July 14, 2010

posted by Heather McShane

While at Ox-Bow for two weeks, I finished writing and drawing a book called For the Love of Beatrice. I like calling this book an illuminated manuscript, which means that it’s a book written and decorated by hand (however, the strictest definition of an illuminated manuscript means the manuscript is decorated with gold or silver). Although I did hand-write and draw the book, I have intended since its inception for the book to appear online (it has sound and video components as well as links to Websites).

While creating the book, I wasn’t really thinking about it being an illuminated manuscript; I was merely inspired to make it. I showed it to my friend Carmen Price who subsequently lent me Carl Jung’s The Red Book, which Carmen happened to have at Ox-Bow with him.

I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Carl Jung before Carmen let me borrow The Red Book. I knew about Jung’s former friend and mentor Sigmund Freud, especially Freud’s theories about dreams and his ideas about the uncanny. But, for example, I didn’t know that concepts as familiar to me as the archetype and the collective unconscious are attributed to Jung and that his theories indirectly brought about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Alcoholics Anonymous. And I really wasn’t aware that Jung wrote an illuminated text. Here’s just one page of the 205-page book:

Jung worked on this mystical book written in calligraphic text with painted illuminations for 16 years. According to an article titled “Carl Jung and the Holy Grail of the Unconscious” in the New York Times, The Red Book tells a story about a man searching for his soul. Was this man Jung himself? Carefully, with clean hands, I looked at each page, noting that the book ends with the word Möglichkeit, which means “possibility.” What did Jung intend to happen with the book? He did keep it a secret.

To read more, see here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/magazine/20jung-t.html

New and Old Friends

July 8, 2010

posted by Heather McShane

My new friend Tanya Fleisher showed me this part of a documentary about Christian the lion, an old friend of the younger men in this video. So dated but so great.

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.

June 29, 2010

posted by Heather McShane

Amos is one of the characters I’ve met while at Ox-Bow this summer. There’s a whole documentary about him. Here’s a clip:

posted and written by Heather McShane

George had been acting ornery. He had jumped over the back porch railing a few times. Even in the rain, he would try to escape. By escape, I mean escape in the sense of explore. George is a cat.

Although George has always been adventurous, I suspected another reason for his actions because I noticed that George was getting fatter and I wondered if the plastic he liked to chew and eat was accruing in his system and causing blockage. I scheduled an appointment with the vet.

I cannot simply carry George (and/or Milo) to the veterinary clinic, even though it is within walking distance. George moves around too much in the cat carrier, making it unwieldy.

So, of course, we befriended people on the short bus ride to and from the clinic. Because, yes, George is alright. He had an expensive adventure, and I got to borrow his X-rays for a few days. (See—he is a little fat.)

Summer Solstice

June 21, 2010

posted by Heather McShane

posted by Heather McShane

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a story called “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” in which the main female character’s name is Beatrice. That story is often compared to the one below called “The Birthmark,” also written by Hawthorne, which, I argue, is also about a Beatrice, who was one even though she was called Georgiana and had a birthmark across her face.

The Birthmark

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

In the latter part of the last century there lived a man of science, an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy, who not long before our story opens had made experience of a spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one. He had left his laboratory to the care of an assistant, cleared his fine countenance from the furnace smoke, washed the stain of acids from his fingers, and persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife. In those days when the comparatively recent discovery of electricity and other kindred mysteries of Nature seemed to open paths into the region of miracle, it was not unusual for the love of science to rival the love of woman in its depth and absorbing energy. The higher intellect, the imagination, the spirit, and even the heart might all find their congenial aliment in pursuits which, as some of their ardent votaries believed, would ascend from one step of powerful intelligence to another, until the philosopher should lay his hand on the secret of creative force and perhaps make new worlds for himself. We know not whether Aylmer possessed this degree of faith in man’s ultimate control over Nature. He had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion. His love for his young wife might prove the stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and uniting the strength of the latter to his own.

Such a union accordingly took place, and was attended with truly remarkable consequences and a deeply impressive moral. One day, very soon after their marriage, Aylmer sat gazing at his wife with a trouble in his countenance that grew stronger until he spoke.

“Georgiana,” said he, “has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?”

“No, indeed,” said she, smiling; but perceiving the seriousness of his manner, she blushed deeply. “To tell you the truth it has been so often called a charm that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so.”

“Ah, upon another face perhaps it might,” replied her husband; “but never on yours. No, dearest Georgiana, you came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature that this slightest possible defect, which we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection.”

“Shocks you, my husband!” cried Georgiana, deeply hurt; at first reddening with momentary anger, but then bursting into tears. “Then why did you take me from my mother’s side? You cannot love what shocks you!”

To explain this conversation it must be mentioned that in the centre of Georgiana’s left cheek there was a singular mark, deeply interwoven, as it were, with the texture and substance of her face. In the usual state of her complexion—a healthy though delicate bloom—the mark wore a tint of deeper crimson, which imperfectly defined its shape amid the surrounding rosiness. When she blushed it gradually became more indistinct, and finally vanished amid the triumphant rush of blood that bathed the whole cheek with its brilliant glow. But if any shifting motion caused her to turn pale there was the mark again, a crimson stain upon the snow, in what Aylmer sometimes deemed an almost fearful distinctness. Its shape bore not a little similarity to the human hand, though of the smallest pygmy size. Georgiana’s lovers were wont to say that some fairy at her birth hour had laid her tiny hand upon the infant’s cheek, and left this impress there in token of the magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts. Many a desperate swain would have risked life for the privilege of pressing his lips to the mysterious hand. It must not be concealed, however, that the impression wrought by this fairy sign manual varied exceedingly, according to the difference of temperament in the beholders. Some fastidious persons—but they were exclusively of her own sex—affirmed that the bloody hand, as they chose to call it, quite destroyed the effect of Georgiana’s beauty, and rendered her countenance even hideous. But it would be as reasonable to say that one of those small blue stains which sometimes occur in the purest statuary marble would convert the Eve of Powers to a monster. Masculine observers, if the birthmark did not heighten their admiration, contented themselves with wishing it away, that the world might possess one living specimen of ideal loveliness without the semblance of a flaw. After his marriage—for he thought little or nothing of the matter before—Aylmer discovered that this was the case with himself.

To read more: http://www.online-literature.com/poe/125/

The First Three Pages

June 13, 2010

posted and written by Heather McShane