Thursday, May 2, 2019

Souradeep Sen writes

Some wishes unfulfilled

You're everywhere,
whichever way I look you are there.
I find you
in the careless night of Van Gogh,
in the poise of Mozart's Adagio.
In my books, I find you most
in the austerity of Aurelius.
Wish you were mine
in Marvell's chiseled lust.
No, for you are noumenal,
like the wisdom of Kant.
On most nights,
you do linger in my mind
like a Faustian dream,
only to wither away in a syllogism -
for my life have I not examined.

No, I don't blame you.
I'll store it all,
stash it away like Beethoven's letter
to his immortal love.
And like a gift procured, sans delivered,
when I'm no more,
will posterity judge my ardour
and its sordid denial.
My life
unexamined, dangerous and laid bare.
The Starry Night -- Vincent van Gogh


  1. After suffering a mental breakdown in which he severed a part of his own ear with a razor Vincent van Gogh was sent to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. During his 12 months there he painted during bursts of productivity that alternated with epileptic fits and moods of despair and paranoia. Allowed more freedom than other patients, he was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room, was given a studio of his own, and could leave the hospital grounds with a chaperone. Limited to subjects like his own likeness, the view from his east-facing studio window (which he painted 21 times) and the surrounding countryside, he experimented with depicting various weather conditions and changing light and was particularly preoccupied by the challenges of painting a night landscape. In 1889 he wrote his brother Theo, “This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.” The result was “The Starry Night.” It was one of his last works; after his release from Saint-Paul-de-Mausole he killed himself a year later.
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his 5 works for violin in Salzburg when he was the city’s concertmaster between 1773 and 1777. His “Adagio in E für Violine und Orchester” (1776), scored for solo violin, 2 flutes, 2 horns and strings, was probably a replacement for the slow movement of his Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, which violinist Antonio Brunetti regarded as “too artificial.” Brunetti replaced Mozart when he resigned to find a better paying and more prestigious position.
    Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was the Roman emperor from 161-180. His “Ta eis heauton” ("things to one's self"), commonly knows as the “Meditations,” consisted of 12 books in Koine Greek in which he explored his Stoic philosophy. It was written for his own use and not intended to be published. It was not definitely referred to until the early 10th century, when the archbishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia (modern Turkey) told the archbishop of Heracleia that he had a copy of it. Wilhelm Xylander issued the 1st printed edition (in Latin) in 1558 or 1559. In the 18th century Immanuel Kant developed much of his own philosophy, especially its moral aspects, from Marcus Aurelius and other Stoics.

  2. Most of the poetry of Andrew Marvell was not published until 1681, 3 years after his death; the texts belonged to his housekeeper Mary Palmer, who claimed they had been secretly married in 1667. He served in Parliament from 1659 until his death and was known for his political essays and satires. It was not until the 19th century that his lyrical poems began to attract serious attention, but T. S. Eliot’s 1921 essay marking the 300th anniversary of his birth established him as a major poet, largely on the basis of “To His Coy Mistress.” It reads, in part,
    But at my back I always hear
    Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
    And yonder all before us lie
    Deserts of vast eternity.
    Thy beauty shall no more be found;
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song; then worms shall try
    That long-preserved virginity,
    And your quaint honour turn to dust,
    And into ashes all my lust;
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none, I think, do there embrace.
    Johann Georg Faust (his surname was derived from the Latin for "favored" or "auspicious") performed magic treats and made horoscopes in the Frankfurt, Germany, area as early as 1506 and appeared in the guise of a physician, alchemist, and astrologer throughout southern Germany over the next 3 decades. After he claimed that he could easily reproduce all of the miracles of Jesus he was denounced as a blasphemer in league with the devil, but his medical knowledge was also recognized. It was rumored that he traveled with a dog that would sometimes transform into a servant. He died in 1540 or 1541 in an explosion caused by an alchemical experiment in Staufen im Breisgau when his clerical and scholarly enemies sent the devil to collect him in person by his clerical and scholarly enemies. In 1548, the theologian Johann Gast claimed that Faust’s corpse kept turning its face to the earth in spite of being repeatedly turned on its back. From the 1580s magical texts attributed to him began to appear, back dated to the early 15th century. The anonymous “Historia von D. Johann Fausten” appeared in Frankfurt in 1587 and enlarged additions continued to appear with additional accounts, usually old folktales with Faust's name superimposed. It was translated into English in 1587 as “The Historie of the Damnable Life, and Deserved Death of Doctor Iohn Faustus” and served as the basis of Christopher Marlowe’s 1589 play “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus,” about a polymath who agreed to sell his soul in exchange for supernatural powers. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe began working on the theme in the early 1770s; in 1790 he published a fragment, completed Part One in 1806 (published 1808) which he revised in 1828-1829 , and finished Part Two in 1831, published posthumously a year later. Samuel Taylor Coleridge published a partial translation in 1821, Gérard de Nerval published a French translation in 1828. In Goethe’s version, the bargain is for Faust to exchange his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures but at the end angels intervened and took his soul to Heaven.
    Ludwig van Beethoven wrote a 10-page love letter to "Unsterbliche Geliebte" (Immortal Beloved) on 6-7 July 1812. It was found in his estate after his death in 1827, when his secretary and biographer Anton Schindler acquired it. Schindler’s sister sold it to the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin in 1880. Schindler identified the unknown recipient as Julie ("Giulietta") Guicciardi but since then others have been proposed, including Josephine Brunsvik (countess Jozefina Brunszvik de Korompa) or her sister Teréz, Amalie Sebald, Marie Erdödy, Dorothea Ertmann, Antonie Brentano (Johanna Antonie Josefa Edle von Birkenstock), and his sister-in-law Johanna van Beethoven; in 1954 Editha and Richard Sterba applied psychoanalytic methods to suggest Beethoven's nephew Karl.


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