Thursday, February 24, 2011

EGOISM



Sometimes, even in the middle of what seem to be acts of philanthropy or altruism, people can be motivated purely by self-interest rather than a feeling of wanting to help others. If someone obtains personal benefits from doing a good thing, either directly or indirectly, then their altruism is colored by their own self-interest, which may be the underlying reason for doing a good thing in the first place. Many philosophers believe that the basic motivation for every human action is self-interest, regardless of what the outcome or outward purpose of the action seems to be. People in agreement with the idea believe it is a true phenomenon because the nature of human psychology reveals its truth, and it is empirically supported that humans act in their own self-interest all the time.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher who was a psychological egoist, explained that in cases such as these, impulses of compassion arise from projecting our own identity onto the other person. Some hypothetical examples he gives to illustrate this idea are the example of a person feeling compelled to save a drowning person, or someone feeling horrified by watching a fistfight and attempting to break it up. In such cases, a person unconsciously ignores threats to their own safety, because the suffering of another person feels threatening to our own happiness. Watching someone else suffer makes us vulnerable to our own misfortunes, so relieving that suffering can also relieve our own personal sentiments.
Because many human actions appear altruistic, such as helping someone gratuitously or sacrificing self, it may seem that psychological egoism is a falsehood. For example, it seems incorrect to assume that a mother who falls ill because of long hours tending her sick child does so because of self interests. However, psychological egoists say that helping other people in such a way is ultimately driven by some type of self-interest, be it the expectation of reciprocal actions, the desire for respect or admiration, or the expectation of being rewarded in an afterlife. Being helpful to others is simply instrumental for achieving goals that are, ultimately, selfish in nature.
If a soldier sacrifices his life by jumping atop a grenade to save his platoon, there is no time left for the soldier to experience any positive feelings for having given his life. However, a psychological egoist would argue that the soldier is still able, albeit briefly, to experience good feelings by knowing that he is giving his life to ensure the survival of other soldiers, or that he is avoiding emotional pain he would feel if he did not do so. Although one’s actions may not cause pleasure or avoid pain in a recognizable, long-term fashion, one’s expectation of these outcomes is the main factor in them making the decision to perform an action.
(By Buzzle Staff and Agencies at buzzle.com)
People are motivated by their own interests and desires, and they cannot be described otherwise. People act for many reasons; but for whom, or what, do or should they act—for themselves, for God, or for the good of the planet? Can an individual ever act only according to her own interests without regard for others’ interests? Conversely, can an individual ever truly act for others in complete disregard for her own interests? The answers will depend on an account of free will.
(iep.utm.edu)
It certainly appears that people sometimes act in ways that are not in accord with their own interests: the soldier who falls on the grenade to save his buddies, the person who runs into the busy street to save a child about to be run over, etc. One might be perfectly self-interested and look out for the interests of others — e.g., a shopkeeper who never cheats his customers simply because he knows honesty is good for business...
Psychological egoism is only true if you adopt what Rachels calls the strategy of redefining motives. That is, you insist on claiming that people are “really” acting selfishly even when they appear to be acting unselfishly.
You see your child run into a busy street. A car is driving very fast toward the child. You see that you can save the child’s life if you run out into the street and grab the child in your arms. Realizing this, do you now stop and calculate how much happiness you’ll receive if you save the child? Do you say to yourself, “Gee, it would make me feel really good to save my child, so I guess I’ll do it” No. You feel good after saving the child because you saved the child. You didn’t save the child in order to feel good…
Thomas Hobbes gives a version of psychological egoism in Leviathan; so does Thrasymachus, a character in Plato's Republic (Plato has Socrates disagree with him). Both Hobbes and Thrasymachus think that psychological egoism is true: that human are, at best, indifferent to everything except what directly benefits them. Thus, we must re-think our views about what’s moral. Hobbes and Thrasymachus urge a “new” normative ethics, which states that it is morally right to pursue self-interest and wrong not to.
(Psychological Egoism and Ethical Egoism by Sandra LaFave, West Valley College at instruct.westvalley.edu)
Consider a free-rider situation. In marking students’ papers, a teacher may argue that to offer inflated grades is to make her life easier, and, therefore, is in her self-interest: marking otherwise would incur negative feedback from students and having to spend time counseling on writing skills, and so on. It is even arguably foreseeable that inflating grades may never have negative consequences for anyone. The teacher could conceivably free-ride on the tougher marking of the rest of the department or university and not worries about the negative consequences of a diminished reputation to either. However, impartiality considerations demand an alternative course—it is not right to change grades to make life easier. Here self-interest conflicts with reason.
Suppose that two men seek the hand of one woman, and they deduce that they should fight for her love. A critic may reason that the two men rationally claim that if one of them were vanquished, the other may enjoy the beloved. However, the solution ignores the woman’s right to choose between her suitors, and thus the men’s reasoning is flawed.
A critic may contend that personal gain logically cannot be in one’s best interest if it entails doing harm to another: doing harm to another would be to accept the principle that doing harm to another is ethical (that is, one would be equating “doing harm” with “one’s own best interests”), whereas, reflection shows that principle to be illogical on universalistic criteria. However, in the case of the rich uncle and greedy nephew, for example, it is not the case that the nephew would be acting ethically by killing his uncle, and that for a critic to contend otherwise is to criticize personal gain from the separate ethical standpoint that condemns murder. In addition, a respond may say that these particular fears are based on a confusion resulting from conflating ethics (that is, self-interest) with personal gain; if the nephew were to attempt to do harm for personal gain, that he would find that his uncle or others would or may be permitted to do harm in return. The argument that “I have a right to harm those who get in my way” is foiled by the argument that “others have a right to harm me should I get in the way.” That is, in the end, the nephew variously could see how harming another for personal gain would not be in his self-interest at all.
(Alexander Moseley at iep.utm.edu)
The assertion that people act in a purely egoist manner has several problems. Taken in the most literal sense, egoism can easily be proven false. People may be motivated by a myriad of feelings such as anger, fear, love, compassion, pride, a sense of justice, or a desire for knowledge. The theory assumes some ambiguity and fuses intentions and consequences. For example, a cigarette smoker acts on his desire to smoke; smoking causes health problems that are not in one's best interest. Oftentimes, one's desires can lead to behaviors and consequences that are not in one's best interest, though the initial action may have provided pleasure or avoided pain.
Common sense and folk psychology assumes that people tend to act in their own interests. Today's culture reflects an interest in self-improvement, self-esteem, and self-gratification. The "X-generation" has also been called the "Me-generation," as rampant consumerism focuses young people on immediate gratification and reflects no example of community responsibility or consideration for others. In fact, the market economy is founded on the assumption that self-interested, competing parties will produce the greatest good.
Yet, interestingly, our culture provides examples of both self- and other-centered paradigms. There are countless examples of people who act in the interests of others, sacrificing their own comfort and safety, to help fellow human beings, living creatures, or the physical environment. The acts of kindness, rescuing, generosity, self-sacrifice, and advocacy cover the spectrum of needs.
(Egoism by Dee Ann Sherwood at learningtogive.org)
The values required for man’s survival qua man—which means: the values required for human survival—not the values produced by the desires, the emotions, the “aspirations,” the feelings, the whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifices, have never discovered an industrial society and can conceive of no self-interest but that of grabbing the loot of the moment.
There is a fundamental moral difference between a man who sees his self-interest in production and a man who sees it in robbery. The evil of a robber does not lie in the fact that he pursues his own interests, but in what he regards as to his own interest; not in the fact that he pursues his values, but in what he chose to value; not in the fact that he wants to live, but in the fact that he wants to live on a subhuman level.
Since all values have to be gained and/or kept by men’s actions, any breach between actor and beneficiary necessitates an injustice: the sacrifice of some men to others, of the actors to the nonactors, of the moral to the immoral. Nothing could ever justify such a breach, and no one ever has.
The actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. But his right to do so is derived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life—and, therefore, is applicable only in the context of a rational, objectively demonstrated and validated code of moral principles which define and determine his actual self-interest. It is not a license “to do as he pleases” and it is not applicable to the altruists’ image of a “selfish” brute nor to any man motivated by irrational emotions, feelings, urges, wishes or whims.
A similar type of error is committed by the man who declares that since man must be guided by his own independent judgment, any action he chooses to take is moral if he chooses it. One’s own independent judgment is the means by which one must choose one’s actions, but it is neither a moral criterion nor a moral validation: only reference to a demonstrable principle can validate one’s choices. Just as man cannot survive by any random means, but must discover and practice the principles which his survival requires, so man’s self-interest cannot be determined by blind desires or random whims, but must be discovered and achieved by the guidance of rational principles.
(Selfishness by Harry Binswanger at aynrandlexicon.com)


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BATIGNOLLES SCHOOL




Frédéric Bazille
From ruevisconti.com


Self Portrait
Oil on canvas, 1865-1866
Art Institute of Chicago
From en.wikipedia.org


Self Portrait
From en.wikipedia.org


An outdoor painter who died too young to fulfill his early promise, Frédéric Bazille was born on December 6, 1841 into a wealthy and cultured family living in Montpellier, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France. At the Montpellier home of the art collector Alfred Bruyas, his boyish imagination was excited by two paintings by Eugene Delacroix: Woman of Algiers and Daniel in the Lions' Den. When Bazille was 18 he obtained his parent's permission to study painting, but only on the condition that he read medicine at the same time. So in 1860 he began art lessons.
After two years he went to Paris and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Charles Gleyre's studio, where he met Pierre Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. The four young men soon became friends and formed a group independent of the other students. With Monet, Bazille would watch, from a window, the aged Delacroix at work in his garden studio. Like Monet he was also an admirer of Edouard Manet. During Easter, 1863, all four friends made outdoor studies in the Forest of Fontainebleau. Later that year Gleyre's studio closed down.
(wetcanvas.com)
Bazille spent the summer of 1864, while waiting for the result of an examination in medicine, at Honfleur on the Seine estuary with Monet. There he met two marine painters, Monet's friends Eugene Boudin and Johan Barthold Jongkind. In Paris again in the autumn he found that he had failed his examination. At last his parents permitted him to study painting full time. In the Forest of Fontainebleau in 1865, when Monet was in bed for some days with an injured leg, Bazille painted Monet, after his accident, at the Inn in Chailly. During the following year he was working on two canvases which he submitted to the Paris Salon, Young Girl at the Piano and Still-life of Fish. As he had feared, only the still-life was accepted.
(wetcanvas.com)


The Pink Dress
From en.wikipedia.org


The influences of Courbet and Manet encouraged Bazille, Monet, and Renoir to attempt a new kind of subject, figure painting in the open air. In 1865 Bazille posed for Monet's life-size, unfinished Le Dejeuner sur l'Herbe and himself produced a study, The Pink Dress, in which the figure is in the shade, silhouetted against a summer evening landscape. In 1867 he achieved a successful tonal integration of figures and background in The Artist's Family on the Terrace or Family Reunion exhibited at the Salon in 1868, but later retouched and dated 1869.
(wetcanvas.com)


Portrait of Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1867
Musee d'Orsay, Paris


During the summer, Bazille asked Renoir to finish setting up the new studio. From Voisins-Louveciennes, Renoir responded: "if you want me to do as you ask and if you have money, you would do well to send me some quickly, if only so you don't spend it all. You can count on me, seeing as I have neither wife nor child, and as I'm not about to have either the one or the other. Send me a note, so I'll know if I need to begin work on the renovations immediately, which would annoy me greatly, first of all because I'm working, then because I don't have resources to keep myself fed in Paris, while here I manage quite well. I'll write to you at greater length another time, for I'm hungry, and brill in white sauce is sitting in front of me. I'm not paying the postage, I only have twelve sous in my pocket, and that's to pay my way to Paris when I need'to go." In the summer of 1869, Renoir wasn't the only one who didn't pay postage, leaving that to Bazille. August 9, Monet to Bazille: "Dear friend, would you like to know what my circumstances have been and how I've been living during the eight days I've been waiting for your letter? Then ask Renoir, who brings us bread from his house so we won't starve." August 17: "I have to think that what I tell you about my circumstances scarcely concerns you, because I tell you we're starving." August 25: "If I don't get some help, we'll die of hunger. I can't paint, as I hardly have any paints left, otherwise I'd be working. Just see what I must be suffering and try to help me out!" September 25: "1 sold a still life and I've been able to work a bit. But as always happens, I've had to stop for 45 lack of paints.... That makes me furious with everyone, I'm jealous, vicious, I'm fuming; if only I could work everything would be all right.... I have a dream, a painting, the baths at la Grenouillere, for which I've made a few poor sketches, but it's a dream. Renoir, who's come to spend two months here, also wants to make this painting." The Grenouillere paintings were made. And at the same time, Renoir wrote to Bazille: "I'm waiting for your masterpieces. I expect to savage them unmercifully when they arrive. I've seen no one. I'm at my parents' and almost always at Monet's, where, between parenthesis, they can't hold out much longer. We don't eat every day. Still, I'm pretty content, because for painting Monet is good company. I'm not doing very much because I don't have a lot of paints."
(mystudios.com)


Family Reunion, 1967
From en.wikipedia.org


Family Reunion was a leading example of what is now known as outdoor figural art. The painting was exhibited at the Salon, France's exclusive state-run art show, in 1869. Family Reunion showed Bazille's extended family at their country estate, Méric, and exemplified the artist’s use of color and adept depiction of human figures, both hallmarks of the Realist-Impressionist style. The painting was an example of the challenge that faced all impressionists: how to reconcile traditional figure painting with an outdoor practice.
(A&E Television Networks at biography.com)
During a summer holiday in the family home at Méric, near Montpellier, he worked on this motif in a fairly large painting showing ten of his close family gathered on the terrace, and adding himself at the far left of the painting.
The strong contrasts show Bazille's liking for the light of the South of France. The group is in the shade of a large tree, which accentuates the bright colours of the landscape and the sky. The light filtered by the foliage enhances the pale clothes, contrasting with the dark note of the jackets, a shawl or an apron.
Unlike Monet's large canvas Women in the Garden, which Bazille had recently bought, each figure is also a portrait and almost all are looking towards the spectator as if at a camera. As a result, although it is a group portrait of family life, the postures are rather stiff. The execution seems restrained and Bazille reworked the canvas extensively during the winter and returned to it again a year later after it was shown in the Salon, replacing little dogs with a contrived still life.
These hesitations and compromises probably explain why his painting was accepted by the Salon in 1868 while Monet's more daring compositions were refused. Bazille was surprised by this, modestly writing that the jury had accepted him "I don't know how, probably by mistake."
(musee-orsay.fr)


View of the Village (La Vue de Village), 1868
Current location Musée Fabre, Montpellier
From en.wikipedia.org


Summer Scene, 1869
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
From artchive.com


Studio in the Rue de la Condamine, 1870
Musee d'Orsay, Paris
From artchive.com


Financially more secure than most of his friends, Bazille often gave them material help. He shared his Paris studio with Monet in 1865 and, when Monet was in difficulties, arranged to buy in installments his enormous Women in the Garden. Renoir stayed for some time at Bazille's next studio, in the Batignolles district of Paris. This spacious room was the setting of Bazille's The Artist's Studio in the Rue de La Condamine, in 1870, which incorporated portraits of Renoir, Manet, Monet, and the writer Emile Zola. Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne, and sometimes Courbet, were also visitors at his successive studios. He in turn was often present at the gatherings of the avant garde in the Cafe Guerbois. He was one of the few people capable of indulging in verbal duels with the erudite and sarcastic Edgar Degas, displaying clarity of mind and matter-of-factness that were reflected in his work.
(wetcanvas.com)


Paysage au bord du Lez, 1870
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
From artchive.com


Studio in the rue de Furstenberg
From en.wikipedia.org


Gleyre emphasized the importance of originality, and Bazille once said "Thanks to Gleyre's teaching, I shall at least be able to boast that I have not copied anybody."
He was interested in plein air painting, but of figures rather than pure landscape, and his work is of interest for its exploration of the effects of light on flesh tones, (e.g. Family Reunion, 1867, Paris, Musee d'Orsay). Much of his work retained a high finish and dark palette (e.g. Negro Woman and Peonies, 1870, Montpellier Musee Fabre). He was also a portraitist and recorder of the Impressionist scene (e.g. Studio in the Rue de la Condamine, 1870, Paris, Musee d'Orsay)."
Bazille painted this piece as a way to amuse himself. It represents his studio with many of his friends. They include Monet, Zola, Renoir, Maitre, and Manet. Manet is in front of the canvas talking to Monet and Bazille. What makes this painting really interesting is that it was Manet who painted the figure of Bazille.
(renoirinc.com)
In 1870, Frédéric Bazille joined the infantry after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). He was almost immediately sent to Algeria for combat training and by the end of the year, he was battling in the frontlines. Frédéric Bazille was tragically killed in action in his first battle, on November 28, 1870, at age 29.
Frédéric Bazille never married, and his many intimate relationships with men prompted claims that he was gay. At the time, homosexuality was considered deviant and was almost universally repressed, particularly among the social elite in which his family was firmly rooted. Were it not for his untimely death, Frédéric Bazille was almost certainly destined to become one of the leaders of the Impressionist revolution.
(A&E Television Networks at biography.com)
The work of Jean Frédéric Bazille poses numerous questions. The brevity of the period in which it was produced and the variety of its genres and styles have often encouraged commentators to ask themselves how he might have developed as an artist if he had not met, with a tragic end in the war of 1870. The question is as legitimate as it is futile, for all responses to it must be conjectural, and cannot but be influenced by the enthusiasm of those who have studied this painter's moving and complex body of work. Bazille can be classified as an Impressionist only with the wisdom accorded by hindsight, because of his association with those painters, particularly Monet and Renoir, who were his youthful companions, and who sometimes painted the same subjects as he. At the time of Bazille's death, these artists, steeped in the example of Courbet, would have been perfectly willing to classify themselves as Realists.
And a Realist is what Bazille was, if we are to judge from the subjects he frequently chose to depict: his own family, familiar views of the countryside around Montpellier, and still lifes, or austere studio interiors proclaiming their author's love for his art. This was limited repertory, deploying its modernity within the most established pictorial tradition and, in its banality, defiantly rejecting the anecdotal painting so beloved of the Salon jury.
(mystudios.com)


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

THE KING WILL BE FOUND TO HAVE NO CLOTHES



While pride harms only the proud, arrogance due to overbearing pride brings contempt for others. An arrogant man is often rude and very fond of offending his friends, relatives, colleagues and everyone else who comes in contact with him.
Pride rears its head even in the most unsuspected corners. One man may be proud that he is proud, and another, proud that he is not proud. Learning may render one man proud, and yet ignorance can also be the source of pride for another man.
Ego is nothing but pride in its inflated form. An arrogant man is unduly or excessively proud of his wealth, status, learning, etc. He shows ego in spirit of conduct. He is unwarrantably overbearing and haughty. His head is swollen like the swelling caused by dropsy. He thinks very highly of himself and poorly of others. He claims much for himself and concedes little to others.
Another by-product of pride is vanity, which intensely craves admiration and applause. It is undue assumption of self-importance. It often results in open and rude expression of contempt and hostility. It quickly takes for granted superiority and privilege, which others are slow to concede.
Arrogance is an absorbing sense of one’s own greatness. It is a feeling of one’s superiority over others. In the presence of superiors, overweening pride manifests itself as arrogance. Pride is too self-satisfied to care for seeing the good in others and in praising them.
(Pride, Ego & Arrogance, How to Kill Pride, Ego & Arrogance, From Gyan Rajhans at hinduism.about.com)
Those to whom much has been given sometimes suffer from arrogance; or rather the people around them suffer. Arrogance is doubly a pity, because the talents of the arrogant serve primarily themselves. The arrogant assumes his views and opinions are The Truth. In arrogance, natural confidence goes sadly awry. Rather than the self-assurance born of knowing his own strengths and limitations, arrogance admits no limits. The arrogant brooks no weakness in himself and may even secretly rejoice to find flaws in others. But imperfections are inherent in being human, so the arrogant, like everyone else, always has feet of clay, however well hidden they may be. Fearing exposure, haughtiness forms a hard shell masking inner emptiness.
All forms of arrogance lie well beyond the pale of true spirituality, because arrogance attempts to fill our inner emptiness with ego rather than allowing that emptiness to blossom into humility. Freedom from arrogance begins with seeing. At first we may only receive hints from how our behavior affects those around us.
(innerfrontier.org)
In Arrogance, there is a constant sense of defense against vulnerability. Walls are erected around the Self, often in the form of an image given to others, and much attention and focus is given to the creation and maintenance of this wall. However, when such attention and focus is given to a space outside the Self — unless what is inside is just as full and complete as what is within — then there will always be a pervasive sense of emptiness.
There are, as you can imagine, different ways of manifesting Arrogance. One is more cardinal (outward facing or extroverted) and one is more ordinal (introverted). Cardinal arrogance, or exalted arrogance, will have a constant sense of pushing outward to maintain that wall. A personality construct is thrust outward and an image is maintained strongly. Yet there is still always the knowledge of the inner emptiness and the fear that someone meeting that wall will see the inner emptiness inside — and therefore the cardinally arrogant person will be found fraudulent. The king will be found to have no clothes.
Ordinal arrogance is a little different. There is still the creation and maintenance of a wall, but there is not the constant sense of pushing outward to maintain it. The wall is more like a cloaking shield, giving the illusion of invisibility. The wall is a defense against anyone coming inside — and so the wall is put up hastily, at the last minute, to prevent anyone from coming beyond that point. There is a knowledge of where the wall would exist when a threat is perceived, but it's not a constant outward pressure. Instead, it's hastily erected in order to defend against a perceived threat of someone seeing that empty core that's always perceived as inside the arrogant person.
(polarisrising.com)
They stride among us. Their eyes wary, their armor buckled, their words pre-sharpened. They hold themselves superior. They are haughty, imperious, and disdainful. There is one notion they hold dear: They are better than you. "Arrogance," Webster tells us, is "that species of pride which extols the worth or importance of one's self to an undue degree." This is not healthy self esteem. This is not brimming confidence. This is a "proud contempt of others."
People build their arrogance from different foundations. Some start with money, others with intellect, education, lineage, job status, good looks, and athleticism. Some allow their arrogance to sprout from even the most obscure hobbies or traits. Arrogance can be based on real qualities or possessions: a genius IQ, a staggering bank account. It can just as easily be based on illusion: a 'brilliant' strategist who gleans every last idea from others, a 'millionaire' who owns nothing more than a generous line of credit. It can be rooted in the past: an out-of-shape, fast-food addict with a glorious, football youth.
It is possible to be arrogant on your terms alone. "I am the only cheese master, shot-putting Hamil-tonian quaternian expert in my class." Most, however, employ their arrogance to align themselves with a group: the popular, the brilliant, the wealthy, and the artistic. In their research, psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary find that people feel a pressing, urgent need to belong. They are driven to attach themselves to groups. People who do not feel they belong to a group have much more mental and physical illness, more behavioral problems, traffic accidents, criminal records and suicide attempts. Certain arrogance helps some people feel that they have arrived, that they are privileged members of an exclusive group. People can use this arrogance to say: "I belong here. I am worthwhile because I am a valued member of a group that is closed to you."
Arrogance that is built on group membership grows stronger over time. People fall prey to a self-serving bias. They see their group in the best possible light. "People at my level know what is important. The people below haven't got a clue." In-group loyalty intensifies. Soon there are 'people like us' and 'people like them.' The people outside are depersonalized and easier to stereotype. The arrogant person can now, even subconsciously, pay attention only to that behavior which confirms why 'those others' are inferior.
(Source: Vitality, 1998, 3(3) at wilsonbanwell.com)
People with this chief feature, from the time they are young, are likely to believe they are destined for greatness. They feel they are not just another ordinary person: they think they are extraordinary. They tend to think they are a superior breed of human, not subject to the same imperfections as other "common" people. They may believe they are blessed with good luck. They have an exaggerated sense of their own importance, perceiving themselves as noble and grand, and feeling they are beyond and above the normal and average. They fancy that they will make a significant contribution to the world, and they have an unrealistic evaluation of their abilities, talents, intelligence, and other gifts — they see themselves as better than they really are. They have a desire to excel at whatever they do. They can be pretentious, haughty, snobbish, pompous, lofty, and conceited. This shows even in the way they carry themselves — with an upright posture, and in the way they walk — with a swagger.
Both Self-Deprecation and Arrogance make a person very status-conscious. Both types of people are concerned with where they rank compared to others. "What is my elevation — am I high or low? What is my scale — am I big or small. What is my value — am I quality or not? What is my grade — am I fine or coarse?" The lesson to be learned from this is that we are neither better nor worse than others, neither higher nor lower, neither richer nor poorer, neither more righteous nor more wicked. We are all equal.
(The Arrogance Feature by PHILLIP WITTMEYER at michaelteachings.com)
Be arrogant if you wish. Look down on others and treat them poorly, if you wish. But realize that if you do so, you're only allowing your own inner weaknesses to shine through, and you're not fooling anyone. Not the people around you, who hold you in disdain, not God who made you and loves you and knows all about you, and not yourself. And for those who must deal with arrogance on a regular basis, please keep in mind that arrogant people treat you poorly only because they're needier than you, and they haven't yet admitted to themselves that they are needy. They need and deserve your compassion, not your anger.
(livinglifefully.com)


Monday, February 21, 2011

THE FATHER OF THE NEWLYN SCHOOL OF ART




Forbes Stanhope Self Portrait
From penleehouse.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Unknown photographer
Given by Marion Harry Spielmann, 1939
National Portrait Gallery, London at npg.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Photo by Felix H. Man (Hans Baumann)
Vintage print, 1934
Estate of Felix H. Man / National Portrait Gallery
From npg.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Maude Clayton Forbes (née Palmer)
Photo by Felix H. Man (Hans Baumann)
Vintage print, 1934
Estate of Felix H. Man / National Portrait Gallery
From npg.org.uk


Stanhope Alexander Forbes (1857-1947) was born the son of a railway manager in Dublin. His uncle was noted art collector James Staats Forbes who also worked for the railways. In 1876 Forbes enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools in London and in 1880 went to Paris to study at Leon Bonnat's studio.
(squidoo.com)


A Street in Brittany (Cancale)
Oil on canvas, 1881
The Walker, Liverpool, England
jpg: net
From jssgallery.org


In 1881 Forbes accompanied his friend, Henry La Thangue, painting in Brittany – first in Cancale, then in Quimperlé. It was in Cancale that he first made a name for himself with this painting ‘Street In Brittany’, above, as it was bought by James Maddocks, a wealthy Bradford industrialist in '82, whom in turned exhibited his collection, including this Forbes at the Royal Academy in 1883.
(Fine Art Cornwall)


A Street in Newlyn
Oil on canvas, 1885
Public collection
From ARC at artrenewal.com


A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach
From artmight.com


While in France Forbes was also introduced to the out-of-doors style of painting for which he became known. He was the founder of the Newlyn School and his subjects consist primarily of every day Victorian life. In the 1880's Forbes goal became to paint the history of a fishing village and he found the ideal setting on Newlyn in Cornwall. Later, other artists would move to the area including Sir George Clausen as well as Forbes future wife Elizabeth Armstrong. During this period, Forbes produced his most famous painting, Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach (above). The painting was met with positive criticisms when exhibited at the Royal Academy, and established his reputation as a painter.
(squidoo.com)


Preparations for Market Quimperle Brittany
From artmight.com


In comparison to his contemporaries, his Breton career was not only short but also concentrated. The paintings from this period can be counted on one hand. His two main paintings from 1883, Preparations for the Market, Quimperlé, above, and Fair Measures: a shop in Quimperlé were both exhibited at the Royal Academy the following year. Both were rather similar in subject matter and treatment. Forbes, in a letter to his mother, was concerned that one at least should be regarded as being too blue. An Art Journal critic who noted that Preparations for the Market was too blue and shadowless to be really true to nature noticed this point. Preparations for the Market is now in the Dunedin Art Gallery, New Zealand. It is illustrated in 'Victorian Social Conscience', an exhibition held in New South Wales in 1976.


The Health of the Bride
Oil on canvas, 1889
Tate Gallery, London
The estate of Stanhope Alexander Forbes
Bridgeman Art Library
From jssgallery.org


The Health of the Bride, above, reflects many of the aims of the Newlyn artists at the time. Forbes has chosen to use non-professional models and a recognisable site, the local inn in Newlyn. In addition, he includes evidence of the local fishing industry, for example the stuffed fish, print of a painting of a ship and the masts of ships seen through the window. This painting can be included amongst a number of works by Forbes, including Off the Fishing Grounds (1886) and Old Newlyn (1884), which reveal an unchanging view of life in Newlyn at a time when rural activities and traditional ways of life were gradually disappearing. Forbes had a monopoly on such subjects in the eyes of the Victorian public, his paintings being characterised by their subdued palette and square brushwork.
The Health of the Bride received an enthusiastic response at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1899. The critic of the Art Journal remarked in 1893 that the 'solemn awkwardness of the young couple themselves, the knowledgeable indifference of the old, and the innocent unconcern of the very young - all these are managed with frankness and skill'. The painting was bought for the large sum of £600 by Sir Henry Tate and was to become part of the collection which he gave to the nation at the foundation of the Tate Gallery. The profits from the sale of the painting enabled Forbes to propose to the artist Elizabeth Armstrong (1859-1912) who had moved to Newlyn in 1885. Their marriage took place in St Peter's Church in Newlyn a few months after The Health of the Bride was completed.
Stanhope Alexander Forbes wrote to Sir Henry Tate (1819-1899) "I myself will be rather occupied down here - no less a matter than my own wedding. It was inevitable after painting this picture". Forbes was writing from Newlyn where he had been staying since 1884. The small Cornish fishing village attracted a number of artists in the late nineteenth century including Thomas Cooper Gotch (1854-1931), Frank Bramley (1857-1915) and Walter Langley (1852-1922). Opposed to the insularity of British painting, these artists were encouraged to paint en plein air, taking much of their inspiration from the work of French naturalist painters such as Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884) and Jules Breton (1827-1906), and often choosing 'working life' subjects.
Forbes recalled that the idea for the painting came to him when "Standing in one of these inn parlours I had first thought of a painting of an anglers' meeting - you will notice one or two cases of fish on the wall - but it occurred to me that a wedding party could be much more picturesequely grouped, even though one had to paint them in the smarter, more conventional Sunday clothes". Forbes depicts generations of the same family seated around a table at the wedding breakfast. A sailor raises a toast to the bride who stares pensively into her bouquet, her eyes not meeting the gazes of her admiring onlookers.
(Heather Birchall at tate.org.uk)


The Violinist
From artmight.com


The Sidings
From artmight.com


The Blacksmiths Shop
From artmight.com


Study For The Fleet In Sight
From artmight.com


Study For Home Along
From artmight.com


Amongst The Pines
From artmight.com


Norman Garstin in his article on Stanhope Forbes in The Studio, 1901, stated, "he is penetrated with the actuality of life, he sees no visions, and he dreams no dreams; but on the other hand he sees with extraordinary clearness and simplicity, and renders with extraordinary clearness what he sees". Also, to quote Norman Garstin, "he is a good unsentimental painter, his work has a sense of sincerity that appeals to everyone".
(Milmo-Penny Fine Art Ltd. at mpfa.ie)


Going to School, Paul, near Penzance
Oil on canvas, 1917
From richard-green.com


The stylistic change that took place in Forbe’s work from 1910 onwards, is perfectly illustrated in Going to School, Paul, near Penzance (above). Increasingly he favoured subjects that featured simple town and country views, in which the diminished scale of the figures became subordinate to the overall picturesque significance of the scene.
(richard-green.com)
Elizabeth died in 1912 and after her death he had many of her letters, sketches and pastels burnt.
Three years later he married Maudie Palmer, a former pupil of the school. That same year (May 1915) his son, Alec, joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was sent to the front line in August 1916. He died in the line of duty three weeks later.
(Fine Art Cornwall)


The Fruit Seller
Oil on canvas, 1920
Public collection
From ARC at artrenewal.com


Throughout his life, Forbes was a familiar and popular figure in West Cornwall. Well into the 1930s, he was still often to be seen painting ‘en plein air’, surrounded by curious local children. He died in 1947, a few months short of his ninetieth birthday.
(penleehouse.org.uk)


Sunday, February 20, 2011

TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY



Democracies were thought vulnerable to two distinct forms of majority tyranny. The first is political or legal tyranny that operates through the formal procedures of majoritarian rule. Where all aspects of government, from public opinion and juries to the legislature, the executive, and even some judges, are a function of the majority, its power is absolute. As Tocqueville put it in the first volume of Democracy in America (1835), “politically speaking, the people have a right to do anything”.
The second type is the moral or social tyranny the majority exercises through custom and the power of public opinion. “As long as the majority is still silent,” Tocqueville observed, “discussion is carried on; but as soon as its decision is irrevocably pronounced, everyone is silent.” More insidious than the overt tyranny long practiced by monarchs and despots, which was physically brutal but powerless to inhibit the exercise of thought, under this new form of “democratic despotism,” as Tocqueville would come to call it, “the body is left free, and the soul is enslaved”.
("Tyranny of the Majority." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Retrieved February 18, 2011 from Encyclopedia.com)
Majority rule imposes the will of a mere half of the population, plus one vote, upon minorities in each issue. It is just as wrong to violate someone else's rights, even if you outnumber them and have a vote. You need only to look at how this impacted blacks in the US to understand how evil majority rule over the minority is.
The US Founders sought to solve this problem, by banning democracy in America, setting up a Republic where the majority could never legally vote to violate the natural rights of the minority. The only powers allowed to the Federal government were those listed in the Constitution, with the 9th and 10th articles of the Bill of Rights banning it from doing anything else, even if the majority voted for it. Of course the Federal government has been corrupted enough to overstep its legitimate authority, but that’s another article.
The modern apologists for majority rule, who unfortunately have managed to get the word “democracy” spun into a positive thing in public schools, defend their tyranny over minorities by saying “hey, at least we can be sure that there isn’t a larger group who opposes a vote, than the group who supports it”.
Advocates of liberty, though, object that you still should not violate the will of ANY people, in a free society. They say that you have no more authority to violate the rights of another because you are a large group, than if you are one man trying to impose your will on your neighbor. At least not legitimately. Of course, the obvious retort is “hey, the only way to solve the problem of having minorities on issues is to have a unanimous vote…and that’s impossible! If we depended on unanimity, then nothing would ever get accomplished at all!”
But if someone wanted a vote on what everyone in the country is going to have for supper tonight, the odds are that he would not be able to get everyone to agree on the same thing. So if this were a power of the government, up to half of the population, minus one vote, would have their right to choose what to eat violated.
Of course that’s if there are only two options…which is a sort of farce of an election in the first place. With a real selection of all things people might reasonably desire for supper, probably more than 99% of people will be forced to eat something they would not have chosen.
And, let’s face it, with how goofy people are, you’re almost always going to end up being forced to eat something you don’t. On the other hand, if each man governs his own life, then you may choose not only exactly what to eat, but even when to eat it.
Every time you are hungry, there is a vote, and you are unanimous. Sure, it’s limited to what you can afford, but what better way to determine what a meal is worth than that? Imagine if the majority were always voting themselves caviar and steak, bankrupting society.
(butnowyouknow.wordpress.com)
Democracy is not a system with a permanent majority, but shifting coalitions of minorities. If that is right, then the principle of reciprocity appears to eliminate concern that majority rule will systematically disregard the interests of minorities, even racial minorities. Putting aside disagreement on the merits, then, why do legislatures fail to respond to minority interests?
(Who Cares About Voting Rights? The Tyranny of the Majority by Lani Guinier, Book Review by Mark Tushnet at bostonreview.net)
What is left out of the dictionary definition of democracy is what constitutes "the people." In practice, democracy is governed by its most popularly understood principle: majority rule. Namely, the side with the most votes wins, whether it is an election, a legislative bill, a contract proposal to a union, or a shareholder motion in a corporation. The majority (or in some cases plurality) vote decides. Thus, when it is said that "the people have spoken" or the "people's will should be respected," the people are generally expressed through its majority.
Yet majority rule can not be the only expression of "supreme power" in a democracy. If so, as Tocqueville notes above, the majority would too easily tyrannize the minority. Thus, while it is clear that democracy must guarantee the expression of the popular will through majority rule, it is equally clear that it must guarantee that the majority will not abuse use its power to violate the basic and inalienable rights of the minority. For one, a defining characteristic of democracy must be the people's right to change the majority through elections. This right is the people's "supreme authority." The minority, therefore, must have the right to seek to become the majority and possess all the rights necessary to compete fairly in elections—speech, assembly, association, petition—since otherwise the majority would make itself permanent and become a dictatorship. For the majority, ensuring the minority's rights becomes a matter of self-interest, since it must utilize the same rights when it is in minority to seek to become a majority again. This holds equally true in a multiparty parliamentary democracy, where no party has a majority, since a government must still be formed in coalition by a majority of parliament members.
Democracy therefore requires minority rights equally as it does majority rule. Indeed, as democracy is conceived today, the minority's rights must be protected no matter how singular or alienated that minority is from the majority society; otherwise, the majority's rights lose their meaning.
The danger of majority tyranny lies not just in the infringements of individual rights or the marginalization of a political minority, but in the oppression of minority groups in society based simply on criteria such as skin color, ethnicity or nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. Judicial checks on majority tyranny were supposed to expand political and civil rights over time.
On a practical level, the application of majority rule and minority rights relies on a set of rules agreed to by everyone in a political community. How are majorities determined? What are the limits of debate and speech? How can members in a community propose a motion or law? Should a minority be allowed to prevent the majority's will by abusing its rights? There is no one answer to these questions, and many democracies have answered them differently.
(democracyweb.org)
"In our age the power of majorities tends to become arbitrary and absolute. And therefore, it may well be that to limit the power of majorities, to dispute their moral authority, to deflect their impact,to dissolve their force, is now the most important task of those who care for liberty" - Walter Lippmann in American Inquisitors.
Ever since Socrates was sentenced to death for impiety in 399 BC, the core critique of democracy has been the concept of tyranny of majority. Socrates’ death showed us what a majority can do and where democracy could go wrong, even inadvertently. Socrates questioned the concept of majority getting empowered blindly in a democracy. Borrowing his thinking, one would question why for instance, in a group of 10 members, a group of 6 would be given all the power to rule over the remaining 4. Does being majority also imply being just and right? Not necessarily, the group of 6 would protect their interests even at the cost of the interests of the remaining 4 as shown amply in world democracies.
(Telangana : A case of Tyranny of Majority at simplytelangana.com)


Saturday, February 19, 2011

A ‘PAINTER OF MOTHERS AND CHILDREN’




Self Portrait (1878)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
From eht.k12.nj.us


Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) was not the typical woman of her time. She came from a wealthy family in Pennsylvania. She was well-educated and studied art in Philadelphia. But after a few years she took a radical turn. She left to study art at the major museums in Europe. As her style matured, she made her way to Paris.
(girls-explore.com)


Woman Sitting with a Child in Her Arms
From museobilbao.com


Mother and Child
Wichita Art Museum, Kansas
From artchive.com


Collage of 9 of her most famous works
Assembled by New York Pop Artist, EJ Gold
From artistswholesaleoutlet.com

Maria Cassatt
From galeria.klp.pl
Mary Cassatt is an artist of surprises--mostly small, but often subtle and profound. Known to this day as a "painter of mothers and children," a sobriquet given in her lifetime, she approached this, her favorite subject, with the surprisingly unsentimental but sympathetic clarity she used to address all her subjects. Born into a well-to-do, fairly conventional American family, Mary became a genteel rebel, traveling and living alone, partaking of the bohemian life in Paris while developing a magnificent painter's eye and businesswoman's head. She was the only American (and one of only three women) to exhibit with the Impressionists in Paris--becoming close friends with some of them--but moved very much in her own direction after that group splintered, coming to draw on such disparate inspirations as Symbolism and Japanese prints. Mary is an artist--and an independent artist at that--at a time when no "respectable" woman would consider that possibility; a strong-willed, tough-cored businesswoman and influential tastemaker; and an expatriate who nonetheless always remained identified as an American.
(Art Institute of Chicago at artic.edu)


Bathing the Young Heir
From oceansbridge.com


The Child’s Bath
From princetonol.com


Cassatt embraced the Impressionists' technique. Like them, she painted scenes of everyday life. She focused on the closeness of mothers and children. One famous painting is of a mother bathing her child (above). Mary set these paintings in the home. Her family members often posed as her models. Cassatt never married nor had children of her own. Yet her works capture the tender moments shared by mother and child.
(girls-explore.com)
The Bath by Mary Cassatt received a good deal of attention at the various museum shows at which it was exhibited during the artist’s lifetime, firstly in Paris in 1893, where it was found evidence of Cassatt’s ‘lively sentiment, exquisite taste, and great talent’.
Unusually for this stage in her career, she uses a slightly older child, but she retains the extreme refinement of feeling that characterizes her portraits of babies. Matched to this delicacy she deploys several of her characteristic compositional tactics to great effect, most strikingly the high viewpoint which, as in The Sisters, makes the figure group cohere as a single form, emphasizing the closeness of the two dark heads. The greater monumentality with which the figures are endowed through strategies such as this contributes to the dignified mood.
The influence of the Japanese print is still strong in the play with decorative patterns, in particular in the bottom half of the picture, where striped dress and carpet clash, and in the balancing of vertical and horizontal elements. Intimate feeling and decorative interest are held in a satisfying tension within the composition: the jug echoes both the effect of the child’s white skin against the dark background and the curve of her left arm, while strong vertical movements of the mother’s arm and the child’s legs, and their joint gaze into the washbowl, are reinforced by the wide stripes of the dress.
Again, the mutual absorption of the couple finds expression in the closeness of their hands and the parallel movement of limbs as the mother guides her uncertain child into the water. Caught up in their shared activity, the figures’ faces are withdrawn from us, creating a moment of privacy which the spectator cannot violate.
(Impressionist Art Gallery at impre...llery.com)


Spanish Dancer Wearing a Lace Mantilla
Smithsonian American Art Museum
From museumsyndicate.com


At The Loge
From born-today.com


Le the (Five O'Clock Tea)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
From From artchive.com


Portrait of a Lady
National Gallery of Art, Washington
From artchive.com


Autumn
Musee du Petit Palais, Paris
From (artchive.com)


Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
From artchive.com


Misunderstood Genius
From wikimedia.org


Offering the Panal to the Toreador
From artunframed.com


Often traveling alone, Cassatt studied in Paris, Rome, Parma and Seville, before returning and settling permanently in the French capital in 1874. The paintings she produced in this period--of women flirting, tossing flowers, sharing refreshment with a bullfighter (above) --reveal a young artist eager to combine the skill of the Old Masters with the adventuresome subject matter of the moderns. It was while walking past a Paris gallery window in 1874 that Cassatt first saw a bold pastel of ballet dancers by Edgar Degas--she would later describe this first exposure to the revolution of Impressionism: "I saw art as I wanted to see it. I began to live." That same year, Degas saw Cassatt’s entry in the French Academy Salon; he was quite taken with the work and invited her to join the Impressionists. The timing was perfect, since Cassatt was more than ready to cast off the academic conventions of the Salon. She accepted eagerly, and subsequently became close friends with Degas, as well as Monet, Pissarro, and Morisot. Cassatt was to become the only American whose work would appear in the company of these and many others in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886.
(Art Institute of Chicago at artic.edu)


Mary Cassatt by Edgar Degas, 1876
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Mary Cassatt
From poorwilliam.net
Cassatt was well aware of the crucial role Degas played in her Career. She was younger than Degas and looked up to him as a mentor. Art Historian Getlein claims, “she sealed her destiny as an artist” by befriending Degas, he was not only her teacher and companion but also a highly influential painter in the art realm. Cassatt took their friendship very seriously and even when asked to enter her work into the Salon would not unless one of Degas works was showing as well.
This strong bond of loyalty grew stronger between them. Cassatt and Degas became very close companions, not only influencing each other's work but they soon began to paint portraits of one another. It is easy to see Degas' admiration for Cassatt from the portraits he painted of her. He painted her as a strong bold woman, and he even sometimes elevated her to the stature of a man. When women artist's skill was still being questioned, Degas painted Cassatt in a way that accented her bold, capable personality. For instance, in Degas' “Portrait of Mary Cassatt” (1884), above, he places her in a forward thrusting position with her legs slightly apart. Art Historian Tomar Garb claims that Degas was “adapting convention of male portraiture for this representation as an unconventional woman, perhaps thereby asserting the independence and autonomy of an American woman in Paris”. It is clear that both Cassatt and Degas held each other with the up most respect and are known as two of the most influential impressionist artists of their time.
(blogs.princeton.edu)
Mary Cassatt also went to Italy to study Correggio, to Spain to study Velazquez, and to Holland to study Rubens. Although these countries were accustomed to foreign art students, one must wonder if the sight of an American 'signorina' clamoring up and down ladders to study frescoes in dimly lit cathedrals was unusual. During this period, Mary made the transition from art student to professional artist. She did not use her name Cassatt, but rather Mary Stevenson, her given name, leaving off her last name of Cassatt. This was the way she signed her work for the Salon in the late 1860s and early 1870s. She felt it sounded more American.
(pictu...ogram.com)


Portrait of a Little Girl
National Gallery of Art, Washington
From (artchive.com)


"The physicality in Cassatt's work seems to have made some uncomfortable. Eloquently capturing a moment between rest and play, Portrait of a Little Girl, above, portrays the daughter of friends of Degas in an interior with Cassatt's dog. Cassatt submitted the painting to the American section of the 1878 Paris Exposition universelle: its rejection enraged her. The jury could have been affronted by the girl's insouciant sprawl: she has flopped into the chair, looking hot, disheveled, exhausted, even bored. With her clothing pushed up to reveal her legs and petticoat and her left arm lifted and bent around her head, the young model can be perceived as totally unconscious and innocent or as coquettish and sexually precocious. Harriet Chessman argued that the girl's pose derives from the traditional, erotic odalisque and thus was intended to foreshadow her adult sexuality. But in fact it seems that the attraction of this image lies in its naturalism. Children are less self-conscious than adults; they continually, rearrange their clothes and limbs and are often unaware of social conventions. Thus the work can be seen to reflect the then-current view of children as pure and unfettered beings. The jury may have objected to the artist's radical handling of the background. As in her domestic interiors of the time, she reduced spatial depth by choosing a sharp, high angle for the floor, crowding the chairs together, and abruptly cropping the windows. Again, as in Children on Shore, the viewpoint from which the subject is observed is low and empathetic - the same level from which a child would see.
(From "Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman", by Judith A. Barter at artchive.com)


Children on the Shore
From artchive.com


"...Mary Cassatt especially liked children, doting on her nieces and nephews and the offspring of friends. Naturalism and sensuality of a pure, elemental, and nonsexual sort are the hallmarks of Cassatt's portrayals of childhood during the 1880s and 1890s. An example is Children on the Shore, above, which she showed at the last Impressionist exhibition, in 1886. While this seaside subject is unique in her oeuvre, the close-up focus on the pair of toddlers and the firm draftsmanship are typical of the artist's style in the 1880s. In his review of the exhibition, Gustave Geffroy commented on this painting: "It has the sharp outline that things and people have on the sand with the background of water and sky. The short arms and the dollish faces let you guess the flesh under a thick layer of suntan." In the same review, Geffroy also responded to the sensuousness of Cassatt's rendering of youngsters in Children in a Garden, likening them to "flowers in the heat."
(From "Mary Cassatt: Modern Woman", by Judith A. Barter at artchive.com)


The Cassatt Mansion
Built by J Gardner (Cassatt brother)
From davelandweb.com


Though she lived in Europe, Cassatt returned to the United States often. She exhibited her work in the U.S. and advised American art collectors. When a writer began to write her biography, she told him: "I am an American, simply and frankly an American
(girls-explore.com)

Mary Cassatt (left) 2
From academics.smcvt.edu
Cassatt returned to the United states in 1898 where she met the Havemeyer family and came in contact with young Electra Havemeyer. She returned to Europe where she had ambitiously developed her career as an artist, becoming internationally famous for her magnificent artwork. Her last visit to America was in 1908, and soon after she traveled to Egypt with her brother. In 1912, Mary suffered from serious emotional instability and also had surgery for cataracts. In 1914, she was awarded the Gold Medal of Honor by the Pennsylvania Academy when at the same time it was noted that she was forced to stop painting because of her blindness. Mary Cassatt died in 1926 as a legend in the Impressionist movement and the history of American collecting.
(academics.smcvt.edu)


Friday, February 18, 2011

LIKE SEAGULLS FOLLOWING A TRAWLER



In the majority of democratic countries around the world the proportion of the population that votes is generally declining as each election period comes and goes. Those of us who consider ourselves fortunate to live in democratic countries consider the right to cast a vote for our leadership as a fundamental part of our political framework.
The question, though, is what does our vote achieve for us? Do we have a real choice in the way our countries are governed, or are we just furnished with certain token rights to prolong the illusion that we can actually have any kind of influence?
Is the entire election process just a scam, designed to give the average person a sense of comfort, to make them feel they are able to make a difference when in fact politics and policies will just carry on as they would regardless?
“You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on”, George W Bush said in 2001.
There are several ways in which elections can effectively be manipulated without the vast majority of the country having the slightest clue or even so much as batting an eyelid:
1. To win an election a candidate needs a simple majority, in other words they must poll more votes that any other candidate. Where there are many candidates the person elected could actually be voted against by 60% or more of the electorate. In today’s media mad society, only the candidates from the 2 main political parties tend to gain any meaningful amount of coverage. This means that not only do they have their party’s financial backing but also free advertising too. How can candidates from minor parties even contemplate winning against that kind of advantage?
2. The 2 main political parties in any country receive funding from big business and rich donors. Often these people and organizations will effectively be backing both the main contenders, thereby meaning that any choice between candidates is fairly insignificant. If you believe that people elected to positions of power with the aid of external influence do not remember their benefactors then you are, perhaps, naive.
3. The ‘first past the post’ voting system effectively rules out the likelihood of any third political party ever gaining any meaningful level of influence within any politics.
4. Constituency boundaries are often redrawn, allegedly creating more ‘safe seats’ for the party currently in power. If you live in an area where one particular candidate is almost certain to win then voting against them achieves nothing.
5. Successive governments have worked hard to promote postal voting. Considering that the traditional method of voting in a balloting station is open to abuse, how much more likely is it that postal voting could be manipulated? When counting postal votes how do you even verify if the voter is living or dead without going through each and every form and checking it for authenticity?
6. Without publishing a comprehensive list of who everyone in the country chose to vote for, which in itself would have extreme consequences, how do you really know that the results have not been tampered with?
(Voting In A Democracy : A Definer Of Freedom Or A Comforting Scam? by Lee on September 3, 2007 in Consumer Fraud at security-faqs.com)
There is an important distinction to be made between postal voting and all-postal voting. There can be good and obvious reasons for allowing people to vote by post, but making everyone vote by post is perhaps a step too far.
In UK, Postal votes were first issued in 1918 for soldiers returning from the war. They then became gradually more available for health, disability and work reasons, and then, in 1985, for people who were on holiday. Until 2000, postal votes were only an option for those that could give a valid reason. The Representation of the People Act 2000 changed that, allowing postal voting on demand.
(electoral-reform.org.uk)
A postal vote is a thousand times easier to rig than a vote cast in person. At a polling station, you need a different body for each fake voter. With a postal vote, all you need is a different envelope, and perhaps not even that.
Non-existent electors are only the half of it. By all but abolishing the secrecy of the ballot, postal voting opens the door to threats, pressure and outright vote-buying. If you vote in a polling station, nobody can make you show them your ballot paper. Nobody can know if you've obeyed orders or not.
Worst of all, though, is that the authorities don't seem to care. Police inquiries seldom get anywhere. Many rulers have tiptoed round this subject because voting fraud is mostly a problem – for now – in many areas. But what they're actually saying, if you think about it, is that it's all right for many to have their votes stolen – not a view that most voters would share.
To avoid "undermining confidence" in democracy itself, we need change. For future elections, postal voting on demand should be suspended. Nobody is more than a short walk from a polling station. If we do not act, we are effectively in league with the vote-stealers.
(By permitting fraud we betray democracy by Andrew Gilligan at telegraph.co.uk)
Arguments used against postal voting:
• It is much harder to be certain that the person casting the vote is actually the person the vote is registered to.
• There is a reliance on the postal service to make sure the votes don't get lost.
• It is impossible to guarantee that the vote was cast secretly and not under duress.
• Postal voting doesn't re-connect the politically disengaged; it offers no solutions to non-voting based on factors other than sloth.
• Offering people the chance to vote by post doesn't make the electorate any more informed or likely to engage in the political process surrounding the act of voting.
• Since postal voting was introduced, there have been many cases of fraud.
• This fraud has included: intimidation, a pillar box set on fire by party supporters who feared it might contain votes for the opposition, members of ethnic communities threatened with deportation if they didn't vote a particular way, children paid to collect ballot packs that hadn't been pushed fully through letterboxes, large numbers of voters had their ballot papers stolen or taken away for 'safe keeping' and the creation of fictitious electors.
• Richard Mawley QC, The judge presiding over a case of vote-rigging in Birmingham in June 2004 said that: "The system is wide open to fraud and any would-be political fraudster knows that". Citing evidence of "massive, systematic and organized fraud", Judge Mawley said the system was "hopelessly insecure" and sent a message to those that claimed that the current postal voting system was working, adding: "Anybody who has sat through the case I have just tried and listened to evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic would find this statement surprising."
(electoral-reform.org.uk)
Judge Mawley was worried election officers could not check the validity signatures on returned ballots. It did not help that the ballot envelopes were easily identifiable in the post, he said.
"Short of writing 'Steal Me' on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands," Mr Mawley added. The judge said he regretted the government had dismissed warnings about the system's failings as "scaremongering".
He pointed to a government statement which said: "The systems already in place to deal with the allegations of electoral fraud are clearly working."
"The systems to deal with fraud are not working well," he said. "They are not working badly. The fact is that there are no systems to deal realistically with fraud and there never have been. Until there are, fraud will continue unabated."
(Postal votes 'wide-open to fraud', Monday, 4 April, 2005 news.bbc.co.uk)
Postal voting, in its varying degrees, is fairly wide-spread across the globe. It is common for local elections in Australia and New Zealand and in many parts of the United States; for example, all elections in the State of Oregon are conducted by post.
In Norway, they have a much more personal service, where voters can ask for an election official to come to house to collect their vote.
The Society believes that turnout is not falling because voting has got more difficult, and thus postal voting is not the best way to increase political engagement. Given the widespread evidence of fraud, and the inherent risks of security and secrecy that can realistically never be overcome, the Society does not believe postal voting is ready for wider use.
(electoral-reform.org.uk)
Reports and warnings about the capacity to commit electoral fraud via postal voting have been ignored by political elite that has nothing but contempt for honesty and accountability. The only solution is to put an end to widespread postal voting for the purpose of convenience. It should be reserved for people with mobility problems and those who will be away during an election until a way can be found to make postal voting secure. And any thoughts of pressing ahead with online voting or voting by text message should be consigned to the dustbin.
It is a disgrace and humiliation that has been brought upon many because the ruling party ignored calls to take precautions to ensure the security of postal votes. Incompetence, sleaze and corruption follow many ruling parties like seagulls following a trawler. On so many levels and in so many ways they have made many countries into an international laughing stock.
(autonomousmind.wordpress.com)
Changes in election rules have made fraud more common. The growth in voting by mail has made vote fraud almost risk free. The stupid errors of most of those who are caught make us think, not that those who commit vote fraud are mostly stupid, but that we are catching only the stupid ones, the ones, for instance, who do not check the obituaries before they mail ballots with some elderly person's name on them.
An analogy may illuminate what has happened. Suppose that a manager in a retail chain wanted, for whatever reason, to encourage theft by employees. It would be easy to think of ways for the manager to do that, from getting rid of cash registers to keeping poorer inventories. Anything that made it easier to steal would increase theft, since there are always some who will be tempted. But the manager would have no direct connection to the theft. He would have facilitated it, but there would be no way to prosecute him for the theft.
Few journalists understand this new pattern of vote fraud; they still think that vote fraud is something committed by parties in an organized fashion. To return to the above analogy, they look for robbery by a gang, rather than pilfering by employees.
(Pseudo-Random Thoughts, Jim Miller on Politics, Oct 2004 at seanet.com)
So, is our right to vote within a democracy something that defines the freedom that we have, or is it just a comforting scam, designed to make us think we have a choice, when in fact the truth is that such choice is no more than an illusion?
(Voting In A Democracy : A Definer Of Freedom Or A Comforting Scam? by Lee on September 3, 2007 in Consumer Fraud at security-faqs.com)


Thursday, February 17, 2011

"SHE LIVED HER PAINTING AND PAINTED HER LIFE"




Berthe Morisot by Edouard Manet, 1872
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Bertha Morisot, 1875
Image Source van-gogh.fr


Much of the art world pre-dating the 20th Century is clearly dominated by male artists. Those few women who showed talent and skill are even today often depicted as followers of “great men” rather than great artists in their own right. The works of Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot (January 14, 1841 – March 2, 1895) are still rarely discussed without comparing their works to Manet, Degas and the other Impressionists.
Women artists were limited in their artistic endeavors by social convention – nudes and depictions of males in any form were strictly taboo. Women in general were expected to forego careers in favor of motherhood. Painting and other artistic endeavors were simply activities ladies of fine families did to pass the time. Even a modern historian goes so far as to imply that Berthe was some sort of independent spirit who painted against her family’s wishes. Fortunately for the world, that couldn’t be further from the truth – her parents and her husband supported her efforts.
Morisot’s future as an artist began early. Some would say it was part of her heritage. Though sources have listed him as her grand-father, great-grandfather as well as uncle, the Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard sits firmly on her family tree. Another work identifies her grandfather as a distinguished architect and another mention that her father, Tiburee Morisot had studied in the Ecole de Beaux-Arts. Tiburee didn’t pursue painting as a career and would become a government official.
(thefamousartists.com)


Cornfield
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Hanging the Laundry out to dry
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Old Path at Auvers
Image Source cgfa.acropolisinc.com


The Harbor at Lorient
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Source 4.bp.blogspot.com


Staked roses
Image Source stampboards.com


The daughter of a high government official (and a granddaughter of the important Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard), Berthe Morisot decided early to be an artist and pursued her goal with seriousness and dedication. From 1862 to 1868 she worked under the guidance of Camille Corot. She first exhibited paintings at the Salon in 1864. Her work was exhibited there regularly through 1874, when she vowed never to show her paintings in the officially sanctioned forum again. In 1868 she met Édouard Manet, who was to exert a tremendous influence over her work. He did several portraits of her, Manet had a liberating effect on her work, and she in turn aroused his interest in outdoor painting.
(globalgallery.com)


The Artist's Sister Edma and Their Mother
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Image Source csupomona.edu


Morisot's work never lost its Manet-like quality--an insistence on design--nor did she become as involved in colour-optical experimentation as her fellow Impressionists. Her paintings frequently included members of her family, particularly her sister, Edma (e.g., "The Artist's Sister, Mme Pontillon, Seated on the Grass," 1873; and "The Artist's Sister Edma and Their Mother," 1870). Delicate and subtle, exquisite in colour--often with a subdued emerald glow--they won her the admiration of her Impressionist colleagues. Like that of the other Impressionists, her work was ridiculed by many critics. Never commercially successful during her lifetime, she nevertheless outsold Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. She was a woman of great culture and charm and counted among her close friends StéphaneMallarmé, Edgar Degas, Charles Baudelaire, Émile Zola, Emmanuel Chabrier, Renoir, and Monet. She married Édouard Manet's younger brother Eugène.
(globalgallery.com)


The Little Girl from Nice
Image Source csupomona.edu


Young Woman powdering Herself
Image Source insecula.com


Peasant Hanging out the Washing
Image Source artcopy.de


Butterfly Hunt
Image Source onokart.wordpress.com


The Cradle
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Apart from a few landscapes and seascapes, Berthe Morisot painted intimate female portraits and charming interior scenes (Butterfly Hunt, 1874, The Cradle, 1872) with great sensitivity.
She visited Italy in 1881 and 1882, which heralded the orange tones that thenceforth dominated her canvases. During the last ten years of her life, Berthe Morisot painted prolifically, around Nice and later Touraine. Her bright, luminous and colorful style became more spiritual, and even more moving, after the death of her husband.
Related by marriage, Paul Valery accurately summed up the natural character of Morisot’s art, writing that ''the uniqueness of Berthe Morisot was that she lived her painting and painted her life''. Her canvases and watercolors, gathered together for her only solo exhibition in 1892 and for the posthumous exhibition organized by her friends Degas and Renoir, clearly reveal the Impressionist aesthetic.
(knol.google.com)
The novelist George Moore said of Berthe Morisot, “Only one woman created a style, and that woman is Madame Morisot. Her pictures are the only pictures painted by a woman that could not be destroyed without creating a blank, a hiatus in the history of art.”
(thefamousartists.com)

Timeline:
1841: born in Bourges
1862: starts working with Corot
1865: debuts at the Salon with Study and Still Life
1867: critical meeting with Manet
1868: serves as Manet’s model for The Balcony
1872: The Cradle
1874: marries Manet’s brother and takes part in the Impressionists’ exhibition
1881: Sewing in the Garden, travels to Italy
1891: Picking Cherries
1892: only solo show
1895: dies prematurely at the age of 44 in Paris
1896: posthumous exhibition at Durand-Ruel’s gallery.
(knol.google.com)