Saturday, June 9, 2018

Film on Eden Ahbez | Nature Boy Songwriter


New York filmmakers Brian Chidester and John Winer are in the process of completing a feature-length film about the life of Hollywood songwriter Eden Ahbez. For those who may not remember that name, nearly everyone will recognize the most famous of the songs he wrote, called Nature Boy, as first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1948. It was the No 1 hit song for eight weeks. Nearly every well-known singer has put out his or her version of it in the years since, including Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn, Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. It was prominent in the film Moulin Rouge.

The two filmmakers came through the Midwest last fall, in part to visit Chanute KS, where Ahbez had grown up in a foster home. But later he also lived briefly in Hampton IA and Burlington IA, and it may have been in those two locations that he first began to write music.

The filmmakers also visited Cedar Falls IA, and the University of Northern Iowa, where I teach. We spent a day together on campus, for the simple reason that when I was a freshman high school student in 1960, living in Iowa, I wrote to Ahbez. In response, he sent a hand-written sheet music copy of the score and lyrics for Nature Boy, autographed to me. He also sent an LP of his most recent album called Eden's Island—which, unfortunately, had been damaged in the mail and was broken into five pieces (which I taped back together, curiously, but of course it couldn't be played). Later, using oil paint on canvas board, I made a portrait of him (which was pretty awful, looking back), which I sent to him to thank him. In response, he replied with a wonderful letter.

I am one of about ten people who are interviewed in the film, which is still in process of being edited. One of the highlights of their campus visit was a session in which the filmmakers visited my history of design class, to talk about Ahbez and the project. During that session, my wonderful colleague, vocalist Celeste Bembry, sang Nature Boy, with the students as her impromptu audience.

Part 2 of a three-part series of "behind the scenes" clips about the progress of the film has just been posted on YouTube here. They hope that the film will be ready for release by late this year or early next. The film is titled As the Wind: The Enchanted Life of Eden Ahbez. Go here for more info.



The entire text of an essay I wrote was published in Ballast Quarterly Review in 2002. That issue can be accessed online at this UNI Scholarworks link. It was later republished as a small handbound booklet, titled On Eden Ahbez: Nature Boy Spelled Backwards.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ballast Quarterly Review | Issues Online Now

Back issues of Ballast Quarterly Review are now online
We are delighted to announce that the ScholarWorks team at the Rod Library at the University of Northern Iowa is making rapid progress on the online posting of all issues of Ballast Quarterly Review. The magazine, a self-described "periodical commonplace book," ran for twenty years, beginning in 1985. Here is the story of how it began, and here is the link to the archived issues.



Above Photograph of Ballast Quarterly Review founder / editor Roy R. Behrens (1994) by Dave Rasdal, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Cedar Rapids IA.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Roy R. Behrens | Site Revised & Redesigned

Intro
We've been struggling with the design and reorganization of our website, using the subsections 0f Intro, Books, Essays, Design, Art and Research. These scroll down, and include high definition images that enlarge when clicked on. There are also links to downloads or to further information. Above is a screen grab of the Intro page. Additional pages are shown below. Each of these has a live link, or the entire site can be easily accessed here.

Books
Essays
Design
Art
Research

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Vietnam War | Scott Cawelti

Poster © Roy R. Behrens (2018)
Above Poster announcing a program by Scott Cawelti about the merits and accuracy of the recent PBS documentary series on The Vietnam War.

•••

William Blake
The god of war is drunk with blood,
The earth doth faint and fail;
The stench of blood makes sick the heav'ns;
Ghosts glut the throat of hell!

•••

Sherwood Anderson in H.H. Campbell, ed., The Sherwood Anderson Diaries 1936-1941. Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 1987—

Went with Katy and Mims to a German place in Philadelphia [in 1936]. Danced. It was hot and I took off my coat. They saw my brown shirt and cheered. They thought me a Nazi.

•••

Lewis Lapham "Notebook: Mute Button" in Harper's Magazine (April 2006), p. 10—

…and if I'm wary of religious belief in any and all of its ardent emissions, it's because I remember, as did the authorsof the American Constitution, the vast numbers of people crucified—also burned, tortured, beheaded, drawn, quartered, imprisoned, and enslaved—on one or another of its ceremonial altars (Protestant, Muslim, Catholic, Aztec) over the course of the last 2,000 years.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Samantha White

Audubon Poster © Samantha White 2017
Above and below Reinterpretations, in poster form, of John James Audubon's The Birds of America, designed by Samantha White, graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa (2017).

•••

Louis MacNeice, The Strings are False: An Unfinished Autobiography. London: Faber and Faber, 1965. p. 127—

Dr. Johnson had said that the poet is not concerned with the minute particulars, with "the streaks on the tulip."  This, I thought, was just where he was wrong and just where I met Mariette on a common ground. Mariette was crazy for the streaks on the tulip. At the same time I felt she made much ado not about nothing but about the obvious or the trivial. Her conversation was like a barber's scissors when he is giving his last retouches to the back of your head, clicking away very fast, very deftly, but apparently not making contact.

Audubon Poster © Samantha White 2017

Louis MacNeice, The Strings are False: An Unfinished Autobiography. London: Faber and Faber, 1965. pp. 73-74—

At school I no longer assumed that the masters were all my superiors. Some of them were ninnies.  Mr. Cameron left us for a time and in his place we had a master from Galway—seedy, embittered, with a powerful brogue, a bad cough and always the same suit. He could not manage the chalk on the blackboard; the pieces of chalk from day to day, from month to month, harassed him with unending guerilla warfare, breaking in his hand, deploying to all corners of the room. "Damn the chark!" he would shout, hurling the remaining stub away from him. "The square on the hypotenuse is equal—Damn the chark!" And then, conscious of our grins, he would look ashamed, on the verge of tears, and surrender to a spasm of coughing.

Audubon Poster © Samantha White 2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Mallory Thurm

Audubon Poster © Mallory Thurm 2017
Above and below Components from John James Audubon's magnificent Birds of America are reimagined in these commemorative posters by Mallory Thurm, a graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa.

•••

Marvin Bell, A Marvin Bell Reader: Selected Poetry and Prose. Middlebury College Press, 1994—

[In Star Trek, Captain] Kirk is eating pizza in a joint in San Francisco with a woman whose help he will need, when he decides to fess up about who he is and where he has come from. The camera circles the room, then homes in on Kirk and his companion as she bursts out with, "You mean you're from outer space?" "No," says Kirk, "I'm from Iowa. I just work in outer space."

Audubon Poster © Mallory Thurm 2017


Norman Douglas, Siren Land: A Celebration of Life in Southern Italy. London: Penguin, 1948—

Bouillabaisse is only good because it is made by the French, who, if they cared to try, could produce an excellent and nutritious substitute out of cigar stumps and empty matchboxes.

Audubon Poster © Mallory Thurm 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Ross Hellman

Audubon poster © Ross Hellman 2017
Above and below Components from John James Audubon's magnificent Birds of America are reimagined in these commemorative posters by Ross Hellman, a graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa.

•••

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods, 1854—

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulette I could have worn.

Audubon poster © Ross Hellman 2017


Vaclav Havel, quoted in The New York Review of Books, January 15, 1998—

…America is an almost symbolic concentration of all the best and the worst of our civilization. On the one hand, there are its profound commitment to enhancing civil liberty and to maintaining the strength of its democratic institutions, and the fantastic developments in science and technology which have contributed so much to our well-being; on the other, there is the blind worship of perpetual economic growth and consumption, regardless of their destructive impact on the environment, or how subject they are to the dictates of materialism and consumerism, or how they, through the omnipresence of television [and the internet] and advertising, promote uniformity, and banality instead of a respect for human uniqueness.

Audubon poster © Ross Hellman 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | C. Strelow-Varney

Audubon poster © Cheyenne Strelow-Varney (2017)
Above and below Components from John James Audubon's magnificent Birds of America are reimagined in these commemorative posters by Cheyenne Strelow-Varney, a graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa.

•••

Edmund Clerihew Bentley [inventor of the clerihew], Biography for Beginners. London" T.W. Laurie, 1905—

Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Audubon poster © Cheyenne Strelow-Varney (2017)


Edmund Clerihew Bentley in More Biography. London: Methuen, 1929—

George the Third
Ought never to have occurred
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.

Audubon poster © Cheyenne Strelow-Varney (2017)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Hanna Seggerman

Audubon Poster © Hanna Seggerman 2017
Above and below Components from John James Audubon's magnificent Birds of America are reimagined in these commemorative posters by Hanna Seggerman, a graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa.

•••

Samuel Foote [nonsense text devised to test the claim of actor Charles Macklin that he could memorize anything] quoted in Maria Edgeworth, Harry and Lucy Concluded. New York: Harper and Borthers, 1842, p. 315—

So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf; to make an apple pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. What! no soap? So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyalies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gun powder ran out at the heels of their boots.

Audubon Poster © Hanna Seggerman 2017


 Melissa Meyer, quoted in Heresies (Winter 1977-78), Vol 1 No 4—

Published information about the origins of collage is misleading. Picasso and Braque are credited with inventing it. Many artists made collage before they did, Picasso's father for one and Sonia Delaunay for another.

Audubon Poster © Hanna Seggerman 2017


 Lawrence Perlman (American business executive)—

When you ask children what they want to be when they grow up, they don't say, "I want a boring job where the only thing I look forward to is Friday."

Audubon's Birds of America | Charles Williams

Audubon Poster © Charles Williams 2017
Above and below Components from John James Audubon's magnificent Birds of America are reimagined in these commemorative posters by Charles Williams, a graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa.

•••

Camilo José Cela, Journey to the Alcarria: Travels Through the Spanish Countryside. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994—

Things are always best seen when they are a trifle mixed-up, a trifle disordered; the chilly administrative neatness of museums and filing cases, of statistics and cemeteries, is an inhuman and antinatural kind of order; it is, in a word, disorder. True order belongs to Nature, which never yet has produced two identical trees or mountains or horses.

Audubon Poster © Charles Williams 2017


Arthur Eddington, quoted in Nicolas Rose, ed. Mathematical Maxims and Minims. Raleigh NC: Rome Press, 1988—

We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about "and."

Audubon Poster © Charles Williams 2017
 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

BLOOD ROAD / Nick Schrunk Returns to UNI

It was in October 2015 that one of our most accomplished graphic design alumni, Red Bull filmmaker Nick Schrunk, returned to the University of Northern Iowa to meet with current students. His talk was a great success, the semester's high point. As his former teachers, we are both proud and appreciative of his remarkable achievements.

Among the things he shared with us were in-process insights into the production of his first feature film, titled BLOOD ROAD. A powerful documentary on a mountain bike retracing of 1,200 miles of the Ho Chi Minh Trail (an 8-week endurance trek) in Vietnam, it was released earlier this year, to awards and wide acclaim. The official trailer is on YouTube, and the film itself is available online through Amazon Video, YouTube, Google, iTunes and other sources.

The two mountain bikers in the film are American athlete Rebecca Rusch and her Vietnamese riding partner, Huyen Nguyen. Part of Rusch's motivation was to try to locate the site where her father (a US Air Force pilot) was fatally shot down some forty years ago in Laos.

In a few days, Nick Schrunk is returning to the UNI campus again, this time to screen the finished film, to reflect on film production, and to revisit the painful reminders of the Vietnam War (survivors are still being injured or killed by buried explosives and the enduring effects of chemical defoliants).

The timing of this could hardly be more opportune, since Nick's visit to campus follows by a week or two the premiere of Ken Burns' new, ten-part PBS documentary on the horrid consequences of that war, and the increasing likelihood that we and other countries have and will continue to engage in comparable atrocities. It is especially critical for younger, current Americans—those who did not witness the war—to be aware of the damage that governments do.

The screening of BLOOD ROAD is free and open to the public. It will take place on Monday, October 9 in Sabin Hall Room 002 on the UNI campus. Despite what it says on the poster, the starting time is 7:30, not 7:00.

Don't miss it.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Sophia Grover

Audubon poster © Sophia Grover 2017
Above and below Components from John James Audubon's magnificent Birds of America are reimagined in these commemorative posters by Sophia Grover, a graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa.

•••

Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation. New York: Macmillan, 1964, p. 191—

"The great field for new discoveries," wrote William James, "is always the unclassified residuum. Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever flows a sort of dust-cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to." The genius of Sherlock Holmes manifested itself in shifting his attention to minute clues which poor Watson found too obvious to be relevant, and so easy to ignore. The psychiatrist obtains his clues from the casual remark, the seemingly irrelevant drift of associations; and he has learned to shift the emphasis from the patient's meaningful statements to his meaningless slips of the tongue, from his rational experiences to his irrational dreams. [It is] the trick which [Edgar Allan] Poe's character empolyed when he let the secret document lie open on his desk—where it was too obvious to be seen. 

Audubon poster © Sophia Grover 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Colton Ellison

Audubon poster © Colton Ellison 2017
Above and below Reinterpretations, in poster form, of John James Audubon's The Birds of America, designed by Colton Ellison, graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa (2017).

•••

Louis MacNeice, The Strings are False: An Unfinished Autobiography. London: Faber and Faber, 1965. p. 123—

Ireland was something new to Mariette and obliged her by appearing very Irish. A local peasant girl, who had been engaged to do the work, turned out delightfully incompetent and committed all the Irishisms beloved by English humorists. When told to clean a pair of shoes she asked "Do you mean both of them?" and when sent up to a bedroom with a hot-water bottle she would hang it on the knob of a chair. There were three itinerant butchers who visited the house in rotation and sold us whole sides of sheep. And when I walked along the road with my arm around Mariette, an old woman called out, "That's a grand way for a girl to be—linked to a boy."

…One day Mariette and I drove across the island to buy lobsters. The fishermen had only a dozen which they had contracted to send to the mainland, but Mariette's Mediterranean persuasiveness was too much for them and one of them gave us two lobsters, saying to his colleague who was in charge of the box for the mainland, "Throw in a couple of herring; they're all fish." The lobsters sat on the back seat and clacked their claws like castanets as we drove home.

Audubon poster © Colton Ellison 2017



Saturday, September 30, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Sydney Hughes

Audubon Poster © Sydney Hughes (2017)
Above and below Reinterpretations, in poster form, of John James Audubon's The Birds of America, designed by Sydney Hughes, graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa (2017).

•••

Andrew Nelson Lytle, A Wake for the Living: A Family Chronicle. New York: Crown Publishers, 1975—

Papa, my grandfather Nelson, rarely went to church. The evangelical sects seemed lacking in ritual and ceremony, and he had had the chance to know full well the hypocrites. I asked him once for a nickel to go to Sunday school. He enquired if a penny wouldn't make as much noise in the pan. [p. 31]

•••

Aunt Tene and I were very fond of each other. She was thin as a straw but with a clear eye that never mistook its object. She managed to outlive one of those old-fashioned "consumptions" which was a medical term of the day for death's affair with life. During the Great Depression I used to borrow her burial money to go courting. "You might as well have it," she said. "It looks like I can't die." [p. 20]

•••

I think I have already told you that I called my grandfather Nelson, Papa, as if I were a younger child…

I never heard Papa complain, but at times he was politely tart. Once, speaking out of a general silence, he said at large, "All old women ought to be shuck out every morning."

His intentions were not misunderstood. Aunt Tene without hesitation replied, "Well, every old man ought to be stood in a barrel of lye." [pp. 15-16]

•••

Cousin Mary set an extravagant table and, I understand, ruined her husband. She took on great weight and died at Grandma's one hot July day…The wagon carrying Cousin Mary's coffin to the funeral cracked a wheel, as it jolted through a creek. Before the matter could be mended, the hot July sun made her well and Cousin Mary split the coffin.

"She wants out," a mourner said, downwind. [p. 113] 

Audubon poster © Sydney Hughes (2017)


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pulling the Teeth of Frank Lloyd Wright

FLW montage © Roy R. Behrens 2017
Ben Masselink in "Gene" in Edgar Tafel, ed., About Wright: An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: John Wiley, 1993, pp. 189-190—

Gene [Masselink, his brother, an apprentice to Wright] had driven Mr. Wright in that open Cord down the rolling green hills of Wisconsin and along the sweeping outer drive of Chicago and through the smoky war of Gary, Indiana, and up along the huge, blue lake through Benton Harbor and Saugatuck, Gene's old art school, and into Grand Rapids to see the dentist, who was my dad. Mr. Wright wanted every tooth in his mouth pulled, which could compare to storming the Great Wall of China single-handed, and in one sitting, and then to be fitted for false. This greatly impressed my dad, as this was never done; it was too hard on the patient. Usually, one or two teeth were pulled at a time, four at the most, but Mr. Wright insisted, and so my dad pulled them as if he were plucking corn off a cob. Mr. Wright never flinched, but treated it as casually as if he'd come to have a hair trim.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City (2016)


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nonsensical Info Graphics | Chad Hagen

Nonsensical Infographic © Chad Hagen
Above This exquisite image by Minneapolis-based designer Chad Hagen is what he calls a nonsensical infographic. As he explains, infographics are usually judged on "how well they communicate their data." But in Hagen's delightful series of prints (he should do more!), the table is turned. He has omitted the data, reversing the priorities of form and (the customary) function of infographics.•

•••

Edna Ferber, A Peculiar Treasure. New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1939, pp. 114-115—

[While she was working as a newspaper reporter in Appleton WI, Ferber was assigned to interview the famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini, who had grown up in the same town.] Celebrities didn't come our way often. When Houdini, the Handcuff King, arrived with his show he got shorter shrift than he deserved, being a hometown boy. Before my day, he had been a local product, [named] Harry Weiss, the son of a Russian Jewish rabbi. Failing to find him at his hotel I encountered him by chance on College Avenue at the drugstore corner just across from the [Appleton Daily] Crescent office. Outside the store was the usual slot machine containing chocolate and chewing gum. As he chatted affably with me Houdini leaned carelessly against this. At the end of the interview he dropped a cold metal object into my hand.

"There's the padlock to this slot machine," he said. "Better give it to the drugstore man. Somebody'll steal all his chewing gun."

I hadn't seen so much as a movement of his fingers. Tottering with admiration I went back to the office to write my story.

• For more on form and function see this new top-selling book about Frank Lloyd Wright.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Condé Nast: Mason City Among Top 20 Cities

Condé Nast Traveler (June 2017)
In a recent update to a list compiled originally in 2013, Condé Nast Traveler has ranked Mason City, Iowa, as among The World's 20 Best Cities for Architecture Lovers. As pictured on their website, it was listed as Number 8 of 20 on June 12, 2017. Other cities on the list include St. Petersburg, Budapest, Brasilia, Athens, Rome, Hanoi and others. The remaining American cities are Miami FL, Seattle WA, Columbus IN, Brooklyn NY and Portland OR. Mason City has nearly 40 Prairie Style buildings, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Stockman House, and the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel, with additional structures by Walter Burley Griffin and others. For the story of how it all happened, see our recent book on Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City—repeatedly featured in recent months as one of the top ten bestselling books on Frank Lloyd Wright on Amazon.

Mason City Posters © Roy R. Behrens 2016


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sculptor / Printmaker Dallas Guffey

Epochal Descent © Dallas Guffey (2017)
We really respond to these woodcuts by sculptor/printmaker (and clandestine graphic designer) Dallas Guffey. See more at his website.

•••

Rebecca Loncraine, The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum. NY: Gotham Books, 2009, p. 252—

In 1913, [Henry] Ford began making the Model T automobile in his Michigan plant through a researched, rationalized assembly-line production method. Before 1913, automobiles were custom-made. One of Ford's engineers was inspired by a visit to a meatpacking factory on Chicago, where he saw dead cows butchered in a rational assembly-line process, where a carcass was chopped into recognizable joints as it moved along a conveyor. The engineer reversed the idea and envisaged building an automobile along a moving line where static workers performed the same repetitive task over and over again. The cost of a Model T fell rapidly from $575 to $240, and became affordable to middle-income households.

Divulge © Dallas Guffey (2017)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mary Snyder Behrens | Shroud and Shadow

Assemblage (2003) © Mary Snyder Behrens
Above Mixed media assemblage, large scale, titled Drawn Conclusions No 12: Shroud and Shadow, made by Iowa artist Mary Snyder Behrens, c2003. Copyright © the artist.

•••

Carl Van Doren Three Worlds. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1936, p. 27—

When he [his grandfather] ran for Coroner on the county ticket, he announced that if elected he would bury Republicans and Democrats with equal pleasure.

•••

An autobiographer never knows quite which account he is giving of himself. Historian of acts of which he was the actor, he is still inside the self which remembers. No man, with the help of whatever mirrors, can know how he really looks to other men. Nor can he be sure how he sounds to them. Let him tell the plainest truth in the plainest way, he cannot know what else he may imply without suspecting it. Often he must wonder what the plain truth is. His memory has been quietly working his past over, and when he goes back to such unchanged evidence as letters and diaries he finds the story different from that he can come to remember. The man who remembers is not the man who did what the record shows. The man who was is now as strange to the man who is as the man who is would be to the man who was.…[pp. 105-106].

•••

I had a head for liquor, when I took it, but I was always bored by drinking. Drinkers rarely say amusing things. What they say seems amusing only to other drinkers. The fun of alcohol is less on the tongue than in the ear [p. 256].

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hummingbird in Cat's Mouth

Hummingbird surveillance drone
Above Hummingbird-based aerial surveillance drone. Public domain.

•••

Dorothy Van Doren, The Professor and I. New York: Appleton , 1959, p. 128 [spouse of Mark Van Doren, mother of Charles Van Doren; her brother-in-law was Carl Van Doren]—

When Blackie [the family cat] was a half-grown kitten, I found him with something in his mouth—something that didn't look like a mouse. He is very good about giving up his prey if I insist and this time I insisted; I pried his jaws apart, there was a rush, and a hummingbird flew off at breakneck speed. How Blackie ever caught a hummingbird, I don't know; how he could hold the delicate body in his jaws without hurting it, I don't know either. But it happened; there was no mistaking the tiny size, the pointed bill, the emerald flash; and there was no doubt that it was unhurt. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mary Snyder Behrens | Rift

Rift (2005) © Mary Snyder Behrens
Above Selected work from a series of intricate handmade bundles (called Trammels) with undisclosed contents, about palm size, made in 2004-2005 by Iowa artist Mary Snyder Behrens. Copyright © the artist.

•••

Carl Van Doren Three Worlds. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1936, p. 110 (this reads like a concise restatement of the rationale of the Aesthetic Movement).—

Odysseus is not good: he is adulterous and crafty; Faust is not good: he sells his soul for the sake of forbidden power; Gargantua is not good: he buffets and tumbles the decencies in all directions; Henry V is not good: he wastes his youth and wages unjust war; Huckleberry Finn is not good: he is a thief and a liar. The heroes, the demigods, the gods themselves occasionally step aside from the paths into which men counsel one another; there are at least as many stories about gorgeous courtesans as about faithful wives. It is not the "goodness" of all such literature but the vividness that gives it perennial impact. Better a lively rogue than a deadly saint.

Mary Snyder Behrens | Barrier Box

Barrier Box (2005) © Mary Snyder Behrens
Above Selected work from a series of intricate handmade bundles (called Trammels) with undisclosed contents, about palm size, made in 2004-2005 by Iowa artist Mary Snyder Behrens. Copyright © the artist.

•••

Carl Van Doren Three Worlds. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1936, p. 110—

I took him [his grandfather, a farmer from Illinois] to a convocation at the [Columbia] University. Something that President [Nicolas Murrray] Butler said so roused my grandfather that he whispered to me: "I'm going to give them my Indian war whoop"—and he drew in his breath. I knew what his war whoop was. Nobody who had heard it could ever forget it. I do not know quite how I stopped him. If he had been at his best I could not have done it. He would have whooped without warning me, and the steel girders in the roof would have rung, and the caps and gowns would have shuddered, and a stately decorum would have died. At the time I was in terror. Now I am half-sorry he did not have his way without my academic interference. If my grandfather and President Butler had met after the explosion they would have liked each other. And one Columbia convocation would still be remembered.