Tag Archives: English writing

The Poesie by Titan: poetry in painting

 

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Europa by Titan

Although art is territorial, it’s never divisional; it crosses over the branches of art and begets a hybrid of wondrous beauty that spreads through the mind of the beholder and lingers there in alterations, evoking an arch of endless imaginations and a well of inspirations, appealing to our human faculty that is rather physical than metaphysical, sensual than intellectual. It’s a mating of the Senses, a marriage of Reasons perfected in letters or paintings, all in the mastery of stories, colors, and forms begotten by divine madness of artists copulating with sensation of the flesh in putting a method of expression to its love bed of paper or canvas. Such love child of arts results in Titan’s riveting masterpiece the ‘Poesie.’

Titan (1488-1576), one of the most celebrated artists of the Italian Renaissance, created the ‘Poesie,’ a cycle of 6 mythological paintings inspired by Ovid’s ‘the Metamorphoses,’ stories about famous mythological figures in poetry, which was the very reason that Titan chose it as his subjects. Originally commissioned by Phillip II, the life-sized portrait of whose father Emperor Charles V catapulted Titan to stardom in European courts, the ‘Poesie’ gave him artistic freedom to experiment different styles of painting incorporating secular subjects that attracted the welcome attention of intellectually ambitious aristocrats. The ‘Poesie,’ meaning poetry in French, is a hexaptych of human emotions expressed in mythological figures that are all too familiar and universal common to all human creatures. It displays the vagaries of human emotions, ranging from euphoria to anguish, passion to regret, and greed to pain, all the artistry in each of the paintings. Titan wanted to create the visual equivalent of the poetry in which Venus burning in passion for her young object of desire Adonis, Europa ravished by Zeus in a bull’s hide, Actaeon chancing upon Diana’s bath and other divine and mortal beings, such as Danae, Perseus, Andromeda and Calisto intermingled in sensual pursuits were to be translated by strokes of brush, plays of colors, and dramas of human feelings and emotions. In fact, it is this Titan’s talent both as a storyteller and a painter that sets him apart from his contemporaries and renders the work immortally enshrined in the atrium of universal arts.

The ‘Poesie’ is currently on display in the London’s National Gallery exhibition for the first time in over 4 centuries, following an example of Vatican’s concomitant display of Raphael’s tapestries at the Sistine Chapel. Notwithstanding the thematic and geographic differences, the works of the masters delight the eyes of ours as harbingers of art as artifacts of human civilization consisting of the standard of taste and reason universal in all human creatures as regards the principles of judgment and sentiment common to the eyes and minds of all mankind.

‘The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England’, by Ian Mortimer – review

The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan EnglandThe Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

People tend to make an anachronistic mistake of assuming that their times are more culturally and socially superior to their previous generations’ times, whereas forty years on an evolutionary scale amounts to a million second on a twenty-four-hour clock, the amount so infinitesimal that it makes you smirk. What makes us set apart from the predecessors of our human civilization is not how they looked but how they looked at the landscapes surrounding their everyday lives, which led to the creation of the ethos of society peculiar to the different historical periods of time. This Thucydidean approach to history as a branch of social science as well as humanity strikes the chords with Ian Mortimer’s perspectives on his Elizabethan ancestors in his scintillating book, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England.

Rich in details and splendid in descriptions that successfully and naturally resurrect the period, Mortimer’s vividly atmospheric accounts of the era transform the people and the landscapes of Elizabethan England from one-dimensional textual elements to animated figures in his engagingly vivacious narrative that strut in the mind’s theater of the reader, commanding attention in every chapter in a way that looks virtually real, evoking a phantasmagorical display of the periodical images. Mortimer is a knowledgeable and witty guide well versed in the English Renaissance with a practical sense of reality, which makes him something of Dr. Who, who pitchforks his wide-eyed volunteer reader to the subject time and then materializes when the reader is in a pickle. He shows the reader both the beauty and the beast of the Elizabethan society at its core with his wealth of knowledge drawn upon extensive research on the period and general erudition without putting a supercilious air of a highly learned man and stands in awe with the reader of the cultural and social progresses of Elizabethan England that began to define the “Englishness,” with which we tend to associate when the name “England” chimes the bell of literature, religion, and geography, all in the collective image of being “English.” Mortimore does this wonderfully with his engaging narrative skills that will not make you bored and skip a page.

Mortimer as a literary Dr. Who aims to bring the gaps of time and space between the reader and the populace of Elizabethan England to elucidate his stance on the truth about unchanging human nature wrapt in a periodical costume; in fact, history is a branch of literature made by artificers and artists with stories full of events, persons, and places that are woven into a tapestry of time, which also reflects how we have become what we are. In light of this, Mortimer is a cross between Herodotus with his entertaining narrative skills and Thucydides with his objective analysis of the historicity of society and culture. At the end of the book, the reader will find William Shakespeare, one of the most notable figures of Elizabethan England, holding up “a mirror to Mankind and shows people what they really are.” This is a cracking read packed full of interesting tidbits on the ways of life in Elizabethan England which he relates with wonderfully lucid insights into the turbulent but magnificent era that marks an indelible landmark in the history of England, and ultimately, of the world.

View all my reviews

Great feast of fellowship, what a thing it is!

Education is quintessentially utilitarian. it is the soul of a society that grows into a collective human civilization in which individuals become cosmopolitans of the global village. William Butler Yeats saw education as “not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” In fact, education is the beginning of enlightenment, the road to Alpine Path to reach the peaks of your dreams and goals in triumph, no matter how rigid and challenging it may be. It is, therefore, a human right belonging to all ranks and titles, and it is this very reason that I was very glad to come upon this wonderful website “Working Class Academics Conference” on Twitter.

The conference is a congress of academics with honorable intentions to form a supporting network of collegiality that encourages their increasing presence and voices in academia where normally is dominated by scholars and academics of the affluent middle-class and privileged high class. It purposes to signify, acknowledge, and salute the achievements of working-class people embarking on an odyssey of their own in search of will to meaning in life via education despite biological, social, and cultural inhibitions against the elitist currents of Higher and Education and the University often unfriendly toward their peers of another class. It is Parliament of Kindred Spirits and Faeries that guide their fellow academics of similar socio-economic backgrounds to climb to their due respect and well-deserved recognition from the mainstream academia. 

In fact, there have been many notable figures of the working class who rose above social and biological planes that would not dispirit their noble, unyielding spirits flying high over the mountains of existential difficulties. Take Charles Dickens. Although Dickens’s family was originally of the middle class, his debt-ridden lawyer father took his family to a debtor’s jail and even sent very young Dickens to a factory for livelihood, which practically makes Dickens and his family working class. However, his talent for words and literary aspirations overcame the vicissitudes of hardscrabble life and made him arrive as one of the greatest writers in English Literature. Then there is also Ben Jonson, a leading neo-classist in the Elizabethan era who was abruptly driven out of his much-beloved the College of St. Peter at Westminster by his bricklayer stepfather at his youth to be set to work at bricklaying for living. And yet, Jonson tried to preserve a sense of purpose and a tenacious grasp on social recognition by relentlessly pursuing his literary ambition to be justifiably on par with his contemporary less-talented stiff upper lipped university-educated dramatists, poets, and scholars. Speaking of which,the immortal Elizabethan playwright and poet William Shakespeare also worked as an actor as well, ruffling the feathers of his expensively educated high class contemporaries and to our contemporaries to this date.

In conclusion, the conference is a great feast of celebrating the fellowship of working-class scholars whose existence in academia is often regarded as slighted lesser equals who dare to hobnob with their academic peers of privileged class on equal terms. These fellows of solidarity do not brandish placards championing a campaign against expensively privately educated scholars or academics in a frenzy of excitement fulled by their class-related jealousy. On the contrary, the conference is a celebration of their achievements, a festivity of who they are, a festivity of where they come from. And I want to praise them for the following virtues: pleasant without affectation, welcoming without exclusion, audacious without impudence, learned without pedantry, and brilliant without sententious bromides.

The Library of the Bard in Babel

Byron said he woke up and found himself famous one morning, and I dare to say I woke up and found myself properly surprised this morning.

The cause of such pleasant surprise that gave a fillip to my otherwise grim and dreary Monday morning was my favorite author Stuart Kells’s tweet containing my previous poem titled “Where is his library?” inspired by his books Shakespeare’s Library and the Library: A Catalogue of wonders and his recent podcast interview with Abe Books about Shakespeare’s authorship. I am truly appreciative of his recognition of my humble writing often streaked with solecism due to English being my second language.

Thanks to this wonderful tweet, I could withstand the cruel cold morning at the barren train station waiting for the train to work this morning- with pleasure. C.K. Chesterton said a great person is great because he or she encourages others however amateurish their works may be. I can no other answer make but thanks and thanks and thanks.

Afterthought

I didn’t anticipate her response, let alone her thanks. After all, she’s a celeb in the constellation of high stars, a goddess in the pantheon of divine knowledge, and a grand master in alchemy of literature, Or in recognition of her self-titled epithet, she’s the Comma Queen who will not/does not suffer from the grammatical benightedness of ambitious literary proclivity. But it happened, and she did; Mary Norris, author of Greek to Me about which I wrote a review, responded thereto in the following fashion:

Well, it’s nice to be complimented for my work by someone who is famous, and I certainly wouldn’t mind being rich and famous if I turned into an overnight sensation in literary firmament. Yet, I do not write to make a living nor to be popular with hundreds of likes. Writing to me is an act of sovereign remedy for the existential ills, of personal treatise on the workings of the mind and of sheer egotism of relieving the creative urge from within. Come what may, a little tweet from the celebrated writer will not turn love of the book into worship of the writer. For it is the work of her intellect manifested in her literary craftsmanship, not the person herself. Whether or not the author liked my review does not/will not/should not affect my reason for and act of writing with a million dollar memento from Kurt Vonnegut: “To practice art, no matter how well or badly, is to make your soul grow. So just do it.”