The Fred Rogers Memorial Koan
What song does the blackbird sing in the dead of night?
For the answer, see this touching tribute to Mister Rogers.
See also my Feb. 26, 2003, entry, "Blackbirds, Bye-Bye," and the Feb. 25, 2003, entries, "For Mark Rothko," and "Song of Not-Self."
On this date in 1986, Robert Penn Warren was appointed the first Poet Laureate of the United States of America.
See also my five log entries of October 26, 2002, and the preceding day.
The Eight Revisited
"...search for thirty-three and three..."
-- The Black Queen in The Eight, by Katherine Neville, Ballantine Books, January 1989, page 140
Samuel Beckett on Dante and Joyce:
"Another point of comparison is the preoccupation with the significance of numbers.... Thus the poem is divided into three Cantiche, each composed of 33 Canti...."
-- "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce," in James Joyce/Finnegans Wake: A Symposium (1929), New Directions paperback, 1972
Into the Dark Woods:
"-- Nel mezzo del bloody cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai in..."
-- Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry, 1947, beginning of Chapter VI
Dante Alighieri Academy:
"'The Divine Comedy' celebrates Dante's journey of knowledge to God through life: hell, purgatory and paradise. Dante Alighieri Academy continues Dante's Christian philosophy of education...."
Chorus of the Damned:
I don’t know where it is we’re goin’
and God knows if I ever will,
but what a way this is to get there.
I got those archetypal, rubber-room,
astral-plane Moebius strip blues.
I got those in-and-out, round-about,
which way’s out Moebius strip blues.
© 1997 by C.K. Latham
For Mark Rothko
Plagued in life by depression -- what Styron, quoting Milton, called "darkness visible" -- Rothko took his own life on this date in 1970. As a sequel to the previous note, "Song of Not-Self," here are the more cheerful thoughts of the song "Time's a Round," the first of Shiva Dancing: The Rothko Chapel Songs, by C. K. Latham. See also my comment on the previous entry (7:59 PM).
Time’s a round, time’s a round,
A circle, you see, a circle to be.
— C. K. Latham
Song of Not-Self
A critic on the abstract expressionists:
"...they painted that reality -- that song of self -- with a passion, bravura, and decisiveness unequaled in modern art."
Painter Mark Rothko:
"I don't express myself in painting.
I express my not-self."
On this day in 1957, Buddy Holly and his group recorded the hit version of "That'll Be the Day."
On this day in 1970, painter Mark Rothko committed suicide in his New York City studio.
On February 27, 1971, the Rothko Chapel was formally dedicated in Houston, Texas.
On May 26, 1971, Don McLean recorded "American Pie."
Rothko was apparently an alcoholic; whether he spent his last day enacting McLean's lyrics I do not know.
Rothko is said to have written that
"The progression of a painter's work, as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity: toward the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer. As examples of such obstacles, I give (among others) memory, history or geometry, which are swamps of generalization from which one might pull out parodies of ideas (which are ghosts) but never an idea in itself. To achieve this clarity is, inevitably, to be understood."
-- Mark Rothko, The Tiger's Eye, 1, no. 9 (October 1949), p. 114
Whether Holly's concept "the day that I die" is a mere parody of an idea or "an idea in itself," the reader may judge. The reader may also judge the wisdom of building a chapel to illustrate the clarity of thought processes such as Rothko's in 1949. I personally feel that someone who can call geometry a "swamp" may not be the best guide to religious meditation.
For another view, see this essay by Erik Anderson Reece.