Friday, September 14, 2018

Gifts of the Sky

Every day God paints the most beautiful paintings in the sky. One atheist friend of mine said that she had no appreciation of religious art at all, but then she saw the blue of the garb that Raphael had arrayed the Virgin Mary in, and it took her breath away. Isn’t that the clear blue of the sky? or of a calm sea on a cloudless day? Our Lady, Queen of the Sea?

Everyday it is there, for the taking, absolutely free. Even on those cloudy days, when we are impatient for sunlight, when we look at the sky as a gift all wrapped up especially for our eyes, we see its unfathomable beauty, the multi-layered clouds moving against or with each other, the intricate gradations of tones of one color, the variation in texture, from stern unmottled grey to wisps of cloud catching stray sunlight, like running children taunting their firmer and sterner parents from a frayed distance.

Oh God, how great is Thy love for us! 
Thank you, Lord, for reminding us each and every day of thy bounteous gifts for our eyes—the window to our soul. Amen.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Drama of the Skies


A sequence one evening




and the next evening


Sunday, June 24, 2018

In Praise of Hands by Henri Focillon 2

 Hand print found in a cave in Borneo with other images created by cave people. 

No matter where found, the ancient art of the cave people features the stenciled or traced hand. 

"The human hand forms one of the most ancient themes of human art," reports a study of hand stencils in Upper Palaeolithic cave art, published by Durham University. "Prehistoric examples of hand prints (positive images formed by covering the hand with paint and placing it on a surface, rather like modern children create) and stencils (negative images formed by placing the hand against a surface and blowing paint around it) are known from prehistoric contexts in Latin America, the Sahara, Indonesia, Australia and Tasmania, in many cases dating back several thousand years. For decades these have been thought to be Mid Upper Palaeolithic in age (around 22-29,000 14C BP) but recent dating and critical evaluation of existing data have shown that they are among the earliest examples of European Upper Palaeolithic cave art., stretching back at least to 35,000 (calendar) years ago."

Investigations by Anthropology professor Dean Snow at Pennsylvania State University further show that many of the hands stenciled or traced are those of women, and it is thought that this could mean that the stenciling of hands had a religious significance. 

Henri Focillion would not be surprised by such conclusions. "I seem to see primitive man inhaling the world through his hands," Focillon writes in his essay "In Praise of Hands," "stretching his fingers into a web to catch the imponderable."



Hand stencils next to drawings of horses in the Peche Merl caves in southern France. 

Focillon writes as if to explain the presence of hands as a kind of signature or sign of human presence and action on the world:

"As soon as man tries to intervene in the natural order in which he is subject, from the moment he begins to push a pointed instrument or a sharp edge into some hard material in order to split it and give it form, his primitive labor contains in itself its whole future development. The caveman carefully chipping the flint and fashioning needles out of bone astonishes me much more than the clever builder of machines. He is no longer activated by unknown forces; he can work on his own. Formerly, even in the recesses of the deepest cave, he remained on the surface of things; even when he broke up animal vertebrae or tree limbs, he did not penetrate, he had no access to meaning. The implement itself is no less remarkable than the use to which it is put. It is both a value and a result in itself. There it is, set off from the rest of the world, something new. Though a stone knife may have a cutting edge no sharper than that of a thin shell, it was not picked up by chance on some beach. It can be called the work of a new god, the product, indeed, the extension, of his hands."




Hand stencils from La Cueva de las Manos (Cave of Hands) in Patagonia, Argentina. 

"What distinguishes dream from reality is that the dreamer cannot engender art, for his hands are asleep. Art is made by the hands. They are the instrument of creation, but even before that they are an organ of knowledge," Focillon writes."...In the artist's studio are to be found the hand's trials, experiments and divinations, the age-old memories of the human race which has not forgotten the privilege of working with its hands."




Hand print decorations in a cave in southern Africa. 


See In Praise of Hands by Henri Focillon 1

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Simple and Beautiful


So interesting that all the different colors chosen by Amish women all go together in such beautiful harmony.

Also see: Amish Communities Now in 28 States