“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
There are a lot of obstacles on the downhill ride from so-called "childhood" into "maturity" and "old age." However as Alfred "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." However, it can be painful to encounter impediments to motion whether they are metaphorically snowbanks, shrubs, trees or rocks. There is no choice to moving off from ennui, and even the wealthy cannot obtain insurance against happenstance and terminal death.
Ronald Searle's cartoon was penned in the 1970s when personal computers were unknown. The cartoon had political implications which I could not track down. The caption is Searle's. but colour, type and lighting effects were added using Photoshop. That notation at left is the amount asked for his drawing in £ Sterling.
Fear is a mental and physical reaction to real or perceived danger and leads to terror which leads to the flight or fight response and in extreme cases to horror and terror ending in a freeze response or paralysis.
In a 2005 US based Gallup Poll, adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 reported that their fears ranked in order of precedence were: "terrorist attacks, spiders, death, failure, war, criminal or gang violence, being alone, the future, and nuclear war." Adults queried online in 2008, resulted in a different list: "flying, heights, clowns, intimacy, death, rejection, people, snakes, failure, and driving." Perhaps it is natural that "fear of success" was not mentioned since that seems a positive goal, although the parametres vary widely from one individual to the next. Everyone fails and only a fool thinks there is an avoidance reaction for death and dissolution.
In 1939, Ronald Searle (1920-2011) had just started as a cartoonist for the Cambridge Times in England, and penned scenes of preparations for war in September of that year, when I entered grade school. Note his insistence that folk should "Remain Calm"? He abandoned his art studies to enlist in the Royal Engineers. In January 1942, he was stationed in Singapore. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Malaysian campaign and liberated in late 1945. He was terrorized and traumatized, and survived beri-beri and malaria contracted in the Kwai jungle, working on the Siam-Burma Death Railway.
In my childhood during World War II, death was at the forefront for everyone even on the home front, due to a lack of treatment for communicable childhood diseases and the fact that adult Canadians were literally, blown away every day. Their names were mentioned at Friday afternoon school assemblies. For years after peace was attained, war was less attractive as a means for settling issues, than is now the case. Many veterans of that war did not regard themselves as heroes. It was not cowardice that led to "shell-shock", which can be an element in what is now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD was unknown back then.
As noted, it is not always fear of failure that leads to paralysis. Further, obsessive activity does not necessarily lead to happiness and success. Conversely, success may not result in happiness, and that is why some folk take the rationale course of being wary of anything new, untried, or seemingly risky. It is not a guarantee of a dull secure life, but is some insulation against a fear of failure. Youngsters see success as a commendable goal and most are as eager as beavers and have better tools than the handsaws my generation used to achieve more modest goals.
The English word success, like may others, has roots in Latin . As a masculine noun successus was understood to define the "course of events, the flow of time, an advance, a close approach to a desired goal or outcome." By the 1850s it was understood in this last sense in recorded English. The meaning of the word was expanded after that to imply a completely favourable outcome, the attainment of popularity or profit and a person or thing which managed to achieve desired aims or attain prosperity. The idea that it was merely the outcome of an undertaking "for ill or good" was dropped. Because the Grim Reaper calls the shots human success is ephemeral and irrelevant in the long flow of time.
As a kid, I thought that all people shared the above concept of the way things are. I also had a pretty conventional view of what was meant by all of those modifying words, which are are actually just as fuzzy in meaning as "success". In my dotage, I think it likely that there are all kinds of lives lived combining some or all of these perceived happenings in varying degrees.
Donald Trump must be considered a success in the Merriam-Webster version of this word. In July 2013 he tweeted, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you'll be a success." - Albert Schweitzer. However, Albert was not looking at success as a measure of money in one's wallet. Wee Donnie was probably more self-satisfied then than after his election as President. In April of the current year h expressed some dissatisfaction: "I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," he told Reuters reporters. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier." Some folk who voted for Him also thought that life would be easier.
Unlike Trump, Ronald Searle came from a working class background and had no massive inheritance. A cartoonist following the theatrical scene in Britain, he mingled with an successful crowd, but was immediately recognized as a talented caricaturist. Persistent unhappiness with the state of his world caused him to flee his wife and family and become an ex pat in France. He does appear to have gained a semblance of balance in old age, although he was a constant critic of social mores in all of Europe. Like George Orwell he seems to have believed that, "No advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer." He was obsessive in his work as an illustrator but claimed not to have gathered great wealth. What might have been classed as "boring routine" for some, appears to have given him a measure of happiness.
Think Big and Kick Ass: In Business and in Life is a non-fiction book by businessman Donald Trump, first published in hardcover in 2007. The book was co-authored (i.e. written by) by Bill Zanker: "If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big."... The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do." Guess that, couple with revenge is his idea of heaven on earth. Like success, heaven is a movable fantasy for all kinds of individuals with differing needs and habits. Canadians are a lot happier than Americans according to a recent poll of attitudes. By the way Canadian author T. Harv Eker also advises that "The biggest obstacle to wealth is fear. People are afraid to think big, but if you think small, you'll only achieve small things."born
If we are equating success with wealth this small percentile must be in seventh heaven. Perhaps that's a bad metaphor considering what we now know about that old "One Crow... ditty? Nicole Thompson, writing for the Canadian Press in January, revealed that the two richest Canadians have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 30 per cent of the country combined,"The Oxfam report says the wealth of billionaire businessmen David Thomson and Galen Weston Sr. equals that of about 11 million Canadians." The report added that the world’s eight richest people have as much wealth as the poorest 50 per cent of the world’s population.
"The few men who possess the wealth of the material things of the earth at the present time are not truly happy." -
Joseph Franklin Rutherford. Why? They quite logically fear losing it! Eventually even real empires such as Babylon, Egypt, Rome and Greece went terminal.
Empires, nations, businesses and individuals fight wars out of fear and this inevitably leads to terrorism and sheer terror. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the midst of war, encouraged morale by suggesting that "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." However, that was in the pre-terrorist world when the United States was relatively untouched by malevolence on its own soil. Today there is a great deal of legitimate fearfulness in the world's general population with the war on civilians accelerating, especially off shore.
The fear of ghosts is sometimes referred to as phasmophobia and 42% of Americans are reported as disinterested in staying in a haunted house overnight. Only 29% admit to a belief in them and 18% say they have met one or more spooks. Fear of the supernatural is a surprise in this supposedly rational word where there are more legitimate concerns. Were you kind to your toys?
"Now about those ghosts. I'm sure they're here and I'm not half so alarmed at meeting up with any of them as I am at having to meet the live nuts I have to see every day."
- Bess Truman, wife of President Harry S. Truman, USA.
Gahan Wilson noted Technophobia in this cartoon penned decades ago. This condition is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers. Although there are numerous interpretations of technophobia, they seem to become more complex as technology continues to evolve. That story noted as a headline can be googled and found on line.
More deeply rooted in ancient times is the fear of losing control to some so-called "controlled-" or "uncontrolled substance."
And there is Gerascophobia a persistent nagging fear of aging and especially old age. Hugh Hefner of Playboy magazine infamy was on Viagra when he married a woman 60 years his junior in 2012. By then he was as much of a caricature as this fellow created for the magazine by Wilson. He claimed to be happy with the life he lived but his divorces suggest there were periods of non-physical unfulfilment. The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. - H. P. Lovecraft. "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. - Mark Twain.
Mayor David Kogon of Amherst, N.S., said sea levels are projected to rise in the Bay of Fundy over 15 to 20 years to the point where the Isthmus of Chignecto will flood, even without a storm surge. "If the Isthmus of Chignecto, which is all that connects Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, is flooded out, then Nova Scotia will be surrounded by water," said Kogon in an interview Thursday, adding that with the right storm the isthmus could flood sooner." The dikes in the Tantramar Marsh, the area at risk, were built by Acadian settlers for agricultural purposes in the 1700s and urgent, multi-million-dollar upgrades are needed. - Huffpost Canada.
The sum of all fears is greater now than when I was a child. In some cases, science and technology have created new unfortunate situations. In other, they have identified problems simmering on a back burner for decades or even centuries. It will be advisable for all of us to "look down the road" for long term solutions to fearful problems.
We expect too much of others and not enough from ourselves. "True happiness is... to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future." - Seneca. Wikipedia admits that defining "happiness" has been a long process involving 6,000 edits. The short form: "Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy (euphoria). Happy mental states may also reflect judgments by a person about their overall well-being..."
"Happiness ain’t a thing in itself–it’s only a contrast with something that ain’t pleasant." - Mark Twain. That is why humans are gifted with a perverse sense of humour.
"Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory." - Albert Schweitzer.
When Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, he joked that: "The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42." Millions of fans persist in trying to decipher what they imagine that number meant."The answer to this is very simple," Adams said. "It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base 13, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat on my desk, stared in to the garden and thought 42 will do. I typed it out. End of story." Less esoterically the Dalai Lama insisted, "The purpose of our lives is to be happy." As noted such abstract words are no7 always helpful even where we think we understand them. Google the above title to see what we mean.
The English language is open to the concept of alternate facts and alternate truths based on them . Albert Einstein admitted that "imagination is more important than knowledge" as a starting point for a hypothesis, but never suggested that all facts were of equal merit. His view on life: "A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future." Pictures like words can be misrepresentations of truth. This is Peggy's Cove Light, a Nova Scotian tourist draw. In times long past that building housed a local post office that could frank a letter with a Peggy's Cove stamp cancellation. These days it is not open to the public or Purolator, in which Canada Post has a vested interest. Nothing is ever delivered there since the lighthouse is uninhabited. The federal government in Ottawa pays nothing for annual upkeep. This video is a bit of a trumpism, an alternate representation of a romantic unreality.
A wine shop in the Dubai International Airport is selling what they call in the press release "the world's most expensive bottle of red wine to ever be retailed." The Le Clos wine shop in Terminal 3 is selling three Balthazars (12-liter bottles) of Château Margaux 2009 priced at $195,000 each.Oct 16, 2013. Chateau Margaux 1787 – $500,000. Known as "the most expensive wine never to be sold," this wine's initial price was around $500,000.Jul 16, 2014. Probably auctioneers are those with the broadest smiles?
Not long after that crude sketch was reoffered with a reserve price of $27,000 in the USA. No takers.
On November 16, Southbys auction house in New York offered an evening sale of "Post-War (World War II) and Contemporary Art", Trump's scribble being the most recent painting of those offered. The British newspaper The Tribune, headlined the left hand painting: "Leonardo da Vinci painting sells for world record $450 million despite lingering doubts over its authenticity (and condition)." The Trump "painting turned up much later in the evening carrying a starting bid of $5,000 and sold for a little more than $6,000. I guess beauty and value does lie in the eyes of the beholder. I have since wondered if I should not reconsider the felt pen as tool for making pictures. The idea that "Art is what you can get away with" seems confirmed in at least one of these cases.
Andy Warhol would have loved the juxtaposition of his mass-produced works with the antique painting. His 60 paintings were based on an oil-painted copy of Leonardo's work.
I have executed some small Field Colour imitations and Ruth has allowed me to hang them.
She's not so keen when it comes to Dribble Werk. This is a small sampling based on Sothby's catalogue. Why slot a 500 year old painting into this particular fall sale?
The British Broadcasting Corporation's art reporter explained: "Why not in the Old Masters Sale? Because that's not where the elephant bucks are. The big money comes into the room nowadays when Pollocks and Twomblys are on the block, and promptly leaves when the Reynolds and Winterhalters arrive." Realism remains unpopular with super wealthy patrons, but that did not prevent 19 minutes of active bidding for "Salvator Mundi", who some described as a bit too pretty.
Ronald Searle had no great love for academic artists as this rendering shows. It is now commonplace for teacher/critics to describe themselves as such. Some of them were not pleased with the "cosmetic surgery" executed with respect to the cracked wooden panels on which the "Saviour of the World' was painted. They were described as "worm tunnelled." Another critic described the surface of the painting as "inert, varnished, lurid, scrubbed over and repainted so many times that it looks simultaneously new and old". BBC's arts correspondent Vincent Dowd said that attribution to Leonardo is not yet universally accepted.
Jerry Saltz of vulture.com insisted that ."Any private collector who gets suckered into buying this picture and places it in their apartment or storage, it serves them right." However public hype is the medium and the message, and this is a "mad world" according to yet another art guru.
Ronald Searle would like to have had "legitimate" positive critical acclaim as a Fine Artist in his lifetime, but that never came from Britain, which is why his work and archival material went to a German museum. One could never be sure when he was being "serious".
He expressed admiration for Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec over the Renaissance masters. He never had an atelier which might have allowed him o create elephantine-sized paintings.
By the way Sothbys collected $52-million in fees in addition to that bas sale price. Fakes were legion in his day and he would certainly have satirized this latest sale had he lived beyond 2011.
This early caricature of a Bohemian artist's girlfriend greasing the frying pan with tubes of oil paint suggests that he was a long time surrendering his "angry young man" image. People earning a living (however meagre) from their work. were denigrated by artists on both the political and economic right and left.
He had monumental quarrels with art editors although he never tried to impale these businessmen as this sketch suggests. The canvas is a bit of a nod toward Picasso's bull men.
It is possible that Searle liked Picasso's attitude as much as his work.
The young Brit created a number of faux works picturing the Spaniard as he might have been seen by a number of Modernists, in this instance a fellow Brit.
Truthfully, Picasso became a poor man with a lot on money which proved his undoing in spite of a domineering, abrasive mid-life relationships with contemporaries, wives and lovers. These were all reported in Life magazine when I was a young man. He was that much of an international superstar.
As for that beginning illustration. It was part of a Minolta camera ad. I purchased an SR-1, which differed from this model in lacking a built in light meter. That was along time ago, back in the 1960s.
I had been in the painting game for seven years when the American magazine (left) was first published. The British magazine first named Art Business Today(right) morphed into Art + Framing Today and now appears on line. In this Post-modern world, it is again possible to suggest that some painter and delineators might want to engage in cash and carry, Their lists seem close to what the market demands of local artists. Prints still sell best as they are cheaper than handwork and a lot of buyers can't distinguish them from true paintings. "Limited edition" is often a meaningless term. "Offset-litho" means printed on an old style press. "Gicelee" is a fancy name for the a computer driven ink-jet printer. Searle was around to see the personal computer as this illustration shows.
Interested in this on line article. Go to Painter's Keys. Everyone has tips on how to succeeded (make money), although the market seems glutted with "talent." The list summarizes suggestions for becoming "artistic". At left Searle's muse helps him with a pen-and-ink illustration.
In the 1840s this French painter preceded Gahan Wilson in painting what he saw. He rejected academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists, and set an example for the Impressionists and the Cubists. Courbet occupies an important place in 19th-century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social statements through his work. In 1855, he submitted fourteen paintings for exhibition at the Exposition Universelle. Three were rejected for lack of space, including this monumental canvas, "The Artist's Studio". This canvas was either ignored or derided by the public and critics, making him seriously avant-garde. He died as a result of political dissent coupled with heavy drinking. To manage a studio of this size he must have had a lot of support from friends. I mention him as the Anglo-French caricaturist, Ronald Searle was certainly the recipient of some of his attitude toward notions of social justice.
Every dog really does have his day, or at least 15 minutes of glory, but artists, artizans, schools of art, professors of art and art critics will all succumb to success, in the original sense of that word, the forward flow of time "for good or ill." And that flow gives all of us rest at some point, and no one has been known to cruise blithely back against the current of the River Styx. That is the nature of the future, mutable and unpredictable.
Having, literally, seen improvements in eyesight, I wrote of returning to my studio to paint in late 2016. That did not happen because of political situations in Canada and the United States, which I researched for my own understanding. Then in April 2017 an eviction notice turned us into displaced, impecunious travellers. Resettlement is now finally complete here at Mahone Bay, November 18, 2017. Took time out in the Fall for necessary and unnecessary travel some of which is chronicled on our web site. Some images and thoughts will never hit the WWW. I'm really anxious to look for "buried treasure", photographs from 2016 and 2017, which might serve as references for paintings this winter.
The next event? The Mahone Bay Father Christmas Festival, November 24 - December 4, which I will have the time to photograph this year. "Next" - My current studio and projects in the works.