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Odyssey Book II

BOOK II [ 2-1 ] telemachus [ 2-2 ]
Aegyptius [ 2-3 ] Antinous [ 2-4 ]
penelope [ 2-5 ] Halitherses / zeus [ 2-6 ]
Eurymachus [ 2-7 ] telemachus [ 2-8 ]
Mentor [ 2-9 ] Leocritus [ 2-10 ]
Eurycleia [ 2-11 ] athena [ 2-12 ]
each 16 x 10 [ inches ]    |    pencil, paper, acrylic    |    ensemble 98.5 x 22 [ inches ]


… This is a classic example of Bach being caught up in the process of elaboratio, the second stage in the fleshing out of a musical composition as defined by Christoph Bernhard. In his Tractatus compositions augmentatus (c. 1657), widely circulated in manuscript during the second half of the seventeenth century, Bernhard brought Cicero’s five divisions of rhetoric * up to date and in applying them to music reduced them to three: inventio, elaboratio and executio. First, Bach crafts a workable idea (inventio), one that opens the door to creative embellishment (elaboratio), and then puts it to the test in performance (executio). These concepts are complementary and vital. The first two require intense mental activity, but there is a crucial difference between them: whereas invention is work, elaboration is play. Laurence Dreyfus expands on this: ‘while invention requires foresight, planning, consistency, savvy, and seriousness of purpose, elaboration is content with elegance, an associative logic, and an eye for similarities.’ The latter allowed Bach to explore dormant qualities in composition that most composers of his day would have missed. The hallmark of Bach’s skill in elaboratio lies in the intricacy and connectedness of his methods, such as variation and parody: these come across as far more refined and distinctive than those of his contemporaries, who, as Dreyfus observes, tend to treat elaboration in a more casual manner. But we are liable to be disappointed and may be trivialising the creative process if we expect to find all the germs of a new work neatly contained in its beginnings and then elaborated in logical progression. At certain times this does happen; at others Bach introduces new thematic material that involves discarding or cutting short the trajectory of an opening theme, but in such a way that we would probably not notice that anything was amiss, so accomplished is he at papering over the joins and bringing things to a natural-seeming conclusion. Dreyfus points to the formal oddity of an immensely popular piece, the opening movement of Bach’s second Brandenburg Concerto, to illustrate how the formation of its two competing ritornellos is incomplete and in a sense defective. Bach seems to acknowledge the fact by his inability to repeat both of them intact at the end of the movement. Yet the listener is probably not in the least disturbed by the irrationality of its construction, delighting instead in its playfulness, wit and brilliance. What is most valuable about this sort of approach is that Bach could be shown to be at his most creative when his chosen inventive material falls short in some way, or when some sort of irregularity gives rise to ideas that he probably would not otherwise have had. What Dreyfuss reveals is that there is a real human intelligence operative here, not some detached Godlike figure who just creates ex nihilo.

* Cicero’s treatment of rhetoric was derived from earlier Hellenistic tradition and divided by him into five canons : Inventio – invention, Dispositio – arrangement, Elocutio – style, Memoria – memory and Pronuntiatio – delivery.

– from Music in the Castle of Heaven : A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by John Eliot Gardiner pgs 214-215

Titian : poesie

Titian : a series of mythological paintings classified by the term “poesie” intended for King Philip II of Spain taking subjects from the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Danaë, delivered to Philip in 1553, now Wellington Collection
Venus and Adonis, delivered 1554, Museo del Prado
Perseus and Andromeda, c. 1554–1556, Wallace Collection
Diana and Actaeon, 1556–1559, London’s National Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh
Diana and Callisto, 1556–1559, London’s National Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh
The Rape of Europa, c. 1560–1562, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
The Death of Actaeon, c. 1559-1575, never delivered, National Gallery London

Perseus and Andromeda

Titian    |   Perseus and Andromeda    |   ca 1554 – 1556    |   183.3 x 199.3 [cm]    |   Wallace Collection, London
Veronese    |   Perseus and Andromeda    |   ca 1576 – 1578    |   260 x 211 [cm]    |   Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes
Piero di Cosimo    |   Perseus and Andromeda    |   ca 1510 – 1515    |   70 x 123 [cm]    |   Uffizi, Firenze


tea room in Zuihō-in    |    a sub-temple of Daitokuji Monastery [ a Rinzai Buddhist Monastery complex founded in 1319 ]    |    room dates from the 16th C    |    Kyoto, Japan


…. We can take this observation one step further. It is important to recognize that the word ‘growth’ has
become a kind of propaganda term. In reality, what is going on is a process of elite accumulation, the
commodification of commons, and the appropriation of human labour and natural resources — a process
that is quite often colonial in character. This process, which is generally destructive to human commu-
nities and to ecology, is glossed as growth. Growth sounds natural and positive (who could possibly be
against growth?) so people are easily persuaded to buy into it, and to back policies that will generate more
of it, when otherwise they might not. Growth is the ideology of capitalism, in the Gramscian sense. It is
the core tenet of capitalism’s cultural hegemony. The word degrowth is powerful and effective because it
identifies this trick, and rejects it. Degrowth calls for the reversal of the processes that lie behind growth: it
calls for disaccumulation, decommodification, and decolonization.

Jason Hickel    |    @jasonhickel

Pissarro / Cézanne

Camille Pissarro
Oil on canvas
H. 90    W. 116.5     [cm]
Private collection
Paul Cézanne
Louveciennes    |    copy of the Pissarro
Circa 1872
Oil on canvas
H. 73    W. 92     [cm]
Private collection