Monthly Archives: November 2019

orphic or Orphic?

I’m not sure whether to be offput, amused, informed… or just what by Andrea Scott’s Reframing Modernism at the New MoMA. On the one hand, I love the basic characterization in her report of “The Shape of Shape” exhibit:

The ethos of the new MOMA—to revise the myth of modern art as a triumphant procession of great white men and instead tell the glorious, untidy truth of a bunch of weird human beings…

but I am less than charmed by

…the emphasis is on oddballs like Clough, whose orphic 1985 painting “Stone” is included.

Well, it’s not Andrea Scott’s fault that I am left cold and baffled by the “orphic” tag on a piece that seems to me to have nothing discernable to do with Stone in the sense that I understand Rocks. I did have to explore the Lexicon a bit to figure out just which “orphic” she meant: there’s the mystic, the oracular; the fascinating, the entrancing; and the “having an import not apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence” ( I’m going with the lattermost, which leaves Orpheus entirely out of the picture.

a voice from the past

So there I was, walking to work in March 2005, on a hilly woods path behind W&L, and talking out loud with a microphone attached to a digital recorder. And 14 1/2 years later I find the file at, where I had uploaded it shortly before I retired, in September 2005. The recording is rambling and only about 4 minutes long, but I’m quite interested in hearing what I had to say about courses, about teaching, about learning. I could only wish that I’d continued to make recordings like that.
Here it is:

From my walk to work

of Ot

This little story is complicated and digressive, but well worth trying to put together. It begins maybe a dozen years ago, in a taxi in Providence RI, a city that has a lot of public sculpture and other art stuff to look at. We passed by a particularly arresting sculptural creation and one of us said “What’s that?” and the taxi driver said “That? That’s ot” and thus the term ot was implanted into the Lexicon.

So yesterday morning one of the blogs I follow pointed to another tumblr with the stark message

2019 is almost over and all I gotta say is what the fuck was that

which expresses succinctly one of the mental states into which I occasionally stumble.

And the next though that coursed through my mind was

I take refuge in Ot

Where do these things come from? What imp instantiates them, sends them into Consciousness, which then offers them up to me to play with, these illusions and allusions that connect things to improbable other things?

The next thought was

hmmm. “take refuge in”…

which of course is a formula in Buddhist practice (one takes refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha), and that led to the realization that I was a bit less clear about this Dharma thing than I thought I should be, so a brief Wikipedia digression happened, and that led to an article on the Vedic concept of Ṛta (“the order that makes life and universe possible”, which seems to be nothing more or less than the Tao, innit?). That Sanskrit Ṛ phoneme is “a vocalist r, like that in pert or dirt, when pronounced with a rhotic r, e.g. as in American…”, but in Providence or Boston dialect would be non-rhotic [caa, paak, ot…]. And /Ṛta/ can be glossed as ‘Truth’.

And so on.

This Ot in which I claim to take refuge is well known to whatever readers of this blog there may be out there. Yesterday produced several more examples:

admonishing the young

punk sensibilities

(name it and you can keep it)

a new toy

Not sure if this is a Good Thing or a calumny, but it’s progress of a sort.

The new iPad arrived yesterday, and I’ve been playing with Adobe Illustrator Draw, attempting to actualize an idea I’ve had for a few months. Take an image in which I see something that I want to call other viewers’ attention to. Sketch the outlines of what I see on a new layer, then export the sketch. Here’s an example, raggedy but clear enough to show the potential:

Start with an unfolded image (what I call a tessellation, though it’s just a single mirroring), like the one I labelled “voracious blue-eyed goddess”:

voracious blue-eyed goddess

sketch in the lines my imagination sees:


and turn off the background:


Who is it?

Hillary Clinton.

I had no idea…

Cucurbitae of November

I sent the eleventh photo book (called Elevenses) off to Blurb a couple of days ago, and I’ll put up a link to its pdf once I know that everything is as I intended. I’m quite pleased with what went into it, and almost feel that I’m in control of Adobe InDesign, such that other books will follow soon. Meanwhile, and while I await delivery of some shiny new Apple hardware in the coming week, I awoke this morning with an idea for a quick 20-page booklet with rock images. By 4:00 this afternoon it was complete and uploaded to Blurb. Here’s the cover, front and back:

A Pumpkin in Late November Cover

…and it’s downloadable as a pdf.

An explanatory web page is up in an early version, but I’m still working on what to include therein.