Friday, January 30, 2015

Aesthetic pleasures and the mechanisms that support their blossoming

Aesthetic pleasures are inseparable from that which they fulfill, extend, or modify. One does not know - often never knows - for whom one writes. To struggle with Dante, Montaigne, or Shakespeare, to rise to the dignity of their grace through boundless temptations and false representations; to yield, at once, to the potency of their spell ... such is the vision of loveliness opened upon us. 

As my mind speaks these words, my thoughts suspend. Lingering in a haze of radiance, they burst forth again, little aesthetic spirits, ye happy souls whose dwelling only a glimpse gives. Orbs that mingle with earthward desire, dwelling upon every stage of the psyche, into the very depths of my heart. 

The giddy side, once tasted, eagerly traced above and below that which we mistake for memory. Life and essence are low, distant breathings of an existence too thrilling to listen to earthly sounds. Faint, imperceivable, subdued ... veiled under the influence of notes no language can express. 

Rising, gazing at the air around it. Gradually becoming transparent, with features, one by one, disclosing themselves through it. Trembling watching the progress of the apparition, half laughing like a thin mist, melting away. 

Rushing instantly toward it is our first response, but the arm of language holds us firmly back. The mechanisms by which rapture is heard collect themselves in a blaze of light that falls upon eager minds. Ascending into the air, their form fades away till it is seen no more. 

Leaving me in such repose as is possible, after such a scene, to enjoy. 

Social Media Madness

Why is social media our drug of choice? On the face of it, social media seems so much bigger than the "legal" drugs sold in Colorado and Washington state: SM does not cause aggression. SM gives the user no hangover, makes everything seem interesting or funny, and appears to be a lot healthier. Of course at the dark end of the Internet, social media is thought by some to act as a gateway drug, getting the user involved with criminals, causing social isolation and depression, and can lead to psychosis. 

Regardless of the supposed pros and cons of social media use, SM is the drug of choice for many. According to eMarketer report, nearly one in four people worldwide use social networks. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion. The popularity of social networking raises concerns that the use of less popular drugs does not; namely, how does the use of social media affect the quality of life and what sort of socioeconomic impact does it have? Given the widespread use of social media, the implications indicate it should be taken under careful consideration. 

Social Media and the Individual

The use of any drug starts with the same thing: acquiring it. In the case of social media this part is easy. Indeed apps can be downloaded easily and for free from most all smart phones, tablets, or devices. Every new upgrade offers more opportunities to become addicted. The ease of acquisition is perhaps the most problematic aspect of social media use from the individual's point of view. In fact, it appears that for most users the ease of acquisition encourages use in this regard: for instance, social media users can download an application, sign up (or sign in), and be online, usually within 90 seconds. 

Users of online forums report being concerned about the implications associated with the amount of time they spend online. According to Marketing charts, social networking eats us 3+ hours per day for the average American user. In terms of gender difference, female social networkers spend almost 40% more time daily with social media sites than men (3.6 hours -vs- 2.6 hours). Some other interesting demographic information indicates that: 

  • Low household income users spend more time than those with high household income (3.7 hours -vs- 3.1 hours);
  • Low education level users spend more time than those with high education levels (3.5 hours -vs- 3);
  • Business owners spend nearly 50% more time than those who do not own a business (4.4 hours -vs- 3 hours);
  • Senior executives and decision-makers spend 40% more time than those not in those positions (4.2 hours -vs- 3 hours);
  • Unemployed social networkers spend 3.5 hours a day on social media, versus 3 hours for the employed;
  • One striking survey indicates that 1 in 5 users aged 18-34 claim to spend 6 hours or more per day social networking.
Ipso research reported that among social network users, Indonesians and Saudi Arabians spend the most time, an average of 5.1 hours daily, followed by the Turkish (4.9 hours), Argentinians (4.7 hours), and Russians (4.6 hours). On the other end of the spectrum, social network users in France and Japan spend the least amount of time daily, at an average of 2.3 hours. 

Online survey respondents indicate that usage is highest in Mexico (91%), Saudi Arabia (91%), Turkey (90%), Brazil (87%), Indonesia (87%), and Argentina (86%). They are the lowest in Hungary (62%), Germany (72%), Poland (74%), Great Britain (74%), and the US (75%). 

Overall, 71% of respondents across the 24 countries reported using social networks for an average of 3.6 hours per day. 

Effects on health are certainly one of the major concerns for social media users, and also for society more generally, due to public health implications, so some discussion about these issues is necessary. Folk knowledge among social media users suggests that it is, in general, considerably healthier than either alcohol or tobacco, and rigorous studies into the long-term effects of social media use are still scarce. 

I take it for granted that social media users are aware that, for instance, driving and texting is not advisable. There have been a number of studies about the effects of (social media) texting and accidents. Some not so surprising statistics indicate: 

  • Text messaging while driving makes a driver's change of crashing 23x more likely;
  • Drivers talking on a cell phone are 4x more likely to have a car accident;
  • Talking on a cell phone can diminish a young person's reaction time to that of a 70-year old;
  • Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. That's enough time to travel the length of a football field;
  • 94% of drivers support bans on texting while driving;
  • 74% of drivers support bans on hand-held cell phone use.
The effects of chronic social media use on health are much more difficult to assess. This is partly because the medical histories often include the use of other drugs, and partly because social media users often come from socioeconomic groups that are at higher risk to begin with, so the effects of social media use are difficult to isolate. 

It is clear that social media use increases the risk of certain derogatory effects. Health-conscious individuals can avoid the majority of these effects by using alternative methods, such as talking to others in person, watching the news on television, and reading newspapers and books rather than relying solely on digital content. Old school, maybe; balanced lifestyle, more likely. 

The conclusion we may draw at this point is that although there are various health risks associated with the use of social media, these seem to pale in comparison with the adverse health effects of alcohol and tobacco. While social media use is by no means harmless, people with no previous health problems are relatively unlikely to suffer major adverse effects (unless they get into an accident while using their phone), at least if social media use is used only occasionally. 

Perhaps the biggest risk is the possibility of some type of psychological addiction: social media use is the fourth (and growing) most common drug "addiction" after alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Whether this is reason enough to abstain from social media use altogether is another question; a question which requires discussion concerning the potential BENEFITS that the use of social media networking may have. 

Next post: Social Media Benefits

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Innocent Pleasures

"Firsts" are considered one of the most pleasurable moments an individual can experience. Take, for example, kissing. Though kissing might be something familiar, kissing a masked hero hanging upside down in the rain pulsates with significance. 

The vivid impressions of newness that come to mind leads our thoughts to consider previously unexplored ways of thinking about past experiences in ways that can only be suggested by the novelty of our imagination. 

Naturally, ideas stream forth from the same mind, but new images invite innovation, offering us admission to the privileged court of conscious thought, until new experiences open the door. 

When envisioning new experiences it is easy to get carried away with the streaming train of ideas, whether or not they develop. This is not to say that the thoughts themselves cannot be invaluable allies in naturally expanding our focus toward creative potential, but deny them and you'll soon discover unsuspected dimensions of possible connections and associations between things which seem entirely and utterly enticing to new thought. As unexpected ways of understanding are presented to the imagination, their peculiar combinations suggest ideas to be exploited in creative work. An individual seeking novelty and inspiration can sometimes make productive use of the different ways of sensing that imagining affords. 

Imagining is one of those innocent pleasures we do specifically for the sake of experiencing an impression that frees us from the inhibitions that impede upon our natural creativity. We need not explore the scientific support for the existence of creative inner space. The whole idea after all is that creative inner space, including those experiences known as innocent pleasures, is but a projection of the imagination. 

The creativity-enhancing effects of letting our minds wander free in the realm of new possibilities can also be explored with more focused concentration. The result allows the mind to maneuver through one's own thoughts with an imagination-induced creative inner space of unscripted associations. 

Satisfying ordinary concepts with fresh ideas remains a matter of natural talent. The composition we create like any novel, sonnet, short story or the like is the result of a complex process of back and forth mental traveling, an imagination-induced cerebral holiday. 

Connoisseurs of innocent pleasures with philosophical dispositions openly proclaim the virtues associated with experiencing sensations as though one is experiencing the sensation for the first time. Letting go of one's ordinary conscious constraints and opening the imagination to ideas that might otherwise be blocked by a censorious narrow-minded intellectual super-ego offers our overworked minds a little respite, an afternoon in the arms of time away from daily activities that can eventually dull our senses. 

Few knowledgeable persons would dispute the value of the occasional romp through our minds. The harmless fun associated with innocent pleasures rushing through our veins, pulsing and contributing to advancing our established thinking. The result? A vibrant short-lived burst of enthusiasm producing numerous later afterthoughts. The intelligibility in the aftermath of imaginative play, aside from the joy and relaxation, makes one wonder what parts of imagination are real - an enticing and indulgent thought, indeed. 

Ode to Athena

Pallas (Athena) and the Centaur 
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) 
Uffizi Gallery

In homage to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, 
law and justice, strategic war, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. A shrew companion of heroes and the patron goddess of heroic endeavour.


I hold an ardent affinity for the entity described by ancient Greek mythos as Athena. Originally commissioned by Cosimo il Vecchio, she hung in the houses of de Medici family. She now resides at the Uffizi Gallery.

This painting depicts Athena's impressive and harmonious embodiment of grandeur, only slightly abstracted by her melancholic response toward others. Her long, thick blonde tresses are adorned with a wreath of entwined olive branches, olive shoots encircling her shoulders, arms, breast and thighs, forming an earthly breastplate with mounted diamonds. Holding a halberd ("a battleaxe") splendidly chased and set with a diamond. A shield protects/adorns her back.

Clinging to his Eastern-style bow the centaur yields to Athena's grip with a sad, submissive reluctance. The centaur's weapons are simple and rudimentary while Athena's are exceptional objects of applied art; those of the centaur are offensive and those of Athena defensive. An intriguing metaphor for righteousness over evil. 

As if mirroring Athena's unicity, there are no iconographic precedents for the scene. Athena is herein depicted entirely original in both her pose and in her garments and attributes. Doubt can be cast on the traditional identification with Pallas in view of the absence of certain attributes proper to the goddess, such as the helmet, the aegis and the sword. Herein she need only her natural perfection to shield her from the unreasonableness of humanity. Her earthly armour, fashioned from the olive vines, indicate her divine protection.  

Similar to how today's popular culture fills and affects our minds and the artifacts of our modern-day psyche, mid-15th century Florentines were equally fascinated by ancient mythology, and at this time in history were actively depicting the figure of the archer centaur. Other semi-savage figures such as the satyrs were also popularized.

Because centaurs represent untamed instincts and passions, this painting is naturally interpreted as an allegory of the domination of virtue dictated by reason over instinct, passions and vice. A less severe concept is that the painting could be interpreted as a simple recognition of opposites. 

Plato's (Aristocle's) theory of forms asserted that non-material forms or ideas (such as opposites) are known to us through sensation, our sensibilities, a most fundamental kind of reality. 

Just as courage is often times misinterpreted as strength when indeed it is the ability to act in the absence of it, the idea of opposites is recognized as the individual level. Instead of depicting multiple characters, this painting presents two individual and opposite perspectives. The weakness associated with defense is turned glorious by Athena's diamond chased battleaxe, whereas the easy to recognize strength generally associated with aggression and passion is instead subdued, confused, and ultimately conquered. 

Independent of personal perspective (i.e., the form of one's opinion), the characteristics that humanity has long since associated as being courageous are personified in the simplest of forms. It takes energy to hide one's weaknesses, however, the same amount of energy invested in adoring one's defenses, such as in this painting, shows mid-15th century viewers that such worthy expenditures yield far greater returns than their misguided cousins. 

Athena's simple beauty is visually recognized and celebrated, but it was her courage for which she was honored and admired. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ode to the Sweetness of Melody


By ordering the frequencies of expression, Melody can intensify our experience of natural sounds and thereby sharpen all our perceptual functions. The sounds we hear, though ordered, elude her control, obfuscating the demarcations that distinguish a woman's song from the cries of the ocean. 

The "keener" sounds arising from the boundaries where tension reigns are genius, borne out of this tension between human voice and natural sounds

The Sea of Sound is the ocean of our collective unconscious, the voices we hear embodied clouds that forcefully soften our calmest skies. In her phrases stir grinding water and gasping wind, but she is not the sea we hear. The masterpieces we sing as unique as the instrument. The way we play, a simile engendered out of the restless movements Melody reverberates. What we hear, a simile, no less. We are the other figure that animates the scene with rolling oceans and medleyed mimicking of the surrounding sounds.

We utter songs, a rhyming of the resemblance the voice hears. The same gesture equally accepting and rejecting the noises it makes. Evoking a sea that denies us, we stress internal rhyming between ourselves. Embodied in tension between we hear faint echoes of what we send out. 

The effluence that flows out, the effluvial sensation that moves us beyond commencement, bows to Harmony. Our instrument's imitative onomatopoeiatic response is as unique as the expression that gives rise to it. 

The song we sing, a ghostliness of the ocean in the repetition of movement. The irregular syntax and elusive semantics put stress on the instrument's sounds, particularly on the melody animating the hollowed out spaces between notes. A trace of Existence, perhaps, acknowledges the sea, but the inspiration behind the song as a source relies on the primacy of human expression. 

The wings keep spreading and yet are not wings. The claws keep scratching on the shale, the shallow shale. The sounding shallow, until by water washed away... the sensuous experiences of voice and sea sometimes interfere with her natural harmony. The interpretation is dramatized by the object of our gaze. The echoes continue this rhythmic effect on the waves that sweep across everything in their path. Songs absorb their listeners, to whom only they reveal their identity. 

Independent of these sounds the ocean never settles. Voices mimic sound back to the rolling seas, embodying the life-giving properties of sound. Melody walks on the calm waters that simultaneously give rise to whirlwinds and maelstroms. The tours of sound that follow pleases all that surround her. The oranges and the greens stand in her doorway on very sunny Sunday Mornings. Raphael's angels of imagination align the fence in transfixed gaze and wonderment. Upon discovery, they surround her and echo in chant her song. 

Reality manifests itself in sound. Like watery words that wash away, their meanings are only glimpsed in repetition, in half or quarter-meanings. The liquid notes that wash over us immerse us in their translucent shores, exchanging notes until both participate in the process of perception. Sight sees light and sound hears itself. The sweetness of Melody speaks without words. Like meanings sat unto each other, and heart effects itself through the effects of imagination. 

Her product, very real, indeed. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ode to Dignity

That which reigns above, that on whom all life is dependent, to this alone belongs the superfluous titles of majesty and independence. Whether it is this to which our laws are beholding is unknown, but should it be so, the lessons we learn great and fearful alike must be of its nature. Whether this uplifts thrones or casts them down or bestows its power on rules or takes it back, leaving them with only their weakness, the nature of their circumstances teaches them duties in a sovereign way that is worthy of considering a greater presence. For when this presence bestows power, those with wisdom recognize its fleeting moment, that all their majesty is borrowed, and that, if they are seated on any such literal or perceived throne, they are nonetheless under the mercy of this presence and its supreme authority, should such a notion exist. It is thus that the nature of existence instructs rulers with actions and examples. Et nunc, Reges, intelligite; erudimini, que judicatis terram.

Sometimes it is such that in a single lifetime wisdom is disclosed to an individual by such awesome extremes of human affairs that vanity perishes. Unbounded happiness as well as miseries instruct. The long, peaceful enjoyment of privilege; all the matchless glory given by birth or circumstances combined in one person, who is then exposed to every outrage of fortune that the good cause by which the individual relates is, later, suddenly reversed. Unheard of changes, rebellions, until one is either completely abolished or completely triumphant. Majesty violated by fate under the name of liberty.

These are the lessons that that which reigns above gives, or gives by nature of its nature. We recognize in the world its pomp and grandeur, its illusions and falsehoods. Not knowing from whence they come or why they come, we comfort ourselves as they uplift us during those long successions of prosperity, which experience tells us will be followed by a sudden plunging into an abyss of difficulty.

But the prudent, dignified individual who is the subject of this penning and the recipient of the inevitable vicissitudes of monarchies; instructs herself while forces instruct others by her example. As above stated, forces teach us both by generosity and by means of ill-fortune. In the former the dignified individual is benevolent; in the latter fully courageous. Even when unhappy, the world feels her power through her infinite acts of kindness; after fortune deserts her, on her own she enriches herself with virtues more than ever. So much so, that it would seem it was for her own good that she lost royal power; and if her subjects, her allies, gained or profited due to her misfortune, she in the end served as the most high, the most excellent, and eternally memorable life upon which so many others were built.

Few are aware of the great qualities of those whose lives are resplendent in service to others, whose stories fill our universe with tragedy and triumph. One might feel obliged to make certain mention of past individuals, but it is enough to honor all dignified individuals throughout history. It would be superfluous to speak at length about any of the glorious births of princes or princesses. Instead we shall contend ourselves in the unique praise to which dignity alone belongs.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Applauding Patrons of the Arts

Tourists, students, and scholars visit capital cities across the globe to make a pilgrimage to the museums who hold each country's national treasures. Private collections, on the other hand, those masterpieces known only to a privileged few (Monets, Matisses and others) are legally owned and secretly-guarded by companies in tax havens: Liechtenstein, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Cook Islands.

Van Gogh's 1894 painting, Watermill at Gennep, is one of the works Thyssen-Bornemisza purchased with the help of an offshore operative based in the South Pacific haven of the Cook Islands. A number of pieces in Thyssen-Bornemisa's collection were acquired from international auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's through a Cook Islands company now called Portcullis TrustNet, who helped with the arrangements under a secretive structure connecting people in multiple countries.

Tax benefits gained from owning art offshore offer "maximum flexibility" when moving a painting from country to country. This freedom of circulation facilitates the transfer of art across national borders, an activity that currently presents its own unique set of financial and legal challenges.

The global art market now tops $55.1 billion. A 2006 Senate Investigation found that billionaire brothers Sam and Charles Wyly and their families spent at least $30 million in untaxed offshore dollars on artwork, jewelry and furnishings over a 13-year period.

As with many art purchases, collectors pay sales taxes in the countries where the pieces are acquired. The advantage to working with offshore accounts is not paying annual wealth taxes in countries with more stringent regulations.

Thyssen-Bornemisa treats her art collection as have other patrons for generations. Well-known is the story of how Hendrickje Stoffels financed Rembrandt's career after the painter went bankrupt. In an artful maneuver, the enterprise she created with Rembrandt's son, the seventeen-year-old Titus, shielded Rembrandt from creditors while allowing him to work as an employee of the H&T art dealership. Thanks to Stoffels' smart art patronage, Rembrandt was able to focus on his painting instead of his finances, producing among other masterpieces this impressive three-quarter length self-portrait.

Take Agnes Dürer the wife of Albrecht. The fifteen-year-old daughter of a well-to-do metal worker brought a healthy dowry of two hundred florins to the Dürer marriage, into which her husband immediately dipped (financing an extended art trip to Italy).

Self-Portrait, 1500(s)
Albrecht Dürer

Every morning at the Nuremberg marketplace or the Frankfurt fair, Agnes marketed his prints, handling the money side of their enterprise. Thanks largely in part to Agnes, Dürer became the first Northern artist to be directly influenced by first-hand contact with the Italian Renaissance. His engravings and oil panels display the influences of Italian art. He depicted historical biblical characters Adam and Eve as a more complex, highlighting Adam's air of bewilderment and uncertainty, and Eve's positive dance toward the forbidden fruit on the tree of knowledge.

Melencolia 1, 1514

Throughout history patrons of the arts, those individuals behind the financing of art productions, have had the privilege of endowing generations of citizens with masterpieces that would not come into being were it not for their generous patronage. Tax havens fulfill the world's desire for the continuance of our inherited and yet-to-be-created cultural heritage.

This exchange demonstrates a sort of magic that happens in museums, galleries, private collections, and whispers around the world. The resulting spark connects works of arts to their rightful place in the institutions and collections that house masterpieces of human ingenuity.

While art is still considered a leisure activity, entertainment for aristocrats, merchants, and even the working class, the importance each culture places on the kaleidoscope of objects demonstrates the value and pride we associate with our aesthetic contribution to the world. Devoted to expressing our aesthetic interpretation of the natural world, human beings count art among our most treasured artifacts.

Arie Kopel, The Antiques King, with his wife, Coco, 
in their Mark Hampton-designed apartment on Park Avenue

In addition to savoring life, patrons finance millions of paintings, drawings, cut-outs, color and design studies, and works of laborious leisure. With respect to educating the public, patrons make available everything from folk art to high-end city pieces. In terms of accessibility and distribution, alone, the significance of the patron's role is undeniable.

Tax havens benefitting patrons of the arts sometimes seem decadent. Seen in conjunction with the world's desire to safeguard her most valued treasures, the focus illuminates the more direct connection patron's have to the world's insatiable love of art.

Private Art Collections

Rembrandt van Rijn
"Portrait of Jan Six", 1654 
oil on canvas, 112 x 102 cm.
Six Foundation, Amsterdam
$150-250 million

"Conversion of Saint Paul", 1600 
oil on cypress wood, 237 x 189 cm.
Odescalchi Balbi Collection, Rome
$120-180 million

Rembrandt van Rijn
"Self-portrait", 1659 
oil on canvas, 52.7 x 42.7 cm.
Duke of Sutherland collection (on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland)
$100-150 million

Leonardo da Vinci (attributed to)
"Salvator Mundi", c-1500-1510 
oil on wood, 65.6 x 45.4 cm.
Private collection, New York
$80-150 million
Its owners are seeking $200 million

Hans Holbein the Younger
"The Madonna With the Family of Mayor Meyer (The Darmstadt Madonna)", c.1525-8
Oil on panel, 146.5 x 102 cm.
Reinhold Würth collection, Germany
$80-140 million
Sold for more than $70 million at a private sale in Germany in 2011

the list continues ... 

Well-known in the field of art is the fabled "El Dorado of the Arts" collection owned by the Wildenstein family, the prowess of Steve Cohen, the remarkable collection of Impressionist and Modern Art works owned by the Niarchos Family, the Duke of Sutherland's collection of old master paintings, Casa de Alba's (now property of Cayetana Fitz-James Stuard, 18th Duchess of Alba) envied works by Fra Angelico, Titian, Velázquez, El Greco, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Goyas, arguably the best collection of contemporary Art in the world owned by Eli Broad, David Geffen's collection coming in second to Broad's, Steve Wynn's spectacular private gallery at the Bellagio Casino, François Pinault's extraordinary collection, and Charles Saatchi's collection of future masterpieces. However, most patrons aspire to remain behind the scenes - letting the art speak for itself, and thus to those who have the privilege of appreciating it. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Until the End of the World

Inês de Castro was a Spanish Lady-in-Waiting with noble, albeit illegitimate descent, though she was legitimately descended from Infanta Sancha Henriques of Portugal, the daughter of Henry, Count of Portugal.

Inês arrived to the Portuguese court as the Lady in Waiting of Constance of Castile, the new bride of Pedro I, heir to the Portuguese throne. As fate would happen, the moment Pedro and Inês met, they fell madly in love. During the first years of Pedro I’s marriage to Constance, he carried on a secret liaison with Inês. As happens in royal courts, the king, Pedro's father, King Alfonse IV, discovered his son’s liaison and had Inês banished. 

Five years later, Constance died in childbirth. Pedro I rushed to his beloved Inês, and together they had four children. Infuriated by the prospect of illegitimate heirs having claim to the throne, King Alfonse IV ordered the assassination of Inês. 

Devastated, Pedro I returned to court.

Grieved over the loss of his beloved Inês, the now King Pedro I hunted down his father’s guards, Igên’s assassins, traded prisoners for them to be extricated back to Portugal, held a trial, denounced them guilty, and pulled out their hearts before his court, stating “Now you will know what it feels like to have your heart ripped out of your chest.”  

Thereafter he was known as Pedro “the Cruel,” though he is sometimes referred to as Pedro “the Just.”

Pedro’s grief grew. In tribute to Inês, he had her body exhumed, dressed in a crown, jewels, and robles, and placed next to him on the golden throne of Portugal. Pedro I ordered both clergy and courtiers to approach the throne and kiss her hand.

Pedro I, the Castilian king, reigned for a decade from 1357-1367. Pedro had two tombs constructed for him and his beloved Inês. Their tombs lie facing each other so that in the very moment of the Great Awakening they will see each other first. They are buried in the royal monastery of Alcobaça, with the words “Até o fim do mundo…” 

(“Until the end of the world…”)


Até o fim do mundo...
by Soph Laugh

An Ode to Igês and Pedro
inspired by heart-breaking to the limits of delirium writings
of Count Giacomo Leopardi, Italy's greatest lyric poet since Pedrarch, Lucretian in his vision.

At times thy image to my mind returns,
Inês. The white heat of my anguish
Burns away, penetrating the air.
Beside me, my beloved Queen,
An earthly mutation, a silent star,
With sudden and startling vividness,
As if awakened from her sweet harmony,
The splendid vision rises in my soul.
How worshipped now, what a delight
To me, what torture, too! Nor do I e’er
Inhale the odor of flowery fields,
Or perfume of gardens mask,
That I recall thee not, freely exiled, so redolent.
Arrayed in robe and crown, thy form
Angelic I behold, as it resolutely reclines
On dainty cushions languidly, and by
An atmosphere curiously surrounded;
Unsuspecting innocents, tempting bosom press,
Then by my side, nevermore unprotected,
Driven deep by divine penetration, lamenting sore;
Not to be disturbed, till the Last Judgment,
When we shall be one another’s first sight
As we rise unto the kingdom of His glory,
Into everlasting grace, eternal dwelling place
Of the faithful, judged in the mansions of the righteous.

A Lady divine, though not in line, but to my thought
Thy beauty shone. A like effect upon your heart
My presence caused, and harmony, that seem our birthright,
A mystery caused, and thus revealed.
The stricken separated, then five annual round had made,
A wife was put to laid, stricken with mortal fondly worship,
Mine own ordeal propelled my ideal, the creature in my mind,
Which is of heaven descent, in looks, in manners, and in speech.
The real and the ideal, the effect in fond caress, passion-driven
Soul. Woman, a dream, adored. Four heirs, marriage vows, are made.
By nature inferior to the king’s lineage stained.
At last his error finding, and the sad exchange,
Enraged, and most unjustly, oft,
The woman struck. Such conception ill comprehended.
The man, deceived, returns. Vainly waits the passing of Afonsoian line.
The crown to the last singular house illegitimately begun.

The real and the ideal, but a dream. In the generosity her beauty
Oft inspired. Produce on him that listens. Dead is Anés, phantom
Ever dear, that comes from time to time, and disappears.
Thou livest still, not only in beauty,
But in thy beauty still surpassing all;
Flame extinguished, rekindled.
Her, alone, I adored; and was so pleased
With her celestial beauty, known to nature full well,
Thy young artful and coquettish ways,
Mere attributes of the sweet pleasures life gave,
A likeness that allured me so, even to thy
Long and heavy slumber to publicly bear.

Now, lie, we separate in Alcobaça, but together, still
Rise, eyes fixated instantly upon unconquered hearts,
With head bowed with suppliant look, say that thou wast the first –
And surely the last – that in my eye, and before me,
Rise thee timid and trembling, together, our only wish,
Submissively observing sacred servitude,
Judgment free to resume, bereft of starless nights,
And winter’s midst, summer’s revenge, the blossoms of spring.
Outstretched in indolence we lie, and gaze upon the day

Until the end of the world.