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Whales and books

I've been thinking about whales-- I'm not sure why. I remembered this drawing that I came upon in a magazine back in the days of my little black book collages.

Can Leviathan Long endure so Wide a Chase?

I was entranced and then haunted by this strange image but I didn't explore it. that was before I knew about the internet and Google. But this week I googled the title and learned that it's a quote from Moby Dick.

“the moot point is, whether Leviathan can long endure so wide a chase, and so remorseless a havoc; whether he must not at last be exterminated from the waters, and the last whale, like the last man, smoke his last pipe, and then himself evaporate in the final puff.”

I also looked up the artist, Cynthia A. Osborne and found a lot of her work but not this one. Sad to say, she died in 2018. I'd love to learn more about this image--it's a lithograph. What are those women doing? Dancing? Exercising? Why are are the people rushing to the cliff and then jumping off and who are they? What about the whale?

I've always had a thing for whales, maybe because Sag Harbor began as a whalers' town. We went to First Presbyterian Church, also known as the Whalers Church. It once had this steeple, which looked like a sea captain's spyglass and made the church the tallest structure on Long Island, except maybe the lighthouse at Montauk Point, but it came down in the hurricane of 1938. They say that the hurricane actually picked up the steeple and placed it intact on the ground.

Many people think that was an improvement as the building is now the best example of the Egyptian Revival style in the U.S. When I was little, standing beside it, the slanted walls created the illusion of vast height.

Here's something I made for my grandmother. 8:28 was, and is, the family motto--Romans 8:28, "and we know that all things work together..."

This now hangs in the home of my cousins, David and Becky. I wish I could say I was a little kid when I made it. Sometimes looking at my early work is as painful as looking at pictures of myself in seventh grade.

Here's another whale from the New York Times special section For Kids. The whole issue was about being little, and this was a piece about things that make you feel little. This illustrates a piece about someone who studies whales.

The front page of the section says, "Not to be read by grown-ups." So of course I read it from cover to cover. What those who would ban books don't get and let's not tell them, is that making something forbidden gives it a real allure. Have they forgotten that apple?

Then I found in my email this quote from TA-NEHISI COATES

"I was made for the library, not the classroom.The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free."

I'm glad he had the library and here's synchronicity again--the same day I read that quote I got a letter from the New York Public Library asking me to become their friend (and send money). So I sent a check and yes, let's support our wonderful libraries.

I'm sorry Mr. Coates felt that way about the classroom and sorry that things things have gotten SO much worse. What are we doing? How could we let the classroom, where our most precious ones spend their days, become a battlefield? The center of turmoil, controversy, and the worst kind of violence? So now they want to arm the teachers? Of course they'll find the money for guns-- Really? Lately teachers are paying for their own goddamn pencils! Well, we're all saying it--you don't have to hear me rant.

Here's what I think. We should beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, that is, close the factories that produce assault weapons and re-figure them for peaceful purposes. That's my dream. In the meantime we can call on our leaders to pass

H.R. 8the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and

H.R.1446the Enhanced Background Checks Act

I tried to call Senator Schumer--I got put on hold for several minutes and then someone hung up. I'll keep trying.

To leave on a high note, here are some whales from a more mature period of my oeuvre.

June 02, 2022

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