of woodcuts, pumpkin pie, and random aphorisms

of woodcuts, pumpkin pie, and random aphorisms

A hearty welcome to several recent blog subscribers!

The below pic is provided by my wife, Lucy, as she is on holiday in New Orleans.

While continuing work on a draft essay about little known or suppressed history, we offer these musings to the blogosphere.  Dear readers:  If you are not interested in woodcuts and are indifferent to pumpkin pie, you may want to scroll down to the random aphorisms as you may find something of benefit to you.  (Yes, some are challenging, but as Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) said “Anything worth having is worth working for.”)  Thanks for reading!


Woodcuts are an interesting subset of art (as are ceramics).  In today’s fast paced, impatient world of quick results, it can be difficult to relate to the time and effort that an artisan had to expend to make a woodcut.  There are many impressive woodcut works of art and skill that have survived from the late Middle Ages.  Making woodcuts is still with us as a few contemporary artists still make them for a limited audience of artistic consumers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodcut – an article on woodcuts

http://www.hughbryden.com/?cat=18  – for examples of a contemporary artisan’s work

Before passing on to good images of woodcuts, we call attention to 3 books of woodcuts.

The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger (1538) (Dover Publications).  Death was symbolized by a skeleton in the Middle Ages.  An interesting book from an artistic and historical view.

Albrecht Durer did many woodcuts in the late Middle Ages.  Have not read the below book from Dover but it likely is a good source for some of Durer’s work.

Gustave Dore (19th century, 1832 – 1883) is known for doing compelling illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy and other works of literature.  This book we have and it contains many good artistic plates.  Not truly woodcuts as Dore usually drew his illustrations directly on to the woodblocks.

(Dover Publications is also on FaceBook now.)

Boats is courtesy of adventuresintheprinttrade.blogspot.com (artist was René Quillivic).  Honestly, I am not sure this is a true woodcut, but it is an impressive work.

Japanese woodcut is by tfaoi.com

Mountain woodcut is courtesy of mlive.com

Woodcut57 (below) is by magickalgraphics.com

Durer woodcut is courtesy of en.allexperts.com

Moses (Dore wood illustration) is by sacredsymbolic.com

Hope you have enjoyed viewing the images.

Pumpkin Pie

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching in the USA, we say that we like and enjoy eating pumpkin pie.  It is like lemonade in the summer.  Whether homemade or bought from a bakery shop or the grocery store, pumpkin pie is a seasonal treat and is likely good for you.  So enjoy some with family and friends this Thanksgiving without any guilt.

Random Aphorisms (totally random, and humbly offered to our patient readers)

“Love, devotion, and surrender” – an early song from the musical group Santana (likely inspired by Carlos’ spiritual guide at the time, Sri Chimnoy)

Perhaps the greatest “sin” is to want to love and to be loved in such an unloving world.

Concentrate on the process . . . . and the product (outcome) will take care of itself.

Similarly, it is the journey, and not the destination, that we need to experience and learn from.

Knowledge (jnana) alone does not purify the consciousness.  We need bhakti (love, devotion, surrender and service to God).

“It’s not my fault – it’s society’s fault.”  anonymous (with many adherents)

“A rascal is someone who will insist he’s right even after you have proved he’s wrong.”  Srila Prabhupada (1896 – 1977)  (This is true of some institutions (churches, schools) and professions (US medical establishment), and of many individuals.)

It is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss.  (debatable)

Supersaurus.  Megalosaurus.  Ultrasaurus.  Seismosaurus(!!).  Paleontologists kept finding larger dinosaur fossils (hence the superlatives) in Argentina.  But were they different species or perhaps just different age individuals of the same species?

Dr. Killdare or Kildare – an early to mid 1960s TV show – where the doctor risked (dared) killing his patients in desperate attempts to save their lives?

Planning and execution: Valid plans need sound, effective execution.  Success results from sound, realistic plans being executed correctly.

Too many fanatics legitimate their cruelty with appeals to morality.

Patriarchies stand or fall on one thing and one thing only – known paternity.

“If there were something wrong with my mind, I think I’d be the first to know about it.”  Professional wrestler Mankind (aka Cactus Jack) late 1990s.

“Knowledge can be a terrible burden.”  Hugh O’Bryan in Game of Death (1977).

Many times the difference separating success and failure is very small and can be the result of unforeseen and unknown (hence uncontrollable) factors.

Christianity did not fail man.  Man failed to live up to the Christian ideals.  Mankind failed to truly put the Christian teachings into practice.  As G. K. Chesterton (d. 1936) said, “it was found difficult and left untried”.

Flexibility in thinking is key!  Plans may need revision as events unfold.  Means of execution may need modification.  Do not be too rigid and inflexible in your thinking.  As the Taoists point out: the rigid tree branches are broken by the strong wind; the flexible trees give and bend under the force of the wind, but do not break.

“Advancement of ignorance is accepted as advancement of civilization.  Why?  Because there is no spiritual knowledge.”  Srila Prabhupada (1896 – 1977).  We need to strive to attain to a spiritual level of consciousness, and not be content to remain in a material or bodily level of consciousness.

Our rights come from God.  Therefore, governments can only affirm, protect and defend those God-given rights – or trample upon them.  Governments can neither create nor destroy our God-given rights.  (So few people currently understand this or believe this.)

Dispelling ignorance does not overcome apathy in the majority of persons.  Yes, that is controversial, but there does appear to be an inertia in most people that makes it very difficult to move them to action.  (At least, that is what my experiences in social activism have shown me.  Perhaps, I simply did not have the best of experiences……)

end of random aphorisms

And lastly, a personal family anecdote that is wryly humorous.  When living in the mid Atlantic region (1970s, Maryland suburbs of Washington), my parents and my younger sister and me would make the 4 hour drive to New York City a few or more times each year.  We went there to visit my mother’s aged parents in Queens.

Her father had left school after either the 4th or the 6th grade (cannot recall which) to work to support his mother and sisters after his father died.  This was very early in the 20th century.  He worked very menial jobs until years later as an adult he went into the printing business (entrepeneur) and did fairly well over time.  The point here is he did not have much formal education.  My mother told me she never saw her father read anything other than the newspaper.

After the Sunday dinner in their house, my grandfather would sometimes say random things.  He would sometimes recite poetry and then he would say “Shakespeare.”  The poetry was fairly simplistic (juvenile?) and did not sound like anything from the Elizabethan era poet.  What he recited from memory may have been his attempts at poetry from the very early grades in school several decades earlier.  But, he had heard many times in his life that Shakespeare was a great poet.  So in his mind he connected his rudimentary “poems” with the great poet.

When he did this, we would politely smile and let the conversation proceed on to other things.  Later, even my mother would tell us that was not Shakespeare we heard.  My grandfather was a good man who loved his wife (married close on 60 years) and his 3 children.  But, as he aged, his brain began to deteriorate which is not uncommon.

In warm weather, he liked to sing in the alleyway between the houses while sitting in a lawn chair.  Being a little mischievous as a teenager, I would encourage this and would sing with him as he sang songs from the 1920s and the 1930s.  The neighbors may not have cared for the singing but my grandfather was naturally a fairly happy man.  Fond memories.  He died in 1980 a few months before I graduated college.  May God rest his soul.

If there is a lesson here, it may be this: we ought to be patient with and kind to the old so as to respect their human dignity, and we need to realize they can teach us much.  My grandfather had endured much adversity and hardship in his early life, and he lived a fairly simple adult life by today’s standards.  But, I never detected any bitterness in the man.  He seemed to take each day in stride and to be thankful to be alive.  He enjoyed the simple things including the visits from family members.

As always, please feel free to pass on (or forward, or share) this essay to any friends (or enemies?) you think may be interested in its contents.

Here is a poor pic of me (too thin and wimpy, long past are my weightlifting days) from early this year, but with a nice blue sky.


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