Jul. 26, 2008

Musée Des Beaux Arts

by W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking
         dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

"Musée des Beaux Arts" by W.H. Auden from W H Auden: The Collected Poems. © Random House, Inc, 1976. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Carl Jung, (books by this author)born in Kesswil, Switzerland (1875). He was the founder of analytic psychology. He noticed that the myths and fairytales from all different cultures contained certain similarities, which he called archetypes, and he believed that these archetypes came from a collective unconscious that is shared by all human beings. He said that if people could get in touch with these archetypes in their own lives, they will be happier and healthier.

It's the birthday of writer Aldous Huxley, (books by this author) born in Surrey, England (1894). He wrote Brave New World (1932), which is about a future in which most human beings are born in test tube factories, and they are genetically engineered to belong in one of five castes: Alphas, Betas, Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons. There are no traditional families, people have sex all the time but they never fall in love, and they all use a drug called "soma" to keep themselves happy. George Orwell's 1984 came out a few years after Brave New World, and many people compared the two novels, and tried to predict which future would come true. Huxley argued that his imagined future was more likely. He said that it would be easier to control people by keeping them happy than it would be by threatening them with the violence that George Orwell suggested in 1984.

It's the birthday of playwright George Bernard Shaw, (books by this author) born in Dublin, Ireland (1856). He wrote plays about ideas when everyone else was writing sentimental melodramas. He said that his advice to writers was "not [to] waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness."

His plays include Man and Superman (1905) and Saint Joan (1923). But he's best known for the play Pygmalion (1912), about a phonetician named Henry Higgins who teaches a cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle to pass as a lady.

He said, "I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."

And, "Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire."

And, "Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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