Showing posts with label Kurt Vonnegut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kurt Vonnegut. Show all posts

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My mother's birthday

I must admit that I tend to talk and think as if everybody in the universe has been enthralled by Kurt Vonnegut [1922-2007] in general and his eye-opening novel Deadeye Dick (1983) in particular. Maybe they have, and I simply haven’t noticed…

Employing Vonnegut talk, I celebrate today the fact that the peephole of my dear mother Enid Kathleen Walker [1918-2003] opened exactly 96 years ago, on January 19, 1918. Here’s a lovely studio portrait of Kath when she was two years old:

If ever it could be said that one’s date of birth is “chosen” (how, and by whom?), then the least I can say is that the occult forces of the universe chose a crazy date for the opening of my mother’s peephole, in the year of the end of the Great War. I find it fascinating to be able to throw a simple argument at Google, such as the date of my mother’s birth [display], and to discover everything that was happening at that moment in the past.

In the posthumous celebration of my mother’s birthday, the best man at the party is surely Wikipedia. And all I can hope is that he’ll be constantly in attendance at my own future birthday celebrations…

Friday, September 17, 2010

The artist as a young man

Lovers of religious art might marvel at the sensitivity and tenderness behind this flowery "Mary and child". The Virgin appears to be depicted as a gypsy woman. From a physical viewpoint, she's the kind of female who might be put aboard an airliner bound for Romania if Sarkozy's police were to find her hanging around in France today.

The artist who painted the gypsy Virgin and her child is mentioned in the novel Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut. The narrator, named Rudy Waltz, is talking of his father Otto, enrolled in a painting school.
… a professor handed him back his portfolio, saying that his work was ludicrous. And there was another young man in rags there, and he, too, had his portfolio returned with scorn.

His name was Adolf Hitler. He was a native Austrian. He had come from Linz.

And Father was so mad at the professor that he got his revenge there and then. He asked to see some of Hitler's work, with the professor looking on. He picked a picture at random, and he said it was a brilliant piece of work, and he bought it from Hitler for more cash on the spot than the professor, probably, could earn in a month or more.

Only an hour before, Hitler had sold his overcoat so that he could get a little something to eat, even though winter was coming on. So there is a chance that, if it weren't for my father, Hitler might have died of pneumonia or malnutrition in 1910.
The subject of the painting purchased by Otto Waltz was the Minorite Church in Vienna. I believe that Hitler's painting of this place exists in reality (maybe in the hands of a private collector), but I can't find a copy of it on the web. Meanwhile, people tend to forget that Hitler was a painter of religious subjects, just as they tend to forget his love for children.

I can't imagine why Joseph Ratzinger has tried to give the impression that Hitler didn't even believe in God, that he was an evil atheist.

Well yes, I can in fact imagine why the pope has talked this way. He's playing his role as the descendant of Saint Peter, the great fisherman. In fishing terms, Ratzi's allusions to atheism and secularism might be thought of as bait, designed to catch his critics. He knows that we'll all get caught by starting to waste our time (as I've been doing) producing evidence to prove that Hitler and the Nazis were not at all atheists. And while everybody's talking about atheism and secularism, they won't be talking about the sexual abuse of minors. Well played, Ratzi! But we haven't really been duped.