Dawn Powell (1896-1965)

Her mother died when she was a little girl.  To fill in the void, Dawn kept diaries.  Then her father remarried an unpleasant woman who vented her frustrations by destroying everything Dawn had written.

her home was far away

A diary is a confident, a friend who is there to keep one company in the moments of despair and loneliness.  To destroy someone’s diary is to scar their soul. Survival instincts pushed Dawn to leave her father’s home and move in with a loving aunt.  But the damage had been done.  Eternally displaced within, Dawn would later write about her childhood in fictional form with the title “My Home Is Far Away”.

She typed all night long

In her early 20s, Dawn left her native Ohio to move to New York City where she married Joseph Gousha, ex-poet and copywriter.  The couple lived together in Greenwich Village where, wrote Dawn, “all night long typewriters click, people sing in the streets, hurdy gurdies go all day and the laundry boy reads Turgenev.”

cocktails made her sociable

Dawn was socially active and went to numerous cocktail parties were she hung out with the likes of Edmund Wilson, John Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, and Nabokov. She was also friends with Ernest Hemingway. But, nevertheless, she felt alone.  That’s why, Dawn said, she kept a diary—simply because she had no one to talk to.

Loneliness hurts.

Dawn wrote and published much fiction but never became truly successful as a writer.  Maybe, in part, because of her struggles related to her handicapped son, her problems with alcohol, and, towards the end, the despair of a tumor.  So Dawn was ignored by the literary world until Gore Vidal noticed her.  Vidal wrote an article for the New York Review of Books stating that Dawn was overly underrated.  Music critic Tim Page read the article and was mesmerized.   Page, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, became obsessed with Dawn.  Having read that she’d kept diaries, he tried to track them down and eventually learned that they were in the hands of a cousin in Ohio.  After much effort and money, Page liberated the forgotten diaries then carefully edited them for publication.  He even tried to sell the original diaries but had no offers.

Dawn died in 1965 at the age of 69.  All of her work was out-of-print. And her diaries, once full of prose, had assumed  an agenda like attitude.

Here are a few diary excerpts:

their beds were pushed together

June 23, 1921  I want so much for my lover. At night when our beds are drawn close together I waken and see his dear yellow head on the pillow — sometimes his arm thrown over on my bed — and I kiss his hand, very softly so that it will not waken him.

solitude kept her company

March 23, 1944 “For a writer or artist there is nothing to equal the elation of escaping into solitude. The excited feeling of stolen rapture I feel on closing the door of this little room up here, knowing no one can find me, no one will speak to me.”

writing is like making a bird’s nest

October 8, 1954 “Writing a novel is like building a bird’s nest – and the bird is a magpie.”


Diaries are friends.  But some friends are better than others.


Related: The Diaries of Dawn Powell + Vidal, Gore. “Dawn Powell, the American Writer”. The New York Review of Books. 5/11/1987 +  in 2015, 50 years after her death, Dawn was included in the New York State Writers Hall of Fame


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Rocket Man

Rucola at La Sussurrata

Several years ago, I posted about Vigilant Things and the use of everyday objects, by the Yoruba of Nigeria, to create talismans. These talismans are known as aale and they are meant to warn someone with bad intentions to stay away.  Well, I’ve got some slugs that are annoying my rocket plants so I decided to create an aale of my own.  A Batman found on the beach said he was willing  to help and,  hopefully, use his superpowers to keep the slugs & Co  away.  Update to follow.


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Gaudy Gods

Artemis and Me

In the Archeological Museum of Paros, there is a statue of Artemis from her sanctuary at the Parian Delion. It’s dated 360 BC and was discovered in 1899. And, like most all of the Greek statues I’ve seen, it’s white.

When thinking of classical antiquity, neon white marble generally comes to mind. But ancient Greek statues were actually polychrome and the color stripped away by time. Some of these statues were discovered during the Renaissance and were, obviously, colorless and white.  So Michelangelo and his contemporaries just assumed that the statues had been white all along. Thus Neo-Classical aesthetics were based on wrong assumptions. Art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann helped to perpetuated this myth.  He wrote: “The whiter the body is, the more beautiful it is as well.” Later on, some art historians claimed that the statues were originally painted and, subsequently, were treated as quacky eccentrics.

In the exhibition “Gods in Color”, German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann presents vividly painted plaster copies of famous statues to show how they were intended to be. Many people have difficulties accepting the color because, for many, white is elegant but color is kitsch. However, say Brinkmann, color gave the statues vitality and an erotic energy that the Greeks were seeking.

Sometimes, because we’ve based our ideas on misconceptions, we are not only disorientated by the truth but regard it with hostility. When paradigms are pulverized, we lose our balance. We prefer to continue with our old beliefs because it’s a stress to reconfigure mental habits.

The earth is still flat.


Related: True Colors…Archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann’s colored reproductions of ancient Greek sculptures +  Archaeological Museum of Paros + Black Athena by Martin Bernal

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I collect clippings.  Some are from my neighbors but most are secretly stolen from plants I see when taking walks….SNIP SNIP SNIP.  Maybe it is A Very Naughty Thing to do.  But I prefer to see it as a way of spreading beauty and joy.

The clippings are then placed in jars of water and kept on the front porch until they start to root. At present I’m rooting basil, sage, mint, honeysuckle, bougainvillea, pomegranate and jasmine.

The propagation of beauty shouldn’t be limited just to plants.

Smiles are like clippings that cultivate goodwill. The more you smile, the more others will smile in return.

So let’s take a walk in a garden of smiles!


Related: Bebina Bunny: Aphorism #1    +    The Untapped Power Of Smiling

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Apricots and Amaretto

Apricots and their Seeds

Apricot season has begun and my neighbor’s tree is full of fruit. We save the seeds so we can crack them open for the kernels that we then crush and add to sugar cookie dough. The famous Italian amaretto liquer and cookies are  made using these kernels. Apricot kernels are also used in soaps.

There is controversy as to the dangers of eating apricot kernels.  They contain amygdalin that can cause cyanide poisoning.  But research also indicates that the kernels help fight cancer.

As always, moderation is the rule.  So, with some self-restraint, we will continue to eat our amaretto style cookies!


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Critique Sheet #4 The Decisive Moment

Ζωοδόχου Πηγής

Identification of the Moment: in front of the Church Ζωοδόχου Πηγής (Zoodocho Piyis) in Parikia, Paros; May 2017

Description: a desaturated colored digital photograph of the church that faces the beach of Kato Yialo empty save for two children walking by.

Analysis: compared to color, black and white photographs facilitate concentrating on form and composition.  Because color demands a lot of attention.

Ζωοδόχου Πηγής

Interpretation: desaturation of the foto brought Henri Cartier-Bresson to mind as his photos were often of  people within a strong architectural context. Man made geometry has no meaning if it doesn’t include man himself.

Conclusion: like Cartier-Bresson, we need to select those Decisive Moments worth preserving  and, photographing them with our mind, help them last forever.


related: Iconic Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson Takes You Inside His Creative World + Cartier-Bresson, Decisive Moments Catalogue + The Decisive Moment Article in International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies by John Suler · December 2012
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Critique Sheet #3

Horizon Line Paros

Identification of the Moment: Parian Coast, looking west, May 2017

Description: a digital foto taken of the horizon line as seen from the offing of Parikia.

Analysis: there are clouds and waves but the foto is dominated by the horizon line. The word “horizon” comes from the Greek verb ὁρίζω (orizo) meaning “to divide or to separate”.  It is an illusionary boundary that separates the sea from the sky. In fact, the picture is divided into two.

Horizon Line Paros

Linear perspective, so popular with Renaissance artists, used the horizon line as a point of departure. A vanishing point was established providing the juncture for  converging parallel lines. But  parallel lines by definition cannot converge. Thus perspective is a representation of reality but not reality itself…a lie meant to represent the truth.

Interpretation: The horizon symbolizes a far away destination many dream of reaching. But the horizon is an unkempt promise –it is only an illusion thus impossible to reach.

Conclusion: The horizon is a meeting place but also a boundary.

Distance distorts perception.


For further exploration:  For Nietsche, all horizons are man-made… The Horizon Concept in Nietzsche’s Philosophy +  Nietsche on Drinking Up the Sea


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