“What Snowball the parrot’s spontaneous moves teach us about ourselves”


Article about Snowball by Ed Yong, TheAtlantic.com


“And when [Adena] Schachner combed through thousands of YouTube videos in search of animals that could be charitably described as dancing, she found only 15 species that fit the bill. One was the Asian elephant, which sometimes sways and swings its trunk to music. The other 14 species were parrots.”
(I never saw any off these videos of Snowball before)

Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit



neilarmstrong“Visitors look at Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit after it was unveiled for the first time in 13 years at the Smithsonian.”
Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images

50 years ago today, Apollo 11 took off from Earth.
all courtesy of Axios PM

Thomas Wolfe (Oct. 3, 1900 -Sept. 15, 1938)


“It is not all bad, but it is not all good, it is not all ugly, but it is not all beautiful, it is life, life, life — the only thing that matters.”

“This is why I think I’m going to be an artist. The things that really mattered sunk in and left their mark. Sometimes only a word — sometimes a peculiar smile — sometimes death — sometimes the smell of dandelions in Spring — once Love. Most people have little more mind than brutes: they live from day to day. I will go everywhere and see everything. I will meet all the people I can. I will think all the thoughts, feel all the emotion I am able, and I will write, write, write.”
Thomas Wolfe’s Letters to His Mother
courtesy of brainpickings


Thomas Clayton Wolfe was an American novelist of the early twentieth century.[1]

Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels as well as many short stories, dramatic works, and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written and published from the 1920s to the 1940s, vividly reflect on American culture and the mores of that period, filtered through Wolfe’s sensitive, sophisticated, and hyper-analytical perspective.

After Wolfe’s death, contemporary author William Faulkner said that Wolfe may have been the greatest talent of their generation for aiming higher than any other writer.[1][2] Wolfe’s influence extends to the writings of Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac, and of authors Ray Bradbury and Philip Roth, among others.[3] He remains an important writer in modern American literature, as one of the first masters of autobiographical fiction, and is considered North Carolina’s most famous writer.[4]

Hunter S. Thompson credits Wolfe for his famous phrase “Fear and Loathing”
(on page 62 of The Web and the Rock).[44]


Thomas Wolfe feeding a chipmunk. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon June 20, 1938 (Thomas Wolfe Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, NC



Thomas Wolfe and his mother, Julia, sitting on the porch of his childhood home in Asheville, North Carolina.


One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.

Most of the time we think we’re sick, it’s all in the mind.
Look Homeward, Angel (1929)


His enemy was time. Or perhaps it was his friend. One never knows for sure.

I think the true discovery of America is before us. I think the true fulfillment of our spirit, of our people, of our mighty and immortal land, is yet to come. I think the true discovery of our own democracy is still before us.  I think the enemy is here before us, too. But I think we know the forms and faces of the enemy, and in the knowledge that we know him, and shall meet him, and eventually must conquer him is also our living hope. I think the enemy is here before us with a thousand faces, but I think we know that all his faces wear one mask. I think the enemy is single selfishness and compulsive greed. I think the enemy is blind, but has the brutal power of his blind grab. I do not think the enemy was born yesterday, or that he grew to manhood forty years ago, or that he suffered sickness and collapse in 1929, or that we began without the enemy, and that our vision faltered, that we lost the way, and suddenly were in his camp. I think the enemy is old as Time, and evil as Hell, and that he has been here with us from the beginning. I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land. I think he took our people and enslaved them, that he polluted the fountains of our life, took unto himself the rarest treasures of our own possession, took our bread and left us with a crust, and, not content, for the nature of the enemy is insatiate–tried finally to take from us the crust.

I believe that we are lost here in America, but I believe we shall be found. And this belief, which mounts now to the catharsis of knowledge and conviction, is for me — and I think for all of us — not only our own hope, but America’s everlasting, living dream.
You Can’t Go Home Again (1940)


The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.

What Christ is saying always, what he never swerves from saying, what he says a thousand times and in a thousand different ways, but always with a central unity of belief, is this: “I am my Father’s son, and you are my brothers.” And the unity that binds us all together, that makes this earth a family, and all men brothers and the sons of God, is love.

And Christ himself, who preached the life of love, was yet as lonely as any man that ever lived. Yet I could not say that he was mistaken because he preached the life of love and fellowship, and lived and died in loneliness; nor would I dare assert his way was wrong because a billion men have since professed his way and never followed it.
The Anatomy of Loneliness (1941)


“There was within him an unspent energy, an untiring force, an unappeasable hunger for life and for expression which might have carried him to the heights and might equally have torn him down.”
New York Times (obit)

Max Beckmann (February 12, 1884 – December 27, 1950)


Max Beckmann, Self-Portrait in Tuxedo


“Everything intellectual and transcendent is joined together in painting by the uninterrupted labour of the eyes. Each shade of a flower, a face, a tree, a fruit, a sea, a mountain, is noted eagerly by the intensity of the senses to which is added, in a way of which we are not conscious, the work of the mind, and in the end the strength or weakness of the soul. It is this genuine, eternally unchanging center of strength which makes mind and senses capable of expressing personal things. It is the strength of soul which forces the mind to constant exercise to widen its conception of space.”
― Max Beckmann, On My Painting

“It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make.”

“Often, very often, I am alone. My studio in Amsterdam, [Beckmann lived and worked in the heart of Amsterdam during World War 2.] an enormous old tobacco storeroom is again filled in my imagination with figures from the old days and from the new, like an ocean moved by storm and sun and always present in my thoughts. Then shapes become beings and seem comprehensible to me in the great void and uncertainty of the space which I call god.”

“Painting is a very difficult thing. It absorbs the whole man, body and soul – thus I have passed blindly many things which belong to the real and political life. I assume, though, that there are two worlds: the world of spiritual life and the world of political reality. Both are manifestations of life which may sometimes coincide but are very different in principle. I must leave it to you [the audience] to decide which is the more important.”

“Imagination is perhaps the most decisive characteristic of mankind. My dream is the imagination of space – to change the optical impression of the world of objects by a transcendental arithmetic progression of the inner being. Whether such alteration causes excitement or boredom in the spectator is for you to decide.”

“One thing is sure – we have to transform the three-dimensional world of objects into the two-dimensional world of the canvas.. .To transform three into two dimensions is for me an experience full of magic in which I glimpse for a moment that fourth dimension which my whole being is seeking.”

“My aim is always to get hold of the magic of reality and to transfer this reality in painting – to make the invisible visible through reality…What helps me most in this task is the penetration of space. Height, width and depth are the three phenomena which I must transfer into one plane to form the abstract surface of the picture, and thus to protect myself from the infinity of space. My figures come and go, suggested by fortune or misfortune. I try to fix them divested of their apparent accidental quality.”
Quotes from: republished text of Beckmann’s public speech during the exhibition ‘Twentieth-Century German Art’ in London, 21 July 1938; Max Beckmann – On my Painting, Tate Publishing London, 2003


“Oh I wish that I could paint again. Paint is an instrument without which I cannot survive for any length of time. Whenever I even think of gray, green and white, I am overcome with quivers of lust. Then I wish that this war would end and that I might paint again.”

“I have never, God or whatever knows, prostrated myself to be famous, but I would meander through all the sewers of the world, through all degradation and humiliations, in order to paint. I have to do this. Until the last drop every vision that exists in my being must be purged; then it will be a pleasure for me to be rid of this damned torture.”

“Yesterday we came across a cemetery that had been completely destroyed by shellfire. The graves had been blown up, and the coffins lay about in the most uncomfortable positions. The shells had unceremoniously exposed their distinguished occupants to the light of day, and bones, hair, and bits of clothing could be seen through cracks in the burst-open coffins.”

Quotes in italics from Beckmann’s letter to his first wife Minna, from the front, first World war, 1915; as quoted in Max Beckmann, Stephan Lackner, Bonfini Press Corporation, Naefels, Switzerland, 1983

thanks to Wikiquotes



Max Beckmann, “Self-portrait With Red Scarf” (1917)



Large Still Life with Telescope 1927

“What is important to me in my work is the identity that is hidden behind so-called reality. I search for a bridge from the given present tot the invisible, rather as a famous cabalist once said, ‘If you wish to grasp the invisible, penetrate as deeply as possible into the visible’.”
In his public speech ‘On my painting’, for the exhibition ‘Twentieth-Century German Art’, London, 21 July 1938; as quoted in Max Beckmann, Stephan Lackner, Bonfini Press Corporation, Naefels, Switzerland, 1983, p. 77

max beckmann paintings - Mr Parlanchin and the jealous dog

Mr Parlanchin and the Jealous Dog


“Put the picture away or, preferably, send it back to me, dear Valentin. If people cannot understand it is based on their inner engagement with these matters, then there is no point in showing the thing at all.”
In a letter to his art-dealer Curt Valentin, Amsterdam, 11 February 1938; 


Brooklyn Museum Art School Catalog, 1950-1951
Max Beckmann (foreground), Mel Tanner (far right)
photo courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum

Mel Tanner told me that Max Beckmann did not speak English and his wife translated to the students at The Brooklyn Museum Art School.