One woman, one courageous act.

How Rosa Parks defied racism on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama.

“All I was doing was trying to get home from work.”


Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913 – 2005)

On the first of December 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for civil disobedience. She had refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a crowded bus in the racially segregated town of Montgomery, Alabama. Her defiance sparked the push for racial equality, which brought civil rights superstars such as Martin Luther King Jr. into the public eye and changed the world forever.

On December 1, 2005, President George W. Bush directed that a statue of Parks be placed in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.


The President stated:

“By placing her statue in the heart of the nation’s Capitol, we commemorate her work for a more perfect union, and we commit ourselves to continue to struggle for justice for every American.

The Beautiful & The Sublime

Music is the highest form of art…according to Schopenhauer

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see”

Wagner 2

The opening bars of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde”

Two things save my soul and intellect living in the boonies of Normandy. At home: the internet for everything from the New York Times and Foreign Affairs to films and documentaries and whilst driving: France Culture! How much have I learned from randomly listening to the radio station France Culture. Art, philosophy, music, politics, this radio station expects its listeners to be on the ball and thirsty for high quality programs…nothing is “dumbed down”.


I needed to give you this intro because I once fell into a program about the German philosopher Schopenhauer’s methodology in aesthetics, his account of the subjective and objective sides of aesthetic experience (both of the beautiful and the sublime), about the hierarchy of the arts and rationale for this hierarchy, his view of artistic genius, the exceptional status of music among the fine arts, and the relationships he theorized between aesthetics and ethics.

CartoonCaricature of Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) by Wilhelm Busch

This question of a “hierarchy” in the arts seems personal, perhaps irrelevant, but I find it highly exciting! Why is one “moved to tears” by sounds? Why is music, a sequence of sounds, capable of invoking such a variety of emotions, we can not touch it, it has no shape, it literally exists in thin air…

KandinskyWassily Kandinsky, “Composition VII,” 1913

Aesthetic experience comes in two main varieties for Schopenhauer, the beautiful and the sublime, and can be had through perception of both nature and art. I just love the idea of the “Beautiful and the Sublime”. Schopenhauer believes the experience of music brings us epistemically closer to the essence of the world as will—it is as direct an experience of the will qua thing in itself as is possible for a human being to have.

ruscha musicEd Ruscha designed the cover of Mason Williams 1968 album Music

Art, according to Schopenhauer, also provides essential knowledge of the world’s objects in a way that is more profound than science or everyday experience.‪

Schopenhauer’s aesthetics remain influential today, and are perhaps the most lasting part of his philosophy. Leo Tolstoy, Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche and Jorge Luis Borges were amongst the many profoundly influenced by Schopenhauer’s philosophy. And so am I, thanks to my car radio and France Culture!

“Music is the melody whose text is the world”


Schroeder playing the piano in Peanuts, his favorite composer is Beethoven…

Prehistoric Pinterest

Before the virtual version, there was actually the real deal: the pin board.


Before “cut and paste” were key strokes on your computer there was actually CUT AND PASTE, or in the case of your pin board: cut and pin!

CartoonHow current is this McNelly cartoon from 1990 today!

There is Pinterest, that “pins” for you without allowing you to arrange your board the way you want it…and then there is the real thing where you are the master of your universe!

Cartoon2Cartoon from the New Yorker, when the book “Why French women don’t get fat” was all the rage.

I have always had large mood boards or even whole walls with newspaper cuttings, fashion photos, cartoons and all things that capture my attention and I want to preserve.

BricoloThe now closed “Bricolo Café” at the BHV department store in Paris, decorated as an old workshop.

This is just one of my walls and most of the things up there are already quite old, but have not lost any of their significance to me.

ArtSonia Delaunay and Gerhard Richter

It is my very tangible and private diary of everything that inspires or interests me, and I love sharing it with insiders, but not necessarily with the world…

FeauBeautiful “boiseries” by Féau in Paris at the Biennale a few years ago, I will paint my new library like this!

I could tell you a whole story about each item, why it is there, what it means to me and how it is still significant today…

Cartoon3Peanuts, by the great philosopher Charles Schultz

It is an insight into my psyche and probably fodder for a psychiatrist, an eclectic mixture of humor, deadly serious subjects, photographs of all sorts, frivolous subjects and personal memento’s, a bit what I want my blog to be like!

GulfWarFantastic cover of Mad Magazine about Gulf War II: how true!

Fashion, politics, critical journalism, documentary film, cartoons, postcards, personal photographs, badges of events I attended, invitations, notes…

BoardDetailDetail of my board: Schiele, Peanuts, Avadon, my horoscope for 2014 that I still want to believe in…

It records my life in a mosaic of images and words, in no particular order or chronology.

PhotoMy sister and I, we are still this close today.

There is Pinterest, that “pins” for you without allowing you to arrange your board the way you want it…and then there is the real thing where you are the master of your universe!

ChristInvitation to René Stoeltie’s “Visions of Christ” exhibit in Majorca

It is here that all these ideas, inspirations and images come together and form a “smorgasbord” of my life…

When Napoleon met his Waterloo

The debate over the Battle of Waterloo rages on in a not-so-united Europe!


June 18, 1815 seems like a LONG time ago, but tempers flare and national prides soar or plummet remembering the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated that day at Waterloo in present day Belgium, by a coalition army of the English, Dutch and Prussians, although Wellington takes most of the credit. I will leave the debate about what really happened to the specialists!

I am a not-so-secret admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte for the fact that he managed to restore some of the damage done to France by the Revolution. He singlehandedly revived the great traditions of  the French savoir faire in the great Art Décoratif crafts, seen by the revolutionaries as decadent and obsolete and created the highest French honor, the Légion d’Honneur, amongst other things. And he was the first to have a “European Dream.”

Map1806Map of 1806 depicting Europe

“I wished to found a European system, a European Code of Laws, a European judiciary: there would be but one people in Europe,” declared Napoleon nearly 200 years before Europe finally unifies under the new currency of the European Union. The dream of a strong Europe in which the French, Spanish, Italians, and Germans coexist peacefully as a single united body is being realized today, but it is a dream that was held by Napoleon, based on his vast knowledge of history, and hoped for by many great men after him. Finally this dream is beginning to become a reality although some might argue it has perhaps become a nightmare?

So now, on June 18, 1815 Napoleon is defeated. And that, you would think, was the end of that! But no, a new Battle of Waterloo has ensued between the French and the Belgians about the minting of a commemorative euro coin. The Belgians, excited about prestige of the battle having been waged on their territory wanted to literally make mint of that fact.


Yet history has its own currency in Europe, which even a common currency has yet to overcome. Back in March, officials in Paris wrote a letter to the European authorities insisting that the Battle of Waterlo, and altered the shape of European history, had a deep and damaging resonance in the collective French consciousness.

France protested Belgium’s plans for its original coin by saying that basking in France’s defeat threatened to undermine European unity, troubled enough already. The €2 coin, it said, could spur an “unfavorable reaction in France.” In Belgium, the victory embodied in the €2.50 coin is being lauded as if the tiny country had itself triumphed on the battlefield.

deathmaskNapoleon’s death mask, cast on May 6, 1826 in Saint Helena, now in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg

Napoleon Bonaparte may be long dead, but his history is an ongoing battle…



News from the Western front…

The Horrible Waste of War

The eloquent and sensitive WWII war correspondent Ernie Pyle describes his day in Normandy on June 16, 1944, 10 days after D-Day.

NormandyA fallen soldier on the beach, the crossed rifles signify homage and identity him as an infantry man.

NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 – I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.

It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.

The water was full of squishy little jellyfish about the size of your hand. Millions of them. In the center each of them had a green design exactly like a four-leaf clover. The good-luck emblem. Sure. Hell yes.

I walked for a mile and a half along the water’s edge of our many-miled invasion beach. You wanted to walk slowly, for the detail on that beach was infinite.

The wreckage was vast and startling. The awful waste and destruction of war, even aside from the loss of human life, has always been one of its outstanding features to those who are in it. Anything and everything is expendable. And we did expend on our beachhead in Normandy during those first few hours.

For a mile out from the beach there were scores of tanks and trucks and boats that you could no longer see, for they were at the bottom of the water – swamped by overloading, or hit by shells, or sunk by mines. Most of their crews were lost.
You could see trucks tipped half over and swamped. You could see partly sunken barges, and the angled-up corners of jeeps, and small landing craft half submerged. And at low tide you could still see those vicious six-pronged iron snares that helped snag and wreck them.

On the beach itself, high and dry, were all kinds of wrecked vehicles. There were tanks that had only just made the beach before being knocked out. There were jeeps that had been burned to a dull gray. There were big derricks on caterpillar treads that didn’t quite make it. There were half-tracks carrying office equipment that had been made into a shambles by a single shell hit, their interiors still holding their useless equipage of smashed typewriters, telephones, office files.

There were LCT’s turned completely upside down, and lying on their backs, and how they got that way I don’t know. There were boats stacked on top of each other, their sides caved in, their suspension doors knocked off.

In this shoreline museum of carnage there were abandoned rolls of barbed wire and smashed bulldozers and big stacks of thrown-away lifebelts and piles of shells still waiting to be moved.

In the water floated empty life rafts and soldiers’ packs and ration boxes, and mysterious oranges.

On the beach lay snarled rolls of telephone wire and big rolls of steel matting and stacks of broken, rusting rifles.

On the beach lay, expended, sufficient men and mechanism for a small war. They were gone forever now. And yet we could afford it.

We could afford it because we were on, we had our toehold, and behind us there were such enormous replacements for this wreckage on the beach that you could hardly conceive of their sum total. Men and equipment were flowing from England in such a gigantic stream that it made the waste on the beachhead seem like nothing at all, really nothing at all.

A few hundred yards back on the beach is a high bluff. Up there we had a tent hospital, and a barbed-wire enclosure for prisoners of war. From up there you could see far up and down the beach, in a spectacular crow’s-nest view, and far out to sea.

And standing out there on the water beyond all this wreckage was the greatest armada man has ever seen. You simply could not believe the gigantic collection of ships that lay out there waiting to unload.

Looking from the bluff, it lay thick and clear to the far horizon of the sea and beyond, and it spread out to the sides and was miles wide. Its utter enormity would move the hardest man.

As I stood up there I noticed a group of freshly taken German prisoners standing nearby. They had not yet been put in the prison cage. They were just standing there, a couple of doughboys leisurely guarding them with tommy guns.

The prisoners too were looking out to sea – the same bit of sea that for months and years had been so safely empty before their gaze. Now they stood staring almost as if in a trance.

They didn’t say a word to each other. They didn’t need to. The expression on their faces was something forever unforgettable. In it was the final horrified acceptance of their doom.

If only all Germans could have had the rich experience of standing on the bluff and looking out across the water and seeing what their compatriots saw.
pyle_signatureErnie Pyle was one of the most popular and beloved journalists during the Second World War. His ability to portray the life of the soldier with feeling, realism and humor made his columns favorites amongst the men and women he wrote about, the GIs, and painted a words-eye view for the millions of readers back home. On April 18, 1945, Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on the island of Ie Shima.

EP Ernie Pyle