"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Birthdays Today

These will seem like obscure birthdays, but they are both artists that I have loved in the past.

First, in 1866, Vassily Kandinsky was born today.   Kandinsky's abstract paintings in the early 20th Century are among my favorites; I remember having a Kandinsky poster in one of my first apartments.

Also born today, in 1875, was the great Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.   I loved the "Duino Elegies" when I was in college.   Here's a snippet about the strangeness of life and death:
It is truly strange to no longer inhabit the earth,
to no longer practice customs barely acquired,
not to give a meaning of human futurity
to roses, and other expressly promising things:
no longer to be what one was in endlessly anxious hands,
and to set aside even one’s own
proper name like a broken plaything.
Strange: not to go on wishing one’s wishes. Strange
to see all that was once in place, floating
so loosely in space.

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