunged his great tusks into the man's body. As the red dye spread, the crocs began to thrash around, sometimes seizing a hippo by the leg and sometimes each other. The crowd rose to its feet as one man at this new spectacle. The barge full of screaming girls was now awash and some of the more determined girls had plunged into the water and were trying to swim to the mountain island or reach the podium.

Few of them made it for the Master of the Games had carefully selected girls who were non-swimmers. Those who reached the mountain were promptly attacked by the wild animals, now crazed by the scent of blood and the taste of the dead Greek. A few reached the podium wall and clung to it, screaming for mercy. The water around the barge was churned white as the crocs attacked the girls that still clung to the wreck. Two of the mighty reptiles seized one girl and began twisting in opposite directions. One wrung off a leg, the other an arm. One gigantic animal that must have weighed well over a ton reared out of the water and grabbed a girl standing on the gunwale. He submerged with her, carrying the shrieking girl as easily as an elephant carrying a carrot. Others of the enormous saurians were trying to knock the girls into the water with their tails. The barge, being made of wood, did not sink completely but there was no protection on it for the women.

Several of the hippos were approaching the barge, excited by the noise and the smell of blood. Although not carnivorous, the big brutes were as aggressive as bulls. Only their eyes and noses showed above the water as they floated studying the hysterical excitement on the remains of the barge. The crowd was furious. People yelled, "Go on there, you big slobs ! Do something ! Get the fire !" for bulls that would not perform were occasionally goaded into action by throwing burning javelins into them.

Then one of the hippos charged the barge. Lifting his head and shoulders out of the water and opening his huge mouth to its fullest capacity, he plunged his two tusks over the gunwale and began to worry the vessel like a terrier shaking a rat. The submerged wreck heaved and shook as two tons of enraged hippo struggled with it. The last of the screaming girls was flung into the water and the white bellies of the crocs flashed as they twisted in the water, trying to wring off pieces of their prey.

The mob was now uncontrollable. Women stood up in the stands drumming with their fists on the backs of people in the seats before them and screaming hysterically: "Kill ! Kill ! Kill !" Even before the games started, smart young men could spot women who would give way to this madness and make a point of sitting next to them. While in the grip of hysteria, the women were unconscious of everything else and the boys could play with them while they screamed and writhed at the bloody spectacle below them. Old men, long impotent, sat drooling gleefully. Even ordinarily normal men watched with mouths hanging half open, eyes staring eagerly to take in every detail, and then fought their way out through the crowd to take advantage of the prostitutes assembled in the arches under the building. Children shouted and danced on their seats, as much to relieve their nervous tension as with joy at the sight below them. Only in the lower ring of seats were there connoisseurs who watched with dispassionate interest, commenting to each other on the strength and ferocity of the animals and criticizing the girls' figures as they were dragged to their death.

Daniel P. Mannix : Those About To Die

 
Gerome -- Christian Martyrs

Jean-Léon Gerome -- The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer

 
Siemiradzki --- Dirce

Henryk Siemiradzki -- A Christian Dirce

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Attend Now To Hear Something To Your Advantage

Whatever his virtues, which were minimal, or his qualities, which were great, Napoleon exemplified the unquenchable power of perfect self-love, undying and utterly satisfactory. From bitter denigration of all rivals or enemies, to inane self gratulation, his Memoirs and bulletins effortlessly avoided any pedestrian regard for truth, and made clear that honour to him was a small metal object to be awarded to a follower. From the Memoirs although clear that Waterloo, for instance, was a triumph of his genius and his opponents small-minded clods, whose defeat was unfairly not recognised by them or others, his over-swift abandonings of his troops from Egypt to Russia is scarcely fit to remember. "Bonaparte is not a gentlemen." according to Wellington; which is true and not negated by the fact that Wellesley was not one either to my royalist standards.

Here he relates an incident after the siege of Toulon, and with all the alacrity and probable insincerity of certain Wehrmacht generals distancing themselves from the mass shootings of the Einsatzgruppen --- spiritual descendants of the Marseillesian Contingents --- makes it clear that he was guiltless, guiltless I tell you, of any complicity or impropriety himself. Certainly he was not there, but neither did he protest or consider not serving such masters. Although considering his proclaimed irreplacable and beloved status with the revolutionary goverment of the Convention, he had less excuse than those above, not being in any such danger as befell either French revolutionary generals who lost battles and so were rushed to execution or German generals over a century later who could be severely pressured by the nazi police-state. A lack of moral courage --- one can define it as a willingness to do the correct thing despite undoubted bad consequences for so doing --- is normal and largely necessary in military men; yet with all that said, that remains one of the major among the many reasons why military men should never hold political office or power. It would be idle and hypocritical of me to pretend that a massacre would put me off my dinner --- these things happen not infrequently in history and each side proclaims right is on their side --- as compared to one instance of suffering of one close to me; but it might be agreed they are inexpedient, usually pointless, and ugly happenings.

 

The representatives established a revolutionary tribunal, according to the laws of the time. In general, though, all the guilty had escaped and fled with the enemy and all those who had decided to stay were conscious of their innocence. Nevertheless, the tribunal had several people arrested who had been prevented by various accidents from following the enemy and caused them to be punished in expiation of their guilt. But eight or ten victims were too few and recourse was had to a dreadful measure, characteristic of the spirit of the time. It was proclaimed that everyone who had been employed in the arsenal while the English were in possession of the town must attend a roll call in the Champs de Mars. These people were led to believe that this was so that they might be re-employed and so, confidently, nearly two hundred head workmen, inferior clerks, and other junior employees attended and had their names registered. Thus it was proved by their own confession that they had retained their posts under the English government, and the revolutionary tribunal, in the open field, immediately sentenced them to death. A battalion of Sans-Culottes and Marseillese, brought expressly for the purpose, shot them. This deed requires no comment. It was though, the only execution that took place at Toulon.* That any persons whatever were killed by grapeshot is untrue** --- neither I nor the regular cannoneers would have lent themselves to such an action.*** It was the cannoneers of the Revolutionary Army who committed atrocities at Lyons.****

* Another instance of the Ruling Passion: his compulsion to lie, even when it serves no purpose. It scarcely matters how many by now, as with all deaths of the past; but actually, most estimates indicate that up to 2000 people were murdered in this incident. What's a Factor of Ten to a dictator, though... ?
** And he wasn't there.
*** Ar, get away wid yez...
**** As opposed to the Revolutionary Army of the French Republic in which Napoleon was serving ? This makes no sense whatsoever; quite apart from the gratuitous reference to Lyons --- Lyons, where crippled Couthon was carried about on a litter, striking any non-revolutionary house with his little silver hammer to indicate to the slack-jawed demolishers behind him that it should be punished by immediate hauling down... [ Hey, no-one ever said the brains of revolutionaries aren't mainly composed of sawdust. ]

 
Napoleon medal

 

'WHAT is the world, O soldiers ?

       It is I:

I, this incessant snow,

This northern sky;

Soldiers, this solitude

Through which we go
       Is I.'

Walter De La Mare

: Napoleon
 

Running cat

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For Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves

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(Animals, Correctitude, Melancholy, Self Writ, The King of Terrors)

A month ago one of my three cats, Shelly, aged around six, was poisoned either purposefully --- although that is dubious --- or accidentally. After a stay at the vets she recovered; then went out on a spree and I saw her only at odd meals. Last week she came in limping and this developed into a full neurological disorder: perhaps a virus released by the earlier sickness, or toxoplasmosis --- it remains unresolved; but the vets felt she could be released home on Monday. By then, though, she was immobile on a glucose drip and unable to eat, despite having lost weight. The next morning she had a seizure and, despite the light in her eyes, there was no prospect of recovery. I held her paw as the vet released an overdose that ceased her heart. Fortunately this lasted only a minute or so without distress: and... hopefully without foreknowledge of this betrayal.

 
 
Shelly Cat

 
Nek

 
Shelly

 
Jap girls

The one in Japanese clothing...

 
Shelly

With Elsie...

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Each A Space

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(Melancholy, Other Writ, Poetry)

Old things need not be there­fore true,
O brother men, nor yet the new;
Ah ! still awhile the old thought retain,
And yet con­sider it again ! 

The souls of now two thou­sand years
Have laid up here their toils and fears,
And all the earn­ings of their pain, —
Ah, yet con­sider it again ! 

We ! what do we see ? each a space
Of some few yards before his face;
Does that the whole wide plan explain ?
Ah, yet con­sider it again ! 

Alas ! the great world goes its way,
And takes its truth from each new day;
They do not quit, nor can retain,
Far less con­sider it again.

Arthur Hugh Clough : Ah, Yet Con­sider It Again !

 
Crow and Moon

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Why The Children Of Wiking Division Go Goth

It is well that anti-racialists are so ter­rible, oth­er­wise we might grow too fond of anti-racialism… How­ever, the con­verse also applies, and the ran­cid ran­cour of those who incon­tin­ently attempt uni­ver­sal love mixed with private self-loathing is well-matched with the dubi­ous pre­ten­sions of those who pro­claim the excel­lence of their own race. Whenev­er a super­lat­ive stand­ard such as ‘best’, or ‘bet­ter’ is involved the ques­tion, ‘bet­ter for what ?’ has to come into play… If not espe­cially fond of races not my own this has to be bal­anced by the fact that I’m not massively in love with my own people, nor even with oth­er related peoples whom I slightly prefer  —  the major faults of any race are so amaz­ingly obvi­ous.

In gen­er­al, people prefer for all sorts of reas­ons, but mostly those of safety, to live in at least vaguely homo­gen­eous neigh­bour­hoods; the down­side to that is a cer­tain con­tinu­ous increase in dull­ness. Be it under­stood that in this instance I am cer­tainly not cri­ti­ciz­ing the area involved, and I’m sure that it has many splen­did qual­it­ies which shall attract oth­ers, and their lives are as happy as can be expec­ted in a vail of tears  —  although the pre­dom­in­ant mix of Nor­we­gi­an, Swede and Ger­man may induce that over­power­ing fore­bod­ing gloom char­ac­ter­ist­ic of refined Nor­dics  —  just that it seems so depress­ingly whole­some, allied to the essen­tial exist­en­tial­ism of Amer­ic­an life, that some ( point­less ) rebel­lion might seem the only prop­er respon­se…

Any­way, I found this in a eBay advert­ise­ment for one of those oddly flim­sy look­ing Amer­ic­an dwell­ings. It would be unfair to link to it, not merely because such things are even more tran­si­ent than the lives of men, but because the seller had no wish nor notion of giv­ing offence. It included details from the town’s web­site…

The res­id­ents and city offi­cials of Mad­dock would like to extend an open invit­a­tion to come vis­it the peace­ful, rur­al com­munity of Mad­dock and exper­i­ence small town hos­pit­al­ity at its finest. Mad­dock is rur­al North Dakota

* Rur­al North Dakota, where you still find chil­dren play­ing care­free out­side and people that greet each oth­er as they walk down the street
* Rur­al North Dakota, where there is plenty of fresh clean air and little or no crime.
* Rur­al North Dakota, where the pace of life is slower and the con­cept of help­ing one another still exists.
* Rur­al North Dakota, where a short drive in the county finds more wild­life, than oncom­ing traf­fic.
* Rur­al North Dakota, where your child doesn’t know every­one in their class…they know every­one in the school.
* Rur­al North Dakota, Where the loudest noise heard at night is the 10 o’clock whistle.
* Rur­al North Dakota, where the Amer­ic­an dream of own­ing a home is still afford­able.

What sets Mad­dock apart from rur­al North Dakota? Plenty!! In Mad­dock you will find all the bene­fits of rur­al North Dakota plus: beau­ti­ful parks, bas­ket­ball courts, base­ball dia­monds, vol­ley­ball courts, a swim­ming pool, a nine-hole golf course, bowl­ing lanes, and an inter­net café. Mad­dock is home to a 29,000 square foot event center, a 12,000 square foot state of the art busi­ness and tech­no­logy center, and a multi-function com­munity center.

Mad­dock has an act­ive busi­ness dis­trict, boost­ing more busi­nesses than many com­munit­ies two or three times our size. We are proud to have Sum­mers Man­u­fac­tur­ing, an inter­na­tion­ally know farm imple­ment man­u­fac­turer, call Mad­dock home.

Is your pas­sion out­door recre­ation? The Mad­dock area is in the middle of the Cent­ral North Amer­ic­an Fly­way offer­ing some of the best goose and duck hunt­ing found. Each year mil­lions of ducks and geese migrate through our area cre­at­ing fant­ast­ic out­ings for the avid hunter. Mad­dock is in the heart of Ben­son County which offers some of North Dakota’s finest fish­ing for anglers. Like the ducks and geese, sports­man from around the nation migrate to our area each fall to exper­i­ence not only our abund­ant hunt­ing and fish­ing, but our out­stand­ing hos­pit­al­ity and our fant­ast­ic way of life. Young or old, novice or pro, our area will prove to be more than just another trip, it will be an exper­i­ence long remembered! 

then, after the words Rur­al North Dakota have been so seared into the mind forever more, gave rather more gra­tu­it­ous inform­a­tion that I found amus­ing:

Races in Mad­dock:

* White Non-Hispanic (99.4%)

Mad­dock, North Dakota is vir­tu­ally made up of 100% Caucasi­an Race.

Stat­ist­ic­ally only 1 per­son in the entire city is not Amer­ic­an or of European Des­cent.

Mad­dock, ND

First ances­tries repor­ted:

* Nor­we­gi­an: 277
* Ger­man: 111
* Swedish: 12
* Oth­er groups: 12
* Dutch: 11
* French (except Basque): 11
* Scot­tish: 11
* Scand­inavi­an: 5
* Eng­lish: 4
* Irish: 4
* United States or Amer­ic­an: 4
* Dan­ish: 3
* Slov­e­ne: 2
* Pol­ish: 1 

It is both poignant and puzz­ling to pon­der on the stat­ist­ic­al single per­son not of Amer­ic­an nor European des­cent; but it’s weird to con­sider that Amer­ic­ans still base their advert­ise­ments on the prom­ise of racial exclu­sion much as in Sin­clair Lewis’s day. I can’t really give even the tini­est of fly­ing fucks  —  less than the most fleet­ing fucks upon the wing of the two tini­est fly­ing ducks winging away from Mad­dock in the autumn twi­light if they have the faintest sense  —  about laugh­able issues as sup­posed equal­ity or racial sens­it­iv­ity which obsess petty minds; but it seems so obnox­iously damn ill-bred…

 
I had a choice here for the illus­tra­tion: one for the holo­caust of shot birds; and one for the eth­nic make-up ( which is, I repeat, in no way a bad thing per se: but, uh, dull ), so here are both:

 
Bird Girl

 
Nazi Girl

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Sure Of Hand

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(Art, High Germany, Literature, Other Writ, Self Writ)

Jamie has this gift also, the gift of the compelling eye --- which is not to be confused with the evil eye, nor yet witchcraft --- which suggests to the unwary and lesser-willed the pure unreason of unobedience [ I wish I had it... ]

She believed profoundly in herself and in the suggestions of her own imagination. So fixed and unalterable was that belief that it amounted to positive knowledge, so far as it constituted a motive of action. In her strange youth wild dreams had possessed her, and some of them, often dreamed again, had become realities to her now. Her powers were natural, those gifts which from time to time are seen in men and women, which are alternately scoffed at as impostures, or accepted as facts, but which are never understood either by their possessor or by those who witness the results. She had from childhood the power to charm with eye and hand all living things, the fascination which takes hold of the consciousness through sight and touch and word, and lulls it to sleep. It was witchery, and she was called a witch. In earlier centuries her hideous fate would have been sealed from the first day when, under her childish gaze, a wolf that had been taken alive in the Bohemian forest crawled fawning to her feet, at the full length of its chain, and laid its savage head under her hand, and closed its bloodshot eyes and slept before her.

I was fond of F. Marion Crawford's The Witch of Prague as a child, and though he wasn't prone to incident in his unelaborate plotting, few could deny the beauty of his descriptive, suggestively so, powers.

The man introduced him into a spacious hall and closed the door, leaving him to his own reflections. The place was very wide and high and without windows, but the broad daylight descended abundantly from above through the glazed roof and illuminated every corner. He would have taken the room for a conservatory, for it contained a forest of tropical trees and plants, and whole gardens of rare southern flowers. Tall letonias, date palms, mimosas and rubber trees of many varieties stretched their fantastic spikes and heavy leaves half-way up to the crystal ceiling; giant ferns swept the polished marble floor with their soft embroideries and dark green laces; Indian creepers, full of bright blossoms, made screens and curtains of their intertwining foliage; orchids of every hue and of every exotic species bloomed in thick banks along the walls. Flowers less rare, violets and lilies of the valley, closely set and luxuriant, grew in beds edged with moss around the roots of the larger plants and in many open spaces. The air was very soft and warm, moist and full of heavy odours as the still atmosphere of an island in southern seas, and the silence was broken only by the light plash of softly-falling water.

He who has won woman in the face of daring rivals, of enormous odds, of gigantic obstacles, knows what love means; he who has lost her, having loved her, alone has measured with his own soul the bitterness of earthly sorrow, the depth of total loneliness, the breadth of the wilderness of despair. And he who has sorrowed long, who has long been alone, but who has watched the small, twinkling ray still burning upon the distant border of his desert—the faint glimmer of a single star that was still above the horizon of despair—he only can tell what utter darkness can be upon the face of the earth when that last star has set for ever. With it are gone suddenly the very quarters and cardinal points of life's chart, there is no longer any right hand or any left, any north or south, any rising of the sun or any going down, any forward or backward direction in his path, any heaven above, or any hell below. The world has stood still and there is no life in the thick, black stillness. Death himself is dead, and one living man is forgotten behind, to mourn him as a lost friend, to pray that some new destroyer, more sure of hand than death himself, may come striding through the awful silence to make an end at last of the tormented spirit, to bear it swiftly to the place where that last star ceased to shine, and to let it down into the restful depths of an unremembering eternity. But into that place, which is the soul of man, no destroyer can penetrate; that solitary life neither the sword, nor pestilence, nor age, nor eternity can extinguish; that immortal memory no night can obscure. There was a beginning indeed, but end there can be none.

Here also is one of his pretty short stories: For The Blood Is The Life

 

Karl Bridge
Charles Bridge - 1840

 
As to Prague itself, it was no doubt a fine city, from when it was the capital of the Old Reich to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; yet I do have some distance from all things Czech: excessive nationalism from when they first began their interesting practice of throwing people out of high windows and set off the most devastating war in modern history; a wry humour allied to a smug morosity similar to that of my own people which insisted on striving for barren independent democracy; and, of course, the depraved vengefulness which sped possibly the most unspeakable atrocities on Germans of any nation which had been under the nazi control ( after an occupation which was as collaborative as most [ they supplied superb weaponry with all their noted craftsmanship and the occupation was not as grim as in, say, Poland ] ) --- here's one link, but I've read far, far worse... If the Russians were dreadful, they were restrained compared to some of the smaller regimes which were to become their future puppets. Besides, they honoured the Grand Tradition by chucking Jan Masaryk --- ghastly son of a still ghastlier father --- out of a window...

 
Still Art has nothing to do with politics, and Bohemia even in it's despicable guise of the late scarcely lamented Czechoslovakia had some severely unknown artists:
here's a site devoted to Tavik František Šimon

Simon -- Vilma Reading 
with pages upon his confreres such as Hugo Böttinger

Boettinger -- three girls

 
Mucha is naturally well-known, yet Golden Age Comic Stories blog has some nice examples of his work on the 8th June entry --- for some reason I cannot link directly to posts there; this blog has a large resource of illustrative fantasy ranging from the fascinating to the banal [ I have to say I despise classical comic book 'art' and such genre; and find it generally as debased and weak-minded as say it's successors in film such as Star Wars or Star Trek ].


Mucha Queen

 
Finally, here's another Perchta...

[ Although I have to preface this by pointing out that the painting above the snippet, Vincent Neumann's Witch on a Broom --- reffing to above mention of Bohemian witches... --- is uncannily reminiscent of Auld Scotia right up to the present time. Go into any Edinburgh pub. ]


Neumann Witch

 
The White Lady von Rosenberg
Perchta von Rosenberg, known as the White Lady, lived in the Český Krumlov castle in the 15th century. Her father, Ulrich II. von Rosenberg married her off against her will and without love to the Moravian lord Johann von Lichtenstein who was cruel to Perchta all her life. When Johann was dying he had Perchta called in and asked her for forgiveness. She refused, and her husband cursed her. Since then, the soul of the White Lady von Rosenberg has had to roam the Rosenberg castles and tends to appear before significant events. White gloves on her hand bear good tidings, whereas black gloves are a sign of impending disaster. Tales of the White Lady is a theme for many authors.

This is from the Tales & Legends bit of the site of Český Krumlov Castle.

Apart from the fact I find the notion of forgiveness unmanly and fairly inexplicable, the trouble here is that under no rational or irrational standard can forgiveness be demanded, and why this poor girl should have to expiate her lack of pity for the brutish lout who had injured her is totally beyond me.

 
I blame christianity.

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Darkness Hold Me Like A Friend

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(Manners not Morals, Melancholy, Music, Self Writ, The Building Blocks of Democracy)

It is an axiom that every American born has a chance of becoming president, yet few avail themselves of that option. Such a fairytale there to sooth the slumbering never to be acknowledged fact that 99.9% of them are subjugated by a --- semi --- elected ruling class and have no chance whatsoever of effecting change within the system --- which is no doubt all for the best --- takes no account of the fact that the odds are of course far lesser than any state lottery, which are usually stupendously unlikely. There are over 300 million Americans at present, barring any major event taking place overnight; there will be around 400 - 440 million in 2050 --- although this is probably an underestimate if the present rate of legal immigration of 1 million a year was raised to to 3 or 5 million, as this 2006 legislation indicated, and illegal immigration rose dramatically for some reason [ such as some countries becoming less endurable through nature or war ]. There is the natural probability that these masses will reduce the numbers through attrition: over-crowding will increase the national propensity of Americans to kill each other at random. Anyhow, whilst strictly disinclined to search for the answer, even if it is known, I'll assume that the total number of citizens who lived during the 20th century was, say, 400 million [ 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000 --- during which time millions died and were replaced ]. During that century, 1901 to 2001, there were 18 presidents.

Even odder than that fact, from a european view, is the fact that out of all those millions, most admittedly disbarred by reasons of eligibility, disinclination, sex, mental impairment etc., even the early preliminary hat-throwing stages of a presidential race only appear to encompass around twenty to fifty persons seriously considered; and after the winnowing out by press and parties, the fix is in place and the permissible candidates are ready to run. Which means only around four Americans are ever papabile out of 300 million people. It might be slightly preferable if the final ballot was to be of a choice of twenty persons with some kind of transferable vote system to knock them down till there's just one man standing. This wouldn't make the system legitimate of course, but then no system which includes people voting can confer legitimacy on any result.

 

Freedom Girls

 
 
As a graceful tribute to that dead-eyed political process here are some songs for each participant. Unattributed generic Corries-type band for the first, but I couldn't find the inimitable original from Francie & Josie; Alice Blue Gown no doubt since the song was inspired by the daughter of another great family of presidential nepotists --- although scarcely so semi-insanely so as poor old Hil with her almost unique sense of unaccountable entitlement; Red Yo-Yo as pace McCain, Iran will resemble how we kept the Gorbals over here [ a ben trovato tale goes of after perhaps the Somme or Ypres an over-excitable senior staff officer burst into tears when taken to view the mud, deeper mud than anyone can really imagine, and exclaimed "My God, did we send men to die in that ?!" --- Yes we did sir, and nor all your tears shall wash out a word of it... Still, another point is that even in piping days of peace we really didn't provide very well for our poor... 'Did we keep people in places like these ?' Matt McGinn was a commie, and looking at Glasgow then, one can understand why. Naturally, having faith in the working-class is as vulgar and debased as faith in an aristocracy, or faith in wealthy businessmen, yet people had to believe in something I guess. ]

 

Barack
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Unknown -- O' Ye Cannie Shove Yer Grannie Aff The Bus

 

Hillary
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Jessie Broughton -- Alice Blue Gown

 

John
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Matt McGinn -- Red Yo-Yo

 

Americans...
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Alison Krauss & Robert Plant -- Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us

 
 

Alison Krauss poster

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