Saturday, January 14, 2012


File:Lady Meutas.jpgwhat a wonderful world, full of smells and sounds and sights, and wonders beyond reckoning.

Let's rejoice in our perception of our lives.

that we are creatures of this world, alive today, fresh with wonder, wild with pain, breathing.

tomorrow, who knows....

=Sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger of Lady Meutas, made about 1536, black and coloured chalks on pink prepared paper, from

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Notes from my lunar insomnia: Apologies from the wilderness

File:San Juan Bautista por Joan de Joanes.jpgA Harvest Moon tonight, the best in 2O years, so they say, and the sky is clouded over here in Ithaca. Damn you, Lady Fortune!

I return to you, a changed woman. I have a theory about academic work—that its rhythms of feast and fast, of heavy, intense work and periods of creative drought and no deadlines serve to mask a deeper, horrifying truth: that as you get caught up in the cycle of not much work, then intense work, you don’t realize the periods of rest are getting shorter, that the stakes are getting higher, and that no amount of work will ever be good enough. You don’t notice that you are working harder and harder, becoming a more intense person year by year, slowly turning into that workaholic academic you thought you’d never become.

I have always resisted this fate, hoping to remain a well-rounded, grounded person who does not live for her work alone, but somehow the system has gotten to me. How else can I explain this past month of near non-stop work on my dissertation drafts, on my articles, on my job search materials. How can I explain my abandonment of my beloved blog, my ceasing to touch base with another part of myself?

All this to say: I am sorry for having left Hortus Conclusus alone for a whole month! I have missed it and you, and I hope things will get better soon! I just have SO MUCH TO DO!!!!!!!!!! I have a plan though: I will try to post twice or thrice a week—that seems more manageable than my previous once a day, and then maybe catching up with you all won’t be such a daunting task. Then, hopefully by December, my life will be a little less intense, and I can resume my earlier schedule, which certainly brought me a lot of joy. 

I also have so many stories to tell you, if only my guilt about not working on ‘the important stuff’ first would let me write them for you…..

Sorry for such a frantic first post after such a long drought. Bear with me, my fragrant friends. I promise the old LBV is in there somewhere.

p.s. ironically, the article I am devoting my life to right now is about madness.

and Bellatrix, I am working on those lovely samples…..

Painting of St. John the Baptist (c.1560) by Joan de Joanes (1523-1579). Joan J. Gavara Collection (Valencia)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

javanica review

File:Botany plate 124 britannica 5th edition 1817 engraved by William Miller for William Archibald.jpgA spicy floral—round, nutty, nutmeggy anyway, delicate woods—I loved this one the minute I smelled it—Actually, this whole line had me shaking my head in wonder, asking: how does she do it?

Definitely sweet, but dark as well, and it smells foggy somehow, as if a fragrant steam were rising up from my hand, comforting as a cup of hot java. I could see this being a great comfort in the dark winter months-its exotic tropicality, yet almost holiday-oriented spiciness creating a truly winning combination.

Nutmeg botanical plate engraving by William Miller for William Archibald. from Encyclopaedia Britannica 5th Edition, at the Encyclopaedia Press, For Archibald Constable and Company, and Thomson Bonar, Edinburgh: Gale, Curtis, and Fenner, London; and Thomas Wilson and Sons, York, 1817.

I’m back!

File:Adolf Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel 014.jpg

Hello, everyone! My beloved and I are back from our enchanting journey to Andalucia and Morocco, and boy are we jet-lagged! But I am brimming with stories to tell you all.… Today, I must compose my class syllabus for the Arthurian Literature class I begin teaching tomorrow, (I know, how horribly last-minute of me!) but tomorrow, the tales begin!

Thank you all for commenting on my posts in my absence, and I look forward to delving into your own blogs’ backlogs (if you have blogs) over the next few days, when I find the time!

Much Love, LBV

train painting by Adolph von Menzel The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

notes from my lunar insomnia: inconstancy

Inkonstanz, Allegorie der Unbeständigkeit (1617) by artinconnu.

Why is the moon, symbol of femininity, also a symbol of inconstancy? I understand that both are subject to cyclic change, but why is that often seen as a negative thing in Western culture? Where is the notion of positive power, of wonder at the connectedness of humans and the sky and other parts of nature? This is something that bothers me off and on, and this allegorical image of Inconstancy brings many of these irritations bubbling up to the surface…

There’s that damn crustacean again—I mentioned it once before in one of my lunatic posts--that horrific symbol of meaningless cycles of nature, that, according to traditional thought that I find quite compelling, has nothing to do with a good god.The depths-crawling lobster represents the nightmare of the unknown, of the subconscious, and also of the deep unexplored ocean; the things we know exist and don’t want to understand—all brought up by the moon’s powerful force.


Abraham Janssens “Inkonstanz, Allegorie der Unbeständigkeit” (1617)


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts with Thumbnails