Archive for September, 2012

Goya’s War on Neptune

Posted: September 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


Two Old Men Eating Soup

The last paintings on plaster of his house, Black Paintings in Single Format Wikipedia, transferred to canvas are too much for youth. They are his last and if they signify madness that is too early a presumption. Lesser travesties of destroyed form, a lower order not carried to completion so as not to celebrate death,  after much pondering are seen as depth, even if they are giant forms. To transfer the thought to Goya, who did these in his seventies, the age when you know what comes, those frescoes bloomed, whitened, darkened, cracked and spalled though the war with Neptune and all fight had in that moment been lost, except for the patron’s restoration (41).

Pilgrimage of San Isidro

I was reading in the early pages of Hughes when the eye misread a phrase as War on Neptune, completely as though it were written to see. Later I went back and could not find the spot.  What is a war on Neptune, against Neptune, with? Neptune it was that condemned Troy. Caligula is noted for his war against Neptune, rather a precursor of all the real wars turned faux by the perps. More than Caligula, nothing is suitable to contemplate with Goya’s Saturn and his Caprichos edition of plates, an edition burned by Ruskin and one seen in the Imaginary Prisons of Giambattista Piranesi. What is meant by Old Testament is a conflict  of forces of which human war is a lower order.

The Dog

Hear the words, but the mind, the mental fantasy disassociates provoked by the unremembered, the unthought, the unbelieved, what you hear in the ear from the housetops. The last paintings on plaster of his house transferred to canvas are too much for youth to take. They are of his last and if they signify madness that is too early a  presumption. After much pondering see in them depth, even if they are of giant forms.

Fantastic vision

So to transfer the thought to Goya, who did these in his seventies, the age when you know what comes, get Hughes out, knowing those frescoes bloomed, whitened, darkened, cracked and spalled, as though the war with Neptune and all fight had in that moment been lost, except for the patron’s restoration (41) when the words are rods and cones speak; maybe listen.

Goya confronts evil beyond light, dark and the dynamism of figures as Old Testament as the witch of Endor, the lusts of Midian, worship of Mammon-Saturn, the giants, book of Enoch, tortures and angels, phantasmagoria, delirium of sickness, old age, alienation. Goya is 72, lives in that farmhouse four years, then heads to France. He knows the supernatural contexts, the Roman emperor worship, the war between the states of dark and light, the architectural testimonies at the Capitol Mall, in the streets, the oldest conflict between the serpent and seed of the woman, the Bohemian Grove. He doesn’t paint Balaam, but Judith. Hughes reaches for de Sade to explain the dark, but it is darker than that.s not the war with Neptune the war of the Colosi (286)? War on Neptune is however nebulous. The atmosphere swims. one cannot see feet – he that is washed needs not save to wash his feet.  Is not the war with Neptune the war of the Colosi(286)? War on Neptune is however nebulous.


The atmosphere swims. one cannot see feet. Hands are ideas coming and going, to translate paint into words, but to no known purpose, as if one were to hear that it should all be banned as inappropriate nonsense, a message any writer wants to hear because it validates the kick to provoke piety from the unrighteous, to no high purpose, yet if piety is provoked that is not say without sensibility, which is of a high order even if they cannot hear.

Fight with Cudgels

Scientists cannot see that torturing a rabbit for the good of mankind is the same as making Jesus a king by force (Jn 6.15). There exists both an inappropriate analogy and a comparison which leads to the inherent disproportion of Goya’s hand in his portraits that makes the later figures so striking in their darkness, not just Saturn but the Pilgrimage of San Isidro. Hughes likens it  to a cobra slithering into the face of the paint, its eye a foreground guitarist, conte jondo, (18), an assault on all hearing, silence, ocher, umber, black in the background, not the insipid green trees, white clouds, blue sky formula of the Assault of Thieves and the portraits, even the repeated ritual positions of death, face down with scrabbling hands (124). These pastel unblemished faces like the Family of the Duke of Osuna are  insipid, but the disproportion of the long faces and noses (54, 119) prepares for the assault, the distortion war of Neptune such as in Frank Gehry’s buildings  idea wages in misconceit to house its opposite. Now that sounds like earth except earth has morals Neptune has rammed down nearly everywhere. War does not contain peace the way a villain’s smile contains goodness. Transparent it becomes either deceit or itself. Do not listen to the words.

Not old enough to fathom Goya’s Saturn nor his witches in Caprichos, his prisons, wars? None are. Shut the mouth of insight. What happened to Goya happened to Borges. Each had a transforming sickness (127) that produced this depth.  Goya was struck at about 46 with deafness that took the form of delirium  for several months. It changed the way he saw the world. Borges ran up a stair at age 38 and ran into a glass door.  The cuts became infected and he suffered a month with severe infection and fever, a mort. His mother read Out of the Silent Planetto him, which had just been published, 1939. The next thing he wrote was Pierre Menard and it was off to the spaces. They looked in the face of sickness, depravity, war.  Looks forced. A natural transforming artist in youth, before the face shall we say, is concerned he is not transformed.

Procession of the Holy Office

None of us know till after we were. Daily touches of the depraved, the wretched, misshapen, devastated,  know not in his mind what heart compassed. We need not pray to be touched.

The continual images in Goya of doubt, night, owls, dark shapes, cannibalism, pederasty, witchery, simony, truly a demonic Dante, are all in some sort the dementias of reason which cannot understand because it wants to deny what is going on right by its nose, so invents all those theories of philosophy to explain to itself what it cannot bear to see, the depravity of the world alleviated only by the compassion of those who serve with sponges and rags and bowls of water, none worse than los desastres de la guerra, those licensed depravities committed by “our heroes,” who we hide in graves.

Hughes in his infantude came to the US in 1970 from the Aussie fields, “riven” he says with certitude. He only wrote Goya after a near fatal auto accident 30 years later, where he hung between his own months and was tortured by Goya and his school with rejection, then, he wrote. That we understand. He says of ourselves that even now no voice has compassed the depravity of Little Boy, the bomb (7), or Auschwitz, but he is not Itaku. He wants the modern, irreverent attitude, skeptic against the official, the radical to deliver this insight, but turn from your wicked ways? See into the matrix blinding all around meaning our own blind deaf ways? No spark of impiety against unrighteousness, the 50 million dead babies all good democrats want to build their homes upon. No, this doesn’t go on. There is no more. Oh no. Not never Caprichos or Black Paintings.

To get more analytical, a triangulation in Goya, Pilgrimage of St Isidro c. 1821, what Hughes calls a cobra striking in the face of the paint, makes the isosceles of St. Isidro’s Meadow perfected in the serpentine, the sinuous motion of all progress, the pilgrims, not the black and white oppositions of Euclid, more the gradual turns of river of Chuang Tzu. Of compositional structures reduced to geometrical formula, “he loves the diagonal and constantly uses it as the basis of his groups and figures” (206). That and the dark masses of black, ocher,  umber bulked up against bodies and walls, both in the great paintings and Caprichos via aquatint, an assault against silence from the deaf (18) painter, or against words that cannot fathom?  In Equestrian Portrait of General Palafox, 1814, “the white part of the horse’s body forms a rough arc, tied together (as it were) at the top by the crimson loop and knot of Palafox’s sash…this major arc is echoes by a minor one above: the white fur trim of Palafox’s hat.” 278. Bottom line, Goya is a primitive, his portraits are sometimes near caricature. He can’t help it, the primitive always, sometimes escaped, but back home his Water Carrier, Knife Grinder, The Forge are of the same time as The Colossus (1810), “low-class, low-origin, lowbrow” 285, just the kind of people  we like, of the earth, without pretense. The Giant above and beyond in stature is of this origin which explains its appeal. Continue below next.

The War On Neptune @ Full of Crow here

II. The primitive shame is so much greater than Jackson Pollock carrying around in his trunk the dead body of woman he killed in an alcoholic frenzy with his car, you do not want to be an artist. Get a job. Hughes cites Terence of the cosuffering of Dickens, Tolstoy, “I think nothing human alien to me.” 26 It is like so many of Goya’s paintings scraped off walls, mounted, repainted, the Aula Dei, 50f, the Saturn…all parts of the not whole, like the Inquisition, prison scenes. Hughes has to cite Foxes Martyrs, 57, for nice water boarding, or the semi erect penis of Saturn that restorer Martin Cubells reshaped to public taste (17), while Saturn is following the rites of Presidents in their secret Bohemian grottoes, oh reshape that one. It’s not the penis but the man who offends, whose symbols abound, that’s why Blake was burned in his brazier to hide the equally offending black member of Milton. Not one word here about Dick Cheney, Clinton, Bush, Obama misshapen.The difference between the pornographers of England say and Goya is he is as believable in suffering as Blake’s torments, but not Gillray, Rowlandson, 128, or the renaissance and restoration porn writers celebrated by Charles C. Mish who I shared a table with in the Folger, but who dismissed the prose catalogs of the ornate Sterg O’Dell, who in any case did more for us than all the hirelings.
Truth they are more the torturers than the tortured, yet who is unscathed? Rather who is aware.Of the architectural functions of Goya’s church frescoes or his tauromachies, 130f, pass over to the effects of trauma, not Kubler-Ross’s five stages, hollow lies, she who became a medium, but of what, of silence, the mouth open in scream, paint dripping like blood or glaze melting down sides?Hughes says “any trauma makes you think of worse trauma: it sets the mind worrying and fantasizing about what else might be in store…what Goya had been through in his sudden illness was not a fantasy, but it was a mystery” 137.You hear Hughes speaking from experience, purify my heart. But if Hughes has been to the bed he has not been to barn where they keep the mad ‘gabbling opaquely like one of Swift’s Yahoos,” 139, no lessons there from the Zaragoza Madhouse, 1812, (140) the Interior of a Prison, Manicomio o Casa de locos. Neither comprehends what means  one quarter of Caprichos concerning witches, feeble talk of satire, infant mortality, disease, poor nutrition, “only one son Javier survived beyond childhood”, 153. Child snatchers, kidnappers, Elizabeth Smart. Goya can’t explain it either. The ad in Diario de Mardrid 1799 about foibles and follies of ignorance, satire 181  has no more understanding than I of my neighbor.After Hawthorne nothing can be understood, unless you posit all the government, ecclesiastical, social leadership are witches, hidden though, not bald like she with the gold pentagram on her door, never actually seen, moved finally by her father and mother in their 60’s, who sat finally on the grass and watched them load. This today passes as normal. The neighbors then came and cut her lawn. The roof was falling in. The previous owner was a religion prof who died in the middle of talking.The communal trash barrels are filled outside the gates in Revelations 18 and beyond, where such habitat is landscape. At each pickup the can and rag people scavange to find what they can from the barrels, but when the witch dismounted and the portents cleansed, there were three rag pickers dead unconscious around the barrel from the smell. There were black flies at 6 AM.I used another that day, one with clean trash. You probably think this symbolic but in fact, as much fact as a set of the 80 prints went for one ounce of gold, and 27 of 300 sets sold over four years. John Ruskin burned his Caprichos. Who can blame him: 52, Lo que puede un sastre, a giant, arms frighteningly raised in clerical cloth, women kneeling before, 79, Nadie nos ha vistofriars gorging “unleashed cannibal orality” 195. “The old men of the Church actually eat their flock.” Desolation donkey satire 37-42, which must be a parable of higher education, donkeys riding students, 42, Tu que no puedes, “the donkeys are the rich, whose burden the poor carry” says the Obama team. How many trips to Denver has he made anyway? Goya thought clergy were brujos, now it is politicos, dark seminarians. I guess you don’t read those sites. Linda maestra, 68. Pederasts, rapists, demons.III.Goya was buried in Bordeaux at the cemetery of the Chartreuse in 1828. He was reburied in Madrid in 1901, then in 1929 re-reburied under the floor of Santa Maria de la Florida, missing his skull, since found enshrined near Einstein’s. Not. The point is resurrection, the raising of the dead man in The Miracle of St. Anthony of Padua, 1798, 211, I mean in the landscape itself. These colors, the white, blues, browns are not the colors of death, so when I see them in the Black Paintings, the Fight with Cudgels, Procession of the Holy Office, Cabezas de paisaje, for example, they attract health, life, (and are all colors duplicated ceramically!) suggesting more than just images of death transpire, which with the overpainting of  The Dog looking up at the overpainted woman in a dress, and possibly a man’s head, reaching up an arm in Peregrinacion (only see in magnification), the subtext can be more than overpainting, which Goya did a lot of. Resurrection, reburying is a kind of overpainting, like in a way of his repetition of poses (275). There is more underpainting  in Pilgrimage of San Isidro, in “an open view of a river reflecting a three-span bridge… Saturn eating his son, there are traces of a dancing figure with one foot raised…funeral overtones at the beginning [of Leocadia Weiss as a widow leaning on a tomb] was simply a a woman leaning on a mantelpiece.” 375f.As court painter to three Spanish kings Goya brings the Bourbon empire into relief as a pop art endeavor, like celebrating presidents and hobnobbing with celebrities,  producing little of the passion we seek. Maybe the “murders, kidnappings, rapes, intrigues, adulteries, deceptions, cannibalism” 216 denoting lawlessness are escapes from having to do tapestries. Goya was lucky to live in such lawlessness and that it appealed to his macabre instincts, but that IS the essence of pop, like it or not. So the fall of the Bourbons is like a bandit poem, Bandit Stripping a Woman, Bandits Attack III, Cannibals Beholding, 220f, good TV but way more real in its prurience. Hughes offers Marat Sade, but knows nothing of the comprachioes. It is not possible for the top of society to comprehend the bottom, unless of course it is the bottom, a la Cathy O’Brien.  As Hughes says, “nobody had painted such scenes before” 223, not that it did anybody any good, they all thought it was them other guys not themselves. Cannibalism in the Caprichos, impaled bodies in Desastres, pop art at its finest. The Horror, the horror, Poe, Conrad, who you like? “Gentility, mercy, and a sense of justice toward others are, if not false masks or lies, then certainly the product of consideration: which is to say, artifice.’ 224 They for sure are to them as live in their hat, as Goya would know since the corrupt cabinet minister Godoy “became the most consistent and enthusiastic client Goya had in the first decade of the 19th century.” 240. See Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia, “Prince of the Peace,” 1801. That’s how you get money, but it is nothing beside The Dead Turkey, 258. Was Godoy what they said he was? He proposed the far future plans of Johann Pestalozzi in Madrid whose pupils,”when he paid them a visit, would chant in unison:” 232

Viva, viva, viva

Nuestro protector,

De la infancia padre,

De lat patria honor,

Y del instituto

Noble creador.

(“Viva, viva, viva, our protector, father of our childhood, honor of the country, and noble creator of our institute”) which with a few names change could have been chanted in Babylon, Rome and Washington D.C.

Napoleon fought Spain for  six years from 1808, producing Goya’s etchings Los desastres de la guerra, The Disasters of War, which together with his Inquisition Album are way over the line of perception, need independent study. See though Lux et tenebris, 1812 and Allegory of the Constitution of 1812. Goya is as prophetic as Blake against empire, but more bloody by far, Blake without the spiritual side of vision, but with the outrage of the blood. Not one of the Disasters of War were issued in Goya’s lifetime (273). The title page reads, Tristes presentimientos. These are all such astonishing and detailed things that come with calling Goya the last master. A little like Van Gogh’s extensive drawings they must impact his later painting, but are left behind for the broad stroke portrays the ruin massively not linearly, almost not figurative. I guess we want to escape them so bad we can say they’re not paintings and take flight that way. They are etchings, but just look at This Isn’t the Least, of Disasters 67 or even more Might She Revive (303). Hughes says the Disasters portray “a pessimism so vast and desolating that can fairly be called Shakespearean” 302, but really folks, Shakespeare in this can be called Goyaean, “the greatest anti-war manifesto in the history of art” 304. It should be taught in high school. That would do it, The Third of May, 1808 (1814), “he kneels before the firing squad, but not in a posture of submission. it is more like devotion” 314,  it is an act of charism, he is praising God as the bullets fly. Will they never fire as long as his hands are raised? Ask Moses. Hughes’ discussion of this is excellent, 314f.

The only difference between A Process of Flagellants 1814 and the later Black Paintings is the smaller brush strokes and detail, on a panel, the same with the Inquisition scene of 1816. These horrors with the Disasters of War, the thief scenes, the Caprichos Hughes happily calls “carceral torments” 339 (what a fine phrase), in this case “human consciousness beset by forces of chaos, secrecy, anonymity” 340, all would be taken for encouragements by those wars advertised but not yet come of apocalypse, human hybrids and robots. Hughes describes Goya at 72 in his Self-Portrait, 1815, “his forehead is like a cannonball,” 343. The last of these would be his Suenos or Dreams and Proverbios (Proverbs) of unbelievable power of this “grotesque and pathetic group…Goya talking about himself” 368.

In 1814 Ferando VII, Goya’s third king, sought to stamp out all liberal French sympathizers from the mind of the populacho. This ditty was sung:

Vivan las cadenas,

Viva la opresion;

Viva el rey Fernando,

Muera la Nacion!

(Long live our chains, long live oppression; long live King Fernando, death to the Nation!) Hughes 325f.

Observations. Goya did all the Disasters of War and never revealed a one. The confidence! “Seated maja and majo” 1824-5, carbon black and watercolor might be his coda. All the bats, owls, blackbirds flying at heads psych boys say are externalized fears, so why not all the impaled corpses, thieves and torturers. He visited the asylum at Bordeaux as at Zaragoza. Hughes thinks to find images, like a photographer, but a deeper motive of human suffering impells so that his images are real, Hughes has never been, of course now they do not exist, county homes, being destroyed, medicated, what you see here is what he saw there, Fuego, Old man on a swing, too cute to say himself. Living in the Quinta del sordo among the 14 paintings is like Van Gogh laid out in his house among his paints hung all over the walls. Goya’s mistress was 30 when he was 70 and 80. The sambenito each  prisoner wears, the blessed bag, is a reverse chasuble painted with their supposed heresies with red flames for their burning. Later each sambenito was displayed on the wall. This. Goya was accused of being a Judaizer by his jealous rivals, that is, a descendent of conversos. Must be from all the Old Testament. A visionary was called an ilusa, then burned at the stake.

It sometimes happens when the time is right and we aren’t listening we hear as when in a mass singing the introit the voices of the whole and not ourselves and this can happen twice, so that the sadness and pain, of joy and love we sing and sign apart are joined as one and we  hear at once the beauty and sorrow of all the human song. As though we having felt sorrow and pain of our sins now feel sorrow for the sins of another, our sons, and the sins of the world.