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Renaissance Icon Painter El Greco and The Light

Self Portrait of Greek-Spanish El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) Born around 1541, Domenikos Theotokopoulos began his career as an icon painter on the island of Crete. He is best known, under the name El Greco, for the works he created while in Spain, paintings that have provoked both rapt admiration and scornful disapproval since his death in 1614.

The life of the Renaissance painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco. El Greco took this style to extremes, creating luminous paintings of great intensity. By turns considered a prescient precursor of modern art or simply a man with bad eyesight, El Greco’s work embodied the exalted spirit of the Counter-Reformation in its zeal to annihilate all traces of Protestantism.

El Greco’s candid portraits have been consistently admired for their naturalism and psychological insight, even when (as in the eighteenth century) his other works fell out of favor.

Renaissance Painter El Greco took this style to extremes, creating luminous paintings of great intensity

Creating Luminous Paintings: El Greco and the Light

On a pleasant spring afternoon, a friend went to visit the painter El Greco. To his surprise, he found him in his atelier with all curtains drawn.

Greco was working on a painting which had the Virgin Mary as the central theme, using only a candle to illuminate the environment.

Surprised, the friend said: “I have always heard that painters like the sun in order to choose well the colors they will use. Why don’t you open the curtains?”

“Not now,” answered El Greco. “It would disturb the brilliant fire of inspiration that is burning in my soul and filling with light everything around me.”

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Starbucks and Pop Star Lady Gaga Create ‘Cups of Kindness’ Collection to Support Her ‘Born This Way’ Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Lady Gaga is notorious for her distinct aesthetic, which can be labelled as a social fantasy that espouses much of Andy Warhol’s Pop Art visualization yet twists it to signify present-day anxieties. Her dynamic quest to produce the memorable and rejoice the mercurial emphasizes the degree to which pop phenomenon has been affected by a period of extraordinary connectivity among consumers and cultural creators.

Lady Gaga’s wide-eyed hope gradually eroded as she became the most famous artist of the last decade.

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks is partnering with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to spread a simple message—be kind.

Starting tomorrow (June 13), Starbucks will donate 25 cents from each one of its colorful Cups of Kindness beverages sold at participating Starbucks® stores in the United States and Canada through June 19 to Born This Way Foundation. Funds raised will go toward programs that support youth wellness and empowerment by fostering kindness, improving mental health resources, and creating more positive environments.

“We’re healthier and happier when we live our lives with compassion and our communities are stronger when we treat one another with generosity and respect,” said Lady Gaga. “Born This Way Foundation and I are so excited to partner with Starbucks to help inspire positivity and love through the Cups of Kindness collection.”

The new Starbucks Cups of Kindness collection features four vivid iced beverages hand-picked by Lady Gaga, including the new Matcha Lemonade and Violet Drink. The refreshing, nondairy drinks come in a rainbow of colors and are all under 150 calories for a grande size.

“I adore the entire collection and I instantly fell in love with the Matcha Lemonade,” she said.

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Born Stefani Germanotta, Lady Gaga is an avant-garde artist who makes the most of her art school background and combines aspects of performance, art, and fashion into a musical style that represents a distinctive multimedia melange philosophy.

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Lady Gaga’s pursuit of a sustaining cultural presence responds to hypermodern pressures through her elaborate performances and dress experimentation, which are deployed to create visual impressions that are essentially tailor-made for the age of viral marketing and produce expectations of ever impressive spectacles. She supplements this approach by attempting to obviously link herself to categories of individual uniqueness.

  • New Matcha Lemonade:  This vibrant green drink is made with finely ground Teavana® matcha green tea, combined with crisp lemonade then shaken with ice to create a refreshingly sweet, delicious drink.
  • New Violet Drink: The sweet blackberries and tart hibiscus of Very Berry Hibiscus Starbucks Refreshers™ Beverage swirl together with creamy coconutmilk and ice, creating a refreshing (and violet-hued) sip.
  • Ombre Pink Drink: A refreshing beverage that combines light, fruity Cool Lime Starbucks Refreshers™ Beverage with cool, creamy coconutmilk and a splash of Teavana® Shaken Iced Passion Tango™ Tea and a lime wheel, for a bright burst of hibiscus notes.
  • Pink Drink: A light and refreshing beverage that features the sweet strawberry flavors of Strawberry Acai Refreshers with accents of passion fruit and acai combined with coconutmilk, and topped with a scoop of strawberries. Included in Cups of Kindness collection in United States only.

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

By praising the “monster,” the “freak,” or the “misfit” in multiple expressions—not “fitting in” at school or being gay—Lady Gaga is able to build a sense of sociological connection among fans while the catch-all energy and dynamism of her music works to sustain mass appeal.

“Over the years we’ve admired the amazing work that Lady Gaga has led through Born This Way Foundation,” said Holly Hinton, director of Music and Artist Programming. “We are proud to introduce the Cups of Kindness collection to raise awareness and fund the Foundation’s efforts to spread kindness, support youth and make the world a better place.”

One program that will benefit from the Cups of Kindness initiative is Born This Way Foundation’s Channel Kindness, a platform featuring stories of kindness as documented by young people from around the United States. These youth reporters, ages 16 to 24, have been recruited to identify and document the acts of generosity, compassion, and acceptance that shape communities. 

Starbucks has committed to a minimum $250,000 contribution to the Born This Way Foundation.

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

What the world of popular culture has in Lady Gaga is a young, sexy, tradition-busting performer. Her musical influences part from Bowie and Queen, detail the influence of a line of obvious women performers: Madonna, Grace Jones, Spears, Debbie Harry, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera and Kylie Minogue. If one asks the fans of Lady Gaga why she is more charming than other stars, they would be likely to emphasize the individual investment and connection of Lady Gaga herself and thus the mutuality of the relation. What the business world has in Lady Gaga is a new icon of marketing.

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Lady Gaga will not permit qualified photographers near her when she performs, but she promotes her fans to take pictures and videos and publish them without restrictions on the internet. Even with her hit single, ‘Born This Way’, she appears to agonize less about copyright and more about fan devotion. When a ten-year-old Canadian teenager published her own adaptation of the song online, Lady Gaga watched it, admired it and encouraged the girl to perform with her before a live audience at some point. In ways like these, the star advances her followers over herself.

There is something heroic about the way my fans operate their cameras. So precisely, so intricately and so proudly. Like Kings writing the history of their people, is their prolific nature that both creates and procures what will later be perceived as the kingdom. So the real truth about Lady Gaga fans, my little monsters, lies in this sentiment: They are the Kings. They are the Queens. They write the history of the kingdom and I am something of a devoted Jester.

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Lady Gaga’s new connection between performance and theory, pop culture and viewpoint is bolstering because it provides a source of sincerity, passion, and action, and a heart for mirroring on a mass produced sophistication that however has Lady Gaga’s genius to replicate bits of itself to itself in a cycle of disapproval that produces something new to say and show.

Credits: Corporate images from Starbucks’media website and Starbucks chalkboard images from Starbucks associates’Reddit posts

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

Starbucks and Lady Gaga Create Cups of Kindness for Born This Way Foundation

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Robert Frost’s Favorite Poem: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Robert Frost

Robert Frost is a captivating poet and public figure whose approachability and mystique will assuredly engross many generations of scholars, whether their approach is biographical, cultural, or theoretical. Frost’s portions, inscriptions, and random poems will continue to surface until nearly all of the items in small, private collections find their way into shared annals. They in fact add enormously to our interpretation of how Frost worked through his ideas. Paired with poems or excerpts from Frost’s works, these repeatedly sumptuously and lavishly created greetings raise captivating questions about the interaction between the visual and the verbal in Frost’s work.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is a poem by Robert Frost, published in the collection New Hampshire (1923). One of the most famous, as well as one of the most anthologized, of Frost’s poems. It portrays a lone traveler in a horse-drawn carriage who is both driven by the business at hand and mesmerized by a frosty woodland setting. The poem is written of four iambic tetrameter quatrains, and the contemplative lyric derives its incantatory tone from an interlocking rhyme scheme of aaba bbcb ccdc dddd:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
 
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
 
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

No American poet has been more prosaic than Robert Frost—prosaic because many readers like to believe most of his poems are narrative in nature, not just the lyrical representation of an image or a feeling.

Eternity Looking through Time

'The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems' by Robert Frost (ISBN 0805069860) Frost’s poem has the back drop of a late dark wintry sundown, a harsh and bitter winter (“The darkest evening of the year”). The physical setting of the work is the deserted woods far off from the village. The significance along with physical landscapes of the poem is dreadfully isolated, bare of any living flowers or leafy trees. The narrator of “Stopping by Woods” is compelled to make a significant ethical choice, which his cherished horse does not seem to concur with. The preference that the narrator must grapple with is whether to return to the cordiality and safety of the village (where the owner of the woods lives) and his home or to stay and watch the beautiful woods filling up with fluffy snowflakes on a wintry evening. The narrator does seem to have trouble making his decision, torn between two equally enticing and delightful possibilities. This kind of persistence upon human choice is distinctive of most of Frost’s poetical works. The narrator eventually chooses to return to the village even though it seems to take his great self-control or willpower. He understands that he has some social or civic duty or responsibility to achieve before he dies.

The night, as well as the winter, is closely related to old age, pain, loneliness, and death. As stunning as snow looks, it implies the cold wintry weather, which is in turn connected with despair, disintegration, and death. Just as the woods are “lovely, dark and deep” to him, so does death look to him. Death seems not to be so unnerving, grim, or even scary—but rather fascinating, welcoming, almost a feeling of relief. The narrator is reminded of the final destination of his journey—probably to the village where his home is. The narrator’s “little horse” is perplexed by his master’s conduct —stopping by the woods located far away from any farmhouse—and thus jiggles his harness bells in impulsiveness. Impatient, the horse prompts him to resume his homeward journey.

Robert Frost Narrating and Speaking

“My Best Bid for Remembrance”

In a message to American poet, anthologist, and literary critic Louis Untermeyer, American poet Robert Frost called his famous poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” as “my best bid for remembrance.”

According to an essay by N. Arthur Bleau, Robert Frost described the poem’s back-story during a reading at Bowdoin College in 1947:

Robert Frost revealed his favorite poem to me. Furthermore, he gave me a glimpse into his personal life that exposed the mettle of the man. I cherish the memory of that conversation, and vividly recall his description of the circumstances leading to the composition of his favorite work.

'The Road Not Taken and Other Poems' by Robert Frost (ISBN 0486275507) We were in my hometown—Brunswick, Maine. It was the fall of 1947, and Bowdoin College was presenting its annual literary institute” for students and the public. Mr. Frost had lectured there the previous season; and being well received, he was invited for a return engagement.

I attended the great poet’s prior lecture and wasn’t about to miss his encore—even though I was quartered 110 miles north at the University of Maine. At the appointed time, I was seated and eagerly awaiting his entrance—armed with a book of his poems and unaware of what was about to occur.

He came on strong with a simple eloquence that blended with his stature, bushy white hair, matching eyebrows, and well-seasoned features. His topics ranged from meter to the meticulous selection of a word and its varying interpretations. He then read a few of his poems to accentuate his message.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Mr. Frost asked if anyone had questions. I promptly raised my hand. There were three other questioners, and their inquiries were answered before he acknowledged me. I asked, “Mr. Frost, what is your favorite poem?” He quickly replied, “They’re all my favorites. It’s difficult to single out one over another!”

“But, Mr. Frost,” I persisted, “surely there must be one or two of your poems which have a special meaning to you—that recall some incident perhaps.” He then astonished me by declaring the session concluded; whereupon, he turned to me and said, “Young man, you may come up to the podium if you like.” I was there in an instant.

We were alone except for one man who was serving as Mr. Frost’s host. He remained in the background shadows of the stage. The poet leaned casually against the lectern—beckoning me to come closer. We were side by side leaning on the lectern as he leafed the pages of the book.

“You know—in answer to your question—there is one poem which comes readily to mind; and I guess I’d have to call it my favorite,” he droned” in a pensive manner. “I’d have to say ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ is that poem. Do you recall in the lecture I pointed out the importance of the line “The darkest evening of the year’?” I acknowledged that I did, and he continued his thoughtful recollection of a time many years before. “Well—the darkest evening of the year is on December twenty-second—which is the shortest day of the year—just before Christmas.”

'Robert Frost's Poems' by Robert Frost (ISBN 0312983328) I wish I could have recorded the words as he reflectively meted out his story, but this is essentially what he said.

The family was living on a farm. It was a bleak time both weatherwise and financially. Times were hard, and Christmas was coming. It wasn’t going to be a very good Christmas unless he did something. So—he hitched up the wagon filled with produce from the farm and started the long trek into town.

When he finally arrived, there was no market for his goods. Times were hard for everybody. After exhausting every possibility, he finally accepted the fact that there would be no sale. There would be no exchange for him to get a few simple presents for his children’s Christmas.

As he headed home, evening descended. It had started to snow, and his heart grew heavier with each step of the horse in the gradually increasing accumulation. He had dropped the reins and given the horse its head. It knew the way. The horse was going more slowly as they approached home. It was sensing his despair. There is an unspoken communication between a man and his horse, you know.

Around the next bend in the road, near the woods, they would come into view of the house. He knew the family was anxiously awaiting him. How could he face them? What could he possibly say or do to spare them the disappointment he felt?

They entered the sweep of the bend. The horse slowed down and then stopped. It knew what he had to do. He had to cry, and he did. I recall the very words he spoke. “I just sat there and bawled like a baby”—until there were no more tears.

'Robert Frost Poet as Philosopher' by Peter Stanlis (ISBN 1933859814) The horse shook its harness. The bells jingled. They sounded cheerier. He was ready to face his family. It would be a poor Christmas, but Christmas is a time of love. They had an abundance of love, and it would see them through that Christmas and the rest of those hard times. Not a word was spoken, but the horse knew he was ready and resumed the journey homeward.

The poem was composed some time later, he related. How much later I do not know, but he confided that these were the circumstances which eventually inspired what he acknowledged to be his favorite poem.

I was completely enthralled and, with youthful audacity, asked him to tell me about his next favorite poem. He smiled relaxedly and readily replied, “That would have to be ‘Mending Wall.’ Good fences do make good neighbors, you know! We always looked forward to getting together and walking the lines—each on his own side replacing the stones the winter frost had tumbled. As we moved along, we’d discuss the things each had experienced during the winter—and also what was ahead of us. It was a sign of spring!”

The enchantment was broken at that moment by Mr. Frost’s host, who had materialized behind us to remind him of his schedule. He nodded agreement that it was time to depart, turned to me and with a smile extended his hand. I grasped it, and returned his firm grip as I expressed my gratitude. He then strode off to join his host, who had already reached the door at the back of the stage. I stood there watching him disappear from sight.

I’ve often wondered why he suddenly changed his mind and decided to answer my initial question by confiding his memoir in such detail. Perhaps no one had ever asked him; or perhaps I happened to pose it at the opportune time. Then again—perhaps the story was meant to be related, remembered and revealed sometime in the future. I don’t know, but I’m glad he did—so that I can share it with you.

Two Minds About It

'Robert Frost A Life' by Jay Parini (ISBN 0805063412) Frost’s daughter Lesley later validated the narrative and quoted her father reminiscing his weeping, “A man has as much right as a woman to a good cry now and again. The snow gave me shelter; the horse understood and gave me the time.”

For many years I have assumed that my father’s explanation to me, given sometime in the forties, I think, of the circumstances round and about his writing “Stopping by Woods” was the only one he gave (of course, excepting to my mother), and since he expressed the hope that it need not be repeated fearing pity (pity, he said, was the last thing he wanted or needed), I have left it at that. Now, in 1977, I find there was at least one other to whom he vouchsafed the honor of hearing the truth of how it all was that Xmas eve when “the little horse” (Eunice) slows the sleigh at a point between woods, a hundred yards or so north of our farm on the Wyndham Road. And since Authur Bleau’s moving account is closely, word for word, as I heard it, it would give me particular reason to hope it might be published. I would like to add my own remembrance of words used in the telling to me: “A man has as much right as a woman to a good cry now and again. The snow gave me its shelter; the horse understood and gave me the time.” (Incidentally, my father had a liking for certain Old English words. Bawl was one of them. Instead of “Stop crying,” it was “Oh, come now, quit bawling.” Mr. Bleau is right to say my father bawled like a baby.)

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Aesop’s Fables

A bronze statue from between 330 and 100 BCE, that is believed to depict Aesop holding a papyrus scroll. Fables refer to the idea of presenting criticism or advice indirectly in a simplified, fictional setting.

A fable is a narrative, in prose or verse but usually simple and brief, that is intended to convey a moral lesson.

Fables frequently involve non-human characters-animals (real or mythic), plants, artifacts, forces of nature, and so on-that are represented as having human attributes. Fables are a common form of folk literature; the best-known fables of the Western world are credited to the legendary figure Aesop, who is supposed to have been a slave in ancient Greece sometime between 620 and 560 BCE.

Hellenistic statue claimed to depict Aesop from Rome's Art Collection of Villa Albani In the ancient classical world, fables were not considered as fare for children nor as works of literature in their own right. Rather, they were used as vehicles for indirect—and thus carefully polite—criticism and persuasion. For example, Xenophon (c. 430–354 BCE), in his Memorabilia (c. 371 BCE), describes Socrates advising a citizen named Aristarchus to tel l his ungrateful relatives—to whom he had provided capital for a business and who are now accusing him of idlenessthe fable of the dog and the sheep, concluding, “Tell your flock yonder that like the dog in the fable you are their guardian and overseer.”

Interest in fables remained high through classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, with collections of fables—typically ascribed to Aesop—serving as the basisfor rhetorical textbooks and literary works. Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95) produced Fables (1668–1694), which are perhaps the most best-known original fables in modern times.

'The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables' by Don Daily (ISBN 0762428767) The English author and philosopher G. K. Chesterton wrote in his Alfred the Great (1908), “Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells usabout one man and fabletells us about a million men.”

As literary tastes developed in sophistication, fables increasingly became the province of humorists such as George Ade and children’s writers such as Dr. Seuss—although the defamiliarizing effect of fables, with the artistic form being used to stimulate fresh perception of a familiar subject, is still deployed in books such as George Orwell’s criticism of Stalinism, Animal Farm (1945).

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A Mandala is a Cosmic Diagram that is Symbolic of the Universe

Mandala is a ritual diagram symbolic of the universe---object of meditation in Tantra and Vajrayana Buddhism.

A mandala is a ritual diagram that serves as an object of meditation in Tantra and Vajrayana Buddhism. It is symbolic of the universe.

Around the eleventh century, mandala meditation was initiated in Tibet from India and even today, lamas pass on their knowledge to initiates in the same way.

Mandalas are fabricated at the beginning of a puja, out of grains of colored sand watchfully placed on a specially prepared platform. They are momentary structures and in a instruction of impermanence, are deliberately destroyed at the end of the ritual, their sand swept up and dispensed into a nearby stream or river.

Mandala Denotes the Mind and the Body of the Buddha

The word Mandala is derived from the root manda, essence; and la, container. Thus, a mandala is a container of essence. As an image, it may denote both the mind and the body of the Buddha. The origin of the mandala is the center, the bindu, a dot—a symbol free of dimensions. Bindu also means seed, sperm or drop—the salient starting point. It is the congregation center into which outside energies are drawn, and in the act of drawing in the forces, the devotee’s own energies unfold. In the process, the mandala is sanctified to a deity.

Monks carefully construing a mandala, mystical diagram, with colored sand

Monks carefully construing a mandala, mystical diagram, with colored sand. As is apparent, the making of a mandala is a mind-numbing process, requiring great concentration and attention to every intricate detail of color, line and form. Once the ritualistic purpose is over, the sand is swept away—one more teaching in the impermanence of things. For desire meditate on impurity, for hatred kindness, and for ignorance interdependent arising.

In its creation, a line materializes out of a dot. Other lines are drawn until they intersect, creating triangular geometrical patterns. The circle drawn around stands for the dynamic consciousness of the initiated. The outlying square symbolizes the physical world bound in four directions, and characterized by the four gates; and the central area is the deity. Appearance does not bind, attachment binds. The center being visualized as the essence, and the circumference, as clasping, a mandala thus connotes a grasping of the essence.

Mandala— The Essence of One’s Own Buddha Nature

A Buddha figure in a Tibetan temple, with a mandala on the roof overhead. The figure of the Buddha can be seen in the center of the mandala, which might be supposed to exemplify the being of the Buddha and his nirvana. Examination of such a mandala would be intended to help the practitioner grasp the essence of his own Buddha nature by following the diagram of spiritual experience laid out in the mandala.

Monks in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are required to learn how to construct mandalas

All monks in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are required to learn how to construct mandalas. They have to memories texts that specify names, lengths and positions of the primary lines outlining the basic structure of mandalas, as well as the techniques of drawing and pouring sand. By this unfavorable conditions are pacified. These texts, though, do not describe every detail of each mandala, but rather serve as mnemonic guides to the complete forms that must be learned from the repeated practice of construction under the guidance of proficient monks. However, most of us seldom recognize the karmic or ritualistic nature of our actions. Knowing only verbally, such people never accomplish anything very beneficial.

Carl Jung’s Mandala and Its Relationship to Art Psychotherapy

Carl Jung's Mandala And Its Relationship To Art Psychotherapy The Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung asserted that the mandala, or, more generally, a circular art form, had a comforting and centering effect upon its maker or observer. He wrote in 1973,

The pictures differ widely, according to the stage of the therapeutic process; but certain important stages correspond to definite motifs. Without going into therapeutic details, I would only like to say that a rearranging of the personality is involved. A kind of new centering. That is why mandalas most appear in connection with chaotic, psychic states of disorientation or panic. Then they have the purpose of reducing the confusion to order, though this is never the conscious intention of the patients. At all events, they express order, balance, and wholeness. Patients themselves often emphasize the beneticial or soothing effect of such pictures.

Jung applied the mandala in his own personal therapy too and thought it to be a visible statement of his psychic state at the moment it was created. As Jung considered the course of producing a mandala to be healing, he would also often construe symbolism appearing within the mandala. He used such descriptions as a bridge from the unconscious to the conscious. He stimulated his patients at the appropriate time in their therapy to learn to decode their own symbols, and thus used the mandala as a channel from dependency on himself, the therapist, to greater autonomy for the patient. Art psychotherapists these days often make use of the mandala as an essential instrument for self-awareness, conflict resolution, and as a foundation for various other art psychotherapeutic techniques in a variety of situations.

Art therapist Joan Kellogg describes the mandala as a still picture taken out of context from a moving picture of the life process of the person. She expounded the process of making a mandala:

Because of the intense focusing when working with the mandala, an altered state of consciousness, an almost hypnotic state may ensue. The mandala then works itself differently than one’s conscious desires. In a sort of biofeedback manner, one gives reign to that part of one’s self that is able to express the contents of consciousness. Then, on reflecting on the finished product, one participates critically.

Cognitively-oriented psychoanalysts occasionally shrink back from Jungian theory asserting that it is too complicated and difficult to understand and accordingly better left to the artistic and religious. Jung every so often has not gained the admiration he warrants among the more scientific schools of thought. The predicament of art psychotherapy has been to some extent similar to that of Jungian theory by reason of the limited amount of scientific research currently existing in such a moderately new field.

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Ever Heard of Professional Mourners and Weepers: “Rudaali” Culture of Moirologists in Rajasthan

Professional Mourners - Rudaali from Rajasthan

Inequalities and Diversities Define Indian Society

Moirologists in Rajasthan, India Caste-like classifications exist in many cultures, although without the fine grades of taxonomy observed in India. India, the land of numerous customs and precepts defined along the lines of gender, religion, caste, class, ethnicity and language, sequentially brings about a relation of disparity through them. These distorted relationships collectively shape the identity of every person, through his or her associations with others and the social atmosphere. Individuality interplays with the gender of the individuals (masculine or feminine), declaring the dogma functioning in the societal milieu. A mainstream Hindu group who were against any change in traditions.

In a socially segregated society, the rank and the status enjoyed by women mirror the social order. Indian culture is a ‘caste society.’ Caste, a qualified status, is a rigid system of imbalanced associations specified by birth, endogamy and associations through ceremonial sacraments. Caste divides society along the lines of jati (a birth-status cluster), hierarchy (order and rank) and interdependence (division of labor linked to hierarchy). Indigenous groups are politicized religious communities that mark social and cultural variances between groups of people. These communities identify their caste status through division by birth, endogamy and interdependence through ritual services. Public policy in modern India showcases affirmative action systems intended to diminish inequality that stems from a centuries-old caste constitution and history of incongruent treatment by gender.

Feminism in India

The Indian society is divided up into groups that are hierarchically interrelated, with some rendered higher status than others. Classical texts talk about four castes—priests, warriors, merchants, and servants—but administration censuses and anthropological surveys have identified hundreds in South Asia. Membership in one of these groups is dependent upon birth.

'Rudaali' women are hired as professional mourners Dalits are a group of people conventionally regarded as untouchable within the Hindu caste pecking order. Contemporary India is witnessing an unparalleled rise and spread of the Dalit development.

According to a custom, in certain areas of Rajasthan, women are hired as professional mourners after the death of a male relative. These women are referred to as a ‘rudaali’ (roo-dah-lee), literally translated as a female weeper. What differ are the details that make the substance of human action and human conceptualization. The framework, within which concepts materialize and the contexts where they travel to, needs expression.

Class and Caste and Praxis: An analysis of the Rudaali Culture

An analysis of the Rudaali Culture Rudaalis in turn publicly express the grief of family members who are not permitted to display emotion due to social status. The ‘rudaalis’ make a scene crying out loud. The impact of their mourning also compels other people at the funeral to cry.

Always dressed in black, they have to sit and cry, crying out loud, beating the ground beating their chests screaming and crying. They are professional tear shedders. They get the details of the dead person, his or her near and dear ones.

Rudaali is one of those disreputable orthodox practices where bereavement was required expressions of unrestrained sentiments by rolling on ground along with songs in praise of the dead. Mostly, women who live in grave poverty and belong to the lower castes are forced to turn out to be Rudaalis.

The socio-cultural custom of hiring a rudaali throws light on the dialectical association between the upper caste and the lower caste in Rudaali. Hiring a rudaali is a status symbol and augments family pride. That the rudaali provides a funeral service in the face of upper caste women being incapable to declare their sorrow hits hard on the gender ideologies scheming obsequies among the caste. Caste defines the social status of women as pure or impure in the community.

Through the gendering of death rituals, women mourners or rudaalis verge as complicated modes of amusement for the upper classes. Rudaali throws light on the agonizing experiences of Shanichari, a widow whose life has been disturbed by hardships. Through heartrending vignettes, Lajmi deplores the appalling life of Shanichari who ultimately becomes a rudaali, giving vent to her sorrows. Meaningfully, while most feminists were disparaging of the state downgrading its commitment to the poor and vulnerable, there were conflicting views.

Kalpana Lajmi’s Movie Rudaali

Feminism endeavors to consider and solve the numerous gender-based problems. It interrogates the pre-conceived expectations about the roles that men and women should have in life. In literary text, feminism brings to scrutiny the representations of gender roles, which tend to enforce social norms, customs, conventions, laws and expectations on the grounds of gender bias.

Shanichari has always resisted the unfairness meted out to her. Toughened by the harsh realities, she can hardly shed a tear, let alone cry. Females are not required to be educated by the guideline which is adopted for men. Women have but one resource, home. The end and aim of her life is to nurture the domestic affections, to care for, to comfort, and exercise her little supervision over household economies. These insights of women’s liberation and autonomy are deeply ingrained in the Indian women’s circumstances within the socio-cultural and economic spaces and archetypes of the country.

These rituals thus uncover the cockeyed gender equations with the women of the lower caste and class consented to serve as rudaalis. On the other hand, aristocratic women, who are kept sheltered, cannot express their sorrow in public, inhibited by their social ranking. That women and not men are chosen to be mourners also exposes the gender inequalities operating within a casteist and class society. Lamentation is gendered and women become the role bearers.

Mourning as Allegory in Kalpana Lajmi’s Rudaali

Mourning as Allegory in Kalpana Lajmi's Movie Rudaali Kalpana Lajmi‘s movie Rudaali is an adaptation of Mahasweta Devi‘s short story, Rudaali. Published in English in 1997, Devi’s short story explains the plight of Sanichari, a woman whose suffering and personal loss informs her work as a professional mourner. Devi offers a emotional account of how this job allows Sanichari to gain a degree of independence and control over her life. Rudaali, the sorrowful tale of womenfolk fated to be funeral-goers, outlines the picture of a habit practiced by the aristocratic families of landlords and noble men, of hiring rudaalis (female mourners) to grieve over the death of their family members.

Rudaalis belonging to the lower castes and classes are convened on these circumstances, for the upper classes never openly convey their grief. Agency and autonomy are always endorsed within specific structures of constraints. The relevant point is that organizations thereby do get redefined. Dressed in black with frazzled hair, the rudaalis shed tears copiously, bemoaning over the dead by dancing sporadically and raucously admiring the deceased. Rudaali is a modern woman who fulfills her individual dreams instead of matrimonial contentment. Rudaali is a determined woman who is over-ridden by individuality and her own well-being. The movie is undeniably a subtle satire on the brutal practices that find expression within the diverse life cycle rituals, be it even the obsequies. These outmoded traditions are the offshoots of a dismembered society, where rituals are cultural power resources.

The custom of employing fake mourners, known as moirologists, begins from the Middle East and China. Professional mourning or paid mourning is a regularly historical occupation practiced in Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures, and many other parts of the world. Professional mourners, also called moirologists are remunerated to grieve or provide an eulogy.

Notes: Rudaali (1992) was directed by Kalpana Lajmi and produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India & Doordarshan, the Indian public service broadcaster. Rudali is based on a story by the Bengali fiction writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi. Dimple Kapadia, Raakhee, Raj Babbar, Amjad Khan star in Rudaali.

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Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Poster

Art Nouveau is an artistic style characterized by free form, sinuous line, and organic motifs.

The Salon de l’Art Nouveau, opened in 1895 by art dealer Siegfried (aka Samuel) Bing (1838–1905) in Paris, was the first showcase for the “new” art style sweeping both Europe and the United States from 1890 onward. Before Art Nouveau, the late nineteenth century had been characterized by a balancing act between the strict order and historicism of the Neoclassicists and the emotional and visual chaos of the Romantics.

Looking to the natural world but moving beyond it for free-flowing, organic form allowed the practitioners of the “new art” to create graceful works that built on traditional styles but also transformed them. Some critics trace the visual style back to Celtic manuscript illumination with its interlacing knot patterns, others to the Rococo love of the curvilinear and extreme elaboration. Precursors include the works of English Aesthetic movement illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (1862–98), Arts and Crafts designer William Morris (1834–96), and ukiyo-e Japanese printmakers, such as Katsushika Hokusai (c. 1760–1849).

In his book Pioneers of Modem Design (1936), Nikolaus Pevsner (1902–83) wrote, “… the curve undulating, flowing, and interplaying with others … .” He suggests that Art Nouveau was the transitional style to the modern era. It certainly incorporated many of the philosophical and societal trends of the period from 1890 to 1910. Whether it was a reflection of artists wanting to break free of societal norms or a quest for aesthetic purity removed from moral judgments, the explorations of Art Nouveau touched everything from graphic design to furniture and began the modern era, foreshadowing later modern trends such as abstraction and Surrealism.

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Southeast Asia: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

SOUTHEAST ASIA: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

No longer seen merely as an exotic counterpart to the Occident, South-East Asia has developed an identity all its own over the past few years. You will find very little homogeneity in ASEAN, with every country priding itself on a distant identity concerning culture, religion, cuisine, and traditions.

This vast region is an overwhelming mix of landscapes, from verdant, rolling hills, and isolated islands with white-sand beaches to thick forests and intriguing caves. You can enjoy a range of diverse experiences, and no matter what type of traveler you are, you will find that one special place that will have you returning repeatedly. There are beaches to bum about on, temples, and architectural marvels to visit, hills aplenty to hike, tea estates to unwind at and a whole lot of truly incredible foods to experiment with.

Because we know that you could spend your entire life trying to uncover all of South-East Asia’s treats and not make much headway, we have brought together a collection of the best, unique experiences on offer in the ASEAN countries.

Get off the highway and wander down little, hidden by-lanes where you will discover everything from forgotten tribes, to a mosque built of pure gold, and a swimming pool on top of the world.

Best Travel Ideas for Southeast Asia

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History and Architecture of the Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

Achyutaraya (1530–42 A.D.) temple complex is an imposing and magnificent cluster of temples in Hampi. However, it is called Achyutaraya Temple, an inscription of 1534 A.D. refers to this as Tiruvengalanatha or Venkatesha temple, and King Achyutaraya built it in 1539 A.D.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, pradakshinapatha, sabhamandapa, mahasabhamandapa, kalyanamandapa, Devi shrine etc. All these are enclosed in two prakaras one within the other.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The outer prakara has main gates at northern and western directions, whereas the inner prakara has the gateways at north, east, and west. All these gateways had gopuras, which are in ruined condition now.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The square garbhagriha, which originally had an image of Lord Venkatesha, is now empty. Its doorway is ornamented and has Vaishnava dvarapalas and Gajalakshmi at the lintel. Above the garbhagriha is a Dravida type sikhara. The square sabhamandapa has four pillars in the middle set on an elevated floor in the centre.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The mahasabhamandapa stands on thirty pillars set in five rows. The pillars exhibit typical Vijayanagara features. To the south-west is the Devi shrine and its garbhagriha is empty now. Its sabhamandapa has a sculpture, which has been identified as that of King Achyutaraya, the builder of this temple.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The sculptures of this temple exhibit good workmanship. The bass-reliefs of combination of bull and elephant arrest our attention. The pillars in general are neatly executed with elegantly carved sculptures of gods and goddesses.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

To the west is a large and rectangular kalyanamandapa or marriage pavilion. It has over one hundred pillars with sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, and Vishnu etc.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

In front of this complex are low-pillared mandapas, which had bazaars, or markets where merchants used to stock in heaps pearls and other precious stones and sell them. Many foreign travelers have graphically described this pearl bazaar the type of which never existed anywhere in the world except Hampi. That was the glory of Vijayanagara.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

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Herodotus and The Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth, From mural at Manta Castle near Saluzzo, Italy

Herodotus introduced the concept of a mythological water source with the power of granting eternal youth

The Fountain of Youth is a mythical spring that is supposed to have the power of prolonging or restoring the youth of those who drink from or bathe in it.

Myths of such a fountain are to be found in various cultures, particularly throughout the Middle East. The first recorded mention of it is from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484-435 BCE), who recounted a claim that there was such a fountain in Ethiopia. In the Middle Ages, stories about the Fountain of Youth circulated in the Islamic world and then spread to such European works as The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (c. 1356).

The Fountain of Youth, 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish historian Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, who wrote early accounts of the European exploration of the New World, reported a native story of a miraculous fountain on an island in the Gulf of Honduras, an inlet of the Caribbean Sea. While the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon was indeed given a charter to discover and settle a legendary island (Beniny or Beimeni), the popular idea that he sought the Fountain of Youth there seems to have been invented by the sixteenth-century historian Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, who maliciously added that Ponce de Leon hoped to cure his impotence.

However, the story about his search for the Fountain persists as a historical myth. Marcel Proust said in [[Remembrance of Things Past|Proust[Remembrance of Things Past, “The only bath in the Fountain of Youth would be … to possess other eyes.”

Few people take the story of the Fountain of Youth seriously today, but it remains a popular theme in literature and the arts (such as Darren Aronofsky’s film The Fountain, 2006).

It is also inevitable as a metaphor in discussing the modern concerns of prolonging lifespan and reducing the effects of aging.

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