The phrase ad astra, Latin for "to the stars", has several sources, but I know it from Seneca the Younger's per aspera ad astra (through difficulties to the stars), which pretty much sums up the hopes behind almost any creative endeavor--or any one I've ever taken up, anyway.
Manfred has written the first ever review of my first ever movie, and I am over the moon, so heading in the right direction, anyway. It's such a pleasure to have someone notice details you've labored over--and to catch references too. Thank you, fellow blogger!
Speaking of references, The Finnish Friend alerts me (thank you, F.F.!) to the reference source of the photo of Aino I posted a few posts back: the painting, below, right, "Ad Astra" (1907), by Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela.
He painted the young woman in a Christ-like pose--in a different version, even with stigmata on her hands--but many people interpret her as Aino. She is the young woman in the Finnish epic Kalevala, who escapes a repulsive suitor by turning into a fish (and later resumes her human form).
These stories all look alike: fish live in water, like souls live in spirit.
But, really, I'd say this is all about the hair.
The Kalevala was Gallen-Kallela's main source of inspiration, and he illustrated some of it (died before completion)---here's a page in progress, left, with a wonderful swirl of the universe in it.
"Art and religion are very close to each other. I feel that there has been some kind of higher idea, a mystery, that has resided in the souls of men…. for which only art could give form.”
(Which is related to what I touched on in "The Making of Orestes and the Fly, when I said "art saves us.")
All that aside, I don't actually care for G-K's paintings, or for the pre-Raphaelites' Arthurian paintings, or the work of other romantic nationalists.
I admire their gorgeous, rich colors; but I find them disturbing. I think because they are not the myths of my age; I suspect they no longer read the way the artists intended in their time and place.
There's no rewind button on history, eh? and I just can't look at them and set aside my knowledge of What Comes Next. Out of the hero myth and ideals of glorious battle comes the slaughter of World War I--or, the war that shaped my childhood, Vietnam--and there was no "ad astra" out of those hardships. But then, war is not a creative endeavor.
The 19th century's intensely beautiful portraits of romantic tragic heroes bring to my 21st century mind--or to my guts, rather--a different Latin tag: Horace's Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (How sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country), which Wilfred Owen calls "the old lie" in his famous World War I poem "Dulce et Decorum Est".
Visual art reflects the myths of its time. Was anybody in Europe painting this kind of romantic-hero by the mid-20th century? (Under Stalin's orders, maybe? morphed into "The Heroic Tractor Driver".)
What I like best is G-K's abstract designs. This one, called "Flame". right, is a pattern for a rug G-K produced in 1899.
These are some of the roots of Scandinavian Modernism, which I'm supposed to be writing about this morning, at a 7th-grade level.
I found this image on a blog full of images of *wonderful* stuff, the sort you want to eat all up: The Textile Blog.
The blogger, John Hopper, writes:
"I try to approach textiles by seeing it in a broad culturally diverse manner, including contemporary and historical articles from across the globe."