In 1893, English poet Francis Thompson published a poem called “The Hound of Heaven.” The work is an extended metaphor: as a hound pursues a hare in a hunt, so does God pursue the human soul to restore it to grace. The soul may dart and hide, but God’s love is persistent and unwavering.
The American painter Robert Hale Ives Gammell first read Thompson’s poem at the age of sixteen, and it became a lifelong obsession. Following a mental breakdown in the late 1930’s, he began a series of twenty-one paintings inspired by the poem; the sequence was first shown in 1956. In the exhibition catalog, Gammell explained that his paintings do not constitute a literal interpretation:
Eventually I decided that it would involve only a slight change in terminology to consider “The Hound of Heaven” as a history of the experience commonly called emotional breakdown rather than as the story of a specifically religious conversion. The change did not, it seemed to me, traduce the poet’s intention. It suggested, however, a construction capable of conveying the universality of his subject to many persons.
The full text of the poem is here.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 1890's, 1930's, 1950's, 19th Century, 20th Century, Art, Christianity, Francis Thompson, Great Britain, Painting, Poetry, Psychology, Religion, Robert Hale Ives Gammell, USA
Sadamasa Motonaga: Red and Yellow (1963)
The distinction between “disaster” and “normal” conditions is implicit in most treatments of disaster behavior. The everyday, ongoing life of the society is usually equated with the “normal,” and those conditions that result from disaster are viewed as “abnormal” and pathological. However, in our haste to draw this distinction, we often conveniently overlook the many sources of stress, strain, conflict, and dissatisfaction that are imbedded in the nature of everyday life. From the imagined perspective of a subsequent disaster, this everyday life looks rather stable and serene, and we choose descriptive terrns such as “peaceful,” “organized,” and “equilibrated” to contrast it with the presumed disorder and chaos of disaster. The relative invisibility of everyday crises and the high visibility of disaster contributes heavily to the perpetuation of this contrast in human thought. During every single day in the United States, for example, over 4,000 people die from accidents and organic disease. Additional thousands, perhaps millions, are daily experiencing the pain and privation associated with the loss of intimates, with injury or illness, with interpersonal and intergroup conflicts, with social and material deprivation, or with failures to meet social expectations and personal aspirations. Yet these potential stress-producing events have a kind of “random incidence.” They are not sufficiently concentrated in time and place to threaten the basic integrity of the community or society as a whole. This fact, combined with the general tendency for people suffering stress to privatize or “hide” the effects of stress from public view, make the everyday crises of life much less visible to the observer than disasters. No peacetime or wartime disaster in American history has ever produced the aggregate amount of death, destruction, pain, and privation that is experienced in a single day of “normal” life in the United States, but this fact is rarely recognized except by insurance actuarial specialists and other keepers of vital statistics. The traditional contrast between “normal” and “disaster” almost always ignores or minimizes these recurrent and social effects. It also ignores stresses of everyday life and…a historically consistent and continually growing body of political and social analyses that points to the failure of modern societies to fulfill an individual’s basic human needs for community identity.
—Charles Fritz: Disasters and Mental Health: Therapeutic Principles Drawn From Disaster Studies (1961)
Pierre Mion: illustration of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake for National Geographic (source)
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 1960's, 20th Century, Art, Books, Charles Fritz, Disasters, Illustration, Mental Health, Pierre Mion, Psychology, Trains, USA
From a series by photographer Adam Sings in the Timber:
I am currently working on a broader project making a series of portraits of Native Women wearing traditional regalia in metropolitan settings, in order to illustrate that wherever a person goes, they’re on Native land. In order to illustrate that point, I am working to photograph Women who are descended from tribes that originally occupied the land each featured city was built on.
Richard Oelze: Expectation (1935-36)
From a collection of folklore gathered by Irish teachers in the 1930’s:
Signs of hard weather:
Robin flying into house.
Lapwings seen early in winter.
Wild geese seen flying inland (southwards).
Small birds gathering in large numbers about corn sheds.
Cat turning his back to the fire (frost)
Signs of Rain:
Moon on its back, or Ring round it.
Cap on Kaigeen mountains.
When S[?] is visible.
When train can be heard crossing Holdenstown Bridge (a bridge over the Slaney).
When you can hear church clock strike in Baltinglass.
When motors can be heard plainly moving along Baltinglass road.
Swallows or crows flying low.
Wind blowing from direction of Baltinglass.
Signs of Dry Weather:
White fog lying in a valley.
Hinges squeak on doors.
Gossamer threads on bushes or grass.
Wind at a certain point blowing from Kilranelagh or Kaigeen.
Stones on walls or flooring getting coated with moisture.
Hills near hand appearing far away.
Hens moving out into the open.
Crows flying high.
Fan Ho: Surreal Sai Wan (c 1950-1960)