Saturday, October 12, 2013


It means world view, and can be on an individual or group basis, as the Weltanschauung of a nation. My favorite word in the German language. That is of course to say, my favorite of the words I know in the German language. A cooler word may exist, but I sure don't know it. 
                                                  So, okay, world view. What the hell does that mean anyway? Well I would figure basically what kind of place you perceive it to be, based on all the factors that make up the quality of your life: physical, social, economic. And also what kind of people inhabit this place? Is there a fundamental nature(i.e. basically good, basically evil)or is it a more random process? 

I gotta say, my own view of the world, my own Weltanschauung, is changing, the more I read. The Atlas was a present from my brother, which I've had for awhile and am just now getting into. 

Despite all the political changes in the world, there's something "timeless" about a World Atlas. Like any reference book--a Dictionary or Encyclopedia--there's no starting or stopping point as such. Everything leads you to or from something else. And that's the beauty of it. The "timelessness" of it.

Still, the first thing you're impressed with are all those changes. For instance, I was born in 1954. At that time we only had 48 States(Alaska and Hawaii would be added in 5 years later). The Republic of the Congo was still Zaire, Tanzania was still Tanganyika(God knows why, but I remembered that name as a kid!), Yugoslavia was still there, and we didn't have the 5 "stan" countries: Kazahkstan, Turkmenistan, Krgystan, Uzbekistan and Tahjikistan. 

And that's just in the last 59 years! Here's a picture of the world as it was in about the time of King Charlemagne(830AD): 
Quite a different place, eh? And if you went backwards(or forward)800 years, it would once again be a completely different playing field.

As well as the changes in our world, another thing I'm getting from this Atlas is the time-lines of the various countries: not only their dates, but who was occupying them- sometimes a long succession of ownerships. There are some countries in the world that have never been self-governing. Someone else has always run their show. They wouldn't know what to do with Democracy if they had it. 

And with these time-lines, it's helped me understand the enmities between certain nations. Like Korea and Japan. 

Finally, you start realizing that human nature- good and bad- doesn't seem to change with the times. The same chicaneries, the same power-plays, the same jockeying for position happened in the 1200s as in the 21st century.  Hard not to be cynical sometimes, as far as that goes. 

I dunno. The world still seems to me a wondrous place, full of things to see and hear and taste and feel. It's not and never will be the best of all possible worlds, so long as you have us flawed human beings in there to fuck it up. But it's the only one we have to work with. 

My Atlas continues to help me learn more about our world- and enhance my view of it. My(for the last time here)Weltanschauung. 



"During The Renaissance, when they wished to imitate Immortal Greece, they produced Raphael. Ingres wished to imitate Raphael, and became Ingres. Cezanne wished to imitate Poussin, and thus became Cezanne. Dali wanted to imitate Meissonier and THE RESULT WAS DALI. Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."

Salvador Dali
from Dali by Dali   

I've always liked this quote, both for what it actually says and for the grandiose manner in which it's stated. THE RESULT WAS DALI. Indeed...

At this point at least, I don't know a whole lot about Salvadore Dali as a person, but I do know enough that if I knew more, I might not be writing this blog. I might be just as appalled by him as some others seem to be. George Orwell wrote of him(and I'm paraphrasing here, at least somewhat)you must be able to separate in your mind the marvelous draughtsman from the disgusting human being. A friend of mine wrote on Facebook, after I'd posted this quote, that it's good to have him back where he belongs

Strong words. I try to do as Orwell suggested with some of these despicable folks whose art I might like, to separate the great art from the shitty human being who made it. Indeed, sometimes it's best, it would seem, not to know too much about the artist as a person. If so, I just might still be a fan of Ginger Baker. Terrific drummer. 

Galatea of the Spheres(1952)
I gotta say, though, whatever kind of person he was(and I feel like I know just enough to almost not want to know more), Dali was a wonderful artist. And that's what I want to share here:
The Great Masturbator(1929)

The Swallow Tail(1983)
I didn't include his best-known work, The Persistence of Memory(1937), simply because it is his best-known work. In other words, you already know that one. 
It was the only one I remembered myself, and I felt very dilettantish, like the 'jazz fan' who only knows the song Take Five..
Metamorphosis of Narcissus(1937)
The First Days of Spring
Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire(1940)
By the way, as someone who plays jazz(guitar), we don't usually dig having to play Take Five. It's a shame nobody asks you to play Wendy- another, better Paul Desmond tune. 

But I digress. Back to Dali. I did a little reading and viewing as far as the pictures I'm sharing with you here, and I gotta say I was riveted! Couldn't tear myself away. I spent hours looking at these incredible paintings. 

Dali was a flamboyant character. Hard telling how much of his persona(if any)was actually him(in other words, his character, if you will)and how much was just a smokescreen. But that really doesn't matter. The person, with all his foibles, eventually passes. His art, if there's something there, is what lasts. 

So this is my view of Salvadore Dali, wholly based on the amazing artwork you see here. Well, okay, there was a funny story I read about Sonny and Cher visiting him in, I think, 1960, and Cher sitting in a chair that happened to have an oddly shaped vibrator in it. And of course from there, you can just imagine the fun....