Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sumptuous September:

This afternoon, while sitting atop Plantage Middenlaan–nestled on a cosy bench near the aquarium, which is itself part of the zoo–looking westward toward the Zuiderkerk in the distance, with its clock-tower bells ushering in midday as it struck away; I idled my time. I descended upon this aforementioned bench only after hopping up from another, nearby, canal side location that I had been inhabiting, where I sat on the edge of Mauritskade, in front Tropenmuseum, reading a book. The eastern portion of Amsterdam is morphing, transforming, shifting; it’s being scrubbed, cleaned, and repainted–much in the same manner that was done to the paving of streets and sidewalks in Amsterdam’s center, about four year ago. Everything in the East, is being renewed. As the sun sets earlier each day, the sunrises get more spectacular; rays of sunlight now burst over the edge of the horizon in the mornings, dousing light into the city’s streets, and streaking it along the front façades of the houses that so stoutly align them. Summer is over and that’s now easy to see. Yet only two weeks ago, the city’s vegetation took a turn away from its supple state, and began the annual process of lowering the intensity of its green. These days, hues of yellow are now emerging on patches within most of the city's trees, whose green is now golden, and thus no longer deliciously vibrant, and light. A heaviness now sits upon the city’s tree leaves; dropping soon they’ll be. A dampness permeates the air; though that it’s actually not: it’s just that the sun doesn’t shine as longer as it previously did, and the city itself, and the people in it, are becoming colder. Yet there’s still no need for a jacket during the mid-days of days like today. Cumulous clouds roll above, across an immensely infinite sky. The city’s vegetation is now preparing itself for winter, which is just ahead. Walls of ivy are now rippling with maroons and deep purples; sumptuous streaks of purple and pinks stream across the sky at sunset. Amsterdam’s trees still have most of their leaves; they’ll continue to, too, for about two months more, until, all of them choose to let go.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Vulnerability, and Its Capacity for Connection:

In many ways this year–thus far–has been tumultuous. And in many ways–thus far–it was not. Nothing too overtly demanding, physically, has been present within my life, since the beginning of this evenly numbered year. And, yet, at the same time, everything in my life has changed. I have a new schedule; a new mode of living; a new way of being. I feel as if I have taken control of my life after floating through the motions of eat, sleep, love, work, and live. Now the word work has been replaced with study. I like that. And I like being the director of my own life. It's good to know that when I'm unhappy with any aspect of my life, I can, indeed–as I have always done, actually–make a change to it. But it's also good for me to realize that, most often, change takes time, and preparation. Good thing I'm incredibly patient. There is a scene–the opening scene–in the movie Death Becomes Her, in which the main character (played by Goldie Hawn) has a breakdown of sorts that's clearly been going on for some time. Her character’s sitting in a circle, in a type of self-help group, and when it’s her turn to talk, she begins by hesitantly, and slowly, saying that she’d like to talk about: Madeline Ashton–a friend of hers who ruined her, yet in some ways, she dug this self-pity hole, herself. This action elicits great sighs of ensuing disaster and grief from those in this group, those surrounding her. The movie then takes us back to a few years earlier, when Goldie's character is introducing her fiancé to her friend, Madeline, the famous movie star who goes on to steal this fiancé, which is, more or less, the story of their friendship; one friend takes all of what the other friend has, while the latter’s resentment slowly builds over the years, until she’s obese and, in the aforementioned self-help group. And so begins the movie. Now, I have not been to any self-help groups over this past year (not that I would ever be opposed to one–improvement of the self is my middle name, and this publication helps me to do just that). But I have been, obsessively-obsessing about certain aspects of my life, prior to this last week, that is, as if my life were a therapy session. It’s not that anything is wrong with my life, at all. It’s going swimmingly well, actually. And earlier this year that was the case, too. But it’s others that at times send my mind into summersaults. Overtly analyzing, what does that mean? What did I just hear? And–the killer–what do those two questions, together, mean? Impossible I thought was the answer that that last question, and indeed it’s not. Impossible, it seems, is possible; certainly in relation to one’s own thoughts. Bringing the self out into the world requires vulnerability. In order to truly connect with one another, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. When we are, others see us for how and who we really are. And for a some, that’s frightening. But, I’m learning, not everyone wants to connect, or will connect. And often times that’s–indeed–not because of me. This is what I'm learning. Often people will not, refuse to, or–owing to their own self-inflicted insecurity or philosophy–are not able to. It’s those who can’t connect–or, more specifically, won’t connect (for whatever reasons)–that I’ll no longer spend time attempting to connect to. One person can only expose so much of himself, before the other person on the opposite side of a relationship, must do so, too. Why waste time trying to connect with those who won't. In doing so, I'll instead connect with so many others; others who also care about walking through the world while paying attention, while simultaneously taking the time to appreciate, and leave behind, small traces of beauty. What more could one ask for?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Iconoclastic Fury:

For the last 48 hours my mind has been, like a sponge, absorbing as much history surrounding the art of the Low Countries–and the ways in which it has been studied throughout recent centuries. It is really agreeable, and just feels right, to immerse myself in a room full of others who are both appreciative of, and curious to discuss and dissect, this art. Iconoclasm–in Dutch, the Beeldenstorm–swept through the Low Countries, beginning in Antwerp in 1566; it rippled up to and throughout modern day North Holland. August of that year was a grave, violent, and somber period in Dutch history: Iconoclasm in a Church, Dirck van Delen, 1630, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Height of Summer:

The peak of summer has arrived in Amsterdam. After weeks of endless rain; summer is back. This enlivened weather lead me to wander over and into the gardens of the Rijksmuseum yesterday, and today. Yet today I walked into the museum, unlike yesterday, after voraciously reading a chapter in a book that's currently captivating me; it's about the American raid on Old Master paintings in Europe in the decades before and after the World War One. It's aptly titled Old Masters, New Worlds. And it's fascinating. In anticipation of my first day of academic study of Dutch Art, which is tomorrow, while meandering in the museum I took the time to stop in front of Jan Asselijn's 'The Threatened Swan'. It was the first painting in the Netherlands that I took up an emotional connection with, solely because it's the first painting I stopped in front of, when I first began my obsessive visits to the Rijksmuseum's galleries earlier this year. It just so happens that this oversized painting was also the first of the museum's acquisitions, when it opened its doors in 1800 as the National Art Gallery–the forerunner to the present day Rijksmuseum. In many ways, I see this as a sign.