Happy New Year to All!
Peace, Health, and Prosperity for the New Year and for many more to come!
Drinking too much and partying hard with Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens,Village Fete, circa 1635 - 1638
I started the first picture by reversing the sketch, hoping that new material would naturally occur. The second painting was taken directly from the sketch, and the third (still being worked on) was based on a combination of the first two paintings with some new ideas. I finally settled on Idylls as a title for these pictures.
This freed them from any iconographic responsibilities that attach to Bacchanal or Arcadia. I had included a little toy steamboat in the original sketch to deliberately frustrate any attempt to place this scene in ancient times. Titian did a similar thing when he included women in contemporary dress in The Andrians.
Matisse comes to mind when thinking of more recent attempts at such a subject. His Lux, Calme et Volupté has no overt contemporary clues. Style alone makes it clear it is a modern picture. I conceived of these pictures as passive decorations—pictures that stay on the wall and seduce only if one is of a mind to be seduced. I like to think of them shaded by some loggia near a swimming pool with wet pavement, plants, and sunlight.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent.
Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre.
The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man.
The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
She began to enlarge upon the subject. With Julia, everything came back to her own sexuality. As soon as this was touched upon in any way she was capable of great acuteness. Unlike Winston, she grasped the inner meaning of the Party's sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex created a world of its own which was outside the Party's control and therefore had to be destroyed if possible. What was more important was that sexual privation induced hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war fever and leader worship. The way she put it was:
"When you make love you're using up energy; and afterwards you feel happy and don't give a damn for anything. They can't bear you to feel like that. They want you to be bursting with energy all the time. All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour. If you're happy inside yourself, why should you get excited about Big Brother and Three-Year Plans and Two Minutes Hate and all the rest of their bloody rot?"
That was very true, he thought. There was a direct intimate connection between chastity and political orthodoxy. For how could the fear, the hatred, and lunatic credulity which the Party needed in its members be kept at the right pitch except by bottling down some powerful instinct and using it as a driving force? The sex impulse was dangerous to the Party, and the Party had turned it to account.
"Do you see that the whole point of Newspeak is to narrow that range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten... Every year fewer and fewer words and the range of consciousness always a little smaller."
"The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron -- they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but changed into something actually contradictory of what they used to be... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."