≡ Menu

Beautiful Daze

“Here’s a new recording sensation for you youngsters,” he said dolefully.

Roger Federer as Religious Experience –  A top athlete’s beauty is next to impossible to describe directly. Or to evoke. Federer’s forehand is a great liquid whip, his backhand a one-hander that he can drive flat, load with topspin, or slice — the slice with such snap that the ball turns shapes in the air and skids on the grass to maybe ankle height. His serve has world-class pace and a degree of placement and variety no one else comes close to; the service motion is lithe and uneccentric, distinctive (on TV) only in a certain eel-like all-body snap at the moment of impact. His anticipation and court sense are otherworldly, and his footwork is the best in the game — as a child, he was also a soccer prodigy. All this is true, and yet none of it really explains anything or evokes the experience of watching this man play. Of witnessing, firsthand, the beauty and genius of his game. You more have to come at the aesthetic stuff obliquely, to talk around it, or — as Aquinas did with his own ineffable subject — to try to define it in terms of what it is not

Clouds of Unknowing: Edward Quin’s *Historical Atlas* (1830) “Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps”, says the seafaring raconteur Charles Marlow in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899). “At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, ‘When I grow up I will go there.’” Of course, these “blank spaces” were anything but. The no-man’s-lands that colonial explorers like Marlow found most inviting (the Congo River basin, Tasmania, the Andaman Islands) were, in fact, richly populated, and faced devastating consequences in the name of imperial expansion.

In the same troublesome vein as Marlow, Edward Quin’s Historical Atlas painted cartographic knowledge as a candle coruscating against the void of ignorance, represented in his unique vision by a broiling mass of black cloud. Each map represents the bounds of geographical learning at a particular point in history, from a specific civilizational perspective, beginning with Eden, circa “B.C. 2348”. In the next map titled “B.C. 1491. The Exodus of the Israelites”, Armenia, Assyria, Arabia, Aram, and Egypt form an island of light, pushing back the black clouds of unknowing.

Hang Ah Tea Room – San Francisco, California –  TUCKED AWAY IN A NARROW alleyway, this San Francisco institution has been dishing up bamboo steamers of dim sum for more than a century.

Chinese illustrator Li Yong Hong works in scratchboard, a medium that is almost the inverse of pen and ink. Instead of drawing in ink directly on a white surface, scratchboard is done on a white board that is coated with clay and then coated with a layer of black ink. The black surface is scratched away with needle-like styli, creating white lines by revealing the clay beneath.

MOTUS A.D.: People make fun of Hollywood’s idealized family of the 50s. But I would point out that every single episode of every one of those shows taught a life lesson geared to values that – at the time – consisted of a universal moral code: the value of telling the truth, the virtue of hard work, patriotism, what it means to be honorable, why loyalty matters, what personal responsibility consists of. In other words bedrock American values that are often looked down on, snickered at and scorned by today’s cultural elites in Hollywood, education and Washington.


{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Mike Anderson June 20, 2022, 8:51 AM

    An irony of our present chaotic times is that while Hollywood and corporate media continue to attempt the erasure of the nuclear family (and fathers in particular), inflation is driving everyone to economize. So millions will be watching MeTV on their basic cable, and getting a health dose of Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver. Who knows? Women might start wearing dresses to the supermarket! Kids might stop dressing like hobos!

    Edward Quin’s Historical Atlas most certainly was culturally biased. But of course, geography, like history, is written by the victors. Want an atlas that includes your moribund, dead-end cultures? Write your own atlas, loser.

    • ThisIsNotNutella June 20, 2022, 3:43 PM

      Leave it to Beaver won’t make a triumphant return to screens until soccer moms can no longer afford Brazilians.

      Now reruns of The Rifleman…

      • Jack June 21, 2022, 6:39 AM

        lol, your comment just conjured up an image of June Cleaver getting waxed. Ward will be so thrilled, Wally will say “Gee, Mom” and the Beaver will hit upon the idea that he’s no longer wanted. Eddie will think….’hello Mrs. C”.

  • jiminalaska June 20, 2022, 8:59 AM

    This beautiful daze, sitting up here atop the world I note the sun rose at 2:57 this morning not in the east but around 15 degrees north. It’ll set tonight 47 minutes after midnight, not in the west but at 345 degrees north.

    Tomorrow, solstice, 21 hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds twixt sunrise and sunset.

    The day following will be one second shorter, other than that I don’t know what the sun rises and sets will bring. Frankly no worries though, we’ll get by, or at least we’ll try.

    & anyway, I expect today’ll be a great day!

  • Denny June 20, 2022, 9:48 AM

    The Band –
    This song and the “The Weight” alone justifies the invention of Rock and Roll music.
    Of course, that’s just my opinion.


  • Sid V June 20, 2022, 11:25 AM

    The super tight focus on the faces of the musicians in that video – the style for the times – is yet another reason to hate the sixties. Almost as annoying as when a cameraman focuses on the drummer when the lead guitarist is playing an awesome solo.

  • Dirk June 20, 2022, 1:57 PM

    Always thought Bob Dylan should have opened for the real head liner, The Band!.

    But then as another band of the era would teach us, “ What a long strange trip it’s been”!,

    In my life,,,,,,,, that long strange trip,,,,,,,, has been nothing short of magnificent!

  • Hyland June 20, 2022, 2:42 PM

    Ed Sullivan… with sideburns!! Wow… suddenly EVERYONE was groovy. How cool could the 60’s get? Those guys were very happy that night. Probably thinking, “We’re on the way to the big times.”

  • ThisIsNotNutella June 20, 2022, 3:39 PM

    In the spirit of Global American Empire of Gayness Kremlinologists, that portrait of Washington clearly shows the cleariest clear signs that the man is undergoing chemotherapy and is getting daily if not hourly adrenochrome injections and, knowing he’s about to die, is likely in a fit of unhinged rage to lash out with nuclear fire real soon now.

    You have been warned.

  • ThisIsNotNutella June 20, 2022, 4:08 PM

    I like Chinatown old restaurants because there’s always an element of diaspora frozen-in time about them which is increasingly harder to find un-‘improved’ in HK, Singapore, China (— Malaysia and Thailand can be happy hunting grounds for the real thing preserved in aspic).

    Dim Sum restaurants are where Chinese Little Old Ladies meet up in the morning to swap stock tips and drop casual references to My Son the Doctor whilst inhaling chicken feet. Great for people watching.

    Do not order the egg tarts. Especially the Portuguese egg tarts. Once you start, you can’t stop.

  • ThisIsNotNutella June 20, 2022, 4:17 PM

    I swear last post for the morning unless I experience uncommon urge to engage in contumacious debate with anyone butt ignorant enough to disparage any of my sweeping generalisations.

    But this is hilarious. Physiognomy is Back:

    Mug Shot Commentaries for all 100 US Prostitutes / Senators:


    Hat Tip Severian at Founding Questions.

  • Hyland June 20, 2022, 6:49 PM

    There’s a gathering here at American Digest of astute folks who build, design, paint, sculpt, create, so I think you will appreciate this Terence McKenna address. He’s one of my favorite acid heads of all time. The video is inappropriately titled “Mass Psychosis – how an entire population becomes mentally ill” but I think that’s simply click bait because mass psychosis has become such a popular subject lately. Terrence isn’t talking about sickness. He’s talking about beauty which requires a discerning and unobstructed mind to recognize and to nurture and protect. True, there’s so many disadvantaged people barely scraping by and they aren’t thinking about beauty at all. And there’s plenty of people who have enough, are living in comfort, but wouldn’t recognize beauty because they don’t have the awareness. I feel as though he was talking to me because I am a graphic designer, painter, sign maker and all my professional activity revolves around making my product as attractive as can be achieved. About 10 minutes of insightful reflection from a profound and thoughtful dude.

    • Hyland June 20, 2022, 8:23 PM

      Wrong video! Though that one is very good… this is the video I meant to show you.

      • jwm June 21, 2022, 7:43 AM

        Thank you for the link. That was the best ten minutes I spent this morning.
        One more cup, and then I’m gettin’ to work. Rock ain’t gonna shape itself…


      • ghostsniper June 21, 2022, 7:54 AM

        This dood spoke for 10 continuous minutes without consulting notes or teleprompters on what could be considered a tough topic, with every word useful, and no fluff. Have you ever seen a gov’t employee do that? He mentioned “architect” and “dreams”, both of which are intense things for me so I may say something further after I digest his words a bit. Suffice to say, there are more to dreams than meet the eye and maybe even more than most people can grasp.

  • Hyland June 20, 2022, 7:32 PM

    And another video… Trump as Nostradamus… predicting with such accuracy how Biden will destroy everything he touches. I’m not a big Trump fan. I’m an HL Mencken fan. However, the Donald nails it. https://theferalirishman.blogspot.com/2022/06/nostratrumpas-was-right.html

  • Jack June 21, 2022, 7:00 AM

    The pencil drawing of the little girl is one of those things that can captivate my imagination. I worked in pencil for a period when I was younger and I loved it because it was such an amazing place ‘to go’ mentally. I have always loved drawings in graphite or in colored pencils/black ink, etc, that I tend to refer to in general as photorealism .

    There are several cowboy artists who excel in the medium and if you did not know, you would swear that you were looking at a photograph. Thanks for the lovely reminder of the craft.

    • ghostsniper June 21, 2022, 8:02 AM

      I’m glad you recognize the power of the pencil Jack. So few do, especially in the arts. I have said before that I could do a long stretch in prison or some other confined place with little resources if only I had an endless supply of pencils and paper. I have used them almost everyday since about the age of 6 and never tire of them. I have heard people say they cannot draw worth a damn and I call it bullshit. While they may not be able to draw as well as they’d like anyone with the capacity of gripping a pencil has the ability to draw. What they lack is the “stick to it-iveness” to keep doing it and learning more and becoming better at it as they go along. Part of the 3o second microwave way (lazy) of thinking.

  • waitingForTheStorm June 21, 2022, 7:22 AM

    Those drops of dew on the leaves are beautiful. I have similar photos taken in my back yard of dew drops collected on the tips of strawberry leaves. I snapped a few photos and then, a few minutes later, they were all gone.

    Several times, I have seen what is called “needle ice” or “hair ice” on the hill behind the house.

  • Princess Cutekitten June 21, 2022, 8:25 AM

    What’s that plant?

  • MMinWA June 21, 2022, 9:03 AM

    The tennis piece was excellent. I’ve been so blessed to have been able to watch Federer’s career almost from the beginning. As well as Rafas’ and Novaks’. Just won’t be the same when they’re gone. There were a couple Wimbledon matches in the mid oughts between Fed & Rafa that were the best I’ve ever seen. Both 5 setters, Fed won the first and the nest year was Nadal’s turn. Edge of your seat tennis.

    The first professional match I ever attended was the Grand Slam in Oz. I’ll never forget sitting down and watching, for the first time, players hitting. My first reaction was that ball is going out, he hit it waaay too hard but as the article says, TV doesn’t give you any idea just how hard these pros are hitting as well as how much topspin is on the ball.

    I was lucky enough to have a front row seat and you could hear the ball sizzling through the air. I’ve been playing all my life and I’ve never been able to do that. That was the year Novak won his first Slam. He lost the first set on an incredible lob shot by Tsonga that was inches out of his reach and landed inches inside the baseline. Undaunted, as it turns out as is his wont, he came back and won 3 straight.

    Tennis is the greatest sport to watch as well as play.

  • Gordon Scott June 21, 2022, 11:36 AM

    In the Valley of the Sun where today’s high will be 105, pickleball is somewhat popular in the 55 Plus parks. It’s played on a court perhaps 1/3 the size of a tennis court, with a whiffle ball and hard paddles. There is an odd scoring system. It can be played by old farts at a sedate, lobbing pace. I also saw three 30-something guys on what must have been their lunch break. They were playing it hard and fast and aggressive. They just stopped in the park and used the court and then drove away.

Leave a Comment