The Visit — Prudence Flint

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The Visit, 2018 by Prudence Flint (b. 1962)

The Gallien Girl — Frantisek Kupka

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The Gallien Girl, 1910 by Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957)

Reverie — Gertrude Abercrombie

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Reverie, 1948 by Gertrude Abercrombie (1909–1977)

Exquisite Corpse — The Chapman Brothers

Exquisite Corpse 2000 by Jake Chapman and Dinos Chapman born 1966, born 1962

Exquisite Corpse, 2000 by Jake Chapman (b. 1966) and Dinos Chapman (b. 1962)

(Two illustrated) Books acquired, 24 Jan. 2020

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Like the seventh-graders before her, my daughter has to read Ray Bradbury’s somewhat over-rated novel Fahrenheit 451 this year. I gave her my copy, a 1980 edition that I stole from my cousin, who is ten years older than I am, like a quarter-century ago. (I would share a pic of this edition, but my daughter took it to school and left it there, because she is irresponsible. It looks like this though.) So she needs the 60th-anniversary edition, apparently, so I head to the local used bookstore I love to browse on a Friday afternoon, where they have about a bajillion copies of F451, bu not this ugly-assed big-assed new trade paperback.

did by way of random wondering come across the very unusual volume The Counterfeiters by Hugh Kenner though. Its spine called to me–the title, the font. The cover, quite strange. And Kenner, of course, the Joyce scholar who mentored the dude who I took a life-changing Joyce class in grad school. The Counterfeiters features art by Guy Davenport, including this piece, entitled Citizen Marx and Mr. Babbage Observed in Their Courses:

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Other illustrations include Turing, Warhol, and Yeats, all subjects of the essays here.

I picked up a mass-market 1973 paperback copy from Doubleday, but here’s Dalkey Archive’s blurb for their 2005 reprint:

Wide-ranging enough to encompass Buster Keaton, Charles Babbage, horses, and a man riding a bicycle while wearing a gas mask, The Counterfeiters is one of Hugh Kenner’s greatest achievements. In this fascinating work of literary and cultural criticism, Kenner seeks the causes and outcomes of man’s ability to simulate himself (a computer that can calculate quicker than we can) and his world (a mechanical duck that acts the same as a living one).

This intertangling of art and science, of man and machine, of machine and art is at the heart of this book. He argues that the belief in art as a uniquely human expression is complicated and questioned by the prevalence of simulations—or “counterfeits”—in our culture. Kenner, with his characteristically accessible style and wit, brings together history, literature, science, and art to locate the personal in what is an increasingly counterfeit world.

The contemporary 1972 New York Times review of the book, by the like-totally-unbiased illustrator Guy Davenportconcludes thus:

It is therefore perhaps too early to re view The Counterfeiters. It looks like science fiction to the half‐educated and like fiction to the conservative scholar. A generation (when? where?) that doesn’t know that literary criticism is supposed to be dull and flat‐footed will embrace it as a magic book.

I picked up another illustrated book too, Mr. Pye by Mervyn Peake. After picking up the first two books in Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy earlier this month, and loving the first one, which I’ve almost finished, I scouted for the third—no luck—but I’m a sucker for Penguin Editions, and Mr Pye seemed too hard to pass up for two bucks. Peake illustrates:

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Head — Eduardo Paolozzi

Head 1979 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005

Head, 1979 by Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005)

Linking Revelations and Beekeeping — Bram Demunter

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Linking Revelations and Beekeeping, 2019 by Bram Demunter

Judith and Holofernes — Koloman Moser

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Judith and Holofernes, 1916 by Koloman Moser (1868-1918)

Radical revolution of values

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay a hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.

From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church, New York City, 4 April 1967.

I, Mary — Ivan Albright

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I, Mary, 1976 by Ivan Albright (1897-1983)

Asclepius’ Dream — Agostino Arrivabene

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Asclepius’ Dream, 2016 by Agostino Arrivabene (b. 1967)

Slither — Dana Holst

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Slither, 2018 by Dana Holst (b. 1972)

The Room No. VI — Eldzier Cortor

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The Room No. VI, 1948 by Eldzier Cortor (1916–2015)

Mineral Colloquium — Lenor Fini

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Mineral Colloquium, 1960 by Leonor Fini (1908-1996)

Posted in Art

Source of the Blue Loue — Mark Tansey

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Source of the Blue Loue, 1982 by Mark Tansey (b. 1949)

Tuesday — Peter Blake

Tuesday 1961 by Peter Blake born 1932

Tuesday, 1961 by Peter Blake (b. 1932)

Painter’s Deathbed — Nigel Cooke

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Painter’s Deathbed, 2008 by Nigel Cooke (b. 1973)