Monday, June 21, 2010

Auspicious Cranes For Everyone

The Emperor Huizong was one of China's most mediocre and unfortunate Emperors. As an 11th son of the reigning Emperor, he never expected to become the successor. With his father's encouragement, he devoted his life to poetry, calligraphy, and painting, eventually becoming one of China's greatest artists.
Through an amazing string of bad luck, his ten older brothers all died leaving Huizong as the completely unprepared heir to the imperial throne. He relied heavily on his scheming and corrupt ministers to govern. The Jin Tartars took advantage of the corruption and misrule and invaded, capturing the capital city Kaifeng, and Huizong. He ended his days as a prisoner in Manchuria.

Upon his unexpected ascension to the imperial throne, Huizong painted this picture in 1112 of cranes flocking over the roof of the imperial palace.

Cranes are seen in China as omens of good luck. They appear in art and architecture as auspicious emblems of good fortune. The anxious new Emperor filled this masterful painting with as many cranes as his composition would allow. He knew he needed Heaven's help.

And so do we all. Michael is going through a string of unexpected bad luck. My career as an artist seems to be stuck in "park" these days. We are both feeling very discouraged. There are too many people out of work or under-employed and under-paid, and I know too many of them.

Thankfully, the world is always full of new beginnings. Beneath the headlines and newsfeeds of corruption and craziness, people are hard at work trying to keep this country from going the way of 17th century Spain, and to revive and renew its core principles. The Episcopal Church appears to be headed for some kind of a new beginning and a new relationship with the rest of the world.
And JCF returns to California.

May Heaven prosper the work of our hands, and bring us all to a much better end than that of the artist-Emperor. May the good fortune and promise of his paintings come true for us, even if they were not fulfilled for him.


Lapinbizarre said...

Read & seen with enjoyment. Thank you.

Counterlight said...

Thanks Lapin.

Katy said...

Long time reader and infrequent commenter here...

I just wanted to say happy Blogiversary! And thank you. Always informative. Always inspiring me to think.

Counterlight said...

Brad, you've outdone yourself.
Only in your mind could a 12th century Song Dynasty Emperor of China have anything to do with Anglo-Catholicism.

Counterlight said...

Thank you Katy.

Leonard said...

What? Your cranes have come in for a landing? Rest, relax, renourish and remember there isn´t a plague and the future will unfold before you(s) one-way trips to Manchuria in sight!

Rejoice, you´re brilliant!

Unknown said...

Lovely story, with a painting to go with it!

You're right - people aren't getting jobs and so many are losing you, I know so many of them here in our small town.

Hang it there and some how we will all muddle through.

rick allen said...

All the best, and much appreciation for your work.

And don't forget that 17th century Spain, for all its pathologies, gave us Velasquez and (my personal favorite) Cervantes. And founded Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I have just blundered my way through a late book by the great French historian Fernand Braudel, his "Le Modele Italien," ruminating on the greatness and decadence of Italy between 1450 and 1650. Almost as his last observation he says, "A tort ou a raison, il me semble que la tombee d'une certain nuit precede, commande d'ordinaire, toute granduer culturelle. C'est las chute qui provoque cette multiplicite de lueurs."

As best as I can render it, "For better or worse, it seems to me that ordinarily a certain nightfall must preceed every cultural grandure. It is that fall that actually brings forth the explosion of lights."

But it sounds better in French, doesn't it?

Counterlight said...

The poetry of Velazquez comes from watching the meltdown of the Hapsburg dynasty in Spain, and from the consequent suffering of the Spanish people.

Supposedly there was an ancient Greek superstition that said that the gods send misfortune to humankind because they enjoy listening to mortals sing about it.

JCF said...

I pulled into Carmichael on Saturday.

My car had a Sunday "Sabbath."

On Monday, I drove it to the storage area (where I was to meet/unload my moving van---so I thought! That's another tale of woe...)

I did my paperwork, got my key, and was just pulling through the gate.

The car---my car, "Aranrhod" (means "Silver Wheel" in Welsh)---died. Right there. Blocking the gate (yes, within 5 minutes, someone showed up behind me to honk).

$1500+ worth of work to fix.


[And I STILL haven't received my moving van in an unloadable---WITH RAMP I PAID FOR (van bed is 4 feet of the ground)---form!!! >:-0]

Such is life. My (90 year old, in an hour, Pacific Time) dad can be REALLY annoying (the "deaf but won't wear hearing aid" part is MAJOR)---but is, at least, generous. He deserves a Happy Birthday, Ol' Guy... [And HE has a girlfriend, which is more than *I* can claim! }-X]

Oh, enough about me. Best to Michael and you, Doug. :-)