Jack Anderson: “A Leap into the Unknown”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Six

Look in the Salon des Refusés of most periods
and there will hang the homosexuals
labeled by critics
“contrary to nature”.

Now, to use a familiar set of distinctions, what
exists but is not nature must be art;
yet art is also an imitation
of some process of nature: so art, too, is natural,
whatever its manner.

Art may evolve through accretions of tradition
or leap ahead into the unknown.
This form of expression, the gay life
so maddening and unimaginable to some,
necessarily involves a leap into the unknown,
for its traditions, such as they are, are shadowy.

Note how, on every side, images proclaim
and sustain the straight life. In parks and town squares
one may behold the monumental figures of, say,
Cohibere guarding his family from the Amplecti,
of Scruta and Amentia denouncing the barbarians,
or of the marriage of Turpa and Insulsus on the battlefield.

Images of the gay life, in contrast, are obscure, are
curiosities kept locked from the public in cabinets: in consequence,
gay lives must style themselves with craft,
with daring. Many fail. Even so,
some grow amazing and beautiful.

And since such triumphs are typically achieved
amidst general bewilderment and in defiance
of academic theory, the gay life
deserves to be ranked among
the significant examples of art, past and present.
And because it has disordered whatever may be
the accustomed ways of seeing in its time,
it is therefore avant-garde,
naturally avant-garde.

Jack Anderson, A Lecture on Avant-Garde Art, Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry, Editor Timothy Liu, 2000

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June of 1935, Jack Anderson is an American poet, dance critic and dance historian. He has contributed numerous reviews on dance performances for both the “New York Times” and “Dance Magazine”. Anderson is also known for his scholastic work on dance history and eleven volumes of poetry.

In his formative years, Jack Anderson studied piano and acted in theater groups before his departure to college. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Northwestern University with a major in Theater and minors in English Literature and Philosophy. Anderson completed his graduate studies at Indiana University where he earned his Master of Arts in Creative Writing. He pursued further studies at the University of California, Berkeley, until a position became available at the “Oakland Tribune”. 

Anderson joined the staff of the weekly news publication in 1959 as a copy boy. He was promoted after one year to assistant drama critic and, in addition to his work at the Tribune, began writing dance criticism for both the English periodical “Ballet Today” and America’s leading dance periodical “Dance Magazine”. After relocating to New York in 1969, Anderson was a member of the editorial staff of “Dance Magazine” until 1970, after which he continued to contribute reviews until 1978. 

While living in London with his partner, dance historian and writer George Dorris, Jack Anderson was deputy dance critic from 1970 to 1971 at the “Daily Mail” under critic and broadcaster Oleg Kerensky. In 1972, he became the New York correspondent for London’s “Dancing Times” magazine. Already writing and teaching dance history, Anderson along with George Dorris founded the scholarly journal “Dance Chronicle: Studies in Dance and the Related Arts”, which became one of the genre’s leading periodicals. In 1978, he joined Anna Kisselgoff and Jennifer Dunning as the dance critics for “The New York Times”, where he remained until 2005.  

Drawn to poetry throughout his adult life, Anderson published his first two collections of poetry in 1969: “The Hurricane Lamp” and “The Invention of New Jersey”. His subtle yet witty poems often explore themes of urban life and travel. Anderson has the urban sophistication and the alertness to create often lurid tales that in a strange way make sense. Among his many volumes are the 1978 “Toward the Liberation of the Left Hand”, “The Clouds of That Country” published in 1982, the 1990 “Field Trips on the Rapid Transit”, and “Backyards of the Universe” published in 2017. In recognition of his work, Anderson received a creative writing fellowship and a literary award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Recognized as both an effective teacher and lecturer, Jack Anderson has taught dance history and criticism at the University of Adelaide in Australis, the University of Minnesota, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Oklahoma, and New York’s New School, among others. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Anderson has produced seven books on various aspects of dance. Among these are the 1979 “The Nutcracker”, the “Ballet & Modern Dance” available in three editions, and the 1981 “The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo” which won that year’s José de la Rorre Bueno Prize for best English-language writing in dance history.

Note: Jack Anderson and George Dorris, a dance scholar and now retired English professor, had known each other slightly at Northwestern University. They later met in 1965 on the Lincoln Center subway platform after a New York City Ballet performance. They have traveled together throughout the world and become friends with dance scholars in many countries. In 2006, they were married in Toronto and currently reside in Manhattan, New York.

A collection of six poems by Jack Anderson can be found at the Poetry Foundation website located at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/jack-anderson#tab-poems  

The second edition, recently updated, of Anderson’s “Ballet and Modern Dance: A Concise History” is available through Amazon. 

Richard Hovey: “He Flung Himself at the Eternal Sky”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Five

AVID of life and love, insatiate vagabond,
With quest too furious for the graal he would have won,
He flung himself at the eternal sky, as one
Wrenching his chains but impotent to burst the bond.
Yet under the revolt, the revel, the despond,
What pools of innocence, what crystal benison!
As through a riven mist that glowers in the sun,
A stretch of God’s blue calm glassed in a virgin pond.
Prowler of obscene streets that riot reels along,
And aisles with incense numb and gardens mad with rose,
Monastic cells and dreams of dim brocaded lawns,
Death, which has set the calm of Time upon his song,
Surely upon his soul has kissed the same repose
In some fair heaven the Christ has set apart for

Richard Hovey, Verlaine, Songs from Vagabondia, Richard Hovey and Bliss Carman, 1894

Born in Normal, Illinois, in May of 1864, Richard Hovey was a poet, translator, and dramatist. A talented poet at an early age, his first volume of poetry was privately published in 1880, at the age of sixteen. He graduated from Dartmouth college in 1885; he is known for writing its official Alma Mater, “Men of Dartmouth”. He was described by many who knew him as a self-conscious man, an American Oscar Wilde in both mannerisms and clothes.

After graduation, Hovey studied art in Washington, DC, and then theology at the Central Theological Seminary in New York City; he later became a lay assistant at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Hovey relocated to Boston where he became a newspaper reporter and, in 1887, met the Canadian poet Bliss Carman, with whom he would begin a lengthy collaboration. After studying acting for a brief period to become a better playwright, Hovey wrote the first collection of his dramatic poems, “Lancelot and Guenevere: A Poem in Dramas”, which was published in 1891. Originally planned as  a collection of nine plays, he only completed four volumes, one of which was the 1895 “The Marriage of Guenevere”. 

Richard Hovey moved to France in the following year and met many members of the French Symbolist movement, including the French poets Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarme, and the Belgian poet Maurice Masterlinck, a future Nobel Prize winner who greatly influenced Hovey’s work. Hovey and Bliss Carman were both members of the “Visionists” group, a Boston-based social group of artists and writers who shared an interest in Aestheticism, Theosophy, and the Decadent movement. Members of this group also included writer and art critic John Ruskin, poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and writer Oscar Wilde. 

After becoming one of the first translators of Maurice Masterlinck’s works, completing eight plays into English, Richard Hovey collaborated with Bliss Carman on their first project together, the “Songs of Vagabondia”. Published in 1894, this collective work celebrated the carefree life of a vagabond on the road in the fictitious place called Vagabondia. The Bohemian mood of their poems of masculine comradeship and college fraternity received critical acclaim and became an immediate success; it was followed by a second volume “More Songs from Vagabondia” in 1896 and a third “Last Songs from Vagabondia”, published in 1900 after Hovey’s death. 

Besides his collaborations with Bliss Carman, Hovey had a number of works published under his own name. These include the 1893 “Seaward”, an 1898 elegy on the poet Thomas William Parsons;  the 1898 “Along the Trail: A Book of Lyrics”; and the 1898 “Taliesin, A Masque”, a poetic play in which the bard Taliesin and Percival, a knight of the Round Table, meet the spirit of Merlin, the Three Muses, and Hermes, and other characters. Hovey’s “To the End of the Trail” was published posthumously in 1908. 

Richard Hovey lectured on Aesthetics at the Farmington School of Philosophy and, in 1888, became a lecturer at Columbia University in New York.  He also, in his last years, was a Professor of English at Barnard College in New York City. He died on February 24th of 1900, at the age of thirty-five, after undergoing minor surgery.

The Richard Hovey collection, containing manuscripts, correspondence, scrapbooks, notebooks, and newspaper clippings is housed in theDartmouth Library Archives and Manuscripts.

Notes: After a large fresco painted by Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco in the Dartmouth College campus library was judged by many alumni to be too critical of the college, alumnus and illustrator Walter Beach Humphrey was allowed to paint a mural more in character with the college. 

This mural was based on a drinking song written by Richard Hovey and portrays the mythical founding of the college by Eleazer Wheelock. In its first panel, he is seen pulling a five-hundred gallon of rum, and being greeted by young Native American men, whom he introduces to drunken revelry. This encounter circles the faculty dining hall and also features half-naked Native American women. In the early 1970s, the “Hovey Murals” became so controversial that they were covered over, and the room itself was closed.

An extensive article for those interested is Ezra Pound scholar Leon Surette’s “Ezra Pound, Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey” which contains the meeting of Carman and Hovey, and Pound’s recollections of them. It can be found at:  https://canadianpoetry.org/volumes/vol43/surette.html

Middle Insert Image: Robert Gryden, “Richard Hovey”, Date Unknown, Engraving

Melvin Dixon: “We Live Bravely in the Light”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Four

They won’t go when I go. (Stevie Wonder)
Live bravely in the hurt of light. (C.H.R.)

The children in the life:
Another telephone call. Another man gone.
How many pages are left in my diary?
Do I have enough pencils? Enough ink?
I count on my fingers and toes the past kisses,
the incubating years, the months ahead.

Thousands. Many thousands.
Many thousands gone.

I have no use for numbers beyond this one,
one man, one face, one torso
curled into mine for the ease of sleep.
We love without mercy,
We live bravely in the light.

Thousands. Many thousands.

Chile, I knew he was funny, one of the children,
a member of the church, a friend of Dorothy’s.

He knew the Websters pretty well, too.
Girlfriend, he was real.
Remember we used to sit up in my house
pouring tea, dropping beads,
dishing this one and that one?

You got any T-cells left?
The singularity of death. The mourning thousands.
It begins with one and grows by one
and one and one and one
until there’s no one left to count.

Melvin Dixon, One by One, Love’s Instruments, 1995, Tia Chuca Press, Chicago

Born in Stanford, Conneticutt in May of 1950, Melvin Dixon was a creative writer, as a novelist, poet, translator and literary critic. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, and earned a Master of Arts in 1973 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1975 from Boston University.

Dixon wrote poems, novels, short stories, essays, critical studies, and translated many works from French. Searching for his literary heritage, he traveled throughout the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, and researched such men as Leopold Senghor, the poet and former president of Senegal; the Haitian novelist and poet Jacques Roumain; and author Richard Nathaniel Wright, whose 1945 book “Black Boy” became an instant success and a work of historical and sociological significance.

Melvin Dixon wrote openly about his homosexuality in both his published and unpublished works. As an active spokesman for gay communities and their issues, he incorporated the complexities of gay lifestyle and identity, as well as his identity as a black man, into his work. Dixon’s first collection of poems, “Change of Territory” published in 1983, examined the involuntary journeys of African slavery and the later historical migration of African Americans from the southern United States to the north. In 1987, he wrote a critical study of African-American literature entitled “Ride Out the Wilderness”.

The influence of James Baldwin’s work upon Dixon’s writings can be seen in his two novels, the 1989 “Trouble the Water”, a novel of family reconciliation which won the Nikon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction, and the 1991 “Vanishing Rooms”, a novel of homophobia and racism revolving around three people who are each affected by the death of a gay man in New York City. “Vanishing Rooms” was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Fiction. Dixon’s final volume of poetry, entitled “Love’s Instruments” published posthumously in 1995, was a tribute to gay men with AIDS-related illness.

Melvin Dixon translated many works from French to English. Included in these works are his translations of Haitian poet Jacques Roumain’s poetry; Professor of American Literature at the University of Paris, Genevierve Fabre’s history of black theater since 1945, entitled “Drumbeats, Masks, and Metaphor” and  published in 1983; and “The Collected Poetry of Leopold Seder Senghor”, published in 1991. This translation of Senghor’s work contains the majority of his poetic oeuvre, including his “lost” poems.

Dixon was an Assistant Professor at Williams College from 1975 to 1980, and a Professor of English Literature at Queens College of the City University of New York from 1980 until 1992. He also taught at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Fordham University and Columbia University. Dixon received a number of awards and fellowships including a Fulbright lectureship in Senegal from 1985 to 1986.

Melvin Dixon was in a long-term partnership with Richard Horowitz, an openly gay man who worked from 1983 to 1987 as a program officer of the Ford Foundation in Dakar, West Africa. Upon Horowitz’s return to the United States, he worked with the Ford Foundation to finance projects for AIDS patients internationally. He died at his summer home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, from complications due to AIDS in July of 1991. He was forty-four years in age.

Melvin Dixon had been battling AIDS since an initial diagnosis in 1989. At the age of forty-two, he died from AIDS-related complications in Stanford, Conneticutt, on October 28, 1992, one year after his partner. The Melvin Dixon Papers, which contain primarily of manuscripts, correspondence, notes, and journals, are part of the Archives and Manuscripts department of the New York Public Library. They are housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York City.

Note: “this one” in the second stanza of the poem, “One by One”, refers to Dixon’s lover, Richard Horowitz

Edward O. Phillips: “The Universe is Copernican”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Three

“To grow old is to realize the universe is Copernican, not Ptolemaic, and that self and the loved one do not form the epicenter of the solar system>”

—Edward O. Phillips

Born on November 26th of 1931 in Westmount, an enclave of Montreal, Edward Openshaw Phillips was a Canadian novelist who has written mainstream literary fiction and is best known for his series of mystery novels featuring gay detective Geoffry Chadwick. 

Edward Phillips earned his Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in Montreal, and earned his Bachelor of Civil Law Degree from the Université de Montréal. After deciding against legal practice, he graduated from Harvard University with a Master’s Degree in Education, and later earned a second Master’s Degree in English Literature from Boston University. Phillips taught English for seven years, first in the public English school system and later at Selwyn House School, an independent boys’ school located in Westmount. 

Having a long-established interest in drawing and painting, Phillips pursued this interest with art classes at both the Visual Arts Center in Westmount and the Montreal Museum School of Art. He later entered his work in numerous group shows and was exhibited in five solo shows within Canada.

Throughout his teaching career and painting period, Edward O. Phillips devoted himself to his writing, from which would come twelve novels and numerous short stories. His first novel, “Sunday’s Child”, the first of six titles in the Geoffry Chadwick series, was published in 1981, and was shortlisted for the Books in Canada First Novel Award. Phillips won the Arthur Ellis Award, presented annually by the Crime Writers of Canada, in 1987 for his novel “Buried on Sunday”, the second book of the Chadwick series. In 1989, his novel, “Hope Springs Eternal”, was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humor. 

Phillips’s short story, entitled “Matthew and Chauncy”, was adapted by director and screenwriter Anne Claire Poirier into the 1990 film “Salut Victor”. Produced by the National Film Board, the film starred Jean-Louis Roux as Philippe and Jacques Godin as Victor in the story of two older men, one openly gay and one closeted, who fall in love during their stay at a retirement home.

Edward O. Phillips spent most of his life in Westmount, Quebec. Openly gay, he was in a fifty-two year relationship with partner Kenneth S. Woodman, who passed away in 2018. Edward Phillips died on May 30th of 2020 of complications from Covid-19. 


Timothy Liu: “Tiny Flares Corkscrew Up the Sky”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Two

Faces sludging forward on the esplanade
to where we are. What we are is energy—
our bodies angled skyward as fading blooms
parachute towards the earth, the crowd
a spent militia—torn blankets left behind
as we march to the riverfront where
tiny flares corkscrew up the sky to release
delayed reports. The night gives up
its ghost—wreaths of smoke crowning floral
cornucopias that spill a motherlode
of fire onto both sides of the shore,
hoarse voices bellowing out rote words
learned in grade school that take on
meaning in a country of peace where
thousands scream through the dark, waiting
for that twenty-one gun salute.

Timothy Liu, A Boston Fourth, Poetry, July 1996

Born in 1965 in San Jose, California, Timothy Liu is an American poet and author residing in New York City. He earned his BA in English at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and his MA in Poetry at the University of Houston in Texas. Liu also studied at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he met his husband, the artist Christopher Arabadjis.

Liu considers poet and critic Richard Howard, Welsh poet Leslie Norris, and American writer and literary critic Gordon Lish as his mentors. His poetry, based formally on the meter of syllables, explores the themes of identity, violence, sexuality, with the narrator as witness. His works also deal with cultural taboos and situations largely left out of poetic writing.

Timothy Liu’s work includes: the 1992 “Vox Angelica” which won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America; “Say Goodnight”, published in 1998 and winner of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award; the 2004 “Of Thee I Sing” winnerof the Poetry Book of the Year Award from Publishers Weekly; the 2005 “For Dust Thou Art”; “Don’t Go Back to Sleep” in 2014; and “Tin House” published in 2018..

Liu’s most recent works include “Luminous Debris: New and Selected Legerdemain 1992-2017” published in 2018 by Barrow Street Books and a finalist in the 2019 Thom Gunn Awards; and his twelfth book of poems, “Let It Ride” published in 2019, which explores how the necessities of life and art join to provide a path forward at midlife.

Timothy Liu has served as a core faculty member at Bennington College’s Writing Seminars and is currently a Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey. His journals and papers are archived in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library.

For more information on Timothy Liu, including books and poems: https://www.timothyliu.net

Fernando Pessoa: “Masquerades Disclose the Reality of Souls”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Twenty-One

“Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life. I sometimes muse over this sketch of a story about a man afflicted by one of those personal tragedies born of extreme shyness who one day, while wearing a mask I don’t know where, told another mask all the most personal, most secret, most unthinkable things that could be told about his tragic and serene life. And since no outward detail would give him away, he having disguised even his voice, and since he didn’t take careful note of whoever had listened to him, he could enjoy the ample sensation of knowing that somewhere in the world there was someone who knew him as not even his closest and finest friend did. When he walked down the street he would ask himself if this person, or that one, or that person over there might not be the one to whom he’d once, wearing a mask, told his most private life. Thus would be born in him a new interest in each person, since each person might be his only, unknown confidant.” 

—Fernando Pessoa

Zane Grey: “Every Second the Scene Changed”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Twenty

“I sat there for a long time and knew that every second the scene changed, yet I could not tell how. I knew I sat high over a hole of broken, splintered, barren mountains; I knew I could see a hundred miles of the length of it, and eighteen miles of the width of it, and a mile of the depth of it, and the shafts and rays of rose light on a million glancing, many-hued surfaces at once; but that knowledge was no help to me. I repeated a lot of meaningless superlatives to myself, and I found words inadequate and superfluous. The spectacle was too elusive and too great. It was life and death, heaven and hell.” 

—-Zane Grey, The Last of the Plainsmen

Jesús Holguin: “The Sense of Secrets”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Nineteen

“What i like about Photography is that it takes moments that should have been forgotten, and just freezes them, and allows us to share it with everyone and share it with future generations. But there is also the sense of secrets in the picture, or the stuff you don’t know, or don’t see. You don’t really know what happened before or after a picture; its time is just frozen in that moment.” 

—Jesús Holguin

Cormac McCarthy: “Anything is Possible”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Nineteen

“The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning. 

The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.” 

—Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West

Henri Cartier-Bresson: “The Precise and Transitory Instant”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Eighteen

“Of all the means of expression, photography is the only one that fixes forever the precise and transitory instant. We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory. The writer has time to reflect. He can accept and reject, accept again; and before committing his thoughts to paper he is able to tie the several relevant elements together. There is also a period when his brain “forgets,” and his subconscious works on classifying his thoughts. But for photographers, what has gone is gone forever.” 

—Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers

Henry Miller” “Our Finest Impulses”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Seventeen

“Everyday we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read the lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Everyman, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths.” 

–Henry Miller

Joseph Campbell: “One’s Infatuations”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Sixteen

“To become—in Jung’s terms—individuated, to live as a released individual, one has to know how and when to put on and to put off the masks of one’s various life roles. ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do,’ and when at home, do not keep on the mask of the role you play in the Senate chamber. But this, finally, is not easy, since some of the masks cut deep. They include judgment and moral values. They include one’s pride, ambition, and achievement. They include one’s infatuations. It is a common thing to be overly impressed by and attached to masks, either some mask of one’s own or the mana-masks of others. The work of individuation, however, demands that one should not be compulsively affected in this way. The aim of individuation requires that one should find and then learn to live out of one’s own center, in control of one’s for and against. And this cannot be achieved by enacting and responding to any general masquerade of fixed roles.” 

-Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By

Olaf Stapledon: “Striving to Hear the Music of the Spheres”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes); Set Fifteen

“Is the beauty of the Whole really enhanced by our agony? And is the Whole really beautiful? And what is beauty? Throughout all his existence man has been striving to hear the music of the spheres, and has seemed to himself once and again to catch some phrase of it, or even a hint of the whole form of it. Yet he can never be sure that he has truly heard it, nor even that there is any such perfect music at all to be heard. Inevitably so, for if it exists, it is not for him in his littleness.

But one thing is certain. Man himself, at the very least, is music, a brave theme that makes music also of its vast accompaniment, its matrix of storms and stars. Man himself in his degree is eternally a beauty in the eternal form of things. It is very good to have been man. And so we may go forward together with laughter in our hearts, and peace, thankful for the past, and for our own courage. For we shall make after all a fair conclusion to this brief music that is man.”
Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men

Thomas Mann: “The Striving of Life to Comprehend Itself”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Fourteen

“Consciousness of self was an inherent function of matter once it was organized as life, and if that function was enhanced it turned against the organism that bore it, strove to fathom and explain the very phenomenon that produced it, a hope-filled and hopeless striving of life to comprehend itself, as if nature were rummaging to find itself in itself – ultimately to no avail, since nature cannot be reduced to comprehension, nor in the end can life listen to itself.”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann: “A Man Lives Not Only His Personal Life”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Thirteen

“A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries. He may regard the general, impersonal foundations of his existence as definitely settled and taken for granted, and be as far from assuming a critical attitude towards them as our good Hans Castorp really was; yet it is quite conceivable that he may none the less be vaguely conscious of the deficiencies of his epoch and find them prejudicial to his own moral well-being. All sorts of personal aims, hopes, ends, prospects, hover before the eyes of the individual, and out of these he derives the impulse to ambition and achievement. Now, if the life about him, if his own time seems, however outwardly stimulating, to be at bottom empty of such food for his aspirations; if he privately recognises it to be hopeless, viewless, helpless, opposing only a hollow silence to all the questions man puts, consciously or unconsciously, yet somehow puts, as to the final, absolute, and abstract meaning in all his efforts and activities; then, in such a case, a certain laming of the personality is bound to occur, the more inevitably the more upright the character in question; a sort of palsy, as it were, which may extend from his spiritual and moral over into his physical and organic part. In an age that affords no satisfying answer to the eternal question of ‘Why?’ ‘To what end?’ a man who is capable of achievement over and above the expected modicum must be equipped either with a moral remoteness and single-mindedness which is rare indeed and of heroic mould, or else with an exceptionally robust vitality. ”
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

James Fenimore Cooper: “These Intrepid Woodsmen”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Twelve

“Chingachgook grasped the hand that, in the warmth of feeling, the scout had stretched across the fresh earth, and in that attitude of friendship these intrepid woodsmen bowed their heads together, while scalding tears fell to their feet, watering the grave of Uncas like drops of falling rain.”
James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans

Aldous Huxley: “The Doors of Preception”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Eleven

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”
Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Preception

Kilroy J. Oldster: “I Shall Listen to the Teaching My Blood Whispers”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Nine

“I must cease living the false life of an imposter, and stop worrying about the future or risk sacrificing the joy of living in the moment. I am a seeker. I shall listen to the teaching my blood whispers and ecstatically accept life unfolding in whatever manner my innate material demands.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Winston S. Churchill: “A Nod of Recognition”

Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Set Eight

“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.”

― Winston S. Churchill, Painting as a Pastime