Paulus Torchus

Month: March, 2013

The Ancient Greeks: Reflections on a Course-week 2

Image

This week’s classes covered the Archaic Age which is roughly 800-500 BCE. A great deal of the material dealt with the formation of a uniquely Greek cultural identity. Of course there was the first Olympic games in 776 BCE and Homer, as was mentioned last week, was a major unifying element.

I have found the readings assigned with the course to be illuminating and enjoyable. One of this week’s readings was a thought-provoking excerpt from Aristotle’s Politics. Politics, of course, in this context deals with the Polis which was the City-State, a place of internal unity independent from other communities. The polis is also includes the lands surrounding the urban center. The citizens of the Polis comprise the Politeia. Citizens enjoyed equality, which was sort of a new concept in the ancient world. Aristotle says that this is the highest form of living for a human. The citizens, it should be noted, are only the native born, free, adult males. We’ll see as we move along that the culture is a distinctly misogynistic one, among other things.

As the culture evolves, we see synoecism, which is a unification of villages into a single polis. Aristotle’s famous statement that “man is a political animal” expresses our inherent purpose of contributing. It means that the polis is our natural habitat. He states that people within the polis are human and those who live outside of the polis are either subhuman or gods (decidedly not to be taken that it is godlike to live at odds with society).

Athens is the best documented polis. As these city-states established themselves, mythologies would begin to form around them, often focused on a great leader who established the polis. Athens had the mythical king Theseus, who famously slayed the minotaur. When he returns to Athens from Crete, he is greeted by Athena who gives him the idea to bring villages together into one community. He sets up a temple to Athena in which all can come and worship. He sets up games. He welcomes in foreigners. He names it Athens, the city of Athena.

The polis diffuses over time as the world shifts into a landscape of empires. They immigrate for resources, like iron which they trade vigorously with Italy. This is just one of many signs of Greek culture spreading through the Mediterranean.

Another important cultural element that emerged in this time was the Delphic Oracle. Delphi was located at Mount Parnassus. The myth was that Apollo killed a snake who lived there while looking for a place for a shrine. Delphi became a Pan-Hellenic shrine which belonged to all Greeks. It was a site of pilgrimage in which the Greeks could go through purification rituals and have prophetic words spoken over them. With this gathering of Greeks, it also became an informal hub of information gathering, a place to get news of points elsewhere.

We have a relic from this period that reveals another advance:

Image

This is Nestor’s Cup, so called for the inscription: “I am Nestor’s Cup. Whoever drinks from me will have pleasure.” You will recall from last week that literacy had fallen into disrepair. In this period, we see the arrival of a 24 character alphabet. Some say that this may have come to be in order to write down the works of Homer. Some say that it came to be to record poetry and law.

Law was an important element of Greek culture in this period. I especially enjoyed reading about Solon and some of his works. Solon traveled widely and saw many types of civic organization. The Law-Giver was a position in a community in which the Law-Giver wrote a code for the community. The laws, it is important to note, were not about improving the behavior or morality of the citizens. It was the composition of simple, pragmatic laws to deal with specific problems (an ox falls in the ditch of a neighbor’s field and what-not). These were not places for enlightened thinking to guide the community.

In typical Greek fashion, myth arose about the Law-Givers which would include a crisis that demanded a code, the composition of the code, a challenge to the code (often the Law-Giver winding up in a position where he is compelled to break his own code and the consequences of that), and the death or departure of the Law-Giver (in order to get rid of the only force which could change the code). This replaced clan-based justice with a form of justice that would apply to all citizens.

Image

Behold the Code of Gortyn, the oldest known code. As a point of interest, it was written in “ox-turns” which is to say that if you were to read it, you would find that the characters spiral inward in concentric squares, much like an ox plowing a field.

People banded together to preserve and defend the polis. The Hoplite Warrior looked like this:

ImageThey would meet to battle, presumably over land. I should say that the “They” in this case is farmers who armed themselves to defend their land. They would march in line like that with their shields snug up to one another and sort of smack up against the other side’s line of soldiers. This close formation would maximize their defense while spearing the other blokes from behind their shields. If there was a break in the line, you would likely lose. There were no great individual heroes in Hoplite. When they met on the battlefield, this is not a joke, it was called “The Shoving.” While it may seem primitive, it may be worth pointing out that civilians were not killed. There was no wholesale slaughter of women and children, no destruction of entire cities. Now who seems primitive?!!?

Our professor seems to save some of the most compelling material for the end of the week. This week we end with the Lyric Poets. This is an important shift in literature because we find the first person voice for the first time (in Greece anyway. It was interesting to me to notice that this is roughly the same time in which Tobit was written in a very different part of the world). The lyric poets would, as the name might suggest, accompany their verse with music. We also have, for the first time, female voices.

In my opinion, the finest poet we read this week was Sappho of Lesbos.

ImageThere was a bit of drama in the discussion forums as the link provided in the syllabus for poems by Sappho proved to be broken. It is, however, simple to find other places to read her poetry. They may not be the material that the professor had specifically in mind, but they show her work just as well.

We also covered Archilochus (whose poems were about the life of a freelance warrior and whose verses contradicted some Homeric values. One example is a poem in which he loses a shield in battle but doesn’t care because he got away. In another he talks about his disdain for the tall, handsome captain and says that he prefers to fight with a short, scrappy, ugly man), Theognis (with the recurring theme of anxiety and anger, which we see as a common motif in this agrarian battle culture), and Alcaeus (pronouced “I’ll see us.” Wrote about socializing with wine, fear in battle, and was the first to use the “ship of state” metaphor).

We closed with Hesiod who wrote this wonderful creation myth epic. Out of Chaos comes Gaia (the Earth) and Ouranos (the sky). They procreate and Ouranos keeps pushing the progeny back into the Earth, symbolizing the recurring theme of generational conflict to come in this work and, indeed, in the culture at large. Kronos, at his mother’s bidding, castrates Ouranos when he comes to lay with her and throws the severed genitalia into the sea. The sea begins to bubble and foam, and out emerges Aphrodite. There is the grittier origin of this lovely image:

ImageThese are the sort of wildly entertaining, extraordinarily earthy, and deeply Freudian myths that I loved so much as a child. It’s not surprising to me that the Greeks have inspired, and continue to inspire, so much great art through the subsequent history of humankind. It does surprise me however that parents have not caught on to what every young Classicist knows: the classics are randier, darker, and more risqué than anything in the contemporary YA section of the bookstore.

And what fun they are too!

It gets worse. Kronos has children and devours them. Here’s that bleak image from Goya:

ImageZeus escapes his cannibalistic creator and kills Kronos. Later, Zeus is tricked by Prometheus when Prometheus offers Zeus either a pile of good meat covered up by flesh and unpleasant bits or bones covered with fat. Zeus takes the bones and is furious at the deception. He chains Prometheus on a mountaintop where his regenerating liver is eaten by birds each day. To punish mankind for receiving fire from Prometheus, he gives us women (remember that highly misogynistic element) in the form of Pandora. Pandora releases all sorts of evil into the world.

The story has explanations for why we have fire, why we sacrifice, why we have women, and why we have evil.

It was a very full week as I suppose this next one will be as well. Next we look at Athens and Sparta.

Number 36

My mother has asked for my birthday present wish list for this year. My birthday is on April 20th (yes, I am aware of the myriad of grim anniversaries in the history of humankind that fall on that day. Thank you so much for pointing that out yet again).

First and foremost is this book:

ImageIt’s a book of architectural sketches of the Vatican. I am told that the book in and of itself is a work of art. Letarouilly also did one of the Renaissance architecture of Rome. Ever since I heard about these books, I drool like Pavlov’s dogs whenever I think of them.

I am also just about due for new glasses. This will require a new prescription, but I am currently in a gilded age of having vision insurance. I am especially interested in the offerings from this company. And I’ll just throw out there that they also offer this.

I am also due for some black dress shoes. I really need a pair for versatility. I have brown dress shoes and extremely dress (tux level) shiny black dress shoes. I need a pair for daily wear. Unfortunately, good shoes always remind me of this bit from Terry Pratchett:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

So it goes. Doc Marten made my brown dress shoes and they are fairly reasonable for a shoe that will last a few years. They used to only do European sizes, but I see that my brown shoes list all of them. 11 in US L. 10 in US M. 9 in UK. 43 in EU.

I also want champagne and chocolate. But that’s a constant.

Also, my watch broke and I love it so much that I either want it fixed or want a new one.

So, there are a few ideas.

The Ancient Greeks: Reflections on a Course-week 1

Image

There is an online resource called Coursera in which, if I understand it correctly, one can take university level courses for free. I say “if I understand it correctly” because this is limited to my knowledge and experience. I have no idea if they are all free. I am taking a free course from Wesleyan University on The Ancient Greeks taught by Professor Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. Needless to say, were it not for this technology, I would never be able to do this and I am delighted to have the opportunity.

I assume this has come to be as a way for universities to explore the changing face of technology, as a means to explore the potential of higher education as technologies snowball. What I am finding is fascinating on a number of levels and I wanted to blog my way through the course so as to preserve some of what I’ve gleaned. So often I have found that writing about what I’ve learned helps me to retain what I’ve learned.

First of all, the level of engagement of the students is remarkable. My email inbox is flooded with updates from various forums relating to the class. I think the last time I heard, enrollment in this class is hovering around 30,000 people worldwide. Imagine the size of the classroom! And there are people of all ages and from all walks engaging in the course. The professor drops in on occasion to answer specific questions in great detail (also a luxury that is increasingly rare in college courses). In essence, you can dig as deep as you like in this soil. And the quality of the lectures are excellent. I have learned a great deal about the most ancient of Ancient Greece in this past week.

Our first week covered Prehistory to Homer. We begin with simple logistics, the quality of the soil and terrain, the primary Mediterranean produce/diet (olives, grapes, and grain), the importance of the sea, and so forth. Professor Szegedy-Maszak gives a quick flyover of archeology to explain how we learn about many ancient civilizations (especially those before an abundance of preserved texts) through durable goods like pots and knives. We are left to interpret the narrative. I liked how he preserves our sense of shifting understandings throughout the course by bringing in once-accepted now-debunked theories. He says, “The Classics are like the sky, always the same, but always changing.”

The Peer Polity Model is the form of the early days, what is known as the Minoan Era. That is to say no central government, small areas with communities structured along similar lines, but which were competitive and rivalrous. Due to proximity, they shared many symbols and entertainment and exchanged goods. In those early days they had redistributive economies in which the people would bring the resources to the ruling classes to have them redistribute them in exchange for their favor or protection.

Sir Arthur Evans excavated Knossos, which was a great Bronze Age civilization.

knossos

He associated it with King Minos, the first Greek king to establish a navy, also he who confined the minotaur to the labyrinth (note the complexity of the layout). Evans reconstructed the place. In their decorative motifs, we see a great deal of sailing. The bull is also a recurring image. Here is the famous “bull-leaper” fresco:

Knossos_frise_taureau

You might be thinking “My goodness, that is remarkably well preserved.” Actually, a great deal of “restoration” went on with Evans. Of the three ladies fresco at the top of this post, my role model, Evelyn Waugh said, “They would be at home on the cover of Vogue magazine.”

Linear A and Linear B are early forms of written Greek, predating the Greek alphabet by centuries. These are preserved in clay tablets of storehouse records which were “baked” in a great fire (not intentionally. I mean that a fire broke out and baked the tablets) and thereby preserved them for our time.

Knossos is contrasted with Mycenae, excavated by Heinrich Schliemann who seems to have been less reliable of an archeologist. He had earlier discovered what he called “Troy.” Mycenae was built on a hill:

Mycenae_aerial view

which made it easy to defend (perhaps not coincidentally, their artwork is notably more violent and hawkish). Some say that Schliemann faked the famous gold mask of Agamemnon:

agam

by having it made to include in the excavation as a showpiece. We don’t know, but Professor Szegedy-Maszak does state that Schliemann’s reputation is, in some circles, anywhere “from sketchy to nefarious.” But there are truly wonderful discoveries here, including the Tholos tomb, which was a massive tomb in the side of a hill with a domed interior which would be uncovered and recovered for each interment. There was a sudden and massive collapse of this culture around 1200 to 1150 BCE with signs of burning, pillaging, destruction, and the dispersion of citizens. The professor states that when less developed people invade a more developed people, they don’t tend to leave much in the way of evidence aside from destruction (meaning, they don’t leave cultural artifacts or calling cards).

This occasions a Dark Age. The agricultural terraces erode, the population drops (which we see in the dramatic increase in tombstones), trade networks collapse, as does literacy and architecture. However, in this time, oral storytelling gains a strong foothold. More on that in a moment. But we also see a shift from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. At the end of the Dark Age lecture, Professor Szegedy-Maszak tells us about an amazing, massive tomb discovered in 1981 which was 150 feet long, 40 feet wide, and contained the body of a woman, the body of a man, and the bodies of four horses.

Returning to the oral storytelling tradition, the final two lectures focused on Homer. Homer was the key figure in Greek poetry. He wrote in dactylic hexameter. At one point, the professor reads a section of The Iliad in its original Greek. What a beautiful language! What a loss to civilization that the classical languages are no longer ubiquitous in education! I am resolved, after I finish the Harvard Classics, to learn Greek. Laurie is learning it right now. I am learning Latin. I want to spend the rest of my life learning these two languages.

Ancient Greek heroes are not like our concept of “heroic.” Hero was more of a role, given through heredity, height and looks, as well as proving one’s self.

These latter two lectures introduce some terms. One that struck me was “aristeia” which is a state of being at one’s best, as in the moment in battle when a warrior is unstoppable. There is such an active meditative feel to this concept that I really loved. Another of my favorite key terms in this section was “xenia” which is a ritualistic hospitality. Both of these struck me as having a rather Eastern feel to them.

I always forget how much I love Achilles as well. In The Iliad and his appearance in The Odyssey, his worldview adds a dash of existentialism.

The Odyssey, vastly different in tone, is thought by many to be a later piece. I’ve written about The Odyssey in recent memory, so I’ll be brief in closing this week’s class notes.

The professor closes with the observation that the lives of the gods are less serious in these pieces than the lives of humans. They really only differ from humans in one way. They don’t die.

So there are some points from this week’s classes that I should like to remember. I think writing about the class like this each weekend for the next seven weeks will be good for me. Hopefully someone out there might gain something from this as well. At the very least, let me encourage anyone reading this to continue their education indefinitely. There are great riches out there for the taking!

More soon.

Let’s All Write a Collaboration!

Kevin MacDougall is a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been a dear friend of mine for many years and it was a great joy to collaborate with him on a poem.

Our poetic form for this week is Collaboration. Put simply, this is a form when more than one poet co-labors on a piece. This can take many forms. You can each write a line, you can rewrite other people’s poems, intersperse your own lines into their work. You can do it through the mail, email, in person, or even ravage the work of defenseless dead poets. Ron Padgett writes,

“A poet who in this century helped write a linked poem in the tradition of the Japanese renga said that poets are like trees, all united by their roots in the earth and their branches in the sky, and that there is a moment when the poetry of all people is alike, and that there is one voice which always says the same thing.”

I highly recommend collaborating. It shakes you out of your grooves and, I have found, often flows so much easier than when you roll the rock up the hill by yourself. 

Kevin and I decided to do a simply rhymed couplet back and forth. This is what we came up with:

On Fear

By Kevin MacDougall and Paul Mathers

Every single day my thermometer tells me I’m a hypochondriac,

and I think that mole’s grown darker down around my sacroiliac.

The streams of malevolent media have me convinced I should be wary

Of interfering with the weights and burdens of each piece of propaganda I carry.

A moment of serenity is a thing I cannot dare.

Without that virtue of panic, people might think I don’t care.

And care I must, it seems, for being careful I have idolized –

While consumed by care, I stand to lose the “me” the care has paralyzed.

For rage regarding impotence and discomposure above,

That’s what good little customers are made of.

Let’s All Write a Cinquain!

The Cinquain is, as the name might suggest, a poem of five-line stanzas or a poem in five lines. We are focusing on the latter. The syllabic pattern is, respectively, two, four, six, eight, and two syllables. That’s all there is to it.

Adelaide Crapsey was an American poet who wrote quite a bit in this style around the end of her short life. She wrote elegant little poetic snapshots in the form. Here is an example of her work:

They seem simple and, to some extent, they are. But to write them well one needs the poet’s editorial eye, the concision that befits the masterful writer. Also, as for content, Padgett suggests that the best ones tend more towards the listing of nouns rather than abstractions. The zen-like feel compliments the austere form. I am inclined to agree although, upon writing two of my own, I found that I did one of each:

I put

my hand on closed

bedroom door as my dog

stood on bed barking, shut eyes, vibrates

my palm

Once I

had joie de vivre.

They said life would kill that.

It did. And all that’s left is hate

for them.

Edmund Burke on Taste, the Sublime and the Beautiful

ImageThis volume commences with an essay on Taste by Mr. Burke in which he argues that taste is not only objective, but something that one can cultivate. Burke presents an argument against looking at taste as subjective (“Well, if you don’t like it, it’s merely a matter of taste.”) Burke thinks that this is wrong. I do too. Burke thinks that good taste is an actual quantifiable thing. I do too.

His prescription is to cultivate judgment and sensibility. I think this follows. Low sensibility and poor judgment lead to bad taste. Burke turns it into a formula:

better judgment + better sensibility = better taste

I am usually suspicious of agreeing so completely with an author. Maybe it’s my modern cynicism, but I like to find objections even to the ideas that I like. I feel that this strengthens me. And, sitting on the park bench where I was reading, I thought of the embodiment of the argument: The Anti-Burke:

ImageJohn Waters has made a career out of bad taste. His films elevate the vulgar to an art. They tend to have a sense of abandon and delight. Waters seems to delight in the Libertine and transgressive  just as Burke delights in Order. It’s the age-old Dionysian versus Apollonian argument. One way of interpreting the history of humankind is the attractiveness of one when living deeply in the other. I know that, for me, a Burkean world seems like Utopia, as I now live in a town that has turned into a John Waters film. I am getting a little ahead of myself. We shall discuss this element of Burke in greater depth in the next piece, his reflections on the French Revolution.

My personal take is that Waters is expressing the impossibility of good taste in our time and culture, holding, as it were, a mirror up to the audience reflecting it in the least flattering light. It’s sort of an argument that Seth McFarland hosting the Oscars became an inevitability the moment that television decided to follow the dictates of advertisers rather than seeking the general amelioration of the general public. I think in the Waters universe, to cultivate taste in Burke’s sense would require isolationism.

And I’m all for that.

On the Sublime and Beautiful is a much longer piece. It deals with the two topics that the title would suggest, again, giving a near formula for them. I had my first moment of uncertainty with his arguments when he sets up the dichotomy that some believe that pain is the absence of pleasure and vice versa. Burke believes that pain and pleasure are strictly positively acting forces. I’m not so sure the truth doesn’t lie in a mixture of the two points of view, as the relief of pain can, in my experience, be quite pleasurable. But, as he bases the whole rest of the work on this foundation, I am willing to allow the argument for the purposes of moving forward.

One way in which this book has changed my life is that it has made me aware of my gross misuse of the word “sublime.” I had, in the past, employed it as a sort of synonym for “superb” or “exquisite.” This is not the case. Two Years Before The Mast is not sublime. It’s excellent. There are passages in that book about the Sublime: namely the description of an iceberg and the musings on a man falling overboard and disappearing forever into the sea. Burke places the Sublime as closer to the Awesome, the Dread, and the Terrible in the original senses of those words (not in the modern colloquial sense of “awesome.” One is not reduced to catatonia in light of the realization of their own insignificance upon eating a nominally above average hot dog). He gives examples: massive things, things that terrify, things of great power, danger, et al. In the section on the beautiful he does likewise.

I told Laurie upon finishing it that I could envision using this text (including the Taste essay) in an art class, a theology class, or a writing class. The first two were of particular interest to me. The marriage between religion and art in our time… well, it seems like they’re having a bit of a messy separation in which they are both custodial parents of the children, a situation which inspires very ill behavior in the children. I feel that the blame solely falls on religion. The weakness of our whorish religion has failed to inspire anything but the most mediocre of art in my lifetime at the very least. If you look to the past, this was not the case. Prescription: The Sublime and the Beautiful.

The saccharine, pedestrian, and repetitive nature of the arts that come from contemporary Western Christianity is a reflection of the shallowness of the current state of the Church. Burke holds the solution, but, as with any behavioral change, it will take resolution.

To speak more generally, I would recommend these pieces to anyone who desires to have a rich emotional life. Especially to anyone who desires to have a rich emotional experience with the arts and religion. Which I would recommend to everyone.

Come In And Know Me Better, Man!

I am noticing the great gaps between my blog posts as I go through a spell where I read a long book, haven’t the time to write much in the way of poetry, nor op-ed pieces, and I am searching for a specific visual element for my next video that I have thus far been unsuccessful in locating (I’ve come to the realization that a video without a visual element probably ought to be a written blog post instead). But I do not wish to be the infrequent blogger, so I thought I would do one of those question and answer posts. I found this one on someone else’s blog with no explanation. I assume that “favorite” is the intended question on each topic, or maybe “most recent interest.”

Off we go.

Movie— Of all time: The Third Man, Amadeus, Wings of Desire, The River, The Hudsucker Proxy, Beat the Devil, Metropolitan, Hobson’s Choice, Umberto D., Winter Light, La Belle et la Bête, Fitzcarraldo, Barry Lyndon, Night of the Hunter, Zelig, the Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White, and Red), Werckmeister Harmonies, and so many more. I am a rabid film lover. If you haven’t seen one of any of the films I just named, do so with all haste. You won’t be sorry. They are all wonderful.

Lately: We’ve been watching a lot of Chaplin.

TV Show— We only do television on DVDs and not much of that. I love Jeeves and Wooster. I love Project Runway.

Song— I will, as the wording, I think, suggests, confine myself to popular music. Lately I seem to be in a Velvet Underground-Leonard Cohen mood. Everybody Knows by the latter, and we’ll say After Hours by the former.

Animal— I dream about giant sea creatures often. Lately I’ve been noticing the birds in the area. I think they are watching me.

Color— Harvard Crimson, of course.

Word— Splendid.

Candy— the darkest of dark chocolate.

Thing to Do— I tend to gravitate towards reading, although I like the feeling of having produced something artistically. Reading and making art… and drinking tea.

Quote— “You gave me your mud and I have turned it to gold.” -Charles Baudelaire

Painting— Oh, that’s another hard one to pin down. Lately, I’ve been on a Pre-Raphaelite bender, so I’ll say St. Cecilia by Waterhouse:

Image

Holiday— Easter’s mighty nice. As is all of the stuff leading up to it. As is the Advent season.

Accent— Well, you probably already know this from my videos. I have a bit of a clipped, enunciating voice that defies region until the occasional word removes all doubt that I am from anywhere but the LA/OC area.

Number— Whatever time is cocktail hour.

Clothing— I like to dress nice. When people think of my fashion sense, they often think of ties.

Store— Book. Preferably used as I am more likely to find something I want in a used bookstore.

Season— Spring for looks, but Summer for respiratory health.

Book— Don Quixote and the Divine Comedy. Those are the two that if I were on a desert island… and the collected works of Shakespeare. Milton. Plato… You see how this goes. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

Actress— Audrey Hepburn. Tilda Swinton’s marvelous, isn’t she? I’d watch her in anything. Meryl Streep of course. Helen Mirren.

Actor— Orson Welles. Charles Laughton. Hugh Laurie.

Food— I’m quite fond of hummus. And sushi.

Cereal— Oatmeal. Daily.

Fruit— Mangoes. Or grapefruit if I can dump a bunch of sugar on it.

Band— I’ve been listening to a lot of sea shanties lately. The Flying Fish Sailors, The Poxy Boggards, Jim Hancock, that sort of thing.

Sound— The purr of my cat Agnes.

Smell— buttered popcorn, coffee, freshly mown lawn in Spring.

Person from history— Socrates

Artist— Again, I can’t decide of a favorite of all time, but lately I’ve been keen on Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jacques-Louis David.