I've been thinking this over. After going to the musical in downtown Hilo, walking back to the car, I saw that every doorway was occupied by people sleeping under bundles of rags.
I hope our new Mayor, Mr. Kim, can come up with some reasonable solutions to this catastrophe, because that is what it is. There was never a big homeless problem in Hilo before, not like this.
I hope, too, that the Clinton Administration will take on the burden of mitigating or ending homelessness. Hillary Clinton wants to found a public-private coalition to tackle the problem. I guess I favor that as long as the money goes to end homelessness and is not frittered away on useless studies and half hearted volunteerism and the usual suspects who are always trying to make money off the poor. Well, we have got to do something. I'm too old and tired to do much about it. I couldn't help to take care of people like this, with their multiple problems of addiction, abuse, neglect and other forms of trauma. They need professional help, not the fumblings of amateurs.
I'm in the middle of reading in this same issue of the NY about a man [a Trump supporter] named Mike Cernovich , who is a characteristic modern degenerate, a badly spoiled individual with poor self control. He regards himself as a victim, although he is now being supported by his ex-wife, and his second wife is pregnant. He believes that his high profile on Twitter means something. I'm on Twitter, but I don't follow him, and I had never known about him or read about him until seeing this article.
One thing that I can never figure out is why women associate with degenerate men.I knew several men like this during my college years in the 80s. Their wives were often very attractive and intelligent. A couple of the men I worked with up at the prison were of the same stripe: skeevy men, nice wives. Don't understand it. I've got to say that none of them were as overtly crude as either Trump or Cernovich.
Lots more in this issue. It's a winner! Like Hillary will be, come Nov. 8!
On Saturday a local theater group put on an energetic and fun performance of 9 to 5, the musical that was made from the 1980 film. The critical response to the film was to consider it a piece of trivial comedy with Dolly Parton giving a surprisingly good performance in it.
The 2009 musical, a qualitative great leap forward, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, was wildly popular, got awards, played on Broadway, went on tour and is now at the Palace Theater in Hilo! One more matinee today and the run will be over.
This town is loaded with talent. I'm not talking about stars here but mostly of people who maybe are not young or beautiful or thin (though some are), few of whom are career actors or musicians, who can give a hell of a performance if they get a chance. It was well staged; the dream/fantasy sequences came off splendidly. The band was live and good. Even without my hearing aids I could hear everything, thanks to the excellent acoustics of the place and those little mikes the performers wear. There were some dancers who were obvious pros; everyone hoofed around in the ensemble numbers as best they could and with brio. They started up and stayed up. The energy did not flag, ever!
They are raising a bundle of money for the theater, too, which continues to need renovation and air conditioning.
There is some sort of cyberattack going on. Twitter seems to be most affected.
Update: I still can't access European sites.
Oh good. Just picked up Stu's blog.
More: Really funny stuff going on on Neil Steinberg's blog, and my blog is showing up black in places, etc. Very strange. It is almost 7:00 HST now. This all started at least 12 hours ago here, or maybe earlier.
He's a little older than I am, born in the Depression. We grew up in an atmosphere of repression. This era was particularly difficult for assimilationist Jews like Roth to navigate through, which makes him the best analyst (yes, and in a Freudian sense) of the period. It's his theme, and it's a dark one. I did not care so much for his jokey sex novels like Portnoy's Complaint or The Breast. I also have been annoyed by his attempts at creating characters that are supposed to be mainstream WASPs or Brits and who talk like books.
On his home ground there is no one like him. In his element, no novelist interests me the way he does. For a taste of it, if you don't like Roth or are not a fan, particularly, you can read his collection of short stories, Goodbye Columbus. The title story of the collection was made into an excellent 1969 movie with Richard Benjamin and Ali McGraw. The sexual atmosphere was so terrible, and women were blamed for both the expression and repression of sexual urges. It still makes me shudder to think about all that. The low rent version of this was Herman Wouk's 1955 bestseller, Marjorie Morningstar. Marjorie learns to repress her drives and become the mediocre suburban housewife she was destined to be.*
The best novel, the one that captures a certain social atmosphere in the 60s, is Letting Go.** It's rather staid and Jamesian for contemporary tastes, I suppose. In those dark, black and grey times of graduate student life in the Midwest, the notion that anyone, particularly a woman, had rights, was ridiculous. The heroine, when reproved for wanting "everything, " cries, "I don't want everything, I just want something." It wasn't like you could just go out get what you wanted then. You have to have a strategy, but she doesn't have one. This intelligent but simple young woman is overwhelmed by her situation. The hero "rescues" her by finding a baby for her to adopt, but she hates him for it and tells him to go away.
This all has come to mind because there is a new film, American Pastoral, based on one of Roth's most complex novels. The reviewers say, basically, that the book was so much better than the picture. I have written something about the book. I don't see how these themes could be handled adequately in a film. I guess Roth has bills to pay, like all of us.
One of the annoying features of old age is to see one's own era misinterpreted. I'd say more on the topic, but I don't have the rest of my life to work on this. You want to know what life was like for intelligent young people in the 50s and 60s? Read Roth. Want to know how we have adapted to the times? Ditto.
The Boomers overwhelmed the culture in their numbers and took over. Their concerns as youth were culturally paramount; now their concerns as old people are in the forefront. Both our presidential candidates are Boomers.
*Even as I write this down, my heartbeat accelerates and I feel anxious. Time to take my medication!
**Joyce Carol Oates has written well about this period, too. Her stories feature opaque young men and sickly, yearning young women. It was a terrible time for thinkers. I really can't bring myself to go back and read these stories, but I do remember them.
Footnote: I can remember as late as the 80s in one of my lit classes a professor strongly disagreeing with my assertion in a paper that sexual repression was a driver in many of the novels we studied. At that time I did not have the writing skills to make my argument well. Now I don't have the time or the same level of interest.
Yes. Donald Trump is so awful that there is something transcendent about it.
The PBS pundits in their post-debate discussion were most disturbed by his refusal to state that he would accept the outcome of the election and that there were millions of people on the voter rolls who "didn't belong there." His gruesome take on babies being pulled out of their mothers at nine months (!) was his response to reproductive choice.
My personal favorites from the notes I took were "She caused the violence at my rallies," and "The Clinton Foundation is a criminal foundation." And his aside that she was "nasty."
It's amazing that this loathsome man managed to keep most of the attention on himself throughout the debate. As a commenter said, it is Hillary's sad fate, after a decades long career working for the betterment of women's and children's lives, that she should have to go up against a sneering, woman hating monster like Trump.
I never watch PBS but they just came up first on my search for the debate, and I could not endure David Brooks in the post debate discussion being patronizing about Hillary Clinton. So I turned it off.
More: I'm interested to note that the things I picked up that were so bizarre were what others are picking up on, too. So there is a consensus. The notion of abortions at nine months really stands out. Does he understand anything about pregnancy, gestation periods, etc?
Oh, and then there is the Alex Jones charm offensive:
Our brains are so fixated on the human face and form that we see reflections of them everywhere in nature. The Hawaiians believed that a goddess dwelled in Halemaumau Crater, and they would no doubt see her and other figures in the billowing emissions we saw yesterday evening. There don't seem to be any settings for molten lava on my Nikon Coolpix L 840. Pretty spectacular anyway. The shots I took with my I-phone were not worth bothering with. And there really is no substitute for seeing certain natural phenomena in person. I'm still working on this and think I have the best chance for true colors at dawn or twilight.
For a bonus, here are Seattle's own Dina Martina's lips, actually a banana blossom petal. Beauty is all around us in nature, as I'm sure Dina would agree.
It is only the silliness of inspired clowns like Dina that keeps me going during this election season.
Report from earlier blog post on Dina Martina performance in Seattle in April, 20i4:
Now to report on my FABULOUS time experiencing the magical Dina Martina in person! She is an untalented genius. She can't sing and can't dance, which does not stop her from doing both, and her artistic productions would be pathetic were it not for her special Jenny say kwa. Unlike many drag artists, she is never mean or snide. She is very frank about her appetites, pausing in the middle of the show to eat a heaping plate of spaghetti.
There was a debate co-sponsored by a local association and the Hawaii County League featuring Puna candidates for Hawaii state offices, up at Volcano Village last night. Only four candidates were there: two Libertarians, one Democrat seeking re-election and a Green. There was one Democrat who did not attend. The audience was very small, maybe 15 people, and there was no media coverage.
The one with the best perspective was the Democrat who did show, who owns two health food stores and is a successful businessman employing 200 people. He has been working on healthy food solutions for the public schools. His is the perspective of the local business person who is making a difference in his community. The Libertarians were a faux-folksy egomaniac with an unruly beard, and a smart but very confused person who has been searching the world for something he can glom onto and has ended up in Puna, and a rather nice local woman, the Green, who was mostly concerned about local farmers. They all favored legalizing marijuana and had visions of Puna becoming the pot growing capital of the world. This is not a new idea.
The Libertarians are so ridiculous. Flat taxes! (They work so well in Russia!) I let my mask slip and did scoff, briefly, when the bearded Libertarian brought that up, with the air of pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I also gave him the walleye when he tried to tell a stupid joke. I guess you could say I disliked him, even though he was trying so hard to win us over while he was thinking, no doubt, that we were deluded, brainwashed sheeple.
Getting government off our backs, even though they owe the very shirts on their backs to government! They are so ungrateful. Hard working people paid taxes so this bearded man could go to a public university, and what does he do? Trash government entitlements. I guess it's because Libertarians deserve perks but others don't.
If I weren't a "silent majority" type, except on this blog, I would have asked the Libertarians whether they think the National Park should be turned over to private interests! Maybe some billionaire would be interested in buying the place. Do they really think things through, or do they just fancy themselves and their "contrarian" notions? It's so cool to be a rebel, and there are so many off-the-shelf contrarian options these days. You can buy the signs, the banners, the swag and be a real candidate!
The most intelligent question came from a member of the audience who asked why County Community Development Plans never seem to be implemented. Of course none of the candidates have ever given this much thought, except for the Democrat, the one competent politician there. I may have more to say about this after attending a CDP meeting on Saturday.
Well, sorry to be so political, but I feel I need to keep a record of what's going on. Next post will be sensational night photos from the Volcanic eruption. The Park is still in public hands, as of this writing.
A footnote: In right wing parlance, the word to use for "public" is "government." So they say, not public schools, but government schools, for instance. It's a good thing to notice. It's very calculated.
We just happened to be at the park on Saturday, around the time when there was some fountaining, and the vid is too short and jerky, but I'm posting it anyway. The You Tube stabilizing feature helps some. It proves that we were there. The fountains were maybe 30 feet high, but the crater area is so vast that they seem small in that context. The white and grey magma overflowing around the outbreak, still liquid underneath and hardening on top, would appear to glow had these pix and vids been taken at night. We are going up there this p.m. to see if we can get a look at that effect.
Everyone sighs and says, "I will be so glad when this election is over." The media gave us a great symbolic clash of the titans. This has been very hard for serious people to deal with. I have been trying to cultivate my frivolous side to endure all the stuff and nonsense, and I notice that tendency among the liberal pundits I follow on Twitter, too. More kittens doing cute things, stunning shots of natural phenomena, etc. The professional jokesters have never been happier.
Coming home yesterday along the Hilo Bayfront I saw half a dozen Trump supporters struggling in the rain and wind with big cardboard Trump signs. There are a few Trump signs posted around town. I haven't seen any Clinton signs, but that does not mean anything. She'll carry the state.
It is a pity to let large areas of the country become depopulated as the natural resources are used up and cheaper labor is available elsewhere and to have able-bodied people reduced to living on the dole or scratching out a living with marginal small businesses or lousy jobs as prison guards in private prisons. What does Clinton have to offer them? They are not part of her base. Of course Trump has nothing for them either, and that is their blindness, to believe that Trump will usher in a new era that would honor them as the backbone of America, as in the mythical good old days. Like all of us, they want recognition and praise. They believe they are being picked on. Sanders was more sympathetic to their plight.
However, according to Nate Silver,
...there is analysis that suggests the picture of Trump supporters is considerably more complex than this rural narrative. An examination of exit polls by FiveThirtyEight, an election analysis web site, found that the median household income of Trump voters in early primaries was $72,000, above the national median income of $56,000. The median income figure for Trump was partly a reflection of the fact that Republican voters tend to be more wealthy – for example, supporters of GOP Ohio Gov. John Kasich had a median income of $91,000.
I wonder if these voters will remain faithful to Trump.
Bob Dylan. Well, time has passed. He has gone through the cultural digestive system and come out the other end. The writing him about him is dumb, fatuous, self-congratulatory, etc. etc. He peaked in his 20s and has been living on his reputation ever since.
Have you heard of the Austrian author Elfriede Jelinek? She won the Nobel Prize in 2004. My daughter interviewed her for a German magazine and did her thesis on her. Jelinek does not flatter men, and her work is in German. Those are the two reasons you may not have heard of her. Her voice restores what was lost to the German language when the Jews were murdered. Her father was Jewish.
And here is Doris Lessing's reaction to winning the prestigious prize. Oh, the glamor, oh the glory.
It's a lovely morn! I'm alive, old but healthy, and ready to deal with my orchids. The poor things have been languishing, many of them managing to bloom in spite of my neglect, but now I'm figuring out ways of getting better results from them, thanks to a very good lecture/workshop I attended on Saturday.
This is kind of cool. Remind you of anyone? A faux art brut work (or maybe expressionist? But it has no expression) by an artist named Michel Berberian. Can't find much info on him. I'm going to revise my piece on art brut (raw art or outsider art), look at some recent criticism and add illustrations.
Set in motion by the cataclysmic changes of the French Revolution, the romantic period in Germany extolled the glorious individual, in particular the type of the genius, most characteristically represented by Goethe and Beethoven . The high romantic period ended around the year 1815, to be replaced in Germany by an ideology of moderation and balance, the Biedermeier period. Biedermeier contained in considerably subdued form elements of romanticism combined with elements of realism. It looked back to the Enlightenment and classicism in its arts and crafts. Its literature tended more and more in the direction of prose, and the depiction of ordinary people in the novella, or short novel. Poetry became more prose-like as well.  The most characteristic arts, crafts and literature of the Biedermeier were produced from about 1815-1835. This short era had already receded into the past when Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885) started painting genre works based on the period.
Nonetheless the painter Karl Spitzweg became known as "DerBiedermeiermaler:" His trademark style defined not just the outward appearance but the mythology of 19th century German petit bourgeois existence. His paintings depicted in a nostalgic fashion the simple pleasures of everyday life in Germany in a time of peace and prosperity. Biedermeier elevated coziness and stability as values for ordinary Germans, a static view of social and material existence. Spitzweg initially painted this life and these people for themselves, as they wanted to be depicted (and as they wished to see others.) He did not pitch his appeal to the high art connoisseur. Thus his art was representational and full of details, the very opposite of the later international impressionist style.
Pre-revolutionary 19th century Germany, as Spitzweg depicted it, was charming, full of the peaceful golden light of provincial (Bavarian) small-town life, but also static and cliché ridden. Spitzweg's rendition of the "Armer Poet, " (1837)(the poor poet) for example, shows a funny looking fellow huddled in bed reading in his garret, while keeping the rain off his head with an umbrella. This is not a depiction of real poverty but of cuteness and picturesqueness. In typical Spitzweg fashion, such a picture flatters the sensibilities of the economically secure while implying that even in a garret life is peaceful and no one really suffers. The affect is flat, sentimentality with a gentle touch of humor. It's difficult, though, not to be fascinated by the few objects the poet possesses, the ragged blanket, the books, the broken umbrella, the basin, which seem to express more than the human figure of the poet. Spitzweg's later work is less obvious in its message, and more satirical, but this painting is the one people recognize and his most popular.
Spitzweg did many portraits of cactuses, existing modestly in tiny, cozy flats and on balconies. The cactus in Germany could stand as the symbol of the limited and isolated existence of the "Kleinbürger" In its pot/home, surviving on small amounts of food and water, the cactus lived within its restrictions, as the small Burger did, because it had no choice.
Spitzweg's mineralogist, holding a rock in his hand, eyes bulging out in astonishment, or the butterfly collectors amazed by their specimens, poke gentle, pleasant (but perhaps not entirely harmless) fun at plain looking, unimportant people. Even his Turks, often shown elsewhere as sinister and possibly homicidal, look pleasant and untemperamental as he paints them.
Spitzweg's tiny canvases are crammed with detail; they perfectly reflect the magpie-like acquisition of trinkets and doo-dads and the small claustrophobic spaces that characterized the domestic arrangements of the Kleinbürger. There is an undeniable charm here, and the ancient Bavarian towns where his subjects lived, with their balconies full of plants and the peaceful golden light over all, seem like reminders of a lost domestic paradise. But Spitzweg's people are frozen into attitudes, as if overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the masonry enclosing them and the oppressive social roles they have to fill--these roles suggested but never shown.
His young girls sit picturesquely yet pensively in their windows, looking out into the street, waiting for their real lives to begin. We do not see them performing the domestic tasks which bind them to their homes. Young lovers huddle together, as if for mutual defense, as do the overdressed townspeople in the country on their Sunday walks, being led along by an absurd paterfamilias.
In this later painting, Sontagsspaziergang (Sunday Stroll) (1841). the human figures have become less detailed and more caricatured and contrast sharply with the exquisite country surroundings.. As I looked at this I wondered what one might be expected to think about these pretentious, tastelessly attired boors walking through a field of ripe wheat. Satire emerges in the foreground.
One sees obvious parallels in Spitzweg to the American genre painter Norman Rockwell and Rockwell's homely-but-cute freckle-faced boys and girls and odd-looking family doctors, also harmless and whimsical. But Norman Rockwell had no satirical intent. And unlike Rockwell, Spitzweg himself did not resemble the people he painted. He was trained as a pharmacist but became a painter after only one year of practicing pharmacy. He was a distant man, dignified in the stuffy German fashion, something of an aristocrat, and well-traveled , having been to Venice, London and Prague.
Among the many oddities among Spitzweg's paintings, Strikender Wachposten (Watchman at his post,knitting) (1855) stands out. It portrays the dilemma of soldiers with no war to fight, knitting while the sparrows nest in their cannons. This is a culmination of the phenomenon of Verharmlosen (making something seem harmless.) Just as Spitzweg's poet will never actually starve, so will his soldiers never fight. For Eternity, they will wait for the war to begin. Soldiers without a war to fight are absurd, of course, but later observers could reflect that it might be better to seem silly or useless than to kill or be killed. The wish for peace and security, as well as the distaste for the real business of warfare, informs these pictures and reflects the desire of ordinary citizens to live in peacetime and to be grateful for small blessings.
In his old age, Spitzweg, under the influence of the Impressionists, changed his painting style radically. He became much freer and bolder in his work. In this way he reflected the greater freedom and cosmopolitanism enjoyed briefly in the latter part of the 19th Century by the Kleinbürger. Spitzweg now painted galloping horses and carriage teams, excited people in the streets, panoramas and open spaces. Toward the end of his life Spitzweg extended his imaginative range all the way to Spain and did a study of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. None of this latter work is what he is remembered for.
Spitzweg was among the first caricaturists, along with the Englishman Hogarth and the Frenchman Daumier. His stylistic influence on Wilhelm Busch and Georg Grosz is obvious, but he was gentler and less cynical than his successors.
The critical consensus on him is that he is a high quality genre artist. He is akin to Norman Rockwell in his depiction of "ordinary" people and everyday situations but more "painterly" and more satirical. I've seen a few of his paintings"in person" and they are visually delightful.
Marianna Scheffer 1988, revised 2016
Hermand, Jost. Die literarisch Formenwelt des Biedermeiers. Giessen, Wilhelm Schmitz Verlag, 1958. Excellent insights as well as thorough in its treatment, but no index.