Saturday, August 23, 2014

What does this image 
suggest to you?


  1. "The Second Coming" by W.B Yeats

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


  2. OR

    I can see the image in a positive way because, from what little I can see in the image, the expression on this creature's face is quite benign.

    1. Even human beasts -- savages who do the unthinkable, let's say -- long to return home (a previous, better time before savagery changed him into a beast).

    2. The Lord calls even the human beasts to eternity if they have repented.

  3. FJ,
    I think that you told us the "real" interpretation. Could well be the Minotaur.

  4. Oh, you want the underlying message...

    The crushed innocence under the Minotaur's hoof...

    ... and not the thought of his avenger, coming to dispose of him.

  5. FJ,
    Your comments of 8:18 and 8:27 made me smile and nod my head in agreement.

  6. Always On Watch said...
    "The Second Coming" by W.B Yeats

    Whoa! That was my first thought, too!

    I agree thought that FJ probably has the classical answer.

  7. Reminded me of this poem by Steven Sherrill

    (The minotaur could be taking a cigarette break.)

    The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break

    Sorely needed because, for the umpteenth
    time since landing a job as line-cook
    at the Holiday Inn, those damn horns of his
    have been a problem. It’s the pots
    that hang overhead; he keeps punching
    holes in them, Management is pissed.
    The Minotaur sits on an empty pickle bucket
    blowing smoke through bullish nostrils.
    He lows. He laments. He can’t remember
    whether the Stuffed Flounder gets béchamel
    or hollandaise. Moreover, the heat chafes.
    About that time he spies her coming
    down the ally, that new waitress the whole
    kitchen is talking about. He almost gives her
    the once-over but can’t get past her breasts.
    The Minotaur is a tit man. —I’m a tit man—
    he mouths to the Fry Cook. —What’s that mean;
    You’re a tit man?— they ask. The Minotaur
    can’t answer. He sits indignant, a convicted
    it man, picking at the dried gravy
    stain on his apron. Feigning indifference
    he nearly misses the miracle beneathing her,
    this apparition in slinky black.
    But as she hoofs her way up the back
    steps he can’t help but notice those fine shanks.
    And what offers them up is not the sensible pump,
    is not the stiletto heel, is nothing less
    than cloven —Things are looking up— he thinks.

  8. Pshaw really loves playing the Marca Turca, doesn't she?

    She and the duck should find a room.

  9. Daughter of Mighty Zeus! Awake!
    Her name resounds!
    The years of wrath are past!
    We are reconciled!

    To suffer slavery, though guiltless, is misery!
    Every day new sorrow to get our scrap of bread!
    On its branch shines the fig tree’s sweet fruit,
    not for the slave that tended it
    but for the cursed master!
    The people oppressed,
    bent low by his hand,
    ah! ah! ah! ah!
    what has befallen you,
    my poor fatherland!

    In the folds of your sleeves
    you have carried the moon and shattered it.
    Ka’abah! Muhammad!
    You mounted the radiant Borakand,
    flew up to seventh heaven,
    great Prophet! Ka’abah!

    Bedeck the altars!— They are bedecked.
    Swing the censers.— They have been swung.
    Gather roses!— They have been gathered.
    Await the priestesses!— We await them.
    Stand ready!— We stand ready.

    With lively and ardent joy
    welcome the two holy sisters,
    for where the Muse gravely presides
    we gladly sacrifice at her altar.
    What great souls have suffered,
    struggling with fate,
    Melpomene, as warning, sets before us;
    while Thalia, keeping watch upon our ways,
    instructs us by use of merry jests.
    The Muses’ sport works to our benefit,
    for mortals’ ennoblement is their goal.

    We bear responsive hearts in our bosoms,
    we give ourselves gladly to illusion!
    Bide with us, ye holy Muses,
    with a people of open mind.

    If our guiding spirit will grant our wish,
    stirred by the people’s pious desires,
    then raise up between these two altars
    yet a third, bearing His portrait!
    Let it stand before his children
    to be seen with love and honor!

    It is so! We have been heard.
    O Father Zeus! granted is our desire!
    Hail to our King! Hail! Hear us, God!
    Thankful, we swear anew
    old Hungarian loyalty unto death!

    - Beethoven, The Ruins of Athens

  10. I kept this Watts painting taped to my computer while writing The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break (both the poem and the novel).

  11. I understand that Lenin loved cats, too.

    What made you want to redeem the Minotaur's "image", Steven? Was his bloof-lust simply misunderstood, a natural product of the Minoan "system".

  12. My goodness! You're all so advanced. All i could think when I saw that formidable creature gazing thoughtfully into the distance from some mythic battlement was that it might have inspired Borden's old ads with Elsie the Cow and Elmer the Bull. Remember those?

    Obviously, that's Elmer in the picture.

    Here's the link; take a look:

    Actually, it may be easier just to Google "Elsie the cow ads as i did.

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  14. from a Google search...

    In 1885 the Pall Mall Gazette published a series of articles by William Thomas Stead that proved a milestone in the history of modern journalism. At the time Parliament was delaying pushing through a bill that would raise the age of consent from thirteen to sixteen. In a bid to force through this piece of legislation, Stead’s articles set about exposing the widespread practice of child prostitution, particularly in London. The analogy with the Minotaur myth, comparing these young girls with Athenian virgins, was a powerful trope, but far more compelling were Stead’s investigative journalistic tactics, the most controversial involving the purchase for £5 of a thirteen year-old girl, bought from her own parents.

    The articles were instrumental in pushing the bill through, ensuring the age of consent was raised, as well as making it a criminal offence to procure girls for prostitution by the administering of drugs, intimidation or fraud. Not all the reforms were progressive, though. Equating child abuse with other forms of sexual behavior, the new laws also criminalized acts of homosexuality, now punishable with a two-year prison sentence, with or without hard labor. Over the months that followed, however, many cases of child abuse were successfully brought to trial, thanks in no small part to Stead’s widely circulated articles.

    Reading them prompted Watts to take up his brush, "to hold up to detestation the bestial and brutal,” as he put it, and paint The Minotaur.

    The Beast
    Viewed obliquely, his neck twisted, his face in profil perdu (the figure is viewed from behind, with the face only partially visible), the Minotaur stands on the ramparts of the Labyrinth, gazing, almost longingly, out to sea. On closer inspection one sees to the left the white sail of the ship bearing the seven fair youths and seven maidens from Athens. It is this that has caught his eye. Gripped by destructive impulses he crushes a small bird in his hand. The sail lies on the orthogonal created by his arm emphasizing the fact that they are heading towards a similar fate as the bird’s.

    Painted with startling rapidity in a single morning, Watts rejects the academic finish of his Victorian counterparts, applying the paint with agitated brushstrokes. The form of the figure is built up with layers of red and yellow creating expressive muscular striations, bringing to mind Turner’s incarnadine sunsets or perhaps the industrial processes—the steelworks and blast furnaces—that have forged this modern Babylon, London.

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  16. I enjoyed your poem, Mr. Sherrill, and thank Miss Shaw for sharing it with us. What a vivid imagination you have to link the mythical monster with disgruntled kitchen help! Quite a stretch, but you certainly made it work, though I'm not sure what your motives might have been.

    Does one need 'motives' to write poetry?

    When it comes to mocking the classics, so far I've found no one to beat Maxine Kumin's Purgatory. It tells in sonnet form what might have happened had Romeo and Juliet lived to consummate their love.

    __________ Purgatory __________

    And suppose the darlings get to Mantua,
suppose they cheat the crypt, what next? Begin
with him, unshaven. Though not, I grant you, a
displeasing cockerel, there’s egg yolk on his chin.

    His seedy robe’s aflap, he’s got the rheum.
Poor dear, the cooking lard has smoked her eyes.
Another Montague is in the womb
    though the first babe’s bottom’s not yet dry

    She scrolls a weekly letter to her Nurse
who dares to send a smock through Balthasar,
and once a month, his father posts a purse.
News from Verona? Always news of war.

    Such sour years it takes to right this wrong!

    The fifth act runs unconscionably long.

    ~ Maxine Kumin (1925 - )

  17. And yes, AOW, the Yeats was the first association that came to my also.

  18. Thersites, I'm sure you are correct in identifying it as the Minotaur, but i suspect you cheated a bit by looking it up in that magical image identification source you have, which I, Alas! have never been able to find -- not that I'd want to, because I prefer to put my imagination to work in such cases.

    By the way are you familiar with Picasso's drawings of The Minotaur? I used to see them often at New York's MOMA when i lived there. Those sketches were my first acquaintance with the mythical beast.


  19. While we're talking tongue-in-cheek, I'll dare to offer this piece of my own. I swear I had never seen the Maxine Kumin, nor even heard of her when this popped into my head.

    ______ To a Daughter Smitten ______

    Desist, my darling dimwit; do not wed
    On impulse born of weather fair this June.
    No one should be by sun and roses led.
    Only till you’ve weathered a typhoon,
    Tornado, or at least a spate of sleet,
    Will your prospective mate reveal his soul.
    Easy times glide by, deny, delete
    Demands that demonstrate a nature whole.
    Intoxicated by the scents of spring
    No common sense could nonsense overwhelm.
    Joy seems imminent, yet blistering
    Unhappiness might well be at the helm.
    None a nun would have you be, and yet
    Eden is not ours to gain, my pet.

    ~ FreeThinke, The Sandpiper, Summer 1995

  20. Minatoromachy? It was supposedly the inspiration for his Guernica.

    And no, I've never really looked at it.

    ps - ...and my magical image identification source... is "Google" plus "serendipity".

  21. ps - The Mrs. and I take issue with your June wedding prosciption. ;)

    @ Frank - Shouldn't that be Whack? ;)

  22. @ Frank - I stand corrected. "Wack" it is!

  23. "Waldo" + "painting" yields...:P

    "waldo" came from a quick right-click on the image to ID it's "name".

  24. "Frank Gordon said...
    Duck and pShaw? Humm, let's see now, a Wack and a Quack! That should work."

    "Thersites said...
    @ Frank - I stand corrected. "Wack" it is!"

    Oh yes, and Thersites makes three:

    A wack, a quack, an a hack.

  25. Batty Numpo said

    All of you are wrong. It's obviously Hillary Clinton in the nude leaning against the support around her rooftop deck contemplating her next blunder.

  26. Now THAT is funny!

    -Moe Hecan

  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. Are you sure that's not Ayn Rand, Moe?

  29. Alison Wunderland said

    I know! I know! I know who that is!

    It's the JABBERWOCK.

    I'd know him anywhere.

  30. The Duchess said

    NONSENSE, child! Have you no eyes?

    It's the frumious BANDERSNATCH.

    I should know. I've lived here in Wonderland much longer than you, you silly girl.

    Off with his head!



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