Sunday, October 19, 2008


Where was I?
Ah, yes, sixteen-ish and William Blake. Quite a headfull all that business. One would think a kid, even a self admitted weird kid like me would have had enough to chew on for a while. Why, better minds than mine are still trying to digest Blake with it seems, limited success. But, nope....just as I'd settled into "Songs of of innocence and experience" along came Dante. And, with him, Paul Gustave Dore. Dear God, give the kid a break......this could really be damaging. In a way, I suppose it was.
Those of you without the benefit of a classical education probably know less than nothing about Dante, though you've undoubtedly stumbled across Dore at least once.
To this day, packed away I still have my first (beautifully bound) copy of the "Inferno". Alas, my copy's of the "Purgatorio" and the "Parardiso" are long gone, though in many subtle ways they influance me still. Now, it wasn't Dante's writing that grabbed me first, it was Dore's.......the titanic, horrific, melancholy, sublime illustrations for these works are what really pushed me to dive in without a life jacket into the political, theological, and personal world of the greatest poet of the Italian language. Yes, I was very much over my head. I loved it.

The strange thing about me is that I truly love being over my head in something, so immersed in a thing I forget everything else. I guess it's that quality of obsession that drives an artist to better things. It can also lead one down dangerous roads. But, as they say, that's another story, best left untold.
These days old Gustave is basically considered a bit of a relic........ What with webcomics and cell phones and youtube........what person really has time to stop, and stop cold and examine something so closely as to pry from it it's depth?
Seems a charming notion at best, at the worst, a massive waste of time.
But I have a lot of "charming notions" like that. You see, I firmly believe that art is built on the art that has come before, and to loose sight of the past is to leave today, hollow, and pointless.

Ah, well, my hair is turning gray, my back hurts and I need glasses to work....what do I know?

Oh, if you're sharp, you may have guessed that this leads to a very different Italian, and a different Dante altogether.

be kind......


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