Beauty, it is often said, is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe so, but I don’t derive any aesthetic pleasure from looking at mega cruise ships. I consider these multi-storey floating hotels to be eyesores. At best, they look like stodgy assemblages of Lego bricks; at worst, monstrous structures of steel and glass. The following photographs will illustrate my point.
The sea is complex and mysterious. Woman is not less so. French author Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) sought to fathom the depths of her nature in her 1949 book, ‘The Second Sex’ (French title: Le Deuxième Sexe) — a feminist tour de force that deals with the psychology of women and how they have been treated through the centuries. The following works of art also provide some insights into woman and her different facets. I hope you enjoy them as much as Simone de Beauvoir’s tome…
They say a vaccine will vanquish the coronavirus. Maybe so, but the war against this invisible enemy will be won, not by the tools of science alone, but by the strength and resilience of the human spirit. The following works of art and accompanying quotes highlight the importance of inner peace in these troubled times. I hope they provide inspiration to those who are feeling distressed and perhaps even hopeless because of the pandemic.
A humpback whale shooting up suddenly from the depths of the ocean is something to behold. Not everyone, though, will ever get the chance to witness such a spectacle. I hope that the following works of art would give Marine Café Blog readers the pleasure of seeing whales as artists through the centuries saw them: as beautiful, mysterious and awe-inspiring creatures.
In ordinary usage, the word “siren” is defined by the Oxford English Dictiionary as “a woman who is considered to be alluring or fascinating but also dangerous in some way”. Feminists might object to the term as being sexist. However, not a few women would feel flattered if they were called “siren”. In Greek mytholody, sirens (pictured above) were creatures, half bird and half woman, whose music and singing lured unsuspecting sailors to destruction. They have since become the archetype of the woman who has the ability to bewitch and have control over men.
Most men are fascinated with cars. I am fascinated with seashells. Odd as it may sound, they remind me of the grandeur of cathedrals. I find the shell of the nautilus particularly interesting. Its spiral form is simple yet beautiful and elegant. Indeed, it is an architectural marvel as complex and enigmatic as the sea itself.
Who would not want to journey to Venice, the city beloved by famour artists and ordinary tourists alike? The English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, summed up its appeal in his poem ‘Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation’: “Its temples and its palaces did seem / Like fabrics of enchantment piled to Heaven.” Alas, not everyone has the means or the opportunity to visit the place. But no worries, the following artworks and poems will transport you blissfully to beautiful Venice.
These are not the best times for America. The nation has been ravaged by the coronavirus and rent by racial divisions. For all this, Americans have good reason to celebrate the 4th of July in a big way. As John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote:
‘It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’ (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776)
French Impressionist painter Claude Monet found plenty of room for his creative imagination in Étretat, a fishing village and resort on the Normandy coast. He sojourned in the place several times between1883 and 1886. In all, according to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Étretat inspired more than 50 of his canvases.
The art movement known as Impressionism produced many notable artists. The greatest of them all, I daresay, was Claude Monet (1840 – 1926). The founder of French Impressionism, Monet executed colour on canvas as a ballet dancer would perform on stage: with energy, precision and nimbleness. He is famous for his Water Lilies series, but his marine paintings are no less marvellous. Indeed, they mesmerise.
While humans by nature have a perpetual need for company, we all need to be alone sometimes. No, not the solitude of quarantine or imprisonment, but the solitariness born out of choice and free will. To be able to step back from the noisy crowd is to be free in the real sease of the word. As the following works of art show, there is something beautiful and almost sublime about this freedom.
A crowded beach speaks eloquently of the human condition: the perpetual need for company. People not only congregate there to enjoy sun and sea. They desire to mingle with others and be part of a larger fellowship.
This is why many are whining about the coronavirus lockdowns. To be forced to stay at home is not essentially different from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange withering away in London’s Belmarsh Prison. One is deprived, not only of freedom of movement, but of human companionship.